“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
From The Second Half of the Cross
We need to stop thinking of the life-stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Hannah, Esther, Elijah, Daniel, Peter, James, and Paul as if their human frailties rendered partially ineffective the creative genius of God. God is working with fallen creatures prone to make mistakes and fall short of absolute perfection. But this reality does not take away from the imaginative capacity of God to compose life-scripts that individually match each of us perfectly, thoughtfully incorporating and channeling even our failures into lesson-plans yielding beneficial character transformation that will last an eternity (Roman 8:29-30).
A journey of faith is also therefore “that not of yourselves.” This is one element in the Bible that stands out from and above humanistic creative imagination. “That not of yourselves” applied to our lives in harmony with the biblical examples of the positive characters in the Bible runs outside of human contemplation or contrivance. Like salvation, stepping into a journey of faith following Jesus Christ is putting into action the scripture “the just shall live by faith.” “That not of yourselves” in the area of a journey of faith erases self-works or salvation through merit or performance. It excludes self-righteousness, boasting, or worldly standing. It makes a journey of faith universally accessible to every Spirit-born Christian (John 10:27-29).
Because by definition a God-composed life-script contains the element “that not of yourselves,” no one has to possess an advanced degree in theology to be able to walk through a journey of faith following Jesus. In the perfect plans of God, Mary Magdelene can be privileged to be the first person to discover the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea on Resurrection morning.
The security of knowing that Spirit-born Christians are eternally saved enables us to confidently listen in the Spirit, begin to obey God in small things to build trust, and to venture out into our first steps in a walk of faith. If our salvation is in the slightest doubt, based upon our performance, then no one would summon the courage to risk entering into an uncertain biblical quality journey of faith in the first place. No one would assume the eternal peril of losing our salvation inherent in the inevitability of challenges to our faith contained within a God-composed adventure of faith. If continued salvation is based upon our merit and performance, then no one would exercise the freedom to honestly question God’s leadership as the spiritual journey gets steeper, tighter, and more costly (Jeremiah 12:1).
But if we start out knowing upfront that God has already taken into account our weaknesses, which can have no effect upon the security of our salvation, then we are liberated to go out into an adventure of faith relying and leaning totally upon God.
If our salvation is insecure and partially dependent upon the quality of our performance and merit, this places people in the murky gray-area of human judgment and self-evaluation in the exclusively divine area of spiritual salvation. Paul judged not himself (1 Corinthians 4:3). Salvation by grace through faith opens the door through the cross and the resurrection, free of vain imaginings and doubtful judgments as we listen to Jesus, study the Bible, walk in the Spirit, and discover God’s higher ways.
This is one of the secondary themes of this book. As Abraham walks from Haran to Canaan, God is displacing whatever horizontally conventional plans Abraham had according to the norms of the cities of Haran and Ur, with God’s unimaginatively higher destiny that God had planned for Abraham. A journey of faith involves risk of failure. But God would not ask us to place our eternal salvation at risk by entering into a journey of faith following Him, if by doing so that journey of faith could in any way jeopardize that salvation. Placing our salvation at risk by entering into a journey of faith would call into question the character of God at the most fundamental level. God invites us to pick up our cross and to follow Him precisely because the Spirit-born Christian now possesses eternal salvation.
This is part of the loving outreach of God through the Bible to us. A risk-filled adventure of faith leading to the discovery of “all truth,” and the great biblical salvation doctrines of the grace and mercies of God, are integrally linked together.
Every positive character in the Bible follows a God-composed life-script they could not possibly imagine or self-generate on their own. This bears constant repeating because this is a feature of the Bible that withstands the corrosive cynicism of radical skeptical unbelief in our modern culture. My contention in this book is that a biblical, God-composed journey of faith through the second half of the cross is so outside of and contrary to horizontal, worldly conventional thinking that it can only originate from a supernatural Author God.
If Jesus therefore is “for us” within a God-composed journey of faith through all of the circumstances and events of life, divinely tailored for us according to a formula that will mold and craft us into a blessing to ourselves and to others, then who or what can be against us?