God’s Unexpected Answer 2

This notion of removing the Christian body of believers off the earth pretribulation, chops out a massive portion of the potential creative imagination that God…as righteous Judge and eternal Ruler of the realm…could bring to bear in one last final closing chapter of human redemptive history.

The recurring pattern of the cross of Jesus Christ, skillfully placed within a variety of indeterminate plotlines having uncertain outcomes in-the-moment, in what this book calls the danger zone of faith in the competence and the good will of the living God…is a direct argument against a full pre-knowledge of the early removal of the Christian church…and what amounts to a foreclosing of the opportunity to adventure through the illuminating danger zone of the tribulation…at the end of the ages.

A perceptive reader at this point might object that the revelation of the upcoming end-times macro-script in incremental stages through actual events and circumstances as they occur in real-time in-the-moment (Mt. 24:32-51)…rather than all upfront in a clear and full revelation…places God in the very role that has been criticized in this book as inadequate for the management of larger, expanding enterprises…that of appearing to be in the reactive mode.

Herein is where a biblical journey of faith in the danger zone can be taken apart and more well-defined.

God has all of the answers already…because God possesses timeless foresight.  God lives in a timeless environment (Isa. 46:9-10).

Prior to the commencement of every biblical journey of faith, God has the script already pre-written.  But God does not reveal all of the details upfront to each person of faith.  God does not give us the entire blueprint of our journey of faith upfront for us to follow according to our own wits, personal interpretation, and take-it-or-leave-it pleasure.

This is why we call these God-composed life-scripts…walks of faith, journeys of faith, and adventures of faith.

The Bible says we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

If we had all of the information upfront about our journeys of faith, we would attempt to tweak some of the circumstances to fit more closely within the comfort of worldly conventional normalcy.

If Jesus the Son of God asked His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane if there was an alternate way to procure salvation for mankind, other than the events of the cross He was facing the next day, how do we suppose we will respond to the way of the cross in our own lives…if we knew upfront every challenge and difficulty we would face?

If Peter and John knew ahead of time that going to the temple in Jerusalem that fateful morning would result in the miraculous and sensational healing of the crippled man, and subsequently lead to placing the two of them standing foursquare before the intimidating Sanhedrin council demanding an explanation for this miracle, Peter and John might have decided to take a wise detour and go fishing that day instead.

God-composed journeys of faith are crafted for our benefit.  A timeless God has all of the journeys of faith pre-written, including the great end-times scenario of eternally momentous events resolved through a brilliant script, surpassing the suspense of our best spy thriller or murder mystery fiction novels.

But though God is timeless, we learn through discovery…experientially.

God-composed life-scripts are ingeniously crafted to unselfishly and lovingly impart some of the characteristics of God to us.

Although God is never in the reactive mode, for reasons that we do not fully understand now (1 Cor. 13:12), the revelation of God to us must occur in incremental stages as our confidence grows with each tentative step in our walk of faith.

Abraham discovers through his journey of faith that God is true to His word.

Joseph discovers that God knows exactly what He is doing, even when all outward appearances argue in the opposite direction.

Moses discovers the power and resolve of God to finish what He starts.

David discovers that God is trustworthy as a companion and a guide even while walking together step-for-step through the valley of the shadow of death.

Peter discovers that God sees our hidden inner talents and can transform anyone, no matter how common our initial worldly status, into the “rock” He called us to be.

Through his remarkable adventure of faith, Paul amazingly discovers that God does actually know everything and can separate-out and illuminate the intricate parts of any issue through the divinely sequenced occurrence of events and circumstances.

God’s Unexpected Answer 1

The divinely patient and love-filled answer of God to my prayer about guidance in the selection of a career…as a young man in college…went not at all according to what I naively thought I wanted, but what God knew I actually needed if I was to be able to grow in my knowledge of Christ and to understand some of the deep issues within the cross and the resurrection.

God’s answer to my prayer asking for worldly conventional normalcy in the career portion of my life, so that I could pursue Him undistracted by the cares of this world according to the shallow thinking of a beginning novice, turned out to be the direct opposite of what I expected.

Without divinely created and guided experiences, having some measure of adversity and challenge, I cannot grow into the fullness of the better person God had in mind when He created me.

