God's Grand Plan of the Ages
1. A Nightime of Sin… to End in a Joyful Morning
God has a just and loving Plan for all mankind which has been unfolding throughout the history of man. Understanding this progress of events through the Ages helps us appreciate the beautiful harmony of the Bible. The dark night of sin now engulfing man will never be forgotten! But soon in the dawning Age, Messiah as the “Sun of Righteousness” shall arise with healing and blessing. The dreadful night of pain, sickness and death will end. The joy of morning will more than offset the tears of our groaning creation. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Waiting for Something Better
The whole creation is groaning and waiting for something better, but they grope along blindly not realizing the magnitude of God’s gracious purposes. (Romans 8:19, 22). Soon our great Creator’s Plan for man will far exceed man’s highest hopes (1 Corinthians 2:9). The love of God will go far beyond all man’s greatest expectations. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts … saith the LORD; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
2. An Intelligent, Loving Creator
How do we know there is a God? Could the universe and the people on Earth have just happened? What might be good evidence that we have an intelligent Creator? Let us see what reason suggests.
All we need to do is look at our universe with a telescope—or a plant leaf under a microscope. Looking upward on a clear, starry night, who is not awed by the beauty, order, variety and immensity of the heavens? A leaf under a microscope reveals cells which are a whole factory of specialized structures. And even beyond that there lies a whole universe of molecules composed of atoms which in turn are composed of protons, neutrons and electrons with even smaller subatomic particles. Every plant, flower and star speaks to the wisdom and power of an intelligent Creator. The wonderful laws in the harmony of nature cannot come from mere chance. All nature plainly testifies to an intelligent Lawgiver.
3. God’s Revelation – The Bible
The Bible has been the torch of civilization and liberty. The Judeo-Christian Bible has shaped not only religious thought, but also politics, law, education, literature and culture. Even though we have looked at the Bible through the glasses of conflicting creeds, the Bible has impacted mankind as no other book in history. The Bible is the foundation of ideas and principles upon which Western civilization rests. The moral influence of the Bible has been consistently good. Other writings about God may have brought some benefit, but the Bible has brought hope and peace as no other book.
4. Epochs of Time in God’s Plan
Imagine walking down the street of a big city and seeing a fenced-off section with noisy blasting, dust flying and piles of debris. If we peeked through a hole in the fence, we might cry out, “What a mess! Whoever planned this project did not know what they were doing!” But wait! Is it fair to judge an architect by his unfinished work? Surely not!
5. A Long Hidden Mystery now Revealed!
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:26).
Though evil has ruled over mankind as a result of sin, God has also promised a Deliverer to restore mankind to life and happiness. But, though God supplied many clues to His Plan, they remained obscure and mysterious for thousands of years.
When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, God promised that the seed of the woman would (fatally) “bruise” the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Nearly two thousand years rolled by with no evidence of any fulfillment.
6. Object of our Lord’s Return is to Restore
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:20-21).
The Scriptures clearly teach the purpose of Jesus’ return, as well as the manner and time of his return. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even till the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 nas). Yet he also said, “If I go…I will come again” (John 14:3). Certainly Jesus has been with the Church throughout the Age, directing, comforting and cheering his saints by his spirit and by his Word. But he also promised a personal return.
Some think that Jesus’ return referred to the descent of the holy Spirit at Pentecost. Others think he was speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem. But sixty years after Pentecost and twenty-six years after Jerusalem’s destruction, Jesus promised the event as still future.
7. Why God Permits Evil in his Plan
Evil is anything bad or morally wrong which causes unhappiness, injury, suffering, pain, ruin, or death. Perhaps there is nothing more challenging and confusing to man’s faith in a loving and just God than the dominance of evil in our world. All of man’s sorrows trace back to one cause—sin. Why did not God prevent man’s fall into sin? Adam and Eve were created perfect. Why did God allow Satan, in the form of a serpent, to tempt them to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree?
The Enduring Practical Lesson of Evil
There are some things God cannot do! It is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Also, “He cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Therefore, God can only choose the wisest and best Plan for preparing His creatures for a life in eternity.
8. God’s Judgment Day
“GOD hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained”—”Jesus Christ, the righteous.” “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (Acts 17:31; 1 John 2:1; John 5:22).
Most Christians have a frightening concept of “the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). They expect Jesus to return and sit on a Great White Throne amidst great calamities of nature such as falling mountains, earthquakes, and rending rocks. They think sinners will be called up from hell to hear their sins reviewed and then returned to their eternal doom. They think saints will be called down from heaven to witness all the despair of the condemned, and then return to glory. The general concept of the Judgment Day—a literal 24-hour day—is actually supposed to be a repetition of what had been already decided at death!
But this is not the Scriptural view.
9. Ransom, Restitution and Resurrection
“And He [God] shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:20,21
The theme of “restitution of all things” when Jesus Christ returns at his second advent is woven throughout the Bible. This opportunity for “restitution” is guaranteed to all because Jesus gave himself as “a ransom for all” at his first advent (1 Timothy 2:6). Jesus died for everyone, so everyone will benefit. All creation, now under the “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21), will be delivered from the original death penalty on Adam. At his first advent, Jesus secured redemption. At his second advent, Jesus brings deliverance to all the willing.
An Individual Trial for Life
The Apostle Paul is most clear and emphatic on this subject. He says, “For to this end Christ died and lived again that he might be Lord [ruler, controller] both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9). That is, the object of Jesus’ death was not merely to bless and rule over a few living followers in the Earth, but over all mankind—both the “quick [living] and the dead” (2 Timothy 4:1)—including even the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).
As yet, comparatively few of the billions of mankind have entered into the blessings in Christ gained by acceptance of the “ransom for all” which Jesus died to provide. Why?