“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers that Jesus responds to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels, in His miraculous healing of the blind and the lame, of preaching to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, and in His personal interactions with His disciples and the common people, we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes and traits of virtue in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah (Isa. 11:1-5, 35:1-8).
We see truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage, to name a few positive attributes that give Jesus a grade of A-plus, of perfect 100-percent test scores across-the-board within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.
We can agree with Pilate the Roman governor in Jerusalem after examining Jesus: “I find in him no fault at all.” (Jn. 18:38).
But what we do not clearly see in hindsight in first-century Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth…is why the Passover had no connection with the Old Testament Judaic conception of the coming Messiah.
How is it that nearly everyone in and around A.D. 27 in Israel were looking hopefully and expectantly for a Joshua or King David type warrior/priest as Messiah who would expel the loathsome Romans out of their country as had occurred with numerous other enemy invaders in their past national history, and fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of 9:6-7 of God setting-up His eternal kingdom in Jerusalem?
No one expected the coming Messiah to also be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins, according to the obscure and little understood scriptural passages of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.
This is where God’s ways and our ways sharply divide, differentiating the life-script for Jesus Christ as being above and beyond human literary invention…lifting the biblical narrative above other contemporary worldview narratives in today’s modern marketplace of ideas.
But the one area where we can with solid confidence through the benefit of hindsight today conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection, above anything that any other human being has ever been able to achieve, is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin to the outer limits of absolute perfection…unbeknownst to the popular expectation of a soon-coming military and political deliverer/messiah in conformity with past Jewish history.
The life-script mission of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God would require perfect adherence without any gaps of inconsistency to the uniquely biblical, moral concept of God-sovereignty, Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity, which would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ to actualize.
Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, other than Jesus Christ, have God-composed life-scripts that take into account built-in allowances for human error (Rom. 4:6-8).
All of these positive people of faith are nonetheless morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous…are morally imperfect like the rest of us in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts, but also in their inability to perfectly follow-through within their God-composed life-scripts without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way…in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.
If the biblical narrative stories of faith can be described as God’s attempt to give us something of Himself, to enable us to experience first-hand the expression in-and-through-us of some portion of His divine character as actualized through the events of God-composed life-script storylines…we can also see that this extraordinary program entails our imperfect performance.
Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless.
Their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith, and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities, plus the creative imagination of God their Creator as life-script Writer.
These biblical life-scripts are not based upon the self-realization of autonomous individualism built upon the attempt to save ourselves through the self-performance of good-works…that as entirely human-driven and human-directedwould and must fall far short of moral perfection and sinless virtue.
But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the most difficulty.
This is the area that is the definition of sin and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).
God singles-out and highlights this key element within the broad array of moral concepts, honestly and candidly revealed in the difficulty that Jesus has in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.
Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46 record that in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of His arrest and preliminary trial, that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray”…that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful”…that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him…that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly”…and that He sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself, for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body that manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly unreachable zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue, of making perfect choices and doing the right thing every time.
Yet this humanly unreachable zone is still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning…in the above-this-world, unconventionally divine test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane of God-sovereignty consistent, unified, and indivisible within God Himself…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
If Jesus does not say in perfect faith without skipping a beat: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”…but instead decides to go in another direction other than the cross the next day, at that precise moment in time God-sovereignty would have been split in two…introducing autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity…Jesus the Son of God going His own way apart from the Father and away from His ancient destiny as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).
This unprecedented development of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose consistent between God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, of unerring fidelity to the one right course of action no matter how difficult it is or how high the cost in the Garden of Gethsemane and Calvary the next day…separates-out God-sovereignty as the most important and the highest of issues in all of reality…the top-shelf “queen” of the virtues.
All of the other moral concepts and virtues are secondarily derivative to the primary concept of God-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives rather than going our own way as autonomous independent agents (Isa. 53:5-6).
The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is not just to improve our moral performance in the areas of honesty, integrity, tolerance, and the capacity for unselfish love…because the ancient goal, the prime target, the foremost primary reason for the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice is to focus and home-in on the remedy and removal of sin.
When I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18 in 1970, I was not instantly transformed into a morally perfect person, possessing sinless virtue incapable of making any mistakes from that time forward.
After the resurrection of Jesus Christ and after the Day of Pentecost the early church Christians went out into the Greco-Roman world with the Great Commission gospel message that eventually conquered the world…yet they do so while inhabiting imperfect virtue and fallen yet redeemed natures.
