(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
The world today is full of troubles—wars, environmental crises, senseless violence, economic uncertainty, troubling new viruses, social upheaval. When you look at the chaos around the globe it can make you wonder, Does God have a plan? Why did He create everything? And if He does have a plan, how do we fit into it?
In this post, we’ll look at verses from both the Old and New Testaments, along with some key notes from the Recovery Version, to find the answers to these pressing questions.
God is a God of purpose
The Bible shows us that God never does anything aimlessly. He always acts intentionally, with a plan in mind. For instance, Revelation 4:11 says:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, for You have created all things, and because of Your will they were, and were created.”
This verse makes it clear not only that God has a will, but that He created all things because of His will.
Now let’s read Ephesians 1:11:
“In whom also we were designated as an inheritance, having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
Here the words purpose, counsel, and will indicate to us that God is a God of purpose.
From just these two verses, we can see that God wants something. And to obtain what He desires, God has a plan and works everything according to the counsel of His will.
God’s creation of man
Now that we’ve seen that God created everything because of His will, let’s consider God’s creation, especially His creation of man.
Genesis 1 tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth, He simply spoke. God said, “Let there be,” and things came into being, including light, dry land, plants, light-bearers (the sun, moon, and stars), sea creatures, birds, and animals. God was happy with what He created. The Bible tells us God saw it was good.
Then God came to the peak of His work of creation: man. In Genesis 1:26, the Bible records for the first time God’s thought concerning the man He would create:
“And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
God wanted to make man in a unique way: in His image and according to His likeness. Since God has a mind, emotion, and will, He wanted man to have a mind, emotion, and will.
He also wanted to make man according to His likeness, that is, to resemble Him. For example, when you look at a photograph of a person, you see the likeness of that person. God wanted man to be according to His own likeness.
Then, instead of simply saying, “Let there be man,” God created man in a very intentional way. Genesis 2:7 says:
“Jehovah God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
In addition to creating man in His own image and according to His likeness, God also made man with a distinctive feature: the human spirit. Zechariah 12:1 says:
“Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.”
The human spirit is so special that God’s Word places it on the same level as the creation of the heavens and the earth! That’s because the spirit of man enables man to contact, receive, and contain God.
No wonder after God created the heavens, the earth, and finally man, Genesis 1:31 says this:
“And God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
Only after man was created did God look upon all His creation as not just good but very good. God was happy with all He created, especially man.
God’s plan for mankind
God already had myriads of angels to worship and serve Him. What was in His heart for mankind was something different.
In God’s heart was the deep desire to enter into the human beings that He created with such thought and care. He wanted us to receive Him so He could be joined to us. God wanted to share His life with us and live in us. In such an intimate relationship, God would be everything to us. He would live together with us, and we would be one with Him.
And because we were created in God’s image and according to His likeness, by being filled with Him, God would be manifested and expressed through us and with us. Simply put, this is God’s plan.
The fall of mankind
We’ve seen how God created man according to His plan in a wonderful way. But in this universe, God has an enemy, Satan. Satan hates God, and he hates man because man will fulfil God’s desire. So Satan seized the opportunity and tempted man into disobeying God. Instead of receiving the life of God as God intended, man took in the evil nature of Satan. Because of that, all mankind was polluted by sin and separated from God. This corruption has been the source of all the vicious evil in the world throughout all of human history.
But nothing can deter God from carrying out His plan with mankind! In His wisdom, God Himself became a man, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. He took care of the problem between the righteous God and sinful mankind. Because the redemption Jesus accomplished is thoroughly effective, God’s plan can be fulfilled with everyone who believes in Jesus.
God’s plan and our life as believers
As believers in Jesus Christ, when we received Him as our Savior a number of wonderful things happened to us. We were forgiven of our sins and saved from eternal judgment. And what’s more, Christ came to live in our spirit, our deepest part.
Now the Savior who loves us and died for us is no longer outside of us. First Corinthians 6:17 says:
“But He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”
Note 2 in the New Testament Recovery Version on one spirit explains the amazing meaning of this verse:
“This indicates the mingling of the Lord as the Spirit with our spirit. Our spirit has been regenerated by the Spirit of God (John 3:6), who is now in us (v. 19) and is one with our spirit (Rom. 8:16). This is the realization of the Lord, who became the life-giving Spirit through resurrection (15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17) and who is now with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). This mingled spirit is often referred to in Paul’s Epistles, e.g., in Rom. 8:4-6.”
First Corinthians 15:45, referenced above, says:
“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul’; the last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving Spirit.”
