(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.
Where did the Bible come from? Are its words simply religious lore, written down by people over the centuries? Are they the product of the thoughts and imaginations of men? Or is the Bible the inspired Word of God? Did God write the Bible? Or did men?
Since our faith is based on this book, it’s crucial for us as Christians to know the source of the Bible.
Knowing the source is critical
When we want to find out how reliable something is, we check its source. For example, we definitely want to know where our drinking water comes from. If we know it comes from a pure source, we’re confident we can drink it without harm. In the same way, we trust certain news reports if we believe the reporters are reliable and their facts are checked.
For us to gauge the trustworthiness of something, it helps if we know its source. When we do, we can then determine whether we should disregard it or deem it valuable and reliable. So much depends on its source. The same is true with the Bible.
Where did the Bible come from?
Throughout the ages, many people from different cultures at different times have written down their thoughts, observations, and philosophies on life. But what about the Bible? Is it merely a collection of the thoughts, observations, and philosophies of pious men about God?
In 2 Peter 1:21, the apostle Peter says:
“For no prophecy was ever borne by the will of man, but men spoke from God while being borne by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter explains that although the Scriptures were written through men, these men spoke from God. The source of the Bible is God, not men.
We can see this when we consider the true and profound words in the Scriptures. Could any person write such words? At times, they defy our expectations by providing indescribable comfort or piercing light concerning our inner condition. Even if a person wanted to write something for or about God, all mankind is fallen, and the mind of man is darkened and limited, incapable of writing such words as those found in the Bible.
How did the words of the Bible get to us from God?
Men didn’t speak from themselves, but were used by God to record the words in the Bible. To understand how this could occur, we need to look more closely at this phrase: “men spoke from God while being borne by the Holy Spirit.”
Note 2 on 2 Peter 1:21 in the New Testament Recovery Version explains:
“No prophecy was ever borne by the will of man. Man’s will, desire, and wish, with his thought and exposition, were not the source from which any prophecy came; the source was God, by whose Holy Spirit men were borne, as a ship is borne by the wind, to speak out the will, desire, and wish of God.”
If you’ve ever watched a boat sailing on the water, you’ve seen its sails catch the wind. It moves not by its own power, but by the power of that wind. This picture demonstrates how the Bible came from God. Just as a boat is moved by the wind, certain men were borne, or carried along, by the Holy Spirit. By this Spirit these men could speak or write down the will, desire, and wish of God. This is what we mean when we say that the Bible is inspired by God.
So the words of the Bible didn’t originate from man’s own mind. But how did this “being borne by the Holy Spirit” happen?
The Holy Spirit and the human spirit
It’s important to see that God created human beings not only with a mind, but also with an inward part that’s deeper than the mind. The Bible tells us in Zechariah 12:1 that God “formed the spirit of man within him.” This “spirit of man” is our deepest part, and just like the other parts of our being, it has a particular function. Our eyes are for seeing, our ears are for hearing, and our human spirit is for contacting, receiving, and containing God.
John 4:24 says,
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit.”
The first Spirit in this verse refers to the divine Spirit, and the second spirit refers to the human spirit. With our human spirit, we can worship, fellowship with, and know God, who is Spirit.
So how does this relate to where the Bible came from? As certain men had fellowship with God in their spirit, they were borne, or carried along, by the Holy Spirit to write down not their own words, but the words of God. The Scriptures are God’s words, and they are holy because their source is God. They came to us from men who were borne by the Holy Spirit to speak and write words from God.
Why it’s important for us to know the source of the Bible
If we don’t see that God Himself is the source of the Bible, that all Scripture is God-breathed, then the foundation of our Christian life will be unsteady and vulnerable. Our faith rests solidly on the Bible. For us to have confidence in this book, we need to see clearly that God is the source of the Bible.
In our daily environment, we interact with people who don’t believe in God or value the Bible’s words as being from God. At work, at school, on television, in movies—nearly everywhere we look—we encounter things and people that may make us question the Bible, causing us to ask ourselves, “Is the Bible reliable?” “Is everything in the Bible true?” “How do I know the Bible is true?” And if we’re unsure about the Bible, our faith can be shaken.
However, if we’re clear that God is the source of the Bible, we’ll know its words are trustworthy, true, and pure because God is trustworthy, true, and pure. We’ll have confidence in the reliability of the Bible, and our faith will be strengthened by its words. God’s Word can sustain us in all situations, guide us to know God today, and be depended on for all eternity.
Because we know God Himself is the source of the Scriptures, we can trust the Bible wholeheartedly, without reservation or doubt. By trusting in and relying on the Bible, we’ll come to know God more and more deeply both in this book and in our lives.