Going Our Own Way 2

I worked in building construction as my career.  Everyone who works in building construction knows that we have to get the concrete foundation, the structural embed hardware, and the framing layout correct in order for all of the future pieces to fit together.

If the concrete slab has a hump (is not perfectly flat), if a structural embed for a structural wood post is off by a few inches, or if a door or window rough opening is mistakenly framed the wrong size…this produces future corrections that surface later in the construction…that take time and cost money to repair.

Because humans are imperfect and lack foresight…the best way in building construction to approximate the beneficial features of foresight…is to record and document subtle building design and construction problems as they surface …compiling a generic checklist of photographic images, sketches, and explanatory text to use as proactive information in preventing future similar problems and mistakes from reoccurring.

One point I want to make in this section…is that even with a knowledge of the “law and the prophets” in Old Testament times…and even with a thorough knowledge of the New Testament today…the unfamiliarity of the pathway in a walk of faith with God…and the divine creative ingenuity in crafting life-scripts that take us from going our own way to God-sovereignty…without exception brings biblical faith (Heb. 11:1) into operation on our part.

Biblical journeys of faith universally have this as a built-in component.

What is uniquely original to Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity…in all of literature and in all of human experience…is that the tribulations, challenges, disappointments, and heart-breaks written into God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are deliberately designed by God to separate us from going our own way.

We see this repeatedly throughout the Bible…as people of faith reach the divinely premeditated point of exasperation in not being able to “see” just around the corner in time in their particular calling and mission…and must abandon self-reliance in whole or in part…and exercise instead the hope…spread out over time…of Hebrews 11:1 faith in a God whose pinpoint accuracy is based upon timeless foresight into the future…and perfect moral character.

There are no “one size fits all” 3-point or 5-point plans in the Bible that we follow using our own abilities…that can substitute for a personal walk with God.

Even though we have the brilliant and informative backstory of the Bible…with all of its precepts and life-examples…every Christian today is called to experience biblical faith…within a scenario that is crafted by God.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God that we get to know through study and through a personal relationship (Jn. 14:8-9).

What differentiates Judaism/Christianity from all other worldviews…is that unlike amassing a database of past mistakes to use for future proactive prevention in building construction…thus partially solving the human capability gap where timeless foresight does not exist…in God-composed journeys of faith…the missing ingredient of timeless foresight being identified as a fundamental deficiency in going our own way…is precisely the divine attribute that God uses to skillfully spread apart life-script events and circumstances to create the uniquely biblical faith of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

A biblical example might be helpful here in understanding the wide gulf between the two tracks of biblical faith…contrasted with going our own way…and the real difficulty of changing from our thoughts to God’s higher thoughts having the benefit of timeless foresight.

In Matthew 11:9-11 and Luke 7:24-28…Jesus calls John the Baptist one of the greatest prophets who has ever lived.

John 1:29-37 records John the Baptist early on saying about Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29)…and that while baptizing Jesus…John saw the Spirit shaped like a dove…descending upon Jesus.

But this is at the very start of the public ministry of Jesus.  John the Baptist has not at this point been able to view Jesus over a long period of time.

John the Baptist is no less than the very important person identified in scripture (Isa. 40:3-5)…called to be the forerunner to prepare the way ahead for the coming of the messiah to Israel.

Yet in prison, while contemplating the growing negative reception to the teaching and ministry of Jesus by the religious elites in Jerusalem…John the Baptist has trouble squaring this disappointing reality with what he knows with certainty early on about the divine identity of Jesus from their first meetings at the river Jordan.

The gap between the “going our own way” expectations and preconceptions on what the messiah would be like…normalized for hundreds of years in the Jewish culture…contrasts sharply with the life-script God has written for Jesus the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)…causing John to send two of his disciples to ask Him the question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Mt. 11:3).

If over the course of this short interval of time…from the opening expectations for the messiah…of a great prophet John the Baptist…to the realization of the entirely different higher ways and thoughts of God (Mt. 11:4-6)…if the gap is this wide…this tells us that God is making an important point about His capacity to rule and reign…having timeless foresight, perfect character, free-will choice, the knowledge of good and evil, and a brilliantly creative imagination.

