Repentance and the Vehicle of a Fallen Nature

            The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross covers my sins past, present, and future through the uniquely biblical reality of grace through faith.

            But when I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18, I was not instantly transformed into a perfectly virtuous moral person. 

            After the night I asked Jesus Christ into my life, I did become a noticeably changed and better person now having hope, direction, and a new purpose for living…but in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead I was and still am occupying my fallen, imperfect moral nature.

            This is such a universally commonplace experience for the people of faith in the Bible, and for Christians throughout the past two thousand years, that we take it for granted without much thought.   

            But we can and should ask the probing question of why it is the case that within the biblical narrative stories of faith, without exception other than the life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God, each God-composed journey of faith life-script combines a divinely crafted mission-plan being experienced and performed by people occupying imperfect moral natures.

            We quickly assign this to the notion that we are simply “human” and leave it there.

            Paul “complains” about this reality in Romans 7:15-25, then supplies the brilliant answer in Romans 8:1 that opens up one of the deepest concepts within the human marketplace of ideas, and validates a walk of faith following Jesus Christ as being a creation of God outside of human literary invention: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

            A concept that I think has near equal importance with the re-discovery by Martin Luther of salvation by grace through faith that launched the Protestant Reformation is the verse: “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 entirely biblical but revolutionary concept here that becomes empirical experience through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, overlaid and inserted into the events and circumstances of our lives as Christian believers…is that the redemptive salvation through Christ enables me to enter into a risk-filled journey of faith with impunity and without the threat of jeopardizing the eternal security of my salvation through falling short of perfect moral performance.

            The reality of the connection of the verses 2 Corinthians 4:7, Romans 7:15-8:4, John 8:36, and Matthew 5:6 give us a scriptural roadmap that reveals the divine brilliance of God in being able to flip our imperfect fallen nature into the very vehicle needed to venture-out into this fallen world to explore and discover the knowledge of good and evil…to utilize this current environment as the research program to be able to understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil.

            This has enormous implications for appreciating the moral difference between belief and unbelief, because this uniquely divine set-up of a research program exploring this fallen world through a fallen imperfect nature, is only and exclusively accessible through the repentance of first acknowledging our fallen sinful nature.

            The detailed life-scripts of Abraham through Paul (not excluding Enoch and Noah) cannot be experienced without first allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9)…which starts with the honest admission that we have a fallen, imperfect moral nature that needs the redemptive salvation touch of the God of the Bible personally participating in our lives.

            If we stop to think about it, the timeless foresight of God is so brilliant that He can take the negative outcome of the fall in the Garden of Eden and flip it into the four-wheel drive vehicle that can take us through the rough terrain of this world into a first-hand knowledge of good and evil…that merely eating a piece of forbidden fruit could never actualize into an empirical reality…which probably forms most of the reason why God told Adam and Eve to not eat this fruit in the first place.

            The words of God and His motivations that were slandered by the serpent, turns out to have the highest imaginable purpose and meaning in this current universe and for all time into eternity, as seen in the divine capacity of the God of the Bible to take this negative event and craft it into a positive…in flipping my imperfect moral nature into the means and method to understand the knowledge of good and evil…in the only way that will stick to my ribs like warm oatmeal cereal as my mother used to say on cold winter mornings before we went off to school.

            That this research program could only and exclusively be accessible through repentance…of the ability to admit that we can be wrong and the willingness to do an “about-face” and turn around, separates the divine origin of the Bible from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking by a gulf as wide apart as the Grand Canyon.

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).

The Broad Array of Moral Concepts

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”                                                (Jn. 1:14)

            If the Bible and Christians contend that Jesus Christ is the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…that He was perfect and without sin during His life and ministry on earth, by what or by whose standard do we judge the existence of this alleged perfect moral character in any person?

            How would we determine that the life of Jesus was at the outer edge of moral perfection, at the peak and the pinnacle of absolute goodness and virtue having no additional room or space at the highest top-most point of the vertical, graduated spectrum-line of virtue and morality, of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness having no room for further improvement?

            What would explain the existence of the diverse categories of moral criteria defining virtue, of the numerous moral concepts broken down into individual words as abstract thoughts accessible to human contemplation that would enable and support a valid determination of the moral credentials of Jesus Christ?

            And finally, where would our highly-advanced capacity to comprehend, to divide, separate-out, and parse these varied conceptual virtues and vices consisting of finely differentiated realities that are true-to-life…come from? 

            Where would this uniquely human capacity originate from, seeing that it does not exist anywhere else in the animal world and therefore cannot plausibly be attributed to a common descent, naturalistic explanation for its origin extending seamlessly from animal instinct to human intellect?

            In short, is this current planet earth the perfect environment to conduct research explorations into the knowledge of good and evil, using the lens of a fallen moral nature that is crucified alongside Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary…redeemed fully so that believers in Christ can with impunity and without risk to our eternal salvation…enter into journeys of faith by picking-up our own cross to follow Jesus Christ into an adventure beyond our initial imagination?

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are too deep for a naturalistic explanation for their origin

            Leaving aside the recent modern recognition in philosophy that the human mind…when reduced down to only a material “brain” made up of circuits and neurons…devolves into a nonsensical relativism that undermines confidence in the reliability of all human thought, and thereby destroys rationality, scientific investigation, and even philosophies such as atheism itself.

            Yet by simply asking the question and examining the evidence, this in and of itself declares at the outset that Jesus Christ the person we are investigating…is in fact within the zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue by reason of the question being seriously entertained at all. 

