God's Awesome Plan

Chapter Three of "The Really Good News About God" discusses God's purpose for his creation and the plans he has to achieve it.

Snippets from the BOOK

From Page 109

God’s unchanging purpose for all of his creation is to bring everyone home.
We can’t avoid it.
It’s the natural rhythm of the universe.

Regardless of the choices we make, the number of waves we miss or ignore or fall from, eventually one of them will bring us to shore.
The surf beach reminds me of God’s wonderful plan.

From Page 111

He had this plan before the beginning of time to demonstrate his love and sovereignty and grace, so he created time and the ages, and all their heavenly and earthly components, to implement it.
Almost like an inventor who, having a bright idea, went about creating a workshop or laboratory, with all its necessary equipment and tools, in which to design and give expression to his new marvel.

God will achieve his purpose over the course of time, having begun in an age previous to ours and will continue and complete it through this age and other ages that are still future to ours.

From Page 114

Isn’t that really good news?
God has a plan to bring everything and everyone in the universe into harmony and unity under the Lordship of his Son, Jesus Christ.

And this will be completed at the end of the ages so that we can all step into eternity together, into the timeless realm in which God lives.

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"The Really Good News About God" has been published in various formats. You can purchase a copy, or download a pdf version, using the "Book" link.

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Let's Dig a Bit Deeper ... ...

Risky Forecasting Speculation The End Result We're All Included Always Planned Step on the Way Benefits of Knowing The Generous Donor

Risky Forecasting

Predictions about the future are numerous and wildly different, even from those of us who study the Bible, which contains several passages about the future.

Producing a definitive plan for the future, even from the God-inspired Bible, is clearly fraught with difficulty. Indeed, it is quite likely that anyone who claims to have the future all worked out will turn out to be wrong.

Why? Take for example Jesus' coming to earth.

Although Jesus' arrival in the first century AD was forecast frequently in the Old Testament, his arrival seemed to surprise most people at the time. So I can't help thinking that any future coming will surprise again, despite the amount of space the Bible gives to its discussion.

Nevertheless, let's be brave and venture into this perilous topic, while humbly admitting that the future will occur exactly as God has planned it and not necessarily as any of us might be expecting it.

God loves us and desires us to know him and live in fellowship with him.

God's precisely designed creation, together with the miraculously preserved writings of the Bible, are the major sources we have for knowing about God and his plans.

After leaving planet Earth, Jesus Christ, God's Son, sent the Holy Spirit to assist us in knowing about God, and more importantly, enabling us to actually know him.

So we will use observations from creation and snippets from the Bible to help us explore this topic, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and open our hearts to what he reveals to us.

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Speculation

Let's face it, we can only speculate about the future.
There are not many clues in the Bible to begin with, and those we have are open to seemingly endless interpretations.
However, we must have a starting point for our speculations.
What are the basic "givens" or foundation stones on which all other facts and/or opinions must stand?

1. God's ultimate purpose, his end result, is clearly revealed in the New Testament ...
  God desires all to be saved. (1 Timothy 2 : 1 - 6)
  God is the Saviour of all. (1 Timothy 4 : 10)
  God will bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth. (Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10)
  God will become all in all, that is, everything to everybody.
  (1 Corinthians 15 : 28).

2. God will achieve this purpose through Jesus Christ, who is ...
  The Reconciler of all (2 Corinthians 5 : 18 - 19; Colossians 1 : 19 - 20)
  The Drawer of all (John 12 : 32)
  The Sacrifice for all (1 John 2 : 2)
  The Saviour of all (1 John 4 : 14; John 12 : 47)
  The Light of all (John 1: 4 - 9)
  The Giver of Life to all (1 Corinthians 15 : 20 - 22)

3. God always remains true to his character ...
  God is love. (1 John 4 : 16; Matthew 5 : 44 - 45)
  God is in control (Proverbs 19 : 21; Ephesians 1 : 11)
  God is kind and merciful to all (Luke 6 : 35 - 36)
  God's grace completely saves us (Romans 5 : 15 - 21; Ephesians 2 : 4 - 8)

To me all other events or opinions that I wish to include in my picture of the future must stand on and be consistent with these three "givens".

For example ...God has already reconciled the world to himself.
(2 Corinthians 5 : 19)
All those who know God and Jesus Christ have eonian life, that is, are alive and will be alive in the coming ages. (John 17 : 3)
The Book of Life increases in size at the Great White Throne judgement. (Revelation 20 : 11 - 15) *
The Lake of Fire is God's refining or purifying process, the death/destruction of all that offends God. (Malachi 3 : 3; Revelation 20 : 14) *
Death itself will be finally removed, so that only life remains.
(Revelation 21 : 4; 1 Corinthians 15 : 25 - 26)

*  See "Judgement" link for discussion on these points.

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The End Result

The challenge may be simply stated ...
Determine the end result and suggest possible routes that may be taken to arrive there.

But, as most people know, even agreeing on the end result has been too great a task for most of us.
Nevertheless, I am going to have a stab at it by quoting four verses from the Bible.
(Other verses stating the same end result will be quoted throughout the following sections.)