I have never heard anyone ask the question why this is so…why salvation through Christ does not instantly produce inner perfect virtue and flawless character.
Why would it be the case throughout the Old and New Testament journeys of faith life-scripts of Abraham (not discounting Enoch and Noah) through Paul…that God works His “magic” of blessing mankind through people having imperfect characters?
The answer is that God uses His divinely timeless foresight matched with the creative insight of being an ingenious master strategist…to be able to turn mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden into a positive.
This is a profoundly unexpected validation of the brilliance of God in keeping with the fine-tuning of the physics in the universe and the nanotechnology of the molecular machinery we now discover in living cells.
We were simply outwitted in the Garden of Eden…ill-equipped to divide and parse genuine truth from cleverly disguised misinformation (Gen. 3:1-6).
I was outwitted by the strong pull of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…in choosing to go the culturally acceptable wrong way of humanistic self-sovereignty…of trying to self-validate my worth and value through personal achievements, until I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The God of the Bible is so brilliant He can take the imperfection of human beings and in an instant of time flip this into a positive asset…into the high-quality of the perfect vehicle of a fallen nature that can take us through an in-depth research program into the knowledge of good and evil…without which we would not only be unable to decipher and understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts involved, but which also places believers in the sweet-spot of humility regarding the flawed nature of this human vehicle that precludes self-inflated and pride-filled self-righteousness, the very character trait that kills the ability to take the salvation message of the gospel out to the world-at-large in the spirit of love (Jn. 15:13).
The blood that Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary covers my sins past, present, and future.
This enables me to step-into a risk-filled adventure of faith following the God of the Bible…in which I am certain I will make many mistakes along the way, but absent the threat that I can jeopardize my eternal salvation as a result of my imperfect performance.
The God of the Bible is so brilliant that He has proactively crafted the redemption through the cross and resurrection of Christ so as to provide impunity from the condemnation that should accrue through my blunders and mistakes…for the precise purpose of guaranteeing a safe passage and a safe-conduct through the God-composed journey of faith life-script He has written for me…so that I can experience a first-person exploration of the knowledge of good and evil, within the God-sanctioned and approved vehicle of an imperfect moral nature (Rom. 7:15-8:4).
Atheists criticize Christians for not being perfect…but we are not supposed to be perfect…just better than we were.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7)
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36)
The only way we could discover and understand the knowledge of good and evil is for us to take it out for a sanctioned and authorized test-drive…within the vehicle of a redeemed yet fallen imperfect nature.
The hypothesis that the God of the Bible is trustworthy, truthful, loving, has own best interests at heart, and that we can know Him on a personal basis…is something that can be tested and found to be either true or false.
A God-composed journey of faith life-script having the upfront impunity of redemptive salvation leads to factual findings that are as empirical as it gets…being in importance far above the findings of modern science into the workings of the natural world.
God has set-up a program within the context of this life wherein we can for ourselves…with His help…verify the truths and falsehoods contained within a tried and tested knowledge of good and evil, with the additional ingenious feature that we are the ones who are the mouthpieces used to spread these findings about God to other people, rather than this coming from God directly in the form of authoritatively writing this across the sky in fiery red letters.
This reality could never come from a purely naturalistic universe of matter and energy alone, and it is beyond the literary creative imagination of human invented mythology.
The idea that God could and would flip our imperfect moral natures into the microscopic and telescopic lens needed to see into the mysteries of the knowledge of good and evil…while engaged within a God-guided journey of faith that also infuses more virtue and goodness into our characters through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13) through mission-plans designed to help other people entailing some measure of cost and sacrifice to ourselves…answers in large part the fundamental question of the purpose of this life and why we are here.
Only the real living God could set this all up.
In The Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5:6, Jesus does not say blessed are the morally perfect, but “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (bold and italics mine).
By becoming born-again (Jn. 3:5-6, 10), the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments are given new spiritual hearts and minds that can comprehend the knowledge of good and evil, while still inhabiting imperfect characters, through the deliberate preplanning and foreknowledge of God (Prov. 3:5-6; Isa. 55:8-9; Jer. 29:11; Eph. 1:7, 2:8-10; 5:8).
This is one of the many reasons why the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are the most important events in all of history…far above Jesus as Messiah expelling the Romans from Israel in the first-century.
If God Himself is not internally consistent in this fundamental moral concept of freely choosing God-sovereignty over self-sovereignty…in Gethsemane and at Calvary…within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…then justifiably God could not ask us to make the difficult, Holy Spirit assisted transition from self-sovereignty toGod-sovereignty in the course of our lives (Jn. 3:14-21).