If we truly seek God with all of our hearts and minds we will find Him, but not according to our initial, horizontally conventional thinking.

The God of the Bible that we find through life experience is not a shallow projection of our own imagination (1 Pet. 1:3). God is expertly and amazingly way ahead of us in laying out the precise routes to discovering truth in every aspect of reality and existence.  This is one of the truly fascinating features of picking up our cross and following Jesus Christ into our unique and individualized callings.

Herein is one argument against the timing of a pretribulation rapture of the Christian church, found within the modern field of information theory.

If the pretribulation scenario as proposed today is correctly described in exhaustive detail upfront…like in the exciting and captivating Left Behind book series…then unpredictability, improbability, and information content potential are all reduced.  The opportunity for God to creatively compose, using an information-rich end-times script, is reduced.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script is information-rich.  It is not repetitive, redundant, or deterministic.  The highest amount of information is conveyed within the biblical narrative stories of faith because the plotlines are novel and unique with uncertain outcomes…in-the-moment.

Even though there is the common pattern of the cross of Christ in every journey of faith life-script, there is what is called indeterminacy.  Every narrative story of faith is different.  There is no repetitive redundancy.

If the biblical narrative stories of faith and their resolutions were all closely similar…all narrowly predetermined…then less information would be conveyed as a whole.

For example, a romance novel that only has the word “love” repeated over and over for 100 pages provides very little information content.

God’s novel strategy for Gideon to repulse the invading Midianites, the unique approach for Joshua to bring down the walls of Jericho, Joshua’s request of God to halt the skyward progress of the sun in the middle of a decisive military battle, and Jesus walking on water, are examples where we can read the outcomes in hindsight but which were all in doubt and at risk in the moment they occurred.

Because the challenges in each situation differed, the solutions are unique and unpredictable.  And because there are multiple possible alternative outcomes, the narrative stories of faith in the Bible provide maximum information.

Using an analogy to the concert grand piano…artistically created, musical piano compositions are indeterminate in that there are a nearly infinite number of combinations of notes, tempos, and styles available on the piano keyboard to produce improbable outcomes.

The music of Chopin is distinctly different from the music of Debussy, Rachmaninoff, or Scott Joplin.

At the level of artistic creativity, how do we identify and define great musical melodies?  What is special about the simple melody of Beethoven’s opening notes to his fifth symphony?  How did the Beatles or the Beach Boys come up with so many brilliantly creative melodies in their popular songs, when other musical artists can only manage single hit-songs that are referred to as “one-hit wonders?”  How does composer and symphony conductor John Williams create such incredibly moving musical themes for his many movie scores?

This analogy to the concert grand piano, and the brilliance of musical compositions, helps us to understand the unique and elevated nature of the complex, highly-specified, diverse, artistically creative information that goes into a God-composed journey of faith life-script.

This then helps us to understand the ingenuity of the Christian life in the danger zone of faith, and to likewise be able to place our faith in the living God who is up to the task of writing and directing brilliantly insightful, issue-illuminating scenarios in our lives…no matter how darkly challenging in the present moment.

An irony therefore in the end-times prophetic debate is that one set of evidences that argues apologetically for the divine inspiration of the Bible…the presence of complex, specified, top-down information found in the ancient texts of these biblical narrative stories of faith…refutes the notion of a predetermined knowledge that the rapture of the Christian church would occur prior in time to the great tribulation.

What is Missing in the Eschatology Discussion Today…is the Way of the Cross

In my opinion, Christians in the end-times cannot fully discover, internalize, and outwardly demonstrate the triumphant, overcoming nature of Jesus Christ…without the necessity of experiencing a similar intensity of challenging issues on a massive scale, as Jesus did in the first-century, during at least some portion of the upcoming great tribulation, prior to the rapture.

Will the Christian church be raptured pretribulation to escape all of the action, or is the overriding, controlling element of biblical interpretation instead the investigative, experiential component of our God-composed journeys of faith…that take us straight through the cross no matter what are the daunting outside challenges we face?

