Biblical Faith 3

            Does the life-story of Abraham match the analogy that Jesus presents of a seed falling into the ground to die, rising up to produce much fruit?

            Does the postponement of the birth of Isaac the son of promise represent God dangling the desire-of-the-heart out of the reach of Abraham and Sarah for a period of time, for a capricious and ill-intentioned motive, or does utilizing this innately created characteristic in Abraham instead produce the unique context for biblical faith to actualize, to rise-up out of the ground to become a supernaturally created, fruit-bearing tree?

            Does this concept starting with Abraham reside at the pinnacle of moral reasoning, at the very peak of importance in the long expanse of human redemptive history?

            Moving along in the Bible, certainly the life-story of Joseph in Egypt demonstrates over his lifetime the innate, in-built capacity to successfully manage the sheep herding family-business in Canaan. 

            But the series of extraordinary events that leads to Joseph governing the entire nation of Egypt during a great famine, as a Hebrew foreigner, falls outside of not only the human capacity of Joseph to contrive and self-orchestrate, but falls outside of his ability to even imagine ahead of time.

            The information-content that describes the person and life-plan destiny of Joseph, placed inside him like a seed, finds brilliant fulfillment through his God-composed life-script that begins with his innate talents and abilities, tinged with the arrogance of being his father’s favorite son. 

            These innate talents must first fall into the ground and die for a period of time as a servant-slave in Potiphar’s house, and as a falsely accused felon in Pharaoh’s prison, before this divinely composed life-script for Joseph can actualize into concrete reality.

            Moses will not commence the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt by killing an Egyptian and hiding his body in the sand.  Moses incorrectly assumed by this action that his Hebrew “brethren” (Acts 7:23-28) would recognize and acknowledge his calling to deliver them from bondage.

            No human power on earth could deliver the Israelites from bondage as slaves in Egypt.

            But at the burning bush, the innate abilities created within Moses, match-up with the God-composed life-script calling for Moses, and he enters into the spectacular and larger-than-life destiny through faith and trust in God and not in himself, that according to Hebrews 11:6 cited above pleases God and benefits a large number of people. 

            Who else in the Bible falls into this same pattern of an information-rich seed first falling into the ground to die before rising out of the ground to become an apple, orange, or avocado tree, to realize their in-built potential?

            Joshua has good reason to fear the heavily fortified, walled cities of the Canaanites that he has been tasked by God to militarily conquer.

            God says to Joshua several times throughout this campaign to conquer the Promised Land: “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed” (Josh. 8:1).

            Yet Joshua and the Israelites have to learn the hard-way on two occasions about the difficulty of the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty (Josh. 7:3-5, 9:14-15).

            Certainly, David knows intimately about the concept of a seed falling into the ground to die, rising up to become a specific “tree” with a specified purpose and destiny bearing much fruit.

            Even though David is anointed at the age of seventeen by the great prophet Samuel to become the next king in Israel, David somehow understands that he cannot help-out God to fulfill his calling when on two occasions David could have taken the life of King Saul (1 Sam. 24:4-7, 26:8-12).

            It would be safe to say that like Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison three months before God gives the famine dream to Pharaoh, David’s low-point at Ziklag (1 Sam. 30:6) comes at the end of the long process of a seed dying in the ground.

            Both Joseph and David rise-up into their respective destinies having their innate talents and abilities still intact, but now redirected within the narrow gate and the hard way of God-sovereignty (Mt. 7:13-14) to be now able to “bring forth much fruit.”   

            Similar scenarios of seeds falling first into the ground to die can be derived from the stories of Gideon (Jud. 7:2), Ruth (Ruth. 1:16-18), Hannah (1 Sam. 1:15-16), Elijah (1 Ki. 19:10), Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7-9), Esther and Mordecai (Est. 4:16-17), Daniel (Dan. 2:12-18), Ezra (Ezra 4:21-24), Nehemiah (Neh. 1:11), Joseph and Mary (Lk. 2:41-52), John the Baptist (Jn. 3:30), Peter (Lk. 22:61-62), James the half-brother of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7), the disciples (Mk. 14:50), the early Christian church as a whole (Acts 8:1), the apostle Paul (Acts 9:3-9), and Jesus Christ (Lk. 22:42), to name a few.

            Self-sovereignty is incapable of “bringing forth much fruit” according to autonomous individualism because human beings lack divine foresight and timeless foreknowledge.

            Only God can write the extraordinary and unconventional biblical narrative stories of faith matching the in-built, personal capabilities of the people of faith with callings that have supernatural missions, goals, and outcomes that are only assessable through the biblical faithdescribed in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6.

            Falling into the ground as a seed to die, picking-up our cross to follow Jesus, entering in at the narrow gate (Mt. 7:13-14), ”hating” this life in terms of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1Jn. 2:15-16) are the necessary components of making the transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty, in the realm of the kingdom of God where all things are possible.

            In John 15:5 Jesus is recorded as saying: “I am the vine, ye are the branches:  He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

            The supernatural participation of God in the biblical narrative stories of faith that separates-out atheists and agnostics into unbelief, is the very thing that creates the life within the God-composed journey of faith life-scripts.

            The self-sovereignty of going our own way is the wide gate and the broad way of Matthew 7:13-14 that leads to destruction, because on that broad road of self-autonomy God has no opportunity to make the connection between our created abilities and the life-script He has written for us that can bring forth much fruit.

