The Cross: The Plan, Wisdom, And Power Of God
The cross of Christ is the central message of the Word of God. Throughout the Old Testament, the cross is hidden in types and shadows. In the Gospels it is our Lord’s goal and destination. In the Epistles and letters, the cross is explained. In the book of Acts, it is preached, and its power is made known to all who hear it; and to those who accept its inviting call, it is power to save, to live, and to serve.
God is righteous and holy. His righteousness demands justice. At the same time, we understand that God is loving. In order for God to demonstrate His love, He must also satisfy His demand for justice and righteousness.
“He that is our God is the God of salvation” (Ps. 68:20). The plan of salvation originated with God. When was God’s plan of salvation originated? It “verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (I Peter 1:20).
The plan of God is what was foreordained. This was the mystery made known to us by God through the prophets, and more particularly, understood by the apostles, especially Paul: “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph. 1:8, 9). In Hebrews 12:2, Paul elaborates on the One who was the author of this great salvation: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” As such, our Lord Jesus is the leader or chief of our faith.
The origin of God’s plan helps us understand that He chose the cross as the centrality of all things, both in heaven and in the earth. The plan of God was designed to put all things back in order, especially the redemption of man, for disorder came as a result of sin and rebellion. The cross of Christ is God’s only remedy. A wonderful explanation of this was given by the apostle Paul to the Colossians: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist … And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:16-17, 20).
The foremost aspect of God’s predestinated plan was to bring man back into relationship with God. Man lost his position and standing with God and now must be rejoined and reconciled back to God. Adam was to bring sons and daughters of God into the world, but due to the fall, he was only able to bear children after his own sinful likeness.
Another aspect of the plan of God was how the cross would bring fallen man back into the family of God. With Adam fallen and every child born of Adam dead in trespasses and sin, God would have to make a way for a second Adam to come into the world and create a new race that would bear children of God. As part of the plan of God, man would not only be redeemed and be made free from the penalty of sin, which the cross paid with the innocent blood of Jesus, but he would also be adopted into the family of God. The cross not only made this possible, but the cross became the means by which God could become our heavenly Father. All spiritual blessings are in Christ Jesus. That is part of the plan. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
God’s plan then prepared the new position (standing) we are to have before Him—He would place us in Christ! The new birth that we experience when, by faith, we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, makes us new creations in Christ Jesus. We are baptized into his death and raised with him to a new life.
The plan of God now reveals to us that we have been given power, or legal right, to become children of God by adoption. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13).
All of this was part of God’s plan from before the foundation of the world! “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:4-5).
The plan of God was set before the foundation of the world. The plan made the cross the means to accept individuals who would believe God’s plan of salvation. The cross of Christ provided adoption for trusting believers into the family of God as children of God. As children, we are also heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. We have an inheritance! “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:11-14).
Notice that the most glorious part of this inheritance we receive is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always glorify Christ Jesus in our lives, and He always points us back to the cross! He is “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2)! How exciting is that? All of this was part of the plan of God. Furthermore, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3).
The wonderful plan of God satisfied the righteousness of God by Jesus Christ paying the penalty for man’s sin, which was by His death on the cross. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Cor. 5:21).
Jesus Christ became the sin offering. In turn, when we accept his sacrificial death, God gives us Jesus Christ’s righteousness. We are then born of the Spirit of God and adopted into the family of God. As children of God, we have an inheritance of the abiding presence of God, with Him supplying us with all the benefits and promises. It is all made possible by the cross! It was all planned before the foundation of the world!
Next month we’ll explain the cross as the wisdom and power of God.