THE PLAN FOR MAN
"...he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb.11:6)
God has a master plan over all with a purpose, a process, and provision for life. We ought to know this, and we can see much of the plan if we value and read His Word.
To understand anything of the mind of God and His marvelous plan, one must first know that God is eternal and "there is none else" (Isa.45:22). He is love; He is just; and He has communicated with us through the Holy Bible so that we might know Him (Psa.90:2; Psa.119:105; Matt.4:4; I John 4:9). Of Himself we read: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Rev.1:8). If we miss this foundation we are left to wander and wonder, and we may never know or appreciate the plan and enjoy the benefits of it.
Some people believe one thing and some believe another concerning life, death, and eternity. Some people believe that religion has the answers, and some believe science is our hope. Some people believe life just happened and death is the end, and some don't know what to believe. Here is essentially what we find in the Holy Bible, which God declares to be His Word, and for those of us who have received it we have found a very real blessing. - R. L. DeWitt, 10/97; rev. 10/05
It appears from the Scriptures that God moved in love to make man and have a people to be companions to Himself (Psa.33:11-15; Prov.16: 4; John 1:3-4; John 3:16; Eph.1:4; I John 4:19; Rev. 4:11). Perhaps man was made flesh to be molded by experience and trials, so he might learn to appreciate and love God. Certainly he was given a work to till the ground, care for the earth, and have dominion over God's creatures (Gen.1:26-28; Gen.2:5); but it appears his great task in time to prepare for eternity, has been to know and love God, and man has been slow to accept that (Psa. 100). To delay is most dangerous, according to the Word of God.
It is so common to hear people speak of God's Word, His work, His ways, and our own lives, as though we are the center of all things and our estimation of the value of it all is truth. Well, the truth is that God is sovereign. He is the potter and we are the clay (Rom.9:21); and He says: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," -Isa.55:8. Whatever God's thoughts were in creating this world and man, we can see that He intends that His will be done, with our participation or without it. Man really ought to humble himself before the Lord (Heb.10: 31), for he must give account of himself one day.
God was certainly not unmindful of what would happen when He gave man a free-will to make choices, but that liberty was important. Man soon fell in sin and was corrupted. God then set about to "devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him" -II Sam.14:14. That is to say, that though man chose to listen to the tempter at the very beginning, and disobeyed, God devised means to redeem him and reconcile him to Himself. That is grace.
Before man there were angels, and they were servants created to obey and carry out the works of their Creator. They were later given a watch over us. They were not made in the "image" of God, like man, and apparently could not return love to Him. One such servant was given talents and knowledge and power above all others, and a free-will (Lucifer - enlightened one). The Bible tells us that in due course he chose to oppose God and bequiled many angels to follow him (Isa.14:12-17; Matt.25:41). God expelled him from heaven, and he then turned his mind to corrupting the work of God (Gen.3). He is that force of evil called Satan (adversary), and the god of this world (II Cor.4:3-4). He is marked for judgment.
God knew the ways of Satan and already had a plan to eventually defeat him without compromising Himself; i.e. to remain just, merciful and holy. God did not exercise His might to restrain and imprison Satan, for He must be true to Himself. No one could ever say God was arbitrary without being just. Justice must prevail, for that is the nature of God. Satan condemns himself by hurting, harming, and by opposing goodness, as well as rebelling against his Creator.
The creation story as given in the Word of God tells us all that God intended for man to know about His work. The finite mind of man cannot comprehend infinity. We might wonder about the unknown, but we must not build doctrine or teach things not supported by the plain Scripture. Surely, if God desired to prepare a place of habitation for man, He could first form a fireball of all the needed elements. He could then cool it quickly with water to form a great surface crust. No doubt gigantic eruptions would occur when the cold air and water met the magma. The chemical elements would form volcanic mountains and hills; and valleys and plains would develop in the crust. A place was established. We are told God was well pleased with His work (Gen.1). He made it into a dwelling place after many cataclysmic actions and the growth of plant life, and we ought not to suppose God is limited by time or anything. If there were geological ages between verses one and two of the first chapter of Genesis, as some suppose, we are not told and could only speculate. Perhaps the dinosaurs lived in the days of Job, for he spoke of behemoth, which was like no other. There is no firm evidence of man beyond 4000 BC, and scientists who are Christians continue to examine the claims.
Out of the endless reaches of eternity God spoke a world into existence. This was the beginning of time, and God divided time for man into seven periods called dispensations (administrations, or ages, or days). It is important to know this to understand the Holy Scriptures. The days of man are numbered from about 4,000 B.C., according to the Word of God.