            Self-sovereignty is the way of rebellion and chaos, of thinking our ways are better than God’s ways and is unacceptable in the kingdom of God in a timeless eternity.

            Only faith and trust in God will push through the adversity of falling into the ground as a seed to first have our own will and ideas die, in order for God to raise us up according to our in-built capacity and destiny, to walk with Him through life along a supernatural path that has the unique and individual context to bring forth much fruit as articulated in the brilliant John 12:24-25 verses quoted above.

Biblical Faith

            When God created the seeds for apple, orange, peach, and avocado trees…and for corn, wheat, and barley crops…He placed within each unique type of seed the information that would not only grow into large-sized trees and farm fields as far as the eye can see, but would also produce very specific and different kinds of edible fruits and grains.

            John 12:24-25 records the words of Jesus:

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.                         

            In these verses Jesus introduces a concept that is unique in all of human experience and literary imagination, yet is universally standard within every biblical narrative story of faith.

            This includes His own experience in Gethsemane, at Calvary Hill, and on Resurrection Day.

            There is a pattern that is discernable within the callings of the people of faith in the Bible starting with Abraham’s detailed and highly specific life-script, all the way through to the calling and ministry of the apostle Paul. 

            This pattern authenticates the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith, but at the same time also provides inspirational guidance as to what Christians today should expect in their callings and mission-plans from God.

            Like the information that is contained within the seed that grows into an apple, orange, or fig tree, God as our Creator knows exactly the precise information He has placed within each and every human being.

            The analogy that Jesus uses in John 12:24 above, of a seed first having to die in the ground in order to emerge as a tree or plant as applied to the people of faith in the biblical narrative stories of faith, reveals to us over the long expanse of human redemptive history different types of people, callings, and missions that match the in-built personalities, capabilities, and characteristics of each specific person.

            This islike the seeds for apple, orange, or avocado trees.

            Like the farmer recognizing and knowing the type of seed they are planting, God knows what He has placed within us to be able to enter successfully into an adventure of faith and to fulfill our unique and singular missions with His assistance along the way.

            One question that is crucial here is how does the apple tree know when it is time to stop growing and begin to produce fruit, to produce apples?

            This information is contained initially in the apple seed, and then in the individual cells of the apple tree.

            The same is true for the born-again Christian today, no matter what is our calling and circumstances.

            One thing that pleases God according to Hebrews 11:6 cited above, is to be able to match-up the innate, in-built capacities He has created within us with a God-composed life-script actualized within the events and circumstances of this present world, for our benefit and for the benefit of other people, through a relationship of mutual trust and faith.

            This dynamic of an adventure of faith is designed by God to last and to endure for eternity.

            This insight of John 12:24-25, universal within every biblical narrative story of faith is so deep it eludes all naturalistic explanations for its origin in the marketplace of ideas. 

            It completely surpasses the reach of the worldly conventionality of humanistic literary imagination.

            This concept is found exclusively in all of literature only in the Bible, actualized in the counterintuitive idea of our worldly conventional ideas dying on our individual crosses, as seeds planted in the ground, alongside Jesus on His cross (Mk. 8:34-35).

            God displaces our self-directed ways with His higher ways and thoughts within a God-composed journey of faith life-script, brilliantly replacing self-sovereignty with God-sovereignty which only God could do.

We Cannot Orchestrate a Journey of Faith

            One of the all-time classic themes of the Bible is that the God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts recorded in the biblical narrative stories of faith are beyond our capacity to contrive or to even imagine ahead of time. 

            As the Creator of everything and everyone, God alone knows our individual attributes and abilities, and thus has the singularly unique starting point for crafting life-scripts for an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul, to name a few of the people of faith in the Bible. 

            Adventures of faith, because of their supernatural origin, stretch people to achieve more than they could have imagined possible. 

            Adventures of faith reveal that God knows us inside and out by the precise matching of our adventure of faith to talents, abilities, and newfound, morally noble characteristics we did not even know ahead of time we possessed. 

            If we could go back in time and interview the people of faith in the Bible, they would tell us unanimously to a person that they initially had no idea they had the innate ability to go as far as God took them, through their individually crafted adventures of faith.

            I think it would be reasonably safe to say that Abraham did not see himself as the future “father of faith” as he walked from the city of Haran toward the land of Canaan (Gen. 17:18). 

            Although Joseph probably had a good sense of his innate leadership talents, it is doubtful that he ever imagined that he would someday become governor of Egypt, while he labored in Potiphar’s house and languished in Pharaoh’s prison. 

            Moses certainly has no way of seeing into the future the great deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, as he tries unsuccessfully to talk God out of the immense calling at the burning bush that Moses now feels he is no longer a qualified candidate for (Ex. 3:11).     

            Gideon objects to God’s calling for him to deliver Israel from the oppressive occupation by the Midianites, saying that he is the least even within his own family (Jud. 3:15).  Gideon then comes-up with his proverbial “fleece-test” to confirm that he correctly understands God’s intentions for him 

            As Ruth the foreigner follows her mother-in-law Naomi back to Naomi’s native country Israel, Ruth has no idea that she will capture the attention and affection of the wealthy, noble, and godly Boaz.  Through her marriage to Boaz, Ruth becomes part of the royal lineage that produced King David and culminated, roughly a thousand years later, in the birth of Jesus Christ the eternal King and Savior.

            Elijah complains to God that he is all alone in his opposition to the evil king Ahab and queen Jezebel (1 Ki. 19:14). 

