A Biblical Definition of an Adventure of Faith 1

So, what is a God-composed journey of faith life-script, and equally important…what is it not?

I would start by saying that God Himself defines a walk of faith, a journey of faith, and an adventure of faith…in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.

When God in the Old Testament spoke to Abraham: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1), from that moment forward God Himself is defining His true relationships with people through God-composed adventures of faith.  Here begins the intentional, divinely created invention of the blend of God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free-will choice, mysteriously combined within the dynamics of an individually tailored, God-composed life-script that requires subordination of our ways to God’s higher plans for our lives…entirely unique to the Bible.

In willingly choosing to obey God and step-out into an adventure of faith, some of Abraham’s self-in-charge nature was left behind…crucified, so to speak…as he headed off toward Canaan.  Abraham’s own plans, schemes, and ideas for his life were displaced by God’s plan that was much larger and grander than anything Abraham could have imagined.  With each step toward Canaan and away from Haran, Abraham left behind the other life he would have lived had he not met God, and walked toward a new life being offered to Abraham by God.  For this it is said of Abraham that “he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6).

The key point here is that Abraham cannot be in both places at once.  Abraham cannot be in Haran and Canaan, both physically…and spiritually…at the same time.

As Abraham walks toward Canaan he is choosing to exercise faith in God’s plans, over and above…and to the exclusion…of his own plans

This same theme is repeated in varied forms in every positive journey of faith in the Bible.  A God-crafted journey of faith as recorded in the narrative stories of the Bible completely displaces our ways with God’s higher ways.

A biblical journey of faith lies outside of our own making.  It is devoid of human contrivance, self-reliance, and self-realization by God’s purposeful design.  It stands outside of human literary invention, because the concept of the cross of Jesus Christ (Lk. 22:42) applied to our lives…the setting aside of our ways to be replaced by God’s higher ways…not only runs completely contrary to worldly acceptable, pride-filled thinking…but resides in a totally out-of-reach realm of unconventional options beyond our self-motivation to initiate and orchestrate (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6).

This I believe is a biblical definition of a God-composed adventure of faith.  If we can see the cross of Christ in the life-scripts of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…starting with Abraham…then we have solid scriptural ground to stand upon in understanding the cross applied to our own lives.

A Biblical Definition of Faith

Atheists are fundamentally wrong when they use the word “faith” generically in the broad sense to criticize religions such as “the Muslim faith,” or “the Hindu faith,” or “the Christian faith.”  Skeptical unbelief reduces all religions into the narrowly horizontal flat-line of man-made inventive nonsense…because the atheist’s starting premise is that God does not exist anywhere in reality and therefore all religions must be man-made fiction.

The loose and inaccurate use of the word “faith” to broadly describe and categorize religions, in my view represents universally shoddy, simplistic thinking.  Anyone carefully reading the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible will notice something extraordinarily unique…a dynamic interaction between God and people of faith.  Religious faith is correctly defined…exclusively in the Bible…within God-composed adventures of faith…within the living action of risky ventures that are scripted to produce the outcome of a personal bond between God and people.

Falling in love romantically carries risks.  An old adage applies here: “Faint heart never got the fair lady.”

Following God into a dynamic adventure of faith carries similar relational risks and rewards.  Faith and trust within a relationship between real people and the real God are the cornerstone reality of the biblical narrative stories of faith.  This paradigm of a personal relationship between people and God does not exist anywhere else in other religions, philosophies, or worldviews.  It is unique to the Bible.

It is arguably the most basic, important issue in all of reality.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6)…him, meaning the Lord God…is an outrageously bold and risky statement to make about the biblical God unless He does in fact exist and that He interacts in the affairs of mankind and in the personal lives of people of faith.  Many verses in the Bible describe an interactive, living faith that makes no sense without the existence of a real, participant God (Ps. 32:8; Isa. 30:21, 41:10, 44:8; Ezek. 36:26-29), who shows up on time and is fully engaged.

The broadly inaccurate use of the word “faith” to characterize all religions, in our politically correct culture of relative inclusiveness, would embrace as valid the false idol-worship of some of the Israelites that from time-to-time became apostate religious practice…yet the worship of dumb idols is the very antithesis of the intimate biblical adventure of faith between God and a person.  Religious practices and “faith” are terms that are not truly and accurately synonymous.

