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.

A Partial Revelation 2

A second component of this idea of purposely incomplete prophetic revelation is the good wisdom of God in not revealing all of the fine details of His plans to the opposition upfront.  Telling Lucifer and the other fallen angels all of God’s strategic plans ahead of time, within the end-of-time prophetic scriptures contained in the Bible would be counterproductive in the extreme.  This interpretation is consistent with the approach that God has taken with all Bible prophecy.  Some element of hindsight is usually involved in putting all of the prophetic pieces of the puzzle together after-the-fact.  Once the fulfillment of a particular biblical prophecy has been locked into historical place by the occurrence of the actual events themselves in time, then the opportunity for spiritual opposition to fully anticipate the prophecy ahead of time and possibly adversely alter the God-intended outcome has safely passed.

For example, the Psalms 22 prophecies regarding the crucifixion were just vague and obscure enough so that the religious rulers in Jerusalem did not connect them in advance to Jesus of Nazareth, yet precise and specific enough to be clear in hindsight.  Psalms 22:16 reads: “…they pierced my hands and my feet.”  If God had given away more detailed information in this prophecy, such as the shape of a wooden cross, the use of five to seven inch long metal spikes, and the piercing of the hands and feet as a slow and tortuous method of execution causing weakness through blood loss leading eventually to asphyxiation, then everyone would have been forewarned centuries beforehand of the divine intention hidden within this prophecy, through the well-known and widespread practice of Roman crucifixion.

The question can be asked, what would be the motivation for God to give away too much overly specific information in this prophecy?  God would then have had to come up with another means for sacrificial atonement other than the cross of Christ, for mankind’s sins.  Jesus Christ shed His blood while hanging on a wooden cross in sin atonement as the sacrificial Lamb of God after the ancient pattern of the blood atonement given by God to the Levitical priesthood.  Too much information given away in Psalm 22:16 would have tipped-off the religious and civil authorities ahead of time, and spoiled Roman crucifixion as God’s totally unanticipated and unexpected method for Christ’s substitutional atonement.  God reveals just the right amount of information in Psalms 22:16 to accomplish His purposes.  One of the true marvels of Psalm twenty-two is that David heard God’s voice accurately, and got the wording of each of these critical prophecies just right.

Micah 5:2 reads: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  Hosea 11:1 reads: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”  Isaiah 11:1 reads: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”  The Apostle Matthew included in his gospel that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), returned to Israel from Egypt as a small child (Matthew 2:15), and grew up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23).  Matthew obtained this information from only three probable first-hand sources…Mary the mother of Jesus, or Jesus Himself after His resurrection, or James the half-brother of Jesus.

The chief priests and Pharisees prided themselves in knowing the prophetic scriptures pertaining to the Messiah, as witnessed by their indignant response to Nicodemus who had suggested to his colleagues that they give Jesus a fair-minded hearing: “…Art thou also of Galilee?  Search, and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” (John 7:52).  Yet, all these priests and Pharisees had to do to resolve this question of the birthplace of Jesus was to simply ask Mary the mother of Jesus, or to ask Jesus Himself.  They did not ask this direct question because they had already made up their minds that Jesus was an unsuitable candidate according to their preconceived idea of what the promised Messiah would be like.

Again, these prophecies regarding the origin of Jesus Christ, authenticating His claim to be the Messiah, were just vague and obscure enough so that the religious rulers did not connect them to Jesus of Nazareth, yet precise and specific enough to be crystal clear in hindsight as given to us by Matthew.  God did not foretell through a singular, composite verse in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and come out of Egypt and be called a Nazarene (as Matthew interpreted the prophet Isaiah’s 11:1 verse).  God did not combine these three verses together neatly in one location in the sacred text for the convenience and illumination of the readers.  Thus combined they would have unmistakably pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as the only possible Messiah.  God kept these verses separated in the Old Testament, so as to be purposely obscure to the religious leaders in Jerusalem in the first century, yet crystal clear in hindsight when put together after-the-fact by Matthew.

A Partial Revelation 1

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;  And, also, upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.”   (Joel 2:28-29)

A biblically accurate starting premise in approaching the study of end-of-time prophetic future events is to recognize that God has purposely kept some portion of the information incomplete and obscure.  A thoughtful Bible student can approach this admittedly difficult subject of end-times prophecy with the beginning assumption that no person has it all figured out to the last detail, because no one can figure it all out, by God’s purposeful intention.

