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.  As such, it distorts the real truth about God.

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?

This ancient strategy of cultural survival in the Old Testament…finds an exact parallel in recent modern history.

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.

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 to 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.

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.

The Divine Origin of the Bible

“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”                                                 (Col. 3:1-3)

God is the architect of one of the most unlikely of creations…the delicate balance of belief and unbelief in our current environment…a concept briefly revisited here from a previous essay…from a slightly different angle.

Balancing belief and unbelief in our world, so that one does not overpower the other…is one of the great spiritual engineering feats in all of human history…yet one we do not normally recognize or attribute to God.

The delicate balance of belief and unbelief is also surprisingly calibrated…landing midway in the rare zone of falling just beyond the reach of human inventive imagination and contrivance…but also falling just short of the demarcation line of fully revealing its supernatural origin, along with the carefully hidden requirement for periodic, fine-tuned adjustments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Narrow Bandwidth of Definition

There is a narrow bandwidth of definition in the natural world…that supports the scientific activity of biological taxonomic classification…that defines the essence of every living and non-living thing…which recognizes horizontally constraining definition lines below and above…describing the characteristics, architectural designs, and lifestyle habits…of billions of unique and distinctive things in the natural world…a reality that is fatal to the theory of the open-ended boundaries of random change in Darwinian macroevolution, naturalistic materialism, and scientism.

The characteristics, architectural body designs, and lifestyle habits of an apple tree compared to the olive tree or to the rose bush…or the distinctive and unique characteristics that define the African elephant compared to a giraffe or a hippopotamus…not to mention a salmon fish or a falcon bird or a spider insect…all are part of unique and discontinuous, narrow bandwidths of definition that fall within their tight spaces of horizontal lines above and below that lock into place the essence of each and every living and non-living thing…that stay that way without any observable major changes… theoretical major changes toward some future, hypothetical, currently unimaginable outcomes…beyond their current, essential characteristic definitions.

There is an extremely narrow and precise bandwidth of complex, specified, and coherently integrated information…of enormous quantity…front-loaded inside the seed of an apple tree…that tells the seed planted in the ground to burst upward through the surface of the ground and rise with incredible energy, momentum, and direction…to become a very specific type of tree producing a specific type of fruit…apples having nutrients, a sweet taste, and a pleasing aroma.

What tells the apple tree when to stop growing and when and how to start producing fruit…is again front-loaded within the informational package that uniquely and distinctly defines what it means to be an apple tree.

The compelling evidence of ordered and intelligible information integral to this reality of an apple tree…that argues through commonsense for the need for an intelligent designer God setting all of this in motion…along with billions of other brilliantly coordinated systems of information making up the vast diversity of living things in the natural world…seamlessly translates over into the narrow bandwidths of definition found in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

What is beyond humanistic explanation is how each biblical narrative story of faith could home-in on its own unique mission-plan and outcome…between tightly spaced-apart top and bottom defining horizontal lines…while finding just the right mix of the supernatural and miraculous…while establishing and maintaining a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…a powerful process yet incomprehensible and undetectable to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

When Jesus says to Thomas: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (Jn. 20:29)…Jesus is not being critical of Thomas.

Jesus…in that very moment is engaged precisely in that very thing…in physically revealing Himself in His resurrected body…again to the disciples…this time while Thomas is not absent elsewhere but present amongst them.

Within the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…following the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…these physical appearances of Jesus to the disciples and to other select people…to the extent of the numerical limits as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8…were more than adequate for the inauguration and empowerment of the early Christian church…as historically seen in hindsight.

But these physical appearances of Jesus after His resurrection…were also brilliantly and carefully moderated so as not to extend over into the area of  mass-public appearances…beyond that of the more than 500 disciples described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6…into the public domain of undeniable, empirically observed reality…like isolated cases of the undeniable persuasiveness of the temporary blindness of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13, or the temporary loss of being able to speak for Zacharias in Luke 1, or the potential of Jesus praying to the Father for legions of angels to save Him from the upcoming ordeal of the cross.