Brilliant antagonists have been attacking the Bible for hundreds of years.  Brilliant Christian apologists have been answering back with credible and compelling rebuttals as the facts come to light in the fields of history, archaeology, science, linguistics, philosophy, and theological research.

But the one unassailable…and as yet untouched…part of the Bible is the utter uniqueness of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, because these fall inexplicably outside of anything even remotely close to humanistic explanation or fictional, imaginary invention.  This is the theme…a uniquely biblical danger zone of faith in the real, living God…outside of accepted, worldly conventional thinking…that I am attempting to articulate in this book.

Faith is not the same as religious practices, beliefs, and tradition.  Dynamic, action-packed, God-composed adventures of faith in the Bible transcend above bland, institutionalized, man-made religious practices.

A biblical-quality journey of faith life-script creates a challenging yet hope-filled, purposeful, and exhilarating reality of events and circumstances that we could not possibly self-manufacture, because the unconventionality of the way of the cross of Jesus Christ, skillfully interwoven into every God-composed storyline, rises far above worldly conventional wisdom.

The Christian Life in the Danger Zone

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;                                                                                                (Hebrews 12:1-2)

It takes guts and courage to be a Christian.  The race that is set before us…following a life-script composed and managed by Jesus Christ the Creator of the universe, takes us to an innovative place…far outside of worldly conventional thinking.

Like the first-century dispute answered well by Jesus about the resurrection of the dead (Mk. 12:26-27)…in plain sight just below the surface within the discourse between God and Moses at the burning bush familiar to every Jew in that day (Ex. 3:6)…this simple truth about Christian guts and courage again is hiding right there in plain sight for us in the New Testament scriptures.

Conventional wisdom would strongly council Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem for several months or even years for His own safety (Jn. 11:8).

But Jesus is not living His life according to conventional wisdom.  Jesus is perfectly living a God-composed walk of faith as the Lamb of God Savior for mankind (Jn. 5:30).  Jesus goes back to Jerusalem the week of that fateful Passover, is crucified on Friday, and rises from the tomb on Sunday morning to become the author of salvation to all those who will place their faith in Him.

There is an exceptionally rare storyline going on here, soaring out of sight above horizontally conventional thinking (1 Cor. 1:25).  The life of Jesus, especially concerning the dramatic events leading up to Calvary, is as divergent from the worldly accepted expectations and aspirations of conventional normalcy as is possible.

It took the most sublime guts and courage, walking along the most unconventionally unimaginable life-path, to be the Savior of the world…to be Jesus Christ.  It takes a similar measure of guts and courage to likewise be a follower of Jesus Christ in the first-century and today.

Listen to the words spoken by Peter standing before the Sanhedrin council recorded in Acts 4:8-12:

8  Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

9  If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made well;

10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

11  This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The underlying boldness and precision supporting these brilliantly concise words regarding the Person and resurrection of Jesus Christ were set in motion entirely through the supernatural works of God alone.  The adventure of faith ride that Peter and John are experiencing at this moment is engineered by God.  The events of the rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection that Peter is speaking about are…first and foremost…divinely crafted, shaped, and channeled by God (Isa. 53:3; Ps. 22:16; Ps. 16:10).

The entire scenario of the crippled man healed at the gate of the temple, leading to this momentous confrontation between the old and the new at the beginning of the new covenant Christian church in Jerusalem, is totally set up and manufactured by God.  Peter is not testifying here, before the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem, about anything that he has done, using worldly wisdom or cleverly persuasive oratory.  The message, power of conviction, and clarity by which Peter speaks are inspired and energized by the Holy Spirit.

The transforming progression of the culminating events of Peter’s early discipleship phase, tell us about the perilous but liberating danger zone where the living God will take us if we will simply follow after Him in faith.

Peter’s denial of Christ in the courtyard (Lk. 22:61-62), his personal interview with the risen Jesus on resurrection morning (Lk 24:34), to “I go a fishing” (Jn. 21:3) and “Feed my sheep” (Jn. 21:16), the command to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4), and the stupendous breakthrough on Pentecost (Acts 2), is the story of a God-made man.

Only God has the capacity to create a God-made man.  Only God has the divine creative imagination and loving motivation to invent such a context of unconventional events and circumstances wherein changed people, having new spiritual hearts, can function and excel.  No humanistic program on earth could or would do this.

It takes real guts and courage to follow Jesus into a danger- zone adventure that is outside of worldly conventional normalcy.

