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 as the Intelligent Designer, He 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.
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 define 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 universal difficulty.
Romans chapter 16 gives us a window into the close personal friendships that Paul was able to form over his career as a missionary evangelist, which I think could also have been similar full closing chapters to each of the other epistles to the various churches founded by Paul with the help and companionship of Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy.
If we could personally meet and talk with Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Peter, John, Philip, James, and Paul to name only a few, we would probably discover each of them to be among the most interesting, engaging, and balanced personalities in history.
Jesus said in John 14:12…”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.” The reality of this statement seems unachievable according to the limits of horizontally conventional thinking. But in a God-composed adventure of faith, angels are sent to open prison doors in the middle of the night (Acts 5:19; 12:7), we can be relocated in a moment of time (Acts 8:39-40), and God can use us to raise the dead (Acts 9:39-41).
If anything, within the current context of our limited and constrained Christian expression of the miraculous, the message of this book is tempered and understated in its call to committed discipleship in relation to the “latter rain” works of the early first-century church (Acts 2:15-21).
One of the most important things in our Christian lives is to discover that God is faithful. The means that God has chosen and creatively invented to do this is through a biblical-quality journey of faith for each one of us.
But there are some things even God cannot do. God cannot make square circles. God cannot make two plus two equal five. God cannot make married bachelors. God cannot draw with a pencil and paper a one-ended stick. In a world with people having free-will choice to follow God or to push Him aside and follow our own way, God cannot overcome willful unbelief and our determination to place faith in ourselves alone.
To create an environment where people willingly follow God through a walk of faith that matures into a personal relationship, the direct opposite reality of going our own way in self-reliance must be fully in play. The delicate balance between belief and unbelief in our complex world is a spiritual engineering feat of incredible skill requiring the clearest proactive foresight and the most brilliant advance planning. The pitfall of going our own way…in business and in life…is the subject of the next chapter.