All of these examples of visual, observed reality…along with all of the signs and wonders recorded in the Bible…would and did generate a type of faith that Thomas obtained when he examined the hands and the side of the resurrected Jesus (Jn. 20:28)…an empirical acknowledgment of the risen Christ that Thomas would need for the intense storms of opposition and persecution he and the other disciples would face in the immediate days and years to come.

The quality of being able to hear God’s voice in the Spirit…to understand our unique calling…and to be able to follow God’s lead within a narrow bandwidth that defines who and what we are and what we were created to become…derives its high-value because faith and trust is an invaluable part of personal relationships…and is not the same thing as the mere acknowledgment of visually observed events and occurrences…even divine miracles (Jn. 12:37).

Many Christians in the days ahead may need the empirical evidences of divine appearances of God and of angels…in dreams, visions, or visitations (Joel 2:28-29)…to boldly and confidently carry out their challenging missions…like Paul in Acts 23:11.

But the standard stock-in-trade of the Christian life is to commendably and admirably follow God in-the-Spirit…without physical, empirical evidence of His presence and participation in our lives.

The enormous importance of this reality of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…is the two-fold coupling of the apologetic evidence this unfolds…of its divine origin and continued maintenance…along with the equally important inspirational value to the believing Christian of God’s masterful brilliance demonstrated in the tight definitions of the biblical narrative stories of faith…each as unique, distinctive, and having purposeful direction…as the unique informational packages contained within the seeds of apple, orange, olive, or fig trees.

Jesus actually says to the disciples that it is imperative that He go away…that He return to the Father in heaven…so that the Holy Spirit…the divine Third Person of the Trinity…invisible and un-seeable to human beings…can lead them…and us…into all truth (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15).

This reality of a walk with God through life…in the Spirit…applies to modern-day Christians as well as to the early Christian disciples in the first-century.

The ability to invent and to utilize a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…only has tangible application within real interactions with the living God…who is capable of initiating and sustaining personal relationships with His followers (Jer. 31:31-34)…through God-composed journeys of faith.

This distinctive feature of the biblical narrative stories of faith…balanced precisely within the narrow bandwidths that define the original and innovative storylines of the callings of the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…has no plausible explanation of origin coming from man-made religions having imaginary gods.

The Bible has this unique and distinctive component of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…because the Bible is a divinely inspired composition…co-authored with human beings by the Creator God of the universe.

Any other explanation for its existence within the marketplace of ideas…is nonsensical.

 

The Gap between the Cross and the Resurrection 2

Although the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are discussed in several places in this book…this is probably the best location to drill down more deeply into the nature of the rejection of Jesus that led to the cross on Calvary Hill.

In a book attempting to make a popular defense of the Bible and Christianity…to illuminate the real truth about God…this topic must be addressed early, clearly, and with four-square honesty…despite the offense it will cause for a large number of people (1 Cor. 1:18, 2:14; Gal. 2:20, 3:22).

The first-century Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers in Jerusalem who were the chief instigators of the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ…were not bank robbers, embezzlers, slave traders, drug dealers, murderers, or common thieves.

Yet the stubborn character trait of self-sovereignty openly led to their eventual exposure…at the critically decisive moment in their lives…to be the greatest criminals of all time…by conspiring to murder the Son of God Jesus Christ through Roman crucifixion…for the simplest and most commonplace of reasons…that they were living in the realm of thinking and doing things “our own way.”

Some people will react immediately here and say: “This cannot be right…how can going our own way be criminal?”

Did not God create within us the capacity for independent moral reasoning and free-will choice?  Does not the definition of love require the freedom to choose to accept or to reject love from another person…including God?

Doesn’t the American slogan of “Go west young man”…to carve-out a place in the wilderness for a ranch or a farm…doesn’t this commendable and admirable worldview validate the worldly conventional thinking of going our own way…in pursuing all of the things that conventional normalcy ranks at the top of purpose,  meaning, and achievement in life?