Jesus said:

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me. [John 12 : 32 GNB]

Paul said:

In all his wisdom and insight God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head. [Ephesians 1 : 8b - 10 GNB]

John said:

We’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world.
When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.
[1 John 4 : 14 and 1 John 2 : 2 TM]

The only certainty I can see in this whole discussion is the end result for all of God's creation.
And it will be magnificent. Why?
Because God, who is love, wants only the best for us and, because he is also sovereign, will see to it that we get it.

Now we get to the hard part - possible routes God will choose for us to arrive at his chosen destination.
As time permits, I will use this and other sections of the BLOG and website to explore the possibilities I see. Some of this exploration will be gathering bits from the Bible, and some will be me trying to tie the bits together.

As always, you are welcome to ask questions and/or share your insights on the BLOG and by using the "Questions" link in the main Topics menu here.

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We Are All Included

I love reading, researching, and studying the Bible.
Well, maybe not all of it.
I usually jump right over the long lists of genealogies, but one day I became inquisitive and stopped to have a closer look.

In the New Testament, Matthew and Luke both have genealogies of Jesus.
Although Luke was most likely a Gentile, his family tree listed 76 men, all Jewish.
Matthew, a Jew, took a different route and listed 40 men and 5 women, and by including the women, he picked up some Gentiles on the way.

Tamar was the Gentile daughter-in-law of Judah, who didn't honour a promise he made to her, so she boldly set him up for a pay-back. What a bold, inventive Gentile woman!
Rahab was a Gentile prostitute from Jericho, who risked her life to save Joshua's spies.
Ruth was also a Gentile - the saintly, widowed daughter-in-law of Naomi, who became the wife of Boaz and the grandmother of King David.
Bathsheba was possibly not a favourite of Matthew because he just called her Uriah's wife. Uriah was a Hittite, so she was probably a Gentile also. She was immodest and unfaithful to Uriah, but became the the wife of King David (who himself was an adulterer and murderer) and mother of King Solomon (a polygamist). (Some Christians are surprised to discover that the great Jewish King David had a Gentile grandmother and a wife who was probably a Gentile.)
Mary was a saintly, Jewish young lady, yet was seen in her community as immoral and worthy of being stoned. Nevertheless, she accepted her Godly calling, knowing it could well cost her life.

Matthew's list might give us a clue about who Jesus came to save.
Men and Women, Jews and Gentiles, Saints and Sinners are all there, and we don't have to look too hard to see some reflection of ourselves in the list too !!
Clearly, He came to be the Saviour of us all.

Jesus said he would draw all people to himself.
Paul says, “We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.”
John says, “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.”
And Matthew finishes his gospel with Jesus sending his disciples to all nations, inviting them to become his disciples.

It doesn't matter who we are, Jesus died for our sins.
Your sin, my sin, has been handled; as has our neighbour's and anyone's we meet in the street.
When we come to believe that, we begin to enjoy life in fellowship with God.

So, as believers, who know what God has done for us, who have begun to live and enjoy life in fellowship with him, Paul encourages us to be thankful and to become ambassadors for God.

My prayer for us all is that we will live in such a way as to become reliable and effective ambassadors for God, the Creator and Saviour of the world, by showing those who don't yet know Him, the true value of new life in Christ.

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Eternal Life Has Always Been God's Plan

Eternal life is a given for everyone because of what Jesus achieved on the cross.

God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. 
This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
[Ephesians 1 : 9, 10 GNB] 

So then, as the one sin (Adam's) condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act (Jesus') sets all people free and gives them life. 
And just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.
[Romans 5 : 18, 19 GNB]

And let's also remember that it is our job (the already chosen's job) to present this good news to the world. Churches often spend so much time telling people what they must do to be saved instead of telling them they are saved already.

And all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
That is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. And he has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.
[2 Corinthians 5 : 18, 19 EHV]

But just as amazingly we are told that this has been God's plan from the very beginning, before time began, before the world was created, yes, even before any of us was born - it's not a Plan B or something God has added to his agenda for the world.

The Bible mentions this pre-determined purpose of God often.
Here's an example.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
[Ephesians 1 : 4, 5 NLT]

If this has always been God's plan, and He created the heavens and earth (and you and me) as the vehicle for it's happening, then we can confidently expect it will happen.
Some of it in some ages, some of it in others, but at the end of the ages, the plan will be complete.

Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. [1 Corinthians 15 :28 NLT]

Our calling, as members of the Body of Christ, is to be sharing the "message of reconciliation" we have been entrusted with. Let's be telling people what Christ has done for them so they might love him and be given the faith to join the Body of Christ.

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A Step On The Way

Because "The Really Good News About God" is centred around God's extravagant grace, most of the discussion in it touches on some aspect of the eventual, universal, reconciliation of mankind to God; which fulfills God's role as the Saviour of the world. (1 Timothy 4 : 10)

This article highlights the salvation of Israel, a step on the way to the salvation of the world.

There are many references to this event in the Old Testament, like Psalm 130 : 8 and Psalm 103 : 2 - 3, together with King David's confidence of his expectation to be "dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever" in Psalm 23.