            Jeremiah protests to God that he is too young to be a prophet (Jer. 1:6). 

            We detect in both Ezra and Nehemiah an underlying, suspenseful trepidation just below the surface in their difficult callings to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, and to rebuild the temple.

            Certainly, Peter is utterly clueless as he goes out of the courtyard of Caiaphas to weep bitterly over his failure to courageously stand by Jesus during His night trial.  Unbeknownst to Peter at the time, standing courageously alongside Jesus would have resulted in Peter needlessly occupying a fourth cross on Calvary the next day. 

            Peter did not realize at the time that the crucifixion of the Son of God for the sins of the world was preordained before the creation of the universe (1 Pet. 1:20), and that Peter’s role at that moment was not to be a martyr for the faith, but to instead be one of the leaders of the early church in Jerusalem. 

            Being the head of the early Christian church and its chief spokesman in Jerusalem amidst intense opposition required a quality of courage and fidelity that Peter painfully discovered in the courtyard of Caiaphas that fateful night, that Peter did not possess on his own without the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8-12).

            Certainly, as Saul/Paul approached the city of Damascus to arrest Christians, he had no idea that he would soon become the foremost champion of the very faith that he started-out opposing with such fearsome persecution. 

            At that precise moment, before the supernatural light of Jesus Christ shined down from heaven upon him, Paul had no idea that he possessed the inner capacity to become the missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world.

            Paul could not contemplate ahead of time that he would compose the divinely inspired New Testament letters to the early Christian churches he helped create, that he would develop the love for other people that could write First Corinthians 13:4-8 now famous throughout the modern world, or that he had the innate people skills that could form the intimate relationships revealed in Romans chapter 16.

            All of these people, along with every person of faith recorded in the Bible would testify that the higher plans that God had for them in life stretched them beyond anything they could or would have imagined (Psalm 23).    

            This component of biblical faiththat is a stretch beyond our human ability to contrive or imagine, argues for the divine origin of the Bible. 

            Biblical faith is not armchair philosophy. 

            No human could or would invent it through contemplative imagination.

            The element in the biblical narrative storylines of God displacing our ways with His higher ways is the factual component that entirely excludes all humanistic explanations for the origin of these stories.

            Atheistic critics of Christianity and the Bible today completely miss this biblical faith component in the narrative stories of faith, incorrectly interpreting as myth what in actuality is beyond the inventive imagination of humanistic conventional thinking. 

            The biblical narrative in a modern world inserts an alternate worldview to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking. 

            The biblical narrative offers a new and living way (Heb. 10:20) into human life that contains the guided trajectories of purpose and meaning, in a true way that cannot be orchestrated through worldly conventional normalcy.

The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness 2

            The biblical narrative stories of faith, including and especially the life-script for Jesus Christ demonstrate that only God has the complete picture, that only God has all of the information along with timeless foresight and absolute moral goodness.

            Satan was unable to comprehend and to foresee the final outcome of the Passover, of the blood of a lamb applied to the exterior top and sides of the entry doors to the dwellings of the Jews in Egypt (Ex. 12:7).  This effectuated the plague of the “destroyer” death to safely Passover the houses of the “children of Israel in Egypt” (Ex. 12:27), re-enacted by Jews every year thereafter as the Passover celebration for roughly 1,500 years. 

            Satan was unable to grasp and to anticipate the Passover as a foreglimpse of the prime mission of Jesus Christ the Son of God to be that very Passover Lamb of God.

            If Satan had any foresight and advanced knowledge into the true mission-plan of Jesus at the time of the temptation in the wilderness, he would not have wasted one of his temptations on the idea that Jesus of Nazareth would be susceptible, would lower His sights, to the enticing allurement of using worldly power and glory as a shortcut to achieve His destiny. 

            The offer of this worldly conventional means by which to save the world that might presumably tempt Jesus, again clothed as a deceptive half-truth but lacking the complete picture was intended for Jesus to take the quick and easy worldly path to accomplishing His mission.

            Whatever was miscalculated by Satan at that moment in time, the underlying destructive intention was to subordinate Jesus to Satan’s authority (Lk 4:7), the main goal of this temptation in the wilderness.

            To sacrifice His unique role and singular opportunity as the Son of God in a human body, in order to accomplish the saving of the world by taking its repair into His own hands by using the standard, worldly conventional means of political power, glory, and influence, to Satan’s thinking might be appealing to Jesus.

            As a “shot-in-the-dark” this corrupted form of self-sacrifice at the enormous cost of abandoning God-sovereignty, of worshipping Satan as the means to an easier way to save the world, might work at that critically opportune time of the physical weakness of Jesus after fasting in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-4).

            But Jesus emphatically rejects this tempting proposal put forward by Satan, choosing instead the elevated life-script composed by Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).

            Jesus Christ knows His own life-script calling andmission-plan, because Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God in a human body possesses all of the information ahead-of-time (Lk. 2:49; Mt. 9:6, 9:28, 12:40, 26:53-54; Jn. 18:36-37, 19:10-11), being in direct communion and communication with God the Father at all times (Mt. 11:27; Jn 3:34).  

            The unique life-script for Jesus Christ to become the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sin, elevated and transcendent far above worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, was foreglimpsed in the aborted sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:8), was foreglimpsed in the yearly Passover instituted at the time of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (Ex. 12:1-28), and was foreglimpsed in the brazen serpent lifted up on a pole by Moses during the Exodus (Num. 21:8-9; Jn. 3:14).

