32900 Understanding God’s Eternal Plan

To better understand God’s will for your life, you must see how your life fits into the big picture of God’s eternal master plan. We must learn to make choices for our lives within the timeline of eternity. As we learn about God’s plan for his world, we can hold on to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

1. Before the beginning of creation, God was alone.

[*This point has been adapted from the message “What is God Up to?” by Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer of Moody Church, Chicago, Illinois.]

God was everything. Man and creation were non-existent. God had no beginning and he will have no end. He is forever. Can you imagine no people, no world, no universe – only God.

God is all-knowing and all-wise. God is self-sufficient. God is immense. God is bigger than the universe!

Before God ever spoke the first word of creation he was fully aware of all the pain, suffering, and problems that he and mankind would have to endure in the future. But our all-knowing and all-wise God determined that in the end it would all be worth it. In time it would become obvious that God had chosen a course that was the best.

Choosing God’s best will often involve sacrifice for us as well. We must be willing to endure difficulties and suffering for God. But the ultimate gain will be worth the initial pain.

2. God created angels.

[*This point is based on material presented in The Invisible War by Donald Grey Barnhouse.]

Lucifer was created the most grand of all angels. Upon his creation, he took his place as the highest, most beautiful, most powerful, and wisest of the creatures of God.

There was only one will, God’s will, and so the universe was filled with harmony. Until … Lucifer became preoccupied with his own splendor. Focusing on his own greatness gave birth to pride which became the basis for his desire to be even greater. In his self-absorption and desire for the best, Lucifer wanted God’s position of preeminence. He chose to step outside of God’s will. He decided to exert his own distorted will in opposition to God’s plan. Through misdirected ambition, Lucifer chose to exalt himself.

There were now two wills at war in the universe.

But when Lucifer chose rebellion he lost his privileged position and was doomed to become an example of God’s judgment.

You are never choosing the best when you try to be greater than what God has planned for you. Misdirected ambition will never lead you to best. Self-promotion and self-exaltation do not produce greatness in God’s economy.

It is not possible to achieve a higher position and role in life than that which God has determined for you before creation. As you walk in obedience and service to God, he will place you into that position and help you fulfill that role within the Body of Christ for which he created you.

3. God created mankind.

Adam and Eve were created perfect. They lived in a perfect environment. They had a perfect relationship with God. And yet, there came a time when both believed that disobeying God would lead to greater happiness. Genesis 3:1-6 tells us what happened:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ’You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

And so, through misguided longings, Eve chose to seek fulfillment outside of God’s parameters. Satan persuaded Eve to adopt a different perspective than the one God had given her. Instead of focusing on what she had, Eve was manipulated into focusing on what she didn’t have. She began to doubt God’s goodness and love. She believed God was holding back on her and so she reached outside of God’s will for more.

She believed Satan instead of God. She decided to reach for something that seemed to be better than what God had already given her.

You are never choosing the best when you step outside of God’s stated parameters in the pursuit of fulfillment.

But we see that Adam also stepped outside of God’s plan. When Eve was deceived into disobeying God, Adam was faced with a choice—follow Eve or follow God.

Adam imagined it would be best to stick with Eve. Life was more ideal with her than without her. Together they enjoyed all that God had given them.

Adam was Satan’s ultimate target because he was the head of the human race. Satan decided to use Eve to get to Adam. What Adam did not realize is that his sin would forever alter his relationship with Eve as well as with God.

And so we learn that we are never choosing the best when we follow someone we love into disobeying God. We think that by disobeying God we will continue to receive love and acceptance. But our mutual sin will become a barrier in our relationship with them and with God.

Reaching beyond the boundaries defined by God never leads to more fulfillment. It only leads to judgment for our disobedience. God’s parameters help us experience the his best, they don’t keep us from it.

4. God sent Jesus Christ to redeem mankind from the eternal death penalty of sin.

Through the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan appeared to have ruined God’s master plan. But God had already decided that He would send the Messiah—a Savior who would be born of a woman and who would offer his sinless life as the payment for man’s rebellion.

In submission to Father God, Christ chose to set aside his rights for our benefit. Philippians 2:6-11 says, “Jesus Christ, Who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men.  And He humbled Himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross. Yet it was because of this that God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (TLB).

Imagine what it must have been like for Christ to leave his glorious position in heaven, to set aside his magnificent power and capabilities, so he could come to earth in the form of a man. Christ stepped out of the throne room of heaven into a manger in a stable.

As God, he was totally self-sufficient and had the power to speak the universe into being.  As a mere man he would be dependent on his earthly parents for care.

Having thrown Lucifer out of heaven for rebellion, Jesus would now enter into Satan’s domain.

In the throne room of heaven Christ had countless angels who were constantly praising and worshipping Him. On earth He would be ridiculed, tortured and even killed on a cross as a common criminal.

But He was willing.

Christ knew He was choosing the best.  He knew it would all be worth the sacrifice. God always rewards obedience.

For us, choosing the best requires setting aside our rights and privileges to better serve God.

5. Christ Builds the Church

God has a specific role for you. He wants your life to fit in with his master plan. He wants us to advance his purposes. But he has given us the freedom to choose. Each one of us has a role in God’s eternal master plan!

Ephesians 4:11-16 teaches:

“Some of us have been given special ability as apostles; to others He has given the gift of being able to preach well; some have special ability in winning people to Christ, helping them to trust Him as their Savior; still others have a gift for caring for God’s people as a shepherd does his sheep, leading and teaching them in the ways of God.  Why is it that He gives us these special abilities to do certain things best?  It is that God’s people will be equipped to do better work for Him building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity; until finally we all believe alike about our salvation and about our Savior, God’s Son, and all become full-grown in the Lord—yes, to the point of being filled full with Christ.

Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different, or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.

Instead we will lovingly follow the truth at all times – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly – and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the Church. Under His direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love (TLB).

God wants us to advance his purposes. He wants us to live in such a way that we will experience the best which he has planned for all eternity. Are you hanging on to some right or privilege that is standing in the way of what God wants you to do? Whatever your situation, your choice matters. God wants you to submit to his plan for your life.

6. Our eternal destination will be determined by our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The choices you make today do not just impact your life on this earth but will also affect the quality of your eternal existence.

There are actually two questions that will need to be answered at the end of your life.

The salvation question: Have you accepted God’s offered forgiveness and pardon for your sins?

If yes, you will be admitted to heaven. If no, you will become a resident of hell. That’s a pretty blunt way of putting it … but it’s true.

Christ’s forgiveness and pardon is freely offered, but it is up to you whether or not you accept it. You have a choice and you will live with the consequences of that choice.

You are spiritually born again into God’s Kingdom family when you admit that you are a sinner, you ask Christ for his forgiveness and pardon, and then you grant him the right to rule your life.

But beyond that initial questions, there will be a second question.

The stewardship question: How well did you use the time, talent, and treasure which were entrusted to you?”

This stewardship question will be the basis for the rewards we receive in heaven. The way we live on earth determines whether we will receive great rewards, some rewards, or no rewards. But if you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ then the question of rewards is irrelevant. The Bible does not reveal what the rewards will be, but it is clear that they are well worth pursuing.

We will all give an account to God for our lives.

Romans 14:10 tells us, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” And the Bible is clear that God rewards faithfulness and obedience.

Matthew 25:23 says, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

When you choose God, his ways, and his plan for you, you are choosing the best for today, tomorrow, and forever.