Truth, Lies, and Faith

            John Lennox in his second interview in Labastide, France on Socrates in the City…says something about the limits of the laws of physics that has enormous implications when applied to all types of written laws.[1]  

            Lennox says that the laws of physics will never move a billiard ball in a million years, but a person with a cue-stick can. 

            The laws of motion can describe a billiard ball striking another billiard ball and where they will each go in terms of physics.  But first someone has to supply the movement of the billiard ball before physics can describe what happens. 

            A second example given by Lennox is that the laws of mathematics cannot create money. 

            Dr. Lennox credits C.S Lewis with the original thinking on this.

            “One plus one” will never actually put two dollars in our pocket.  We have to get the first dollar, then the second dollar…and only after this does mathematics describe the correct calculation of my having two dollars in my pocket.

            These examples by Dr. Lennox are given within the context of the discussion of the origin of the universe at the time of the Big Bang, refuting the statement by the famous physicist Stephen Hawking in his book The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow, 2010) that “because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself.”

            The point here is that laws do not create anything…they do not produce anything.

            The laws of physics are abstract.  They cannot move a billiard ball, put two dollars in my pocket, or create the universe.

            A correct understanding of this distinction when applied to human systems of government reveals the insightful truth that laws by themselves do not produce good behavior and virtuous living.

            Laws that abolish human slavery will not eradicate racial prejudice.

            There are no laws that can be enacted that will universally produce kindness and thoughtfulness.

            No law could be so well-written that its wording could guarantee that every high school and college student would legitimately achieve A-grades in all math classes up to and through calculus.

            No legislated law…no matter how well crafted…has the power to do that.

            Extending this concept even more broadly, this is why the Law of Moses cannot produce righteousness.

            The Ten Commandments written on the stone tablets by the finger of God Himself…cannot produce virtue and righteousness any more than the laws of physics can move a billiard ball.

            God knows this better than anyone.

            The question then becomes: Who moves the billiard ball…God or ourselves?

            Is right human living based upon the self-realization of the performance of good-works codified in laws, which realistically judges all of us without exception falling short of absolute perfection?

            Or is virtue and righteousness actualized into human life through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            The existence of this radical dichotomy within the contemplation of the marketplace of ideas is inexplicable in a purely materialistic universe.

            Here I sense that I am exploring concepts that are way beyond my depth…that exist at the very heart of reality.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”        (Rom. 1:17)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”                                                                                    (Rom. 3:20)

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”                                            (Rom. 5:1-2)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”                                          (Rom. 8:1-2)

            Here is where the concept of the limitations of the laws of physics described above by Dr. John Lennox, broadens into the separation between belief and unbelief when we look at the character trait of lying…of being untruthful.

            The liar by nature will seldom admit they are wrong.  The liar will attempt to “spin” the facts to explain their way out of some wrong-doing, shortcoming, or criminal activity.

            For the Christian theist, Satan has never admitted defeat after Calvary and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            This is what condemns unbelief.

            The gospel message begins with repentance: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt. 4:17).

            If our fallen, imperfect nature is in fact the necessary research vehicle to be able to truly explore the knowledge of good and evil…then unbelief is the ultimate folly

            Like the liar, unbelief actualizes into worldly conventional normalcy and thinking the inability to admit we are wrong.

            Every sane person can admit and accept that we are not perfect.

            But we find it difficult to make the small additional step of repenting towards God (having a turn-around in our minds and hearts) in this area of admitting we are not perfect…to the God of the Bible who is not condemning us for our imperfection.

“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)

            The God of the Bible is the very person who set-up redemptive salvation for the express purpose of taking this fallen nature for a ride into the research program of a first-hand, experiential exploration of the knowledge of good and evil…via the “safe-conduct” of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

            What is so profound here once we see it is that the massive gulf between the two outcomes of a timeless existence in heaven or in hell…divides itself within human experience in the seemingly simplistic and subtle difference between belief and unbelief.

            The liar within all of us will spin the facts about our moral imperfection and sweep this reality “under the rug” as being merely a part of worldly conventional normalcy.

            But salvation does not come through the unachievable, perfect performance of good-works.

            This fallen human nature instead has been brilliantly flipped…by God’s program of redemptive salvation by grace through faith…into the positive vehicle for exploring the knowledge of good and evil in the one and only way we could claim this knowledge for ourselves through empirical experience.

            The internal lie of unbelief blocks this.

            This is why on Judgement Day people will be weeping and “gnashing their teeth” (Mt. 25:30) over the profound regret that belief was so within reach and accessible.

            Truth and lying divide into polarized opposites at Calvary. 

            The Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes in first-century Jerusalem would/could not admit they were wrong.

            The rejection and crucifixion was an attempt to “spin” the facts regarding the expected nature of the coming Messiah into the alternate reality that Jesus was a fraud and that they were righteous…because they followed the Law of Moses and were the “children” of Abraham (Mt. 3:7-9; Mk. 12:24; Lk. 11:37-44; Jn. 8:39-40).

            The United States Constitution cannot “do” anything in terms of virtuous citizenship.  Virtue cannot be legislated.

            The laws of physics cannot create anything.

            A billiard ball needs a person with a cue-stick to set it in motion.

            The Law of Moses was never intended to produce righteousness.

                        When skeptics include biblical faith within their general criticism of world religions, they have no idea what they are talking about.

            The redemptive salvation that enables believers to embark upon journeys of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…removes the risk of the threat that the absolute certainty of my imperfect performance could jeopardize my eternal salvation (Mt. 5:6).

            The impunity of my sins past, present, and future being covered by the blood Jesus shed on the cross enables an exploration of the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts…contained within the knowledge of good and evil…through the research vehicle of my imperfect nature.

            In my opinion, this rivals the empirical quality of any scientific investigation into the phenomena of the natural world.

            In my opinion, scientific materialists…rather than being staunch opponents of biblical faith…should logically be the first people in line to receive redemptive salvation…being by career choice investigative researchers.

            If we blithely sweep under the rug our human imperfection as being merely the product of a materialistic Mother Nature according to Darwinian evolution, then we are lying to ourselves.

            If we downgrade biblical faith into the relativism of man-invented religions that have no real standard for determining what genuine truth actually is, then we have created an alternate reality for the purpose of working around our universal imperfect natures.

            God invented biblical-quality journeys of faith precisely because laws of any kind cannot produce actionable virtue.

            Abstract concepts will not create a universe, move a billiard ball, or put two dollars in my pocket.

            This is too profound for the worldview of naturalistic materialism…but not too profound for divine agency.


[1] John Lennox: Socrates in the City in Labastide, France, Part 2, Jan. 23, 2018 on You Tube.

Ye Shall Be Free Indeed

            When Jesus “ate” with “publicans and sinners” (Mt. 9:10-13), He knew they would never become morally perfect people incapable of making mistakes.

            The “greatest” people in the Bible were never morally perfect people.

            “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Mt. 5:6).

            When Paul says in Romans 6:4 that Christ’s resurrection enables us to “walk in newness of life”…he does not mean moral perfection (Rom. 7:15-8:4).

            There isn’t anything anywhere in the Bible that infers or intimates that walking with God in this life will produce perfect performance on our part…in either good-works or unwavering faith.

            The blood Jesus shed on the cross covers my sins past, present, and future so that I can learn by my mistakes with impunity…without the jeopardy of threatening the eternal security of my salvation through my less-than perfect performance.

            This reality is initiated and sanctioned by the first, last, and only authority that counts…by God Himself.

            If God says that He wants me to acquire the knowledge of good and evil through the first-hand lessons-learned of experience in the rough-and-tumble life on earth, then the redemptive salvation that He has provided by grace through faith in Christ…issues the timeless safe-conduct to go out and with my best effort listen in the Spirit and follow the life-script He has revealed for me.

