(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.
When we repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, some wonderful things happen to us. We are forgiven of all our sins and delivered from God’s condemnation and eternal punishment. As a result, for the first time in our lives we have untold happiness and peace. We can’t help but love the Lord Jesus who died for us on the cross.
Forgiven, delivered, and born again
Being forgiven by God and delivered from eternal punishment are truly wonderful, yet there’s even more. Perhaps the most amazing thing that happens to us when we believe in the Lord Jesus is that we’re born again, or regenerated.
What do the words born again mean? Some think it’s a figure of speech, like the saying turn over a new leaf, meaning you resolve to be a better person. But it’s more profound than that. According to the Bible, being born again isn’t a metaphor for having a new beginning. It’s an actual spiritual birth: we are reborn with the life of God.
Why do we need to be born again?
Since our sins are forgiven, isn’t that enough? Why do we need to be born again?
We were born with the physical, human life, which we received from our parents. But God wants us to have His divine life in addition to our human life. We are reborn with the divine life of God by believing in Christ.
Regardless of whether we’re a good person living the most moral life, quite the opposite, or somewhere in between, every one of us needs to be reborn spiritually to have the divine life of God.
In John 3:3 the Lord Jesus makes it clear that we all must be born again:
“Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
For His plan to be worked out, God wants us to be people who are not just forgiven and cleansed, but also who possess His divine life.
This is why God created us as vessels to contain Him. Specifically, He made us with a human spirit, the deepest part of our being, which is able to contact, receive, and contain God.
The Lord Jesus said in John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” “Born of the flesh” refers to our physical birth, and “born of the Spirit” refers to our spiritual birth.
“The Spirit” is the Spirit of God, and “spirit” refers to our human spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ, our human spirit is born of the Spirit with the divine life of God.
How can this be possible?
God is holy and righteous. How can He give His eternal, divine life to sinful human beings? Because of Christ’s death on the cross, God can forgive and thoroughly cleanse all who repent and believe in Him. Then the holy and righteous God can come into our spirit and beget us with His life.
We need to realise that God’s forgiving us, cleansing us, and delivering us from eternal punishment is so that we can have His eternal life.
To illustrate, let’s say we want to pour delicious juice into a cup. But there’s a problem—the cup is filthy. We first have to wash the cup; then we can fill it with juice.
Similarly, God wants to fill us with Himself as the divine life, but first we sinners need to be cleansed with the blood of Jesus. Once we believe and are cleansed, the divine life can enter into us with no obstacle.
A hymn by Charles Wesley beautifully speaks of what the Lord Jesus did for us so we could be born again. Here are a few lines:
“Mild He lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.”
Being reborn makes us God’s children
Just as being born of our parents physically makes us their child, being born of God spiritually makes us a child of God.
John 1:12-13 tells us this fact:
“As many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name, who were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Isn’t it amazing that we human beings can have God’s divine life and be His children? What wonderful things happened to us when we were saved!
For all eternity we’ll thank the Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for us so we could be forgiven and cleansed of our sins. We’re so thankful we’re no longer under God’s condemnation, headed for eternal punishment. But we also thank God that His salvation goes even further. We were born of the Spirit in our spirit! We have the life of God!
We can echo the apostle Peter’s praise to God in 1 Peter 1:3:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”