Sunday, April 26, 2009

God Had a Plan, From the Beginning

God had a plan, from the beginning. He created the world and the heavens, and one man, Adam. Adam was more special to God than anything else He had created. I suppose that should be obvious – in Adam, God’s plan for the redemption of mankind began. God’s ultimate plan was not that the earth and stars would be unique for all of eternity. No, His ultimate plan for the present physical universe is total annihilation, by fire.

From the beginning – from the BEGINNING – not an afterthought, nor a plan ‘B’ – from the very beginning, the Lord God had a plan, and that plan was to reconcile mankind to Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. I really can’t picture God scratching His head and saying, “OH NO! ADAM SINNED! Now what am I going to do?” I don’t believe He was surprised. Grieved is another story.

I am including here the main text from a teaching I gave in a Bible study group a few years ago, followed by a few scriptures.

Imagine you are in a garden. It’s beautiful, full of trees and pretty flowers. There is a gentle breeze. It’s near the end of the day, and a hint of sunset is just beginning. The birds are chirping from the trees where they are settling in for the night. You are at rest – the day’s activities are done. A table is being set for you, complete with your favorite dinner. You are filled with peace and enjoying the garden. The best part is that you are not alone. You are spending time with those you love. You talk, you laugh, you walk together and look at the flowers.

Now imagine the garden is Eden. It’s the cool of the day, and Adam and Eve are there, together with God. In their innocence they are simply enjoying Him and every good thing He is sharing with them. They don’t question His love for them, they are simply there with God and happy.

However, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, with the result that sin and disobedience spread to the entire human race. Our intimate, loving relationship with God was broken. The blame was ours, therefore we owed a debt. If we could repay the debt, we could reconcile the account – and restore the lost relationship. The problem was that we had nothing good enough to use as payment. We could not even give our own blood, because it was tainted by our sin.

According to Old Testament law, when making an animal sacrifice as atonement for sins, the people had to choose an animal without spot or blemish. It had to be perfect, not old or sick, blind or lame. They had to choose the very one they would have preferred to keep, the potential blue ribbon winner. That’s what made it a sacrifice; it cost dearly to give it up. But we know that the blood of livestock could never be enough to buy back the lost relationship. And so we were helpless. Our own blood was tainted with sin; the blood of animals was not enough. We had nothing good enough to pay back the debt we owed.

But God still loved us. He hadn’t forgotten Adam and Eve, the garden and fellowship in the cool of the day. He wasn’t willing to give up His relationship with man. Because of His great love and mercy, He enacted His own plan to reconcile us to Himself.

The scriptures tell us that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Our blood is tainted by sin, and the blood of goats is simply not good enough. So, God made the sacrifice Himself. The blood of His Son was perfect. It was not tainted by sin. Jesus is the Lamb of God, spotless, unblemished, and perfect in every way. Anyone who has children, and even those who don’t but can imagine what it’s like, know what a tremendous sacrifice it was for God to watch His Son suffer and die for us. And yet He endured it, because He knew the end would be life back from the dead, and our reconciliation to Him.

This is not just a message for unbelievers – it may even be more a message for believers who have grown stale in their relationship with God, simply because they have shifted their focus away from that very relationship. Too often as Christians it is all too easy to begin to shift into a religious mode, and let Christian tradition guide us outwardly, while inwardly we struggle to bring our thoughts and affections back to the living God. How awesome it is to begin to realize how very present He is with us throughout the day, even when our thoughts are not on Him.

It may help to stop thinking about your salvation only in terms of what you have been saved from. Shift your focus to what you have been reconciled to – a relationship with the Living God! He is the very God who created you and loves you with a love that will not die. He’s the very God who wants to walk with you, talk with you and lovingly enrich your life everyday, as your Father, and through His Son, as your friend and brother.

2 Corinthians 5: 18 – 20 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, Namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:9-10 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Colossians 1:26-29 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

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