            That I can fall-on-my-face in failures and shortcomings is the only real and authentic way I am going to be able to win this knowledge of good and evil for myself.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith are the pinnacle of the highest level of good leadership in pushing power downward to create people who can discern the right and the good, and voluntarily choose the good for the right reasons.

            This creates people who are internally motivated, responding positively to the love, confidence, and supportive trust divinely extended to them…that validates their high worth and value in the sight of God.

“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).

One Purpose of Redemptive Salvation

            In redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ, God the Father sees believers through the rose-colored glasses of optimistic and supportive love, because He is the one who envisioned and instigated the concept of the 4-wheel drive vehicle of this fallen, imperfect yet redeemed human nature.

“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).

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11).

            We are saved by grace through faith and not by our own self-performed good works…to have the invaluable opportunity to discover the knowledge of good and evil through the “safe-conduct” of a God-sanctioned and authorized journey of faith research program.

            We learn by making mistakes, and if we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Mt. 5:6) and waling in the Spirit (Rom. 8:2), God is able to flip our mistakes into guided lesson-plans through His deliberate, positive intentions.

            A fallen yet redeemed nature enables believers to venture out into the rough and tumble, likewise fallen world and using the microscopic and telescopic lens of our imperfect moral nature…inhabiting earthen vessels…be able to comprehend the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil…while also having the critical element of the humility of recognizing that the security of our eternal salvation lies in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and is not dependent upon our perfect moral performance.

            Only God could set all of this up to function within the reality of this broken world.

            Through the divine concept of redemptive salvation by grace through faith, God is able to flip our imperfect fallen nature into the very vehicle we would need to successfully explore the ups and downs within the knowledge of good and evil…exhibiting on God’s part the highest excellence of leadership in wisely pushing power downward for people to learn and grow through first-hand experience, guided within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts as patterned for us through the biblical narrative stories of faith from Enoch through Paul.

            Each of the positive characters in the Bible walked with God through their callings and mission-plans, while still inhabiting imperfect moral natures.

            When I became a Christian at age 18, God forgave my sins past, present, and future…so that I could with confidence enter into a risk-filled adventure of faith, knowing in advance that the many mistakes I would make along the way would not jeopardize the security of my eternal salvation…because this research program designed by God through redemptive salvation has the very intention that I can learn and benefit from my mistakes.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph. 1:7).

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21).

Human Beings Progress through Trial-and-Error

            When we watch the men’s final in the 100-meter running event in the Olympics, for example, we know that the runners were not selected at random from the general population and put forward in race gear to sprint for the gold medal.  The ten runners in the men’s Olympics 100-meter race finals are all world-class, elite runners who have each trained for years to be able to run this distance in under 10 seconds.

            The several years of individual training are done behind-the-scenes in advance preparation leading up to the race, and for each runner hopefully ends with the goal of a once-in-a-lifetime, gold-medal performance during this very short but marquee track and field event.

            A documentary film-maker may record the up-and-down training regime of the progression of the would-be sprinter to reach world-class speed, and put this into a short film as part of the color commentary for the televised summer Olympics, but generally we are not privy to the dedication, perseverance, and dogged determination of the elite athlete’s incremental upward progression over time from being merely fast at the collegiate level to becoming world-class fast…to be one of a very select few to make-it into the men’s final in the 100-meter race in the Olympics.

            On the African savanna plains, when we watch the high-speed, life-and-death chase between the cheetah and the Thompson’s gazelle, we know that there has been no behind-the-scenes training preparation leading-up to this exhibition of literally world-class running speed, other than the normal growth to adulthood.  We know that there is no behind-the-scenes training for each of these magnificent animals because the natural living world is open to observation and investigation.  The exquisite running speeds of the cheetah and the Thompson’s gazelle are a product of their instinctual lifestyle habits that match perfectly their unique architectural body-plans…that come fully functional and ready for use right “out of the box” with no tools or assembly instructions required.

            One aspect that makes the defining essence of human beings uniquely discontinuous with the rest of the natural living world is that mankind progresses through the trial-and-error process of lessons-learned by making mistakes.

            Over the course of the modern Scientific Revolution, the two Industrial Revolutions, the American political experiment that people could be self-governing through a representative democracy based upon individual virtue, and the fine-tuning of market systems of economy and trade, we should have known that mankind would eventually reach a point in time when some of the fundamental questions of reality would be within reach of solid answers.

            We have always been headed in the right direction through mistakes and blunders combined with an innate inner drive to discover the purposes behind the workings of the natural world, and to find the reality of our existence…which is entirely different from the automatic program of inherited instinctual lifestyle habits that come fully functional in the examples of the cheetah and the Thompson’s gazelle.

            The idea that a mindless and indifferent-to-outcomes Mother Nature working through matter-and-energy alone could produce this discontinuous dichotomy between the out-of-the-box functionality of instinctual lifestyle habits in the natural living world, in stark contrast to the cognitive reasoning capacity of human beings to progress through trial-and-error mistakes as their uniquely defining essence, should at this modern times be rejected as a “just-so” bed-time story because of its over-simplicity.   

            If we have learned anything over the course of human history, it is that our natural world, the interaction between human beings, and the nature of truth are not simplistic.

            Drilling down deeper into this concept that we progress through the process of lessons-learned by making mistakes, what makes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet a tragedy is not that the principle characters are stupid, but rather that they make errors in judgement and reasoning that coalesce over the course of their short-lived romance into a catastrophic outcome.

            In the backyard garden scene where Juliet on the balcony declares her love for Romeo hiding unbeknownst below until he reveals himself and climbs up a tree to join her, embrace, kiss, and declare his love for her…at that point the right course of action is easy to see.

            Juliet should have said that she would speak to her father privately the next day and tell him that she was in love with Romeo the son of his enemy, and that their union would be the perfect solution to “bury their strife” between the two families.  Romeo should say that he would likewise talk to his father in private, and tell him that he was in love with Juliet the daughter of his enemy, that she loved him, and that their union in marriage would remove the enmity between the families and be heartily welcomed by the Prince of the city of Verona.

            If these two options failed, then Plan B would have Romeo requesting a private meeting with the Prince to explain the benefits of throwing his considerable support and influence behind a marriage between Romeo and Juliet, leading to the bad option of Romeo seeking the guidance of the friar who comes-up with his hair-brain scheme that eventually leads to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

            William Shakespeare can create this brilliantly tragic storyline because he is working with the reality of a human environment that is deliberately designed to be a research program of discovery through the trial-and-error process of lessons-learned by making mistakes.  The tragedy in Romeo and Juliet is that the progression of poor judgments and decisions within the context of their family’s relationships snow-balls downhill through a series of “hideous misadventures” to a deadly finale.

            This should tell us something vitally important about the reality of our existence, about the redemptive salvation feature of the Christian gospel message, about the uniquely biblical originality of God displacing our ways with His higher ways through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, and about the 2 Corinthians 4:7 concept that we inhabit the “earthen vessels” of imperfect moral natures as the perfect 4-wheel drive research vehicles in order to traverse the rough terrain of this equally broken and fallen world…in discovery of the knowledge of good and evil with the God-sanctioned and approved intention for us to learn by our mistakes…all the while redeemed by grace through faith in Christ.

            The structure and organized complexity of the biblical narrative stories of faith, of God inserting His higher ways and thoughts into our life-scripts to be able to add His timeless foresight and brilliant pure light into this research program for us aided by the microscopic and telescopic lens of a fallen imperfect nature…to have the capacity to understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts integral within the knowledge of good and evil…overturns the serendipitous tragedy of Romeo and Juliet stumbling through the dark of this same human environment without this participation of God within a God-composed journey of faith life-script that always achieves the optimum outcome of individual destiny.

            Modern science has discovered complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information everywhere we look in the natural world.  The micro-molecular machinery inside living cells coordinates an unimaginably diverse ensemble of parts to assemble proteins into different cell types that make living creatures from elephants to humans…to highlight just one example.

            Redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ to enable research programs into the knowledge of good and evil…through the safe-conduct of the impunity of not having our many mistakes jeopardize the security of our eternal salvation (Mt. 5:6; Rom. 7:15-8:4)…by the deliberate intention of the Creator God of this universe…is so originally brilliant that it could not possibly derive from this same trial-and-error process of lessons-learned by making mistakes…and is thus a self-existent, fundamental concept that could not have arisen through human invented mythology…could not be the product of human literary imaginative fiction.

            Shakespeare takes us a far as he can in Romeo and Juliet.  God takes us much farther into the depths of reality in the biblical narrative stories of faith.  

Only God Can Procure the Validation of Our Self-Worth

            Once a family is broken by divorce, it is thereafter difficult to individually validate the children with a healthy sense of self-worth, because the family is infused with the opposite sense of the failure of separation.

            The family unit has failed.

            This describes the injurious aspect of the separation that occurred within the family of God at the fall in the Garden of Eden.

            A separation occurred.

            God foresaw this coming (Rev. 13:8), but was not the reason for this split.

            Redemptive salvation by grace through faith starting with repentance (Eph. 2:8-9) inaugurates the means by which we are connected back with God…the family reunites.

            The concept that our imperfect natures act as research vehicles into the discovery and comprehension of the knowledge of good and evil (2 Cor. 4:7; Rom. 7:15-8:4; Mt. 5:6; Jn. 8:36) is designed to get at the root cause of the split that originally occurred in the Garden of Eden.

            God is so brilliant that He can take our imperfect fallen natures and flip this into a positive, because He alone understands that a perfect person living in a perfect world would not be able to learn first-hand about the knowledge of good and evil…through the empirical task-master of lessons-learned through making mistakes.

            This is why redemptive salvation is by grace through faith and not self-performed good-works…because we need the vantage point of the lens of a fallen nature to be able to understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil, but also the humility of occupying “earthen vessels” so that over-inflated self-opinion…self-righteousness…does not block our ability to share the gospel message to other people as lost and broken as we were.

            God…the “head of the household” working with believers who will give Him the benefit-of-the-doubt (Heb. 11:1, 6) re-instigates the healthy validation of His children through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith…functional and operational for every Spirit-born Christian today.

Mass/Energy and Information

            When a famous author like Agatha Christie sits down at her typewriter, or today at her laptop computer, and begins to write a murder mystery novel such as And Then There Were None, the creative inspiration inside her mind is abstract and non-material…being in the form of information only.

            During the entire time of the writing of this fictional novel the creative process remains informational and not actual, Agatha Christie not having to commit real murders as part of the research to inspire the story as it progresses chapter-by-chapter.

            But the writing of this new murder mystery novel changes character as Agatha Christie puts her ideas down on paper, making the fundamental transition from the abstract and intangible nature of informational ideas to the physical, material medium of paper and ink. 

            The interesting observation here is that the letters, words, punctuation marks, spaces, paragraphs, and book chapters could be on any subject.  It could be a murder mystery, foreign agent suspense thriller, romantic comedy, historical biography, or a cookbook filled with recipes.

            The medium of the ink and paper, or the ones and zeros of the word processing computer language code are entirely indifferent and neutral as to the genre category of the information being presented.

            But then another interesting transition takes place.  After the murder mystery novel is completed and enters the published book phase, physical copies now sit on shelves in bookstores waiting for someone like me to see it in its material form, buy it, and take it home to read.

            Then another amazing thing happens.  I open up the physical book and begin to read the text in the form of letters arranged as words and sentences in the English language, and the information that Agatha Christie created has passed through the material medium of ink on paper to become once again information that is the fascinating and engrossing murder mystery story And Then There Were None.    

            This has huge implications for a more accurate and up-to-date scientific understanding of the phenomena in the natural world.

            The non-material nature of information should tell both professional scientists and laymen like me that a purely materialistic worldview of the universe, absent the input of agency, is unnecessarily and nonsensically limited. 

            The organized complexity of the system of information that comprises a murder mystery story is not the same thing as that same story in physical print form in a book I can hold in my hands.

            The abstract and intangible creative thought behind the murder mystery story is not the same as the hands and fingers of Agatha Christie physically typing-out the story day-by-day using the materials of ink and paper.

            Information is abstract and non-material…and mass/energy by contrast is physical and material.  

            Information and intelligent agency go together.

            Mass-energy on its own cannot create complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information.

            The worldview of scientific materialism is nonsensical because it attempts to tell modern audiences that And Then There Was None typed itself…that it did not need the intelligent agent Agatha Christie as the explanation of its origin.

The present is the key to understanding the past

                The great geologist Charles Lyell in the 1820’s provided the general methodology for doing research in what are now called the historical sciences, of making reasonably accurate inferences about the past by observing what occurs in the natural world today…because the past is not directly accessible to us.

            Thanks to the present-day understanding of molecular biochemistry due in large part to the unraveling of DNA through the ten-year long Human Genome Project, and the advancement of computers and computer programs, we now can identify in living cells the developmental gene regulatory networks that instruct the molecular machines inside cells to assemble the different cell types and then tells them specifically where to go in the developing embryos…to produce elephants, lions, hawks, and human beings.

            The material properties of the typewriter keys, the ink ribbon, and the sheets of paper that translate the abstract creative storytelling from the mind of the book writer into the physical medium of paper and ink, is an easily understood reality analogous to the translating of the abstract creative information from the genetic code in DNA into the material “flesh and bones” of living organisms.

            Scientists correctly study the material mechanics of the processes taking place inside living cells, and we can make reasonably accurate inferences going back in time regarding the increasing complexity of life-forms on earth following the gradually linear addition of differing new cell types to support increasingly more complex architectural body-plans.

            But in the same way that the physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper to create the rough drafts typed by Agatha Christie cannot explain the inspired artistic creation of the fictional murder mystery story itself, a complete understanding of how the material mechanics of the nanotechnology occurring within living cells will not explain the translation of the material parts of flesh and bones coordinating together as a whole functioning unit, into the adult instinctual lifestyle habits of a charging African bull elephant chasing lions away from a watering hole.

            Not only do developmental gene regulatory networks and epigenetic factors now tell us how different cell types are constructed on-time and in the proper sequence from the DNA code and then sent-off to their specific xyz-coordinate locations in their unique body-plans during embryonic development, but there is another source of information that matches flesh and bones with extremely fine-tuned lifestyle habits…to successfully function as mature organisms within differing past geological eras, within the interrelated biodiversity of predator/prey relationships, and within the unimaginable complexity of diverse ecosystems. 

            Like Charles Lyell’s program of using the present to study the past in geology, we now today have a large part of the understanding of the molecular biochemical processes in living organisms.

            During a particular season every year in Africa functional baby elephants are born.  This is just one amongst enumerable examples of the present-day phenomena we can scientifically study, extrapolating backwards through the embryonic development phase to genes, chromosomes, and DNA.

            In other words, science has an enormous sample size of finished products in the form of ten million living species to study, working backwards through the completed architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits…to the initial genetic information contained in the paired chromosomes of the male and female parents.

            In plain language, we know that the material mechanisms in operation inside living cells can produce finished organisms that can survive and reproduce, because we see these living organisms all around us in action.

            The challenge since Darwin in the scientific field of biology is to figure-out how this all works.

            But the worldview of scientific materialism that attempts to reduce the charge of a full-grown African bull elephant to its flesh and bones material parts is as nonsensical as saying that the book And Then There Were None can write itself.

            Science cannot exclude agency and still be fully explanatory.  The creative origin of information cannot be reduced to a mass/energy causation.

            The charge of an elephant or a lion is a very physical action having a purely empirical outcome for whatever creature is being chased, but this full-speed charge at its fundamental essence is information-based…is an intangibly abstract form of an instinctual lifestyle habit in action.