            We would not even open such an investigation into the life of any other exceptional person…past or present…because we already correctly acknowledge that only one person in all of history has made a credible, serious claim to have lived a perfect life, and that one person is Jesus Christ.  

            No sane person in all of recorded history has made a viable and well-substantiated claim to embody and demonstrate the moral attributes of brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and perfect virtue…of being, speaking, and acting like a Deity…proactively anticipated for centuries in the biblical Old Testament messianic prophecies and documented and fulfilled later in the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament gospels.

            This raises the probing apologetics question into the divine origin of the composition of the Bible, Old Testament Judaism, and New Testament Christianity…of how…in the first place we would “come by” the capacity to accurately judge whether the life and ministry of Jesus Christ exhausts the extent of the possible outer-limits of moral perfection.

            How would we determine that our current tool-kit of known virtuous characteristics…of well-defined moral attributes…is absolutely exhaustive, adequate, and complete enough for the in-depth moral reasoning needed to evaluate the life of Jesus Christ? 

            How would we know whether there are not some additional, outstanding moral characteristics that we are unaware of…in this current earthly context…above and beyond those demonstrated and exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that would raise the bar higher, that would call into question the impeccable qualifications of Jesus to be the blemish-free and sinless atoning sacrifice for our sins?

            The point here is not whether God has some additional, divine characteristics applicable in heaven that would not concern us presently…that are not relevant here on earth…but whether or not Jesus the Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7) exhausts the limits of moral perfection as the God/man in order to qualify as the Passover Lamb of God, one-time atoning sacrifice for sin.

            The question is how this full and varied palette of morals had an origin and came into existence within the reality of human life…to be able to make this assessment.

            The important point in this discussion is the fantastic notion that we would have the moral reasoning tools in terms of human mental capacity, but also in the corresponding complement in the broad array of abstract moral concepts defined in discrete and distinctive words…to be able to make a valid decision for or against salvation faith in Jesus Christ…at this highly advanced level.

            The mere existence of this question removes the key component of naturalistic materialism utilizing the concept of incrementally gradualistic development…because of the easily recognizable wealth of complex and finely differentiated concepts defining moral characteristics within personal relationships…that are a fundamental and established part of the human reasoning capacity from the dawn of human history.

            The critical human invention of writing as one tell-tale indicator of human intellectual progress is dated to as recent a time as 3,200 B.C. in the wedge-shaped cuneiform lettering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the cuneiform alphabet in Syria around 2,000 B.C., and in the 22-sign Phoenician alphabet dated around 1,000 B.C.

            The Greeks adopt the Phoenician writing script around 800 B.C.   

            The invention of human writing, of widespread, functional written communication of complex and specified information that locks into time-and-place the human capacity for mature and fully developed moral reasoning…starts only 5,200 years ago.

            We do not have to be a professional anthropologist, sociologist, paleontologist, biologist, or historian to know that there exist no contemporary, eye-witness, written accounts by human authors of the retreat of the Ice-Age glaciers covering the northern continents of America and Europe starting around 12,000 to 10,000 B.C.

            There are no written, eye-witness accounts by the actual participants of humans battling wholly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers during the Pleistocene Ice-Age time-period, prior to the invention of writing, using the letters of an alphabet.

            Are we then to uncritically swallow whole the theoretical paradigm of incrementally gradualistic development as an explanation for the origin of sophisticated and discretely defined moral characteristics…the small step-by-step progressive gradualism proposed by the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism in support of Darwinian macroevolution…still prevalent as a competing worldview narrative today?

            Mindless, undirected, gradualistic development of the capacity for moral reasoning would have left a clearly discernable trail in recorded human history going back for hundreds of thousands of years.

            The great advances in recent history that define the modern Scientific Revolution and the two major Industrial Revolutions are not the product of gradual improvements in the macro-evolution of human mental capacity…broken-up into small steps going back in a linear incline tens or hundreds of thousands of years. 

            These rapid advances of development in modern science and technology are the product of the progressing accumulations of information…an abstract, non-material entity produced by thinking minds and not a discernably progressive material development of the brain.

            Rapid, positive progression over recent time in human intelligence is not a factor as an explanation for the advancements of learning, technology, and the explosive expansion of knowledge over the last three to four decades…called the new Information Age…as this would be called a saltation…a miraculous leap forward as defined in biology.

            Like the sudden appearance of complex life-forms during the Cambrian Explosion 530 million years ago, without the sign of any transitional intermediate precursors found in the Precambrian rock strata, the sudden appearance of human intelligence and the capacity for advanced moral reasoning is extremely brief in relation to the 4.5-billion year age of the earth…and is too sudden in time to be explained by gradualism needing hundreds of thousands of years of development.

            Dr. John Lennox, Oxford mathematician and author suggests in some of his interviews and discussions online on the Internet that the sudden immergence of human intellectual and moral reasoning capacity might be considered another example of being a singularity in the same manner as the Big-Bang creation of the universe, and the sudden immergence of life on earth.

            The mental capacity to technologically problem-solve at the advanced level to take us to the moon in 1969…and the moral reasoning capacity to differentiate and comprehend complex moral concepts…are two realities that define the essence of human beings.

            The point here is that human beings possess a complete and exhaustive array of tools within the broad assortment of moral concepts from which to make an intelligent and reasoned judgment as to the divine quality of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

            Just as orderliness and intelligibility are indispensably coordinated with our human capacity to conduct successful scientific investigation of the natural world, it would be pointless to be presented with the decision-making imperative regarding the truth-claims of Jesus Christ regarding His qualifications as Savior, King, and eternal Ruler if humans did not possess the incredible capacity to make an informed decision.

