(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.
Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
But this verse doesn’t just apply to when we first believed in the Lord and got saved. Actually, the Bible shows us that God’s people throughout the centuries regularly called on the name of the Lord. In this post we’ll see how we can be saved constantly by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, and how this practice is essential for our Christian life.
What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?
Every Christian has prayed to God at some point in their lives. God hears these prayers, whether they’re silent or spoken aloud. But calling on the Lord is definitely audible. In the Bible, the Hebrew word for call means to call out to, to cry unto, and the Greek word means to invoke a person, to call a person by name.
For example, when a little boy falls off a swing, he immediately cries out, “Mommy!” When his mother hears, she runs to him, wipes away his tears, and soothes him. Children cry out to their mothers when they’re hungry, tired, or scared. They cry because they’re helpless and they need to be cared for.
When we cry out to the Lord, it’s because we’re hungry for Him, we need Him, and we can’t make it without Him.
When did people start calling on the Lord?
It might surprise you to find out that the practice of calling on the Lord began long ago, with the third generation of mankind. Genesis 4:26 tells us:
“And to Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of Jehovah.”
But why did people begin to do this?
The meaning of the name Enosh gives us a clue. It means frail, mortal man. Because of mankind’s fall, man was frail. From the time of Enosh, people realised the emptiness and vanity of life apart from God, as well as their own fragility and mortality.
So they began to call upon the name of Jehovah, the Hebrew word for “Lord.” The meaning of the name Jehovah is I am that I am. He is the unique, eternal God. Frail, mortal human beings called upon Him because they realised they needed the eternal God.
The condition of humanity today is the same as it was in Enosh’s time. We’re still frail and mortal, and life is often confusing, full of turmoil, and even overwhelming. We’re limited, both physically and psychologically; we need the eternal God.
Now let’s look at some of the benefits we receive when we call on the name of the Lord.
In the New Testament, the name of the Lord is Jesus. Romans 10:9 says,
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The moment we first believed and called on the Lord Jesus, confessing His name with our mouth, we were saved eternally from God’s judgment. We were forgiven, justified in Christ, and born again with the divine life of God.
But that first time we called upon the name of Jesus is just the beginning. After we’re saved initially, we can continue to enjoy full salvation in Christ by calling on Jesus. This includes being saved daily from many negative things, such as anger, depression, impatience, sadness, discouragement, and anxiety, just to name a few.
How can calling on the Lord save us from these things? When we call, “Oh, Lord Jesus!” we’re not merely speaking inspiring words or a positive affirmation to try and improve our mood.
Instead, when we call on the name of Jesus, we contact the Lord who is dwelling in our spirit as the life-giving Spirit. And as we call on His name, He saves us by imparting more of His divine life into us.
We enjoy the riches of Christ
Romans 10:12 says the Lord of all is “rich to all who call upon Him.” Christ wants us to enjoy His riches in our daily lives.
He is rich to us as comfort, peace, love, hope, patience, kindness, endurance, longsuffering, strength, faith, and every positive thing in the universe. And a simple way we can experience these riches is by calling on His name, “Oh, Lord Jesus!”
A life-long practice
Calling on the name of the Lord is an essential part of our daily Christian life. As soon as we feel like we’re drifting away from the Lord, all we have to do is say, “Lord Jesus.” No matter where we are or whether we call on Him loudly or softly, He’s always available!
Calling upon the Lord Jesus is like drawing refreshing water from a deep well; He refreshes us and deeply satisfies us.
John Newton, the author of the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace,” was a person who enjoyed the riches of Christ by calling on His name. In another hymn he wrote, he speaks of his experience:
“How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.”
(You can read the rest of this hymn and hear the tune here.)