This is the fundamental issue under consideration for all human beings, and the God of the Bible is telling us through the life-script of Jesus Christ that He was willing and able to get out in front of us in this regard of the bond of unity…tested within a human life incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God…within the personal interrelationships of the Trinity.
This is why Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life…and why there is no other way to come to the Father except through Him (paraphrased from John 14:6)…because Jesus is the perfect bridge of God-sovereignty that connects us in the right way within a personal walk with God in our own lives.
Without freely allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 46:9-10; Jn. 12:24)…to achieve in some measure in our lives this same divine unity-of-purpose (Jn. 17:21), after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith, then God cannot flip our imperfect natures into the fully redeemed, 4-wheel drive vehicles to venture-out into empirical research programs of lessons-learned traversing through the rough terrain of the knowledge of good and evil in a fallen world.
God identifies for us in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus Christ is operating at the apex, at the highest pinnacle of morality and virtue, when God reveals with incredible honesty and candor His own difficulty at the far outer-edge of virtuosity…the unique and singular challenge in all of time past, present, and going forward into eternity of offering Himself as the loving sacrifice for our sins.
This unbroken fidelity to God-sovereignty restores our severed relationship with Him on the highest terms of true and right justice yet at the greatest cost to Himself…the cost of the unprecedented death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.
Because this entire scenario of truth, challenge, and drama soars far above the capacity of human literary fictional invention, in my opinion this answers the question of how we would know today with certainty that Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins, being morally perfect and having sinless virtue…and qualify as the Messiah in the first-century and now.
A popular defense of the Bible and Christianity should start at some point with the biblical uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, paramount in importance and at the very zenith within the broad array of moral concepts.
Other than being an embarrassment to Jews worldwide today, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin as a Jew in the first-century…as the Messianic Savior by grace through faith for Jews and Gentiles alike…should be a source of the deepest and most heartfelt commendable pride.
A book written on the biblical narrative in competition with rival worldviews in the modern marketplace of ideas, can at the outset identify a categorical difference of enormous importance between the traditional Christian doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…and the entirely contrary view of the other world religions of salvation achieved through the self-performance of good-works, of achieving a “good life” on our own and then putting our faith and trust in a god who will judge this self-effort satisfactory enough to approve our admittance into the after-life.
This concept of our redeemed fallen nature as the God-sanctioned and authorized vehicle in which to conduct a first-hand exploration of the knowledge of good and evil in a likewise fallen and broken world, is in my opinion, not a new biblical doctrine or interpretation.
This concept is staring us in the face in the biblical narrative stories of faith, and is integral within the idea of actualized faith placed in the real and living God in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (Rom. 4:1-8).
Entering into a God-composed journey of faith life-script within the redeemed vehicle of imperfect moral character adds another key piece to the puzzle of the fundamental questions of why we are here and who is the real God?
I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18…but then so what…what comes next? What is so earth-shattering about that?
The point is that the vehicle of a fallen nature as the perfect lens to be able to explore a fallen world opens up the entire panoply of the meaning and purpose of human life…no matter what are my individual talents, abilities, or faults…no matter where is my “port of entry” into a journey of faith.
We see this in the biblical narrative stories of faith having exceptional purpose and directional trajectory…in direct opposition to the competing worldviews of the other world religions to find our own salvation through self-realization, but also in direct opposition to the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism that asserts that purpose and meaning do not exist at all in our universe.
The grandest irony of ironies is that we can only inhabit this God-sanctioned and authorized vehicle of a fully redeemed and forgiven fallen nature, in order to venture-out into the individual destinies of our research programs to discover the real meaning and purposes within the knowledge of good and evil…we can only do this by first admitting that we are in fact fallen and that we are imperfect moral beings.
In the words of Jesus: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4:17), shouts-out this message to the world having the highest of intentions imaginable…coming from the one Person capable of making this reality possible.
When confronted by the Pharisees who asked the disciples: “Why eateth your Master with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mt. 9:11)…Jesus answers in Matthew 9:12-13:
12 They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The massive gulf between “going about to establish their own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3) and the redemptive salvation of grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) through the repentance of admitting that we are fallen and in need of saving, is spoken by Jesus Christ in no uncertain terms to the Pharisees: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24).
Christianity is the one place in all of human existence where it is okay to be not okay.
