The Counter-Argument

Some skeptical scholars in literature or linguistics may object here and say: “wait a minute…real-life history and human-generated fictional literature are filled with countless stories that have people leaving worldly conventional normalcy behind to go off to fight for years in foreign wars, or to go on adventures of discovery around the world, and all other imaginable varieties of missions and escapades large and small…motivated by duty, peer pressure, the high moral value of doing the right thing, or the bald self-interest of pursuing gold and glory.

All of these stories…literary fiction and real-life non-fiction…contain the concept that one course of action will necessitate the displacement of another course of action.  Obviously, no one can be in two places at once…and this is a commonplace, taken-for-granted reality in the development of real-life and fictional stories.

The skeptical scholar in the fields of the history of literature and linguistics…covering the span of human storytelling…might correctly observe that the displacement of what we might ordinarily want in life…what I call in this book worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…often occurs in real-life as a result of exterior forces outside our control…such as invading armies, economic recessions, technological progress and change, disease epidemics, or natural disasters, for example…or in literary fiction as an inventive, artistic plot-twist of unexpected suspense or humor…that is integral to telling an interesting story.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it does not reach far enough outward to encompass a reasonable explanation for the novelty of biblical narrative stories of faith…that have the singular uniqueness of God being the intelligent artistic source of the displacement of our worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

God-composed journeys of faith involve a divinely creative artist in residence…in lieu of…in place of the naturalistic, universally normal response in the reactive mode to what would appear to be random outside occurrences and changing fortunes…combined with our autonomous free-will capacity to make choices and decisions.

The word that best describes the secular genres of literature compared to the biblical narrative stories of faith…is discontinuous.

The unique concept in the biblical narrative stories of faith…that God displaces our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9) as demonstrated through the life-stories of Enoch, Noah, and Abraham all the way through to Paul, Silas, and Timothy…is a supernatural ingredient that will not mix with the pride-filled hubris of self-autonomous self-sovereignty that is the hallmark of humanism.

Going our own way versus going God’s way is discontinuous…having as large a gap in thinking and in action as is imaginable.

This is why in university Religious Studies programs…the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1 is never discussed…because it is discontinuous with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and therefore outside the critical analysis and purview of man-made and invented religion…the only possible realm of inquiry acceptable to humanism.

The fact that the biblical narrative stories of faith…that have the common theme of God displacing our ways with His higher ways…must be studied apart from other religions and outside of the accepted tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…should again be a red-flag jolt in the contemporary Christian apologetics debate…as to where and how this contrasting dichotomy would and could originate from.

God Asks Too Much 2

Are there other notable characters of faith in the Bible who might have a legitimate complaint that God was asking too much of them…while again like Abraham lacking the long-range foresight of God to see all of the momentous benefits their God-composed journeys of faith produced?

God asking too much of us…is a universal component in every biblical narrative story of faith.

As Jacob deals with his unscrupulous uncle Laban over the shifting terms regarding Jacob obtaining Rachel as his wife…Jacob cannot see ahead in time as he, his wives, his twelve sons (Joseph already there as governor), and one daughter take refuge in Egypt as a result of the great famine…the beginning of the nation of Israel.

At the most difficult point in this God-scripted journey of faith…Jacob could have complained…by virtue of not possessing timeless foresight…that God was asking too much of him (Gen. 31:4-17).

As Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison ponders the discouraging fact that his attempt at procuring his freedom through the butler and baker’s intercession to Pharaoh had failed…and contemplates the course of his life up to that point in time…just prior to Pharaoh’s dream and the interpretation given by God to Joseph…Joseph probably considered the notion that in staying within the vision of his two earlier dreams received in Canaan as a teenager…that God was asking too much of Joseph.

At the burning bush…we sense that Moses comprehends the enormous magnitude and sheer impossibility of delivering the Israelites out of the grasp of Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt.

At many times during the miraculous ten plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Exodus across the wilderness of Sinai…Moses probably thought that God was asking too much of him (Ex. 18:18, 32:19; Num. 20:1-13).

After the death of Moses, God speaks to Joshua and tells him: “Be strong and of good courage” (Josh. 1:6)…implying that the out-numbered Israelites might be looking at an insurmountable challenge…in attacking the walled and fortified cities of the Canaanites.

After the Amalekites attacked and burned Ziklag…taking captive the wives and children of David and his men…at this lowest point in the adventure of faith in preparation to become the king of Israel…David might have thought that God was asking too much (1 Sam. 30:6).