            The extraordinary revelation here that illuminates the real truth about God is that Satan at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was incapable of envisioning and comprehending a higher, transcendent mission-plan for Jesus the divine Son of God, to absorb within Himself the sins of the world.

            Satan cannot rise above his own limited capacity and character, in crafting his temptations for Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and for human beings today.

            This is where God can outpace and out-run Satan, as demonstrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith, and in God-composed journey of faith life-scripts for Spirit-born Christians today.

The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness 1

            The temptation in the wilderness of Jesus regarding the attractive appeal of the kingdoms of this world, and the power and glory of them (Lk. 4:5-8), as the sole means to solve the problems of this world, should not automatically be disqualified as not being commendable and admirable just because it comes out of the mouth of Satan.

            The cleverest and most appealing of the destructive temptations by Satan contain a kernel of partial truth, being half-truths that have some measure of positive value.

            The destructive nature of Satan’s temptations is that they rob the intended target of realizing the fuller benefit of the half-truth being deceitfully offered, having a final, hidden outcome that intentionally and knowingly falls far short of the misleading promise conveyed.

            This is like unknowingly accepting a one-hundred dollar-bill from a counterfeiter, only to find out later at the grocery store that it is worthless.

            The precisely targeted temptations by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5), of Jesus in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-15), and now being put forward in this present time attempt to get people to lower their sights to aim for things below their created potential, to aim for lower goals that miss the mark of people’s divinely intended destinies.

            Human beings were created with the privileged capacity to be able to have a personal relationship with our Creator God, to know Him from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34).

            One of the most misguided tragedies in this life is to become side-tracked by alternative goals that distract, frustrate, and dilute the fully realized human life-script of enjoying a walk with God through life, that actualizes into reality this intimate personal relationship with God.

            The destructive intentions deceptively hidden within the temptations by Satan are masked within the details of choices and suggested courses of action, that have the outward appearance at first glance of being reasonably beneficial and sensible.

            By taking these classic temptations apart piece-by-piece, sunlight being the best disinfectant, what is revealed is the realtruth about God in our modern world (Jn. 10:10). 

            For example, the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5), hopelessly falls short of its implied benefit.

            It misleadingly falls short of the whole story, because simply knowing about good and evil alone without the dual accompanying divine capacities of timeless foresight and absoluteperfect character, leads to the despair of failure. 

            It leads to the frustration of not be able to fully achieve consistent success, of not being able to produce and maintain the trouble-free life of secure happiness, of elevated safely above and out of the vulnerable zone of being corruptible and mistake-prone.

            In a nutshell, going our own way at the compromised lower level of lost potential is an accurate description of flawed human nature.  In essence, this is a fundamental explanation for the imperfect record of human history.

            Our modern culture denigrates the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a human invented, literary myth, but the highly sophisticated theme here is far above and outside of the boundaries of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking. 

            To lightly dismiss this Garden of Eden temptation story as having a human imaginative origin, in my opinionis being naïvely uncritical and short-sighted.

            No human literary writer at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis, or in modern times today, could or would get within ten miles of this story of the downward fall of mankind being negatively defined as venturing out on our own within the self-reliance of self-sovereignty, this being the very cornerstone of humanism.

            Obtaining the knowledge of good and evil alone, on thecheap in the Garden of Eden by merely eating a particular fruit from a tree, is like someone giving us an automobile for free that has no motor.  It may be beautiful on the outside, but it is not functional in terms of getting anywhere.

            That “knowing good and evil” alone would be a positive thing for mankind is a classic example of being a half-truth having an end-point outcome that does not fully deliver as advertised.

            The only way that “knowing good and evil” successfully operates for autonomous human beings walking within our own self-composed life-scripts apart from God, is if we also innately possess the timeless foresight to see into the future to make correct decisions ahead-of-time, and possess the absolute perfectcharacter to always without exception choose the right course of action for the optimum benefit to ourselves and to other people

            Without possessing timeless foresight and absolute goodness, then knowing good and evil becomes a Catch-22 dilemma of only being able to recognize, appreciate, and second-guess our past bad choices and mistakes in hindsight, after-the-fact in the reactive, cleanup mode.

            Not having the benefit in-the-moment of being able to see ahead into the future the final outcomes of our decisions, choices, and actions now in the present time, and not being able to divinely separate and parse the subtleties of good from evil at the proactive, preventive, and trouble-free level of perfect character, is a current reality of human life

            But acquiring the knowledge of good and evil alone, as non-divine human beings, does indeed work extremely well if this clearly recognizable deficiency in our nature is repaired by the addition of a personal connection with our Creator God.

            The essence of the biblical narrative stories of faith is that the God of the Bible does possess the divine attributes of timeless foresight and absolute perfect goodness, a reality that is brilliantly patterned for us in the detailed life-scripts of these worldly unconventional, biblical narrative stories of faith.

            The tempting appeal of independently acquiring for ourselves one of the legs of the three-legged stool required as a first-start to becoming “as gods,” the three legs of the stool being at a minimum the knowledge of good and evil, timeless foresight, and perfect character, this hasty and rash decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden carries with it the unimaginably destructive, hidden by-product of going our own way (Isa. 53:6).