If the leap from going our own way to biblical faith is this far…for John the Baptist…for Mary the mother of Jesus (Lk. 2:34-35)…and for all of the people of faith in the Bible operating without possessing timeless foresight in their adventures of faith…this puts into clearer context the key issues of human life having eternal import.

This tells us this biblical and spiritual reality is not going to be easy or simplistic.

Whenever the timeless nature of God is brought into the discussion…atheists and skeptics rightly bring up the objection that a timeless God is being unjust and unfair in condemning people for unbelief…when He knows in advance that some people will not exercise faith in God or in Christ…and knows in advance who these people are as a result of possessing divinely timeless foresight and foreknowledge.

This seems on the surface to be a formidable challenge…until we observe that the self-sovereignty track that leads to the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ extends backwards in time in a straight line to the decision of Adam and Eve to go their own way.

This produces the ripple-effect of faulty living running down through the course of human history…resulting in people so committed to the worldview of going our own way (Jn. 11:47-48)…so invested in self-sovereignty…they cannot make the conceptual leap across the gap to biblical faith…even though the outreach to them is simplified as much as possible (Jn. 10:38)

This is expressed succinctly in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8:

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.

8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

This is why Jesus responded to the inquiry of John the Baptist from prison: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Mt. 11:6).

Biblical faith…invented by God when He invented time…allows God the opportunity to work out in our lives the real journey into the knowledge of good and evil…factoring in His timeless foresight and perfect character…two things that were missing in the impetuous and impatient decision by Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.

This is why the faith of Abraham is accounted to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3)…because he trusted God’s capacity to rule and reign…rather than the strong pull or worldly conventional normalcy and thinking to go our own way.

Hebrews 11:6 reads: “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.”

One of the most brilliantly insightful statements in all of human history is expressed in Isaiah 53:6…which explains how and why Jesus ends up on the cross: “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.”

If the misguided decision in first-century Jerusalem to crucify Jesus Christ is based upon this Isaiah 53:6 prophetic appraisal of the iniquity of going our own way…extending all the way back to the Garden of Eden…and Jesus on the cross is the extreme demonstration of the negative outcome of departing from God…being the zenith…the epitome of the mindset of going our own way…then how can anyone justifiably blame God if we stubbornly continue to push God away using the very same mindset of going our own way that eventually crucified Jesus?

These two things…going our own way and biblical faith coalesce at the same historical event of the cross at Calvary…preventing any excuse for unbelief.

People freely choosing to go their own way apart from God…automatically crucify Jesus Christ on a Roman cross of execution in the first-century…thus by their very choice condemning themselves…because God…using timeless foresight…has skillfully blended condemnation and salvation together…at the cross.

This is too brilliantly complex to be explainable as human literary invention.

An Argument for the Ages 1

From Commonsense Christian Apologetics

“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”                                                                   (Col. 3:1-3)

In making an apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity…one place to start is to make the opening claim that the story of Abraham is too profound…too complex…too coherently integrated…and too thoroughly unconventional to be the product of human literary invention.

If this claim is true…and I think it is…this is one of the most important issues for discussion and testing through applied Christian living…in all of human history.

The novel through-line of the story of Abraham…having no precedent or parallel…is that God…the Creator of the universe…communicates and interacts on a personal level with Abraham in a life-script that has an imaginative story, true-to-life characters, and captivating drama.  But the story of Abraham also has a life-script that introduces non-simplistic, highly specific, unheard-of themes that cannot be found anywhere within the universally conventional mindset of the plans and goals for “normal” human living…in 2,100 B.C. or in the twenty-first century A.D.

The commonsense apologetic argument in this book starts out by suggesting that unless Abraham has the faith-challenging, plotline component of waiting the unexpected twenty-five years for the birth of Isaac…this being a large detail left out of God’s promise to Abraham of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth and the stars in the night sky (Gen. 13:16, 22:17)…that unless God shakes up the universal mindset of worldly conventional thinking shared by Abraham and every other human being on earth…then Abraham would not have been able to muster the faith to take Isaac up to Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:1-19).