More could be said about Gideon (Jud. 6:15), Elijah (1 Kings 19:10), Ezra (Ezra 4:17-24), Nehemiah (Neh. 2:19-20), Esther and Mordecai (Est. 4:16), the three young Hebrew men in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:16-18), Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6:16), Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7-9, 14-18), and Peter (Lk. 22:61-62)…to name only a few.

We may set high expectations and ask a lot of ourselves.  But it takes someone outside ourselves…a parent, high school teacher, piano teacher, sports coach, personal trainer, mentor at work, or a husband or wife…to name a few…to inspire, encourage, and push us to achieve our very best.

Only God would and could ask too much of us through a God-composed journey of faith life-script that has faith and trust on-the-line…at risk…within a personal relationship…that also contains the by-product of unselfish service to other people.

The positive characters in the biblical narrative stories of faith not only develop a personal relationship with God…but also baked into their unique journey of faith storylines is a current and future blessing for other people…sometimes in large numbers.

The built-in, innate capacity within us to respond to the positive confidence and encouragement that people outside of us place in us to achieve our best…the root of which is a form and demonstration of love…in a God-composed journey of faith life-script…God simply takes to a higher place.

This again is outside the creative imagination of human literary fiction…and makes the case for a divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God Asks Too Much 1

Along our God-composed journey of faith…at some point in time…we discover that God asks too much of us.

This is a truism that will resonate with Spirit-born Christians engaged in a genuine adventure of faith…actively pursuing some type of Christian ministry or calling…following the leading of Jesus Christ.

The fact that this is a reality in our lives, and that we see this recorded in the biblical narrative stories of faith…is a compelling argument for the existence of God and the divine origin of the Bible.

God asking too much of us through the interaction of a life-script calling or mission-plan not of our making…outside of our origination but instead coming to us through revelation…that stretches us beyond our seeming capacity in a divinely initiated relationship with God that has the trajectory of God-ward toward us rather from us-ward toward God…as asserted by atheism and skeptical unbelief to be human literary fiction…to be a product of humanistic thinking…is nonsensical.

A personal relationship between God and people that reached this level of intimacy and commitment…of God asking too much in our calling or mission…is beyond human literary invention as a made-up characterization of God or of a biblical narrative story of faith…because such a fictionalization falls completely outside of the normalcy of worldly convention and thinking…and would not stand up to the empirical scrutiny of human experience for any length of time…as has already been briefly argued in this book.

No one would ever invent this reality of God asking too much of us…because fictionalized religion would never get that far.

One explanation why God asks too much of us is that He has a lot to give usHe has a lot of territory to cover.

In a biblical narrative story of faith…not only does God have a lot to give us…but through the working out of the events of a journey of faith…these biblical characters have a lot to give to mankind…God giving through them to other people…and to us.

It almost seems in these biblical narrative stories of faith that God skips over the reasons “why” for a particular storyline…and jumps immediately into actualizing the events as if the “why” is not that important for the time being…or is beyond our current comprehension of the “big picture.”

It is as if God is saying to the biblical characters of faith: “trust me for now…I know exactly what I am doing…even though to you it is not entirely clear at this moment in time.”

The idea that God would use the biblical characters of faith…as a means to give what God has…through them to us…using the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1 while bypassing collaboration as to the “why” of their specific and varied callings in life…is a singularly unique and specifically innovative concept in the broad marketplace of ideas…in the breadth and width of human experience.

A look at several of the biblical narrative stories of faith would be helpful here.

Acts 23:11 records Jesus visiting Paul at night, saying: “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

After being violently rejected by the Jerusalem populace while giving his defense and witness from the steps of the Roman garrison castle (Acts 21:31-22:30)…and again violently rejected by the Jewish religious and political leaders of the Sanhedrin council…by the very home-town crowd Paul used to be in-tight with before converting to Christianity…the discouragement must have been overwhelming.

But I do not think Paul was ready to “throw in the towel” and give up on his calling and ministry…but Paul may have entertained the notion that God was asking too much of him.

Paul could not see ahead down through the upcoming twenty centuries to our current time…when his thirteen letters to the churches (including Hebrews) would strengthen and inspire tens and hundreds of millions of Christians in the “church age”…and establish orthodox Christian theology for the benefit of countless numbers of believers.

On that night in the first-century following these two enormous setbacks for Paul…Jesus does not explain all of the fine details of the “why” to Paul as to what is happening in the moment…but confirms Paul’s calling and ministry once again with His divine presence and encouragement.