In the New Testament, the most descriptive mention of this event is in Romans 11, just after Paul illustrates God's faith community using his wonderful Olive Tree allegory.
He tells us that although Israel has stumbled, she will not be rejected, nor has she fallen beyond recovery.
In fact, God has used her stumbling to bring salvation to the Gentile, non-Jewish, nations in order to make Israel envious or jealous.

Paul then says ...

"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved."

So Israel will be saved after the full number of Gentiles has come in.
Come in to what?

The context of Romans 11 is the Body of Christ, the disciples or followers of Jesus, part of God's faith community that is illustrated by an olive tree.
So when the Body of Christ is complete, then all Israel will be saved.

(Paul is not talking here about the salvation of the world at the end of time, at the consummation of the ages.
He is talking about the Body of Christ, the Church, the believers who are chosen as a first group, before the kingdom ages begin, for life and administration responsibilities in those coming ages.)

And we are living in the era or age when the Body of Christ is being filled; so at the end of this age, when this filling is completed, all Israel will be saved.
Looking at the world situation, and the Middle East in particular, it is difficult to imagine how this event might happen.
I certainly don't know how it will happen: all I know is that it will - because God's Word has declared it. And even that is a strain for many people.

Let me illustrate.
Suppose a mother says to her child, "You will be in bed by 7.30 pm.".
The child starts thinking, "How does she know that? There's no way that's going to happen. I still haven't finished my homework, I haven't fed the dog yet, or cleaned my teeth."
So how does mother know?
She knows because she has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

So how does God know that all Israel will be saved?
He knows because he has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

We have a role to play in completing the Body of Christ.
That's one of the reasons we have been called, chosen early, before the rest of the world who will come to God later.

One aspect of that role is sharing the good news that God loves us and does not count our sins against us - because Jesus has already died for the sins of the world.
When we share God's good news, others who have been chosen to complete the Body of Christ will hear it, be given the faith to believe it, be drawn to Christ and added to his Body - in the same way we were.

Each time that happens the Body of Christ will get that bit nearer to completion and Israel's salvation will be that bit nearer too.

When all Israel are saved, the next part of God's plan for his creation, the kingdom ages, will commence with the Olive Tree having administration responsibilities that we are currently in training for.

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Benefits of Knowing God's Awesome Plan

First of all, let's remember what God's plan is for His creation, which Chapter 3 in "The Really Good News About God" explained.

Paul in writing to the Ephesian church tells us what God revealed to him about His plan - the plan which had not been disclosed previously, although hints of it had been given to some of the Old Testament prophets.

He (God) made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment -- to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
[Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10 NIV]

If this is to be so, then sin and death must be dealt with along the way.
Well, Jesus dealt with sin 2000 years ago ...

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
[1 John 2 : 2 NIV]

and, as a result, God no longer holds our sins against us ...

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
[2 Corinthians 5 : 19 NIV]

And Jesus will deal with death at the end of the ages (when the times reach their fulfillment) ...

For he (Christ) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
[1 Corinthians 15 : 25 - 26 NIV]

So all is in place for God to achieve His "unity plan" at the end of the ages.

Now, let's consider the benefits of knowing this?
There are quite a few for me.

One, my opinion of God as a God of unconditional love is reinforced.

Two, I have a terrific single-focused good-news message for the world, that God is not mad with them, He is reconciled to them and plans to give them the best eternal future possible.

Three, I can distance myself from the good-news/bad-news dichotomy often presented by mainstream Christianity that God is love on the one hand yet He will oversee the torture of the majority of His creation forever on the other.

Four, I can relate to everyone of my friends, colleagues and neighbours as people on the journey to the same destination as me, even if they are at a different stage of that journey.
As such, I can pray for people with much more hope and optimism than I previously might have had, knowing I am praying in line with God's will.

To know the end result of the space-time realm in which we live is as reassuring as it is empowering, and encourages me to roll up my sleeves and be involved in the ministry to which God has called me - the ministry of sharing "the message of reconciliation".

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The Parable of the Generous Donor (GD)

GD, a wealthy businessman in a small country town, arranged for $1million to be deposited in a bank account for each resident.

GD's son found out about what his father had done and began telling his friends about it.
His friends began enjoying a quite different lifestyle due to their newly-discovered wealth, and, out of gratitude to GD, found ways to support and promote the businesses owned by GD.
As well as living a more affluent lifestyle, when the time came, luxurious aged care for people of such wealth was easily arranged.

But not everyone heard the good news that the son and his friends were telling, and some who did hear the news, didn't believe it and therefore continued to live carefully from week to week from their pay packet - they continued living their modest lifestyles, even though technically they were now wealthy.

As each one aged and needed supported aged care, their assets were assessed to determine the level of care that could be afforded for their remaining years.
It was soon discovered that each person was surprisingly wealthy and so very comfortable and well-resourced accommodation and care was easily arranged.

Indeed, the entire population of the town spent their final years in the best of aged accommodation and care, due to the provision and generosity of GD.

This is how GOD has arranged for the final existence of His entire creation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ.
This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
[Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10 GNB]

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