But the worldview philosophy of humanism unequivocally says that placing faith in the God of the Bible…is a sign of character weakness in leaning upon God as a crutch to get through life…instead of pushing through our life challenges using self-autonomous individualism.

The problem here from a biblical standpoint is that the entire scenario surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…is that it is a divine set-up…designed to expose the dark side of autonomous individualism at the extreme negative end of the spectrum of belief and unbelief…demonstrating in action the final outcome of a journey of self (Jn. 8:19).

The religious elites in Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of Jesus…had no intention of entering into a journey of faith like Abraham traveling from Haran to Canaan (Gen. 12:1)…or like Joseph patiently waiting in Pharaoh’s prison for God to work out the details of Joseph’s two earlier dreams as a teenager back in Canaan (Gen. 37:5-11)…or like Moses spending 40 years as a shepherd of sheep in preparation for leading the Israelites out of Egypt to their Promised Land…or like the soon-to-be converted Pharisee Saul/Paul to be sent out as a Christian missionary evangelist to the Greco-Roman world…and God knew this about these religious leaders in Jerusalem.

When some of the Jews came to the Pharisees to report what they had witnessed in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead…after four days lying dead in a stone covered, cave tomb…we would think this would change absolutely everyone’s thinking regarding the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 11:1-44).

How many people do we know about…past or present…that can bring someone back to life…someone who has been dead for four days?

Yet this news about Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life…does not seem to phase in the slightest…to sway in a positive direction the opinion that these Pharisees have of Jesus of Nazareth.

The first concern recorded by these religious leaders is in regard to their positions and political power in their nation of Israel…of the impending and growing threat of the obvious popularity of Jesus Christ…a person who can raise a well-known person Lazarus from the dead in a small town on the very outskirts of Jerusalem…placing in peril their worldview philosophy of going “our own way”…in direct contrast to the Jewish heritage of journeys of faith (Heb. 11) patterned after the great men and women of the Hebrew Bible…from Noah through Malachi.

“But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.  Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” (Jn. 11:46-48).

The God of the Bible is the only person in all of existence who would and could expose this extremely subtle character malfunction of going our own way…in self-autonomous individualism…through the brilliantly conceived and orchestrated events and circumstances of the life-script of Jesus Christ…the Son of God incarnate in a human body…landing Jesus on the cross at Calvary as the ultimate expression of unselfish love…prophesied centuries before in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The flawed character trait of going our own way…as demonstrated in the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers rejecting and murdering Jesus the Son of God through Roman crucifixion…easily the greatest crime in all of history…is exactly the same offense committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden…and the same offense committed by yours truly…the author of this book…in my own way…before I met God…was spiritually born-again…and entered into a journey of faith following Jesus Christ.

“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.” (Gen. 3:4-5).

Adam and Eve made the morally disastrous decision to go their own way apart from God…a perfect God having timeless foresight…the worst decision anyone can ever make…as is openly demonstrated by the cross on Calvary Hill.

The divine exposure of the extreme end-point outcome of going our own way…resulting in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…indicting all of the world in the process…would never originate out of the humanistic philosophy contained within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and would therefore not be a product of human literary imaginative invention.

As has been said before in this book…the positive aspects of the American Dream only work for our eternal benefit when they are pursued within a God-composed journey of faith life-script…producing the beneficial and priceless outcome of personally knowing God…from the least to the greatest…walking in an adventure of faith. (Jer. 31:31-34).

The Gap between the Cross and the Resurrection 1

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”                (1 Cor. 1:18)

            The largest gap…the largest vertical displacement in terms of distance…that has ever occurred in human redemptive history…on the continuum graph-line of goodness and light…is the space between the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and then His resurrection from the dead three days later.

The event of the cross was so catastrophic for the disciples of Jesus that it sent them into a tailspin of doubt and despair…beyond comprehension to these followers of Jesus during the three-day interval in time until the resurrection.