Even as Jesus is explaining in clear language His upcoming crucifixion and resurrection to the disciples, as fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies, Jesus knows they are not completely getting it.  Yet there is no record in the gospels of Jesus going back over this critical subject repeatedly four or five times, until the disciples understand perfectly.  Jesus knows it will all make sense later in hindsight.  An argument can be made that the crucifixion itself is a product of the Pharisees and scribes tragically misreading the messianic prophecies as a direct result of faulty living, adversely fulfilling the very prophecies they thought they completely understood upfront.  If the messianic prophecies were crystal clear no one would have made the tragic mistake of crucifying Jesus of Nazareth.

God indeed has everything in the last-days planned out to the smallest detail.  But by not revealing all of it for the present time, God keeps us engaged and in a state of watchfulness.  Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is always the underlying theme behind all of the works of God, including the subject of end-times prophecy in the Bible.  The amount and specificity of information that God reveals in scripture is always a function of what He is attempting to accomplish in dividing truth from error for us through real-life experiences in the present-moment.  Some of the end-times biblical prophecies will only become clear after all of the events are over.

Commonsense Christian Apologetics

My apologies for the long length of this post…this one is just under 3,000 words.  The usual length of my posts I like to keep around 300-800 words.  I thought you might like this piece in its entirety.

This is the introduction to my new book God Didn’t Create Robots: Commonsense Christian Apologetics…which I just completed revising…and is available on Amazon and Kindle in about a week.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”                                                                    (Heb. 11:6)

I once had a lively discussion with a borderline agnostic/atheist who said that he did not dismiss the idea that God existed…but that he needed more objective, foolproof evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible and Christianity.

In pondering our talk afterwards, I thought of all of the evidences that are out there in the observable world…easily accessible through commonsense contemplation…that in the hands of a skilled litigator in a courtroom…for example…would not only convince most jurors of the existence of God…but also of the divine origin of the Bible and its message.

In better hands than mine (except when I have the anointing of the Holy Spirit like Peter before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:8-12 or Philip in Acts 8:26-40…which can be experienced by all Spirit-born Christians for sharing our faith in Jesus Christ)…there are dozens of very persuasive arguments for the existence of God…many of which are the obvious “miracles” we experience and see all around us…that we accept as “normal” and take totally for granted.

A few of these obvious evidences might be the miracle of sexuality…or digestion…or our respiratory system…our constant heartbeat…or our balanced and symmetrical locomotion and motor skills…all of which shout-out for design rather than random chance assemblage.

Another obvious, commonsense evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer God is the universal cuteness of any infant—a human toddler, a lion cub, a Labrador puppy, young ducks swimming after their mother in a pond…totally inexplicable and unnecessary under a Darwinian naturalistic framework…having no survival-of-the-fittest value.

Certainly the mystery of human speech and the natural inclination of youngsters to acquire, understand, and accurately differentiate subtle concepts in language and communication…at a phenomenal rate of speed…is a reality far too complex and functionally coherent to be lightly accepted as the result of gradual descent with modification…rather than ingenious, conscious design at a brilliantly creative level.

In sports…our incredible facility to be able to play professional ice hockey in the NHL…to run back the opening kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown in college football…to hit a 95 mph fastball 400 feet over the left-field fence for a homerun in baseball…to play tennis, pin-pong, badminton, volleyball, run track, run a marathon, complete the Tour de France, surf the North Shore in Hawaii, and score a goal in World Cup soccer…these are physical acuities that are so advanced, so complex, so finely tuned, and so functionally integrated…that to ascribe these to gradualistic, random chance, trial-and-error processes as asserted in the theory of Darwinian evolution…when we see and observe nothing incrementally progressive and transitional in a major, creative sense anywhere in the natural world currently or in the course of natural history…seems on its face to be beyond nonsensical.

Certainly, the existence of the moral framework that permeates all of the social interactions between people…which we take totally for granted… needs explanation…such things as romantic love, friendship, loyalty, bravery, humor, forgiveness, standing up for the right thing even when it costs us something, giving value to other people through respect…and the flip-side—lying, cheating, prejudice, selfishness, injustice, and evil…all of which in the hands of a skilled debater could be plausibly argued to be far beyond the creative naturalistic reach of material particles and energy…given that particles and energy demonstrate no capacity for creating complex and functionally integrated systems or concepts.

Add to this the mind-boggling Age of Information explosion of the last two or three decades…in which intelligence has been linked to the origin of information wherever we find complex and functionally integrated systems in human creations…in computer software codes, literary books of every genre, inventions of every type…which corresponds to the information-rich realities we find in the natural world such as the Big Bang, the Anthropic Principle, the Cambrian Explosion, DNA code, and the body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits of every living creature…to name only a few examples.