The Bible is concerned with man, and the dispensations we find are all periods of God's testing of man, for he was created a living and everlasting soul with a free-will. Five periods have passed showing man's rebellion in each and God's judgment. We are now living in the sixth dispensation, near to the end. The Word of God teaches it will also end in man's failure and God's judgment, but as in every age God has provided salvation and hope for sinful man. One should be sure, therefore, that his or her soul is saved while there is yet time.
From the beginning God spoke of His Son, who would come to provide redemption for fallen man and reign over the world. In the Old Testament of the Bible the animal sacrifices were required for a covering of sin before God, and all pointed forward to the sacrifice God's Son would make one day to reconcile "whosoever will" (John 3:16; Heb.1:1-3; Rev.22:17). When He came the first time it was in meekness "as a Lamb" (John 1:29, 36), and He was rejected, hated, and crucified. God allowed it to provide redemption through His death for sin, and His blood shed for cleansing (Lev. 17:11; Heb.9); but when He comes again it will be "as the Lion", and He will not seek acceptance.
When the church (the ecclesia-- meaning "called out assembly of God") is taken to heaven, God's wrath will then be poured out on this world such as never before. The door of grace will be closed. Prophetically, that could happen today, because all that is foretold to happen prior to that time has occurred.
The seventh and final period of God's administration is yet to come, which is the millenium, or one thousand year reign of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, over the earth. At the close of that perfect and peaceful time man will yet rebel against God, and there will be a final judgment. Then time is no longer. The testing will end and eternity is before us. Justice and love shall prevail.
It would be helpful to look more closely at the dispensations to see God's work among men. Here are some of the verses marking the dispensations and showing God's testing, man's failure, the grace of God, and judgment:
1. INNOCENCE: Gen.1:2-31; Gen.2:16-17; Gen.3:22-24. Under a trial regarding sin in the state of innocence, man proved his heart was not devoted to God; and he reasoned in his mind with Satan, the tempter, and lost. He fell in sin and his nature was corrupted. This disobedience brought righteous judgment from a just and Holy God, who cannot overlook sin, but who as a loving God could care for his own. Man was expelled from the garden at Eden to protect him from more severe consequences, and allow him to live by his own wit, as he chose.
2. CONSCIENCE: Gen.4 & 5; Gen.6:5,11,12; Gen.7:23. Disobedience again showed itself, as man forgot God and began to live for his fleshly pleasures. His sin became so bad that God destroyed creation with a flood about 2300 B.C., but spared eight souls (Heb.11:7). It is important to understand that God would have been completely justified to destroy all, for all were sinners, but one man in his humility found grace in the sight of God. It was still the purpose of God to have faithful children to love (John 4:23-24).
3. GOVERNMENT: Gen.8:18; Gen.9:1-2 Gen.11:1-9. Man set forth to organize and build up his own way without God, and so God gave them languages and scattered them to put a difference between men (I Cor. 11:19).
4. PROMISE: Gen.12:1-3; Ex.1:13-14. The covenant of promise from God to a people that followed, was not esteemed, and man began to supplant and scheme, so God let these chosen people endure bondage for a time.
5. LAW: Ex.19:8; II Kings 17:20; II Kings 25:21; Isa.11:12. After God delivered this people of Israel from bondage He told them He would make them a kingdom of priests if they worshipped and followed Him (I Sam. 8:7; I Sam.12:13-19). They chose to have a king and live under law, but failed in that and even set up graven images to worship, so God delivered them into captivity until a day to come, when they shall be restored as a nation (Rom.10:21; Rom.11).
6. GRACE: Matt.1:18-23; Matt.27:50-54; John 20; Acts 1:10-11; Eph.3:1-7; I Thess.4:16-17; Matt.24; Rev.6. God sent forth "His only begotten Son", and when Israel rejected Him, He rent the "vail of the temple", and opened a day of grace to all men. Today man is still rejecting the grace of God, and this age will end in a period of great tribulation for the world, after the Lord calls His bride (the church) home to Himself.
7. KINGDOM: Isa.32:1; Matt.24:27-31; Matt.25:31; Rev.19:11-21; Rev.20:1-6; Rev.20:7-15. When the seven years of tribulation ends, Christ will return to take His rightful place as "King of kings", and reign. He will not then look to man to receive Him. The Word of God says "every knee shall bow". After this perfect time of one thousand years, with Satan held in chains, man will again listen to Satan when he is loosed for awhile. Then God will commence the final judgment. Satan and sin, and all followers of the evil one, will be cast into hell for ever. God says He will then make a new heaven and a new earth.
