From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18)
A part of me wishes there was a smoother coordination and integration of the perfection of God’s plan for my life…with the very real question of the fallibility of my half of the performance…in a current crisis. A part of me wishes it was not necessary to exercise overcoming faith in God’s ability to help close the gap…the remaining distance to cover…while the particular current life challenge is still up in the air and in doubt.
A part of me unrealistically wishes that in a biblical-quality adventure of faith there was a much lower risk of failure…with all of its negative consequences…and that a journey of faith incorporated less faith and a greater reliance upon the safe and more familiar route of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that the leap across the gap from worldly conventional self-reliance…to unconventional risky faith in God…was not so great.
A part of me wishes that the reality of the Christian life in the dangerous zone of faith…did not from time-to-time bring me again to the seemingly impassable banks of the expanse of the Red Sea, being hotly pursued by Pharaoh’s chariot army, needing God’s divine deliverance to part the waters and to create a safe passage forward…to surrender all…to let go of my ways…to drift freely in the waters of the present uncertain circumstances…trusting in the promises of God to see me across and safely out the other side.
Every Spirit-born Christian today…every foreign missionary, every pastor, every street evangelist, every called-out person engaged in one form or another of Christian outreach ministry…can relate to this on some level (2 Cor. 4:7).
But the reality is that there has to be the profound test of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ before there can be the glorious triumph of the resurrection. There has to be the component of a deep despair in the seemingly catastrophic failure in the death and burial of Jesus Christ…before there can be a God-engineered outcome of colossal, world-shaking proportions in the resurrection three days later.
The enormous contrast between the death on the cross and the LIFE in the resurrection…like that between the darkest starless night and the brightest summer day…creates the separation…the gap…between the low-level of mediocrity of worldly conventional aspirations, and the elevated ways of God leading to life-transforming salvation in the highest and broadest sense…beyond human imagination (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:3; Jn. 8:24).
The resurrection of Christ…and the Day of Pentecost…radically changed the disciples from being fearful and defeated by the appearance of negative circumstances…to becoming courageously uninhibited, roaring lions of the new Christian faith. This powerful transformation that “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) comes from a divinely created territory of experience…an elevated domain of reality…that is far, far above the life of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.
The better half of me does not want my God-composed journey of faith life-script to be merely about God automatically coming through to successfully provide me with the secure mediocrity of worldly conventional normalcy. The better and more courageous half of me wants my biblical-quality adventure of faith following Jesus Christ…to reveal to me a living God who is brilliantly smart enough to channel the events of my life towards a meaningful purpose and outcome that has the power of the resurrection and the triumph of the premeditated foresight of God written all over it.
The better half of me does not want my life to be a throw-away life…a disposable life…does not my life to go according to my limited and shortsighted will and way…controlled by the strong desire for comfort and security rather than adventure and discovery.
This then involves an information-rich journey of faith…an infusion of complex and highly specific information into my life-script…and thus requires that my own plans and schemes must get out of the way.
No one could or would make this up. It is beyond human imagination or invention. If fiction…if false…it would not even get to “first base” in baseball. If an airplane, it would “crash and burn” on take-off…falling apart before it can get off the ground…if it did not in truth have the corresponding participation of the living God.
Without divine foresight and premeditated planning…a journey of faith would be like trying to assembly an airplane while in flight. A journey of faith following God must be perfect at its inception…before take-off and the perils and adventure of flight.
Without divine participation…a journey of faith simply does not work. A journey of faith with a fictional God who does not exist…is a nonsensical literary impossibility…a non-starter.
More than anything the better half of me (Rom. 7:15-25) wants to discover that God knows what He is doing…and I am willing (keeping in mind the lesson of Peter’s statement of Matthew 26:33) to pay any price in my journey of faith now to obtain this priceless discovery (Mt. 13:44-46).
I think this may become the universal, motivating theme of every Spirit-born Christian in the challenging events of the upcoming end-times (Acts 2:17-21).
Abraham’s adventure of faith is not about staying comfortably behind in worldly conventional complacency in the city of Haran.
Moses is not sent to Egypt with the mission to merely procure better living and working conditions for the Israelites there. Moses is commissioned with the monumental task of delivering an entire nation of peoples out from under the despotic control of a worldly-savvy and tyrannical Pharaoh…a wholly complete salvation out of the horizontally mediocre existence the Egyptians had incorrectly determined for the Israelite slaves.
This salvation deliverance is as worldly unconventional as is imaginable…on a colossal scale…and fore-glimpses the equally complete and thorough salvation deliverance from the bondage in sin (Mk. 15:38)…that the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ provides through faith in Him.
The difficult and challenging training regime set-up by God for Joseph…for Joseph at the time puzzlingly contrary to his two earlier prophetic dreams back in Canaan…culminates in an unanticipated “resurrection” from Pharaoh’s prison to instantly becoming the governor over the land of Egypt during the great famine.
When all of the pieces of Joseph’s life finally come into clear focus as his half-brothers stand before him in Egypt, the realization of God’s guiding hand even amidst all of the many heartbreaks and set-backs…causes Joseph to publically break down into uncontrollable weeping (Gen. 45:1-2).
The discovery that God knew what He was doing all along…that it all made sense in hindsight towards a brilliantly conceived outcome…meant everything to Joseph within his adventure of faith.
The biblical pattern is always first the confronting of a seemingly overwhelming crisis requiring picking up our cross…followed by a divinely crafted resolution of the crisis by God…making a narrow way…opening up an unseen door…best described in New Testament terms as a life-transforming “resurrection” that builds faith, confidence in God, and renewed determination to carry on.
The cross and the resurrection skillfully interwoven into these ancient biblical stories of faith…not only serve as a model for hope as we press forward in our own unique adventures of faith…but also serve as a powerful apologetic argument for the authenticity of the divine origin of these stories that contain cross-of-Christ themes that are beyond human contrivance to manipulate…or even beyond human literary imagination to invent.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was beyond the hopeful and faith-filled contemplation of the early Christian disciples between Passover Friday evening and the following Easter Sunday morning three days later…for a very good reason. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are higher than our ways.
If it were not so…if God is incapable of opening up the Red Sea or of raising Jesus from the dead…then there is no hope of salvation, deliverance, and redemption in this fallen world…we are then doomed to the foibles and caprice of self-sovereign self-rulership.
In our heart-of-hearts we would not want salvation to be any other way…any less powerful…any less real…even when it comes with the high cost of setting aside worldly conventional normalcy in favor of a risk-filled adventure of faith…in order to obtain all of the benefits of salvation (Col. 3:1-3).
The calling of the first-century Christian was not to settle into a complacent, conventional normalcy in Jerusalem after Pentecost. The calling of the early Christian church was to boldly proclaim the utterly unconventional gospel message of salvation, energized by the spectacular, paradigm-shifting resurrection of Jesus from the dead…a momentous event of such transforming power that it enabled the first Christians to essentially change the world…from that time going forward.
A resurrection is the God-engineered epiphany that energizes all Christian callings and missions. A resurrection requires the painful and disruptive reality of the cross…not worldly conventional normalcy. The power of the resurrection in our lives…that only God can perform…adds the meaning, purpose, direction, and fulfillment to our lives that will climb any mountain, cross any sea, endure any hardship, and overcome all obstacles as we follow Jesus Christ.
This is the ingenious record of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible from beginning to end…supernatural to the core.