            Is it therefore more plausible to recognize that the origin of the entire array and panoply of moral characteristics, appearing suddenly and fully defined in scope and range…that this recognition represents a sharp, near-instant vertical upward spike on any conceivable graph-line for the time-duration of the human race, and not anything like incrementally gradualistic development?

            In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists some of the positive fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

            Earlier in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists some of the negative “works of the flesh”: “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.”

            To these two lists of moral attributes and characteristics we could add the concepts of truth, honesty, dignity, loyalty, friendliness, honor, humility, dedication, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, humor, flexibility, empathy, forbearance, consideration, self-sacrifice, gratitude, persistence, commitment, discernment, rationality, logical thinking, being organized, being a peace-maker, fairness, generosity, passion…and a number of other distinct and precise words that describe finely differentiated moral characteristics…and that could be expanded further by listing their negative counterparts.

            Why is this important in a book about the biblical narrative in the modern world?

            When anyone who is a born-again Christian, Bible college student, Christian theologian, atheist, skeptic, or curious truth-seeker begins an examination of the perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ, they are acknowledging the existence of the very tools of the sophisticated and varied concepts available that precisely define moral characteristics that make such an examination possible.

            Such an investigation acknowledges the reality of the broad array of moral concepts that in and of itself argues as compelling evidence for their divine, advanced, and non-material origin (Gen. 1:26-27)…being inconceivable coming from a purely materialistic origin of a human “brain” consisting of circuits and neurons only…a brain manufactured over time according to the accidental, trial-and-error, chance-happenstance process of random and undirected naturalistic materialism.

            Without this complete and exhaustive tool-kit of concepts by which to judge moral characteristics, a personal decision for or against accepting Christ as Savior would fall short of being meaningful…would not have all of the richly differentiated criteria to support a valid decision…one way or the other.

            We could not accurately and realistically produce an oil-painting depiction of a rugged seascape shoreline with waves crashing against rocks…or of forest trees, blue skies, brilliant white clouds, and a peaceful lakeshore…using only three colors. 

            To create a masterpiece landscape painting, we need the full palate…the full array…of oil-paint colors. 

            For a god-less interpretation of reality to be valid…it would require some reasonable explanation for the creative origin of the extremely complex and nuanced definitions of the many words that describe the advanced moral concepts that human beings use and understand every day, that define the essence of what it means to be human, above and beyond the mere yet brilliant hunting skills exhibited through animal instinct.

            The complexity, specificity, and integrated coherence of the life-story of Jesus Christ in support of His being the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, requiring moral perfection within the context of a human life not only requires a reasonable explanation for the origin of this remarkable concept, but also by necessity raises humans up into the elevated zone of being able to cast their informed votes…for or against…the placing of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life. 

            The three complimentary categories: the existence of the broad array of moral concepts, our capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, and the divinely composed life-script for Jesus Christ…must all be mature, fully developed, and functionally in-time for the appearance of Jesus Christ into this world…in the first-half of the first-century A.D.

            This discussion opens the door into a better and fuller understanding of the uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…validating the life of Jesus to be at the top-most point of moral perfection.

            As discussed in the previous essay and repeated here for emphasis…one area therefore where we can clearly and unambiguously authenticate the divine nature of Jesus Christ is in His perfect compliance with the biblical concept of God-sovereignty in His life-script and performance.

            On the cross Jesus is demonstrating God-sovereignty actualized to absolute perfection…in staying within His God-composed life-script calling to become the Savior of the world…in purely consistent, non-rebellious, sinless unity-of-purpose within the Godhead of the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            The divinely brilliant, creative originality of the cross is that Jesus is experiencing the most acute outward display of worldly failure…while at the same time achieving the greatest single accomplishment for mankind in all of history as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin.

            God combines on the cross two contrasting elements…extreme worldly failure and brilliantly divine success…on the broadest possible range of human experience because the cross at Calvary involves the divine Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7) that no human literary writer could ever imagine or invent.

            Jesus Christ on the cross as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…in perfect demonstration of God-sovereignty…is such a brilliantly divisive yet subtle issue surgically separating truth from error that many modern Jews even today use this perceived failure of Jesus to be the expected Moses, Joshua, or King David type Messiah ushering-in world peace…as still serving as the main reason for why they reject Jesus Christ as Messiah, disqualifying Him on these grounds alone.

            Many Jews in the first-century and today would say that their Messiah would never suffer the indignity of being crucified by the Romans…of being a curse “hanged on a tree.” (Dt. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).

            As we ourselves stand at the cross looking up at Jesus…we either see the Passover Lamb of God performing His God-composed life-script in perfect God-sovereignty…or we see the worst failure of a person that can be imagined in life, the utter humiliation of first being scourged, then afterwards ending their lives through the shame and defeat of Roman crucifixion.

            As we look up at Jesus hanging on the cross, we either see a life-script that was perfectly written to match the unique capacity of the God/man Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the sins of the world, or we see a life-script that falls so far short of the positive aspects and aspirations of the American Dream ancient or modern…that our best option then is to choose to go our own way in a journey of self, according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and reject Jesus Christ altogether.

            The insightfully piercing dichotomy between the perfect God-sovereignty of Jesus Christ…and the self-sovereignty of going our own way of the religious elites and political rulers in Jerusalem…at the cross…is exposed by God alone as no human literary genius could of being as wide apart as the Grand Canyon.

            God alone has the motivation and the ability to highlight on that day atop Calvary Hill…the huge contrast between self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty…to perfection.

