Information Has Surpasses Darwinian Explanation 1

One problem for modern atheism is that as our appreciation of the vast amounts of information contained within highly complex systems in the natural world grows…all integrated and coordinated toward functions that have the definite and unmistakable appearance of purposeful design…the narrowing explanation over time of philosophical naturalism…no longer fits.  It is as if the foot-size of our expanding knowledge of the natural world has grown to shoe-size 15 since 1859, yet the philosophical naturalist shoemaker, limited by the now obsolete worldview shaped by Darwinian evolution, has no shoe-size pattern beyond foot-size 8.

As I read through the evolution literature, some books attempt to explain away the intelligently designed brilliance of eyesight by looking at the architecture of the eye in isolation.  An appeal to the plausibility of the argument for common descent is given by identifying many creatures in nature that have varying yet functional qualities of eyesight…the thread of thought being that partial qualities of eyesight are beneficially functional even when evolved through intermediate, transitional increments of quality over time.

These book sections on the hypothetical evolution of the eye are usually well-written, illuminating, and factually instructive, yet not compelling as evidence in an argument in support of Darwinian macroevolution.  Because the same factual evidence could also be used to make a more plausible argument for intelligent agency in the design of the eye and functional eyesight, Darwinian evolution falls short of making a clear separation from intelligent design in the all-important area of independently explaining causation through empirical facts.  From a big-picture, wide-angle viewpoint, Darwinian macroevolution can be seen as little more than a philosophical overlay…a human interpretational veneer applied to otherwise neutral and unbiased scientific evidence.

One of the problems of looking at the eye in isolation is that eyesight…that enables survivability…integrates every other characteristic of the physical makeup of the functionally mature creature…central nervous system, bone structure, muscles and nerves, internal organs, the five senses, instinct, and such unique features as leaping, running, swimming, burrowing, and flight.

But maybe most important of all are the uniquely different informational programs…lifestyle habits…defining and supporting the existence of each and every species that has eyesight.  Eyesight must be evaluated within the integrated whole of the living creature, in order to give the overall conceptual brilliance of the design of eyesight its full context.  When the unimaginable complexity of this is carried-out down to the last minutest detail of matter, energy, and information, the notion of making this argument for common descent (macroevolution) by reference to the varying qualities of functional eyesight in different species alive today…appears to this student of the creation/evolution debate to be inadequate and too simplistic to pass the test of reality.

Appealing to the varying qualities of functional eyesight in living organisms as an argument for incrementally gradualistic eye development fails to account for the big-picture totality of eyesight coherently integrated into the whole program of the lifestyle habits of each individual creature having eyesight.

Again, the size-15 foot of the massive amount of ordered and specified information, plus our new understanding of intelligent agency required in the arrangement and integration of information in complex systems such as computer software code, will no longer fit in the archaic shoe-size 8 of philosophical naturalism.

One Christian’s View of Science 2

Information, like gravity, is an important component that currently falls outside the domain of the unifying “theory of everything” being sought-after in the field of physics.

The classic example given to describe the fundamental distance between information and physical matter is the analogy to the front page of any major daily newspaper.  The physics and chemistry of “how” ink bonds to paper does not explain…because it cannot explain from the realm of the physical sciences…the “why” component of the individual daily arrangement of the ink to produce intelligible information expressed, in the case of the New York Times, in the English language.  The ink does not arrange itself into intelligible English letters conveying information.  Human intelligent design is the causation of this meaningful communication of information.

The information given on the front page of the newspaper can therefore be said to transcend above the basic physics and chemistry explanation at the mechanical level of ink bonding to paper.

Similarly, the complex and highly specified information given in human designed computer software programs transcends above, and cannot be reduced down to or explained by, the basic mechanics of the ones and zeroes of computer binary language code as the cause for its intelligently designed function.

This same quality of coherently integrated, highly specified information can now be seen, studied, and analyzed…in terms of its source of origin and its relationship to genetic DNA…in the body-plan lifestyle habits of hundreds of billions of distinct plants, trees, bacteria, fungi, insects, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals in the living world.

