The Eternal Plan for Incarnation and the Cross – Galatians 4:4-5
The Eternal Plan for Incarnation and the Cross Galatians 4.4-5
In these two verses we find a concise summary of the plan of God to bring salvation to mankind. A plan to take those who were created as sons, lost to sin, and to make these sinners once again into sons.
These verses teach us that the plan of God for the salvation of mankind was initiated by God.
We learn that to fulfill His plan God sent His Son Jesus to be born of a woman. In theological language we call this the incarnation – God the Son taking a human body and human nature. This is the birth of the Messiah that we celebrate at this time of year.
John the apostle tells us that God’s motive in sending His Son to us was love for His creation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16).
We are told in this verse that Jesus lived under the Law of God. Jesus was not exempt from God’s commands and rules but completely fulfilled them. Because Jesus was not born with a sinful nature, and was continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and completely committed to God’s will, He never sinned, even while living under the Law.
Because Jesus lived a sinless life before God, He was eligible to redeem those who sinned under the law. Those who have sinned under the law of God include every person who was ever born. Jesus who knew no sin was made sin for us, so that in Jesus we might receive God’s forgiveness and as this verse tells us, adoption as sons of God.
The incarnation of the Son of God and the death of Jesus on the cross to redeem mankind is the wonderful Good News we are given to proclaim to the entire world.
This morning I want to focus on the first part of verse 4, “When the fullness of time had come”. The point I want to make this morning is that the incarnation, the coming of the Son of God to earth as a human being, and the crucifixion of Jesus to redeem sinners, along with the resurrection of Jesus, were planned by God at the very least from the foundation of the world and more likely in eternity before the foundation of the world. Before the earth or man or time ever came into existence, God had planned for the birth of Christ into humanity, the death of Christ on the cross, the resurrection, and His ascension into Glory. The teaching of the NT leads us to believe that before the earth was created, God had planned and prepared for the salvation of mankind through the birth of Christ as a human being, his perfect life lived on earth, his death on a cross for the sins of mankind, resurrection, and his ascension into heaven back to his original Glory with God the Father.
The birth of Christ in a manger in Bethlehem was a plan conceived in the mind of God, likely before God ever created the earth or mankind, and then was manifested when the fullness of time had come.
Please turn with me to Ephesians 3.7-11. [Read]
Paul says that he is a minister of God to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul is a minister of the message of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of mankind.
Not only is Paul a minister of the Gospel, he is also bringing to light for everyone the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This hidden mystery Paul is now revealing to everyone, in the Gospel, was according to the eternal purpose of God which has now been realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. What God had planned in eternity, God worked out in time, until the time when He brought His very Son into the world as a baby in Bethlehem, through a perfect life, and unto death on a cross, to resurrection and ascension to Glory.
We have the same idea revealed to us 1 Peter 1.18-21. [Read]
Christ, the Lamb of God who saves us with his precious blood, was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for our sake. Through Christ we now believe in God who raised Christ from the dead and our faith and hope are in God. The historical event of the birth of Christ and of the crucifixion of Christ and the resurrection and his ascension into Glory and the coming of the Holy Sprit and the formation of the Church, originated in the eternal purpose of God and was worked out in time according to God’s plan and power.
In Genesis 3.15 God speaks of the seed of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent. We know that God’s plan was already purposed from the time that mankind fell into sin. We see God’s plan pictured in the sacrificial system of the OT. And then finally we see Christ born and brought to the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
As I was reading about the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus from Luke 1 and 2, I was impressed with the repetition of the word “will”. Elizabeth will bear you a son, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, he will turn many to their Lord, you will be silent and unable to speak, you will conceive, he will be great, he will be called the son of God, God will give to him the throne of David, the Spirit will come upon you, this will be a sign for you. The birth of Christ was not being worked out on the fly. This was not a seat of your pants operation. What we are reading about in Luke is an eternal purpose that was now being manifested in the fullness of time, exactly as God has planned. And how God had planned it was the way it was going to happen. This is what will happen.
Just a couple more verses and then we can think about some of the implications of this teaching. In Acts 2.23, in speaking about the crucifixion of Christ, Peter says, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” And then in Acts 4.27-28, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” Like the birth of Christ, the crucifixion was arranged and ordered according to God’s eternal purpose and predestined plan. Each participant played their part according to God’s script.
Now what does this truth of the birth and crucifixion of Christ as the eternal purpose of God to save mankind, worked out in time in every detail according to God’s plan, have to teach us this morning? Let me just mention four things.
1) You can be assured that your God has a purpose in all that He does and that He has the power to carry out that purpose. When Christ was born in a stable and a manger it may have seemed to Mary and Joseph that God had not prepared for the birth of His Son as He should have. When Christ was crucified it may have appeared that God had lost control of the crowds and religious leaders and that God’s plan was unraveling, but in the chaos God’s plan was being working out to the last detail, in His time and in His way.
When we look at the world today we see disorder and confusion and economies falling apart. Be assured that God is not surprised and making emergency plans. God’s eternal purpose is being worked out to the letter. What God has described in the book of Revelation is certain to happen.
When you look at what God allows to enter your own life be assured that God’s Sovereign rule is at work and His plans are being worked out.
2) If you belong to God this morning, you can be certain that your salvation will be worked out to its final completion. God always completes His plans and if your salvation is part of God’s plan, then you will be saved and nothing will prevent your presentation before the presence of God’s Glory blameless and with great joy. The amazing precision and power shown in the working out of the eternal plan of the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ is applied to your own salvation in Christ. “I will never leave you nor forsake you; I am with you always, to the end of the age”. These are not sentimental statements, but statements of truth based on the purpose and character of God.
3) Coupled with the Goodness of God and the Love and Mercy of God, we have the confidence through this truth of God’s power to work out His purposes in this world, the confidence to obey what God asks us to do. “If God be for us then who can be against us”? When God asks you to surrender something to Him, know with confidence that He can keep you in that surrender and provide all you need because you obeyed in your surrender to God. God’s eternal purpose is to conform us to His Son Jesus Christ and for that to happen we have to give up our own ways and our own strengths and depend on God and let God do what He wants to do in us. God wants to break our self-sufficiency and our self-will and our pride, and as we see God’s eternal plans worked out with such fruitful results in the incarnation and crucifixion, we can with confidence lay down our lives at His feet.
4) Finally since God has made His purposes known to us in His Word we should make God purpose, our purpose. God’s purpose is His Glory and the establishment on His kingdom. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven”. “Glory to God in the highest”. Our purpose is to seek the kingdom of God and to be holy to the Glory of God. Looking at how God has worked out history so far and reading what God has told us with regard to the future, I am lining up all my energies and efforts with the purposes of God. I do not want to be found working against God but with God.
I pray that during this Advent season as we think of the birth of Christ we will remember that this historic event began in the mind of God in eternity. I pray that we will remember that throughout the many centuries of time, over thousands of years, God worked out every detail, moved every person in place, arranged thoughts and actions, to fulfill His eternal plan. This can give to each one of us who know God the assurance, the certainty, and the confidence to put our own lives completely into God’s hands and to work with God to fulfill His purposes.
And if you do not know God as your Father this morning, if you have not been born again, may the realization of the power of God to save you from sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and His power to keep you as His own until you come into His presence, motivate you to ask God to save you from sin in Jesus Christ and to make you one of His children.