            This is a key element that separates-out for us…amidst the sea of multiple competing narratives…the singularly unique biblical narrative in a modern world.

Why Doesn’t God Reveal Himself Empirically?

            God is the architect of one of the most unlikely of creations…the delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment…a management of dynamic information that is unimaginably fine-tuned and precise.

            Balancing belief and unbelief in our world, so that one does not overpower the other, is one of the great spiritual engineering feats in all of human history, yet one we do not…nor would not…normally recognize or attribute to the real God. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief is surprisingly calibrated, landing midway in the narrow zone of falling just beyond the reach of where human inventive imagination and contrivance ends, but falling just short of the demarcation line of clearly revealing its supernatural origin and nature, along with its carefully hidden requirement for periodic adjustments in response to social and cultural change. 

            The most unlikely of creations, because most of us would assume that the God of the Bible…a personal God we can get to know intimately through a journey of faith (Jer. 31:34)…would take every opportunity to tip-the-scale in favor of belief over unbelief, in terms of concrete, factually persuasive, irrefutable evidence in nature and through divine revelation, in favor of belief in His existence, very early in human history. 

            But this is not the case within the human decision-making zone of belief and unbelief. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief, the ability to freely engage with God in a fully-scripted adventure of dynamic faith having the risk, from our perspective, of possible success or failure in-the-moment…or to freely push God away in skeptical unbelief to entirely go our own way…is a true masterpiece of creative ingenuity precisely because of its balanced neutrality in this area of unforced belief or unbelief.

            On Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ could have added to His already busy agenda…to openly walk down Main Street in Jerusalem and right into the Temple sanctuary, in clear view of everyone (Lk. 24:13-32; 36-43; Jn. 20:19-20), validating forever thereafter, without any doubt, His claim to be the divine Son of God.  Like Thomas (Jn. 20:26-28), people could touch his hands and the wound in His side, and believe based on the visual evidence (Jn. 20:29).  

            But then the delicate balance of belief and unbelief would also immediately disappear…forever thereafter. 

            Recognition of Jesus Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6) would not be an open option that could go in either of the two opposing directions of belief and unbelief…but instead would be a strictly obvious fact…like the daily occurrence of the rising sun, or that two-plus-two equals four. 

            This balance of belief and unbelief offers compelling evidence for the divine origin of the biblical message of redemptive salvation by grace through faith, because the mere existence of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief, that is the prerequisite foundation for the exercise of faith…is so transparently neutralso free of the taint of coercive human bias weighted in favor of one direction or the other…that it could never be mistaken as the imperfect conceptual product of human literary invention. 

            The delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment has a supernatural origin…because a humanistic explanation for its creative ingenuity and its functionally balanced longevity over time…is nonsensical.

            The existence of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief, of willingly entering into a risked-filled adventure of biblical faith wherein God displaces our ways with His higher ways, in contrast to pushing God away and going our own way according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, is a transcendent reality that could only come from the divinely imaginative mind of God…having a definite purpose…way beyond the initial set-up capacity of humans to invent, adjust, and sustain over its 4,200 year history, beginning with Abraham the “father of faith.”

            Hard-core biblical skeptics incorrectly want Jesus Christ, as stated above, on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week following His resurrection on Easter morning…to walk openly down the middle of Main Street in broad daylight and straight into the Temple in Jerusalem…thus initiating a widespread, empirically undeniable proof for His claim to be the Son of God, on the same level that we popularly recognize that one-plus-one equals two, or that the sun rises in the east each morning.

            The fundamental shortcoming of this insistence by skeptics of the Bible is that it creates no context…no milieu or environment of life events and circumstances to begin a personal relationship between God and people, within the otherwise insufficient framework of a mere factual acknowledgment and consensus that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.

            It would substitute the wrong category type of empirical facts, in place of the correct type of empirical facts…the correct type being discovered through the sequentially lived experiences of a journey of faith, rather than experiencing a visual observation, after which we would go back to living our lives unaffected, as before, within the parameters of self-sovereignty governed by worldly conventional normalcy.

            Replacing the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…with hard empirical fact…opens wide the door for the humanism of self-sovereignty to take the facts regarding God and mold Him in our image to suit ourselves…rather than the contrary dynamic of God molding us into His image through a journey of faith.

            The common people visually seeing Jesus walking down Main Street in Jerusalem after the resurrection, disrupts and alters the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…removing the critical element of the tension of suspense spread-out over time regarding future outcomes within our life-stories, that creates the context for faith to actualize into the mature, intimate, and personal relationship of trust between God and people, the same as occurs in human relationships (Heb. 11:1, 6).

            There is no moral component…no merit…to acknowledging the factual existence of the noonday sun, or the truth that two-plus-two equals four, and not three or five, other than the correlation to the truth of the accuracy of our information…because these things are not in dispute.

            Mere acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is the Son of God through empirical, observational fact, that would be commonly undisputed, has no change-of-character impact upon the strength of the attractive pull of the worldly conventional narrative.  It has no course-correction, has no power to induce regret, in our worldly decision to go our own way, as autonomous, self-reliant junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives.

            Seeing the resurrected Jesus walking openly down Main Street in Jerusalem, visually with our eyes, does not change our resolve to live our lives our way without “interference” from God…any more than seeing with their own eyes Jesus raise Lazarus to life after being four days dead in a rock covered tomb, changed the thinking of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers, and only a few days later in that same week these same men thoroughly and with finality rejecting Jesus…cruelling mocking Him as He hangs dying on the cross (Mt. 27:39-44). 

