GOD’S GENERAL PLAN
Are we a planet wandering aimlessly through the universe? Has history no meaning? Is life simply and entirely an association of matter, regardless of it’s complexity; as the materialist would have us believe? Is man’s destiny a biological one? Is man’s destiny based upon certain laws or rules in the cosmos? Is it all chance is there no one out there? To follow these ideas leaves us in a state of hopelessness, we feel alone and left to our own destructive ways. The Christian believes there is a purpose in creation, that God designed this universe, this world and man himself. The Christian further believes that this infinite and all-powerful person has a “PLAN” which includes everything which occurs. The word “PLAN” stresses God’s unity of intention, that is, what He wills, it emphasizes the intelligent dimensions of God’s decisions.
History is not a series of haphazard events, but God’s concepts and designs put into action. He made the master plan, the drawings, the plan, the strategy, the rules, and the natural, physical and spiritual laws. It is a dynamic plan full of action, life and animation involving the galaxies, the planets, the sun, moon, and stars, and this old earth of ours. It includes both angelic and human history – past, present and future. Prognosticators abound who profess to have ability to unfold what the future holds both for individuals and nations. God alone has all the information and the mystery of history is in His Word. As Christians search His word the plan of God unfolds for them.
He created time; it began at creation. It has not only a beginning but also an ending. Time that is past is lost forever. Times location is in the present, we only get one shot at life, one time around, that is why believers should make the most of the “NOW.” We should be desirous of making an impact in our world now. The “PURPOSE” of God in creation is presently being completed.
“For of him and through him and to him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” Rom 11:36.
All things are moving toward their consummation that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). The awesomeness of His will for all things is continually being revealed to the people of God.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, Both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him.” (Eph. 1:9,10).
GOD’S SPECIFIC PLAN
Our personal history is made up of a period of time, which we call “LIFE.” What we do in time has consequences when we exit it and continue on in eternity. People who have no future hope are engrossed with the present pleasures of time. In doing so they miss out on the whole point of the fantastic pleasure and privilege of learning about God and serving Him in the here and now. They have no sense of destiny, no meaningful purpose, no joyful expectation of Heaven.
Both personal and general history is made up of a series of events. Informed believers see God’s majestic hand guiding them and holding them through life. They have an insatiable hunger to know and understand more of the fabulous purposes of God. History proves that man is incurably God-conscious and finds it hard to resist Him. Everyone reaches God-consciousness at some point except babies, toddlers and perhaps folks with mental incapacitaty from birth or early youth.
God not only inhabits eternity but He puts eternity in the heart of man whom He created in time. We cannot comprehend God or eternity; therefore it is necessary for God to reveal Himself and His plan to us. Some of us will comprehend more than others. The work of God is the vital key to Himself and His purposes in space, time and matter as well as in eternity.
ENTERING GOD’S PLAN
God is unique; and His plan is perfect. When we become Christians a new world opens up to us. It’s like a laser beam smashing a barrier to an unknown world. Christ says He is the door, when we enter we are saved (Christ Jn. 10:7). If we get the foundations right the building will be erected with fewer problems and not be in jeopardy. It is of utmost importance at this juncture that we are going through the right door and we are going through it in the right way. The popular terminologies such as “accept Jesus Christ as personal Saviour”; “invite Christ into your life”; “make a decision for Christ or “ask Jesus into your heart” are all not based upon scripture. There is no other door, no other way, not a Mormon way, not a Buddhist way, not a n Islamic way, not a Jewish way, not a protestant or Roman Catholic way of good works. No religion can forgive sin, no religion can die for you, no philosophy can make it possible for you, they are all made of up of sinners like ourselves. Christ is unique and perfect: He is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. No matter what religion a man is, no matter how good a man is he cannot get into heaven without Christ as His Saviour. If God let even one person in by a back door it would be a slap in the face to Christ since He gave His life a ransom and God’s integrity would be in question. We could not trust Him anymore if He does not keep His word. This is God’s dynamic lifestyle for us. A metamorphosis begins, and we become more like Christ.
The following definition of repentance is taken from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology:
“Repentance. The Old Testament primary word for “repent” (niham) is used to signify a completed change, meaning “to be sorry, to regret, to be comforted” it reflects the emotions involved. The LXX translated niham in the Septuagint with metanoeo and metamelomai. However the idea of the NT idea of repentance lies primarily in niham rather than sub, meaning “to turn back, away from or toward.” In a rreligio0us sense. The LXX consistently translates sub with epistrepo and apostrepho. Repentance is follows a turning about which is the gift of God (Jer. 31:18-20; Ps. 80:3, 7, 19). Isa. 55:6-7 gives a typical OT call to repentance and conversion. Heartfelt sorrow for sin causes one to have faith in Christ which leads to conversion (Acts 3:19; 26:20).
Repentance (metanoia) in the NT mean’s “to think after.” It is an inward change of the mind, affections and convictions and purpose, an abandoning and turning from sin and self. It is a commitment rooted in the fear of god and sorrow for offenses committed against Him, which, when accompanied by faith in Jesus Christ, results in an outward turning from sin to god and his service in all of life. It points to an outward conscious change.”
It carries with it moral ramifications. It will result in a change of behaviour. It involves the intellect, will and emotions. The intellect understands we are sinners, and that our sin causes us to stand guilty before a holy God. It understands Christ is the one who can save us and bring us into right relationship with God. There is a change of mind (Matt. 12,:41; Lk. 11:32; 15:7, 10). There is an emotional regret or sorrow over the past evil course of life (Matt. 21:29-30). “The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance with regret” (2 Cor.7:10). The will is involved and it is a change of direction of life for a new goal (Matt. 13:15; Lk. 17:4; 22:32). The mental aspect is that God grants repentance to the unbeliever, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles a repentance that a leads to life” (Acts 11:18; 5:31). It is not a human work. Where there is no observable difference in conduct, there can be no confidence that repentance has taken place. So true faith will show a change in behavior and direction with a commitment to Christ. If anyone goes right back into living the old life and doing the sinful things they have always done it is questionable if they became a true Christian and received a new life.”
