The Thief on the Cross 1

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 as 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 introduces an element of confusion…which in actuality is instead another strong apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

This 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…because with a timeless God having divine foreknowledge…there is no future earthly span of time that conditionally determines our salvation…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.

Why…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.

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 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…the theme of countless books, plays, and movies.

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

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Unassailable Platform of Humility

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”      (1 Pet. 1:3)

One of the great life-secrets that is hidden in the biblical narrative stories of faith…yet is out there on the surface for all to see…confirms again from another angle the divine origin of the Bible.

This concept…uniformly displayed within every positive biblical character of faith…to a greater or lesser degree…is that once a person walking through their journey of faith following God…hits rock-bottom in terms of discouraging appearances, challenges, failures, or suffering (Jn. 12:24)…this creates a new platform for humility that can be beneficial for the remainder of their lives and their ministries.

For example, once Peter in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest…during the night trial of Jesus…discovers the bitter reality of utter failure in not being able to courageously stand alongside Jesus…in Peter’s own character strength without the assistance of Holy Ghost power…Peter from then-on never has to leave this low state of humility as a useful working platform for the rest of his ministry…as recorded in the book of Acts and articulated so brilliantly in his two New Testament letters.

This divinely crafted and engineered entrance into an attitude of humility that is unattainable through worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…serves as an ongoing life platform for godly service that has the helpful analogy popularly known and easily understood in Christianity…as an empty clay pot or jar “vessel”…that God can fill with His plans, His ways, His purposes, and His power for the blessing of all.

This is another subtle yet compelling argument for the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith life-scripts…because this concept runs so diametrically opposite to worldly conventional thinking and norms…that could not, nor would not, compose by chance or by intention the ingeniously devised scenarios of life-events and circumstances…that would generate rock-bottom, genuine humility that is life-giving…life-renewing (Jn. 12:24-25)…rather than destructive.

The apostle Paul is another example in the New Testament that comes quickly to mind.

If the highly educated Pharisee Saul/Paul is to acquire the essential non-prejudicial attitude of humble acceptance toward the idol-worshipping, polytheistic Gentiles in the Greco-Roman world of the first-century…difficult for any Jew at that time raised from birth to avoid fellowship with the loathsome Gentiles…then Saul/Paul must go through the extraordinary shaking-up of his worldview and his self-confident pride when he meets Jesus as Messiah and Lord in that blinding light on his way to the city of Damascus.

Working from this uniquely novel platform of humility divinely engineered by God for practical usage as a missionary evangelist…Paul from then on does not have to worry about his culturally inherited attitude of looking down his nose in arrogant pride at these misguided Gentiles…understanding immediately he was misguided in a much worse way in persecuting the early church…and seeing how quickly the turnaround in his life through grace by faith in Christ…could also be theirs as well.

Another biblical example that clearly stands out in this regard…of people working from their God-created platform of super-humility…interwoven into the costs of their God-composed journeys of faith…would be Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only “son of promise” Isaac on Mount Moriah…after years of being schooled in patient waiting in the rock-bottom zone of God’s will…over and above our own will-and-way.

Certainly Joseph in Egypt hits rock-bottom in outward negative appearances in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison…yet at this great personal cost (picking up his cross to follow Jesus…for the sake of the future gospel) a character trait of super-humility in Joseph enabled him to interact with the Egyptians…as a foreigner in a foreign land…with skill, discretion, and wisdom that opened up for Joseph a winning strategy to become an effective servant/leader and thus successful as governor during the great famine.

The long years of waiting in the land of Midian as a shepherd for Moses…emptied him of his self-reliant pride as only a long period in exile could…and as he stood before God at the burning bush it can accurately be said that Moses was then an empty, clay jar “vessel” ready for a massive calling and a mission second to none…other than that of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The best example of operating from the platform of divine humility…an interesting blend of terms…is Jesus of Nazareth…who started from a lowly worldly position and never left it…dying naked and penniless on the cross of Calvary…yet giving away eternal salvation of priceless value to multitudes of believers through His limitless gift of LIFE from the cross and the resurrection…brilliantly exemplifying in the same moment of time the most thoroughly emptied vessel (Lk. 22:42) and the most invaluable ministry…from one Person through one God-crafted life-script.

This curious and uniquely biblical reality of hitting rock-bottom in our adventure of faith…through challenges, adversity, the outward appearances of failure, and suffering…to produce a workable platform of humility…is not an apologetic argument to be taken lightly or casually dismissed as being of secondary importance.