            The decision to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, to choose to follow Him, is a moral choice involving faith…is a decision of the heart and mind at the center of the reality of personal relationships involving faith and trust…at the center of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief.

            The empirical part comes after we become spiritually born-again, being a supernatural experience that confirms that God actually exists, and as we enter into the Christian discipleship of a journey of faith, that reveals to us what God is like as a person…that builds a personal relationship.

            During the temptation in the Garden of Eden, God could have arrived on the scene, and to empirically refute the serpent and to establish His authority, performed some visual demonstration of His divine powers that the serpent could not duplicate…the serpent being a spiritual manifestation of Satan and not possessing divine powers to match God.

            But God performing a visual demonstration of His power…of a sign that was clearly observable and thus empirical to Adam and Eve, would not and could not in any way establish the personal trustworthiness and integrity of God’s Word…being something entirely in a different category of facts…different from performing a visually observable supernatural act…different from a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  

            Without hitting this nail on the head too many times, the recently resurrected Jesus Christ walking openly down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and into the Temple, merely translates the intimate relationship earned through lived-experience between people and God, into the unremarkably commonplace recognition of an observed fact.  It translates the resurrection of Jesus into a category of facts, the possession of which confers no special merit…on our behalf…or even on God’s behalf.

            This is one thing that makes this time in human history unique, in that the recent discoveries in modern science are creating an empirical revelation about the existence and character of God, precisely timed for the “last days”…beginning to approximate the certainty that would have been produced two thousand years ago had Jesus Christ openly walked down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and straight into the Temple…a few days after His resurrection…and began to teach on His unique calling and mission as the Son of God to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin.

            The lack of empirically undisputed credibility within the written and verbal testimony of the early disciples, who did visually see and engage with the risen Christ after His resurrection (not having the technical means to videotape as “home movies” their interaction with the resurrected Jesus) and the green-light option of skeptical critics to discount the veracity of the supernatural participation of God within the biblical narrative stories of faith, has now turned the corner into the realm of fact-based empirical evidence…identifying and elevating the recognition of the high craftsmanship of the Intelligent Designer God of the material universe, thereby at the same time identifying and recognizing the divine nature of the composition of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            This is a sea-change…an inflection-point…in the history of mankind.

            If the data from modern science is now telling us through the unbiased, independent secular enterprise of human scientific investigation, that there are a vast number of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural world…such as the fine-tuned constants of the laws of physics, the periodic table of elements in chemistry, the Big Bang creation of the universe, and the information within DNA, that identify the inarguable need for an Intelligent Designing Agent…this in essence now empirically shifts the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…something that has never occurred before.

            If the human enterprise of scientific research reveals the logically inescapable need for an Intelligent Designing Agent behind the architectural and engineering design of the natural world…purposely foreseen and intended by God in making the natural world both orderly and intelligible…this revelation coming in the end-times produces the empirical conclusion in the exact way God wanted, through the human investigative search for truth, through the innate, created capacity for human beings to exercise their intellectual and moral reasoning…to actualize into reality the fact that we are made in the image of God and not the mere accidental product of a naturalistic universe.

            Modern scientific investigation was always going to reach a point in time when the inescapable recognition of the need for an Intelligent Designing Agent of the natural world…to explain the presence of complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information…was identifiable everywhere we look in the living and non-living world, now well beyond the rational and plausible reach of purely materialistic causations.

            Because the natural world was always this complex, starting at the Big Bang 13.7-billion years ago for the universe and beginning 4.5-billion years ago for our planet earth, this world-changing epiphany was waiting all this time for human scientific discovery to advance to the point today where intelligent agency is now the only remaining option to explain how all of this came into being.

            As the recognition of the specificity of information increases, the plausibility of random chance decreases as the explanation for the origin of this material universe.

            But equally astounding, the delicate balance between belief and unbelief had to be precisely adjusted and maintained, also all the way up until this time-period in human history, not being categorically decisive for or against either belief or unbelief in the existence of God until modern scientific investigation could weigh-in on the question…to conclude on the basis of fact-based evidence…that the quantity, quality, and upfront timing of the information discovered in the natural world requires a designer.

            The scientific fact-based evidence, obvious to unbiased observers, is that we do not see anything in the living or non-living world that can self-assemble into something that is a complex, specified, and coherently integrated system.

            Information, in the quantity and quality required to produce complex life-forms and their supporting biosphere on earth and in the cosmos, cannot simply come into existence on its own.

            This should also give us a hint…a heads-up…that we are currently living in the end-times.

            The resurrected Jesus on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after Easter morning…openly walking down Main Street and into the Temple being a clearly too premature evidence in the first-century…would have toppled the delicate balance between belief and unbelief towards belief.

            By contrast today modern scientific investigation is revealing not only complex systems of information inexplicable by naturalistic origins…but also that modern science actually dissolves the philosophy of atheism as being self-refuting…discussed in the essay “Are God and Science in Conflict?” 

            The shaky ground that atheism now stands upon thanks to the corrosive solvent of philosophical materialism that asserts that our minds/brains are the undependable product of a random and undirected naturalistic process…dissolves the credibility and reliability of all systems of thought, including science and the philosophy of atheism.

            This is an unexpected and unanticipated development accruing out of Darwinism that could only occur in the end-times…otherwise it would affect the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…too early in human history.

            When the indecisive, put-it-off-until-later, fence-sitting of procrastination regarding the question of belief or unbelief in God, begins to lose some its long-standing truce of neutrality and tips in favor of belief in God…then the equal and opposite reaction is an erosion of unbelief as a previously viable worldview option.