This ultimate surrender of all that is important to Abraham in trusting and obeying God in taking Isaac up to Mount Moriah…gives us an invaluable foreglimpse of what God the Father planned to do with His Son Jesus the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…two thousand years later at the cross on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem.

If Abraham and Sarah had been able to start a large family early…according to a more conventional life-script upon their arrival in Canaan…to live a commonplace, unremarkable, and unadventurous life-script…then over time it is likely that Abraham would have become so committed to the routine activities and continued longevity of a large family life…that the conditioned instinctual pull inside him to stay within worldly conventional normalcy on a going-forward basis…would have flat-out said “no way” to God’s incredibly audacious and unconventional “request” to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering at Mount Moriah.

It was the unusually unconventional component of the late arrival of the birth of Isaac…engineered by God in Abraham’s life-script…that reconditioned Abraham’s thinking and thereby set-up the context of events that inaugurated the revolutionary new concept of biblical faith.

This is described succinctly in Hebrews 11:1…”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…that scrambled-up the otherwise rigid duties, responsibilities, and long-range aspirations that normally accompany the early start and ongoing maintenance of a large-sized family-life…that created the space within the newly liberated mindset of faith within Abraham to even entertain…much less follow through with this idea to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac…for what turned out to be the highest and best of reasons imaginable…as we see at the end of the story.

It was the innovatively specified and inconceivably fine-tuned trajectory of the upfront, advance preparation for Abraham that enabled him (Heb. 11:17-19) to step forward in faith…take Isaac to Mount Moriah…and become the “father of faith” for the millions upon millions of people down through the succeeding centuries of human redemptive history…who will take the risk to place the benefit-of-the-doubt in the living God…in their unique “called-out” missions in life.

Simply put, the faith-journey of Abraham offers an alternative dynamic for human life…previously unheard-of…of God displacing our otherwise mundane, mediocre, and short-sighted ways with something far better.

What does the Bible have to say further about the brilliant dynamic of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6)…in this opening life-story of Abraham…for our benefit?

In Genesis 17:17…after God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham and changed his name from Abram to Abraham, and Sarah’s name from Sarai to Sarah…it reads:

“Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?”

Then in the following verse 18, Abraham reveals that he is close to giving up on this promise of God, and suggests to God a more reasonably conventional, alternative solution for the fulfillment of God’s promise:

“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” meaning that Ishmael is alive and here now…and cannot Ismael be the preferred and more expedient fulfillment to this protracted, long overdue promise?

Or, in other words…”cannot the earlier arrangement be acceptable that Sarah and I worked out with Hagar that produced Ishmael…without your council and input God…according to our own clever and imaginative scheme”…rather than continuing forward within the original plan of God to wait for the birth of the promised heir which seems to be taking far too long in time…according to the worldly unconventionality of God-sovereignty?

But the point of the storyline of the life of Abraham is not to achieve a start to a conventional family-life…but for God to create the context of events and circumstances to actualize biblical faith.

After the birth of Isaac…the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1 of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…previously inconceivable to Abraham before this point in time…now actualizes into a new worldview of faith in the true living God…that 13 years later on Mount Moriah will take Abraham to the pinnacle…the summit…of trust and faith placed in the word of another person…in this case…trust and faith placed in the word of God.

The Father of Lies (Jn. 8:44)

From The Cross in the End-Times

The rebellion of Lucifer is like the modern-day politician whose strategy is to bring down his election opponent through negative attack-ads, rather than through the presentation of a straightforward policy agenda that can be honestly and openly debated on its merits.  Lucifer actually has nothing constructive to offer.  Lucifer has no positive agenda of his own.  Lucifer cannot compete against God head-to-head in the arena of righteousness, holiness, and competence.  If Lucifer is to get the power and position that he covets, to be ruler of the universe in place of God, he will have to resort to devious and underhanded methods.  Taking-on God straight-up is a losing proposition for Lucifer.  The temptation in the Garden of Eden is therefore a cleverly crafted deception and a lie about the character of God, not a commendable, honorable approach having substance that can be debated on common ground with the program of God.