In David’s beautiful and powerful Psalm 23…he walks with God through the valley of the shadow of death…and comes out the other side having the hope and the courage to be king in Israel…in a geographical region at that time that had tumultuous and highly hostile neighboring countries in continual warfare with Israel.

When we likewise hit a similar God-generated rock-bottom in our own journey of faith (1 Pet. 4:12)…out the other side comes a useful platform…for us and for the benefit of others…of humility, hope, clarity of purpose, and direction that is unknown and unavailable through worldly conventional self-rulership and self-sovereignty…outside of the living God of the Bible.

Another way of describing this uniquely biblical experience is to simply say that when we lose control and management of our discipleship program…our hearts may be temporarily broken (Mt. 21:44)…but the entire through-line…the main point…of the biblical narrative stories of faith is the supernatural transition from self-sovereignty to a joint-venture of God-sovereignty plus our free-will choice to follow God’s lead.

One incalculably invaluable by-product of this process is the obtaining of a measure of divine humility wherein we can operate as servant/leaders of God…like the servant of Abraham searching out a wife for his master’s son Isaac (Gen. 24:1-28).

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Laying Down Our Lives for Our Friends

John 15:13 reads: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

No greater love than giving our life for our friends…is a self-existent moral principle.  It is independent of us.  We did not invent it.  It is a part of the natural moral law that governs all right behavior.  We cannot claim the credit for its existence.  It is just there…part of reality.

We do find varying degrees of expression for this character trait within the broad, expansive zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…in the self-sacrificing bravery of risking one’s life for others found within the bond of the “brotherhood of soldiers” in warfare…or the person diving into a raging river risking their own life to save someone from drowning.

Other examples on a lighter and non-dangerous level might be found in team sports when players sometimes give up their own individual glory for the sake of the overall team win…or as commonly seen in the “soccer mom” sacrificing her own time and interests by shuttling her children from one activity venue to another day-after-day…and in the father giving up his time on weekends to coach the little league baseball team or to be active in his son’s Boy Scouts troop.

As Abraham travels from the city of Haran towards the Promised Land of Canaan…with every step he takes his normative plans for life back in Haran are being displaced by a new and higher plan devised within the imaginative mind of God…above and beyond anything Abraham could or would have come up with.

Within the higher ways of God…Abraham will grow in character to become the “father of faith”…having a close personal relationship with God…and through faith Abraham will give physical and spiritual birth to multitudes of descendants as numerous as the stars in the night sky (Gen. 15:3-6).

As Abraham travels from Haran to Canaan, and much later in his life on Mount Moriah with Isaac, God inaugurates through Abraham a theme for living…the cross of Christ…”not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42; Jn. 5:30)…that ingeniously blends a personal relationship with God and the “no greater love” of laying down our lives for our friends.

Within this God-composed life-script for Abraham is the cost of leaving behind “worldly conventional normalcy and thinking” in Haran.  Integral with each step Abraham takes towards Canaan and away from normalcy in Haran, Abraham unknowingly is “laying down his life for his friends”…the future multitudes of people who would likewise engage with the living God through the coming centuries.

In the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Esther and Mordecai, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, John, James, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Luke, and Timothy…to name only a few…this component of laying down their lives for their friends…after the pattern of the cross of Jesus Christ…is integrally interwoven into the fabric of their lives.

It is vitally important for Spirit-born Christians today to recognize that in the God-composed journey of faith life-scripts we find recorded in the Bible…the precise circumstances and situations are designed by God to actualize in our lives the context for the “greater love” to find expression…way above the level of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

In every biblical-quality adventure of faith then and now…there is an element of the cross of Jesus Christ that materializes into real action…this giving up of our lives for our friends.

God writes into our life-script this elevated character trait so that we also can experience a portion of divine, self-sacrificing love (Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:9).

A journey of faith God-script for our lives is written for us…and for the people God can minister to through us.

A God-composed adventure of faith for our lives takes this attribute of self-sacrificing “greater love”…and lifts it ingeniously and brilliantly to a higher point on the vertical graph-line spectrum of goodness and light …above what is found and experienced within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

This entire scheme of reality is above and beyond what humanistic thinking and contrivance could or would imagine or self-orchestrate…in terms of being interwoven into a precise life-script of complex, ordered, and detailed events and circumstances having purpose.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script is for us…ourselves and others…as a gift from God to us in keeping with the same self-sacrificing love when God gave Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ to the world:

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2:13-14).

