glory of God

The Gospel Was Planned Before Genesis 1:1

It is important to consider that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a new invention. In fact, the gospel is the reason for the existence of everything. Why do we say that? Consider again Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 3:11. He writes in that verse, “

This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Think about this profound statement. Notice the “This” at the beginning of the verse. Although not present in Greek, it is implied and supplied by the editors because v.11 clearly refers to and explains further a previous teaching. There is a unit of thought in vv. 8-11 that is very tight and clean. In verse 8, Paul says that a grace was given to him by God. First, to preach the unfathomable riches of Jesus Christ. Second, to bring to light the administration of the mystery. Both of these are to accomplish a goal which is that God’s manifold wisdom might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places through the church, who is the recipient of this deep and profound wisdom. Verse 11 refers to all of this. The unfathomable riches of Christ, the administration of the mystery of Christ, and the manifold wisdom of God before the angels and demons (including Satan) being evident by means of the existence (and practice) of the church, are all the “this” of v.11. All of this is in accordance with the eternal purpose of God.

Notice, however, that Paul does not say that all of this is the eternal purpose of God. He simply says that all of this is “in accordance with” the eternal purpose of God. Big difference. God’s goal is not simply preaching the unfathomable riches of Christ, as precious and critical as that is. And God’s goal is not simply to bring to light the administration of the mystery so that God’s wisdom is on display, as critical as that also is . These are simply components in the eternal plan of God that has one, and only one, goal.

Before we look at that goal, consider this term “eternal” for a moment. In Greek, it is τῶν αἰώνων “of the ages.” This is in reference to the all the ages of time. But the way that this is written is that it describes something. It describes, modifies, the word “purpose”, πρόθεσιν. This refers to a plan, or purpose, which has been laid out beforehand. It comes from a verb that is used often of something being placed, or set, or put, somewhere. It can, in a logical sense, be in reference to something being established or set in motion. You can see this in the use of the term in Acts 1:7. God has fixed, or placed, certain events, i.e. the kingdom, in time by His own authority. So also, it is according to this “plan” of the ages that all the other things in Ephesians 3:8-11 has occurred. Therefore, this plan, by which and for which, all things happen has been established “of the ages” or for eternity. This plan of God is an eternal plan.

So, what is the goal of this eternal plan? What is God going to accomplish in His plan since God’s plans cannot be thwarted. He will bring it to pass. The purpose of it all is stated in Romans 8:28-29. How marvelous! Understood from our discussion above, we know that every millisecond that passes, and every event in history, and every thought and intention of the heart of every person who has ever and will ever live, are all marching forward exactly as planned by God. It all has God’s purpose in the horizon. It cannot be changed, by man or Satan. With that in mind, we understand that all things, for those who are elect, work together, like a tapestry, for a particular good. That is, good qualitatively as opposed to evil. That is, good that is righteous as opposed to an earthy, man-centered good that is not good enough. This good is the highest good and is the good that defines and limits the working together of all things. What is this good? Simply, but impossibly profound, it is that sinners called, predestined, foreknown, justified, and glorified, by God in Christ Jesus will be made sons, in accordance with the image and likeness of God’s dear, beloved, eternal, Son. God’s good goal, toward which all things inexorably move, is to make elect sinners conformed to the nature and expression of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who will be the firstborn among many brethren.

The reality that God had a plan, before Genesis 1:1, that is being carried out which necessitates everything that ever happens in time and space, is a reality that causes us to bow in fear of a God who not only can conceive of such a plan, but who has the absolute sovereign power and authority to carry it out. And, like Joseph in Egypt, God’s goal for us, in spite of the evil of this age, is for good. But not the good of a saccharin, man-centered, Freudian self-therapy of the happy thinking of a kind of fairy-tale land with no problems. It is in fact, the good of conformity to the image of Jesus Christ and all the privileges that accompany such a condition. But remember, Jesus was crucified, and slandered, and hated by all, except One, the Father.