Is the God of the Bible, who has given us a pattern in the biblical narrative stories of faith, and who resides in a timeless reality, equally capable of rising to the occasion and crafting an end-times script of brilliant intrigue, moves and countermoves, the unmasking of true underlying motives, and the revelation of truth worthy of the final chapter in this amazing saga of human redemptive history?

I personally do not think that the rapture and the second coming of Christ are one and the same event.  Paul speaks about the rapture of the church as being a mystery, yet everyone in the early church knew about the Acts 1:9-11 account of Jesus coming back some day in like manner as He ascended into heaven.

It is nearly certain that Paul shared his outlook on this important issue with the other apostles (Gal. 2:2; 1Th. 4:13-18; 2 Th. 2:5) and with the early churches he founded, yet there is no biblical record of any dispute or disagreement on end-times eschatology.

The major council of Acts 15 (around A.D. 49) in the early church considered the vital question of the Judaic law as it applied to the new Gentile converts, and had no recorded discussion of the rapture or the second coming of Christ as a secondary topic in dispute.

Because the element of the way of the cross in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…argues against a pretribulation rapture of the church (discussed more fully in my book The Cross in the End-Times), and because I see the rapture and the second coming as separate events, this then leaves for me a rapture that would occur sometime in the middle of the great tribulation (there is no rapture after the second coming of Jesus Christ).

Everyone who looks at these issues has to form their own opinion.  The Holy Spirit is the only real expert in all of this.  Until Joel 2:28-32 and Matthew 24:7-14 actually begin to materialize and specify the coming events more fully, for the present I am leaning toward the timing of a mid-tribulation rapture of the Christian church.

Whether the duration of the great tribulation is a full seven years or three and one-half years, as some people contend, would obviously alter substantially the definitions of pretribulation or mid-tribulation raptures.

But the way of the cross in the biblical narrative stories of faith is central, controlling, and irreplaceable…in my interpretation of end-times biblical prophecy (1 Jn. 3:1-3).

One insight of priceless value that God has given me through a career in building construction, which informs my understanding of the cross and the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible, is that the varied problems that plague building construction can only be identified through hard-earned, first-hand personal experience with both feet planted firmly in the middle of the action.

Fact-finding research in the middle of the building construction jobsite arena as a tradesperson, a field superintendent, or a project manager…comes with a cost.

Valuable lessons only surface one at a time in the heat and stress of the daily struggle.  No detached, theoretical, academic approach from a safe distance will unearth and separate out the subtle, latent problems that disrupt the building construction process, causing time delays, cost overruns, poor quality, and the unpleasant task of having to explain to the new homebuyer why their house is not finished on time.

Comfortable complacency in the worldly conventional zone will never produce beneficial reform in this broken world.

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and is the guiding motivation for discovery in many walks of life.

In terms of a journey of faith, we have to go boldly and courageously into the world to discover first-hand precisely what is wrong with the world…in order to enact real solutions.

Christians have to first go through the way of the cross ourselves in order to be able to assist others to be able do the same.

We see this theme at work throughout the Bible in the narrative stories of faith.  The positive characters of faith in the Bible are grounded in the realities of life, yet on an elevated plane within the creatively imaginative mind of God that produces truth-revealing adventures of faith like those of Gideon, Joshua, Elijah, Ruth, Esther, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Noah, Moses, Joseph and Mary, and Peter, to name only a few.

The issues of right and wrong are sorted out by God for us through the actual events and circumstances of an adventurous journey of faith.

Paul has to live the Christian life to the fullest maximum extent in order to be able to “connect all the dots” and correctly write about it on a divinely inspired level.

The same is true for Peter, James, John, Jude, Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ into this world in the form of a human being underscores at the divine level of perfection, the enormous power behind the concept of God-composed and guided journeys of faith…separating truth from error (Jn. 9:39-41).

Jesus Christ values a journey of faith, which sets up the context to reveal the true nature of God, so much that He entered our world as a human being to personally “debug” our relationship with God.

The Son of God as Jesus of Nazareth placed both feet firmly in the middle of the action to become the way, the truth, and the life through the events and circumstances of life.

Jesus Christ the Son of God became a human being to create a priceless commonality with us that is the basis for a lasting and meaningful relationship for all eternity.