The previously unimaginable gap between spiritual darkness exhibited through hatred, prejudice, and stubborn unbelief producing the rejection of Jesus on the cross…and the incredible jump up the continuum of light of the glorious resurrection of Jesus exhibiting the complete acceptance, validation, and approval of God the Father…of the sinless performance of Jesus Christ the Son of God…subsequently transformed the disciples and changed the world from then on.

Even though Jesus forewarned the disciples in advance of His upcoming death in Jerusalem at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and His rising from the dead three days later…worldly conventional thinking was so strong within the still-to-be-spiritually reborn disciples (Jn. 20:22)…that the gap beginning with the unprecedented depth of spiritual darkness leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus…took these disciples by surprise and sent them scattering at the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The challenge of overcoming the accumulated spiritual darkness of mankind’s sin…even tested the Son of God Jesus in Gethsemane the night before Calvary…as we read about Jesus having to go back and pray a second time…incomprehensible to us in the divine, perfect Son of God…sweating drops of blood…and requiring the aid of an angel from heaven (Lk. 22:39-44)…saying “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful unto death” (Mk. 14:34).

The positive outcome three days later of the resurrection of Jesus having a newly restored body…reaching across this vertical gap…this displacement in distance from death to life…completed the connection within the God-composed journey of faith life-script for Jesus of Nazareth to bridge this gap between our deserved damnation as rebels…to our salvation by grace through faith…unachievable and incomprehensible while we are lost within the confusion of the zone of mixed light-and- darkness in worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

Even to this day, people within the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking go about their lives without even recognizing this enormous gap in history between the cross and the resurrection…as if it never happened at all.

The two most important events in all of human history…the cross and the resurrection…and the enormous gap between them in terms of spiritual light that only God Himself could bridge through Christ…in restoring our broken relationship with Him…is not only brushed aside as unimportant but is totally obscured by our self-centered pursuit of the cares of this world for the benefit of “me, myself, and I” (Lk. 8:14).

A critically important point for Spirit-born Christians to understand in terms of biblical faith…is that the gospel message of Christ goes into the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and lifts people up and out…unto a higher place on the vertical graph-line continuum of light and goodness (Jn. 10:10; 11:25-26).

Even though we by necessity live our lives partially within conventional normalcy…pay our bills, show up for work, eat well and exercise…a God-composed adventure of faith life-script falls above and outside of worldly conventional normalcy.

Worldly conventional thinking…without God as our King and Ruler…as junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives…is where the “blind lead the blind…both falling into a ditch” (Mt. 15:14).  This is where a man can gain the whole world yet lose his own soul (Mt. 16:26).

Worldly conventional normalcy is where the “woman at the well” resides before she meets Jesus (Jn. 4:5-30).

The blindness of worldly conventional thinking explains the townspeople of Nazareth attempting to throw Jesus off a cliff to His death…unable to reconcile the humbleness of His station in life as a local carpenter…with the enormous yet perfectly true statement in their synagogue that the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 was being fulfilled that very day.

Worldly conventional thinking explains the family of Jesus not believing in Him (Mk. 3:21; Jn. 1:5, 7:5).

Worldly conventional normalcy and thinking sadly results in: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (Jn. 6:66).

Worldly conventional thinking results in everyone forsaking Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Worldly conventional normalcy and thinking produces the blindness and ignorance that has Jesus saying from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).

Worldly conventional normalcy and thinking will produce the bewildering opposition to the gospel message (Acts 14:22)…a gospel that Christians lovingly and selflessly bring to this world.

As Spirit-born Christians walking with Jesus…we are in the world…but not of the world (Heb. 11:16).

Even the Life-Script for Jesus has a Gap

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”      (Phil. 2:8)

In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says in Matthew 5:13 that Christians are the salt of the earth…Jesus is that very salt that makes Christians salty.

In the next verse, Matthew 5:14…Jesus says that Christians are the light of the world.