In this brief opening section on the validity of pronouncements made about science as being the only reliable tool to define the rational boundary lines around truth and knowledge, the curious thing about this contention…coming from the field of logic…is that it deconstructs itself…that it does not stand up against the weight of its own requirements.

The statement that science alone can produce truth does not itself derive from empirical scientific investigation…the statement does not therefore meets its own internal test for veracity.  “Science alone produces truth” is an opinion about science…not an axiom derived through science.  The statement is rendered invalid for truth content…by virtue of not meeting the high standard imposed by the statement itself…of being scientifically derived.

One Christian’s View of Science 1

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.                                                             (Psalm 19:1-2)

The present day contention that rational truth is confined exclusively to the realm of natural causes…explained only by scientific investigation…thereby leading to the conclusion that the philosophy of naturalism is the one and only acceptable way of viewing reality, is  brilliantly subtle but entirely vacuous.

The Spirit-born Christian scientist…using the purest scientific methodology…can investigate a particular area of natural phenomenon and discover entirely naturalistic causations, while privately giving his or her Intelligent Designer God the credit for His ingenuity and craftsmanship, without ever leaving their fidelity to empirical facts or setting aside their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The atheist scientist, on the opposite extreme, can use the same techniques to investigate the same phenomenon, and discover the exact same naturalistic causations yet interpret their new findings as an increase in our knowledge of the natural world…thereby creating a corresponding reduction in the need for God’s existence and agency in the affairs of nature and mankind.  Yet the raw, empirical information content about heat, or the behavior of gases, or the properties of water, or of mass, momentum, and energy, of mountain building through plate tectonics, the internal composition of stars, or the complexity found within DNA…discovered through careful scientific investigation…are the same.

The vast difference in the interpretation of the facts at the broad, worldview level are not based upon what the empirical scientific evidence itself is saying independently, because the information in its purest form remains neutrally silent regarding philosophy.  The observable, measurable, quantifiable facts of natural phenomenon amenable to us in the physical sciences…are open to interpretation and can be selectively placed in more than one optional, contradictory worldview.

For the atheist scientist, especially since the 1859 publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, the steady and rapid advance in our knowledge of the natural world has morphed into an irrational zero-sum game…as if each new understanding of some physical phenomenon in nature equates to further liberation from the influence of a supernatural Creator God.

But the Spirit-born, Christian scientist exploring nature through scientific investigation is not looking for reasons to push God away, but instead sees the complex, integrated information and the precise craftsmanship that went into each newly understood phenomenon of nature and glorifies God for its designed naturalistic function, the orderliness and intelligibility underlying nature, and our mental capacity to be able to unravel these mysteries in succession one at a time.

The secularly biased notion that science only looks for naturalistic explanations for physical phenomenon in the natural world is actually now inadequate and over-simplistic by about three decades.  Information has now been recognized and added to the short list…of matter and energy…as the major components amenable to study in our quest to understand ultimate reality, purpose, and meaning in the universe.

A Message within a Message

God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah at the dawn of biblical journeys of faith, not because God has any real intention of having Abraham actually follow through with this action.  God is revealing to us in this narrative story of faith a message within a message…a secondary tier of information embedded in the story that tells us that God is actively participating in a way that validates the divine authorship of the story.  “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…” (Gen. 22:8) is a top-down, front-loaded, informational foreglimpse of what God plans to do 2,000 years later at the cross on Calvary Hill.

In this ancient narrative story of faith, of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, God is revealing prophetically in the realm of true religious experience the same top-down arrangement of information we now discover in the nested, overlapping, encrypted genetic code of information found in the DNA of living cells, and in the first complex forms of living creatures exploding on the scene during the Cambrian geological period, without any transitional intermediate precursors found in either living cells or in the Precambrian rocks.

This secondary tier of messianic prophecy embedded within the story is sophisticated, complex, and specified information (to borrow terms from the intelligent design debate) at the initial outset of adventures of faith recorded in the Bible.  The cross of Jesus Christ contained within every narrative story of faith in the Bible confirms their divine origin because the only known source of information in the form of an overlapping message, nested within a larger message, is intelligent agency.

