Answering Some Old Questions Part 1

            Where the ancient Greek philosophers argued pre-scientifically through logic using speculation in place of empirical evidence, modern science has replaced speculative conjecture with complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information to describe much of the causations of phenomena in the natural world.

            Species are easily mutable if the God of the Bible is releasing through gene regulatory networks and epigenetic factors, entire blocks of new and different cell-types in clustered groups that produce immediate function, as the discontinuities in the geological, fossil record clearly show.

            The fantastic irony in 2022 is that the “hopeful monster” hypothesis of evolution by saltation put forward by Goldschmidt in his 1940 book The Material Basis of Evolution, in an attempt to close the obvious gaps between living organisms in the common descent program, is that he is correct if we replace within the equation of biological development, the factor of scientific materialism with the alternate factor of intelligent agency. 

            The infinitude of connecting links required by materialism disappears when the simple move from one new and different cell-type at a time, shifts instead to adopting the more plausible program of new and different cell-types being introduced in blocks of clustered groups, in harmony with the scientific fact-based evidence that nature does make sudden leaps.

            This better concept produces new and varied life-forms entering into existence at their end-points of functional development to immediately engage into the fast-lane of survival and reproduction.

            Intelligent agency working within width-less durations of zero time to produce immediate function and fit, removes the untenable requirement of a vastly larger sized earth having more surface area, to provide the increased terrain for trial-and-error, accidental development to play-out. 

            Intelligent agency instead places the creative processes genetically inside the more manageably small-sized living cell.

In the cell there is adequate DNA information for intelligent agency to produce the vast diversity of life.

The externally-driven program of mutation/selection through survival pressures, when integrated with predator/prey relationships, complex ecosystems, and the need for the prior fitness of the environment to be in-place, would require a much larger surface area on the earth for a trial-and-error process to produce the vast diversity of life.

Typology and Increasing Complexity in Biology are not in Conflict

            Blocks of new and different cell-types in clustered groups, each assembled genetically in the arrangement and folding of amino acids to build proteins using the blueprint information in the cell, reaffirms and maintains the typological worldview prevalent before Darwin.

            The ideological difficulties that appeared inexplicable in 1859 to Darwin, inherent in individual fiat creations, over the advances of the past 160-plus years in science, now disappear.

            These difficulties disappear through the character and quality of the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information absolutely everywhere we look in the natural living and non-living world.  

            If God exists as the Creator of the universe, then there is no ideological dichotomy between the supernatural and the natural.

            Because of the explosion of information about our natural environment available today, the difficulties in explaining the causations of the phenomena in nature, have from 1859 to 2022 switched from arguing against intelligent agency to arguing for intelligent agency.

            The issue of the fixity of species disappears today when the concept of nature makes no sudden leaps, in support of amaterialistic worldview, is jettisoned overboard.

            As a Christian, I admit to being a vitalist, but not in the manner of ascribing biological development to undefined, occult-like inner forces.

            Empirical, fact-based information is not occult.

            Information that defines the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of elephants according to their genetic make-up…as to type…is as factually evidential as the mechanical engineering of an automobile.

            The mystery involved in DNA or automotive engineering is no longer the mechanics, but the origin of the structured, organized complexity that produces end-point fit and function.

            Where does the ability to design an automobile using mechanical engineering come from?

            The complex, specified, and coherently integrated character of information is the mysterious underlying force, that used to be pre-Darwin vitalism.

            But this underlying database of information is now so   complex and interwoven that it has passed-up the agency-free, research methodology of scientific materialism.

            A multitude of forms makes perfect sense if blocks of new and different cell-types in groups of 10 or 20, are manufactured in the cell using DNA and developmental gene regulatory networks, then released by an Intelligent Designing Agent within width-less durations of zero time to produce functionally mature organisms ready to enter into existence into biodiverse ecosystems.

            This is the diametric opposite of gradual biological development using the method of blind trial-and-error over vast periods of time.

            Goldschmidt’s hopeful monster made no sense at the time because it was stuck within the paradigm of scientific materialism.

            Replace this mindset of naturalistic materialism with intelligent designing agency, enabling saltation-like inputs of genetic information in blocks of grouped clusters to produce the common descent of end-point fit and function along the expanse of geological history, absent the need to find non-existent transitional intermediates, and many of the great mysteries in biology are resolved.