Curiously, in the area of the fine arts…we see the unavoidable necessity of the inclusion of the overcoming of evil…fundamental within the storyline fabric of movies, theater plays, and books…coming from a modern popular culture that otherwise avoids the acknowledgment of the concept of biblical sin.  How can the existence and complexity of evil…sliced-and-diced in every which way in enumerable storyline settings and conditions…of unending fascination and interest to the human psyche…how can this be the product of mere material particles and energy according to the philosophical worldview of naturalism?

As a non-scholar layman in the areas of theology and biblical studies…along with millions of other common Christians around the world simply following Jesus within their journeys of faith…I sense that the centuries old paradigm conflict between philosophical atheism and Christianity is at a balanced apex…at a tipping-point where the evidences for theism may now begin…if it has not already…to surpass the now archaic logic and arguments against supernaturalism and the miraculous in the Bible.

The Big Bang philosophically opened wide the door for intelligent agency…introducing in the first split-seconds of creation all of the natural laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics… along with time itself…and all of the material particles in the right quantities and proportions to produce the universe we now observe today…out of nothing…sometime around 14 billion years ago.

If an independent agent God can do this at the beginning of the universe…then the philosophical objection by skeptics that God cannot introduce creative life and “miracles” into the natural world…incorrectly viewed by some as a “closed system” up until a few decades ago…is now debunked by the discoveries of science through the identification of massive amounts of complex and functionally integrated systems of information…everywhere we look in the living and non-living natural world.

The concept of an independent agent…God…injecting vast amounts of complex information into our world utilizing creative foresight…such as the DNA code…the unimaginably brilliant folding of amino acids into proteins…and the body-plan architectural information stored somewhere in the embryonic development structure of the living cell that builds cells and tells them their unique function and location in the dividing and expanding embryo…is very similar to our own use of accumulated information and premeditated creative foresight in the planned and premeditated assembly of houses, automobiles, airplanes, laptop computers, and pharmaceutical medicines.

In this book, I attempt to add some commonsense Christian apologetic arguments into the ongoing debate.  Some such topics are:

First, is there a persuasive rationale to explain the humility of Jesus…outside of the standard and perfectly valid explanation that this is simply part of the divine character of God?

Is there an ingenious, underlying theme within the humility of Jesus that transcends the imagination of human literary invention…and at the same time serves as inspiration for Christians?

Is the concept of respect…the giving of value to another person…the central issue at play behind the purpose of the creation of this world and our participation in it?

Does the humility component of the life-script of Jesus Christ divide out and expose the destructive element of rebellious self-sovereignty…resulting in the utter rejection and non-valuing of the Son of God Jesus…in a way that forever identifies the moral downside of: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6)…as demonstrated through the cross of Calvary (Jn. 15:18-25)?

Second, how would anyone other than God compose a life-script for a perfect Person Jesus Christ that gets Him to the cross?  Is this idea too farfetched and innovative…as to fall clearly outside of human literary imagination…and therefore be divine in its origin?

What aspects of the human character would be identified with pinpoint accuracy in this life-script composition…that would infuriate conventional thinking to such a degree in first-century Israel…that would get a perfect Person Jesus all the way to the cross…and not to mere house arrest, exile, or censure?

Third, how could anyone other than God compose a life-script complex enough for Jesus Christ the Son of God…that results in a broken heart on the cross (blood and water coming out of His pierced side…John 19:34)?

How do you break the heart of God…as invented literary fiction…without at the same time violating the very thing that worldly conventional normalcy and thinking detests the most…the acknowledging of the existence of human sin and self-centeredness… absorbed by Jesus on the cross…as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin?

Fourth, where does the delicate balance of belief and unbelief come from?  Why isn’t this balance overwhelmed in favor of one direction or the other?

Fifth, what explains the odd existence of the two main contrasting worldviews…self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty…for human beings alone?  This clearly does not originate from nature.  Lions display only one lifestyle habit…there are not two different competing approaches to being a lion.  The same goes for every living creature in nature.  For every living creature each lifestyle habit is distinctly unique…but uniform throughout that creature type…for lions, cheetahs, leopards, tigers, elephants, giraffes, alligators, and zebras, for example.