Bottom-up information derived through gradual evolutionary development from the simple to the complex will never explain “the way of the cross” that asks us to allow God to displace our worldly normative plans for the higher way of brilliantly imaginative adventures of faith leading to the discovery of “all truth” (Jn. 16:13).

Through the biblical narrative stories of faith, starting as early as Abraham, God is letting us know that as the Intelligent Designer, He is on board and functioning in this area of human redemptive salvation at the outset…by introducing complex, specified, creative information at the very beginning of the biblical record.  We can now articulate this concept using the borrowed terminology of science and information theory just when we need it the most to persuasively rebut the postmodern relativism of our current skeptical culture.

God cannot morally ask us to do something He is not willing to do Himself.  “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), is in essence saying: “if there is another way”…but there is no other way of rescuing mankind from sin in accordance with honor, courage, and fidelity…the highest standards of the natural moral law.

Giving up of oneself to the larger plan will produce the inspiring and moving musical performance of the piano concerto, the perfect play in sports, the singular way of salvation for mankind, and the perfecting of our journeys of faith through God-composed life-scripts.

Following God into the danger zone of a journey of faith is an information-rich enterprise that validates the divine inspiration of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, and that opens up for us a better understanding of what we as Christians should be doing today as we approach the end-times last days.

One definition of a pioneer frontiersman is someone who gets shot in the back with arrows.  The message of the cross is certainly not new, but for many people this book is too radical and over-the-top compared to what we hear every Sunday in many churches.  I would counter by saying that radically extreme Christianity produces the most balanced, healthy, and sane lives when lived in harmony with the highest levels of the natural moral law contained within a God-composed journey of faith.

The four gospels, the books of Acts, the letters to the churches, and the book of Revelation define Christianity.  The words of the New Testament define Christian principles and practices (Jn. 10:35).  It is certainly understandable that as the gospel message in the first century went out from Jerusalem to the pagan, polytheistic, idol-worshipping cultures of the Greco-Roman world, that the purity of the message would become diluted, garbled, and challenged through this enormously complex synthesis between the higher ways of God and the worldly mindset of established conventional normalcy.  Christians sharing their testimony and the gospel message with family and friends today confront this same universal difficulty.

Romans chapter 16 gives us a window into the close personal friendships that Paul was able to form over his career as a missionary evangelist, which I think could also have been similar full closing chapters to each of the other epistles to the various churches founded by Paul with the help and companionship of Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy.

If we could personally meet and talk with Abraham, Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Peter, John, Philip, James, and Paul to name only a few, we would probably discover each of them to be among the most interesting, engaging, and balanced personalities in history.

Jesus said in John 14:12…”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.”  The reality of this statement seems unachievable according to the limits of horizontally conventional thinking.  But in a God-composed adventure of faith, angels are sent to open prison doors in the middle of the night (Acts 5:19; 12:7), we can be relocated in a moment of time (Acts 8:39-40), and God can use us to raise the dead (Acts 9:39-41).

If anything, within the current context of our limited and constrained Christian expression of the miraculous, the message of this book is tempered and understated in its call to committed discipleship in relation to the “latter rain” works of the early first-century church (Acts 2:15-21).

One of the most important things in our Christian lives is to discover that God is faithful.  The means that God has chosen and creatively invented to do this is through a biblical-quality journey of faith for each one of us.

But there are some things even God cannot do.  God cannot make square circles.  God cannot make two plus two equal five.  God cannot make married bachelors.  God cannot draw with a pencil and paper a one-ended stick.  In a world with people having free-will choice to follow God or to push Him aside and follow our own way, God cannot overcome willful unbelief and our determination to place faith in ourselves alone.

To create an environment where people willingly follow God through a walk of faith that matures into a personal relationship, the direct opposite reality of going our own way in self-reliance must be fully in play.  The delicate balance between belief and unbelief in our complex world is a spiritual engineering feat of incredible skill requiring the clearest proactive foresight and the most brilliant advance planning.   The pitfall of going our own way…in business and in life…is the subject of the next chapter.

