A spiritual memoir
According to Guinness World Records, there have been five billion[i] copies of the Bible printed and distributed throughout the world, covering two–thirds of earth’s population. But with all that exposure, only a few Bible owners have actually read through its contents and fewer still have any idea of its life–enriching themes.
Despite modern society’s scientific advances, thoughtful people everywhere are still in search of life’s persistent “great questions” like:
Is there more to life than meets the eye?
Why believe that God exists?
Is everything just a giant cosmic accident, including me?
Am I more than the sum of my parts? Who am I?
So what’s the problem between us and God?
How can we fix it? Why bother?
What’s the big deal about Christianity?
This book humbly addresses these and other burning questions through the prism of the living, breathing, holy Bible. Along the way, you will be introduced to two of the most spiritually therapeutic truth streams that bubble across the Bible’s pages. Whether you are a seeker or confirmed believer, these themes will literally revolutionize your understanding of the original, unembellished Christian faith—the faith that turned the then–known world upside down.
The first of these truth streams concerns the “red cord” that runs from Genesis (the Bible’s first book) to Revelation (its last book), which describes the one and only means of approach to God that assures acceptance into his life and kingdom. The second great truth stream is the story of God’s “two Adams,” spanning the entire sweep of human history. The Bible reveals that all of us enter life already “in” the “First Adam” through birth—our default position in which we have no choice. We then learn of an offer to be transplanted into the Bible’s “Last Adam,” through spiritual rebirth—a conscious intentional act of faith toward Christ. Our eternal destinies hinge upon which of these two Adams we are connected to when our brief lives on earth come to an end. Nowhere has the subject of our roots had more profound implications—thus, our book title, My Origin, My Destiny.
This book is a culmination of my lifelong search for “absolute” truth about life, death, and the hereafter—something of a spiritual memoir, containing my most cherished insights collected from renowned Bible scholars over the course of my admittedly bumpy spiritual pilgrimage. I am deeply indebted to clergyman, scholar, and author Eugene H. Peterson and his brilliant translation of the Holy Bible, The Message, which we have liberally quoted throughout this book. Peterson discussed the reason that he wrote The Message:
While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become “old hat.”
It is abundantly clear that matters of the spirit have experienced a seismic shift in recent times. As recently as fifty years ago, it was possible to have a relatively civil and respectful discussion with almost anyone concerning subjects like absolute truth, the person of God (or at least the notion of a creator), an ongoing supernatural immaterial realm of existence, the possibility of heaven, the reality of hell, and the expectation of eternal life. Such matters seemed to be at least tolerated as viable alternatives to the growing purely materialistic view of things.
In our overwhelmingly postmodern culture, such things have largely been dismissed as intellectual curiosities or have simply been banished to the land of myths, legends, and fairytales. After all, the thinking goes, if we are just evolved from lower life forms, what place do matters like God, salvation, sin, and eternal life have? If all we do is go “poof” in a few years anyway, why bother? Could the atheists be right? Is religion just a crutch to make sense of a meaningless existence? But then, if our existence is meaningless, how would we know it? We would have nothing to compare it with. C. S. Lewis made that point in his book, Mere Christianity:
If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
Furthermore (the thinking goes), who’s to say which religion is right, even if there is more to life than meets the eye? Aren’t Buddhists, Hindus, or New Age practitioners just as “right” as the more traditional Judeo–Christian crowd? Then what about Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science adherents?
This book traces a path from the general biblical worldview to the specific subject of spiritual salvation. We open by challenging the myth that Christianity is dying out in our modern world. Then, on to describing the Bible’s assertion that there is a supernatural, invisible kingdom without end into which all are invited, requiring us to opt in or lose out. We contrast this eternal kingdom with our fleeting temporal existence, limited to the short span of our lifetimes. We reveal a cosmic identity theft that has been going on right under our noses, one which has robbed us of a true sense of who we are in God’s eyes—glorious beings destined for better things. We discuss why belief in God is the only rational explanation for all that exists and how this “uncaused cause” brought everything into existence as an expression of divine love and creative genius.
We then turn our attention to the second of the two main truth streams—God’s two Adams: The First Adam originating from the earth and the Last Adam emerging from heaven. And we explore why your eternal destiny is linked to one or the other of these Adams. In taking up the Last Adam, we discover the red cord, which mentioned earlier in this section, that runs through scripture, clearly pointing to the singular divinely appointed way of approaching God. This is in response to the life–threatening “human condition” that stands squarely between us and the God who made us. Then, we turn our eyes to the broad uplands of God’s improbable, sweeping solution to this problem, having to do with the red cord. We close with how anyone can extract themselves from their “roots predicament” in the First Adam and can change family trees to forever alter their eternal prospects. Take these things seriously, and you will never be the same again!
Although I have had my share of formal biblical training, I am not a theologian per se. I’ve been down the dusty trail of formal religion and, despite valiant attempts, have come up empty–handed when it comes to real, life–altering insights. This tome is written in layman’s language with a minimum of theological jargon. As a degreed engineer and technology entrepreneur, I am not easily misled—I’m a trained skeptic. And yes, I can report that, once I finally surrendered to God’s winsome overtures and stopped trying to save myself, I had a direct encounter with the living Savior and can verify that “the things of earth have grown strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace,” as the lines of an old hymn put it.
As a teacher and mentor at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s renowned residential addiction recovery program, I have observed the widespread confusion about religion’s practical role. This is no place for ecclesiastical pretense or theological wrangling. Men and women with nothing to show for their lives but broken relationships, legal disputes, and dim prospects for the future are facing life–destroying consequences if they continue in their addictions. This no–nonsense environment calls for nuts–and–bolts solutions. And I’ve seen firsthand what works for people struggling with self–defeating behaviors.
I’ve been exposed to and studied religions of every “flavor” and, while respecting their respective intentions, found all to be wanting in one critical respect. They lack eyewitness evidence and the verifiable return of someone who has “crossed over” into eternity through physical death and come back to tell about it. And that is exactly where the Christian faith parts company with its competitors. Scripture unashamedly asserts that Jesus Christ “crossed over” and came back to tell about it. Yes, many people claim to have had near–death experiences, complete with details about tunnels and white lights. But what about someone who was killed in a public execution witnessed by thousands, expertly embalmed, and buried in a sealed and guarded tomb—for three days?
I have come to cherish the words of an angelic eyewitness to this death and subsequent resurrection that occurred two thousand years ago:
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’[ii]
If you are a seeker of truth, suspicious that there may be more to life than meets the eye, read on. From the start, you should know that this is no comparative religions textbook. For an analysis of the wider spiritual emporium out there, with its flavors of the day, you need to look elsewhere. I’m cutting to the chase and presenting, to the best of my ability, the base case for Christianity—largely stripped of confusing denominational distinctions. I have never been one to look elsewhere when the real thing is staring me right in the face. The Apostle Peter had the same thought when he uttered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”[iii]
Sooner or later, like it or not, we will all come face to face with the hereafter and the possibility of meeting up with our creator. So, I pose this question to you: What if you stepped out of your comfort zone before that fateful day arrives and take God up on his offer for a divine personal appointment? Suppose that encounter could usher in undreamed–of possibilities for you—possibilities that stretch out into eternity? What’s to lose? As Blaise Pascal said:
Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.