The Displacement Element in Biblical Narrative Stories of Faith

As I read the biblical narrative stories of faith in both the Old and New Testaments…I see basically two things happening in terms of life-scripts, direction, purpose, and God speaking to us.

The first is the calling of people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, and Paul…who had promises of God…or clear missions, goals, or final outcomes…given to them at the beginning of their journeys of faith.

This causes a slight problem for many Christians who are faithfully following God and going about their normal Christian practices of prayer, reading and studying the Bible, being active in fellowship with other Christians, and sharing their faith with others…because God has not spoken directly with them yet regarding a specific calling upfront like the examples of the people listed above.

But the second thing that I see that is happening in the Bible…probably more often…is that God still works unseen in people’s lives who are trying to be faithful and do the right thing…even though God does not at first reveal to them directly by speaking to them in the Spirit…a major promise, missions, or goal upfront at the very beginning of their journey of faith.

This second type of biblical character can see God’s hand at work in hindsight…part-way through their journey of faith…or looking backwards after it has finished and all the dust has settled.

Examples of this type of experience with God…in the biblical narrative stories of faith…might include Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, the three Hebrew young men in the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, and the ten apostles other than Peter and Judas Iscariot.

Ruth is interesting here…in that she does not even know that by marrying Boaz, she has become part of the royal line that produces the future King David in direct line to Jesus Christ the Son of God…born far ahead in the future in the first-century A.D.

In fact, I think that every positive biblical character did not have a full and complete understanding of the unique and critical role they played in the unfolding saga of God’s eternal plans and destiny for mankind.

It is safe to say that there is not a single person on the planet today that has a complete macro and micro grasp of the higher ways and thoughts of God.

The point I want to make here is that as Abraham gets his calling from God to go from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step that Abraham takes God is displacing whatever normative plans Abraham might have otherwise had back in Haran…with a new life-script beyond anything Abraham could or would have dreamed up…beyond anything Abraham could self-compose, contrive, or self-orchestrate.

This worldly unconventional element of displacement of our ways with God’s higher ways…illustrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith according to the two general patterns described above…contained within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts starting with the detailed and highly specific life-story calling of Abraham and continuing throughout the Bible all the way through to the New Testament first-century…is in my view as big as anything else in the history of mankind.

This is as big as the discovery by Copernicus that the earth revolves around the Sun, or Einstein’s theory of general relativity, or the discovery of Edwin Hubble of the Big Bang expansion of the universe, or the discovery and understanding of DNA.

This biblical concept is as big as the American Declaration of Independence…the American Constitution…the victory over tyranny during World War II.

This biblical concept of the displacement of our ways with God’s ways…integral and fundamental to a genuine journey of faith following Jehovah in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament…is as big as the discovery by Martin Luther that “the just shall live by faith” rather than pilgrimages, relics, and indulgences…and that common people should have access to the Bible translated into their own languages…that started the Protestant Reformation.

The concept that the living God…the brilliant Creator of the universe…can play a pivotal role…indeed take the lead to craft and shape a journey of faith for each one of us…that bears the stamp of divinity in being 100 percent contrary to the opposite worldview of pursuing on our own our self-validation and acceptance according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…entirely outside of the zone of human literary invention…how can this biblical concept not be as large or larger than any other concept or event in the history of mankind?

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog…and for new readers…what do you think of this idea of the relative importance…in terms of an apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible…and as inspiration in our own walks of faith following Jesus…in the larger scheme of the history of mankind?

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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

A Journey of Faith Displaces Our Plans

One of the proofs that validates the divine inspiration of the Bible is the front-and-center presence of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…creating the narrative stories of faith…having the core, integral element of the cross of Jesus Christ…foreglimpsed throughout the Old Testament (Prov. 3:5-6; Isa. 53:6) and encountered at the very beginning of the New Testament (Lk. 1:34).

This concept of God-composed life-scripts displacing our worldly conventional, normative plans is not intellectually discerned, even by leading theologians, evangelists, and apologists who otherwise have everything doctrinally correct yet still only manage to skirt around the heart of this concept.  The Bible tells us through the narrative stories of faith that the one, true, living God has brilliantly conceived life-scripts written for each one of us that in part or in whole runs rough-shod over horizontally conventional, worldly thinking.

This is a concept that is revealed by revelation through the experience of an adventure of faith itself.  It is a radical, worldview changing concept excavated only through a God-led, experiential campaign into an adventure of faith.  If and when every Spirit-born Christian discovers this first-hand through the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the end-times prophesied in Joel 2:28-29, it will impact the world (Rom. 13:10; Mt. 24:14)

As Abraham walks from the city of Haran to Canaan the Promised Land, with each step he takes forward God is displacing the conventionally normative life-plans Abraham would have implemented in Haran, with a life-script grander and more impactful than anything Abraham could have imagined or contrived.  Abraham is called the “father of faith” because God first initiates a journey of faith, having the cross of Christ as its core element, starting with Abraham.

