Have you ever wondered what God's plan for us would have been if sin had not entered this world? In this episode we take a careful look at what scripture says and discover that His PLAN was absolutely amazing. So good that it is hard for us to believe. Imagine, He planned all along to adopt us into the family of God, to become part of the royal family. That will still become a reality in spite of sin not because of sin. One day God will make his dwelling with us and we will be His people and He will be our God.
When God created this world, he had in mind that after a time Adam and Eve and their offspring would be adopted into his intimate family. The heavenly family of Father, Son and Spirit would expand to include humans. This is possibly why humans were created with the power of procreation. They could then better understand God’s creative actions. An audacious claim like this demands solid evidence. Here it is.
Ephesians 1 New Living Translation 1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. What Paul means by every spiritual blessing will become clear as we read the rest of the passage. It takes imagination to visualize what God has in mind. Get ready for the ride. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
This was before Adam and Eve were created. The was before Adam and Eve believed the serpent’s lies and chose him as lord of the earth. We were to be perfect in his eyes in every way of unselfish love, compassion and affection. But this is only part of the PLAN.
5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Adoption into God’s own family is the PLAN. This means more than being saved. This was all planned before the advent of sin on our earth. And the strategy is described. Jesus would become one of us to make this adoption possible. All this was to happen without sin on the planet.
We often think that our salvation and intimate connection with the family of God is because of sin but sin did not create this plan. No, God persevered with his original PLAN in spite of sin.
Because of sin the PLAN now included the death of Jesus in the process. We, sinners, would insist on torturing and executing him, the One who came to adopt us into the family of God.
It is helpful to be more definitive about the family of God. The family of God can mean all created sentient beings such as angels and humans. There might be other groups that belong to this broad definition that we do not know of. The family of God can mean the loyal angels and believers here on earth. The family of God in its narrowest sense can mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The question then becomes to which of these groups are we to be adopted into? To answer this question, we read the following passages.
Revelation 3:21 NLT Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.
Notice this is the Father’s throne which Jesus shares with him. This throne is not shared with any others that we know of. This is breath taking if we can grasp what is being proclaimed in this message to the seventh church. We are to share the ministry of Jesus on his Father’s throne.
Romans 8:14-17 NLT For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’sSpirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
Adoption into the family of God is a miracle. How can creatures be taken into the family of the Creator? There is no greater honour for creatures. It is the seldom stated appeal of evolutionary theory, that we will evolve to a higher state. This is the appeal the serpent made to Eve’s imagination, “you will be like God.” These temptations are only possible because we can imagine they could become true.
Galatians 4:4-5 NLT But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.
From this passage, adoption into God’s family implies or requires freedom from slavery to the law. While adoption can be defined by law the action supersedes law. Adoption into a family, as opposed to adopting children as a source of labour, is motivated by the desire to love and serve the adoptee. This is what Jesus demonstrated in his relationship with those under law when he joined us on our planet.
Ephesians 1:6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
There are cases of orphans who preferred to remain at the orphanage rather than leave and live with a family who wanted to adopt them. Here is the problem God faced. We preferred to slavery of law to the freedom of the family of God. It took the death of his dear Son to convince us of the virtue of God’s unconditional, everlasting love for us. It was this act of God in Christ which made us willing to leave the slavery of sin and law for the freedom of the love of God.
Here is the emancipation proclamation made by Abraham Lincoln: "Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty- three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free;" On Jan. 2, 1863 there were still close to 200,000 former slaves working on the plantations and factories of the south. Why? Because of the various reactions which take place when change happens. Some believed and left the plantations. Some cautious ones thought it was a trick, and stayed. Some had not heard about the proclamation. Some preferred the security of their slavery to the insecurity of freedom.
Shelby Foote, in his monumental 3 volume work, The Civil War, writes . . . every slave could repeat with equal validity, what an Alabama slave had said in 1864 when asked what he thought of the Great Emancipator, "I don't know nothin' bout Abraham Lincoln, cep they say he set us free. And I don't know nothin' bout that neither." (Quoted in The Grace Awakening, C. Swindoll, p. 104)
Ephesians 1:9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
Everything will be brought under the authority of Christ means that the love of God in Christ will triumph over the authority of law AND WE ARE UNITED WITH CHRIST. You probably did not get what Paul has written because of the astonishing destiny that is projected for you and me.
We will share in this authority with Christ. We are his blood bought brothers and sisters. This PLAN of God is difficult to grasp in our beaten down imaginations. It is God’s plan that we minister together with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to the universe. Together with the divine family we will love and serve the universe. God does not regard us as convicts from earth but his precious princesses and princes who have finally taken their positions after all the trauma of living on a sinful planet.
Ephesians 1:12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
The presence of the Holy spirit in our lives, like an engagement ring, is our promise of the intimate life with God that is at hand. This is the hope that we have. It is bigger than salvation from sin, as necessary as that is. To be with God himself is better than being in heaven. It is true that God lives in heaven but being in heaven does not mean that we are with God. I can be in the same city as a friend and not be with the friend.
Ephesians 1:15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
We are God’s rich and glorious inheritance, or God is our rich and glorious inheritance. The translations go both ways on this part of verse 18. Can you stretch your imagination to grasp this amazing concepts? Children inherit from their parents but parents can also inherit love and care from their children. In intimate relationship there is a mutual inheriting.
Ephesians 1:19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
A head is never far from its body. The body serves the head and the head guides the body. Using this analogy Paul confirms the intimacy that is desired by the divine family with us sinners who are filled with Christ through the Spirit.
The PLAN and the Cross
Now that the PLAN is faintly understood imagine the horror of Jesus at the rejection, torture and abuse he received from the very people he was telling about their destiny in the heart of God. Understanding this additional stress for Jesus Christ makes the cross that much more painful for him. It’s not only his personal pain but the knowledge that “they do not know what they are doing” by brutalizing themselves, the heirs of God’s throne.
When Jesus prays for unity between his disciples and unity between the disciples and himself, he is caught up with the vision of all this entails in becoming brothers in the PLAN. He is dreaming heavenly ministry for them and they are dreaming earthly position for themselves. Because they had not grasped their high destiny, they will lack conviction and so they will be filled with cowardice.
John 17:12 NLT During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name (character) you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. 17:13 Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.
It is the knowledge of the destiny God has for us that fills us with joy. His PLAN for us gives us meaning and purpose in our tragic lives here on earth.
The PLAN is realized
Revelation 21:1-4 NLT Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Finally, the PLAN comes to fruition. God and his people are living together. God and his dear children have moved into the “house” he has built for them. God has romanced his people through all their suffering and disappointments and now they are together—at last.
Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. Godliness— Godlikeness –is the goal to be reached. GW 96
The ending we have dreamed about in our stories has finally come true. “God and his human children lived happily ever afterwards, together, in ministry to the cosmos!”
Ian Hartley, July 2022