Yet humans have two optional worldviews to freely choose from…self-sovereignty or God-sovereignty…both radically different in the course and purpose of our lives.  The complexity of the differences that divide these two worldviews is far beyond any plausible explanation of their origin by way of the naturalistic, gradual trial-and-error evolution of material particles and energy as asserted in the theory of Darwinism.

Coming back to my discussion with the agnostic/atheist man insisting on objective, visual, foolproof evidence for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity…for Christians…the answer to this issue is both easy and difficult.

If Jesus a few days after the resurrection walked down the middle of main street and right into the temple in Jerusalem…then like doubting Thomas all of the common people along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes could examine his wounds and observe His resurrected new body…and accept as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God.

But accepting the visual evidence…producing absolute knowledge like two plus two equals four…or the existence of the noonday sun…accepting the evidence that Jesus is the divine Son of God is not the same as being willing to follow Him.  The Pharisees and scribes would have looked at the resurrected Jesus…talked with Him…examined His healed wounds…and then said: “Great…good for you…but we still choose not to follow you.”

Absolute knowledge by visual, empirical observation does not alleviate…does not displace…does not remove…self-sovereignty.  Jesus walking into the temple in Jerusalem after His resurrection…offering absolute proof of His divinity in rising from the dead…does not equate to everyone freely choosing to make Him Lord and Master of their lives.

After the resurrection…revealing Himself to the Pharisees and scribes would not have produced biblical faith…defined as willingly allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways…as ancient in Jewish history as the calling of Abraham to leave Haran and go to Canaan…as basic to Judaism as it gets…and fundamental to the Christian concept of picking up our cross to follow Jesus.

A person does not have to be a scholar to see in the Bible and to experience first-hand…that God initially takes people having hidden potential…yet at the start are broken, lost, and aimless in life (Mt. 9:10-13)…and through the divinely supportive respect and acceptance over time of salvation, redemption, and the life-altering insertion of a God-composed adventure of faith…turns them into something better that they could not have previously imagined.

This is one of the main themes of the Bible.  Some people will accept God’s lead and follow Him into their destinies…others will push God away and follow their own course.

This in itself should be a telling argument against the random-chance naturalism of self-sovereign worldly conventional thinking…by virtue of the sheer inexplicability of the origin of the concept of biblical faith and its persistent longevity.  Naturalism, if true should produce one monotonous, homogeneous human mindset…one lifestyle habit per creature type…like the rest of the living world.

The complexity of the information content, the innovative originality of the main concepts, and the utter crash and collision with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…makes a compelling commonsense apologetic case for the divine origin of the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible…above and beyond humanistic literary invention.

This is the contribution to the marketplace of ideas I would like to introduce in this book…moving the argument for the truthfulness of the Bible farther down the road for the Christian and the skeptic alike.

Finally, if we have a conflict or an issue with some colleague at work…and we discuss this with a friend who thinks well of us…that friend will give us the supportive benefit of the doubt upon hearing the details.

But a person who is a friend, yet who may not think as highly of us, may automatically take the side of the other person in the dispute…upon hearing the details…and begin to question our handling of the situation…in a knee-jerk, critical fashion…not giving us the benefit of the doubt.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are filled with people giving God the benefit of the doubt in their adventures of faith.

Every positive person of faith in the Bible has a personal relationship with God that has the universal element of giving God the benefit of the doubt…even amidst difficult and challenging events, and the negative direction of outward appearances.

Biblical characters that immediately come to mind in this regard are Abraham going to Canaan (Heb. 11:8), Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison hanging on to the promise of his two earlier dreams received years before in Canaan (Gen. 37:7, 9), and Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:11, 4:20).

Jeremiah has a continual, ongoing dialogue with God about the stubborn unbelief of the Jerusalem leaders.  Elijah complains bitterly to God about the overwhelming pushback and resistance he is encountering in his calling as a prophet in apostate Israel under the rule of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.

Other notable people who gave God the benefit of the doubt through difficult challenge are Joshua, Samuel, David, Job, Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and all of the minor prophets…to name only a few in the Old Testament.

The Psalms in the Old Testament are filled with people having a personal relationship and dialogue with God…giving God the benefit of the doubt to come through for them in the middle of challenging difficulties.

People of faith in the New Testament actually spent time physically with Jesus the Son of God (Jn. 1:14)…and gave Him the benefit of the doubt amidst pushback and resistance to His message and ministry…of deadly intensity (Jn. 11:8, 16).

This idea of the people of faith giving God the benefit of the doubt during the course of their journeys of faith…giving to God the value and worth…that putting trust and faith in another person entails…has enormous commonsense, apologetic value as an argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

This has apologetic value by virtue of its existence as evidence of a relationship…evidence that would not hold water for a moment…if it was not in fact true.