            A thoughtfully questioning and worldly-savvy Adam and Eve might have more wisely answered back to the serpent: “What you say sounds good and appealing on the surface, but there is no rush.  We will first discuss this with God, think about it, and then get back to you in a few days.  Also, we know God just well-enough now to trust His judgment, and will ask God to elaborate further on why He told us not to eat this fruit, and why someone like you would be suggesting we do otherwise.  We will put the question squarely to God if there might be another alternate reality we are missing-out on in this Garden of Eden, that is independent of and contrary to the council of God, before making our decision regarding this new option you present.”

            The absence of all of the information needed to make a thoughtful decision, of not having the whole picture, identifies this temptation in the Garden of Eden as having such a malicious and destructive intention.

            Its subtlety is masked within a half-truth containing some limited measure of appealing value, enabling us now in hindsight to be able to categorize this temptation by Satan as being an injuriously deceptive evil.

            This is evidenced on a monumental scale as demonstrated every day in the front pages of newspapers around the world, of people having a knowledge of good and evil but being incapable as less-than-divine gods to divinely control life-events consistently towards favorable outcomes.   

            The temptation in the Garden of Eden essentially gave us a bank account with a checkbook full of checks that we are unable to cash.  It gave us a brand-new automobile without an engine.

            Applying this same line-of-reasoning to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the pivotal turn-about here is that Satan did not know…that this time he was the one who was partially uninformed at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, about the premeditated and timeless plans of God for Jesus to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin (1 Cor. 2:8). 

            Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were brilliantly hidden in the Old Testament scriptures as prophetic, predicted events to be fulfilled centuries later in the future, as were actualized into reality on Calvary Hill and on Easter morning in Jerusalem about three and one-half years after this temptation of Jesus took place in the wilderness.

            Satan is a created being and does not possess the divine attributes of divine foresight and foreknowledge.  This time around Satan himself was not “with-it” and divinely savvy to know in advance the precise plans of God for the redemption and salvation of mankind.

            The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness to use the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world as the means to fix humanity’s problems was not an off-target, misdirected temptation.  It was not a random, shot-in-the-dark outcome of Satan’s not fully knowing in advance of the precise details of the life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God, in a human body here on earth.

            But in crafting this deceptive temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, what separates itself out here that tells us a great deal about the real truth about God, is that Satan this time was the one who did not possess all of the information.

Gethsemane 1

“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)

            The idea that God is the author of life-plans that lead to situations and circumstances requiring complete dependence upon God, with successful resolutions generating the broadest possible spiritual benefits, is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. 

            The life-plan of Jesus Christ the Son of God which culminates in the crucifixion and the resurrection is the perfect example of this concept. 

            Hebrews 5:8-9 reads “Though he were a son, yet learnedhe obedience by the things that he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” 

            The lessons that Jesus (the second Person of the Trinity) needed to experience first-hand for Himself through a life lived in a human body here on earth, in order to become the qualified leader able to help us to repent, trust, and surrender our lives to Him, came to a focal point at the events surrounding the crucifixion. 

            We discover in God’s own plan scripted for His Son Jesus at the cross, that circumstances were so challenging that Jesus had to exercise perfect faith, trust, dependence, and reliance in God the Father, approaching the limits of His own divine capacity, to achieve a successful outcome. 

            The fact that the scripture quoted above says that Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered, tells us that Jesus went through the experience of dependence and reliance upon God the Father, just like we do as Christians today.

            Even the Son of God, when living within the limitations of a human body, must confront and deal with the same issues we do (Heb. 4:15). 

            Humans cannot fathom the depths of God’s divine love.  The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is partially a mystery (Mk. 14:34).          

            But God included in the New Testament gospels this record of the struggle of Jesus in Gethsemane, with honesty and candor for a reason. 

            This author does not claim to fully understand the duality of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His human nature, which forms the bond between His earthly experience and our personal walk of faith, for all eternity. 

            I do not claim to understand the dynamics of the Trinity, in which God is one, yet three distinct Persons enjoying loving friendship in unity from eternity past. 

            Jesus Christ the Son of God cries out from the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  More painful than the crucifixion was the momentary separation of Jesus from the Father, possibly experiencing the oblivion of total spiritual darkness as a result of absorbing within Himself as the Passover Lamb of God…the sins of the world. 

            Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus tasted the bitterness of death for every man, so that we would never have to experience this intense agony of separation from God. 

            Jesus tells His followers that He will never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus in Gethsemane and at Calvary, born-again Christians will never have to say, over the long expanse of eternity, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”      

            Yet however we try to reach a balanced comprehension of the divinity and humanness of Jesus, this account of the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane tells us that Jesus approached the Father for strength just as He did on several occasions, retiring alone sometimes all night to pray (Mt. 14:23; Lk. 6:12). 

            God is telling us in this Gethsemane account that Jesus did not attempt to go it alone in self-reliance in facing the upcoming ordeal of the cross.  God is telling us with tender, frank, and forthcoming honesty about the depths of His own struggle in this balanced-on-a-razor’s edge, monumentally volatile plan of salvation through the cross and the resurrection, designed for our redemption.    

            We therefore find that in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before the trial and crucifixion, that Jesus experiences difficulty with the completion of His calling and must rely upon the Father for the strength and endurance to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world. 

            Even though Jesus knows from childhood that this is the future destiny of His earthly life, when the moment finally approaches, the highest features of divine character are pushed to the limits (if that is possible with God in a human body) of Jesus’ own endurance in offering Himself for the sins and transgressions of mankind. 