This very real discovery of the “greater love” of laying down our lives for our friends…interwoven into the life-scripts of every biblical narrative story of faith…patterned after the cross and the resurrection in the life of Jesus Christ the Son of God…is inexplicable other than as compelling and persuasive evidence for a divine origin of the Bible.

What possible frame of reference within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking could produce the origin of journeys of faith following the living God…beginning with the “father of faith” Abraham sometime around 2,200 B.C.?

This concept of God displacing our ways with His higher ways…the essence of the cross of Christ…is not even fully understood or taught in orthodox Christianity today.

Every day across the globe…Christians are challenged by the difficult transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty…which is the essence of a genuine walk of faith.

What random assemblage of life experiences, therefore, would or could inspire the first Jewish writers…at the time of the Exodus…to invent this radical concept of a living journey of faith following the real God…built around the unconventional theme of “not my will, but thine, be done” of the cross of Christ…that did not actualize until approximately 1,450 years later in the capital city of Jerusalem in the first-century (Ps. 22; Isa. 53)?

If we grant the notion that we were not created as robots…and if we concede that the depravity of man is clearly seen in history and in current daily events around the world…then it is reasonable to postulate that the intelligent designer who crafted people with the innate capacity for experiencing personal relationships and for moral reasoning…would in fact insert into this world an alternative way to actualize our created potential.

That way is a God-composed journey of faith life-script…as patterned for us in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Bible Studies 101

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”                                                     (Jas. 1:17)

Another typical approach of skeptics and critics to separate the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New Testament…to attempt to divide-and-conquer…is to point out clearly amoral actions in the Old Testament…and then incorrectly imply that the Bible’s honest recording of bad human behavior is tantamount to endorsing such behavior.

Anyone taking Bible Studies 101 as a general elective from the Religious Studies Department in a college or university will quickly learn the standard biblical interpretation concept…that merely because the Bible records an action does not mean it endorses that action.

Bible critics cite the examples of some bad decisions made by Abraham, some huge moral failures in David’s life, the obvious moral outrage involving the Levite and the concubine in Judges 19, among other examples, as flagrant cases of the moral shortcomings of some key biblical actors…impugning the overall character of the Old Testament and thereby the God of the Old Testament…Jehovah…as if God should only select and call already upright and perfect people.

The mistake made here by skeptics and critics is fundamental…and has no application in an argument for or against the existence of the God of the biblical Old Testament.

The Bible honestly identifies and records the shortcomings of mankind…even in the lives of the people of faith…which the Bible calls sin.

Abraham is called the father of faith, not the father of righteousness.  The biblical record of human redemptive history is not whitewashed or sugar-coated with the false pride of the modern nonsense of “I’m okay, you’re okay.”

We all have the free-will capacity to make choices that can potentially produce a great amount of good…and conversely to make choices that can produce a great amount of evil and suffering.

The Bible faces the reality of good and evil head-on with foursquare honesty…not electing to sweep under the rug the faults and failures in human life…precisely because the Bible boldly and unapologetically has the one right answer…the solution… to the problem all of us face…which is sin.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script is divinely designed to produce genuine character growth.  Nowhere in the biblical narrative stories of faith is perfection of performance assumed or expected out of these real-life human actors, except in the singular sin-free life of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

I cannot think of a more down-to-earth, hard-boiled, realistic approach to human nature than the honest portrayal of people on their journey from purposeless, under-performing self-autonomy…to becoming new, improved people within their uniquely predestined, God-composed journeys of faith.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Attacks on the Bible Undermine Journeys of Faith

“…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?”                                          (Jn. 14:9)

Skeptics and critics of the Bible attempt to separate the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New Testament, using the strategy of divide-and-conquer.

In attempting to impugn the character of Jehovah, for example, by citing the God-directed military tactic of the complete destruction of certain groups of peoples and cultures during the Israelite conquest of Canaan…one indirect, by-product casualty of this critical interpretation…is the undermining of the moral authority of the biblical narrative stories of faith in the Old Testament.

I find this particular line-of-argument in biblical criticism to be short-sighted historically, and simplistic in its naïve appraisal of human nature.

Looking backward in history as recently as World War II, few people I think would critically question the military tactic of the Allied forces—British and American—of conducting day and night aerial bombing of the major cities of Germany toward the end of the war…indiscriminately killing hundreds of thousands of civilians…in a concerted effort to bring the conflict to an end.

If sympathy and compassion for civilians tempered and scaled-back this aerial bombing campaign…adding possibly 6 to 12 months to the duration of the war…allowing Hitler to perfect an atomic bomb, destroy the cities of London and Moscow, and change the outcome of the war…the verdict of history now in hindsight would be most severe.