So, just know, if you understand these things, and you comprehend God’s eternal plan, and you believe this message of conformity to Jesus Christ (which, by the way, demands His lordship over His people), you then need to understand that if you follow Jesus Christ, you will also endure what He did-contempt. However, consider the glories that are now His at the right hand of His beloved Father. And consider Jesus’ promise to His followers in John 14:1-3, “

   Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe  also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Be encouraged, faithful Christian. God’s plan is right on schedule. Be obedient to God, as a dear child (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Peter 1:14) and proclaim this message of God’s eternal plan. Call the world to the repentance that leads to life. Live righteously, even if the entire church itself falls in love with the world. Obey the Father, as Jesus Christ did even to the point of the cross. Give Him glory, and you will be raised up. After all, what happens in time cannot stop God’s eternal plan.

Hope In Light of the Curse

Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That verse encapsulates the problem with every person on this planet. Although many would deny the problem, that does not fix a problem that obviously exists. Paul would further write, “

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12, NASB95)

How is it that all have sinned and thus fall short of the glory of God? Why is that the case? Because, Adam disobeyed God and thus, in him, we all sinned. Regardless of the difficulty of understanding ‘how’ all sinned in Adam, the statement remains clear. Adam’s singular disobedience inserted sin into the world that God created. Thus, since sin entered there, death followed. That is because sin is disobedience to God’s commands and Adam, the man made in the image and likeness of God, disobeyed when he took of the fruit and ate. Death, then, spread to all men through one act of sin.

So, what do we have in this summary of the entrance of sin? What is here is the reason why marriage is difficult and why childrearing is seemingly impossible. The fact that Adam sinned plunged every man, woman, and child into a condition in which sin reigns and the result of sin is death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). Everything that God created in the garden, especially the relationship of the man to the woman and their relationship to God, is now inaccessible. The beauty, harmony, and glory is lost and cannot be regained by our own discovery. But, God, because of who He is, does not leave it there. He is a God of hope (Romans 15:13). In fact, it can be said that the entire fall occurred in order to usher in hope (Romans 8:20-21).

I have written about the fall and God’s promised redemption elsewhere. From what we encounter in Genesis 3, we understand that the wicked one has deceived Eve, Eve has enticed Adam, and Adam disobeyed God. We see that Eve believed Satan rather than God. We understand that Adam did not exercise rulership over the snake, the woman, or Satan. He simply chose to be under the sway of the deceiver. Satan was successful in bringing the man and the woman into his ‘kingdom’ and out from God’s rule. He was successful at setting himself up as god to the man and the woman and drawing the man and woman away from the true God. Thus, true to form, Satan robs God of His glory, at least it appears that way.

However, we see that God had cast sentence upon the enemy which will ultimately call for his destruction. This destruction will not simply be by a judicial act of God, but rather by the seed of a woman. In saying this, God is saying that a woman will bear the male child who will crush the head of the serpent and all his handiwork will disintegrate. Satan, from that point forward, lives in light of this sentence. Thus, God’s sovereignty is maintained. In fact, due to Satan’s diabolical work, God’s greatest glory will come to light in the redemption of sinners.

And that is what this is all about. The power and glory of God’s redemption is on display in the child of God. Both now, on this planet, and on the planet to come (Revelation 21:1). The fact that Satan tempted and deceived the woman did nothing to ruin the glory of God ultimately. In fact, his efforts were simply a key component in God’s ultimate and powerful display of His glory.

Most Christians do not see that great plan of redemption work out in their marriage. They love the doctrines of redemption and love to philosophize about it, but they don’t see that the very doctrines of redemption that they love, or say they love, are the foundation of their marriage. The home is the stage for redemption. Further, unfortunately, many marriage and home ‘ministries’ do little to identify, reiterate and explain this phenomenon. They do that to their own shame as they replace their own abilities to establish the home for the ability of God to glorify Himself in the home . As the Psalmist has said, “Unless the Lord build the house, you are wasting your time” (my paraphrase of Psalm 127:1). Thus, what is needed to make a home the stage for God’s redemption is clear. First, you need to identify sin. That might seem easy at first glance. However, truth is, many are so blind to what is expected of them in their homes, that they don’t see the sin. Thus, their minimized standards replace God’s high and lofty standard that gives Him glory.

