Imagine being God! You are self-sufficient! You are that you are! If you’re God, why would you decide to become a Creator? Why would you take on all the challenges of creating an entire universe and populating it with a group of beings so incredibly inferior-created from the basest of all materials, dirt. This fact, how we begin-as dirt-and how we can end-as God’s own family-describes the incredible human potential.
It boils down to the following questions:
- What is God really doing?
- Why is He doing whatever He’s doing?
- What does all that God is doing mean to each of us in the final analysis?
Believe it or not, God recorded the answers to these questions in the Bible, but the answers are
not obvious. In fact, God coded the answers so skillfully that when you discover them, this discovery becomes your prima facie proof that God is inspiring you.
Let’s entertain the first of the following three questions that almost no believers in the Creator God ever ask:
- What is God’s overarching plan?
- What is the Church and its role in that plan?
- What is God’s plan for you personally?
The answers to these questions provide an unshakeable anchor each of us can use to never be
deceived or misguided again. Do you realize that the only reason humans make mistakes is because they do not know the end at the beginning. Therefore, circumstances often lead us to give up on a certain venture because it looks like the end we desired is never going to happen. Consider this example excerpted from the Napoleon Hill classic Think and Grow Rich.
“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another. An uncle of R.U. Darby was caught by the ‘gold fever’ in the gold-rush days, and went west to dig and grow rich. He had never heard that more gold has been mined from the minds of men than has ever been taken from the earth. He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel. The going was hard, but his lust for gold was definite. After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the ‘strike.’ They got together money for the needed machinery and had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine. The first car of ore was minded, and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Then would come the big killing in profits. Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle! Then something happened! The vein of gold disappeared. They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again-all to no avail. Finally, they decided to quit. They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. Some ‘junk’ men are dumb, but not this one! He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed, because the owners were not familiar with ‘fault lines.’ His calculations showed the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling! That’s exactly where it was found. The ‘junk’ man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.”
Turn in your Bible to Proverbs 15:22 “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
The rest of this story about R.U. Darby illustrates the brilliance of God in making us so that we make mistakes repeatedly. “Most of the money which went into the machinery was procured through the efforts of R.U. Darby, who was then a very young man. The money came from his relatives and neighbors, because of their faith in him. He paid back every dollar of it, although he was years in doing so. Long afterward, Mr. Darby recouped his loss many times over, when he made the discovery that desire can be transmuted into gold. The discovery came after he went into the business of selling life insurance. Remembering that he lost a huge fortune, because he stopped three feet from gold, Darby profited by the experience in his chosen work, by the simple method of saying to himself, ‘I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance.’ Darby is one of a small group of fewer than 50 men who sell more than a million dollars in life insurance annually. He owes his ‘stickability’ to the lesson he learned from his ‘quitability’ in the gold mining business. Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”
God made us under the control of sin, the ultimate failure!
Okay, so what has this example to do with God’s overarching plan?
Rom. 8:18-20 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope.” God created all humans under the control of sin so that we can learn the value of obedience through what we suffer. Then God, the Father, sent God, the Son to earth with the same body that Adam had [subject to sin] so that Jesus would learn the struggle of obedience through personal experience. (See Heb. 5:8). Now as our High Priest in Heaven, Jesus advocates for all humans-particularly the Church-with an intimate understanding of the struggles we suffer as we learn to obey God (See Heb. 7:18-25).
God provided the history of a people-Israel-as proof positive that no human can achieve obedience to God without the indwelling of God, the Holy Spirit.
Thus God made all humans mistake prone-subject to futility (See Rom. 8:20) so that by living a life of mistakes, we will learn, with the Holy Spirit’s direction, to become mistake and error-free. That’s what verse 21 of Romans eight means: ” . . .because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption
What thoughts in God’s mind launched this incredible plan?
Turn to Isaiah 46:3-11 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel. Who have been upheld by Me from birth. Who have been carried from the womb. Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear, Even I will carry and will deliver you. To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal And compare Me, that we should be alike? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship. They bear it on their shoulders, they carry it And set it in its place, and it stands. From its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer Nor save him out of his trouble.”
In other words, nothing in this physical existence, nothing that develops from our natural minds has the power to resolve the personal growth and development issues we confront because God is not growing us to be eternally better humans. God is growing us to become eternally God!
In verses 8-11, God gives us a peek at the two thoughts that sparked this amazing vision for Him “Remember this, and show yourselves men; recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, For I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like Me.” In these two statements, God gives us a peek into eternity, before He created time and space. He is not saying, “I am God and there is no other [god]. He says: “I am God and there is no other-nothing, no time, no space, no beings-nothing. In His next declaration, God reveals His answer, His response to this situation: “I am God and there is none like me.” With those two observations, God decides to become a Creator. Next, God declares His unrelenting commitment to this plan forming in His limitless mind: “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times that are not yet done. [Note-the word ‘things’ is in parenthesis indicating that it was not in the original manuscript.] When we read this statement, we read ‘ancient” as an adjective modifying ‘times.’ The Hebrew word ‘qedem,’ pronounced ‘keh-dem’ is translated into 10 different English words. The word “eternal” works best in this context. “Declaring [Heb. ‘nagad’ to manifest, announce, expose or predict] the end
So in Isaiah 46:10, God says: “I am God [Heb. “el”] and there is none else, Announcing the future from the first. Now, let’s put it altogether in the original language: “I am el and there is nothing else. I am el and there is none like me. Announcing the future from the first and from eternity that which is not yet done.” Let’s continue the latter part of verse 10 through 11 “Saying ‘My counsel shall stand. And I will do all My pleasure . . .Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” What is God’s pleasure? “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”(Luke 12:32)
In the final analysis, what does this mean?
. 21:1-7 “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘behold I make all things new’ and He said to me, ‘Write for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done!’