One particular episode in the Victory At Sea documentaries chronicling WWII shows scores of stranded Japanese sailors floating in the Pacific Ocean, shipwrecked following a major naval battle, fanatically refusing to be rescued by an American ship.  Elsewhere in these documentaries, as Allied forces moved north up the chain of South Pacific islands toward Japan, defeated Japanese soldiers left behind and stranded on these islands…refused to peaceably surrender.

Is it reasonable, out of a misdirected sense of humanity, to ask American, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers to risk their own lives to “rescue” fanatical Japanese soldiers who refused to lay down their guns and surrender?

The correct tactical military calculation was made at the time to leave tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers behind to die of starvation and disease on these isolated Pacific islands…rather than to expend thousands of Allied soldier’s lives and to tie-up needed resources in a costly effort to “forcibly” get these enemy soldiers to surrender.

The evil of fascist domination of the world…originating from spiritual darkness…was totally expiated by the overwhelming defeat of World War II Germany and Japan.

Both Germany and Japan today are strong allies of the free-world.  But would a remnant of undefeated Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japanese regimes…still in existence up to our present day…be allies for political and economic peace and security for the free-world…given their initial worldviews of domination and oppression of freedom?

The history altering conflict of WWII was fought over restoring and maintaining the essential free-world principles we value and cherish.

I understand the bias of unbelief that does not think the God of the Old Testament exists.  That cynical bias is expected.

It is the weakness of this particular argument railed against the God of the Old Testament that is surprising…given the clarity of the very recent global struggle of WWII in terms of moral absolutes…to thoroughly and decisively rid the planet of the threat of tyrannical fascism…a struggle my own father participated in as a B-17 crew member of the American 8th Air Force…flying bombing missions over Germany, stationed out of England.

If we value our way of life…as opposed to dictatorial fascism…to the point of justifying the massive aerial bombing of civilian cities in Germany to avoid the unimaginable evil of Adolph Hitler possessing and using atomic bombs to perpetuate his regime of terror from 1945 onward in time…due to not diligently prosecuting the Allied war effort to the fullest extent…would it be unreasonable to allow the morally and culturally advanced Israelites and their armies the same benefit-of-the-doubt in prosecuting their war effort to the fullest extent in Canaan…to continue their way of life?

Bible skeptics and critics blithely assume that the Canaanite folks were all reasonably good and kind fellows posing no threat to the existence and survival of the monotheistic culture of the newly forming nation of Israel…approximately 3,200 to 3,400 years ago…with its beautiful Mosaic system of laws.

In our current culture of postmodern relativism regarding truth, World War II argues contrarily that being in the right means something…that there is such a thing as goodness in this world and that it is worth fighting for…to borrow a line spoken by Samwise from the movie series The Lord of the Rings.

Why is this line of discussion important to Christians?

If journeys of faith are indeed factually supernatural creations of God first inaugurated through Abraham (Gen. 12:3), then the last thing that “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12) wants is for people to enter into their predestined, God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…as the divinely crafted, functional vehicle leading to the discovery of the all-truth of John 16:13 and the liberated freedom of John 8:36.

If the false notion that Jehovah in the Old Testament is not of the same high moral caliber as Jesus in the New Testament…as a result of biblical interpretation biased by radically skeptical unbelief…this notion will permeate our culture and seep its way into the Christian church…undermining the value and worth of the narrative stories of faith in the Old Testament as powerful examples for stepping out into God-led adventures of faith today.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

A Delicate Balance in our Journeys of Faith

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”                                                                    (Prov. 3:5-6)

Genesis 3:4-5 reads: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4-5 violates a fundamental reality of the natural moral law…coming from two directions.

First, God is slandered and mischaracterized by Satan in the most subtly deceptive way…through the character assassination of unsupported, untrue innuendo.

Second, Adam and Eve violated the natural moral law by not exercising commendably patient and inquiring faith, confidence, and reliance upon God and the truthfulness of His word…not giving God the benefit of the doubt…in essence calling into question God’s character and moral integrity.

Paul writes in Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection…”

Salvation through Christ, and a subsequent Holy Spirit led faith-journey through life…solves our failing half of the Genesis 3:4-5 problem for all eternity…because it places our faith, confidence, and reliance in a person…God…who merits and can capably sustain the high quality of this trust relationship for all time.

It is the divine quality of the object of our faith and confidence…God…that solves our half of the fall in the Garden of Eden.

