(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.
As Christians, although we’ve believed in the Lord Jesus and received Him as our Saviour, at times we may wonder, “How do I know I’m saved?” Sometimes we feel we’re definitely saved; at other times, we’re not so sure. When we’re tossed back and forth between certainty and uncertainty, it’s difficult for us to progress in our Christian life.
But we don’t have to be unsure. God provides three clear ways for us to have the full assurance of salvation, which we’ll discuss in this post.
1. The Bible says so
The first way we know we’re saved is that the Bible says so. We have to realise that the Bible isn’t an ordinary book; it’s the speaking of the living God Himself. And God does not lie, so we can absolutely believe, trust, and rely on His Word.
First John 5:13 says this:
“I have written these things to you that you may know that you have eternal life, to you who believe into the name of the Son of God.”
This verse shows us God doesn’t want us to be unsure about our salvation. We have something in writing—the Word of God—by which we can know we’re really saved. God wants us to be assured of our salvation by His written Word.
Note 1 on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version speaks about the assurance of salvation we can have through God’s Word:
“The written words of the Scriptures are the assurance to the believers, who believe into the name of the Son of God, that they have eternal life. Our believing to receive eternal life is the fact; the words of the Holy Writings are the assurance concerning this fact—they are the title deed to our eternal salvation. By them we are assured and have the pledge that as long as we believe into the name of the Son of God, we have eternal life.”
We have a pledge concerning our salvation! Our pledge, our “title deed” to our eternal salvation, is the Word of God.
John 3:16 is another verse that assures us of our salvation:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”
This verse tells us that when we believe into Jesus Christ, we’re saved; we have eternal life and we will not perish. We’re saved when we believe in Him and receive Him as our Saviour. This is God’s unchanging and reliable Word.
Relying on the facts in God’s Word, as opposed to our own feelings or deductions, is one strong way we can be assured we’re really saved.
2. The Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit
Another way we can be sure we’re saved is through the Spirit.
God gave us two wonderful gifts: the Bible, which is something outside of us, and His Spirit, who is inside us. Both testify that when we believe in Jesus, we’re saved eternally.
When we were born again by believing in Jesus, the Spirit came into our spirit to live in us forever.
Romans 8:16 speaks clearly concerning these two spirits:
“The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.”
The Holy Spirit witnesses deep within us, in our spirit, that we are truly saved. Even if we doubt this and say, “I don’t think I’m a child of God,” the Spirit within us witnesses to confirm that we are.
One reason we may wonder whether we’re saved may be because we don’t know how to experience this witnessing of the Holy Spirit with our spirit. Instead, we may rely on our fluctuating feelings or our doubting mind to assure us we’re saved. But the key to experiencing this witnessing of the Holy Spirit is to realise that it’s with our spirit, which is deeper than our emotions or our mind.
Now, let’s read 1 Corinthians 12:3:
“No one can say, Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.”
Note 3 on this verse explains how saying “Jesus is Lord” is crucial:
“This indicates that when we say with a proper spirit, ‘Jesus is Lord!’ we are in the Holy Spirit. Hence, to call on the Lord Jesus is the way to participate in, to enjoy, and to experience the Holy Spirit.”
Whenever we’re doubting our salvation, we can say aloud, “Jesus is Lord!” As we declare this, we’re in the Holy Spirit, not in our questioning mind or our changeable emotions, and the Spirit in our spirit witnesses and assures us that we most certainly are children of God.
3. Love for our brothers in the Lord
In addition to the Word of God and the Spirit in us, we can know we’re saved because we have genuine love for our fellow Christians, even for those who may be very different from ourselves.
This love isn’t something we had before we were saved, and it’s not something we manufacture after we’re saved. It’s the spontaneous result of our receiving the life of God when we’re regenerated.
In 1 John 3:14, the apostle John says,
“We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers.”
Note 1 explains the relationship of life and love in this verse:
“Death is of the devil, God’s enemy, Satan, signified by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which brings death; life is of God, the source of life, signified by the tree of life, which issues in life (Gen. 2:9, 16-17). Death and life are not only of two sources, Satan and God; they are also two essences, two elements, and two spheres. To pass out of death into life is to pass out of the source, the essence, the element, and the sphere of death into the source, the essence, the element, and the sphere of life. This took place in us at our regeneration. We know this, i.e., have the inner consciousness of it, because we love the brothers. Love (the love of God) toward the brothers is strong evidence of this. Faith in the Lord is the way for us to pass out of death into life; love toward the brothers is the evidence that we have passed out of death into life. To have faith is to receive the eternal life; to love is to live by the eternal life and express it.”
This love in us for our brothers in the Lord is further evidence that we’re genuinely saved.
Assurance of salvation: a solid foundation for our Christian life
Once we receive Christ as our Saviour, we have wonderful sources of the assurance of our salvation in the written word of the Bible, the Spirit witnessing with our spirit, and love for our brothers in the Lord. Thank God we can know with certainty that we’re saved eternally and that we’re truly God’s children! With this assurance as our solid foundation, we can have a joyful Christian life and go on to experience Christ and grow in Him.