If we could see Jesus present and looking on at the scene of Peter and John courageously defending the new gospel message before the Sanhedrin, we might see Him off to one side at “stage right” with the unmistakable look of loving pride and satisfaction on His face at the progress in character these two young men, starting out as mere fishermen, had made in so short a time.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John were stepping up into the role Jesus had trained them for, and the world would never be the same again.

This is what a biblical-quality journey of faith is designed to accomplish.  This is what The Christian Life in the Danger Zone can achieve, in world-shaking non-conformity, far above the horizontally safe expectations of worldly conventional mediocrity (Rom. 12:2; Acts 17:6).

The Heart of the Debate 5

In Acts 21, Paul is journeying toward Jerusalem for the last time.  Along the way, Holy Spirit inspired Christians forewarn Paul that he will face persecution, imprisonment, and possibly physical harm in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-24, 21:10-14).  Paul is arrested in the temple, beaten by the populace, rescued by a Roman guard, almost interrogated by scourging, in danger of being “pulled to pieces” in the Sanhedrin, and threatened with death through an ambush of forty men lying in wait, having taken a vow not to eat until they have killed Paul.

Yet in Acts 23:11, just before Paul learns of the plot to kill him and he is moved to Caesarea for safety, Jesus appears to Paul in the night and says: “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

Jesus amazingly and counter to all worldly conventional thinking encourages Paul to “be of good cheer” in the midst of deadly opposition and the most unsettling of worldly events.  Paul goes on to witness before the Roman governor Felix, and King Agrippa and Bernice in Caesarea.  Paul then appeals to Caesar for a hearing in Rome, survives a shipwreck in route to Rome as a prisoner, writes his remaining four “pastoral” New Testament epistles, and is finally martyred by the Emperor Nero in Rome.

Is this example of the Apostle Paul the true foreglimpse of the selfless divine love that can go forward in the face of enormous opposition to accomplish the task of salvation for others through the enabling power of the “latter rain” of Holy Ghost evangelical fire? Is a fully engaged Christian church on earth during some portion of the great tribulation the difficult but privileged calling that will define for all time the true nature and person of Jesus Christ the King of glory?  Is our blessed hope of Titus 2:13 the unbreakable assurance of Jesus with us come what may?

God supplies Holy Spirit faith, power, and boldness when we need it (Dan. 3:16-18; Acts 4:8).  The world wants to sweep the issues of sin, repentance, and our decision regarding Jesus Christ under the rug.  People want to be distracted from these issues by the everyday concerns of the world.  But the upheaval of the end-times brings these issues to the surface in the same lethally unwelcome way that forced the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the first century.

The cross element patterned for us in the journeys of faith recorded throughout the Bible, deserves our closest examination as we approach an understanding of upcoming end-times biblical prophecy.  A commendable bias of including the cross and the resurrection in our interpretation of scripture should become part of the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding we bring to our Christian worldview as end-times events begin to come into clear focus.

The cross in the end-times…of God brilliantly displacing our worldly conventional thinking with life-scripts beyond our imagination…is a huge issue.  God validating and authenticating His character and faithfulness is best discovered and demonstrated through the creative details of a God-composed adventure of faith.

The Cross in the End-Times is as large as any other issue at the close of human redemptive history.  The cross fully applied to our lives creates the most space for God to effectively work out His highest ways.

“Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 24:44).

Two Free Christian Books on Kindle 10/13-10/15

For those of you who have a Kindle and are interested…I am having a free Kindle book giveaway through Amazon on Friday 10/13 through Sunday 10/15.

The two books this week are:

The Cross in the End-Times

The Christian Church in the Last Days

In these books I make the case for a rapture that occurs sometime towards the middle of the Great Tribulation…based on the cross of Christ that is central to the calling of every positive person in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

I take a non-dogmatic view…asking the reader to simply add this viewpoint to their end-times calculus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The

The Heart of the Debate 4

As Spirit-born Christians, if we find ourselves someday soon in the midst of Daniel’s end-times tribulation period, this means God pre-destined us for these times, and this also means we have the capacity through the power of the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ to step up to the challenge at hand.  If we find ourselves in the tribulation, Jesus Christ will be there with us.

The tribulation can therefore be alternately viewed as the opportunity for the “ordinary” Christian to become a great hero of the faith.  Instead of something fearful to avoid, the Holy Spirit empowered participation for a period of time in the last great harvest of souls, amidst the tribulation, should be viewed as a privilege of inestimable value.