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

I think this verse can…and does…apply to the unimaginable sights and sounds we will discover in heaven.  But it can also describe God having a lot to give us…and to give through us…in the short length of time available in a human life-span.

God asking too much of us may simply be the product of the richness of what God has to give us…and the imperative of using the most brilliantly concise combination of events and circumstances to convey the “all truth” of John 16:13 to us in the most creatively insightful way imaginable.

The mission of Abraham on Mount Moriah may be the most difficult thing anyone has been asked by God to do (Gen. 22:1-14)…but also had the highest and purest benefit to us.  God saw the mature and developed faith of Abraham…as God had intended…that Abraham believed that God was able to raise up Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19)…and said to Himself: “yes, this is the biblical faith that will bless untold millions in the coming centuries and for all eternity”…earning Abraham the priceless moniker “the father of faith.”

But equally important…the entire scenario of the ram caught in a nearby thicket…that Abraham then uses as a replacement for Isaac as a sin offering to God…informs us of the timeless foresight of God in being able to craft countless similar scenarios large and small for our benefit and for the benefit of others…scenarios containing the highest, best, and most elegant outcomes imaginable.

Abraham could have said to God: “in this that you are asking me to do with Isaac my only son…God…you are asking far too much.”

Only God has the foresight to see down the long centuries in time to a lonely hill in Jerusalem displaying three crosses of execution…the center cross bearing the divine Son of God Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sin.

Abraham could have said to himself as he and Isaac traveled to Mount Moriah: “all this is working against me”…and it was.

Biblical narrative stories of faith have the uniquely novel goal…not found anywhere else in all of human literature or experience…of removing going our own way from our life-script trajectory.

God’s plans seemed to work against going our own way in this incredibly difficult task of Abraham letting go of his way to make room for God putting into action His higher ways and thoughts in-the-moment…Abraham not knowing that God would shortly shout from heaven “Stop…I myself will provide”…inferring from that time forward that only God Himself could provide a candidate worthy enough to be a human sacrifice for sin…Jesus Christ the sinless, blemish-free Son of God on Calvary Hill.

Journeys of Faith are not “Religious” 3

Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen…and many similar books written in the same genre…appear on the surface to be positive, uplifting, and inspiring…but they are as unbiblical as can be.

The “name it and claim it” preachers also have a message that is unbiblical.

The huge gap between the “your best life now” according to the prosperity gospel…and the biblical narrative stories of faith…that are the direct opposite…is another commonsense apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

Mere material particles and energy would never create the subtly complex temptation of the counterfeit deceptions of these false religious programs…aside from what some people might otherwise think of the relative merits of their messages pro and con.

From a philosophically materialistic viewpoint…this contrast between two opposing worldviews is too complex, too far apart, and too sophisticated to arise from within a purely naturalistic reality.

Nowhere in the biblical narrative stories of faith…is the theme about acquiring wealth and prosperity through faith in God…part of the through-line…the moral of the story.

The only place we find this concept being proffered is in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness…in which Satan offers to Jesus all the wealth and power of this world…which Satan must do to capture a prize like Jesus the Son of God…if Jesus will only fall down and worship him (Lk. 4:5-7).

What is instructive from an apologetics standpoint is that in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…neither religious rituals and practices…nor the successful pursuit of worldly material possessions…personal gain…are found anywhere within the storylines.

The only notable exceptions might be Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, the 613 laws, and the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle (involving religious rituals and practices)…and Peter being instructed by Jesus to go fishing and pull a coin out of the mouth of the first fish he catches (involving money)…to pay their taxes (Mt. 17:27).

Male circumcision beginning with Abraham and Isaac would also be a major religious practice.

What is also fascinating and instructive here is that what establishes a compelling, commonsense, biblical argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible…also at the same time automatically dispels and refutes all other false teaching.

Truth really is exclusive.  Or at the very least the introduction of truth calls into question and analysis the bad outcomes of false teaching.

For example, “name it and claim it” assumes and implies the totally unbiblical idea that we would know independently what is best for us…apart from our Creator God…in claiming some things and rejecting others for our lives.  Here we are right back in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve had no idea about the long-range, ripple-effect implications of their wrong-headed, impulsive decision to disobey God’s command to not eat the forbidden fruit.

According to the worldly conventional list of normal wants and aspirations described above…this faulty approach of “name it and claim it” once again places us in the undeserved and unqualified position of being junior gods…occupying the role that belongs to God alone.