As a secondary, subtle element in the plotlines of every biblical narrative story of faith…giving God the benefit of the doubt is not something that can be fabricated or faked into fictionalized relationships…certainly not into the unconventional relationships between people and God.

This element is integrally baked into every biblical adventure of faith…and cannot be homogenized out without damaging the story.

This component of giving God the benefit of the doubt is a powerful clue that these relationships…these stories of faith…are real.

A moral concept as subtle yet as powerful as this could not be the product of collusion on the part of the 40 different authors spanning 1,500 years in the writing of the Bible…universally giving God the benefit of the doubt from Genesis through Revelation…from beginning to end…without the slightest hint of progressive evolution or creative development in the portrayal of biblical faith.

The life-stories of Abraham through Paul in the Bible…all depicting biblical faith having this common element of giving God the benefit of the doubt…as religious fiction invented by human writers inspired out of the narrow realm of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking alone…as an explanation for their origin…is nonsensical.

Like the massive infusion of creative information that entered into the natural world to form the complex living creatures during the Cambrian Explosion of 530 million years ago…inexplicable as a materialistic or naturalistic event…the correct answer to the question of the origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith is that they are a divine creation of God.

The complex and functionally coherent information that enters into the human experience…suddenly and instantly in the form of a God-composed adventure of faith…starting with Abraham…is the action of an independent agent God…providing commonsense apologetic evidence for both His existence…and for the truth of the Bible.

Mechanical robots cannot fathom the concept of respect.  Neither can robots plumb the depths of giving someone the supportive benefit of the doubt of placing faith, trust, and dignity in another person…extending the gift of value, worth, and validation to that person.

Our analytical capacity for moral reasoning…wrapped within our physical living body having all of the marvelous abilities and talents we possess…may be the single-most, top-tier apologetic evidence for the existence of God…easily accessible to commonsense contemplation.

Offences Must Come 3

From The Cross in the End-Times

One of the important questions explored in this book, is whether or not this all-important journey of faith, which is a God-led tour into the discovery of the fundamental issues that are the basis for eternal happiness and peace, comes to an abrupt halt for Christians at the start of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period through the rapture of the church?  If the seven-year tribulation is a culmination of the theme of the story that God has been writing over the last six thousand years, through the Bible, through the nation of Israel, through the church age, and through the journeys of faith that Christians are currently experiencing, then the natural conclusion would lead a person to think that the church would be a major participant, rather than an absentee raptured bystander, in this final chapter of redemptive history.

The tribulation is the crisis-filled environment of events and circumstances capable of bringing the substandard qualifications of the deceiving, negative attack-ad specialist Lucifer out into the open.  God has perfectly timed this absolute and final exposure of truth versus error, of the demonstration of pure love versus self-centered ambition, of the characters and motivations of everyone, to be revealed for all to see at the close of human redemptive history.  The universe and our natural world were created for just such an explosive final ending.

Finally, if Jesus was the leader of a small band of warriors like David, when He stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth, the townspeople would never have reacted with such outwardly violent opposition to His words (Luke 4:28-30).  The townspeople would have respected His worldly power and feared His military might, keeping their opinions to themselves.  Jesus is led by the people of Nazareth to the edge of a cliff to be thrown over to His death because Jesus has no worldly influence, honor, or respect to intimate anyone.

The townspeople in the synagogue in Nazareth ask: “…is not this the carpenter, the son of Joseph?”  The growing reputation of Jesus as a prophet came from areas outside of His hometown (Luke 4:14).  Jesus had no reputation as a “somebody” in a worldly sense to be feared and respected.  Jesus was an outcast and lowly among his native town.  He did not fit-in in a worldly sense.  Otherwise the people of Nazareth would never have thought they were free to be offended with Jesus to the point of throwing Him off a nearby cliff.

Jesus is the perfect, sinless Lamb of God sacrifice for our transgressions within a worldly-free package having no pedigree, wealth, social standing, or outward appeal.  Jesus did not resort to appealing to worldly power.  Jesus lived a spotless life amidst no worldly influence, material success, or cultural acclaim.  Yet Jesus purchased through the cross and the resurrection the power to give eternal life.  Jesus has the power to effectuate the second birth of John 3:3.  Eternal life through the Son of God comes through zero worldly stature or authority.  This means we can live godly lives “in Christ” pleasing to the Father, likewise with or without any worldly acclaim, influence, or stature.

