Two things my father was almost never without were pipe tobacco and yellow legal pads. He did nothing without an outline. In large, block script he detailed his plans to do anything he intended. Even after I moved out of the house, I would receive outlines of his travel itineraries in the mail. He was not an impulsive man. He carefully analyzed his intentions and all expected consequences. Only after putting the plan on paper did he act. And without a doubt, I am my father’s son. I outline my approach to everything. And attempt very little without a plan and analysis of contingencies.
In this, my earthly father strongly resembled my Heavenly Father. God is not a trouble shooter. He is not unaware of anything that comes to pass. In fact, He “foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, according the counsel of His own will, for His own glory.” He is the ultimate planner. Man’s fall was not an unexpected turn. God is never held captive or contingent to any of the free actions of his creatures. He not only knew all that would happen, but he purposed it.
Everything that happens contrary to God’s prescribed will is by no means contrary to his decreed will. He always intended to deal with the world according to grace. And the means by which he bestows that grace is not through an unfallen mankind in Adam, but through a redeemed mankind in Christ. Isaac Watt’s metrical paraphrase of Psalm 72 says it well.
Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
In Christ, redeemed mankind can boast more blessings than Adam ever had. That is a remarkable statement. This is what God had always planned for us. Time and time again Scripture shows us that God purposed grace in Christ, “from before the foundation of the world.” Even in its fallenness, and sin, and sorrow, this world with its promise of redemption, regeneration, and renewal in Christ is the “best of all possible worlds.”
Nothing has gone amiss in God’s plan and purpose. There is no waste, no “gratuitous evil,” in God’s economy. The world is not “off the rails.” God’s perfect and gracious plan is unfolding, just as He intended. And in this we have hope. He is the God who does all He pleases, and all He promises.
The first chapter of Ephesians is a literary masterpiece. In one long breath, Paul extols the amazing beauty and richness of God’s grace to those who are ‘in Christ.’ The Ephesian church faced severe crises internally and externally. False teaching and persecution were leading many to ‘abandon their first love.’ So, God pulls back the curtain to show them the truth of their situation ‘in Christ.’ In a city that boasted one of the wonders of the ancient world in the Temple of Diana, it was actually that church that housed the great treasure of God’s grace – grace rooted in God’s sovereign and eternal plan to save.
And this is good news. Our sin and rebellion is nothing so novel, so unexpected, that it is outside God’s plan and power to save. There are no surprises or unexpected circumstances able to thwart God’s efficacious love for us in Christ. You are not beyond hope. Even if your situation seems hopeless. Our forefathers expressed this hope in a series of questions and answers called the Westminster Shorter Catechism. There we find this great promise.
Q. 19. What is the misery of that state into which mankind fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so are made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?
A. Out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, God chose some for everlasting life, and he entered into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of their state of sin and misery and to bring them into a state of salvation by a redeemerWestminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English
Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Ephesians 1:3-10 and Galatians 4:4-7 and consider God’s eternal, unbreakable, and effective plan to deliver us from the power of our own sin by a Redeemer. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.