            This is one explanation for why Jesus said with relief and triumph just before He died on the cross: “It is finished.” 

            In the Garden of Gethsemane, God reveals to us openly and candidly that His plan devised to transfer to the second Person of the Trinity the weight of the sins of mankind through the Son of God’s atonement on the cross, was not all that easy even for Jesus. 

            Otherwise, Jesus would have breezed through the Garden of Gethsemane without saying his soul was heavy unto death, or having to pray “more earnestly”, or asking the Father to remove this cup of suffering from Him, or sweating drops of blood while praying, or having one of the great angels from heaven (possibly Gabriel), visit Him for comfort and support.   

            In this life-script that God crafted for Himself, we see a level of moral character that instructs us as to the heights of what we can expect in our own spiritual journey. 

            God does not ask us from a comfortably safe distance to step into the risk and adventure of the Christian life. 

            God will not challenge us to the core of our being in terms of character, faith, trust, and reliance upon God, and in times of persecution may even cost the Christian his or her life, without Himself having also shared this similar experience. 

            God composed and orchestrated His own life here on earth in such a way that, in regard to all of life’s critical issues, He challenged Himself through the life-long experience of the cross. 

            This sets the example for us to have a foreglimpse of what is involved in a walk of faith with God. 

            Because Christ lives within the believer’s heart, we have the one and only Person helping us “from the inside” who has successfully been through the cross and resurrection experience ahead of us. 

            Whichever way we interpret the many sides of the agony of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, in trying to understand the limitlessness of the divine love of God, one important lesson stands out.  If God is going to ask me to give my all, and He is offering His help in this regard, then I must have confidence that He has actually been there Himself ahead of me. 

            I must have absolute confidence that my Guide through this adventure of faith truly knows the best possible route to take. 

            In some way that we can only begin to discover through our own God-composed biblical walk of faith, both the human and the divine sides of Jesus Christ gave His all in Gethsemane and at Calvary, in exhibiting unselfish love and pure righteousness in the face of enormous opposition in order to pre-qualify Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6).

            One of the accounts of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is recorded in Luke 22:39-46:

39 And he came out, and went, as he was accustomed, to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.

40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

41 And he was withdrawn from them a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye?  Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

            Luke 22:44 says that Jesus prayed “more earnestly.” 

            This is a remarkable statement. 

            We would naturally think that the initial earnest prayer of Jesus regarding any issue would always be entirely adequate the first time, seeing that He is the eternal, perfect Son of God. 

            The fact that Jesus (the Son of God) had to go back a second time and pray more earnestly tells us just how difficult it was to absorb within Himself the huge mass of the sins and transgressions of mankind. 

            We see in the divine approach that Jesus takes in the Garden of Gethsemane toward this great challenge, a pattern for how we are to confront the difficulties and challenges in our own lives. 

            Jesus was spiritually battling and overcoming the world’s sin, which is based upon rebellion and self-autonomy in mankind, by using the opposite, counter-balancing weapons of surrender, dependence, and reliance upon God the Father’s way instead of His own way (Lk. 22:42). 

            It took the direct opposite attitude of living for oneself, of putting one’s own interests first, of side-stepping a difficult situation, of saving one’s own skin, and of running away from a challenge…for Jesus to cancel-out the sum total of mankind’s sin and to fulfill His role as the Lamb of God sacrifice for sin. 

            This is the part of the first-advent, messianic scenario that the self-absorbed Satan totally miscalculated. 

            This is how God used the short-sighted blindness of evil, rooted in self-centeredness, to turn the lowliness of the cross into the exalted glory of the resurrection for our benefit.  

            This is precisely why the cross of Christ, for man, is the way back to God (Isa. 53:6). 

            The way back to God is not through self-autonomy or self-direction, using our God-given natural gifts and abilities independently apart from God.  These are the fallen tendencies of “self-realization” that got us into trouble to begin with in the Garden of Eden, that actually separated us from a relationship with God and that Jesus is redeeming us from on the cross. 

            In Isaiah 14:13-14, it is the “I will” portions of Lucifer’s statements “I will ascend into heaven” and “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” that is the official start of sin in the universe. 

The Perfect Savior 3

               Redemptive salvation is operative today as much as any time in human history.

            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.

            The precise purpose of redemptive salvation is to guarantee upfront a safe-conduct through the God-composed journey of faith life-script He has written for me. 

            This allows me the God-sanctioned and authorized freedom to experience a first-person exploration of the knowledge of good and evil, within the approved vehicle of an imperfect yet redeemed 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 test-drive, within the research 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 in discovery of the workings of the natural world.

            God flips 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).

            This 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.”

            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. 

            This is far above Jesus as Messiah expelling the Romans from Israel in the first-century as was popularly expected at the time.

            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.

            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.

            This is 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. 

            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), sets in motion God flipping our imperfect natures into fully redeemed, 4-wheel drive vehicles.

            This enables today’s Christians 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, counterintuitively in the unexpected area of God-sovereignty (Lk. 22:42).

            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, being the cost of the unprecedented death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.

            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 to qualify as the Messiah in the first-century and now.

The Perfect Savior 2

            The actions of Jesus highlight 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 at Calvary the next day

            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.

            The ancient, primary reason for the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice is to focus and home-in on the remedy and removal of rebellious sin, of going our own way apart from God. 

            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 exhibiting imperfect virtue and fallen yet redeemed natures.