The Natural Moral Law

This is a rather long post…but I think it is better in its entirety rather than broken up into two pieces:

There is a concept in the performance of classical music involving an orchestra and a soloist…called a concerto…which says that the best performance occurs when each participant loses some of their own individuality to the higher vision of the composer’s musical score.  The piano soloist may want to go faster or slower at certain points, the flute, piccolo, and clarinet players may all want to play louder when their parts come along in the concerto, and everyone from the conductor to the percussionist has their own ideas of how the musical piece should be played.

But the musical score itself, although open to individual artistic interpretation and expression, sets out in detail when to play loud or soft, fast or slow, and which notes to accent to bring out the melody.  The worst performance would have everyone doing their own thing in a confusion of varying tempos and all playing louder than the next person in order to be heard.

The best performance occurs when each orchestra musician, the soloist, and the conductor all lose some of themselves for the sake of the musical idea as conceived within the musical score.  A higher good is achieved…in this case a cohesive, disciplined, and entertaining rendition of a piano concerto, for example…by giving up something of our own individual interests in collaboration towards a higher common goal or standard for musical performance as articulated within the artistic inspiration recorded in the written musical score.

The world of sports offers several analogies to this concept.  In college football, the play-call on offense called the “student-body left” has the entire offensive blocking linemen and the fullback all moving to the left after the football is hiked, with the running halfback carrying the ball looking for the small, momentary opening gap in the defense to run through.  All of the offensive linemen and the blocking fullback lose themselves to the coordinated effort of the play scheme, hoping that the swift running halfback will find the elusive hole in the defense to run through for a sizable yardage gain.

In baseball, the “sacrifice fly” hit deep enough to the outfield to get the runner safely home from third base to score a run, is an “out” for the batter but a positive for the team.  In basketball, the “assist” of a well-executed pass that sets up an easy “layup” basket for another player is a statistic that recognizes the positive sacrifice of one player’s potential, game-end scoring total by giving up the ball to another player in a better position on the court to score for the team.

These examples and numerous others embedded within the normal course of life that we take wholly for granted, recognize a reality of best practices that are subservient to distinct sets of principles or programs that are themselves all subservient to a higher, unifying standard of honorably good, right, and fair attitudes that should guide our actions towards the best achievable outcomes.

Whether it is how best to perform the third piano concerto of Rachmaninoff, or the best ways to play the games of football, baseball, or basketball, our best and most inspired outcomes are achieved when we understand the value of the giving up of ourselves to these higher programs or principles unique to each endeavor.  This approach of the one, true, right way to do something is then harmoniously in-line with the one, unifying higher standard that governs all right behavior.

Some have called this higher standard…the moral law.  Others have called it the natural law.  I like to call it the natural moral law.  Before I-Phones and the internet social media, C. S. Lewis described it briefly this way.  If you wrote me a letter a month ago, and I did not respond with a return letter yet, and I bump into you at the grocery store, I will come up with all sorts of expedient excuses for why I have not thoughtfully and courteously made the effort to write a return letter to you.  I will say that I hurt my wrist, I ran out of my favorite personal stationary, I have a special project at work that has taken all of my time, or my wife has kept me busy painting the exterior of our house.

I come up with a quickly fabricated excuse to explain my poor social etiquette in this matter of failing to courteously reply to a friend’s letter because I automatically and independently know what the right course of action should have been.  This is not merely a result of social reactive conditioning.  My friend and I are both instantly and naturally appealing to an independent standard for right behavior that we each subconsciously subscribe to.

Another better response would simply be to apologize to my friend, admit that I had “dropped the ball” and that I would reply to his letter soon.

But the one thing I will not flatly say, if I want to keep our friendship intact, is to protest that I am not duty bound to return his letter and that I am surprised by his inquiry about my alleged oversight.  This flat rejection of an accepted social norm for courtesy in timely replying to personal letters from friends would violate the higher standards of the natural moral law, universally underlying right behavior in all human relationships.

This is a reality of right and virtuous conduct completely self-existent and independent of whether or not we consciously recognize this high standard called the natural moral law.

The natural moral law contains a vast amount of complex, specified, functionally cohesive information like we find in the DNA in living cells.  It contains a coordinated program of information like we find in the precise integration of the various forces that manage our local solar system, define the Milky Way Galaxy, and illuminate the larger universe.  The natural moral law is a top-down, front-loaded, ready-to-use right-out-of-the-box body of functioning information that performs perfectly in the area of human relationships, without any prior input or editing from us.