            We therefore make a categorical mistake when we confuse abstract information with material mass/energy.

            One of the themes of this book is that no matter where the current research in the field of molecular biochemistry finally lands in terms of a more complete understanding of the material mechanisms at the genetic level in living cells, the complexity of these coordinated and integrated mechanical molecular systems has already left the unguided and undirected program of naturalistic materialism miles behind.

            Intelligent agency is not only required at the front-end to furnish the information needed inside living cells to produce over time the vast diversity of material life we see in the natural world, but also the abstract and intangible end-point functions that differentiate between the instinctual lifestyle habits of an elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, water buffalo, rhinoceros, and giraffe…to name some of the large mammals in Africa.

            Returning to the analogy of the writer Agatha Christie, abstract creative information not only enters in at the front-end of the process, passing through the required material medium of ink, paper, and the finished book form, but then expresses itself to the book reader as again the creative storyline of the murder mystery Agatha Christie intended, as the intelligent designing agent.

            The God of the Bible, who can introduce all of the material mass/energy and the non-material laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics in the first split-seconds of the creation of the universe at the Big Bang, into the incredibly operational realities of the force of gravity, the speed of light, and the expansion rate of the universe…to my thinking is also therefore capable of inputting all of the information, the instructions, and the timetables inside living cells to create the remarkable material mechanisms now being studied by molecular biochemists.

            I need to say here at the outset of this book that I am not a theistic evolutionist, and I am not a deist. 

            Having worked in building construction as a career, I am skeptical of complex things falling into place on their own, especially living organisms that must be up-and-running with operational function in-place at a minimum just to be able to survive and to reproduce.

            To my thinking, the informational package within living cells beginning 3.8-billion years ago has the preprogrammed agenda to pump-out increasing complexity starting with the single-cell bacteria, by adding new and different cell types over time to support new and innovative architectural body-plans.

            But one of the themes put forward in this book is that this ever increasing complexity that has produced the vast diversity of life-forms we see today…is always introducing living organisms that are at the leading edge of specified refinement within what could otherwise conceptually be within a possible range of incomplete and unfinished expression on one side of a continuum-line…to functionally complete and fully operational at the other side of the continuum-line.

            What is staring us in the face, when we look at biology, is the reality that human designed and manufactured products are always complete and functional…are at the forward edge of specified, refined completion for their intended use.

            Human agency universally produces functionally complete objects, from fully cooked baked lasagna at our favorite Italian restaurant, to a bicycle that has two wheels, to a new automobile that has brakes, to computer software programs that are debugged and operational, and to completed murder mystery books that are spell-checked.

            We do not see in the vast diversity of life today any organisms that are in major transitional development part-way towards some future outcome.  We presently do not see “works-in-progress.”

            Using Charles Lyell’s dictum of using the present to interpret the past in the historical sciences like geology, this present-day evidence then tells us that living organisms enter into existence with specified, refined maturity at the forward edge of their conceptual essence…functionally complete enough to smoothly fit into their biodiverse and ecologically balanced niches, to be able to survive and to reproduce “right out of the box, no assembly tools required.”

            This line of thinking is in direct contrast to the simple-to-complex ideology of scientific materialism that must, in order to plausibly work, replace intelligent agency with the gradual small steps of incremental progressive development over time, through the Darwinian mechanism of accidental, trial-and-error, unguided, and undirected naturalistic processes.

            I see the nearly saltational (miraculous) transitions of early life at 3.8 billion years ago from the single-cell bacteria to multi-cellular algae floating on top of the oceans, to the Precambrian jellyfish having 10 to 12 new and different cell types, to the radiation of new creatures with architectural body-plans having 30 to 40 different cell types during the Cambrian Explosion at 535 million years ago, throughout geologic history to our present day…always occurring at the guided and directed level of putting-out functionally mature organisms able to adapt and survive at the first moments of their introduction…factoring-in the genetic mutations that also over time put-out beneficial variant traits to be chosen by natural selection to enhance adaptation to changing environments.

            This non-Darwinian thinking encompasses large leaps in development without transitional intermediates, which empirically is the fact-based evidence in the fossil record.

            This non-Darwinian approach requires the well-timed, physical expressions of information that consistently produce fully functional living organisms…of strategically released inputs of information coming from within living cells, that could not plausibly be explained through an accidental, trial-and-error, naturalistic gradual process over long stretches of time that would be easily detectable to molecular biochemistry today.

            Because we see in the present the “miracle” of information in living cells using material molecular mechanisms to build and place the different cell types in architectural body-plans to create such diverse organisms as hawks, spiders, sea crabs, whales, wolves, and humans…conceptually we can extrapolate backwards to envision this same high quality of functionality producing new phyla types in their completed form through the introduction of massive inputs of information released according to prearranged timetables…the same quality of actualized information that can produce the architectural body-plan of the African bull elephant but also the instinctual lifestyle habit of its intimidating full-speed charge. 

            Again, this line-of-reasoning rejects the trial-and-error, incremental small steps of gradual development progressing from the simple to the complex…which is the accidental, unguided, and undirected methodology of the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism applied to the living and non-living world…absent intelligent agency.

            It is inconceivable that Agatha Christie would sit in front of her typewriter or laptop computer and randomly hit the keys with her eyes closed and her mind on other things, hoping through a trial-and-error, accidental process that she could produce a classic murder mystery who-done-it story.    

            It is inconceivable that the complexity and specificity we find inside living cells could be the product of random and undirected processes.

            Finally, the sequential logic of writing a book using arrows…goes from abstract information from the author→to physical ink on paper in the form of a book→to abstract information being read by the book reader.

            Another way of expressing this is to say that the “ought” of the potentially captivating storyline progresses to the actual “is” of the story in print-form, and again back to the “ought” of the unfolding story being read by the book reader late into the evening beyond bedtime.

            In a nutshell this philosophically sums up the human enterprise of scientifically investigating the natural world…encompassing the two realities of mass/energy and information.

            Even the skeptic David Hume said that the “is” of how things actually are cannot transition to the “ought” of how they should be…the actual existence of an ”is” and the moral concept of an “ought” being in two entirely different realms of reality.[1]

            Boiling this down further, another way of expressing this is to say: that the abstract information of DNA and developmental gene regulatory networks inside cells→translates into the architectural body-plan of an African bull elephant→expresses itself materially in the instinctual lifestyle habit of an intimidating elephant charge.

            In understanding how we get from biological embryonic development to full physical maturity the arrows go in only one direction…forward.

            But by adopting the program of Charles Lyell for use in the historical sciences, in which the field of biological origins belongs, the arrows describing the process can go in both directions backwards and forwards…in the same way that a published book on the shelf in a bookstore tells us that the author of it exists, but also gives us their name on the front cover of the book and the date of printing on the copyright page…pointing backwards in time when the book was in its creative writing phase.

            That there are no partially completed books for sale in bookstores, or on the bookshelves in university or public libraries…also tells us that for new books to be able to enter into the marketplace of ideas, they must be functionally complete.

            That the gradualism of unfinished projects part-way along their progressive development toward becoming fully functional, is not what we observe in the natural living and non-living world, then we can reasonably conclude that naturalistic materialism cannot be the ruling paradigm that is workable in either scientific investigation or in our philosophical worldview.

            Darwin’s brilliant extrapolation in 1859 from microevolution to macroevolution in his book The Origin of Species as an explanation for the vast diversity of life on earth…no longer works because the discovery of the complexity and specificity of information in the natural world is now recognized and understood in this modern Age of Information.

            This is how science works.  New more correct information clarifies or replaces earlier theoretical hypotheses.


[1] John Lennox: Socrates in the City in Labastide, France, Part 2, Jan. 23, 2018 on You Tube.