The biblical narrative stories of faith cannot claim any connection to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…outside of “occupy till I come” (Lk. 19:13) in that these stories of faith have goals and mission-plans that are supernatural…that are unattainable through humanistic means.

Nothing could be further from “name it and claim it” than the God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the Bible…having Hebrews 11:1 as the definition of biblical faith.

The idea that Abraham would “name and claim” becoming the “father of faith”…or that Joseph would “name and claim” becoming the governor of the foreign nation of Egypt…or that Moses at the burning bush would “name and claim” the near impossible and inconceivable task of delivering the Israelites…or that upon first meeting Jesus of Nazareth that Peter would “name and claim” becoming the first major leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem…or that Saul/Paul would have even the slightest advance premonition about converting to the Christian faith…which occurred after Damascus…much less “naming and claiming” his extraordinary calling and mission…all of these things according to the prosperity gospel of “your best life now” and “name it and claim it”…are unbiblical, absurd, and nonsensical.

Biblical narrative stories of faith have God actually displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9)…the diametric opposite of the concept of our “naming and claiming” our preferences, desires, and wants…according to short-sighted, uninformed, and misdirected goals and aspirations.

All of this is way too complex and coherently functional to be the product of the worldview philosophy of naturalism…or to be the product of the imagination of human literary invention.

What if God’s alternate and non-worldly definition for “your best life now” were the narrative stories of faith as recorded in the Bible…there now in print for around 3,500 years?

What if God created human beings with the inbuilt, elevated capacity for unselfish service to others…actualized within a loving marriage…in a supportive family life…as a small town pastor of a church…as a foreign missionary evangelist…as a professor in a Bible college…as a plumbing contractor…a stay-at-home mom…the owner of a restaurant…a mechanical engineer…a heart surgeon…an insurance agent…and a Christian book writer…to name only a few examples?

What if the biblical narrative stories of faith…composed by God…and yes, containing costs and sacrifices…were designed to bring-out and to actualize our true capacity for a best life now…potentially applicable to every person today who will choose Jesus Christ as Lord and Master…and pick up their cross to follow Him (Mk. 8:34-35)?

What if “your best life now” according to the prosperity gospel…and “name it and claim it” were both a move downward on the vertical continuum line of goodness and light…an actual settling for much less than our optimum destiny?

What if “your best life now” and “name it and claim it” at their very best could never take the measure of our souls like the challenging elements of a God-composed life-script?

Would not the absolute necessity for our Creator God…the “adult” in the area of godliness…to write the life-scripts for our lives that would ingeniously blend divinely timeless foresight, our innate abilities and talents, and our free-will choice within the four dimensions of space and time now…would not this unconventionally alternate reality be a compelling evidence for both the existence of God…but also at the same time reveal the right way for living (Jn. 14:6)?

The sometimes difficult but hope-filled truth from the Bible is that God will do what He knows is best for us…even if this means waiting 25 years for the birth of Isaac…for Abraham…or spending 13 years in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison…like Joseph…or any of the other unconventionally challenging but divinely elevated storylines experienced by the people of faith in the Bible.

This again is a compelling, commonsense, apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

Journeys of Faith are not “Religious” 2

We do not see first, second, and third-graders in elementary schools out in large numbers picketing their schools on the weekends…with signs reading: “Down With Division”…or: “No More Multiplication”…or: “Forget Reading…Play Video Games”…while shouting chants of “Unfair” and “Heck No…We Won’t Go!”

Children at that young age have no idea of the importance of reading, writing, and mathematics for their upcoming adult lives.  Grown-ups set the agenda for our early childhood education…and as children we go along with this through childlike faith placed in our parents…our teachers…and in grown-ups in general.

There exist no other practical options in childhood education.  Adults are by default simply in the position to know more than children…to have the knowledge and the facts…in this critical area of what we need to learn as children…to get from where we are as children to where we need to get to…as we grow up into adults.

How is it that we would then assume to know anything about godliness?  Godliness belongs exclusively to God.  It is not found anywhere within conventional human living and thinking.

Godliness must come from top-down…not from bottom-up.

Godliness is defined and actualized through the biblical narrative stories of faith…coming from the singular perspective of God.

Biblical Narrative Stories of Faith are not “Religious”

An amazing thing about the biblical narrative stories of faith…for the most part…is that they are not religious in nature.  This should also get our attention.