As He is speaking at that precise moment…Jesus is the eternal Light of the world…He is our light (Jn 8:12)…and the light that will illuminate the new heavenly city of Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23).

Jesus the Son of God is absolute goodness and brilliant pure light.

Yet when Jesus became incarnate in a human body…by necessity He became part of worldly conventional normalcy.  Jesus had a mother, step-father, half-brothers and sisters as a human family.  Jesus worked as a carpenter…in a small rural town…as part of the nation of Israel.  Jesus was intimately engaged in His ministry to the Jews in the first-century…with all of the political, social, and religious issues that entails.

Yet Jesus emphatically declined the offer of Satan in the temptation in the wilderness to have “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13).

When some people came to attempt to forcibly make Jesus a king…He resisted this temptation…the scripture recording that “he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (Jn. 6:15).

There is therefore a boundary line in the life-script of Jesus…regarding worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…beyond which He will not go.

The gap…the space…the distance to traverse for Jesus was to be the Passover Lamb of God…the atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins.

Jesus the Word of God wrote His own life-script along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The perfect life-script of Jesus did not lead to the coronation crown of Isaiah 9:6-7, but instead to the crown of thorns of rejection and the cross on Calvary Hill…of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

This is the ingenious gap that God inserted into the life-script of Jesus the Son of God, that challenged Him in a similar way that we are challenged…in where we are now to where we need to go…requiring the help of God…yet Jesus is operating at the top-end of the goodness continuum of brilliant pure light…while we have a ways to travel up the continuum line from imperfection and sin toward more needed light…in order to fulfill our life-mission callings.

Listen to what Jesus says leading up to the experience of the cross of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53…compared to the coronation crown of Isaiah 9:6-7:

”But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straightened till it be accomplished” (Lk. 12:50).

In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prays “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42).

We cannot understand what it would be like to be the sin-sacrifice for all of mankind’s shortcomings.

God wrote into the journey of faith life-script for the perfect Son of God Jesus this incredible gap…to take our place on the cross…to be our substitute…to be our Savior through the cross and the resurrection…because that is exactly what we needed at that point in human history…and not the coroneted king of Isaiah 9:6-7…although Jesus was the brilliant pure light and absolute goodness of a divine King during His entire life and ministry…especially so…as He hung on the cross for our sakes.

My point here is that Jesus is the perfect blend of worldly conventional normalcy and at the same time the higher ways of God…because Jesus followed His journey of faith life-script to be the Savior of the world…perfectly.

What is critical for Spirit-born Christians to consider as we enter the end-times…is that the divinely composed life-script for Jesus led directly to such a lethal conflict with worldly conventional normalcy…that it ends with Jesus being rejected and murdered in the one and only way that would procure the liberty and redemption from sin…as the Passover…that only God alone could imagine, set in motion, and flawlessly guide to its tragic yet glorious outcome.

This is the living God.  This is biblical faith in action.

This gap between Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53 in the life of the promised Messiah…confirms the divine origin of the Bible from another angle…because this gap between imperfect people and a perfect God…which only Jesus Christ could fill…is a concept too complex and intellectually sophisticated for the non-existent contemplation of material particles and energy…as the explanation for its origin.

These powerful truths lift up and glorify the name and character of God…likewise beyond human invention and creative imagination.

The Gap that Creates the Space for a Knowledge of Good and Evil

Certainly within the vast region of secular pursuits there is an equivalent gap between where people are and where they would like to get to.

This reality is what motivates people to pursue a college degree, advance in their careers, save up money for a European vacation or their future retirement, explore the natural world through scientific investigation, and search for the cure for cancer.

This curious space…this interval…this gap…in time and in outcomes…insightfully observed and brilliantly described in Hebrews 11:1…is the underlying, fundamental reason for the creation of this physical universe…having the temporal aspects of time, space, orderliness, and intelligibility.

If we are looking for a reason for why our physical world is the way it is…and why we are here…this curious space…this interval…this gap…in time and in space to create the context for a Hebrews 11:1 adventure of biblical faith to actualize…this may be the answer (Heb. 11:6).