            It wasn’t that Darwin’s facts were wrong, just that there were not enough of them to work with in 1859.

            For Darwin the choice of the skeletal explanatory framework of atheism is what was defective in his theory of biological evolution.

            Typology works beautifully in this alternate program of blocks of cell-types coordinated in clustered groups, because the essence of each type of living organism is always introduced at its completed and functional iteration.

            The continuity of common descent, the fixity of species, change over time, and the vast diversity of life on earth, no longer makes sense within Darwinian evolution, but now makes sense only within the worldview of admitting an intelligent designing agent.

Evil and Suffering in the World

            If modern science at this point in time is revealing an Intelligent Designing Agent this precise in crafting the natural world, then if the main response to the evil and suffering in this world is to merely compose life-scripts and orchestrate journeys of faith that do not altogether remove evil and suffering, then this seemingly partial solution needs explaining.

            If the response by the God of the Bible is to initiate research programs into the knowledge of good and evil as articulated in this book, now better understood through the lens of the modern scientific method, this produces the common complaint that if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere, why doesn’t He remove evil and suffering?

            The argument that the presence of evil and suffering renders God weak and incapable of providing an entirely safe and optimized environment for humans, presupposes that there is not a more important reason for God allowing evil and suffering to exist on the earth.  

            For many years, I attributed most of the blame for the fall of some of the angels in heaven, to the charismatic appeal and outward appearing beauty of Satan (Mt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jud. 6), being similar in character in the Bible to the account of the very nearly successful revolt of Absalom against his father David the king (2 Sam. 15:1-6).

            Some verses in the Bible imply that a third of the angels followed Satan in his revolt (Rev. 12:4), that there was war in heaven (Rev. 12:7-10), and that the kingdom of heaven suffered violence and was temporarily taken over by force (Mt. 11:12).

            Ezekiel 28:12-15 gives us some background by telling us that Satan began as one of the covering cherubs “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, until iniquity was found in him” (paraphrased by me).

            Isaiah 14:12-17 and Luke 10:18 describe Satan’s fall from heaven.

            If Satan and a few others were the only rebels engaged in this coup attempt and insurrection in heaven, then I suppose it would have been relatively straightforward to exile and ban them from heaven to some other distant region.

            But if a third of the angels were susceptible to being drawn away through the enticing rhetoric of the liar Satan (Jn. 8:44), then God has a much larger problem on His hands.

            The question can be asked here, if God is timeless, did He know in advance that Satan would rebel and take with him a third of the angels?

            In the John 8:44 verse cited above, Jesus is recorded as saying that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lying…of cleverly spinning the narrative away from and outside of truth.

            Revelation 13:4 refers to the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, clearly meaning Jesus Christ.

            Several places throughout the New Testament various verses say that believers will reign with Christ for ever and ever (Rev. 22:5).

            These are all realities that are timeless, but we live in the four-dimensional reality of space and time.

            Here in God’s response to evil and suffering we see the brilliance of the plan of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Yahweh in the Old Testament (Rom. 4:1-8), and in Christ in the New Testament (Lk. 23:39-43), as opposed to autonomous self-salvation through self-performed good-works.

            If the problem with one-third of the angels was their inability to discern the truth about the character and qualifications of God as the legitimate ruler of heaven, against the deceptive character assassination of a clever and charismatic liar, then one obvious solution would be to set-up a program through which His subjects could get to know Him intimately within the context of life experiences that reveal His true character.

            The plan of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ based upon a research program into the knowledge of good and evil that involves the four-wheel drive vehicle of our fallen yet redeemed moral natures, acknowledges ahead of time that God knows this requires the existence of a broken world containing evil and suffering.

            One of the admirable characteristics of a good leader is that they will not ask other people to do something that they themselves would not do.

            A captain or coronel who leads at the front of the cavalry brigade charge merits our respect and inspiration to follow them into battle.

            The God of the Bible can hardly be said to be a distant and passive participant in this plan of redemptive salvation.

            Through the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is telling us that He is standing foursquare with us in this current reality of a broken world, for the highest and best of reasons.