The Thief on the Cross

            The story of the thief on the cross recorded in Luke 23:39-43 is the minimum baseline example given to us in the New Testament gospels that defines faith plus our good-works for salvation…that will pass the test of fire (Jn. 6:28-29; 1 Cor. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:7).

            This baseline example is illustrated through an actual event in history spread-out over the short interval of a few hours…rather than a doctrinal concept given to us in explanatory, expository words alone.

            This baseline standard for measuring salvation is given to us by no less an authority than Jesus Christ Himself, the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin, at the precise moments of that sacrifice and from the very instrument…the cross on Calvary Hill…that procured our salvation.

            This condemned thief is not coming down off the cross to start a positive, God-composed journey of faith life-script for the remaining years of his life.  His wrists and feet are immovably pinned by long metal spikes to the wooden cross-beams of Roman crucifixion.  He will die there in a few more hours.  There is no time left to do anything good or bad from that moment forward, in any major way.

            The thief on the cross at that moment in time has nothing by way of reformed, future good-works to offer to God on behalf of his salvation to qualify himself before God.  There is no second chance for him to come down off the cross with the promise to live a better life going forward.

            Yet when Jesus says to the thief on the cross…crucified alongside Him and sharing His fate that eventful Friday in history: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”…this thief can then confidently take this promise “to the bank.”  He can “bet the farm on it”…in utter and complete assurance.

            This is not just the word of a great prophet declaring a future event.  This promise comes from Jesus Christ the divine Son of God…the very Word of God in the flesh.

            The thief on the cross can rest in the inner peace and assurance of eternal salvation for the remaining few hours he has on this earth, from the extremely privileged position of observing the exemplary character of Jesus Christ the Son of God in action dying next to him as the Passover Lamb of God for the sins of the world.

            I believe this real-life example spelled-out for us through an action event recorded in the Bible, resolves the controversial theological issue of the eternal security of our salvation while we are still in this life and engaged in our journey of faith, by combining in this specific example both ends of a short time-interval defined as biblical faith in Hebrews 11:1…”the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…in this salvation story of the last final hours of the thief on the cross.

            A fundamental problem here with the general biblical interpretation believed by some people today…that we can lose our salvation…is that Jesus at that moment in time is telling the thief that later that same day he will be with Jesus in His kingdom. 

            Jesus as the divine Son of God either possesses Himself…or is perfectly exercising through God the Father…timeless foresight.

            In my opinion, the part that confuses the issue of eternal security is the seemingly incoherent blend of a God who exists in a timeless environment and human beings that live in the four dimensions of time and space. 

            These two things do not appear on the surface, at first glance, to easily mix.  But both these realities…God’s timeless existence and our lives spread-out within the forward march of the God-created dimension of time, are absolutely essential for developing confidence in the wisdom and leadership of God, and our placing trust in a God-composed journey of faith for our lives that have this Hebrews 11:1 risk-element of elongated and stretched-out time.

            Our future actualized promise of salvation…the “evidence of things not seen” regarding eternal life…does not occur yet in this current lifetime.  This culminating event occurs at our resurrection, at the last trumpet sound, at the great Judgment Day and our entrance into heaven. 

            This is what seems to introduce an element of confusion, which in actuality is instead another strong apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible. 

            The interval of time, the gap in practical, lived experience between where we are now and where we need to get to…this unique feature of biblical faith as defined by Hebrews 11:1…is an inseparable part of the storyline of every positive person in their biblical-quality journey of faith life-scripts, whether we are Moses, David, or the thief on the cross. 

            Whether our destiny-of-faith moment in history spans years, months, or a few short hours on the cross alongside Jesus the Passover Lamb of God of Isaiah 53…like this thief…the surety of our salvation is not dependent upon any specific duration of time or more importantly is not dependent upon our performance over that period of time.

            With a timeless God having divine foreknowledge there is no future earthly span of time that conditionally determines our salvation…whether years, months, or hours.     

            The simplistic yet powerful lesson of the thief on the cross is that he cannot “mess-up” his salvation during his remaining few hours, this short interval of Hebrews 11:1 time remaining for him…the brief entirety of his faith-journey…on his cross of execution alongside Jesus as the sky overhead darkens and the earth rumbles that Friday afternoon.

            This is the case because the promise of the assurance of eternal salvation comes from the mouth of the divine Son of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the cross in the very act of being the Passover sacrifice for sin. 

            Jesus that moment on the cross…either has Himself or is exercising from God the Father…divine timeless foresight.

            This pivotal moment in time and the dramatic circumstances of this historic event could not be more definitive and decisive on the topic of eternal security…because Jesus Christ here cannot misspeak.

            That Jesus Christ our eternal Savior and King and this remarkable human thief on the cross having no merit or achievements to argue on his behalf for salvation should come together in this moment in history…is not an accident (Isa. 53:12).

            The promise of entering shortly into paradise, coming from the timeless foresight of Jesus Christ the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world, while He is suffering and dying on the cross to the thief also suffering and dying alongside Him…is an iron-clad, irrevocable, unalterable event that cannot change within the span of a few short hours, for both Jesus and the thief on their respective crosses.

            The word of God is sure not only because it is based on the high-quality of His character, but also because it is timeless.

            This is a product of the timeless nature of God (Isa. 46:9-10) and the functional nature of the limitations of time and space that God created for us so that we might experience and discover the knowledge of good and evil…not in split-second, instantaneous flashes of time but spread-out over longer intervals of time…sometimes only hours as in the case of the thief on the cross as expressed in Hebrews 11:1 and as so beautifully told in Luke 23:39-43.

            The scriptural arguments for and against eternal security have already been written and fill entire books.

            But for the purposes of this book, the biblical narrative stories of faith are the God-designed vehicles that actualize the context of events wherein our souls are measured.”

            This is an apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible.

            The events and circumstances of the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…unlike any other form or genre of human literature…measure our souls on the basis of our faith and relationship with God. 

            Our souls are not only measured by courage in battle, or the resilience to bounce back from numerous defeats to accomplish greatness, or by an epiphany that changes us from being a crass, self-centered person to becoming a loving person through character growth…being the theme of countless books, theater plays, and movies.

            The quality of life-script events that will measure our souls at the apex…at the zenith…of moral reasoning and decision-making regarding our relationship with God…can only originate from God. 

            The thief on the cross could never have orchestrated the cascade of events that placed him that fateful Friday on a cross of execution alongside Jesus Christ the Son of God…with the opportunity to go along with the crowd in verbally mocking Jesus (Lk. 23:35-39) or amazingly for the first and only time in his life…to discover the power, conviction, courage, and liberated audacity to resist the peer pressure in the moment…and to instead proclaim publicly through the Holy Spirit a faith in the God/man Jesus crucified alongside him.

            The thief on the cross manages to find his destiny at the last possible moment, summoning the Holy Ghost courage to testify of this newfound faith after this brief encounter with Jesus being crucified alongside him…to his fellow thief and to any and all others standing around the crosses and listening, that would pass the test of saving faith for time eternal (Lk. 23:43).

            On that fateful day…and over a few short hours…the soul of the thief on the cross was measured and found brilliantly passing the test for salvation according to God’s terms and standards.

            The point I want to make here is monumental in its importance. 

            We need God-composed journey of faith life-scripts to actualize for us a context of life-events wherein our souls are measured…precisely so that we can succeed on God’s terms and by His standards and not through the futility of good-works and self-realization according to our ways (Isa. 55:8-9).

            This is the record of the biblical narrative stories of faith including this incredibly inspiring story of the thief on the cross.

            Choosing amongst the smorgasbord buffet of the wants and aspirations of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…a great education, a good job, high salary, good marriage, a big house, luxury automobile, European vacation, a stock portfolio, good health, and sending our kids to Harvard or Oxford…will not measure our souls in the way that the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, and the thief on the cross were measured.