The Old Testament lists 613 laws…including the Ten Commandments…and has religious observances and celebrations like the Passover.  Male circumcision begins with Abraham and Isaac.  The Old Testament has the animal sacrifices in the temple conducted by the priests.

The New Testament has the Lord’s Supper communion for believers.

But the biblical narrative stories of faith themselves are not built around anything like pilgrimages to “holy sites,” or the veneration of relics, or the sale and possession of paper documents like indulgences insuring salvation, or elaborate religious rituals like a universal practice of praying toward a geographical location every day (Dan. 6:10).

The biblical narrative stories of faith provide no opportunity for salvation through the self-effort of “good-works” and the “self-realization” of religious practices and rituals.

Through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…God goes boldly into the realm of human life…cutting across the grain of the conventionality of our standard dreams, goals, and aspirations…according to His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

In the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness it is recorded in Luke 4:6-8:

6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

7 If thou therefore will worship me, all shall be thine.

8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

“Worshipping only God”…tells us that the world still belongs to God.  Worshipping only God is the correct optional choice for human beings…and it is an option we can willingly choose.

God can craft life-scripts having events and circumstances that cross-over into human life in any way that He chooses in order to set up the context for biblical faith to actualize.

Judging from the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…this novel and innovative approach goes much deeper than the religious rituals designed for worship.

Becoming the “father of faith”, the governor of Egypt during a great famine, the deliverer of the Israelites from bondage as slaves in Egypt, becoming a godly (yet imperfect) king of Israel like David…being a prophet like Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, or one of the “minor” prophets, restoring the walls around Jerusalem and rebuilding the temple…like Ezra and Nehemiah…becoming the leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem like Peter…or being called-out to be the premier evangelical missionary to the first-century Greco-Roman world like Paul…all of these things fall right in the very heart of human living…yet transcend above and outside of  “religion” in a way that is entirely unique to the Bible.

These journeys of faith inexplicably have little connection to religious practices and rituals…an odd and elevated feature which looking back in hindsight we might expect to find in life-scripts leading toward “spiritual adulthood”…composed by a “grown-up” God for us…who obviously knows more about godliness than we do…and has set-out a course for life and for study for each of us…taking us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ…through the narrow gate of Matthew 7:13-14…described in The Sermon on the Mount.

Divinely Timeless Foresight

Instantaneous revelations of the truths of John 16:13…”he will guide you into all truth” do not allow for first-hand experiences that are spread-out over the time intervals described in Hebrews 11:1…”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” and inferred in John 16:13.

God is in a timeless reality (Isa. 46:9-10).

Psalm 22, Isaiah 9:6, and Isaiah 53 require divinely timeless foresight.

God created time at the Big-Bang beginning of the universe along with the laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics…and with the material particles and energy that form our galaxies, stars, and planets.

God created time so that He would have a context…an environment…wherein He could compose life-scripts for us that enable us to have a personal relationship with Him…but also enable us to experience first-hand the lessons of a knowledge of good and evil…through durations of time having events and circumstances…rather than split-second, instantaneous revelations of “all truth.”

Where the confusion comes in is when we try to understand the timelessness of God from our perspective of our four dimensions of space and time…brilliantly and lovingly constructed for our benefit.

Abraham in his God-composed journey of faith life-script has total free-will choice…he can quit at any time…as can we…otherwise Abraham is in part a mechanical robot.

The resolution of the two seemingly unmixable realities of divine timeless foresight…and our lack of foresight as non-divine beings yet possessing the free-will capacity to love God…is found within the biblical narrative stories of faith that only God could compose and orchestrate to positive outcomes.

That God could blend together these seemingly disparate realities…His timeless foresight and foreknowledge…and our free-will…within the biblical narrative stories of faith and our Christian walks of faith today…is actually a compelling apologetic evidence for the existence of God, the divine origin of the Bible, and the truth of Christianity.

In my opinion…when articulated in this way…this seeming conflict disappears.

Journeys of Faith are not “Religious” 1

Another compelling apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible…is that the biblical narrative stories of faith starting with Abraham in the Old Testament…do not align with what we normally want in life according to worldly conventional thinking.

But equally revealing is that the callings of God in the Bible are not “religious” in nature.

According to modern conventionality we want a great education, a good job that we enjoy working at…with a high salary…so that we can afford to travel and take vacations…and to purchase the things that we want.

We want to buy a house in a good location, have a loving marriage, raise a family, have friends, enjoy hobbies, play sports, have good health, drive a nice automobile, send our children to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, or USC, have a secure retirement, and avoid warfare and natural disasters.