            I have never heard anyone ask the question why this is so, of 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 equal to the fine-tuning of the physics in the universe and the nanotechnology of the molecular machinery we now discover in living cells.

            Humans were simply outwitted in the Garden of Eden, ill-equipped to divide and parse genuine truth from cleverly disguised disinformation (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.

            Through the ingenious program of redemptive salvation, the God of the Bible enlists our fallen nature and transforms it into the high-quality of the perfect vehicle to take us through an in-depth research program into the knowledge of good and evil.

            Without the lens of an imperfect, moral character we would not be able to decipher and understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts involved within the knowledge of good and evil.

            This remarkably places Old and New Testament believers in the sweet-spot of humility regarding the flawed nature of this human research vehicle. 

            This safely precludes the self-inflated pride of 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 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, we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah (Isa. 11:1-5, 35:1-8).

            In His miraculous healings of the blind and the lame, of inspired preaching to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people (Matthew chapters 5-7), and in His personal interactions with His disciples and the common people, we see the traits of virtue we would expect to see actualized through Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), meaning God with us.

            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 see today looking back in hindsight into first-century Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, is why the Passover sacrifice of Exodus 12:26-27 had no connection with the Old Testament Judaic understanding of the anticipated, 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, offering His own body and life 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.

            God’s higher ways lift the biblical narrative above other contemporary worldview narratives in today’s modern marketplace of ideas.

            But the one area where we canwith solid confidence through the benefit of hindsight today conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection, 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.

            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, Jesus Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity. 

            Self-will to go His own way apart from God the Father and the Holy Spirit is inconceivable at the high level of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness (Lk. 22:42).

            This level of sacrificial love to do the optimum right thing for others would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ to perfectly 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 a built-in allowance for human error (Rom. 4:6-8).

            All of these positive people of faith are nonetheless morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous. 

            The great men and women of faith in the Bible 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.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith can be described as God’s attempt to give us something of Himselfto enable us to experience first-hand the expression in-and-through-us of some portion of His divine character.  This is actualized through the events of God-composed life-script storylines.  But 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.

            Programs of self-salvation based upon self-reliance are by definition human-driven and therefore fall 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 mostdifficulty.

            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 on the night of His arrest and preliminary trial that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray.” 

            Jesus said that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful.”  The scriptures record that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him, and that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly.” 

            Luke 22:44 records that Jesus sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” a condition known to modern medical science called hematidrosis.[1]

            The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: never the less not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself, for our benefit. 

            The life-script for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body 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 of perfection is still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning, in the test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane ofGod-sovereignty consistent, unified, and indivisible within GodHimself, 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

            This would have introduced autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity, of 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, highlights God-sovereignty as the central issue in all of reality, the top-shelf “queen” of the virtues.


[1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 195.

Progressive Gradualism

            In formulating his theory of macroevolution, Darwin threw purpose, meaning, and intelligent agency overboard in order to embrace atheistic materialism within his proposed mechanism.  In my opinion, in so doing he made the huge miscalculation of relying upon gradualism as the ruling paradigm in nature…a reliance that cannot bear the weight of scientific fact-based evidence.

            In his 1996 book Climbing Mount Improbable, Richard Dawkins offers a theoretical mechanism by which innovative features like the eye could be reached through entirely naturalistic processes. 

            Mount Improbable has one face that is a sheer vertical cliff, metaphorically representing the difficulty of reaching an innovative feature in one giant step.  Such marvels in nature as eyesight, winged flight, and upright bi-pedal walking cannot come into existence in large steps of anatomical progressions called saltations…being single leaps up the face of this cliff  equivalent to miracles.

            But there is a gradual uphill slope going up the other side of the mountain, which can be traversed to the top of the mountain through small incremental steps.  Thisis one of the fundamental axioms of Darwinian evolution…that the only plausible explanation for how a purely naturalistic process could work is through the use of infinitesimally small, random, undirected, and beneficially progressive accumulated steps.

            This is all well and good.  Except this hypothetical explanation in the book did not mention that if true this concept would require a near infinity of Mount Improbable scenarios in various stages of completion. 

            In addition to the example of eyesight, any snap-shot in time slicing through the natural living world would show these enumerable developing features in mid-ascent all traversing up the gradual slope sides of millions of Mount Improbable scenarios in progress.  This would be an obvious and a prolific reality visually apparent to everyone…scientist and layman alike.

            The number of innovative “creations” using this naturalistic model does not improve upon the difficult-to-swallow large number of individual creations by divine fiat of the tens of millions of living species by an intelligent designing agent God. 

            The difficult concept of God creating each individual species is one of the things Darwinism was in 1859 and still is today trying to replace with a purely materialistic mechanism. 

            Both a theistic and an atheistic mechanism must account for the numerical reality of the vast biodiversity of life and the large volume of beneficial physical features this entails.

            The gradualism central to Mount Improbable does nothing to simplify this reality, but merely chops the overall ascent up the mountain into smaller, random, and undirected steps.      

            In a talk given by Philip E. Johnson entitled Grand Metaphysical Story of Science,[1] on the Internet…Dr. Johnson…a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of the book Darwin On Trial…gives an account from the Richard Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker, which describes again a hypothetical way by which an ancient prototype squirrel climbing in a tree could over time and many iterations morph into a flying bat having wings.  This is paraphrased here by me from Johnson’s talk.