            As the divine Son of God taking upon Himself the singular role of being the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sins, Jesus Christ is willingly placing Himself squarely in the middle of the evil and suffering dilemma of this broken world, by personally experiencing the hate-filled rejection and physical pain of execution by crucifixion (Isaiah 53).

            At this point we can begin to understand the imaginative brilliance of the God of the Bible in formulating the program of redemptive salvation, while not removing the evil and suffering in this world.

            If we are ever going to learn the real truth about the knowledge of good and evil, and to get to know God on a personal level that will stand the test of eternity, it is not by eating a piece of fruit.

            In addition to the broad array of moral concepts, our human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, and the life-script of Jesus Christ all coming together in what must be human history, the fourth component of free-will choice comes into the mix.

            Free-will choice is a central pillar in the eternal reality of God.

            To have any meaning, humans must have the free-will choice to make mistakes.

            Apparently, the evil and suffering generated by our inhumanity to man, and natural disasters thrown-in, is not enough to override the incredible strength of the power of individual self-autonomy that entices us to sit atop the thrones of our lives as self-sovereign junior gods.

            Not only has God foreseen this broken world and allowed evil and suffering to exist, but He has also dialed-in the fine-tuned, delicate balance between belief and unbelief as the determining factor, excluding self-salvation through good-works (Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:8-9).

            The verse “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10) highlights the fact that everyone is equally equipped to enter into a research program into the knowledge of good and evil, by each person universally inhabiting an imperfect moral nature.

The verse “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1), highlights the fact that salvation is the free gift of God accessible to every person through faith (Eph. 2:8), but not through works.

How then does skeptical unbelief put people today in the same boat of condemnation with the angels who followed Satan in his failed coup attempt and violent insurrection.  

            The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ, the person rejected and crucified as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin (rebellion) will be the main presiding judge on Judgment Day.

            Jesus is recorded as saying: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Mt. 10:32-33).

            In other words, Jesus Christ will use His substitutionary atonement obtained through the cross and the resurrection to exonerate those people who have been willing to acknowledge their imperfect moral characters (repentance) and to accept the free gift of salvation by giving Him the benefit-of-the-doubt and confessing faith in Christ (Mt. 4:17).

            For some people this leads to the last-minute “fox-hole” or death-bed confessions like that of the thief on the cross (Lk. 23:39-43), or to God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts beyond our wildest imaginations like that of the apostle Paul.

            If Jesus Christ becomes incarnate in a human body, and as His mission-plan voluntarily takes upon Himself the full penalty for mankind’s sins by dying on a Roman cross of execution, then this justifiably enables Jesus Christ as judge to extend full and unconditional pardons to people based upon the criteria that He thereby is free to determine and establish.

            But the galactic-sized insight in all of this, is that the point God is making here is so important that He is willing to come to earth in the person of the Son of God…Jesus Christ…to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sins, to codify faith as the criteria to establish personal relationships, and to inaugurate research programs into the knowledge of good and evil that human beings can pursue through first-hand experiences with the impunity guaranteed through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross.   

            On January 6, 2021 in the United States the outgoing president engineered a coup attempt and a violent insurrection that threatened the existence of representative democracy in America.

            The revolt by Satan and his fallen angels threatened the good order and peace of the entire known reality of the kingdom of God.

            The stakes here are so enormous and eternally destabilizing that the current presence of evil and suffering in this world, is the only context within which to graphically demonstrate the end-points where skeptical unbelief eventually leads.

            Jesus does not come for the last time into Jerusalem on Passover week with an army of Jewish soldiers to forcibly expel the Romans out of the city and to end the occupation of the country of Israel.

            As evidenced by the history of Israel in the Old Testament, it is often a good thing to resist through military force foreign invaders having the evil intentions of plunder through conquest.

            Throughout human history, despotic autocrats in power have been justifiably overthrown through rebellions and revolutions.

            But the God of the Bible is brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and possesses divinely timeless foresight.

            There is no justification for mounting a rebellion against the God of the Bible, other than through jealousy, envy, malice, and the raw lust for power.

            Jesus says to Pilate in the Roman judgment hall: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (Jn.19:11).

            Jesus says just before His death on the cross: “It is finished” (Jn.19:30), signifying that His mission-plan was complete and that all of the positive results accruing from His sacrifice were now codified forever in the cross.