            At some point in time, in the rapid accumulation of evidence, which I believe is now, the only two remaining worldview choices left standing will be belief in God…or people resorting to simply saying “I don’t want to believe in God.”

            Without having the credible excuses of naturalism, Darwinism, or scientism to fall back on…or even the now philosophically illogical position of atheism that is undermined by its own adherence to scientific materialism…the only remaining reason left for choosing to go our own way apart from God is exposed as pure and simple unbelief.

            Skeptical unbelievers and people sitting on the fence, by their choices and actions, will someday soon, in truth be limited to saying: “God, and Christianity, and the Bible”…be damned…I want to live life…my way…no matter what the evidence tells us is the truth.

            Not everyone can become PhD scientists, able to navigate through the technical facts spanning several disciplines of research…supporting either atheism or agency in nature.  

            Winning a consensus that favors design in today’s scientific community, and rejecting naturalism would be without question a monumental event in human history.

            But the discovery by modern science of the inescapable presence of design in the natural world, and thus the existence of an intelligent designer God…expands a million-fold when filtered through the biblical narrative stories of faith…of making a compelling argument that a faith-journey following the God of the Bible is credible, accessible, and advisable in our modern popular culture…as the one true worldview narrative…excluding all others (Mt. 7:13-14; Jn. 11:25, 14:6).

            The amazing revelation here is that it is the unexpected product of modern science that has provided the answer to the age-old objection of skeptical unbelief, that the real God should come forward and reveal Himself empirically by writing across the sky for everyone to see… in fiery-red letters…that He exists and who He is.

            The delicate balance between belief and unbelief provides the free-will opportunity to cast a vote in favor of making the God of the Bible our ruling King…or to reject Him altogether in favor of the humanistic worldview of self-sovereignty.

            For God to write across the sky in fiery-red letters that He exists and who He is…and to worship only Him…is an empirical evidence for God that removes the free-will quality of our decision to vote for or against God.

            Jesus on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His resurrection walking openly down Main Street and into the Temple in Jerusalem…likewise removes the freedom of choice and replaces it with factually visible evidence.

            Everyone in heaven will be there because they wanted to be there…because they voted in a “fair and free election” to make Jesus Christ their King and Ruler.

            Those who voted for the skeptical unbelief of self-sovereignty within the free-will choice afforded them through the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…will not be in heaven by their own decision to push God away.  

            Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:24…”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.”

            The Pharisees and scribes also wanted an empirical sign from Jesus to authenticate His qualifications, and Jesus said no (Mt. 12:38-39).

            A personal relationship is based upon mutual faith and trust…and that is one explanation for why God chooses to introduce Himself to the world through the biblical narrative stories of faith…and why He does not reveal Himself universally to everyone through the empiricism of a “sign from heaven.”

            But what is remarkable in our modern world today like never before…is that both the scientific data about the natural world and the narrative stories of faith from the Bible…are telling us who God is and what God is like…in a compelling way that approaching the certainty of being a sign from heaven.

“The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man boast.”                                                           (Eph. 2:8-9)

The Perfect Savior

“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.

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.

The Real Christian Life 2

This is precisely why God invented time in conjunction with the atomic particles, energy, and the laws of science at the Big Bang…so that we could experience the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over time…so that we can learn the “hard way”…so that we can experientially learn by our mistakes and failures.

In this uniquely biblical reality, we maintain our free-will choice, but the program of salvation and the journey of faith life-scripts are entirely of God…as logically they must be…if godliness is to come into our lives.

Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That not of yourselves…not of works…because human good-works cannot get us from one end of the spectrum-line…self-sovereignty…all the way over to the other end of the spectrum…God-sovereignty…that is the essential core feature of the real Christian life.

A functionally effective program for salvation that includes a God-composed journey of faith life-script…like that of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul…to name only a few…must have these components of eternal security, free-will choice, the universal atonement of Christ (in the Old Testament looking forward in time to the coming of the Messiah), the innate capacity of people to be able to exercise faith or to reject God, and the all-important grace of God…to not only forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross…but to make allowances for our flawed performance within our individually scripted journeys of faith…thus removing out-of-the-picture entirely the concept of self-works earning our way to salvation.

Everyone can visualize a young father kneeling on the living room carpet…a few feet away from a chair upon which is standing their two-year old son or daughter…saying unto them: “jump into my arms, and I will catch you.”

After the son or daughter jumps the short distance and is caught into the outstretched arms of their father…laughing and gleefully shouting “do it again, Dad, do it again!”…not only has a fun new game been invented but a bond of trust has been strengthened between father and son or daughter…that Dad will catch me each time in this game when he says “jump” from the chair into his arms.

One important point here is that it is the father who invents this game.  The two-year old does not say: “Dad…I am going to stand at the front edge of this chair and jump…and you are going to catch me.”  All of the logistics and outcomes of this new game…of having fun but also building a relationship of trust…are premeditated within the creative mind of the loving father.

I cannot speak for Abraham as he journeys from Haran to Canaan…or Joseph as he works through his unofficial MBA training in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison…or Moses as he walks with his brother Aaron toward Egypt to deliver the Israelites…or David when he approaches Goliath with his sling and stone…or Peter at his personal interview with Jesus on resurrection day…or Paul after he discovers on the road to Damascus that Jesus is the Messiah.

Anyone who has heard the voice of God in the Spirit in their calling…in some way or another senses an authority, a confidence, an assurance of certainty that God is someone I can trust and follow…even more importantly someone I can love…unlike anything else in all of human experience…as we should expect.