A thesis of this book is that the reality of the universal existence of this space…this gap…between where we are and where we want to go…is a necessary condition for the variableness in degrees of faith to exist…to match the unique variableness of the challenges of our individual callings.

Without this space or gap…as universal and as real as anything we observe and experience…on the vertical continuum scale of good and evil…with absolute good at the very top…the free-will choice to exercise faith in God that defines and differentiates variable degrees of righteousness…cannot exist (Heb. 11:1).

            For righteousness to be eternally sustainable for created, non-divine human beings having the moral reasoning capacity for free-will choice…a broad understanding of good and evil…spread-out along this vertical continuum scale of reality…must be fully in-play in our daily experiences in this world environment.

It is also a theme of this book that the exercise of biblical faith…that of enlisting God’s help and participation in closing this space or gap in some particular scenario of circumstances…whatever that may be…is singularly unique in all of human thought and experience.

In my opinion, this is an intellectually plausible and heart-satisfying answer to the universal question of why we are here…in combination with the fact that we are not robots…but instead possess the mental faculties to process and evaluate the deepest of theoretical and philosophical issues (1 Cor. 2:6-12)…such as we are doing in this book.

In my opinion, this is the logical, rational, and reasonable place where we end up after drilling down into the reasons why the world is a rough-and-tumble reality of life for most people.

This curious dynamic of the interaction of faith between the living God and people…in mutually working together through an adventure of faith journey to close the gaps from where we are to where we want or need to go…falls so far outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…so far above self-sovereignty and autonomous self-reliance…that this requires an adequate and satisfactory explanation for believers and unbelievers alike.

This explanation is found within the biblical narrative stories of faith…and nowhere else.

Finally, in this question of the existence and the importance of the role of faith in our Christian lives…we can find a powerful answer by borrowing a concept and the terminology from the modern science of Information Theory.

The biblical narrative stories of faith provide the maximum amount of information about God…by purposeful design…because their storylines contain what are called indeterminism and contingency.

These are long words that mean that the biblical narrative stories of faith do not contain repetition and redundancy…that generate little information.

A book having the phrase “I love you” repeated on every line on every page throughout the book…contains very little information content…compared to a murder mystery fiction novel, or a biography, or a book written about some historical event…having non-repeating words, sentences, and paragraphs conveying uniquely specific information on every page.

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible provide the maximum revelation about the nature and character of God…because they are based upon the unique contingency and the indeterminism of faith…that we “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7).

God does not give us all of the information upfront in our life-mission callings.

“The just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3:11) because this is the optimum vehicle for God to reveal Himself to us through the indeterminate and contingent higher ways and thoughts of God.

Indeterminate…because God cannot give us the whole story of our callings in advance…because then our walk of faith could degenerate into a paint-by-the-numbers, solitary effort on our part based upon our ability to perform according to the script…rather than building a personal relationship with God achieved through a shared experience.

Contingent…because every biblical narrative story of faith is contingent upon the God-created talents and abilities we possess…and the larger, long-range plans of God in the redemptive history of mankind.

Certainly the Bible contains religious rituals…such as the Jewish festivals, the Passover, water baptism, and the Lord’s Supper communion.

But the concept of God-composed life-scripts having well-defined events and circumstances designed to provide the maximum information about God…while at the same time accomplishing phenomenal benefits for mankind…is itself a compelling evidence for the existence of God and the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

The Gap that Creates the Space for a Knowledge of Good and Evil 1

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 Jn. 1:5)

It is time to consider a basic question…why can faith be so difficult for us?  Why is it faith of all possible things…that separates self-sovereignty from God-sovereignty…in determining the all-important course and direction of our lives?

Why does the Bible characterize placing faith in ourselves alone…as self-autonomous kings and queens sitting upon the thrones of our lives…as reprehensible…but instead placing faith in God within a journey of faith as righteousness (Heb. 11:7)…again a concept that is as far removed from the autonomous individualism of conventional thinking as is imaginable?

