(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.
The day we get saved is a wonderful, momentous day. However, after experiencing the initial joy of salvation, it’s not unusual to wonder how to continue experiencing the Lord Jesus. You may have questions like How can I know Jesus personally? How can I experience Jesus in my life? Is being forgiven and saved from God’s judgment all there is to the Christian life?
Some may try different ways to experience Jesus like they did on the day they were saved. Perhaps they study the Bible, but though they learn something new, the Lord Himself may still seem far away. It’s like trying to enter a locked room with the wrong key; you need the right key to unlock the door. In the same way, we need to use the “right key” to experience Jesus. So what’s the key for us to know Jesus personally in our daily life?
We’ve been redeemed and reborn
Before we see the key to experiencing Jesus, we need to grasp two important facts.
The first fact is that Jesus redeemed us by His death on the cross. How we thank Him for this! And His redemption made the second fact possible: Jesus has come to live in our spirit! Through Christ’s death, He saved us from eternal judgment; in His resurrection, Christ as the life-giving Spirit came to live in our spirit. Knowing and appreciating this second fact is crucial to truly experiencing Jesus daily.
God created us because He wanted to give us His divine life so we’d express Him in our living. But because mankind fell, two things happened: we became sinful and our spirit was deadened, unable to contact or know God. So we had two great needs: our sins needed to be forgiven, and our deadened spirit needed to be made alive.
When we received the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, both of these great needs were met! We were redeemed and forgiven of our sins, and we were reborn in our spirit with the life of God.
Now let’s go on to see the key to experiencing Jesus.
Three realms and three keys
There are three realms in this universe: the physical realm, the psychological realm, and the spiritual realm. When God created us, He equipped us with the three keys that give us access to each realm—a body, a soul, and a spirit:
- The physical realm is the material world, consisting of what we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. The key to experiencing this realm is to use our body’s five physical senses.
- The psychological realm is the realm of the human soul, which is deeper than the physical realm and consists of intangible things like thoughts, feelings, and decisions. The key to experiencing the psychological realm is to use the faculties of our soul: our mind to think, reason, and analyse; our emotions to experience joy, sorrow, and other feelings; and our will to decide, form intentions, and make choices.
- The spiritual realm is more mysterious and deeper than both the physical and psychological realms. John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit.” In spirit here means in our human spirit. The key to experiencing the spiritual realm is to use our human spirit to contact God, who is Spirit.
To illustrate the importance of using the right key for each realm, let’s use the example of the delicious aroma of bread baking in an oven. To try and “experience” that aroma by using the faculties of our soul would be futile. Our soul is simply the wrong key. But with a single sniff, we can use our sense of smell and immediately experience that mouthwatering aroma.
In the same way, we can’t experience Christ if we use the wrong key. Jesus Christ is no longer physically present on earth, so our five senses don’t help us there. And even using our mind to think about Him or our emotions to try to sense Him doesn’t work, because God is Spirit. Using our God-created human spirit is the right key for us to experience Christ, who lives in our spirit.
How to use our spirit
To use any part of our being means to exercise that part. For example, physically we use or exercise our feet by walking. Psychologically, we exercise our mind by studying or considering a topic.
So how do we exercise our spirit to contact and experience the Lord Jesus? The best way to exercise our spirit is by praying. Our prayers don’t need to be long or formal. They don’t even need to be made in a particular place. In fact, simply calling on the precious name of our Lord Jesus is a good way to exercise our spirit to contact Him in prayer. When we call on the name of the Lord from deep within, we experience Him as living water, satisfying us and quenching our thirst at any time during our day.
Another way to exercise our spirit is to pray with the Word of God. As we read the Bible, we can turn what we read into our prayer. When we pray with the Scriptures, we use not just our mind to read the Word, but more importantly we use our spirit to contact the Spirit in the Word. By exercising our spirit with the Word of God, we experience Christ as our spiritual nourishment.
We can also exercise our spirit by praising and thanking the Lord for all He is and all He has done for us. We can be filled with Him by giving thanks to Him for all things.
By regularly practicing these different ways of exercising our spirit, we can go on from the initial step of salvation to know and experience Jesus more every day.
Experiencing Jesus day by day
The Lord Jesus doesn’t want to be an objective figure whom we worship from afar. He redeemed us and regenerated us to live in us and be our life. Jesus lives in us, so we can experience Him subjectively as everything to us in our everyday life. In all matters of our life—whether big or small—we can experience Christ as whatever we need when we contact Him by using the key of our human spirit.
What a joy to experience Jesus by exercising our spirit!