But more importantly for the discussion in this chapter, the complete lack of appeal to worldly influence in the life and ministry of Jesus tells us that Jesus as King and Ruler is the diametric opposite of hypocrisy.  Jesus does not have to resort to worldly acclaim, influence, and appeal to impress the world.  Jesus is the perfect, sinless Lamb of God sacrifice despite being devoid of outward worldly appeal.

By contrast, the son of perdition of 2 Thessalonian 2:3 to be shortly revealed by the upcoming events and circumstances of the great tribulation…the negative attack-ad character-assassin specialist…is the vilest hypocrite.  He promises peace and safety according to a modified version of the promise of worldly power he made to Jesus of Nazareth in the temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), without the lightest intention or capacity to offer anything other than destruction and ruin for all who choose to follow him.

In my opinion, the Christian church has to participate in the exposure of this vast contrast between the genuine King and Ruler of the realm, and the counterfeit impostor who would like to overthrow God and assume His position.  The only Person in all of existence smart enough to outmaneuver and trap Lucifer in his deceptive lies and hypocrisy is God Almighty.  But for our benefit, for a discovery of the knowledge of good and evil to reach its full extent, the Christian church will be engaged in the middle of the action as previewed in every narrative story of faith recorded in the Bible.

Offences Must Come 2

From The Cross in the End-Times

The entire course of human redemptive history might be partially characterized as God allowing the consequences of unqualified ambitious rebellion to demonstrate its ill effects through real-life situations and circumstances.  The platform of information that makes up God’s qualifications and positive agenda, which is deceptively by-passed in a beauty contest based solely upon outward appearances, and which is ignored altogether in a cleverly conducted attack-ad campaign, God has nonetheless managed to submit into the human experience through the four dimensions of space and time.  The credentials and qualifications of Lucifer to be able to criticize God, which should have been required upfront and carefully examined in the Garden of Eden, but which were gullibly accepted by mankind without question, are now being exposed and scrutinized in agonizing detail through the long course of human history.

Lucifer can say whatever he wants using words alone.  But the difference between the disaster that occurs when man sits atop the throne of his life as a spiritual rebel against God, contrasted with the glory of redeeming character transformation that rescues people from personal destruction through repentance and a journey of faith following Jesus Christ as Lord, is acted out every day through the medium of this current life on earth.  The real truth regarding the credentials and character of God are being discovered every day in the progress being made in Christian apologetics, in the field of intelligent design, in Christian service to the world, and in individual journeys of faith following Jesus Christ.

God could alternately choose to write across the sky this afternoon with large flaming letters for everyone on earth to read, that Jesus Christ the Son of God is the outward expression of the Triune nature of God, and to worship only Him.  But then the freedom to choose between belief and unbelief would also end this afternoon.  And a journey of faith voluntarily following Jesus Christ through this broken world, having real consequences and eternally valuable spiritual lessons, would also come to an end.

Mankind’s corporate enlistment by Lucifer into his rebellion against God does not excuse our individual rebellion.  Each of us has individually sinned against God in our own rebellious ways.  When we repent and ask God’s forgiveness, He forgives each of us individually.  God places His hand upon our shoulder, looks into our eyes, and says: “I forgive you.”  But even though God completely and thoroughly forgives us, we are still in the same vulnerable, uninformed position regarding the nuances of deception as were Adam and Eve in the Garden.  Even though the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, we still have the issues of Lucifer’s successful temptation in the Garden of Eden to resolve.  For the remainder of our Christian lives, we still have to wrestle against this self-centered fallen nature we inhabit (Romans 7:23-25).

This is why God created the vehicle called a journey of faith, and why He gave us the Holy Spirit to live within us to lead and guide us into all truth (John 16:13).  This is why God inspired the writing of the Bible, recording the adventures of the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments as patterns and examples of His correct interaction with His followers.  This is why the current environment of our broken world is the proving ground for truth and error to be a demonstration in action.  This is why God allows belief and unbelief to operate side-by-side in opposing tension in our world, not decisively exposing the ultimate pros and cons of truth versus error, for the time being.  Christians have to experience first-hand for ourselves the truth or falsity of this enormously destructive attack-ad by Lucifer, first proposed in the idyllic Garden of Eden so long ago, that our happiness somehow lies in being our own gods atop the thrones of our lives, apart from God.  For Christians to become spiritually wise, mature, and savvy regarding the knowledge of good and evil, these first-hand experiential lessons must be out-there and in-play within the context of real life situations and circumstances.