Why is faith the central element…the most important thing…in our personal relationship with God that is tested and put at risk…that is the bonding agent that connects us…that is being twisted and pulled and stretched by the challenging events and circumstances of our lives?

The issue of difficult challenge…inherent in a faith-journey following God…is a central theme in every positive person of faith throughout the Bible (Rom. 4:3; Ex. 3:11; Josh. 1:5-7; Jud. 6:14-17; Lk. 22:42; Acts 23:11; Heb. 11).

In our current cultural and social exploration into the question of the existence of God…the spot-on accuracy of the biblical description of the variableness of faith in our personal relationships…especially in a relationship following the leading of God…beginning thousands of years ago at the start of the book of Genesis…should give us momentary pause.

Is it rational and plausible to think that material particles and energy…according to the philosophy of naturalism…could conceivably be the source and origin of the incredibly complex value judgment system that is an inseparable part of the variableness of faith in our relationships with other people…and with our Creator God?

Does the sheer existence of this thing called faith…which exists only within the personal interactions between moral beings having the capacity for free-will choice and cognitive thinking…place the reality of the entire framework of the natural world above and outside of any naturalistic explanation?

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight…from the vantage point of living in the middle of what is being called the Information Age…doesn’t commonsense Christian apologetics tell us that the oddity of the variableness of faith in the personal relationships between people…should have been an obvious offsetting fact to Charles Darwin when he wrote his famous book The Origin of Species?

Should not the high quality of the variableness of faith be a compelling counter-argument against a naturalistic explanation for the origin of human intelligent decision-making, moral reasoning, qualitative judgment, free-will choice, and communication skills…all coordinated into a functional coherence that cries out for an Intelligent Designer and a Master Craftsman of sublime ability?

On the surface, establishing and maintaining faith in our relationships with other people should be much easier and simpler than it is.

As Christians, it should be easier to place our faith in God in the middle of attacking the current, temporary life-crisis at hand…the current life-lesson for ourselves…and for others in need.

But this is one reason why faith is such an important moral reality…such a central factor in personal relationships…answered at the end of this essay.

In our Christian journeys of faith, the challenging issues always seem to come back around to the same successful strategy of centering our trust in God, releasing our faith, relinquishing self-sovereignty over the control of our lives, listening in the Spirit, and patiently waiting…for the answer to our prayer…for the inspirational solution needed…or for the one right path of action to follow…all of which have an element of built-in difficulty.

Why does the foreign missionary find themselves in the difficult situation of trying to make do with limited resources in their balanced evangelical effort to bring the light and the transforming power of the gospel message to the lost…along with the help that is needed in terms of financial and material support to alleviate poverty…and in the process discover what is the elusive sweet-spot balance…which only real-life events and circumstances can define and delineate…between the eternally valuable and the temporally practical needs of people?

Why does the local church pastor find themselves frustratingly short of finances, church member volunteers, and community support to solve the many social problems and desperate needs they confront on a daily basis?

Why does the heart-broken grandmother find herself investing many hours on her knees as a prayer warrior on behalf of a wayward grandchild…temporarily lost in drug or alcohol addiction and walking along the dangerous edge of falling into the abyss of oblivion at any moment?

Why does the calling of Abraham in the Bible involve a time-period of waiting for the birth of his son Isaac?

Why does Moses, part-way through the ten miraculous plagues in Egypt, find himself waking up each morning without Pharaoh relenting and releasing the Israelites from bondage?

Why does David have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death as penned in his beautiful and famous Psalm 23?

Why does Jesus the divine Son of God say in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me”…then without missing a beat says in perfectly executed faith: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42).

            Why is there this curious space…this interval…this gap…in time and in outcomes…between where we are and where we want to get to…for ourselves or on behalf of others in need…that creates the opportunity…the space…for free-will choice and biblical faith to operate together in tandem?