Now as the Spirit the Lord is more than near to us. His Spirit and our spirit are mingled as one. This brings us into the most intimate relationship with the Lord.
God’s great plan for every one of us is that we would know Him not merely objectively as our Creator God, but subjectively as the One who saved us and came to live in us.
It’s because He lives within us that we can know Him in a personal and experiential way. He can speak to us inwardly and we can fellowship with Him. We can enjoy Him as He walks with us, supplies us, comforts us, and supports us all the time. At any moment, we can contact and experience Him in our spirit.
How God fills us
It’s an astounding fact that the Lord is now living in our spirit, and we can experience Him at any time. But He doesn’t want to stay confined to our spirit. He wants to fill us by spreading out from our spirit into our whole being. As He fills us with Himself, He can be expressed through us.
We see this in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our being is composed of our spirit, our soul, and our body. God wants to sanctify us wholly, that is, in every part.
Note 5 in the New Testament Recovery Version on this verse is enlightening and includes references to some key verses, which we encourage you to read. The note helps us see how God works to sanctify us wholly. The first section of the note defines our spirit, soul, and body:
“This word strongly indicates that man is of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. The spirit as our inmost part is the inner organ, possessing God-consciousness, that we may contact God (John 4:24; Rom. 1:9). The soul is our very self (cf. Matt. 16:26; Luke 9:25), a medium between our spirit and our body, possessing self-consciousness, that we may have our personality. The body as our external part is the outer organ, possessing world-consciousness, that we may contact the material world. The body contains the soul, and the soul is the vessel that contains the spirit. In the spirit, God as the Spirit dwells; in the soul, our self dwells; and in the body, the physical senses dwell.”
Then the second section explains how God sanctifies each part:
“God sanctifies us, first, by taking possession of our spirit through regeneration (John 3:5-6); second, by spreading Himself as the life-giving Spirit from our spirit into our soul to saturate and transform our soul (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18); and last, by enlivening our mortal body through our soul (Rom. 8:11, 13) and transfiguring our body by His life power (Phil. 3:21).”
Our daily Christian life
Our life as believers in Christ is one of experiencing and enjoying the Lord who dwells in our spirit. In a loving and intimate relationship with Christ, we can know Him and experience Him as everything to us.
We can maintain our fellowship with the Lord by praying to Him, feeding on His Word, obeying Him when He speaks to us about any matter in our daily life, and confessing any sin He makes us aware of. As we do this, He has the opportunity to grow in us and spread from our spirit into every part of our soul; eventually, He’ll even enliven our body. By being fully saturated with Him this way, we redeemed and regenerated human beings created in God’s image and according to His likeness together will become His expression in this universe for His glory.
This is why God created all things, and this is His plan for every human being. God desires all men to be saved so they can be part of His wonderful plan.
Seeing God’s plan will revolutionize the way we view the world and humanity. Nothing is happening in a random way. His enemy is still at work inciting chaos and trying to keep people away from God. But God, who is far greater, is operating in many ways to save people and bring them back to His original plan. This view will be a solid foundation for our Christian life and even help us tell others about God’s plan for them.
The subject of God’s purpose and plan is great and profound and has many aspects. We’ve only touched upon it briefly in this post. For a more detailed view, you can download The Economy of God here and start by reading chapter 1.
And if you live in Australia, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here so you can read all the New Testament verses we mentioned in this post and their accompanying notes and verse references.
Since we can’t lose our salvation, some might wonder if this means it doesn’t matter how we live after we’re saved. Are we free to do whatever we want? After all, nothing can change our salvation.
It’s important to know that being saved eternally doesn’t give us license to disobey God or sin freely. In fact, when a believer commits a sin, it results in three huge problems that involve three parties: God, ourselves, and Satan. Let’s look at these problems and the unique solution to each one: the blood of Jesus.
1. Separated from God
Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us what happens when we sin:
“No, Jehovah’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so heavy that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have become a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
Our sins separate us from God, since He is holy and absolutely righteous in every detail. It doesn’t take committing a serious crime to separate us from God. Even telling a little lie can cause us to lose the enjoyment of His presence.
How can we get rid of this separation? Do we give it some time to somehow resolve on its own? Do we promise to do better in the future? Does waiting take care of the problem? No. Only the blood of Jesus can take away the sin that separates us from God.
Let’s read what 1 John 1:7-9 says:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin. If we say that we do not have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Because of the blood of Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sins, and the separation between us and God is removed.
But notice that for us to be forgiven, something is first required of us: we must confess our sins to God. When we confess, He is faithful to forgive us.