To be chosen and called…to “be purified, and made white, and tested” according to Daniel 12:10, is no small thing in the grand expanse of the history of the saints of God.  To experience the total abandonment of self-interest and self-preservation, lost through the loving outreach component of the power of the Holy Spirit like Stephen experienced before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:15), is to become Christ-like in the penultimate demonstration of character…the sacrifice of the cross.

To overcome the “accuser of our brethren” by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony, and that we loved not our lives unto the death (Rev. 12:10-11), is something that will bring victorious closure to human redemptive history that would endure for an eternity.

For Holy Spirit filled and empowered Christians during the tribulation, “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5) does actually come true for human beings, but in the narrowly right way in divine loving self-sacrifice as patterned for us by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  This unexpected outcome is to the eternal chagrin, consternation, and judgment of Lucifer the archangel who wanted to become god for all of the wrong reasons (Isa. 14:12-17; Rev 12:12).

God is so imaginatively creative He can bring the destructive words of the temptation in the Garden of Eden back full-circle upon Lucifer’s own head.  God pouring out His divine power and grace in demonstration of self-sacrificing Christ-like love through end-times Christians would place an emphatic period at the end of the final chapter in the long story of human redemptive history.

Human efforts to create a better world are rife with failure and shortcomings.  The narrative stories of faith in the Bible are the only sure examples of success having eternal benefits.  When God joint-ventures with us in an adventure of faith we have the potential for large results on an unimaginable scale.

God has to initiate drastically enhanced worldwide circumstances one last time to attempt to break through the stubborn rejection of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  For many people adversity is the only thing that brings focus to our shortcomings that leads to seeking heartfelt repentance toward God.  We therefore need God to set-up the precisely targeted conditions on earth whereby the task of salvation is completed and the church becomes the light of the world.  We need God’s divine help to finish the job at the end of the ages.

The end-time great tribulation is not about what we would like or prefer.  It is about God closing out the human story of redemption in the highest and best way possible according to the extremely tight specifications of the final journey of faith patterned for us in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.  It is about Immanuel…God with us…in the penultimate resolution in the pursuit of truth designed to benefit the people of God for all eternity.

It is the closing chapter of the story beginning with Abraham so long ago, of trusting God and letting go in a set of circumstances that divide truth from error in a way that is incomprehensible to the horizontally conventional world of skeptical unbelief.

The Heart of the Debate 3

An argument can be made that Christianity itself is based upon a violent and irreconcilable difference of opinion in first-century Jerusalem regarding the nature of the messiah.  Christianity is born out of a lethally violent disagreement.  Our salvation is based upon God’s working within a massively destabilizing first-century social upheaval and religious crisis of identity, truth, and right living.

This crisis produced redemption and salvation for countless millions of new-covenant believers down through the twenty centuries leading up to our present time.  All of the first-century early church participated fully in these events, according to their individual callings, abilities, and Holy Spirit empowerment.

God has shown us in the Bible that He is able to stand alongside us in the fiery furnace, in the lion’s den, and on the challenging road to evangelizing the Mediterranean world in the first century.  As Spirit-led Christians, when faced with adversity, we do not fold up our tents and go home.  Godly men and women in the Bible, and Spirit-led Christians today, do not back down in the face of a challenge.

In Mark 4:35-41, when the disciples finally wake up the sleeping Jesus, and rather pointedly ask Him whether or not He cares if they perish in the storm at sea, Jesus counters by saying “Why are ye so fearful?  How is it that ye have no faith?”  Jesus is the Almighty God and Creator of the universe.  Jesus cannot perish in a small boat in peril of a strong storm on a lake.  The Christian church can follow Jesus anywhere, even into the dreaded tribulation for a few years if need be.

Spirit-born Christians have the Holy Spirit residing inside them.  Nothing on earth can overturn the Christian who is rooted and grounded in faith in Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:7).  Luke 21:36 can be applied to any appropriate time during the seven-year tribulation.  The fulfillment of Luke 21:36 does not have to occur before or at the beginning of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period in order to be a blessing, a relief, and a hope-filled motivation for continued watchfulness.

The Holy Spirit, living within the Christian, is not afraid of the great tribulation.  Jesus Christ securely enthroned in our hearts is not intimidated by Lucifer or the Antichrist.  The Bible tells us from beginning to end that God has complete mastery over spiritual opposition.  This is an extremely important concept to grasp as we approach the upcoming end-times events.