A Personal Testimony

Decades ago as a newly converted Christian in my first year in college, praying for guidance in the selection of a work career, in my naïve innocence I asked God to lead me into an undemanding job that would not distract me from a future Christian ministry.

I mistakenly assumed that becoming engaged in a challenging, committed secular career…and attempting a Holy Spirit-guided journey of faith into the discovery of all truth…were two separate, mutually exclusive things competing for my time and attention.

What God gave me instead as an answer to my prayer was a clear and confirmed calling into the field of building construction, which for a natural organizer like me is a life-long mission into trying to bring order and calm into a manufacturing process that is in continual need of debugging.

Unlike the standard manufacturing assembly-line plant at a single fixed location, having an economic model which is based upon the absolute necessity of debugged repetitive precision…the building construction assembly process is inconveniently fragmented into tens of thousands of independent projects spread-out all over the countryside, separated by geographical distance, economic competition, and non-communication of proactive problem-solving information.

Because the large physical size of the building product requires its assembly on individually segregated building sites, a smooth-running perfection in building construction is an ideal we aim for but never fully achieve.

Some measure of controlled chaos is an unwelcome component of every building construction project…because each different square-foot size, price range, and architecturally styled project is uniquely and individually debugged in real time…in-the-moment.

The proverbial “reinvent the wheel” occurs to some extent on every new building construction project.

This unavoidable reality of the need for constant and repetitive reform in the assembly of the pieces and parts of building construction, informs and shapes a Christian like me regarding the inescapable costs to the psyche of anyone attempting to observe, record, and disseminate building construction debugging information through first-hand, basic field research (I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction, 1995-98, a two-volume set of books on debugging housing design and construction, 2016, and a book on construction field forms, 2016).

But this challenging secular reality in the world of building construction also translates into a lesson of immeasurable importance as applied to an interpretation of biblical end-times prophecy.

God cannot demonstrate His true character unless Jesus the Son of God walks through a broken world of deadly opposition and chaotic confusion ending in the cross and the resurrection.

Jesus Christ cannot display all of the fruits of the Spirit in perfect execution amidst the most lethally hostile rejection by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, in direct contrast to the wishes of a large portion of the general populace (Mk. 11:7-10), without the environment of a broken world lost in sin, envy, jealousy, ambition, and political intrigue (Jn. 15:22-24).

If Jesus came as messiah to Israel and Jerusalem when Ezra or Nehemiah were ruling the land, or even as early as when Joshua was the leader, or during one of the reigns of the “good” kings like Hezekiah or Jehoshaphat, then the danger zone of competing agendas would have been relatively muted and moderated…compared to the extremes in place in first-century Jerusalem (Jn. 8:42-43).

When the unruly mob comes to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says to them: “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk. 22:53).

A danger zone of lethal dimensions was the social, political, and religious undercurrent that faced Jesus of Nazareth throughout His ministry, and His divine character shines through all the more brilliantly because of it.

Without a world mired in sinful rebellion, God has no way of demonstrating the true depth of the power of His love for us.

The deliverance of the Israelites in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the Exodus through the desert, and the conquering of the Promised Land cannot occur without the intensely contrasting, deadly hostile backdrop of the Middle East region roughly thirty-four hundred years ago.

One final point here before moving on.

What is the relative value of faith in the mind of God compared to worldly conventional normalcy?

God places so much weight on creating a context for faith to operate…even if this involves our waiting patiently “in faith” for some good outcome…some good thing to happen…that God will insert His plan that partially or utterly displaces whatever previous plans we might have entertained or cherished (Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 1:3).

A new God-composed context for faith displaces and overrides our natural desire for “worldly conventional normalcy,” even when it involves withholding or postponing something good for a period of time.

Abraham the “father of faith” is the first biblical example of this key concept.  Abraham and Sarah do not want to endure a lengthy wait for the birth of a son, and become so desperate to help God out in the direction of achieving this aspect of conventional normalcy in their lives, that they contrive to arrange the Hagar and Ishmael event.

But the life-script that God has written for the life of Abraham…contains a divinely ordained element of patient waiting…in the storyline…purposely to create the context for faith to operate.