The point here is that a God-composed journey of faith life-script that takes us into the danger zone of taking up our cross and following Jesus Christ is in harmony with and operating at the highest level of the natural moral law at all times.

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), that if we follow Him the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (Jn. 16:13), and that if we know the truth it will set us free (Jn. 8:32).  The most liberatingly safe and secure place in all of human experience in terms of eternal destiny and purpose, ironically is right in the middle of the danger zone of God-composed adventures of faith (Acts 5:20).

The Christian life in the danger zone is a pre-scripted plan composed by God in perfect harmony with the program of information contained within the natural moral law, even when it prescribes unwavering courage and steadfastness in the face of mortal danger defending our faith, in honor at the risk of our lives (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us honestly and forthrightly that the giving up of ourselves to the higher ways of God, expressed through a journey of faith, is not just a temporary setback to our self-assertive claim to the presumed right to worldly conventional normalcy.  The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us plainly that there is an absolute and permanent break to all such claims to worldly conventional aspirations, when we are “called-out” into an adventure of faith that God uses to displace our otherwise normative life-plans.

This is the exceptional heritage of all Spirit-born Christians today.  A biblical-quality adventure of faith is an ascent into the heights of the natural moral law, whether we are called to be a successful and effective small town mayor, an appellate court judge, a housewife home-schooling three children, or a medical missionary doctor to native peoples living in the deepest regions of the Amazon rainforest.  Holy Spirit led adventures of faith will guide us into all truth no matter what is the direction or the route taken in a God-composed life-script.

A God-composed journey of faith life-script in harmony with the natural moral law demolishes the worldview of philosophical naturalism that permeates our modern culture.  Jesus says to the woman at the well: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4:23).

By contrast the philosophy of naturalism theorizes that our mental capacities are merely the product of material particles having no correspondence to any system of absolute truth or purpose other than the momentary competitive survival of the fittest, ending eventually in meaningless existence and utter oblivion.  No two worldview realities for living could be more different.

When we surrender our will-and-way to Jesus Christ, we surrender our lives not only to a divine Being who is in perfect harmony with the natural moral law, but also to a Person of independent creative imagination who can craft journeys of faith that are unique, innovative, original, and indeterminate.  This is a harmony of two perfect domains of information and reality that is an unbeatable combination.

Pride

One encouraging and hopeful conclusion we can draw from all of this is that pride is not a problem for God.  God does not struggle with the character flaw of a swelled head.  God’s sense of self-worth is so finely balanced and His perspective is so true in its outward looking viewpoint that He can rise above the destructive elements of pride.  For God, puffed-up pride is an impediment…an unproductive distraction…that stands in the way of continuously active, creative thought.

But in our current fallen condition, swelled-headed pride is one of our biggest enemies.  We think we know best.  We want to do things our way.  The central theme in the biblical narrative stories of faith is that God displaces our way with His way.

No one likes the cross.  Jesus did not enjoy the experience of the crucifixion.  But through the cross of Christ both the Father and the Son are glorified.  Self-sacrificing love is devoid of the negative aspects of pride such as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-5: ”love…vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…seeketh not her own.”  God displacing our way with His way through the totally unconventional vehicle of a God-composed adventure of faith fundamentally cuts across the grain of our thinking that we know best.

When our cross gets heaviest, we are troubled.  We get upset and complain to God.  We want explanations and answers.  A grain of wheat dying to produce much fruit is not a part of our presumed expectation for worldly conventional normalcy.  It takes prayer, patience, and hope on our part for God to lovingly show us through the playing-out of life events what still needs to be fixed in our lives in order to bring forth much fruit.

Only the living God knows how to do the cross properly.  The cross in our lives has pinpoint accuracy.  For Jesus, the way of the cross eventually actualizes into a Roman cross on Calvary Hill.  Our crosses are something unique and individually tailored to each of us.  If the cross and the resurrection glorified Jesus and the Father (Jn. 13:31), our cross and resurrection as godly transformed new people in Christ will glorify both ourselves and God.