Paul, when correcting the Corinthians chose to use the word metamelomai meaning “to regret or be sorry” for our sin (2 Cor. 7:8-10). He did not regret it if he made them sorry by sending them a letter of rebuke because of mutiny in the church. He knew that sorrow over their sin would affect them and cause them to repent which leads to obedience. Their repentance caused him to rejoice. He thought for a time it was too harsh but in reality it was what they needed. Sin affects us in our mental and emotional state it leaves us restless until we get things right with God. The evidence of God’s working a life is the fruit of a transformed behavior (1 Jn. 3:10). Professing Christians lack the fruit of righteousness and have no assurance. (1 Jn. 2:4).
Justification (dikaioo) is to pronounce, accept, and treat as just. It is a judicial act of administering the law- in this case , by declaring a verdict of acquittal, and so excluding possible condemnation. Justification settles the legal status of the person justified (Ro. 8:33-34). It is not of works, it is not faith plus works, it is by faith alone by grace alone. This is a once for all act and happens at the point of one’s salvation. It happens when a person believes in Christ’s atoning death and justifying resurrection (Rom. 4:23; 10:8). .God pardons and accepts believing sinners (Lk.7: 47; Acts 10:43; 1 John 1:7-2:2). God has been wronged by man his justice and holiness rightly condemns us, his mercy in pardoning us and accepting us is only through Christ’s finished work on the cross. He bore our punishment on the cross. Justification opens up privileges for us because we are now accept e das forgiven and adopted into god’s family.
Sanctification hagias “to make holy, to set apart, to sanctify, to hallow”. It happens at the point of Salvation also. God sets us apart for himself. However it is an on-going work of God that will reach its completion when we get to heaven. Experientially the work of sanctification is going on but positionally it has been done, “We have been sanctified….are sanctified, not by moral transformation, but by th sacrifice of Christ “once for all” (Heb. 10:10, 14, 29; 2:11; 9:13-14; 13:12). It is the same with salvation we were saved but the work of salvations is continuing and we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Some believers are not aware of this and continue to struggle with their imperfections looking for an experience that will render them sinless in this life. The pressures this brings is enormous and some end up with emotional and mental stress.
Some people have a religious experience, walked the isle, pray a prayer, mixed with true Christians but have never trusted Christ for salvation. Many of these people end up getting positions in Churches or organizations and begin to treat the Church as a business or a club instead of a dynamic body of people forging into enemy territory to save those who are captives. There are those who just love to see numbers coming to meetings, having a great time of worship having a great time but the awe for God, the justice and judgment of God avoided. He is an awesome God and Paul said, “By the terror of God I persuade men”.
A person believes by the work of the Holy Spirit who convicts us and He enlightens us, He gives us the ability to believe, He regenerates us and gives us a new life (Jn. 3:5). He brings us into a new sphere, the sphere of the Spirit. He baptizes us into the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Cor.12:13).
God is a unique person and His desire is that we share His life, His love and His goodness. We now possess the destiny of Christ (Rom 8:17, 1 Pet 1:4). Our inward man is progressively being changed after the entrance point of the new birth. (2 Cor. 3:18, Eph 4:15, l Pet. 2:2, 2 Pet 3:18). Our destiny is wrapped up in His majestic being; we are now joint heirs with His Son Jesus Christ (Rom 8:17; l Pet. 3:18). It is truly wonderful and beyond comprehension that such an almighty being would take a personal interest in mortals such as you and I, and to permit them to share the destiny of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is God’s plan of grace. It is God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
God’s love is a foreign (heavenly) kind of love; that someone so holy and unique would love their enemies, and not only that, but heap countless blessings upon them. What kind of love is this? It is spectacular and amazing, beyond our understanding. It is divine love and alien to us. (1 Jn. 3:1-2).
The work of the Son of God on Calvary is unique. All sin, past, present and future was gathered up and smashed down upon Him by God. (Isa. 53:4-5). He made it possible for us to enter into an eternal relationship with God. (Jn. 1:12) Man who was created on earth, in time must undergo a change to adapt him for eternity. (Jn. 3:3-7). Man was created and born into time, to live eternally in either Heaven or Hell. Christ’s work had a tremendous impact on the cosmos, the universe, and general and personal history with eternal ramifications. (Rev 20: 11-15; Phil 2:10,11)
The moment the work of Calvary becomes a reality to us and we put our faith in His sufficiency to save us, we become spiritually alive (1 Thess. 5:23, Eph 2:1). We are no longer blind to the things of God, and from that moment we can choose to make positive decisions and grow deeper in the knowledge and understanding of Him. On the other hand we can live in mediocrity or a checkered lifestyle making little progress. It is our choice. This makes life more difficult and complex. We have the freedom to choose to live and walk in the Spirit, or live and follow out the way of the flesh. Entering into the plan (into Christ) brings many dramatic blessings that have never before happened in history. He makes us royal priests, and sends us out as His ambassadors (2 Cor.5:20; 1 Pet. 2:9). God the Son and God the Holy Spirit indwell us simultaneously. He brings us into a new lifestyle and heaps endless advantages upon us in time and for eternity. Now that we are His sons and daughters He will “withhold no good thing from us” (Ps. 84:11, Rom. 8:32, 2 Pet. 1:3). He has made us free from a lifetime of slavery and released us into a life of tremendous freedom, riches and blessings (Eph. 1:3,18,19, Gal. 5:1).