Other biblical examples that come to mind are the Israelites in bondage in Egypt, Joseph in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison, Moses in Midian, the Israelites in the wilderness exodus, Hannah, David during his 13-year period of preparation to be king, the blind man in John 9:3, and the three-day wait for the disciples while Jesus lay dead in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.

All of these people…along with many other examples in the Bible…had the circumstances and events of their lives arranged by God to set-up the context for faith to operate…at the cost of giving up some portion of conventional normalcy and thinking.

Not only does this have enormous apologetic value for validating the supernatural origin of the Bible…but it also provides a biblical perspective to our interpretation of end-times prophecy.

Human nature wants to hurry things along…to speed things up.  We want to rapture the Christian church off the earth pretribulation.

But God takes as much time as is necessary to do things right.

The contrast between Adam and Eve impulsively taking and eating the fruit from the forbidden tree, and the long period of human redemptive history…is enormous and clear-cut.

But if God must withhold or postpone something good in our lives in order to create the context for faith to operate…He will do it.

Faith leading to knowing God…like Paul in Philippians 3:10…in the eternal view is exceedingly more important than the loss or postponement of something otherwise good in the this-worldly, conventional scheme of things (Rom. 8:18).

Patience

What God wants the most, even He has to wait for.

God not only agrees with the perfection of the natural moral law, He lives it perfectly Himself.

If the current process at hand requires patience over time, then even God submits Himself to patient waiting if the rightness of the process requires it.

Even God cannot make instant saints.  Even God cannot instantly manufacture the “bride of Christ”…the Christian church…through instantaneous fiat creation.

Within the constraints of our earthly dimensions, bringing many sons and daughters to glory takes time.

Adam and Eve impulsively jump at the chance to obtain the knowledge of good and evil.  But the process of Jesus slowly and patiently bringing the disciples to a point where they can stand in faith on their own two feet, and capably listen and walk in the Spirit…after He ascends into heaven…takes a full three and one-half year period.

This standing on their own two feet…walking in the Spirit…occurs after their privileged, singular experience of listening to and observing Jesus up-close…the greatest teacher of all time…in action on a daily basis.

There is something singularly unique about patience that burns away the chaff of the superficial, and purifies the genuine and real.

Patience is a valuable component of the commendable process of becoming the actual, real thing in truth…after which achieving the given task at hand rises in importance to the point where worldly recognition and acclaim fades away into insignificance.

If God calls us out to become the king of Israel, or governor of Egypt during a great famine, or as the deliverer of a nation in bondage, or to become the father of faith, or to discover real truth to be able to write New Testament epistles to the early Christian churches…we may have to exercise patience and wait for some period of time while events and circumstances in our journey of faith develop.

The process of getting there and actually becoming the capable person uniformly through-and-through is more important to God than the thin veneer of outward appearances.

“Getting there” correctly and honorably is paramount (Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Jas 1:17).

What Abraham wants the most…to become the father of descendants as numerous as the stars of the night sky as promised by God…he has to patiently wait for.

What Joseph wants the most…to fulfill his potential according to his two earlier prophetic dreams as a young man in Canaan…he has to wait for patiently through his preparation in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison.

What Moses wants the most…to fulfill his destiny as the deliverer of his people in bondage in Egypt (Acts 7:25)…he has to patiently wait for.

What David wants the most…to become king and to rule the nation of Israel finally in peace and security with its surrounding neighbors…he has to patiently wait for.

What Peter wants the most…to fulfill his potential as a “rock” to courageously lead the early church…he must patiently wait for through many character-building lessons, setbacks, and failures.

What Paul wants the most…to discover real truth…he has to wait for through the long journey of a walk of faith as a missionary evangelist to the Jews and the Gentiles of the first-century Greco-Roman world.

What God wants the most, as expressed in the final prayer of Jesus…that Christians might be as one even as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn. 17:21), thereby setting up the context for genuine peace, joy, and love in His kingdom for all eternity …even God has to patiently wait for.

This prayer of Jesus has not been fulfilled yet, as today’s Christian church is divided by factions, disagreements, and denominations.

The last part of John 17:21…”that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” is greatly undermined today by this outward show of debilitating divisions and disagreements.