At first God spoke to certain ones, and then called out the people of Israel for blessing by covenant (Gen. 17; Deut.7:6; Lev.26). When they continued to rebel God scattered them for a time, to be restored as a nation at the end of time. They rejected their Redeemer, the Messiah (annointed)----the Christ of God, and thus fulfilled prophecy (Psa.22; Isa.53). God then turned to the world that "whosoever" will might be saved (John 3:16). In a day to come God's earthly people Israel "shall look upon Me whom they have pierced" (Zech.12:10). "And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then He shall answer, those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends" (Zech.13:6).
In this present day of grace, God is calling "all" through His Son (Rom.10:12; II Pet.3:9). The Lord Jesus also gave us a comprehensive statement of the Christian experience, when He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). He is the only "mediator" between God and man (I Tim.2:5):
Redemption way sets forth salvation and the way to heaven, the Father, eternal life, blessing; and judgment, the Kingdom, etc. This is the gospel (good news) message. As noted in the sections above, redemption is by faith in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since man fell in sin and cannot save himself, only God could redeem lost souls (Luke 1:26-35; Luke 2:7-11; Rom.5); but all men will not be saved. Most will not come to God because of pride, self-will, and a rebellious spirit toward God (Rom.3); nevertheless, God has opened the way and calls man (John 3:16). It is important to understand that God would be completely justified to cast us all away, but grace provides hope. We must never challenge God, but bow down in submission to receive the blessing He wants to give us. The call and hope is unto all, but only upon all that believe (Rom.3:21-24). Though a soul may go down to hell in everlasting judgment, he will not go down unloved.
Sometimes unsaved people wonder why trouble comes along, yet do they consider that they are trying to live without God in a sinful world? One may have more trouble than another, but all may come to God (Rom.10:9-13), and have the promise of peace and joy, now and forever. The question of great importance is whether one has received Jesus Christ into his heart, or only believed doctrines about Him.
Church truth sets forth obedience, God's honor, the testimony, our walk, etc. It speaks of the gathering center, worship, baptism, the Lord's supper, the one body, the house of God, the candlestick testimony, the bride, principles, etc. One ought to value this.
We need to appreciate that the church is God's work, and we must not be trying to re-design it or be ignoring God's ways and purposes. God seeks obedience and faithfulness. There is no such thing in the Word of God as going to "the church of your choice", as many people say. Denominations deny the "one body" (Rom.12:5; Rom. 16:17; I Cor.1:12-13; Eph.4:4-6). Much good ministry is available on church truth as noted in the summary.
Spiritual life refers to the new life in Christ, faith, holiness, love, peace, blessing, etc. It speaks of our nature, our standing, our state, maturity, the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit, etc. The summary makes reference to available ministry on spiritual growth.
Time will not continue forever. When we individually die, or when God brings an end to time (as described above in The Dispensations), the Bible teaches we will go into eternity. Some will be with God in heaven and the rest will be with Satan in hell. This is a solemn thing to contemplate. Where we go one day is decided now in what we think of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whether we are Jew or Gentile. There is only one way to heaven given (Acts 4:12).
Hell was not prepared for man, but for Satan and his angels (Matt.25:41). It is described as a place of fire and everlasting suffering, and if man continues to follow Satan he will go there. The "great white throne" (Rev.20:11-12) will be set for sentencing (not for a trial), and the glory of God's Son will be manifested. The sentence will be more severe for evil works; and for all those who rejected Christ openly or in their heart--- perhaps following a religion to look acceptable, they will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev.21:15). One should thoughtfully consider this. It is the Word of God.
The children of God will enjoy fellowship with the Father in heaven forever, and the blessings and happiness will be great and beyond our imagination (I Cor.2:9). The "judgment seat of Christ" (Rom.14:10) will be set to administer rewards there for faithfulness in this life by real Christians.
One may not care for THE PLAN and develop his own way (Prov.14:12). That is a choice, but we must say again: God is sovereign, and He has shown something of His plan in His Word. Our place should be in submission and obedience. One should search the Scriptures whether this is so (Acts 17:11).
- R.L.D.: RK01 10/97; rev. 10/05
For further ministry on this subject, the reader is encouraged to write to Bible Truth Publishers, P.O. Box 649, Addison, IL 60101. One will hear teaching and diverse ministry along our pathway from many sources. One should always test it by the Word of God (see John 5:39; Acts 17:11; II Tim.2:15; II Tim.3:16; Titus 1:9). Whether it is profitable often depends, too, on our state of soul . This paper is prepared with much care and prayer to be a help and honor the Lord. Comments and questions are welcome.