Sometimes after we confess, we may not feel forgiven. But how we feel doesn’t determine whether we’re actually forgiven. The fact is that if we’ve confessed our sins to God, we are forgiven and cleansed. The blood of Jesus satisfies God. According to God’s own word, when we confess our sins to Him, we’re forgiven and have the right to come boldly into God’s presence. The separation is removed, and we can enjoy fellowship with Him again.
2. Guilt in our conscience
Another huge problem created by sin is the guilt we feel inwardly. God is satisfied with the blood of Jesus as payment for our sins, but we may be plagued by guilt. This is because when we commit a sin, that sin leaves a stain on our conscience. On God’s side we’re forgiven, but on our side sin has left a stain. The feeling of guilt comes from our stained conscience.
The stain of sin on our conscience is serious, and no cleaning agent on earth is powerful enough to obliterate it. However, Hebrews 9:14 shows us the unique “stain remover” for our conscience:
“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
The same blood that allows God to forgive us also purges our conscience of the stain of sin. We’re both forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
To help illustrate, let’s say we’re issued a ticket for violating a traffic law. A record of the violation goes to the court (God), and a copy goes to us (our conscience). The court needs payment for the ticket. When we confess our sin to God, He regards the blood of Jesus as complete payment for our “ticket,” so He forgives us and removes our “ticket” from His record. We, however, may still have a lingering sense of guilt when we look at our copy of the “ticket.”
We have to remember what 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” On God’s side, He forgives, and on our side, we’re cleansed. This cleansing removes the stain of sin from our conscience.
If a feeling of guilt remains after we confess our sins, we should simply claim the power of the blood of Jesus by faith. We can pray, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, by Your blood I’m forgiven and cleansed. Lord, Your Word says that Your blood even purifies my conscience!” The more we thank the Lord this way, the more we’re assured that our conscience is cleansed.
3. Accused by Satan
After we’ve confessed our sins, received God’s forgiveness, and had our conscience cleansed by the blood of Christ, we may encounter another problem: some lingering inward accusation regarding our sins. This inner accusation can become like a gigantic cloud over our heads, robbing us of all peace as we continue to blame ourselves for what we’ve done.
What should we do? Should we confess our sin again, this time more earnestly? That doesn’t work. No matter how many times we confess the same sin to God, the accusations just won’t go away.
To be freed from these accusations, it’s important to see where they come from. Are they from God? No. God forgave us when we confessed. Then are they from our conscience? No. The blood of Jesus purified our sin-stained conscience. These accusations come from Satan.
This shouldn’t surprise us. In fact, in Revelation 12:10 Satan is called “the accuser of [the] brothers.” He spends all his time accusing the Lord’s believers day and night. His goal is to weaken and even paralyse us. He wants to cheat us of our enjoyment of God’s presence. If we accept his accusations, our fellowship with God will be hindered, and we’ll suffer great loss in our spiritual life.
But Revelation 12:11 tells us what answers these accusations from Satan:
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb.”
We need to confess our sins to the Lord to be forgiven and have our conscience cleansed from the stain of sin. But after that, if we’re hounded by accusations, we must take further action. We have to say “NO!” to Satan’s accusations and declare the full effectiveness of the blood of Jesus. We have to point Satan, the one who accuses us, to the blood of the Lamb.
Don’t succumb to Satan’s accusations. When he accuses us, we can declare, “Satan, I reject your accusations. Look at the blood of Jesus. God is satisfied by Christ’s redeeming blood, my conscience is purified with His cleansing blood, and you’re defeated by His overcoming blood!”
Experiencing the blood of Jesus
By believing in and experiencing the blood of Jesus, our whole Christian walk will change. We don’t have to remain separated from God, burdened by guilt, or tormented by Satan’s accusations. When we sin, we must confess our sins, believe we’re forgiven and cleansed, and even declare that we’ve been forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Christ is truly precious!
This hymn by Watchman Nee expresses how effective Christ’s blood can be to us in our experience (you can hear the tune here):
Why should I worry, doubt and fear?
Has God not caused His Son to bear
My sins upon the tree?
The debt that Christ for me has paid,
Would God another mind have made
To claim again from me?
Redemption full the Lord has made,
And all my debts has fully paid,
From law to set me free.
I fear not for the wrath of God,
For I’ve been sprinkled with His blood,
It wholly covers me.
For me forgiveness He has gained,
And full acquittal was obtained,
All debts of sin are paid;
God would not have His claim on two,
First on His Son, my Surety true,
And then upon me laid.
So now I have full peace and rest,
My Savior Christ hath done the best
And set me wholly free;
By His all-efficacious blood
I ne’er could be condemned by God,
For He has died for me!