The actualization of this divinely uttered prayer of Jesus is still awaiting fulfillment within the complex and highly specified arrangement of events and circumstances in the upcoming last-days.

The soon-to-be-addressed issues of contention between God and the “son of perdition” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 are larger and more complicated than human intellect can currently fathom (Dan. 7:25-27; 8:23-25).

This final instructive confrontation between truth and error, between darkness and light, on a massive and intensified scale, will require a premeditated, divinely composed, macro and micro-engineered life-script for the world and for the Christian church on earth…of an unprecedented, panoramic scope and quality.

The end-times will require a God-composed script of such brilliant creativity and subtle complexity as to rival and surpass anything heretofore in Christian apologetics, in theology, in our burgeoning comprehension of the marvels of the physical universe today, or in any of the great journeys of faith recorded in the Bible… except for the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in the first-century (Dan. 8:23-25).

If the God-composed life-scripts of the people of faith in the Bible serve as a preview of what we can expect in the upcoming end-times, the scenario of events will include a large dose of patience as Christians likewise wait for what they want the most…the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…during a period of time described as being the most intensely challenging in all of human history (Mt. 24:21-22).

Why the Pursuit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Involves Hardship 2

Like the great high school football coach that works his players hard during pre-season training to be ready for the upcoming regular season…unselfishly for their benefit at the risk of temporary unpopularity…God crafts the characters of the people of faith to benefit them with the priceless capacity for joyful living…for eternity without end (Jn. 15:16; Rom 9:21).

In God’s infinite wisdom He knew ahead of time that this fall of man in the Garden of Eden would cost the future incarnation for Jesus the Son of God and the second Person of the Trinity, His difficult human ministry on earth (Isa. 53:3-5), the crucifixion, and the resurrection.

Yet on the night before His crucifixion, Jesus amazingly says to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).

Jesus is saying that even amidst the upcoming horrors of His arrest, trial, beating, rejection, ridicule, mocking, crucifixion, and death, that He has perfect divine peace.

Jesus can truly say this because His peace is founded upon an unselfish love for us that is infinite in its scope, dimensions, and outreach.

Yet in the Garden of Gethsemane, even this infinite divine love is stretched to the point of novel and unprecedented challenge as Jesus contemplates the awful ordeal of absorbing the full weight of the sins of the world…placed upon Himself on the cross (Lk. 22:42).

On the cross…a Person who has been and will be morally perfect and blameless for all eternity…Jesus Christ the Son of God…takes upon Himself the darkness and rebellion of human sin…enabling us to be set free from bondage to sin.

God is telling us through the life of Jesus that our impulsive attempt at a shortcut to the knowledge of good and evil…will also cost us a similar hard road of first-hand experience to discover God’s perfect peace amidst daunting challenge, adversity, and suffering.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script for us tells us that somewhere along our walk of faith…we will also in some measure and to some extent pray a similar prayer: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

The hard reality of a joint-venture with God down the road to the discovery of “all truth” involves the fullness of experience that must honestly and courageously be encountered in a God-composed journey of faith…for Christians living in the danger zone.

This danger zone extends even to the breaking point of having to give up our will and way regarding the big issues at stake in life.

But in terms of a God-composed journey of faith life-script following the pattern of the way of the cross…the theme of this book… and arguably one of the main themes of the Bible…is that adversity, challenge, and suffering separates us from self-sovereignty.

Faith in the rigorous training methods of the great football coach…separation from the self-sovereignty of thinking that we know what is best…results in a winning season (1 Cor. 9:24-26; Gal. 2:20).

It is the fundamental tension between the strong pull of worldly conventional normalcy, and the totally unconventional way of the cross… that lies at the central core of every biblical narrative story of faith.

This is the razor-sharp edge of truth that separates-out each genuine experience of faith and trust in God…for our benefit and instruction (2 Tim. 3:16)…often tested through the furnace of immediate personal danger and the real potential for overwhelming, crushing defeat.

If the competence, faithfulness, and overall intentions of Jesus Christ our King and Ruler…for all eternity…must be experientially tried and confirmed through a joint-venture expedition of faith through the context of this broken world lost in sin, then the excess baggage of our claim to self-sovereignty must go.