As “children of Abraham” today, grafted into the true vine by faith in Christ, modern-day Christians are supposed to be walking in these same steps in our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts to match on some level this experience of Abraham and all of the people of faith recorded in the Bible.

Is this a key foundational truth of new covenant Christian discipleship that has, and is being experienced by large numbers of Christians engaged in various callings and ministries, which deserves elevation into widespread recognition as a universal heritage of  Christian principles and practices (Jer. 31:31-34)?

Is listening in the Spirit, and following Jesus Christ into a risky adventure of faith…which runs outside of and contrary to worldly conventional normalcy…too jarring, too radical, too novel, too unthinkable, and too costly a proposition for Christians to contemplate in abandonment of our own life-plans and schemes?

This is the core of what taking up our cross for the sake of Jesus and the gospel means.  The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters five through seven…from start to finish…is about the do’s and don’ts within actual, experiential journeys of faith…not hypothetical, theoretical, humanistic experience.  Becoming Spiritually born-again…receiving a new heart…is the starting point, the stepping off point into an adventure of faith following God.

This is the key that separates Christians from conformity to worldly conventional thinking.  It has enormous apologetic force…creatively unimaginable and fundamentally anathema to humanistic invention…and a huge potential for powerfully evangelizing the world through Christian example and speech.

Free e-books on Kindle

For those of you who have a Kindle and are interested…two of my Christian books are free on Amazon…Friday 6/16 and Saturday 6/17:

The Second Half of the Cross

The Christian Church in the Last Days

For those of you who have read one or more of my books…would you be kind enough to carve out the time to write and post book reviews on Amazon.  For those of you who are self-published book writers…you know how important this is on the “blog-osphere.”

Thanks, Barton

Biblical Journeys of Faith are Different

This post is a response to a comment made in another Christian reading group on the internet.

It is all about self-sovereignty or God-sovereignty.

The Bible, Old Testament Judaism, and Christianity are the only things in all of human thought and experience that make that distinction.

As Abraham walks from the city of Haran towards Canaan…with each step he takes God is displacing the normative life Abraham would otherwise have lived in Haran…with a higher life-script Abraham could never have dreamed up in his wildest imagination.

No other worldview has this…not Islam, not Buddhism, not Hinduism, and certainly not atheistic materialism.

There are dozens of scriptures in the New Testament that talk about the salvation assurance for Spirit-born Christians.

This has to be the case in order to set up the conditions for the transition from the old covenant…where God calls people to become prophets and kings and deliverers…to the new covenant where every believer will know God from the least to the greatest.

No rational Christian would pick up their cross and follow Jesus into a risky journey of faith if their eternal salvation was contingent upon and in jeopardy upon the quality of our personal performance.  No one would take that risk…and God would not expect us to.

The shift from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty is the most difficult thing any human being can do…God knows this Himself from personal experience…see Jesus the Son of God in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42).

The new covenant…following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…allows every Spirit-born Christian to experience a slice of this distinctive God-sovereignty that we see embedded in the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…to name but a few.

I am not saved one week, then lose my salvation for a few days, then become saved again for a few more weeks.

I can confidently enter into a risk-filled adventure of faith (and am in one) having the real possibility of the falsifiability of Gods plans and promises for me…and the inevitability of my own failures along the way…with the scriptural and inner assurance of my salvation in-tact so that I can pick up my cross and follow Jesus anywhere (David’s Psalm 23).

There is a lack of assurance of salvation in Islam.  In Islam, salvation is based on our good deeds…plus the will of Allah.  This is just another version of self-sovereignty…plus some future element of unknown determination.

It is easy to lump together Islamic terrorists, David Koresh, Jim Jones, the Crusades, and the Inquisition as moral equivalents.

Muslims claim that a violent interpretation of the Koran does not represent their true religion…and point to past bad actors and bad actions by so-called Christians for a corroborating likewise argument.

But my point in this post is that Muslims are still stuck in self-sovereignty…salvation being based upon our own good deeds according to our performance…plus the will of Allah on the judgment day.

Biblical narrative stories of faith transcend above all of this back-and-forth debate because these comparable misdeeds all occur in what I like to call the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

Biblical narrative stories of faith transcend far above the conventional because they all contain the cross of Jesus Christ…God displacing our way with His higher ways and plans.

This simply does not exist in Islam…or in any other form in any worldview.

This in my opinion makes a compelling argument that the Bible has a divine origin.

And it places the biblical narrative stories of faith…by reason of the utter unconventional nature of the cross of Christ…as contrary to humanism as can be…and entirely different from self-sovereignty as night is from day…far above critical reproach.