As Spirit-born Christians, if we are following Jesus down the road toward Calvary…if we are walking in the Spirit and God is on our side…there is nothing in all of existence that can defeat us no matter how daunting are the outward circumstances or the negative appearances of temporary failure.  This is the liberating broadness of the reality of a journey of faith that is one of the priceless things Jesus purchased for us through the cross and the resurrection (Rom. 8:31).

One of the great ironies in all of human experience is that the way of the cross actually opens up a pathway to a breadth and a quality of freedom that is completely unknown to worldly conventional thinking (1 Cor. 1:18).  This is what we see in all of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.

By an incredible show of courage, character, and grit, God earns our respect and gratitude by personally stepping into this broken world and participating alongside us, through a divinely composed, daring and risk-filled strategy that against all worldly conventional odds procures for us an honorable exit out of the bondage to sin.  Like the serpent on a pole raised up in the Exodus wilderness (Num. 21:8-9), Jesus Christ amazingly became a “curse on a tree” for us that we might be delivered from the curse of sin.  If we as Spirit-born Christians are likewise to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), then some portion of this reality must be a part of the danger zone of picking up our own cross and following after Jesus down the road toward Calvary Hill.

The question God asks each of us as we enter into the upcoming last days is: “will you go out on the edge for Me and for the sake of the gospel, through a daring, challenging, and risk-filled life-script I have individually composed just for you?  If I give you My Spirit and the grace you will need, will you allow Me to live My plans through you to fulfill your highest purpose and to be a blessing to others?”  Isn’t this what is portrayed in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible (Rom. 4:18-25)…sacrificing some portion of conventional normalcy for the sake of a cause larger than ourselves, even when this results in a misunderstood and worldly unpopular journey of faith following God?

A Journey of Faith is Larger than Temporary Adversity

A God-composed journey of faith life-script is partially hidden to outsiders (2 Cor. 4:2-4; Jn. 14:17), is incomprehensible to many people (Jn. 15:19; 1 Pet. 4:4), and falls outside of the worldly goals and aspirations of horizontally conventional thinking (Rom. 12:2).  These two conflicting worldviews…a journey of faith willingly following Jesus Christ through free-will choice, and an unbelieving indifference to any knowledge of God whatsoever in our lives…could not be more different.

A large part of the program of worldly acceptable thinking is to keep up the outward appearances of success at all times.  But no one is “winning” out there in the world in a guaranteed, indefinitely sustainable, secure sense of the word.  Fortunes can disappear overnight, beauty fades away, athletic prowess wains over time, fame and the power it bestows can turn negative in a moment.

The outside world at large is mostly competitive, not supportive.  Many people work extremely hard to “keep up with the Joneses” next door, to live in the right zip code, and to be seen moving about in the highest social circles.  But the outside world coldly says: “first prove your worth, and then we will pay homage to you.”  The struggle and pressure to “keep up appearances” is in actuality a limiting reality located in the top-half of successful human experience that allows little or no room for the sometimes beneficial but worldly humiliating challenge of adversity.

God as our Creator has no such doubtful starting perception of us that requires us to first show Him our worth before He will accept us and commence a personal relationship with us.  God knows us inside and out…better than we know ourselves.  He sees our hidden talents and our future potential because He placed these things within us.  Our journeys of faith following God are courageously unbounded and conceptually unlimited because they begin within the mind of the God who knows who and want He created us to be.

This broad outlook admits the width and breadth of human experience unlimited by horizontally conventional thinking.  The narrow gate of Matthew 7:13-14 is surprisingly the gateway out into the broadest and most liberating of horizons possible, because God alone knows the optimum end-point destinations for each of our life journeys.  This narrow gate is the correct starting point for every imaginable life-plan and career path, and every conceivable Christian ministry.

When our God-composed journey of faith life-script therefore takes us through the hard terrain of difficult times, we know that we are not permanent “failures” and that the negative verdict of the world’s judgment for our temporal plight is based upon a short-sighted and uninformed assessment of our current potential.

