The Plan A Meditation on God's Eternal Purposes of Salvation
by Stephen Paynter
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The timeless `now' of eternity past is full of the fullness of God. God, existing as Father, Son, and Spirit, is love. The love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father, is expressed through the Spirit. The Father indwells the Son and the Spirit; the Son indwells the Father and the Spirit; and the Spirit indwells the Father and the Son - a motionless dance of interpenetration and fulfilment. They are distinct. They are one. They are. God is.
Included in that perfection is the Plan - the plan to create, let fall, redeem, restore. The plan to make mankind in his image, and to work through the man Abraham and his descendants. The plan painstakingly to teach through history and revelation the theological concepts and vocabulary necessary to understand the plan.
The syllabus was to include the uniqueness of God; his holiness and mercy; his hatred of sin, the precondition of shed blood for forgiveness; the promise of rest and land - of ultimate restoration; his incredible longsuffering patience; the hint that the Levitical priesthood was to be replaced, and the promise of a coming priestly king, an eternal king, and an atoning suffering servant; and the promise that Yahweh himself would come.
It was the plan to send, and the plan to be sent, becoming incarnate, forever intimately linking deity and created humanity in the person of the Son. The plan involved the Son learning obedience through suffering, suffering which was to be caused by this creation which he was to bring into being and uphold in every moment of its existence.
It was the plan for the Father to remain adamant, as the Son pleads from Gethsemane, and suffers on the cross the unthinkable rejection. The blessed Son's parched lips were to gasp, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Vicarious sacrifice, turning aside the Father's legal judgement arising from moral aversion, redeeming, reconciling, restoring, justifying both the wicked, and the Holy Triune God for devising and executing such a plan.
The plan involves the generous pouring out of the Holy Spirit, transforming God-hating rebels, bringing them to belief and trust, causing them to blossom with the fruit of godliness - true God-likeness. It was the plan, ultimately, for this once soiled then restored part of creation to participate in the divine nature.
Participate in the divine nature? How could such a thing ever be? What does it really mean to be made in God's image? Clearly, more than what we look like; more, indeed, than rationality, for angels do not share our privileges. It means having God's breath within. It means that it was possible, and if not appropriate, at least not inappropriate for the Son to be joined with a human nature. It means we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, and will ultimately share something of the divine nature. Stagger and wonder anew.
Then the clock starts ticking - time is created, duration happens, creation is begun. The rollercoaster ride of history is now sweeping inexorably on, as moment succeeds moment. Fortunately the plan is in place, and it's a plan that has been crafted by the humble God, the God who passionately values this creation he has made, the God who providentially tends it, nurturing it constantly. It's a plan implemented by the God who is love -- from never-ending intra-trinitarian relationship, to tender care for transient creatures who are gone almost before they begin.
Awesome. Wonderful. Magnificent. Resplendent. Sovereign. Thrice Holy. Wise beyond telling. Compassionate. Faithful. The Ancient of Days.
What are human beings that this God should plan this for them at such great cost to himself?
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