What is so brilliantly deceptive, but so damnably evil, about the temptation in the Garden of Eden, is that the slander of God’s character by Lucifer carries with it the false presumption that Lucifer is thereby on an equal footing with God, without first having to establish Lucifer’s bona fide credentials for criticizing God.  Like the political candidate who skillfully uses negative attack-ads against his opponent, the mere presentation of a criticism, according to the higher moral fabric of the universe, automatically implies that the person making the criticism somehow has the qualifications and right standing to do so.

An elevated, good-natured, respectful to one’s opponent, fair-minded debate between opposing viewpoints belongs within the high moral plane of God’s world.  Political candidates who critically scrutinize their opponent’s viewpoints at this elevated level are rightly considered to be engaging in commendable, constructive, and honorable pursuits of truth that will achieve good government and thereby benefit society.  The negative, spurious, and unfounded attack-ad character assassination of one’s political opponent as a successful campaign strategy, is a product of the sinful fallen nature of man, and is not a part of God’s world at all.  But an unscrupulous person can move up or down at will between these two levels of conduct, claiming the legitimacy of the higher-minded zone while actually engaging in the worst form of untruthful character assassination.  This is the subtlety of deception that Lucifer introduced into the world through his rebellion against God.

By questioning God’s underlying motives regarding Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, Lucifer is presuming to place himself in the undeserved and unjustified high position of criticizing God.  By questioning God’s character through this deceptive temptation, Lucifer is unilaterally elevating himself (through incredible pride, arrogance, and what the British would call “cheek”) up to an equal footing with God without even having to present his qualifications beforehand.  By deceptively playing the part of being a constructive critic within the higher zone of good-natured and fair-minded debate, Lucifer is granting himself the freedom to pass judgment upon the actions of God, which he is in no way qualified to do.

The willingness to ruthlessly attack a political opponent’s personal character with untrue and slanderous lies, while running for office, does not in any way establish a candidate’s own qualifications for becoming a good and effective public servant.  This is what is so damnably dishonest, dishonorable, and deceptive about Lucifer’s attitude and tactics.

We know from reading the New Testament that Lucifer hid behind the outwardly acceptable religious appearance of the first-century Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers, who eventually managed to instigate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  We know from history that Lucifer hid behind the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, threatening dissenters and potential reformers with excommunication and the terrors of the Inquisition, until Martin Luther successfully began the Protestant Reformation.  We know that Lucifer is currently hiding behind all forms of liberalism, religious relativism, and worldly compromise within Christendom today.  These modern forms of spiritual deception are just as difficult to uproot and overturn as these earlier challenges.

One Purpose for the Great Tribulation 2

From my book The Cross in the End-Times

This book is not an attempt to rigorously examine the end-times biblical prophecies scripture by scripture, in an exhaustive, comprehensive manner.  There are numerous well-written books and commentaries that cover the standard viewpoints in the field of biblical eschatology, spanning across recent centuries back to the early church fathers.  But I believe that God does have something unique, timely, and applicable to say to us regarding our discipleship as we approach the beginning of the end-times.  The goal of this book is to examine some important issues in the current end-times debate from a different perspective, from the viewpoint of our journey of faith with God.  This hopefully will enable Christians to stretch their thinking about the challenges ahead and lead to a greater personal commitment in following Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 tells us that before the “day of the Lord” comes, the “man of sin”, the “son of perdition” will be revealed.  Because the precise circumstances that would expose the heretofore unrevealed nature of the son of perdition are not given in this scriptural passage, we cannot say exactly how this will occur in the future.  But we can make an educated guess that can be insightful to Christians today.

One of the many places where Lucifer, a spiritual being, deceptively hides his true character is within religion (2 Corinthians 11:14).  Lucifer infiltrates Judaism in the Old Testament, and Christianity in the church age, in skillfully camouflaged attire, because by nature he is a destroyer rather than a builder (John 10:10).  Because outward appearances can be so deceiving (Matthew 23:27-28; Luke 11:44), Lucifer can outwardly project the impression that he is a builder with a positive agenda, which provides a suitable cover for his real intentions of knocking down and destroying the plans of God.