            Jesus Christ is the epitome of His statement: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13).

            As humans we possess the capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, the complimentary existence of the broad array of moral concepts, and the life-script of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament gospels.

            But we also possess the free-will choice to accept Christ or to push Him away.

            I would think that as part of his defense when Satan stands before Jesus Christ on the Judgment Day, he will point to the multitudes of people he was able to entice to follow him in rebelling against God to pursue our own way according to the tenets of self-sovereign autonomy, by saying: “See there, I was not the only one, and therefore you cannot be correct in condemning me.  If this large a number of others freely chose to follow me instead of you, then who is to say that I am not the right choice to be God?”

            This subtly brilliant defense will not hold-up to close scrutiny, because it is exactly this autonomous self-sovereignty apart from God that produces a part of the evil and suffering in this world.

This is evidenced empirically by those people who did not give meat to the hungry, water to the thirsty, housing to the stranger, clothing to the unclothed, or visited the sick and those in prison (Mt. 25:41-46). 

Unlike the understandably naïve inability of Adam and Eve to discern truth from untruth in the perfect Garden of Eden, for people to be able to rule and to reign with Christ for ever and ever without a hiccup going forward, requires the savvy ability to individually parse the subtleties of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil.

 But this also requires a personal relationship with God that relinquishes to Him the position in heaven that He alone is qualified to occupy (Jer. 31:34). 

Finally, Jesus tells the disciples about the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who will come after Jesus departs the earth and why:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (Jn. 16:7-8).

            The greater love exhibited through a man laying down his life for his friends (Jn. 15:13), and the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us into all truth (Jn. 16:13), cannot happen in a perfect, idyllic world not having evil and suffering.

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.

A Genuine, Biblical-Quality Journey of Faith is Hard

            One of the most difficult and challenging things in all of human experience is to place our faith in the God of the Bible to help us through a crisis.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith have life-scripts that are filled with life-and-death challenges that are the direct opposite of the pursuit of a life-of-ease.

            In God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the Bible, there seems to be an equilibrium between the progress achieved in an adventure of faith and the spiritual opposition that pushes back, and/or the challenges inherent in simply choosing to do the right thing when this is hard.

            Abraham and Sarah producing Ishmael, Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, Joseph enduring the difficult training program in leadership in Egypt, Moses and the Israelites trapped at the shore of the Red Sea as the Egyptian chariot army approaches to destroy them, Joshua discouraged by the height and strength of the walled cities in Canaan like Jericho, Ruth’s leap of faith in following her mother-in-law to the foreign land of Israel, Hannah’s dilemma in not being able to provide her husband with children, David’s difficult walking through the valley of the shadow of death in preparation to become king…not o mention Elijah, Jeremiah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, and Paul to name only a few from the Bible.

            But why does Jesus the perfect and sinless Son of God encounter resistance from the very time of His birth?

            One reason is that His life must be a model for ours, in order to be real.

            If the life-script for Jesus was a clear life-of-ease, then this reality would be an unattainable model for the vast majority of people.

            But equally applicable, Jesus incarnate in a human body has the same adversary Satan that we do (Lk. 4:1-13).

            I may be that resistance is the only way that strength is created…like lifting weights.

            One thought is that life in this broken world cannot ever remove the counterforce of challenge, because this current environment is the perfect “boot camp” for discovering the genuine knowledge of good and evil when pursued through the redemptive salvation of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

            The parable of the rich fool (Lk. 12:16-21) describes the worldly unconventional approach of the biblical narrative stories of faith to pursue the higher ideal of a purposeful life that transcends above the mere pursuit of a life-of-ease.

            The only resistance-free environment is the spiritual kingdom of God in heaven, that awaits believers in the upcoming eternity.

            Trying to obtain it here and now is a fruitless endeavor (Mk. 8:34-38).

            Rare metals like gold and silver are purified in the heat of a furnace.

            Jesus did not need purifying or perfecting as He is the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.

            But He did have to model perfect faith and behavior in the face of opposition.

            Jesus had to exemplify in action the divine character of God as the Passover Lamb of God in order to qualify as the substitutionary atonement for our sins so that we could with impunity venture-out into an adventure of faith without our many mistakes counting against us.

