God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah at the dawn of biblical journeys of faith, not because God has any real intention of having Abraham actually follow through with this action. God is revealing to us in this narrative story of faith a message within a message…a secondary tier of information embedded in the story that tells us that God is actively participating in a way that validates the divine authorship of the story. “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…” (Gen. 22:8) is a top-down, front-loaded, informational foreglimpse of what God plans to do 2,000 years later at the cross on Calvary Hill.
In this ancient narrative story of faith, of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, God is revealing prophetically in the realm of true religious experience the same top-down arrangement of information we now discover in the nested, overlapping, encrypted genetic code of information found in the DNA of living cells, and in the first complex forms of living creatures exploding on the scene during the Cambrian geological period, without any transitional intermediate precursors found in either living cells or in the Precambrian rocks.
This secondary tier of messianic prophecy embedded within the story is sophisticated, complex, and specified information (to borrow terms from the intelligent design debate) at the initial outset of adventures of faith recorded in the Bible. The cross of Jesus Christ contained within every narrative story of faith in the Bible confirms their divine origin because the only known source of information in the form of an overlapping message, nested within a larger message, is intelligent agency. Bottom-up information derived through gradual evolutionary development from the simple to the complex will never explain “the way of the cross” that asks us to allow God to displace our worldly normative plans for the higher way of brilliantly imaginative adventures of faith leading to the discovery of “all truth” (Jn. 16:13).
Through the biblical narrative stories of faith, starting as early as Abraham, God is letting us know that He, as the Intelligent Designer, is on board and functioning in this area of human redemptive salvation at the outset…by introducing complex, specified, creative information at the very beginning of the biblical record. We can now articulate this concept using the borrowed terminology of science and information theory just when we need it the most to persuasively rebut the postmodern relativism of our current skeptical culture.
God cannot morally ask us to do something He is not willing to do Himself. “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), is in essence saying: “if there is another way”…but there is no other way of rescuing mankind from sin in accordance with honor, courage, and fidelity…the highest standards of the natural moral law. Giving up of oneself to the larger plan will produce the inspiring and moving musical performance of the piano concerto, the perfect play in sports, the singular way of salvation for mankind, and the perfecting of our journeys of faith through God-composed life-scripts. Following God into the danger zone of a journey of faith is an information-rich enterprise that validates the divine inspiration of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, and that opens up for us a better understanding of what we as Christians should be doing today as we approach the end-times last days.
What genuinely changes people for the better? What produces real character growth? What brings purpose, meaning, and fulfillment into our lives? Mark 8:36 reads: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” If we are engaged in a walk of faith as Spirit-born Christians, this question can, with respect and due reverence, be changed around to read: “What shall it profit a man if he gives his life to God and follows Jesus Christ—he becomes an entirely new person living by faith—and thereby he gains the whole world and everything that eternal life has to offer” (see 1 Jn. 5:4-5).
One definition of a pioneer frontiersman is someone who gets shot in the back with arrows. The message of the cross is certainly not new, but for many people this book is too radical and over-the-top compared to what we hear every Sunday in many churches. I would counter by saying that radically extreme Christianity produces the most balanced, healthy, and sane lives when lived in harmony with the highest levels of the natural moral law contained within a God-composed journey of faith.
The four gospels, the books of Acts, the letters to the churches, and the book of Revelation, is Christianity. The words of the New Testament define Christian principles and practices (Jn. 10:35). It is certainly understandable that as the gospel message in the first century went out from Jerusalem to the pagan, polytheistic, idol-worshipping cultures of the Greco-Roman world, that the purity of the message would become diluted, garbled, and challenged through this enormously complex synthesis between the higher ways of God and the worldly mindset of established conventional normalcy. Christians sharing their testimony and the gospel message with family and friends today confront this same difficulty.