Lucifer hides within religion, in addition to our secular world, because it is one of the best places to conceal his true identity, while at the same time subtly attacking and undermining the work of God.  After all, who would expect a religious leader in Jerusalem in the first century or a high official inside “the church” in any century of the church age, to be anything other than a godly person?  The cover of religion removes any suspicion.

One Purpose for the Great Tribulation 1

“When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

From The Cross in the End-Times

Church fathers, biblical scholars, and Christian philosophers have been debating and arguing about end-times prophecies for nearly two thousand years, and still have not managed to reach a consensus.  People with high academic credentials have spent lifetimes studying the end-times prophecies in the original languages, and cannot agree with other scholars and theologians on the interpretation of end-times prophetic passages found in the five historical books, the psalms, the prophets, the gospels, the letters to the churches, and in the book of Revelation.  I have good Christian friends who are all over the map on the subject of the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation.

Many Christians have the plausible belief that the church will come under the supernatural protection of God all the way to the end of the tribulation, through a physical or spiritual hiding place, without a rapture even occurring.  One longtime Christian friend humorously calls himself a “pan-tribulationist”, meaning that it will all “pan-out” in good time through unfolding events, like panning for fine gold in a river bed.

I believe the rapture is separate from the second coming.  Paul speaks of what we call the rapture as a mystery, yet everyone in the early church clearly knew about the ascension of Jesus and the promise that He would return in like manner someday in the future.  The second coming was not a mystery to first-century Christians.  A rapture occurring sometime prior to the second coming, as revealed to Paul, would be a mystery.

In sharing his teachings openly with the other apostles (Gal. 2:2), Paul would have certainly included this revelation regarding the mystery of a lifting-up of the Christian church, those believers currently living and those already dead and buried, off the earth and into heaven.  Yet we do not see the slightest hint of any opposition to this teaching that Paul seems to have included within his outreach to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor (Acts 20:20), and that he would have communicated during any one of several occasions to Peter, James, John, and other leaders in the early church in Jerusalem.

It is also important to note here that the pretribulation rapture interpretation is not a paradigm in the sense of a universally accepted working hypothesis in science that must be replaced by a better hypothesis in order to be overturned.  No matter how popular the pretribulation rapture teaching may currently be, it is only one of four or five competing end-times prophetic interpretations to choose from.  People inclined to place the rapture part-way into the great tribulation, with the Christian church having a major role in the final decisive debate, do not have to construct an alternate complete scenario to support a rapture occurring sometime in the middle of the tribulation period.  The pretribulation rapture scenario is not the orthodox position that must be replaced by a fully formed and explicitly detailed alternative.  In my opinion, the best alternative is to admit we do not have the complete end-times picture as yet.

My working hypothesis is the recognition of the great difficulty everyone had figuring out the nature and mission of the messiah prior to the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth.  Yet in hindsight everything worked out perfectly according to the designs of God without any dependence upon prior human understanding.  Scripture says that end-times Christians will not walk in the night of ignorance (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11), but this does not require that we have a complete scenario worked out from beginning to end to successfully replace the fully constructed pretribulation rapture framework.  The pretribulation rapture teaching is not a paradigm but simply one interpretation among several others.


What Might the End-Times Look Like?

In my opinion, the tumultuous and chaotic end-times period prophesied in the Bible is the era in Christianity of the triumph of the “small” person on a universal scale.  There will of course be individual Christians who are larger-than-life characters, gifted movers-and-shakers…Spirit-filled prophets of God leading the way through a danger zone of faith characterized in Matthew 24:21 as being like no other in history.

