Scripture is very clear on the fact that Jesus’ crucifixion was God’s will (plan) and that Jesus went willingly to the cross. Christ gave up His life freely, it was not taken. God’s plan (wisdom) in many ways is complex, yet in another way is very simple for all things culminate in Christ. Romans 11:36 states “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Let it be). To this end, the story of creation is moving.
As we end this study of the mystery of God we will see the final focus on God’s mystery will be in the book of Revelation when it is said to let there be no more delay, let the mystery of God be finished (Rev 10:7). All of the stories, doctrines, and themes of the Bible come together in Christ. For example, we will discover that God desires a people who are faithful to Him, a people to whom He is a God, they are His people and that He will dwell with for eternity. I have addressed this important concept in more depth in another publication called “God’s People”.
As we study the Bible we will find the theme of a specific “People of God” mentioned several times and culminates when John says in the book of Revelation that he heard a great voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and God will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God (Rev 21:3).
However, before I get too far into the study of the mystery of God, we need to spend some time thinking about God. God’s revelation “of who He is” starts when His Word says, in the beginning, God…created. This verse indicates and is supported by much other Scripture that God created everything that is, both the visible and the invisible. Also, I inserted the dots between God and creation to remind us that God had put His plan of Jesus and His crucifixion in place before the world was created.
This one verse about creation is so inclusive that it takes the rest of the Bible to explain. We must meditate on some basic concepts as we start this study on God’s Mystery. First of all, who is God? What kind of person (being) is He? What are His goals? What power does He hold over His creation? These are only a few of the questions we ask ourselves as we meditate upon the first verse of the Bible.
Let us consider some basic concepts of who God is. First of all, He preexisted before creation, in the beginning, God. The Bible says He has life in Himself. No one created Him. The Bible says He is without beginning or end. He is self-existent and does not require anything to complete Himself. The Bible speaks of His sovereignty (power) in several ways.
The Bible tells us that God is all-knowing (knows all things past, present, and future), all-present (everywhere present at the same time and all the time) that nothing is hidden from God. It also says that God is all-powerful and that nothing is impossible with God. I believe that we need to consider two other important facts about God as we develop an image of Him. Those are the fact that God is impartial and unchanging.
We will build on these five attributes of God throughout our study, plus many others such as the fact that God is holy, just, righteous, and full of love and mercy. However, we must always be conscious of the fact that all of these traits are always in balance (never changing and always impartial).
As we meditate on these thoughts of His sovereignty and think about why God kept His plan of Jesus and the crucifixion a secret it seems to be contradictory. The Bible says that if the rulers of Jesus’ day had known God’s plan involved the cross they would have refused to crucify Him (1 Cor 2:7-8).
How could the created (lowly man) block the plan of the sovereign Creator? The only way this could be possible is that God has limited Himself through an agreement called a covenant. The Bible says that God is faithful to His covenant for a thousand generations (Deut 7:9).
In God’s covenant relationship with man, God has delegated a level of dominion or freedom to mankind. As we study we will see that this freedom has both responsibility and accountability. God defines this very clearly in this covenant relationship with mankind. God’s covenant relationship is designed and managed by God Himself. This is stated differently in Hebrews when it is stated that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).
The Word of God teaches that because of God’s all-knowing nature He knew of Adam and Eve’s disobedience before He ever created them, yet due to their covenant freedom they were allowed to disobey. However, we will see that God held them accountable for their willful disobedience.
As we meditate upon the creation story of Genesis and the crucifixion story of Jesus in the New Testament, we will see how they are connected. God has provided a way that mankind can be restored to that original fellowship relationship that Adam and Eve had with God in the beginning. The only way back to God is through the cross of Christ.
God’s Mystery (the plan of redemption & restoration) is a paradox, one that is so simple yet complex. It is simple in the fact is by grace through faith as stated in Ephesians. Yet, underneath this simple doctrine is the interaction of God’s foreknowledge, fore-ordination, faithfulness, and man’s freedom which is delegated by God.
Throughout this study, we will be wrestling with these interactions. We saw earlier that God foreknew of Adam and Eve’s willful disobedience (freedom) before He ever created them. Yet knowing their disobedience He still created them, but in His sovereignty, He foreordained the coming and crucifixion of Christ so that man could be restored through faith in Christ.
This mystery (plan) allows mankind freedom, but mankind is held accountable by a faithful God to Honor His Covenant /Word.
How can these four doctrines (God’s foreknowledge, fore-ordination, faithfulness, and man’s freedom) co-exist?
This is a hidden mystery within the mystery of God. How can He be the Author and Finisher, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega? How can He be both the Suffering Servant and the King of Kings? All of these are required because man abuses God’s freedom and God’s plan (mystery) of redemption & restoration yet requires the interaction of God’s foreknowledge with His foreordination with neither canceling the other.
The Bible says in the fullness of time, Christ comes to fulfill God’s foreordained plan of the suffering servant. In the fullness of time is when rulers of Christ’s day willingly sentenced Christ to the cross and not by God forcing this decision. It was by their choice (freedom). God used His foreknowledge of their decisions and not His sovereign power to orchestrate this event.
Just as stated, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate” (Rom 8:29). Also as stated in 1 Peter 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge” and implied in the discussion of the Pharaoh in Exodus, God foreknew of the hardness of the Pharaoh’s heart and used the pharaoh’s willful decisions to accomplish His purposes.
Because God foreknew of man’s willful disobedience (abuse of freedom) He foreordained the crucifixion of Christ. God is the author of our faith. He defined the system, which is based on the requirement that the wages of sin are death and that all have sinned. Yet while we were yet sinners Christ died in our place.
Christ is the finisher, the provider, the substitute for us. He paid our sin debt. This is pure grace. Yet we must receive this by an act of our will (freedom), which is by faith. It is by grace through faith unto good works that we are saved (Eph 2:8-10). We are then new creatures that are to worship and serve God by doing the good works that He desires of us.
As mentioned earlier “God’s Covenant” relationship is a very important element in understanding this mystery. Just as we have a more in-depth study on the “God’s People” we also have one on “God’s Covenant”.
Mystery of God