This helps us to clarify and to understand John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

A faith-journey that establishes a relationship with God…to know Him…protects us from the temptation of autonomous rebellion (Isa. 53:6) in the kingdom of God for all eternity…possessing forever after the free-will capacity and seasoned good judgment to follow the leadership of God…rather than disastrously going our own way.

The certainty of absolute knowledge produced by Jesus walking into the temple after His resurrection…for example…extending down through the centuries to modern times…does not support or equate into a faith-journey into the “all truth” of John 16:13…because we could still remain in self-sovereignty sitting atop the thrones of our lives…even while having this certain knowledge.

The possibility of success or failure within a journey of faith does not exist within knowledge that is certain (Heb. 11:1).  Trust and faith generated within a personal relationship needs the uncertainty of lived experience…having risk…thus the need for a delicate balance of belief and unbelief.

In my own journey of faith following Jesus Christ, my problem is not that I do not have faith in God…my problem most of the time is that I do not have faith in myself.

My doubt…in the middle of a personal challenge…is that my own faults and shortcomings will sabotage God’s will and way for my life…that I can somehow manage to mess-up the straight and narrow way that I know is in my best interests.

There is therefore not only a delicate balance between belief and unbelief in the outside world as a whole…in accepting or rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior…but there exists also a fine-tuned, delicate balance between belief and unbelief in my personal journey of faith with God.

This is a zone of active inquiry…divinely set-up by God in a delicately balanced, dynamic relationship between two people…a person and God…wherein we can obtain a knowledge of good and evil that could not possibly actualize on the cheap by impulsively eating some fruit from a tree in the Garden of Eden.

Human nature strives to create stability and security in our lives.  We want to work in one career…preferably for one company, build-up a “nest-egg”…saving enough money for retirement, live in the same home in a safe community, have a happy and stable marriage and family-life…within a long and healthy life-span free from external political turmoil, natural disasters, and the threat of foreign wars.

These are all commendable and praise-worthy goals in compliance with the commandment to “occupy till I come” (Lk. 19:13)…but that can never generate the tension between belief and unbelief in our journeys of faith that will unearth the subtle issues underlying good and evil.

God does not reveal the entire details of His life-script for Abraham…in crafting Abraham into the father-of-faith for multitudes of people as numerous as the stars in the night sky…including the long wait for the birth of Isaac and the culminating challenge of faith on Mount Moriah.

God does this for the best and highest of long-range reasons…not out of malice or ill-intent.

The two dreams of Joseph as a teenager in Canaan (Gen. 37:5-10) did not specify…left out entirely…the thirteen-year period of apprenticeship for Joseph in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison…in preparation to capably become governor in Egypt during a great famine.

I would posit the notion that all of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible have this element of incomplete revelation of information… so that God can set up and maintain the tension between belief and unbelief in our relationship with Him.

This brilliantly and skillfully produces the delicate balance between belief and unbelief that will lead and motivate us into the discovery of all truth…a possession of individual discovery in joint-venture with God…of incalculable value we can enjoy forever.

If we have the entire program upfront…all of the details of the playbook…of our God-composed life-script…then the “leading” part of the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth (Mt. 16:13) falls downward a level into the unexceptional and unremarkable category of mere factual knowledge…a program of “paint by the numbers” self-works to earn salvation…rather than the eternally beneficial process of getting to know God…like Paul in Philippians 3:10…that will set us free from the temptation of autonomous self-rulership for all time to come.

Matthew 6:19-38, in the Sermon of the Mount, beautifully encapsulates the departure from worldly conventional normalcy that is the demarcation point into a “risky” zone of discovery…when Christians take up their cross to follow Jesus.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33)…is the core, basic root of every adventure of faith in the Bible.  It is the diametric opposite of “seek ye first your own way” and take care of “me, myself, and I”…first before anything else.

This delicate balance between belief and unbelief in the practical, everyday working-out of the details in our personal walk of faith following God…again is a transcendent reality that validates the divine inspiration of the Bible…and a God-composed journey of faith.  It is far outside of the reach of human creative invention and imaginative contemplation.

That this concept of the delicate balance of belief and unbelief…in the outside world as a whole and in our Christian adventures of faith…could or would be the product of a naturalistic explanation…is an issue worthy of exploration.

But in my opinion, any naturalistic causation here falls far short of a rational worldview…when taking into account our innate, transcendent capacity for moral reasoning.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

For those interested…my book Inspirational Thoughts for Christians…a book making apologetic arguments for the divine origin of the Bible…is a free Kindle ebook on Amazon on Friday 1/11.