            The thief on the cross could not have orchestrated the events that led to his salvation that day any more than Abraham could have orchestrated his life-script of faith, any more than Paul could have orchestrated the events that led to him becoming the premier Christian evangelical missionary to the first-century Greco-Roman world.

            The grand irony here that is far beyond the contemplative imagination of human literary invention is that the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes standing around and mocking Jesus on the cross…who attempted to self-craft “perfect lives” according to their way (Mt. 6:2, 5; 9:12-13; 10:33; 11:16-19; 15:7-9) end-up unknowingly killing Jesus their Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin (1 Cor. 2:8).

            The grand irony is that the one person who obtained on that day on Calvary Hill the assurance of the eternal security of salvation, for the short but priceless few hours from sometime around mid-morning to when he died at dusk that late afternoon was the thief on the cross alongside Jesus.

            There are two massive takeaways from this dramatic scene taking place in Jerusalem in the first-century.

            Imagine in our mind’s eye the religious elites standing around the three crosses mocking Jesus, the Roman soldiers who carried out the execution nearby, the women disciples of Jesus including His mother at the base of His cross weeping over what has occurred, and the two thieves crucified on each side of Jesus.

            The first massive takeaway from this scene is the huge gulf between the two opposing outcomes of going our own way in self-sovereignty…in contrast to God-sovereignty.

            Jesus is the perfect, blemish-free Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.  To qualify to be the atonement for sin…Jesus must be perfect.  A flawed sacrifice in terms of substandard moral performance in life would be unacceptable.  Wealth, popularity, and political influence are not qualifiers in this Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.

            The problem of human sin is the precise target homed-in on by the blemish-free moral life of Jesus Christ…perfectly lived according to a life-script composed by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

            The perfect life and the perfect life-script of Jesus…lead to the cross on Calvary Hill. 

            But trying to be perfect according to the worldview of going our own way, as demonstrated by the self-reliant religious elites mocking Jesus…leads to placing Jesus on the cross.  These two outcomes could not be more diametrically opposite…could not be more clearly separated.

            The second massive takeaway from this scene on Calvary Hill two thousand years ago is that the thief on the cross, immovably stuck there and not going anywhere or able to do anything secular or religious in the slightest way…surprisingly and unexpectedly experiences that fateful day in his life the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” assurance of the eternal security of salvation for the otherwise physically agonizing hours he spends being executed by Roman crucifixion…through the sure words of promise spoken to him by Jesus the Son of God being crucified alongside him.   

            If we incorrectly believe that we can lose our salvation, this opens the door ever so slightly for self-achieved good-works and self-realization to creep in as the missing ingredient to fill-in the gap of our imperfect moral nature…missing the point entirely as to the redemptive salvation by grace through faith that provides absolute coverage of our sins past, present, and future…even for the thief on the cross experiencing the “peace that passes all understanding” while dying on his cross.

            The story of the thief on the cross, composed and orchestrated by God Himself, being totally outside the contemplative imagination of human literary invention tells us our salvation based upon faith in Jesus Christ…in this divinely illustrated case of the thief on the cross…is eternally secure (Jn. 8:36; 2 Cor. 4:7).

Could the Story of Jesus Christ be Human Literary Invention?

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”                                                                                                             (Jn. 20:31)

            In the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, He encounters push-back from the religious elites in Israel generally and in Jerusalem specifically, which exhibits the unmistakable characteristic of self-righteousness.

            This is displayed in the lack of empathy for the common people…the attitude of looking-down-their noses at the less-educated general public…which then stereotyped Jesus into the lower category of being a common, middle-class artisan carpenter coming from the insignificant small-town of Nazareth in Galilee (Jn. 7:15). 

            This lack of empathy for the common people was the exact opposite of what we should expect from religious leaders who are supposed to be in the business of helping other people.

            The self-righteous character of the religious elites, painfully pointed-out by Jesus throughout His ministry…is too numerous in the New Testament gospels to be discussed in detail here (Mt. 3:7-12; Lk. 4:16-30; Mt. 5:20, 9:10-13, 16:11-12, 20:25-28; Lk. 11:39-52; Jn. 5:38, 7:19, 7:49, 8:24, 40, 44, 9:34).

            The attribute of humility that is revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God…in temporarily leaving His position in heaven as the divine Second Person of the Trinity…to be born into a common family in Nazareth as a human and learning the trade of becoming a carpenter from his stepfather Joseph…exhibits the broadest imaginable range of character in assuming the most worldly humble status in contrast to His true identity.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ is Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper…times ten…combining royalty and humility in the same Person.

            Align this with the worldly practical reality that a perfect moral person could never be crucified as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world…because it would be socially and culturally impossible to get such a perfect person all the way to the utter rejection of the cross on Calvary Hill…unless they were for starters the most commonplace of persons according to outward appearances…according to worldly conventional status.

            How do you get a perfectly sinless, blemish-free Lamb of God person all the way to the cross at Calvary?

            The story of the life of Jesus Christ is real…because it cannot be human literary fiction…because it is too worldly unconventional.

            The story of Jesus not only requires targeted script-writing of unimaginably insightful creative invention, but also the wherewithal to actually pull it off…to not merely talk-the-talk on paper…but to walk-the-walk in concrete reality in our modern first-century…within a singular life-script that even manages to challenge God Himself in the divinely exclusive area of perfect God-sovereignty…a concept that no human writer could or would invent.

            The brilliance of God here is seen in the journey of faith life-script for Jesus…based upon perfect trust, perfect integrity, and perfect truth…contrasted with the disastrous end-point product of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes in first-century Jerusalem, their actions being the direct result of crafting our own individual life-script programs according to the self-performance of good-works, of attempting to earn our way to heaven, the exact opposite of the life-story of Abraham justified by faith (Rom. 4:3).

            On the night before His crucifixion…in the Garden of Gethsemane…Jesus reveals the free-will difficulty of staying perfectly within God-sovereignty when He says: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Lk. 22:42).

            If Jesus deviates even a hair’s breadth from His life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, and says this is too difficult as originally planned and that He is going His own way in search of an easier and less costly salvation method than the cross…then the unity of God-sovereignty within the Trinity of the Godhead would have been broken for the first time in eternity.

            Here God is not only revealing something personal about Himself, but He is telling us one of the most profoundly amazing facts in all of eternity…that He can compose a thrilling and suspense-filled final chapter for the life of Jesus Christ on earth…that manages to challenge Himself in the precise area of God-sovereignty that we will have the most trouble with.

            God is telling us here, that not only is Jesus Christ taking upon Himself the sins of the world…on the cross…but that the life-script for Jesus composed by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), intentionally factors-in Gethsemane and Calvary.

            The life-script for Jesus contains the unimaginable feature that God can now personally relate to our understandably human struggle to make the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty…a new and novel experience set-up for the divine Son of God living as a human person on earth, the perfect and indivisible God-sovereignty that as the Son of God in heaven comes naturally to Him and is otherwise unchallenged and untested in that environment.  

            The enormous range and breadth of character for God to “stoop to conquer” sin displayed in the super-humility of Jesus Christ suffering through the demeaning rejection of Roman crucifixion in Jerusalem…on our behalf…displays the diametric opposite quality of being “petty” according to Richard Dawkins, on a scale of mistaken judgment that is so off-base and misguided as to be beyond adequate description

            The disrespect of the current group of New Atheists towards the life and ministry of Jesus Christ…shows a shallow quality of lazy scholarship…an unwillingness to even attempt to dig deeper, to think through and understand the opposing viewpoint.

            If human sin…imperfection of character…cannot be pushed aside as being the mere product of the partially incomplete development of Darwinian evolution, but instead is so important as to require the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God as a human person, this raises the incarnation, life, and ministry of Jesus up into the seriousness of a life-and-death issue…now and for all-time.

            This then requires the most earnestly sober consideration and analysis, worthy of a dignified and proper investigation.