            The general idea is that by adding progressive genetic mutations of the variant trait of larger and larger flaps of skin between the fingers of the prototype squirrel…this enables slower, more aerodynamic, non-lethal accidental falls from the branches of tall trees. 

            This innovative invention for survival could then eventually combine with other coordinating features that would over long periods of time create the capacity for winged flight, the flying bat immerging at the top of Mount Improbable as a completed functional new creature.  All this occurs through the ruling paradigm of progressive gradualism by naturalistic processes.

            The massive evidentiary problem here again is that this same fictionally imaginative methodology for explaining the vast diversity of life cannot be merely confined to a single example of the theoretical sequence of events that might transform a tree-climbing squirrel or small rodent into a flying bat.          

            These same types of hypothetical arguments must be extended-out to apply gradualism in action to every living organism on earth.  This would catch and record in our current snap-shot of time an unmistakably large number of these organisms in various stages of progressive development.

            Not only does the obvious question arise here of why a squirrel would “want” to morph slowly into a bat through a series of incremental steps, but also is this the true reality of the phenomena we see in the natural world?  Clearly, it is not.

            The squirrels I observe in the neighborhood where I live can nimbly run along the top of one-inch wide sections of five-foot high property-line plastic fence panels…without falling off.  These squirrels nimbly climb part-way to the top of 40 to 60 foot high palm trees planted along the city street sidewalk… using the claws on their hands and feet that capably grip the sides of the palm trees as they expertly climb upward to a safe height as I approach on foot.

            Squirrels carelessly falling-out of tall trees to their injury and death is not observationally an optimum choice as an illustrative hypothetical example of the motivating force for macro-biological change through mutation/selection.

            Of equal importance in the talks by Phillip E. Johnson accessible on the Internet, one of which is footnoted above, is the brilliant insight that merely chopping-up a larger problem into smaller pieces does not improve the positive probabilistic case for random chance.

            Dr. Johnson asks: Is it easier by chance to win one single lottery of one-million dollars…or to win separate lotteries of one-thousand dollars…one-thousand times?  Obviously, the chances of winning one-thousand separate lotteries of smaller dollar amounts is considerably improbable compared to the chances of winning one single lottery of a large dollar amount.

            Chopping-up a complex feature like eyesight into smaller incremental steps, gradually traversing up the gently sloping side of the theoretical Mount Improbable explanation for achieving the innovative marvels of nature, does not make the initial problem of achieving finalized function easier…but instead much more difficult. 

            If we take the vast biodiversity of the ten-million different living species on earth and chop-up each organism into their varied defining characteristics of architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits, and then throw into the mix the incredibly rich and varied ecosystems on earth…that this could all be the mindless product of enumerable Mount Improbable scenarios…is illogically nonsensical.

            As will be repeated over and over again in this book, if the pure naturalism of Darwinian macroevolution was true we should see some portions of the living world still “in-progress” in the major development of new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits.  This universal momentum towards future end-points of finalized function in terms of survivability and enhanced reproduction would observably showcase today an incomplete and ongoing process still exhibiting macro changes.

            Genetic information has limiting boundaries.  This is why we cannot breed dogs through artificial selection to be as large as elephants, and why multitudes upon multitudes of complex living organisms universally appear to have reached their developmental end-points…”like producing like” year after year.

            The main point here again is that if gradualism is to be used as the ruling paradigm in all of the natural world…including the “evolution” of earth, our solar system, and the galaxies in the universe…as some Darwinists do today in defending scientific materialism…then the brand of universal gradualism that supports materialism must be visually obvious and noticeably prolific as fact-based evidentiary reality, recognized and accepted by everyone.

            A near infinity of Mount Improbable scenarios would be obvious in nature long before Charles Darwin came along with his book The Origin of Species.

            As I began in the 1970’s and 1980’s to think about the arguments for and against evolution…the counterintuitive idea struck me that if the macro half of Darwin’s theory was in fact true, then the natural world at the present time should be like looking from a distance at a growing city.  Several new skyscraper buildings of various heights would be under construction, all topped with cranes rising upward to reach definitive end-points that show the dynamic energy of progress moving towards some future as-yet unreached destination in time. 

            Over the following decades, in the books I read for and against Darwinian evolution, I saw that the rationale that scientific materialists gave for the lack of our ability to detect evolution in action in the present time, was that the infinitesimally small incremental steps of mutation/selection occurred so slowly as to not be discernable over a human lifespan.

            This always seemed to me to be a clever deflection that did not have the clear bell-ring of truth…an “evolution-of-the-gaps” that did not “hold water”…a futile attempt to explain-away the evidence until some future better explanation could be found.

            If gradualism plus chance is the ruling paradigm in the natural world, then no matter how slowly it was moving forward at any snap-shot in time, invariably there would still be enumerable life-forms caught mid-course in their development. 

            We do not have to possess a PhD in science to flatly see that the natural world does not display works-in-progress in mid-course, transitional change according to the mechanism of gradual progressive development.  We do not see this reality functioning anywhere as the singularly controlling, explanatory paradigm.

            If all we see today in the living and non-living natural world are a few examples of gradualism, of gradualism not being the ruling paradigm explanation for the development of all of natural phenomena, then the biological theory of macroevolution based upon atheistic materialism falls apart as a workable hypothesis.


[1] Grand Metaphysical Story of Science—Phillip E. Johnson…published on April 21, 2012, by Izzy Invasion.

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