A broken life is the reality to be honestly acknowledged and faced foursquare…not something to whitewash (Mt. 23:27) or sugar-coat.
The God of the Bible is the only person in the universe who honestly knows about sin and does not sweep it under the table, but does something remarkable about it.
God is telling us that He has life-scripts for us that actually and counterintuitively factor-in our fallen nature.
If we currently have broken and ruined lives this is no problem for God to cleanup, redeem, and insert a course-correction that sets us going in the right way.
This is why Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners, because they can readily admit that they are fallen and need God.
Arrogant pride and self-inflated self-importance will not accept or admit a fallen and imperfect nature, and thereby closes off entrance into the God-sanctioned and authorized vehicle of a redeemed fallen nature to really learn about the knowledge of good and evil…through a similar quality of the unity-of-purpose Jesus exhibited in His own life-script…likewise actualized for us in our God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.
One caveat here is that Paul and Peter warn believers not to use this freedom as an excuse or license to willfully sin (Rom. 6:1; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16).
The biblical narrative has purpose, meaning, and hope fueled by God’s divine participation
God-composed life-scripts for the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…eventually over time lift these people up into the victorious positions of becoming overcomers (1 Pet. 5:10), but not in the worldly conventional sense of self-validation and worldly pride that is centered upon oneself.
God’s elevation of people into high positions…Abraham the “father of faith,” Joseph the governor of Egypt, Moses the great prophet and deliverer, Joshua the military leader, the Israelites conquering their homeland, Peter the leader of the early Christian church, and Paul the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world, to name a few, are for unselfish service to other people and not for self-validation and personal achievement.
God-composed life-scripts in the biblical narrative stories of faith are designed to fix things to the most radical extent required, at all costs, at the micro-level in the moment…and at the macro-level over the long-range duration of human redemptive history extending into eternity.
The biblical narrative stories of faith are about enabling God to set-up and manage a program throughout human redemptive history that allows God to actualize events and circumstances into reality…to fix our world and our lives…from the viewpoint of eternity (1 Jn. 2:17).
This is an elevated program that will run above and often contrary to the culturally accepted direction of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Mt. 5:3-12, 6:25-34).
This element of elevated unconventionality explains Abraham waiting in faith for the birth of Isaac, Joseph’s unusual MBA preparation in the house of Potiphar and the prison of Pharaoh, the Israelites in bondage in Egypt, and the advance preparation of Moses as a shepherd of sheep in Midian.
It explains David being pursued for his life by the jealous King Saul, Peter utterly failing in the courtyard of Caiaphas during the night trial of Jesus, and the incredible conversion of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus creating the radical humility needed for a highly educated Pharisee to take the gospel message that Jesus is the Messiah to the larger Greco-Roman world…without looking down his nose in disdain at the polytheistic, idol-worshipping, pagan Greeks and Romans of his day.
These are the scenarios composed by God to fix our world and the problem of sin in our lives from an eternal perspective.
The brilliantly creative capacity of God to get His arms around the vast stretch of human experience…of Jesus maintaining consistent fidelity to God-sovereignty in the midst of the lowest failure and the highest success… allows every person of faith that accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life…to get to know God personally from the least to the greatest.
This reality for human life was prophesied roughly 2,600 years ago by the prophet Jeremiah in anticipation of new covenant believers (Jer. 31:31-34) not offended by Jesus on the cross, all energized by God-sovereignty rather than being fueled by the pursuit of individual achievement according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.
The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were in service to mankind at the peak and pinnacle of moral perfection, the purest essence of virtue.
The cross and the resurrection of Jesus were and are radical measures in the extreme designed by God to fix the human problem of sin, fundamentally defined as going our own way in autonomous individualism.
God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts as patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith, creating similar unity-of-purpose partnerships between God and people, is the antidote to the individual autonomous rebellion of going our own way.
When this uniquely biblical reality is separated-out and highlighted from amongst the broad array of existing moral concepts, this provides a compelling basis for accepting Jesus Christ into our lives, for accepting a God-composed journey of faith applied and interwoven into the course of events in our lives.
This humanly inconceivable, acid-test of the consistency of God-sovereignty within the Trinity, faithfully and seamlessly exhibited by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary Hill…also actualizes within the biblical narrative stories of faith and actualizes within the God-composed life-scripts for Spirit-born Christians today.
This validates the Christian argument that the Bible cannot be the creative invention of human literary imagination.
This also provides us with a huge revelation…a unique and innovative insight…of The Biblical Narrative in a Modern World.