There is nothing wrong with any of these goals and aspirations.  They are commendable and admirable when translated into any culture starting in ancient times…progressing up to today.

But these goals, dreams, aspirations, and sentiments are not anything like the underlying themes of the life-scripts of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

This should raise some red-flags…get our attention in the apologetics debate now centuries long and still going strong…in determining the origin of these biblical narrative stories of faith.

Becoming the “father of faith” by traveling from one city to a new region that in the future will be called the Promised Land (Heb. 11:8)…according to the promise of God to Abraham that He will start a new nation of people through Abraham as numerous as the dust of the earth…does not fall anywhere within any ancient version of the list of what we normally want in life…described above.

Being sold into slavery into ancient Egypt…in order to begin a novel and innovative graduate MBA program lasting 13 years in business management and leadership training for Joseph within a God-composed journey of faith life-script…that eventually leads to becoming a capable governor of Egypt during the crisis of a great famine…again does not come anywhere near the list of normal goals and aspirations listed above.

How about the backstory of the uniquely innovative preparation for the calling and mission-plan of Moses…initially trained and educated at the highest level in Egypt…yet spending 40 years in exile as a shepherd of sheep on the hillsides of Midian…prepared to become the deliverer of the Israelites as slaves in Egypt…and the “shepherd” to lead his people across the desert and to the boundary edge of the Promised Land?

We will not find this life-script theme of unique end-goals and grandeur-of-mission on any conventional list of things we normally want in life.

Would anyone normally want to be the king of Israel in ancient times like David…if it involved the arduous route of 13 years of near-death escapades fighting the Philistines and evading the deadly opposition of King Saul?  We might if we were David…but the narrow way God designed for David is not on the list of things defining a conventionally normal life.

The life of the apostle Peter is a great example of the contrasting dichotomy of self-sovereignty according to worldly conventional normalcy…versus a totally different life-script according to God-sovereignty.

Jesus sees the future potential in Peter to lead the early Christian church in Jerusalem…just as God sees a hidden potential in all of us…because He created us.

But after the resurrection of Jesus…and before His ascension…Jesus does not instruct Peter, James, and John…and the other disciples to sign-up to attend rabbinical school in Jerusalem and then fit-in with the Jewish religious community.

Peter is called to stand up on Pentecost to powerfully preach Jesus Christ as Savior and Messiah to thousands gathered in Jerusalem…through the power of the Holy Spirit…at the risk to his life in the very city where a short time ago Jesus was crucified.

Peter and John are then enlisted…through the cascade of events following the miraculous healing of the crippled man at one entrance into the temple called the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2)…to stand and testify before the august and intimidating Sanhedrin Council in Jerusalem…again at the risk of their lives…and boldly proclaim Jesus as Savior, King, and Messiah…to the very religious elites who rejected Jesus and instigated His death on the cross…only weeks earlier.

This is not horizontally conventional normalcy, recommended for human living…by any definition.

The calling and mission-plan for the apostle Paul is about as far from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking as is possible.

The incredible mixture of high scholastic erudition…being taught by the renowned rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem…and the contrary ingredient of radical humility obtained by Paul in the supernatural revelation of Jesus as the Christ…in a blinding light on the road to Damascus…producing an indispensable ingredient of humility in Paul’s evangelical mission to the polytheistic, idol-worshipping Gentiles in the Greco-Roman world of the first-century…is premeditated, advance preparation that has the end-goal of creating new Christian churches…and writing his New Testament letters…that does not exist anywhere within the contemplation of ordinary, commonplace, worldly conventional aspirations (1 Cor. 4:9-13).

None of the callings of God recorded in the Bible are on the list of things defined by worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…as things we want in life…as things that people are normally pursuing in life.

Jesus said in The Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment?” (Mt. 6:25).

This is a commonsense Christian apologetic argument for the uniqueness of the biblical narrative stories of faith…which actualize…in some measure and on some varied level…the altogether unique concepts of The Sermon on the Mount…above and outside of…and in many cases in total contrast…to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

These biblical narrative stories of faith would never be the product of humanistic literary invention.

How could…or would…a human literary genius invent the concept of God-sovereignty in the life-scripts of the positive people of faith recorded in the Bible?

How could any human being invent this unconventionality?  It must originate from the viewpoint…from the direction…of God alone.  Any other explanation is shallow and nonsensical.