            Some people have called the life of Jesus “the greatest story ever told”…but the worldviews of philosophical materialists like Richard Dawkins relegate human sin…imperfect character…to merely be the work-in-progress actions of matter and energy, according to the tenets of Darwinian evolution…no other viewpoint being open to atheism.

            This worldview enables philosophical materialists to devalue sin as being natural and unimportant, and thereby devalue the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ again as being “petty.”

            Self-righteousness is one of the few character traits within the broad array of moral concepts…that is unsolvable…that is unfixable…because it pushes-out the ability to recognize our shortcomings that produces regret, that in turn can produce genuine and actionable humility.

Without humility we cannot exercise empathy towards other people (Mt. 9:10-13; Lk. 16:15; Jn. 5:44).

            At the cross on Calvary Hill…God introduces Himself to us at the most intimate level…telling us something deeply personal not only about Himself, but also about the way to discovering genuine truth.

            The Intelligent Designer of the grandeur of the physical universe is telling us that He is up to the character challenge of playing the role of the lowest level of selfless humility, when it is in the service and cause of goodness, truth, and self-sacrificing love…a character trait I judge as being the least petty thing imaginable.

            Regarding self-righteousness…why was Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1-3) in the New Testament gospels, continually butting heads with the biblical interpretations, rituals, practices, and attitudes of the Pharisees and scribes (Mt. 5:20, 22, 28, 34, 39, 44, 6:5, 16, 7:29, 9:11, 11:16-19, 12:1-8, 9-13, 14, 24, 38, 15:2, 16:12, 17:22-23, 19:3; Lk. 11:42-44, 52, 12:1; Jn. 7:19, 24, 8:19, 39-40)…while as the Creator of everyone and everything (Jn. 1:3) He freely interacted with them in open dialogue throughout His ministry and outreach to the world?

            The Pharisees and scribes crafted their own revised version of the faith of Abraham and the law of Moses, putting in place their own system of rituals and practices, briefly listed above, that were achievable through the alternative program of the self-effort of self-realization rather than faith…a form of self-salvation through the performance of good-works, and thus placing themselves in direct conflict with Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God and the chief architect of the very Judaic religion they professed to follow. 

            In a genuine biblical-quality journey of faith…starting with the detailed life-script of Abraham…God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in the process automatically removing any pretense on our part to gloat over self-achievement…in the process removing any portion of the God-composed life-script storyline to degenerate into the negative pride of self-righteousness.

            By contrast…in a journey of selfbased upon the performance of good-works, we actually displace God’s ways with our ways, opening wide the gate to invite-in the erroneous, worldly standard for self-evaluation that with some limited measure of “success” easily morphs into pride-filled self-righteousness…of “look at me how good I am.”

            The performance of the many religious rituals and practices the Pharisees and scribes manufactured to afford them a false standard by which to judge themselves…which fell far outside the bounds of the faith of Abraham or the law of Moses…translates today into the secular variation of similarly displacing God’s ways with our ways, this time using the seemingly more sophisticated, human-manufactured worldview of naturalistic materialism that is primarily based upon Darwinian evolution…in place of the good-works program of the Pharisees and scribes. 

            When self-righteousness pushes-out our capacity to recognize that we are all sinners in universal standing before God…are imperfect beings needing the turn-about of regret and repentance in order to purchase the humility that will accept a reconnection back to God, and a heart-felt desire to allow God to introduce Himself to us through the personal relationship of a life-journey of faith, this debilitating character trait of self-righteousness becomes the hallmark…the epitome…of using self-invented worldview programs as the excuse for unbelief, of going our own way apart from God.

            Both Pharisee-ism in the first-century…and Darwinism today…share the same character trait of self-righteousness, inserting their own worldview system, either through the self-salvation performance of good-works, or by the elimination of sin chalked-up to the progressive development of incomplete Darwinian evolution.

            What is sad from the viewpoint of Spirit-born Christians is that the Pharisees and scribes in the first-century, and people like the New Atheists today…were then and are presently now living within a false sense of security.

            False worldviews generate a false sense of security, and God cares enough about us to introduce Himself in person to mankind, and to separate and divide out for us the right way to go in life (Jn. 1:1-14, 11:25, 14:6).

            Staying with this essay a little bit longer…because the issues are so important…the question can be asked: Why didn’t Jesus choose a few of the religious elites in Jerusalem to be among His apostles and disciples, during His ministry?

            The simple answer is that the character trait of self-righteousness is unsolvable, is unfixable, because it takes-up the space exactly where repentance occurs…pushing-out the ability to have an about-face, turn-around change of mind and heart regarding accepting Jesus Christ.

            The Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem come out to the Jordan River to see what John the Baptist is doing.

            John sees right through them, saying in Matthew 3:7-10:

7 O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits befitting for repentance.

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

            Some of these same hard-core men were still in the Sanhedrin Council decades later when Paul stands before them on his last visit to Jerusalem…men Paul knew well when he was a Pharisee (Acts 22:30; 23:6, 26:5).

            It took no less than a blinding light from heaven to convert Paul (Acts 9:3)…a special calling and a unique variation of the Great Commission coming from Jesus Christ Himself.

            If Paul, a highly educated Pharisee, was going to have the required empathy to take the Christian gospel message to the pagan, polytheistic, and idol-worshipping Greco-Roman world…he was going to need a large dose of humility obtained through the discovery that he was completely wrong about the status of Jesus of Nazareth…thereby displacing the self-righteousness he shared with his colleagues in the Sanhedrin Council, up until that fateful moment on the road to Damascus.

            John the Baptist imprisoned by Herod, has some difficulty with the adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the established leaders in Jerusalem, justifiably assuming that Jesus by then would be in the process of literally fulfilling Isaiah 9:6-7 in this First Advent.

            Mary the mother of Jesus appears to have profound confusion over this same adverse reception Jesus is receiving from the religious leaders…men she would normally admire and respect…regarding the divine status of her son Jesus, which she is acutely and intimately aware of better than anyone, other than Jesus Himself.

            When Jesus begins to tell His disciples about His upcoming arrest, mistreatment, death, and resurrection (Mt. 16:21-22)…Peter emphatically objects, saying: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee”…unable to accept the inevitable negative outcome that would occur when radically pride-filled self-righteousness collides with the low worldly status of being considered petty…in the case of Jesus brilliantly camouflaging His true identity.

            In the account of the Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt. 21:1-11)…the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 is fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon the foal of an ass.” (Italics and bold mine).

            Jesus moderates the impact of everything He does…because He must maintain a perfectly fine-tuned balance so as to remain within the low worldly status of being able to be rejected and crucified (Ps 22; Isa. 53).

            The life-script of Jesus Christ walks this line perfectly, and is a compelling evidence for it being real.

            The life-script of Jesus Christ aims at the very thing that offends Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists…the divine capacity to be able to “stoop to conquer” sin being beneath the dignity of a supposed creator god of the universe, but therein introducing to us a personal character trait of God that is amazing to contemplate…yet is incomprehensible and inaccessible to Darwinists.

            To get a perfect person Jesus Christ all the way to the cross of Calvary, at this one point in time in human history to qualify as the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, requires a rare mixture of the easily offended self-righteousness in His critics, and the low worldly status of His outward appearance of being petty (Isa. 53:1-6)…both positioned at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum graph-line of humility and not moderated toward a compromised and more reasonable center.

            The scenario presented here is light-years beyond any Darwinian program to produce human beings as mere hunters and gatherers…and far beyond the literary imagination of human fictional mythology.

            The life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ inspire the most earnestly sober consideration…and the most dignified and proper analysis…because His story cannot be anything other than genuinely real.

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 2

The narrative stories of faith…as recorded in the Bible…are so different from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that they invent an entirely new frame-of-reference for human life.

This frame-of-reference has as its goal the establishment of a personal relationship…between people and God…set-up through the creative mind of God…and on His terms…that must be the new reality if our life-stories are to be elevated up and out of worldly conventional, popular normalcy and thinking (Jn. 8:36).