Here is yet another description of the end of God’s plan: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order; Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet, The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Cor. 15:22-28).
Now, let’s bombard this description with pertinent questions. What does it mean “as in Adam all die?”
Turn to Rom. 5:12-19. “Therefore,(1) just as through one man sin entered the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned-(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if(2) by one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift of grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For(3) the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift [grace] which came from many offenses resulted in justification. (4)For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus the Christ. (5)Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in the condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (6)For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But (7)where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 5:12-21). Thus grace, righteousness and justification for all are free gifts from God, targeted at the central core concept of His plan.
Consider the core concept of God’s plan!
This concept-sin and its condemnation passed to all humans through Adam’s sin, but righteousness and eternal life passed to all humans through the work of Jesus, the Christ-forms the central core of God’s plan. To drive the point home, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to repeat the concept seven times in those eight verses alone. Every aspect of God’s plan rests on this core concept. This forms the cornerstone of the plan of God. This concept reveals God’s amazing and limitless brilliance in developing and executing a perfect plan.
Consider another question. Does this mean that God wants all humans to be given the gifts of grace, justification and righteousness? Absolutely. Read 2Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Remember that in Adam all die, and in Christ all will be made alive. Therefore, God’s will is that all should come to repentance.
Well, will God have His way, or will some people thwart God’s will and be destroyed in the lake of fire and brimstone prepared for Satan and his demons? Consider Matt. 25:31-41 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” [So there will humble and giving nations represented by the sheep, as well as hardheaded and recalcitrant nations represented by the goats.] ” And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Now, let’s analyze the judgment by Jesus in the Valley of Jehoshaphat
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick or in prison, and come to You? And the king will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they will also answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of them, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Now, before you jump to a conclusion, let’s study these verses carefully in the light of God’s overarching plan. God has said His will is that everyone should come to repentance. One of the litmus tests He uses is how unconverted people respond to the needs of His brethren-the Israelites-descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel, as they move throughout the earth, during and following the Great Tribulation. Now, notice this. This scenario [God’s judgment of the nations] occurs at the beginning of the reign of Jesus Christ on the earth for 1,000 years. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” Remember a confederation of all nations will gather first at Armagedon (Rev. 16:16) and then march to the valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives-called Jehoshaphat-aka “the valley of judgment.” Read about this calamitous confrontation in Joel 2:30-32 and 3:1-2 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord (Compare this with Matt. 24:29-30 and Rev. 6:12-14). “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved [in other words they will not die in this disaster] .
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, and the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls. ‘For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, my heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations. They have also divided up my land. They have cast lots for My people, Have given a boy as payment for a harlot, And sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.”
So those nations that were humble and generous toward God’s people-Israel-will form the founding nations of The Wonderful World Tomorrow. These are the nations mentioned in Zech. 14:16-17 “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.”
What about the others-the goat nations? They will die unrepentant in that Valley of Judgment, facing eternal destruction during the Great White Throne judgment. At the end of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus, the Christ, and the saints on earth, these people will be resurrection during what the Bible refers to as the second resurrection (See Rev. 20:6-15). Jesus explained this situation in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus. (Read it in Luke 16:19-31). The rich man represents the goat nations. Lazarus represents the remnants of Israel following the Great Tribulation. Remember, the beggar desired to be fed. Filled with sores, he was sick, but the rich man neither fed nor visited him. When the beggar died, the angels carried him into Abraham’s bosom. The Greek word “kolpos” translated bosom also could be translated bay, and it means literally to be taken into a position of access. The rich man died and was buried. Remember, the man in this parable represents the goat nations that died after having heard the terrible judgment of Jesus: “Depart from me in the lake of fire and brimstone prepared for the devil and His angels.” Therefore, God did not prepare the lake of fire for humans, but for the devil and his angels.
The Greek word translated “into” could best be translated “toward” Therefore, when the individuals awaken in the second resurrection, that judgment was their final thought before death. It will be their first thought upon resurrection. Therefore, as the rich man said in the parable Jesus spoke: “I am in torment by these flames.” Well, if he has already received a final judgment, why resurrect him? Answer this! Did these nations-represented in Jesus’ parable have a chance to repent? No! The judgment of Jesus in the Valley of Jehoshaphat was based on past behavior-how nations treated Israelites following the Great Tribulation, described in the Bible as: the time of Jacob’s trouble. “Alas! For that day is great. So that none if like it (See Matt. 24:21) And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:7) Now turn to Rev. 7:4, 9, 13-14 “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed . . . (These are survivors of the Great Tribulation who were converted during that great period of human suffering). After these things (The Great Tribulation) I looked and behold, a great multitude which no one could number of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, (in the valley of Jehoshaphat), standing before the throne (the judgment of the sheep and goat nations) and before the Lamb clothed with white robes with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb . . .”
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him,. ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the Great Tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'”
Consider a chronological summary of God’s plan
- God observes that nothing exists but Him. The Hebrew word translated God is “El.”
- God decides that He wants more beings like Him to exist
- He personifies His thoughts and His Word as the Son and sets Him aside as the sacrifice of God.
- He personifies His power as the Holy Spirit and assigns Him to indwell these pathetic beings, thus empowering them to receive this all encompassing joy-being just like God for all eternity.
- With those two decisions, God, the EL became God the Elohim-the team or family of God.
- These five actions describe the end of God’s plan-that God will be all in all. Thus God declared the ending before the beginning.
- Now God, the Father turned to God the Son for the design and implementation of this tremendous plan for creating Himself.
- God the Son designed everything that exists, according to the plan as revealed by God the Father(Col1:15-20).
- God the Son also presented the membership of the Church to the Father as God, the Son, designed them.
Next: We will analyze the Church and its roles in God’s plan.