(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
We previously discussed how man was created by God for His own purpose but became fallen, sinful, and unable to live in a way that fulfills God’s plan. The consequences of the fall of mankind are tragic, and we see their effect in our own lives and everywhere we look today.
But God can never be defeated! And, though frustrated for a time, God’s plan can’t be derailed. In His wisdom, God took three tremendous steps to carry out His original plan of imparting His eternal life into us so we could share His life and express Him.
Step 1—God became a man named Jesus Christ
Two verses in the book of John describe the first step God took. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”
When we put these two verses together, we see something remarkable. The Word, who is God, became flesh. God became a man! This first step of God becoming a man is known as incarnation.
This step is truly amazing. The infinite, eternal God of the universe became a man of flesh and blood, Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a human life limited by time and space and experienced all kinds of human suffering. Yet He was the only man in all of human history who was without sin. During His thirty-three and a half years on the earth, He fully expressed God in every aspect of His living. We can see His wonderful humanity, the way He lived, and the words of grace and truth He spoke when we read the four Gospels.
Through incarnation, Christ put on a physical body of flesh and blood, making it possible for Him to die for us. His perfect, unblemished life qualified Him to accomplish redemption for us on the cross.
Step 2—Christ died on the cross to redeem us
Jesus Christ came to die for our sins. John 1:29 tells us when John the Baptist saw Him, he declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” As the Lamb of God, Christ was sacrificed for us on the cross. The second step in God’s plan of salvation was Christ’s crucifixion.
It is through Christ’s crucifixion that sinful mankind was redeemed, as we can see in Ephesians 1:7:
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses, according to the riches of His grace.”
Christ’s blood was shed not only to redeem us and cleanse us from our sins, but also to bring us near to God. Ephesians 2:13 tells us:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have become near in the blood of Christ.”
We sinful human beings can be redeemed, forgiven, and brought back to God all because of Christ’s crucifixion.
Step 3—Christ rose from the dead
Christ’s death accomplished redemption, but His redeeming death isn’t the end of the story. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and defeated death itself! The third step in God’s plan of salvation is Christ’s resurrection.
The resurrection of Christ is an accomplished fact, but it’s not just for us to appreciate objectively. In 1 Corinthians 15:45 we read these extraordinary words:
“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.”
This is tremendously important. As a man of flesh and blood, Christ could never enter into us to be life to us. He redeemed us through His death, but He can impart life to us because He was resurrected.
In resurrection, the Christ who was crucified for us is now the life-giving Spirit. As the Spirit, He is able to come into our human spirit to dwell in us. We are reborn, and we become children of God with the life of God!
Christ as the life-giving Spirit is available anytime, anywhere, to anyone who would repent, believe in Him, and open their heart to receive Him. When we receive Him, we receive eternal life, as God originally intended. As this life grows in us, spreading from our spirit into our soul, we express God to everyone around us.
The fall of man was calamitous. But God’s plan of salvation was carried out through these three tremendous steps—incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. God in Christ accomplished redemption for us to forgive our sins and bring us back to Himself. God redeemed us so that He could achieve His goal of entering our spirit to live in us and be expressed through us.
Have you prayed to be forgiven of your sins and receive the life of God? If you haven’t, you can pray a simple prayer like this one:
Lord Jesus, I turn to You and open my heart to You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank You for resurrecting from the dead. Thank You, Lord, for being the life-giving Spirit. Lord Jesus, I believe in You, and I receive You into my spirit right now. Thank You, Lord, for coming to live in me!