If some measure of adversity, challenge, and suffering will accomplish this separation from our self-sovereignty…then it is God’s positive intention to set-up the precise circumstances for this to occur for each believer…for our eternal good.

This is what we see in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.  This is why these real-life stories serve as the pattern for our own faith journeys.

This is the dangerous part of following the living God into a genuine journey of faith that we see portrayed in the lives of the people of faith recorded in the Bible.

This is the epitome of being accountable, of not quitting early, and of breaking through…so that we may someday at the end of our own journey of faith, commendably say along with Jesus: “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30; 2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Why the Pursuit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Involves Hardship 1

It would probably be a good thing at this point to attempt a further exploration of some of the reasons behind why challenge, adversity, and even suffering are integral components of God-composed adventures of faith:

“A truly great high school football coach who cares about his players will work them hard during the late summer two-a-day conditioning drills.

The football team that is heading toward a successful season can be heard groaning and complaining about the coach’s tough training methods and seemingly impossible standards for the entire six to eight weeks leading up to the first game of the regular season.

It is only after the team takes the field and discovers that they are well prepared to play high-quality football that they can look back at their coach’s emphasis on physical conditioning and the constant repetition of the same basic plays over and over again until they finally got them right.

The character lessons these players learned from their coach, about how to approach a particular challenge with intensity of purpose, hard work, and a will to never quit, often last them throughout their lifetimes, long after they stop playing football.

            A God who asks little of us cannot have much of an impact upon our lives and can never be considered great. 

This describes the universally understood concept of “no pain, no gain,” but it does not go deep enough to address some of the underlying reasons behind why challenge and adversity are often necessary components of our adventure of faith.

In the Garden of Eden before the fall, God knows in advance that Adam and Eve will eat of the forbidden fruit.  This involves the mysterious and unfathomable depths of the blend between a God who exists in a timeless reality of foreknowledge, and humans on earth living within the limited dimensions of space and time.

The fruit on the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil” is within easy reach of Adam and Eve, and the serpent has convenient access to the garden and can converse with the man and the woman without the presence of God on the scene.

Revelation 13:8 describes Jesus as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, which implies that God had foreknowledge of the future need for a Savior for mankind.

The Garden of Eden is set up for a possible free-will choice to disobey the commandment of God…otherwise God would have purposely placed this tree in an inaccessible location in the garden, and banned the access of Satan in the spiritualized apparition of a talking serpent…into the garden and from any possible encounter with Adam and Eve.

A conjectural interpretation of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, entirely on my part, is that it displays a commendable desire for perfection, albeit used in a wrong-headed way, which is part of our innate, in-built capacity that confirms in an indirect and round-about way…that we are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27).

A fundamental fault in this opening scenario…critical to mankind’s eternal future, besides disobeying the clear directive of God…is that Adam and Eve impulsively jumped at this seemingly beneficial short-cut to a knowledge of good and evil without patiently waiting to speak with God directly about the pros and cons of such an action.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil located in the center of the garden.

If Adam and Eve had been mature, savvy moral beings as a result of having personally experienced the ill-effects of sin, darkness, and despair in our broken world…if they were seasoned veterans of life …they might have responded of their own accord to the audacious speech of the serpent:

“What you say sounds appealing on the surface, but we will discuss this with God and then get back to you in the near future.  In this matter that you speak of, there is no hurry.  We will think it over.  And by the way, we know God well enough by now to know He would never withhold something good from us without a sound reason.”

Adam and Eve, without understanding all of the future issues involved, are in essence going along with the false idea of obtaining the knowledge of good and evil…on the cheap.

A knowledge of good and evil cannot be gotten on the cheap.

A quick and easy, “one-click” on the computer keyboard option to a full knowledge of good and evil is not feasible.

It is like the impossibility of a square circle, married bachelors, describing colors in terms of their shapes, or drawing with a pencil on paper a one-ended stick.  God knows this.

If God wants to create non-divine people…yet made in His image, with free-will choice and the intellectual capacity for moral reasoning…that God can have a loving relationship with over the long expanse of eternity…then those people must have an encounter with the mystery of evil in all its subtle forms…and reject it.