But at the end of human redemptive history, when the dawn of eternal destinies awaits billions of people on earth, it is incumbent upon God to hold nothing back in His loving outreach to mankind.  With an end-point of time in sight, worldly conventional normalcy no longer has relevance.  Making long-range plans becomes an “exercise in futility.”  “Occupy till I come” (Lk. 19:13) has run out of time.  For believers and non-believers alike, God’s task of closing out human redemptive history reaches a final crescendo.  Only God knows the time of the end.  Only God knows the magnitude of the shake-up that will be required.

Joel 2:28-29 reads: “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.”

In Genesis 17:18 Abraham says to God: “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” revealing that Abraham, after such a long wait in time, is on the verge of quitting on the promise of God.  In Genesis 40:14-15 Joseph attempts, quite understandably, to procure his own release from Pharaoh’s prison by an appeal to the Pharaoh’s butler and baker, revealing that Joseph was at the edge of giving up on his two divinely inspired dreams received years ago as a young man at home in Canaan.

Moses, at the burning bush, protests to God to find someone else for the daunting task of delivering the Israelites from Egypt (Ex. 3:11; 4:1, 10, 13).  Towards the end of the 40-year period of being a herdsman in the land of Midian, Moses as an older man probably gave up on the absurdity of the idea of himself still being the called-out person to deliver his people from bondage in Egypt, now seemingly a distant, long past, impossible reality.

God says to Joshua and to Israel: “Be strong and of good courage” (Dt. 31:6), and personally visits Joshua before the decisive battle to take the city of Jericho (Josh. 5:13-15).  The walls of Jericho seemed too high and too strong for any hope of success through a conventional, frontal assault.

Gideon protests to God that he is a “nobody” in Israel and even within his own family (Jud. 6:15), and therefore requires a supernatural sign from God to authenticate his calling against seemingly insurmountable odds (Jud. 6:17).

Elijah complained to God that the evil opposition of Ahab the king and Jezebel the queen in Israel was too strong for him (1 Ki. 19:10).  Jeremiah protested to God that he was too young in age to become an effective prophet to Israel…to be taken seriously by the leaders in Jerusalem (Jer. 1:6).

Peter said to Jesus: “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” not seeing his future potential as a bold speaker and leader through the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 5:8).  Paul confesses that he is the chief of sinners, yet God crafts him into the finest and most accurate spokesman for the gospel message of forgiveness, grace, and redemption, to initially lost and misguided persons like himself, that the world has ever known (1 Tim. 1:15).

All of these people of faith recorded in the Bible, along with many more, are examples of a reality that could not have come solely from the horizontally conventional thinking of gifted and talented people carving out their own fame and fortune through self-directed efforts.  All of these people reached a point in time in their God-composed journey of faith life-scripts where a positive fulfillment of their mission seemed on the surface to be nearly hopeless.  Their faith in God and in themselves reached the end-point of the despair of the outward appearance of seeming impossibility in obtaining success in their life’s calling.

When all seems lost, futile, and hopeless, it is here that God steps in and says: “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:27).  No one could make this up.  It is beyond humanistic or naturalistic invention.  It requires the actual presence and participation of the living God who created the heavens and the earth.

What is a miracle from God’s perspective?  It is a transformed life that comes up to the potential that God created within a person (Jn. 4:23).  It is the fulfillment of a joint-venture of faith which at times faces challenges that seem on the surface to be insurmountable.  It is the free-will response of people of faith to take up their cross and to follow God when the way ahead appears narrow and difficult.  It is people of faith who allow God through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to love lost and broken people in the world through us…especially when this means the sacrificing of our supposed right to enjoy normalcy according to worldly conventional thinking.

There is no getting around this component of the biblical narrative stories of faith.  God authenticates His rightful authority to rule and to reign as a brilliant, loving, and righteous King for all time, through journeys of faith that reveal his unmistakable, overcoming presence when all hope and human confidence is lost.

Jesus says at the Last Supper: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Lk. 22:20).  The seeming finality of Jesus’ death on the cross is an inseparable component of the hope-dashing despair of the disciple’s experience, despite Jesus foretelling of His death and resurrection to these disciples only days and weeks before.  Peter’s future eternal destiny, along with the destinies of all of the other disciples, rests in this improbable and almost unimaginable resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).