This is what see observe in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and it does not make for anything like accurate, human literary fiction.

Good human literary fiction is based upon conventional human experience.

But God inserting life-scripts having His higher ways and thoughts…displacing our ways in the process…is so unconventional it cannot be found anywhere in human literary fiction or anywhere in human experience…outside of the Bible.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are too complex, too sophisticated, too functionally integrated, and too creatively outside of the boundaries of normally conventional thinking to be the product of human literary imagination.

If following God was very similar to everyday normal life…then the God-track would not only be suspect as being a human invention…but it would offer very little benefit in terms of genuine separation, change, and hope for a new, transformed better life…compared to the self-sovereignty track of going our own way.

The more inexplicably implausible the creative origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith might be…by way of humanistic literary invention…in other words the larger the obvious gap between going our own way versus picking up our cross to follow Jesus Christ is…then the more information content, reformation impact, and change-agent value there is in a God-composed journey of faith life-script…designed not only to lead and guide us into all truth (Jn. 16:13) but also to establish a context wherein we can get to know God within a personal relationship…something that is entirely supernatural (Jn. 10:27-28, 11:25-26, 14:8-9).

The concept of split-second, instantaneous revelations and pronouncements by God…spanning the duration of a micro-second within the timeless environment of God (Isa. 46:9-10)…cannot by definition actualize into the first-hand experiences of the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over the time intervals of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…within our dimension of time.

My mother used to say at breakfast on a cold winter morning before we headed off to school that “oatmeal will stick to your ribs.”

This is why God invented time.

This is why God invented journeys of faith life-scripts as the optimum vehicle for the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…for every believer (Jer. 31:31-34).

The lessons learned first-hand through a journey of faith spread-out over time…will stick to our ribs for all eternity.

This is why a timeless God gives us the assurance of the eternal security of our salvation…before we enter into the risk of an adventure of faith (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14).

This is why a timeless God has already factored-in our mistakes and shortcomings into our adventure of faith…covered by God’s grace…not just at our initial acceptance of Christ and becoming spiritually born-again (Jn. 3:3-5)…but throughout our journey of faith…come what may (Eph. 2:8-10).

The Real Christian Life 1

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”                                    (1 Pet. 3:15)

This book is a series of short-length, stand-alone essays that start with the main theme that the biblical narrative stories of faith could not possibly be the product of human literary invention…but instead have a divine origin, composition, and intentional targeted purpose of the highest importance imaginable.

If this is true…and I think this can be convincingly shown to be true using commonsense logical reasoning…then the implications are enormous.

If God is the scriptwriter behind the detailed, biblical narrative stories of faith…from Abraham in the book of Genesis to Paul in the book of Acts…this gives us God’s perspective of what He thinks today is The Real Christian Life…what is productive, genuine discipleship.

How we best live our Christian lives…is powerfully connected to this one question of whether or not the biblical narrative stories of faith could be merely human literary invention…or instead could only come from the mind and heart of a God possessing divinely timeless foresight, brilliantly creative imagination, and a gift for proactive preplanning at the highest level of coordinated multi-tasking.

But before moving on to make commonsense arguments in more detail for the existence of God, the divine origin of the Bible, and how the biblical narrative stories of faith relate to the real Christian life today…in this Introduction I should disclose my theological biases and presuppositions…that have a direct bearing on the logical consistency and strength of my arguments.

I believe that born-again Christians have the full assurance of the eternal security of their salvation (1 Jn. 5:13; Phil. 1:6; Jn. 10:28-29)…through their free-will choice (Mk. 8:34-38; Jn. 4:14; Rev. 22:17) to accept Christ through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). 

This certainty is based upon their knowing (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 1:18) that they have accepted Jesus Christ by faith.

I believe that faith precedes salvation (Rom. 5:1; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:13)…that upon hearing the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4)…if we believe and accept Christ…then we are saved…and can never lose our salvation (Jn. 3:16).

I believe that the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is the perfect atonement for the sins of mankind (Col. 2:10)…and that this atonement is offered freely to every person for them to either choose to accept or to reject (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; Jn. 1:11).

I believe that the concepts of predestination, election, divinely timeless foreknowledge, free-will choice, the capacity to believe, and the universal outreach of salvation…are all derived directly from scripture…and are brilliantly interwoven, adjudicated, balanced, and resolved…interpreted by God Himself…within the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God is the only person who could blend seemingly contradictory concepts together within the events and circumstances of the numerous biblical life-scripts of journeys of faith…bringing together the unmixable ingredients of God’s will, our free-will choice, God’s timeless foresight, and the intentionally designed benefits of our four dimensions of space and time…slowing events and circumstances down into short-term and long-term experiential lessons that lead the people of faith in the Bible…and modern Christians today…into the “all-truth” of John 16:13.

As I will argue many times in essays throughout this book, this is a compelling apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible…because the novel and innovative quality of the biblical narrative stories of faith is too worldly unconventional to have originated from a humanistic worldview perspective.

This biblical interpretation has a direct and critical bearing upon the actualizing within our lives of the type and quality of a journey of faith described in the Bible…from Abraham through Paul…due to the high risk-level involved…if our salvation was not secure.

As a practical matter…no one in their right-mind would take the high risk to venture out into a journey of faith following a God-composed life-script…in which we cannot…by divine intention (2 Cor. 5:7)…see around the next bend in the upcoming corner or over the top of the next hill…as to how steep, perilous, or narrow the way may become…if by following this life-script our eternal salvation was placed in jeopardy.