The biblical narrative stories of faith are not for or against the aspirations of ancient and contemporary versions of the American Dream. 

The biblical narrative stories of faith simply transcend above these universally popular goals, dreams, and aspirations in a way that makes them curiously inapplicable, unimportant, and no longer the chief desire of our hearts and minds.

The life events and circumstances…the goals…and the end-point outcomes in the storylines of the biblical people of faith…have nothing to do with making a success of ourselves in terms of worldly conventional standards…according to the American Dream as translated backwards into every century of time and every cultural setting from the ancient books of Genesis through Acts…in the Bible.

In the Bible…the people who become caught-up in a God-composed adventure of faith life-script mission…discover along the way that their personal relationship with the living God becomes more important and more valuable than anything else in life…even the attractiveness of the American Dream of material wealth, the culturally acceptable validation of ourselves, and achieving through our own efforts a sense of personal security.

The acceptance and validation coming from God…in valuing us enough to call us by His Spirit into a unique and individual life-plan…of having faith in us to the point of calling us individually into a specific mission that only we can perform…with His assistance and partnership…is entirely different from the self-satisfaction of achieving the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the American Dream according to the Frank Sinatra song “I did it my way”…of self-autonomous individualism…that is typically found within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Phil. 3:4-10).

The parable of the nobleman away on business…and the instruction of Luke 19:13 to “occupy till I come”…is the commendable, baseline guide for all Christians to be about our Father’s business in whatever capacity we may be assigned in the caretaking of the estate…in this parable…of trimming the walkway shrubs, sweeping the exterior walkways, picking the fruits and vegetables from the orchard, caring for the livestock, preparing the meals for the staff, and the general interior and exterior cleaning and up-keep maintenance of the estate buildings and grounds.

Realizing the American Dream…can be achieved entirely through self-effort…through the application and exploitation of our natural, innate abilities…through autonomous individualism.

Experiencing a biblical-quality journey of faith…by intentional design…requires the direct participation of the living God…within a personal relationship.

These two realities for life are not the same…although they can and do overlap…along the way in a journey of faith…in some areas and in some cases.

What this means…in a practical applied sense…for Christians today is that God can guide and channel life-events and circumstances …inserting unique and individualized life-scripts into the lives of plumbing contractors, stay-at-home moms, auto mechanics, high school teachers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, professional athletes, journalists, small town mayors, church pastors, Christian foreign missionaries, Bible college professors, and Christian book writers…after the pattern of the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

For some people…their individual gifts and talents are either outwardly apparent…or internally revealed to them.

Some people know early in childhood that they want to become a medical nurse, or that they possess the athletic ability to play professional sports, or that they have the gift of exceptional intelligence to be able to earn a PhD in mathematics.

For these people…the addition and inclusion of an actively interested and participating God into the mix…enhances the life experience of pursuing their goals with their very best effort…giving it their all…because these unique gifts and talents derive from their Creator God in the first place.

A personal relationship with God can actualize…can come to life…can translate into any conceivable career path, geographical location, personal circumstances, political environment, and economic situation…having enumerable choices and pathways leading to the optimum successful life…at the pinnacle and peak of our intended destiny.

Jesus famously said that He came to earth…that we might have more abundant life (Jn. 10:10).

This more abundant life is based upon the strength of the foundation of a fulfilling relational walk-of-faith with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit…and not on the satisfaction of the self-works of achieving the American Dream on our own…apart from God…and outside of a brilliantly unique, divine calling for our lives (Mk. 8:36).

God created within us this strong drive to succeed.

This actualizes into the optimum life when it is lived within a joint-venture walk of faith…with Jesus Christ…occupying His correct relational position as King and Ruler in our lives…utilizing His qualities of timeless foresight and divinely unselfish love…perfect in His elevated estimation of our value and worth…demonstrated in His self-sacrifice on the cross at Calvary for our sakes.

This is a key element of the real Christian life…as articulated for us throughout the biblical narrative stories of faith (Rom. 15:4).

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 1

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”                                                                                               (2 Tim. 2:4)       

The American Dream…in modern terms might be defined by many people to include things like going to the finest college, earning an advanced degree, getting a high-paying job we enjoy working at, having a happy marriage, successfully raising a family, buying a large mansion in a great location, driving a Bentley or Aston Martin convertible automobile, having good friends, enjoying hobbies, playing sports, having good health and a long life, sending our children to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, or other prestigious colleges, having a healthy stock portfolio, taking European vacations, enjoying our grandchildren, and having a secure retirement.

What could outwardly appear…on the surface…to be more popularly sensible…more conventionally appealing as goals, dreams, and aspirations in life to aim for…than the list of things described above?

Yet the narrative stories of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are entirely different…in terms of goals, dreams, and aspirations…from any imaginable ancient version of the American Dream…translated back to a previous period in time.

This observation…however offensive and bewildering to the humanistic philosophy of some people…should at the very least stand-out as a waving red-flag to us within the modern marketplace of ideas…but we miss it…in part because most people concentrate on the worldly essentials of keeping our jobs, paying the bills, fulfilling our personal duties and obligations, and carving-out any remaining space for personal time…to have any space leftover to seriously contemplate entering by faith into a God-composed journey of faith…a personalized calling…written just for us (Mt. 6:33).

This is one of the unique facts about the Bible that argues for its divine origin…because this transcendence above popular conventional thinking…would never originate from popular conventional thinking.

This observation…counter-intuitively…is one of the most positive features of the biblical gospel message of God’s very real and rational offer to us of an alternative choice…into an elevated, purposeful life on a higher moral, ethical, and spiritual plane.

To become a willing enlistee of God into a divinely-composed journey of faith life-script…full of risk and adventure…actualizes into having the most profound meaning, purpose, and fulfillment imaginable for human beings.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6)…not only because He is the Savior, Redeemer, and Light of the world…but also and of equal importance…Jesus Christ is the only person in all of existence who can compose divinely-crafted  journey of faith life-scripts for every believer in the Old Testament…in the New Testament…and for Christians today…that are an attractive, alternative option that transcends above popular conventionality…yet may encompass…along the way…some of the goals and outcomes of the otherwise commendable American Dream listed above.

One of the key biblical concepts that is still partially missing today in contemporary orthodox Christianity…that has not yet been fully recovered following the Protestant Reformation…is that the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…have little or nothing at all to do with the American Dream…modern or ancient…as the primary thing to aim for in life.

The genuine reality of human life…the validation of our creation and existence…is not found within the autonomous individualism of a pursuit of the American Dream.

The true purpose of human life is found on the higher plane of God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts in pursuit of our created destinies.

The calling of Abraham…the “father of faith” as long ago in history as 2,200 B.C., recorded as beginning in the 12th chapter of Genesis…the first book in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament…as well as the callings of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David…all the way through the Bible to the calling and ministry of the apostle Paul…are not anything like the America Dream as outlined above.

On the surface, this is a compelling evidence for the divine origin of these unconventional life-scripts.

As Abraham walks from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step he takes God is displacing whatever conventionally normal life Abraham might have lived in Haran…with a completely different, elevated life based not upon the American Dream…but upon an entirely unique walk of faith…that opens up the context in which to get to know the real living God on a personal basis.

Instead of becoming the city mayor of Haran, or becoming its international trade ambassador, or serving on the school board, or coaching an ancient version of a youth soccer team…and thereby exiting quietly from history as an unexceptional person living an unexceptional life…Abraham’s calling and life-mission as brilliantly composed by God…was to become the singular “father of faith” example of an elevated life.

This is the through-line theme of every biblical story of faith…repeated in unique variations-on-a-common-theme for the beneficial impact of successive generations…as the divinely created new normal for all relationships between people and the living God…starting with Abraham’s walk of faith…to our present day.