            The brilliant program of redemptive salvation enables an adventure of faith following our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts amidst the resistance of the fiery furnace of spiritual opposition, but also the fundamental challenge of walking by faith and not be sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1).

            This reality is channeled and guided by God to produce lessons-learned that likewise qualify us through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross, and through His resurrection, to likewise be the children of God.

A Purely Materialistic Universe Does Not Fit Reality

            The original idea of a purely materialistic universe based upon processes that are mindless, indifferent, and undirected should have been dismissed out-of-hand as being nonsensically inconsistent with reality.

            A reality founded upon trial-and-error, random, and unguided processes would not and could not be the basis for the challenges, confrontations, divisions, and revolutions that are an obvious part of the human experience.

            People do not have to look for trouble.

            Trouble finds us.

            The obvious question fundamental to our worldview about reality is would a blind and indifferent Mother Nature, lacking purpose and upfront intention according to the materialistic mode, produce and environment that has continual chaos and challenge in human relations?

            The reality of human history must have a rational connection with blind and mindless causation, if the purely materialistic worldview is to hold water…is to stack-up consistent with the evidence.

            A world devoid of purpose and meaning would not and could not be saturated with purpose.

            The spinning of the narrative of reality in human experience to be part of the survival of the fittest to fuel and energize small-step, incremental development is an incorrect half-truth. 

            It is a bad interpretation of the evidence.  It I a false skeletal explanatory framework upon which to hang the individual facts.

            The Bible starts (Gen. 3:1-6) with a malicious actor entering into the peaceful harmony of the Garden of Eden, introducing rebellion in its most profound form as autonomous individualism apart from God.

            This initial event is exponentially too deep for a mindless, indifferent, and purposeless Mother Nature to be the explanation for its origin.

            Yet there it is entering into the open marketplace of ideas at the dawn of contemplative analysis.

            Soon thereafter Cain murders Abel because Cain wants to practice “religion” his own way.

            The land of Egypt rewards the good service of Joseph leading them through a great famine, by having a future Pharaoh enslave the Hebrews living in the land for fear they will eventually outnumber the native Egyptians…an ancient version of the immigration debate in America today and the recurring theme of nationalism throughout human history that has been the rationale for countless wars and conquest.

            It takes the divine intervention of God to deliver the Israelites from Egypt through Moses.  The Jews must then militarily conquer their Promised Land by force and through the miraculous help of God.[1]

            This is already way beyond a blind, mindless, and purposeless Mother Nature, and this is only the events occurring in the first books of the Hebrew Bible, the Protestant Old Testament.

            This sudden leap into the depths of the subtleties of the broad array of moral concepts contained within the knowledge of good and evil is as abrupt an entrance as the instantaneous creation of the universe at the Big Bang.

            It is as sudden as the leap from zero DNA to 3-billion bits of genetic DNA coded language at the origin of single-cell bacterial life on earth.

            The introduction in human recorded history of the concepts of good and evil, and right and wrong, is a sudden leap like the Cambrian Explosion of new complex life-forms, having no transitional intermediate precursors.

            This reality of disruptive challenges and the universally experienced upheaval of confrontations through invading armies of “foreigners” bent upon geographical and political conquest, makes sense within the world of animal instinct, the biodiversity of predator/prey relationships, and balanced ecosystems.

            But this makes no sense when extended into the human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning.

            Parsing and dividing good conduct from evil conduct, and the fundamental judgments of right versus wrong behaviors in human relations…has no correspondence to a blind, mindless, indifferent, material-only based universe.

            When purpose and meaning are added to the equation, then the calculus eliminates naturalistic materialism as a viable worldview.


[1] See on You Tube: How Archaeology Supports the Bible: A conversation with Joel Kramer, streamed live on Jan. 21, 2021 on Dr. Sean McDowell, and 20161030 The Oldest Yahweh Inscription 2 Kings Joel Kramer published on Oct. 30, 2016 by Lighthouse Church-Twin Falls, at Joel Kramer Archaeologist.

Ye Shall Be Free Indeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7).

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God created within us this strong drive to succeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Christian Life 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good human literary fiction is based upon conventional human experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is why God invented time.

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

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

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

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

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