God knows that no one would…or should…accept the risk of a biblical-style walk of faith…if our salvation was in the slightest way dependent upon our often flawed human performance over the course of our lives…if our salvation was dependent upon faith plus some additional measure of our good-works.

No ancient or modern Christian would step into their risk-filled, God-composed life-script…crafted after the biblical pattern of an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul…without the upfront assurance of the eternal security of their salvation.

This doctrinal issue bears directly upon the real Christian life…because clearly the biblical narrative stories of faith from Noah through Paul entail their assuming the highest imaginable risks upon first entering into their God-composed callings.

This all-important issue also illuminates a commonsense apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible…simply…that a God-composed journey of faith life-script is so foreign to worldly conventional thinking…and therefore by nature highly risk-filled in its reliance upon the good faith and character of God…that God is wisely offering us a safe-conduct upfront…through the blood of Jesus Christ…securing our eternal salvation…before we willingly agree to accompany Him out into the newness and novelty of a walk of biblical faith.

The Heart of the Debate 3

For Holy Spirit filled and empowered Christians during the tribulation, “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5) does actually come true for human beings, but in the narrowly right way in divine loving self-sacrifice as patterned for us by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

This unexpected outcome is to the eternal chagrin, consternation, and judgment of Lucifer the archangel who wanted to become god for all of the wrong reasons (Isa. 14:12-17; Rev 12:12).

God is so imaginatively creative He can bring the destructive words of the temptation in the Garden of Eden back full-circle upon Lucifer’s own head.  God pouring-out His divine power and grace in demonstration of self-sacrificing Christ-like love through end-times Christians would place an emphatic period at the end of the final chapter in the long story of human redemptive history.

Human efforts to create a better world are rife with failure and shortcomings.  The narrative stories of faith in the Bible are the only sure examples of success having eternal benefits.  When God joint-ventures with us in an adventure of faith we have the potential for large results on an unimaginable scale.

God has to initiate drastically enhanced worldwide circumstances one last time to attempt to break through the stubborn rejection of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  For many people adversity is the only thing that brings focus to our shortcomings that leads to seeking heartfelt repentance toward God.  We therefore need God to set-up the precisely targeted conditions on earth whereby the task of salvation is completed and the church becomes the light of the world.

We need God’s divine help to finish the job at the end of the ages.

The end-times great tribulation is not about what we would like or prefer.  It is about God closing out the human story of redemption in the highest and best way possible according to the extremely tight specifications of the final journey of faith patterned for us in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

It is about Immanuel…God with us…in the penultimate resolution in the pursuit of truth designed to benefit the people of God for all eternity.

It is the closing chapter of the story beginning with Abraham so long ago, of trusting God and letting go in a set of circumstances that divide truth from error in a way that is incomprehensible to the horizontally conventional world of skeptical unbelief.

The example of Paul aptly closes out this book.

In Acts 21, Paul is journeying toward Jerusalem for the last time.  Along the way, Holy Spirit inspired Christians forewarn Paul that he will face persecution, imprisonment, and possibly physical harm in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-24, 21:10-14).

Paul is arrested in the temple, beaten by the populace, rescued by a Roman guard, almost interrogated by scourging, in danger of being “pulled to pieces” in the Sanhedrin, and threatened with death through an ambush of forty men lying in wait, having taken a vow not to eat until they have killed Paul.

Yet in Acts 23:11, just before Paul learns of the plot to kill him and he is moved to Caesarea for safety, Jesus appears to Paul in the night and says: “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

Jesus amazingly…and counter to all worldly conventional thinking… encourages Paul to “be of good cheer” in the midst of deadly opposition and the most unsettling of worldly events.  Paul goes on to witness before the Roman governor Felix, and King Agrippa and Bernice in Caesarea.  Paul then appeals to Caesar for a hearing in Rome, survives a shipwreck in route to Rome as a prisoner, writes his remaining four “pastoral” New Testament epistles, and is finally martyred by the Emperor Nero in Rome.

Is this example of the Apostle Paul the true foreglimpse of the selfless divine love that can go forward in the face of enormous opposition to accomplish the task of salvation for others through the enabling power of the “latter rain” of Holy Ghost evangelical fire?

Is a fully engaged Christian church on earth during some portion of the great tribulation the difficult but privileged calling that will define for all time the true nature and person of Jesus Christ the King of glory?

Is our blessed hope of Titus 2:13 the unbreakable assurance of Jesus with us…come what may?

God supplies Holy Spirit faith, power, and boldness when we need it (Dan. 3:16-18; Acts 4:8).  The world wants to sweep the issues of sin, repentance, and our decision regarding Jesus Christ under the rug.  People want to be distracted from these issues by the everyday concerns of the world.  But the upheaval of the end-times brings these issues to the surface in the same lethally unwelcome way that forced the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the first century.

The cross element patterned for us in the journeys of faith recorded throughout the Bible, deserves our closest examination as we approach an understanding of upcoming end-times biblical prophecy.

A commendable bias of including the cross and the resurrection in our interpretation of scripture should become part of the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding we bring to our Christian worldview as end-times events begin to come into clear focus.

The cross in the end-times…of God brilliantly displacing our worldly conventional thinking with life-scripts beyond our imagination…is a huge issue.

God validating and authenticating His character and faithfulness is best discovered and demonstrated through the creative details of a God-composed adventure of faith.

The Cross in the End-Times is as large as any other issue at the close of human redemptive history.  The cross fully applied to our lives creates the most space for God to effectively work out His highest ways.

“Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 24:44).