For example, fathers are commanded to “train” their children (Ephesians 6:4). They are commanded by their Creator to be actively and profoundly training their children with all the resources of the Old and New Testaments toward the God of Scripture. This is an unending training that makes the home the training ground for children. However, how many fathers would rather fill their time with their own pursuits? How many Christian fathers would rather give their attention to their own hobbies and thus train themselves in proficiency of their own interests? The training that is called for is the truest and hardest expression of self-denial there is, next to marriage itself. Anything less than that kind of commitment is sin. Yet, we have pews filled with fathers, if they even come to church, who have decided that they don’t need to train their children. They are comfortable to let another man, or woman, do it telling himself that “they are the experts” all the while refusing to shoulder this command, take on the responsibility, and learn how to train his children.

Once that sin is identified, repentance is required. This is nothing less than an acknowledgement that there has been a failure in some area to give God glory. Maybe that father in the above example would identify that he has been lazy in his responsibilities, and he turns to God in his heart asking for forgiveness. God is quick to forgive, that is sure. However, the next step is to learn how to do what is required. He must give his heart completely to the responsibilities that God has given him. I personally have had a number of times of repentance when I would examine my own commitments in light of Scripture and see a very wide difference between the two. Obviously, the Scripture is not wrong. I was. By the mercy of God, I repented and devoted myself to the commitments God requires of me in my marriage and my family. I have never regretted turning away from the worthless things of this world and turning to the glorious provisions of God in a myriad of ways. For example, my family and I used to have Friday as our “movie night.” Of course, all week long we would be anticipating that 2 hour block of time when we dim the lights, pop in the movie and get lost in the story and action. As time went on, I began losing interest in those things less and less. At that point I began to examine why we were having movie night. Throughout the week, in the evenings, we would sit down and watch some show or some news as well. However, mixed in with the movies, the shows, and the news were some of the filthiest and most horrible pictures and scenes imaginable. Who has not had the experience of watching a show and a lewd advertisement comes on? Or, who has not watched some sporting event and the commercials introduce an ungodly habit, like drinking. Many Christians simply tell themselves, “Oh, I don’t do that so it doesn’t affect me.” Really? Job made a covenant with his eyes to not gaze at a virgin (Job 31:1). David got into trouble, initiated by looking, which affected his entire family for the rest of his life (2 Samuel 11:1-2). Jesus said that what you look at you think about (Matthew 6:22-23). That passage is especially pertinent because if you identify as light that which God calls darkness, you are really deceived! Nakedness, drunkenness, promiscuity, profanity, ungodly behavior (things that Jesus Christ would not Himself encourage), violence, and other behaviors are condemned by God, and yet we are entertained by them. What is worse, we let our children watch much of the same!

Therefore, Karen and I made the decision to get rid of our T.V. when we moved and we have never looked back. We have regained our children’s hearts, regained our day, regained our time, regained our conversation, regained our purity of mind. Our children are ignorant of many of the celebrities and superstars that are commonplace in the world and that is as it should be (Romans 16:19). They are unfamiliar with the degradation in the world around them and we are thankful. Why do I want to encourage the sin that is latent within them by placing ungodliness before them?

Once a sin is identified and repentance is sought, then conviction needs to be established. Having convictions very often is what establishes the heart. A conviction is some truth that you are convinced of in Scripture, whether by deduction or outright instruction, and thus your life now is subject to that truth (as an example see Romans 14:14). That is conviction. Paul told Timothy to be subject to the truths that he learned from Paul and those things that he has grown convinced of (2 Timothy 3:14). That is the idea. Once you become accurate in your interpretation of a passage, you subject your life under its teaching and you don’t move away from it for anything. The key, of course, is to make sure you accurately understand it. But once the Scripture is understood and rightly interpreted, obey it. Train your children also toward those convictions.

The display of the glory of God is the taking of a sinner and making him a son. When man was made in the image and likeness of God, that image and likeness most directly referred to the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. However, once sin entered in because of disobedience, something the Son would not do, the image and likeness, i.e. glory, was lost. Now, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that image and likeness is restored through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:10). That is the hope of Jesus Christ. And, that is the hope that resides in the home that is brought under the Lordship of Christ.

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