Abraham for a time is a wealthy herdsman but disappointingly childless for the highest imaginable reason, setting up the unique scenario whereby he can demonstrably grow into becoming “the father of faith.”  Jacob for a time struggles against an unethical and miserly uncle.  Joseph’s unique “graduate course” in management takes him through the humbling social positions of being a servant-slave and an unjustly convicted prisoner.

Moses the great deliverer and prophet is assigned for a time to being a sheep herder in the quiet obscurity of the land of Midian.  David is being chased for his life by the established and recognized King Saul of Israel.  Gideon protests his calling to push back the invading Midianites by saying he is nobody important in Israel or even in his own family.

On paper, Ruth as a foreigner does not stand a chance with the wealthy and influential Boaz.  Hannah by all outward appearances will continue to be childless.  Esther is only the newly selected queen with little or no influence, and her uncle Mordecai has the deadliest enemy in the capitol city for his adversary.  The great prophet Elijah complains to God that seemingly everyone is against him.  Jeremiah protests that he is too young to be God’s mouthpiece.

Upon seeing the miraculous catch of fish, Peter in a moment of honest self-appraisal says to Jesus: “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8).  Paul candidly tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:9, in terms of his social status as a missionary evangelist to the first- century Greco-Roman world: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last…” even though Paul and the other apostles go on to write the brilliantly inspired New Testament gospels and letters to the churches that have helped untold multitudes of believers down through the centuries to our present time.  Yet in the first century, no one is naming hospitals, universities, or cathedral buildings after Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint Luke, or Saint Timothy.

In a carefully crafted journey of faith life-script, there is room for adversity and the appearance of failures when they are designed to produce character growth and positive outcomes.  No one is closer to this reality than Jesus Christ the Son of God.

In terms of the outward appearances of worldly conventional thinking, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is one of the most disappointing, colossal failures in human history.  The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth falls far outside of the narrowly optimistic, top-half, worldly successful expectations of the coming Son of David messiah for large numbers of Jews in Israel in the first century, and is still one of the main reasons why modern Jews reject Jesus as their messiah.

Yet the crucifixion is one of the greatest things God has ever done…maybe the greatest thing He has ever done.  Jesus Christ the divine Son of God selflessly sacrifices His own life on a humble cross forever fixed on Calvary Hill, to redeem His lost and fallen people through the unexpected offering of Himself as the payment-in-full sacrifice for mankind’s sin.

All the angelic host of heaven are watching with amazement and awe as they witness divine love in action in their revered Son of God Jesus pinned to a lowly Roman cross of execution as the just and lawful punishment for mankind’s shortcomings.  In that crucial moment of the most awful, humiliating, and degrading of earthly circumstances…the justice, love, mercy, and grace of God are blended together in an unimaginable mixture of divine character.  If we can grasp and understand the cross, and the required humility of the life and status of Jesus leading up to it, then in the challenges of our own journeys of faith we can let go of the outward appearances of circumstances and trust God for the future beneficial outcome.

Jesus the Son of God sheds His life’s blood on the cross to rescue us from the penalty of rebellious sin…taking our place for wrongdoing that we rightly deserve.  The resurrection of Jesus three days later demonstrates the power of God to turn the outward appearance of humiliating defeat into overcoming triumph for all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  The new birth in the Spirit sets our feet upon a path free from the condemnation for sin that we could never procure for ourselves.

In terms of the enormous width and breadth of the span of all possible human experience, the crucifixion of the God/man Jesus Christ is both the very worst and the very best at the same time.  If Jesus had accepted the counterfeit offer from the devil to receive “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (Mt. 4:8), the narrowness of keeping up the outward appearances of worldly success …solely at the positive top-half of human experience…would not have allowed Jesus to reach down so low through the rejection and humility of the cross, to grab ahold of and pull each of us out of the pit of darkness we had fallen into.

This is one explanation for how and why Jesus can rescue the perishing in whatever strata of a lost condition we are found of God, because His understanding and empathy from personal lived-experience stretches from the absolute lowest to the absolute highest throughout the full range of abject worldly failure to heavenly triumph.

The apostle Paul epitomizes the width and the depth of the Christian walk of faith experience when he says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).