He that Doeth the Will of God Abideth Forever 2

Intelligent design is the only rational explanation for the existence of highly complex and originally imaginative point-B goals that create the context for faith to actualize…such as the promised birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua bringing down the walls of Jericho, Ruth entering the divine lineage of King David, Esther and Mordechai outmaneuvering Haman to save the Jews in exile, the three young Hebrews withstanding the flames in the fiery furnace, Daniel surviving the night in a den of lions, Peter becoming a powerful leader of the early church, and Paul becoming the premier missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world.

The two-worldview dichotomy is brilliantly ingenious because it separates self-sovereignty from God-sovereignty at the one point that is demonstrable in both theory and in action…point-B goals and outcomes that not only fall outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking as described above in 1 John 2:15-17…but also outside of the contemplation of human literary invention.

The point-B goal that is at the peak of the argument for the divine origin of the Bible…totally above and outside of the lust of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life…and in the realm of doing the will of God perfectly that abideth forever…is the life-script for Jesus the Son of God to become the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world.

John 15:13 records Jesus saying: “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.  This is in direct contrast to the “me, myself, and I” agenda of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, Jesus utters the words that are at the core of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts throughout the Bible starting with Abraham’s walk of faith to Canaan: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42).

This amazingly tells us that God has the brilliantly imaginative capacity to write a life-script for Himself that challenges Himself in the precise area that we need the most help…in the transition from self-sovereign self-rulership…to God-sovereignty walking through an adventure of faith following Jesus Christ according to this worldly unconventional concept of Luke 22:42.

Jesus Christ being stretched to the limits of His divine capacity (if that is possible) in taking upon Himself the massive volume of mankind’s sin on the cross of Calvary…to the point of asking the Father to remove this cup and come up with an alternate plan…yet surrendering Himself to the original larger plan devised before the foundation of the world…without skipping a beat in perfect faith…is so far above humanistic contemplation and imaginative invention…that a naturalistic explanation using material particles and energy can only be described as nonsensical (Jn. 3:31).

This is one of the fundamental apologetic arguments for the divine origin of the Bible and its message…because it goes to the very heart of the biblical narrative stories of faith.  The element of the cross of Christ integrally embedded within every biblical narrative story of faith…to a greater or lesser degree…is the distinctively validating proof of “God with us” of the Immanuel of Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6…and God inside us of Jeremiah 31:31-34, John 14:23, and Revelation 3:20.

This element of the cross of Christ…which divides human experience into two distinct worldviews on opposite sides of the spectrum of sovereign control, purpose, and direction in our lives…from an apologetics standpoint is unexplainable coming solely from within the paradigm of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life of 1 John 2:16.

The “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” of 1 John 2:17…describes a worldview reality depicted in the biblical narrative stories of faith…which is too original…too imaginatively innovative…too complex, specified, and sophisticated in its information content…to be anything other than divinely inspired out of the mind and heart of God.

He that Doeth the Will of God Abideth Forever 1

1 John 2:15-17 reads:

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

“He that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”  This world passes away.  The allures of the lust of the flesh and the eyes…of the pride of life…are temporary.  They do not exist in heaven.  They are not of the Father.  And the kingdom of God is forever.

The reality of God is the one that lasts forever.  The reality of this world is the one that passes away.

One compelling piece of evidence that argues for the divine origin of the Bible is the complete break…the inexplicable departure from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that is an integral component of every biblical narrative story of faith.  The distinctive novelty of this feature in the Bible is what is expressed in these three classic verses penned so beautifully by the apostle John at the dawn of the Christian era in the first century.

As Abraham walks from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…inaugurating a uniquely biblical walk of faith…with each step he takes God is displacing the normative life Abraham would have lived with a new and innovative life-script that Abraham could never have dreamed up in his wildest imagination.

In this opening introduction of walks of faith into the experiences of mankind…God is displacing the worldly conventional lust of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life…which are temporal and pass away…with doing the will of God according to a life-script divinely composed for our benefit…at the higher level of the thoughts and ways of God that abide forever (Isa. 55:8-9; Lk. 16:15; Eph. 3:16-19).

What is uniquely distinctive about the biblical narrative stories of faith is that the goals…the journeys from point-A to point-B…are at their initial inception beyond the reach of human beings to imagine, invent, or resolve.

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are nothing like self-energized journeys of discovery within the limited paradigm of self-realization.  The brilliantly imaginative introduction of point-B’s into the biblical narrative stories of faith that are unreachable and unsolvable by humanistic means…separates human experience into two diametrically opposed worldviews…the first being the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life…and the second worldview doing the will of God which abideth forever.

This is an ingenious dichotomy of optional worldviews that could only be engineered by God.  It is a reality that defies any plausible explanation using the philosophies of materialism and naturalism based on the physical properties of matter and energy alone.