A Journey-of-Faith is Beyond Human Origin

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

A God-composed journey of faith life-script…of God displacing our ways with His higher ways…has to be considered supernatural…non-natural…because the way of the cross lands so far outside of worldly conventional thinking.

The novel idea that we would see the cross of Christ (Lk. 22:42; Mk. 8:34-35) internally positioned within every narrative story of faith in the Bible from Genesis through Acts…a way of the cross utterly in conflict with worldly conventional norms (1 Cor. 1:18, 23)…and that this unconventional concept would be the creative invention of human writers attempting to start a new “religion”…is unthinkable.

That the cross of Jesus Christ falls far outside of the acceptable norms of conventional worldly thinking is clearly and unmistakably evidenced by the execution of Jesus Christ by Roman crucifixion…as the epitome of adverse reception…of worldly rejection…in the most lethally emphatic and utterly final method  of communicated rejection imaginable.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ clearly expresses what the conventionally normative world thinks of the risk element of a God-composed journey of faith life-script (Jn. 11:47-48; Josh. 1:7)…a journey of faith demonstrated at the divine level of quality…acted-out to perfection through the life of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

This rejection component of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ clearly and emphatically validates…in a totally unexpected and incontrovertible way…the supernatural origin of the way of the cross we see in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

The way of the cross exposes the strength of the tight grip that our claim to autonomous self-rulership holds over the human race…otherwise the first-century challenge of the teachings of Jesus Christ would have been nothing more than a typically collegial, inoffensive exercise in intellectual debate rather than the deadly, worldview threatening conflict it became. 

Here in the geopolitical and theological terrain of first-century Israel…the way of the cross in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, and the actual cross situated on Calvary Hill…intersect into an overlapping picture of such ingenious composition as to be totally outside of human inventive imagination.

The concept of God displacing our ways with His higher ways (Isa. 53:6; Prov. 3:5-6)…in direct contradiction to the pride-driven, universal humanism of autonomous self-rulership…is seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of an adventure of faith…blending together the unlikely combination of God’s sovereignty and human free-will (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 2:12-13) that could not…nor ever would…conceivably be the product of human invention.

If the way of the cross is an inseparable through-line of the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Hannah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Jeremiah through Peter, Paul, James, Mary and Joseph, Barnabas, and Silas…inexplicable by humanistic origin as evidenced through its thorough and complete rejection at Calvary…then the anti-supernatural bias of philosophical naturalism is turned on its head. 

If the way of the cross in the Bible cannot be explained by human composition…because it falls far outside of the creative contemplation of human nature…falls far outside the boundaries of any conceivable thinking motivated by the typical self-centeredness of worldly conventional norms…then the source of its origin must be supernatural.

Why is belief and faith so important?

When we exercise faith in someone else…a wife or husband, child, friend, or subordinate at work…and this brings out the best in them…inspires them to “rise to the occasion”…this is a commendable character trait in the person extending their faith…that resides at the top of the natural moral law (that C.S. Lewis wrote about).

So, in setting up faith-journeys as part of our relationship with God as we take up our cross to follow Jesus (wherever that leads in our individual lives and callings), God is allowing us to first exercise commendable faith directed towards Him…to put into practice this invaluable character trait…which cannot possibly actualize if our faith is solely pointed inward…in ourselves alone (Heb. 11:6).

This is one reason why every adventure of faith in the Bible and in the church age up until today is supernaturally composed.

We do not possess the capacity to imaginatively create an adventure of faith scenario that would involve ourselves as the main character, and then be able to integrate our life-script cohesively with millions upon millions of other complex life-scripts all leading toward a coherent overall plan of salvation.

Skeptics and critics of the Bible must be able to explain away the presence of the way of the cross integrally embedded in every biblical narrative story of faith from Abraham through Paul…all of which comes together into perfectly focused and coordinated alignment with the historical cross…planted firmly in a definite place and time on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem in the first-century. 

This simply cannot be done using the narrow, short-sighted, time-limited lens of human creative invention…given the factor of the extremely negative reception of the way of the cross culminating in the actual cross of Calvary recorded in history…which essentially eliminates the possibility of human inspirational invention in the formulation of the biblical message.

If we are looking for a humanistic explanation for the origin of the Bible, the way of the cross removes that option.

The way of the cross in the Bible and the actual historical cross of Christ come together into a superimposed, clear overlapping focus…in a premeditated plan of salvation and true religious experience…soaring far above human literary invention.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.