WHO IS THE KEY TO THE MASTER PLAN?
The objective of this section is to understand who is the key to the Master Plan. We have already established some powerful clues which suggest that Jesus Christ is the key to the Master Plan. This section will therefore focus on Jesus and why we need him if we are to share in the Master Plan. We will see what relevance a man who lived 2000 years ago has to us in our lives now. We will also see why Jesus had to die and how this act saved the human race and allows us to become part of the Master Plan.
This section is concerned with the Key to God's Master Plan. We will start by going back to the Promises we looked at in Section 2. We will see a special seed is promised right from the beginning. We will learn that Jesus Christ is that special seed and he is the solution to the problem. The Old Testament is full of types that point forward to him and his sacrifice. We will see why Jesus had to have God as his Father and Mary (a human) as his mother. Finally we will look at why Jesus had to die and what it means to us.
3.1 Back to the Promises...
You will remember in Section 1 we looked at a series of special promises that God made to some of the faithful men of old. These promises outline the means by which God intends to make his Master Plan happen.
In passing we noticed specific reference to a "seed". Who is this promised seed?
Lets go right back to the beginning to the first promise with hope that God ever made. We find even in this first promise a reference to a "seed" or "offspring"; "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3v15)
Here we have a promise of a seed of the Woman and the seed of the serpent. The promise says that one day the seed of the woman will kill the seed of the serpent and in the process incur a temporary injury.
Let us remind ourselves of the two sets of promises we looked at earlier. This time we will look out for the specific promise of the seed.
Take a close look at Genesis 22v17-18. Here God speaks clearly of a promised Seed ("offspring" - NIV). The Seed is going to possess the gates of the enemy - sounds similar to what we read in Genesis 3v15.
What about the promises to David - do we find the seed in these promises as well? We surely do - look at 2 Samuel 7v12. God promises David a seed that would rule forever from David's throne.
One thing's for certain - this seed is the key to God's promises. And if he is the key to God's promises then he is most certainly the key to God's Master Plan. So who is the seed?
3.2 Who is the seed?
The answer to this question is well established in the New Testament. Two references provide us with enough evidence to draw conclusions.
Luke 1v32-34 - In this passage the angel Gabriel makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the promised seed of David.
Well, you might say, does that mean he is also the seed that was promised to Abraham? Perhaps they were different. Paul confirms that Jesus is also the promised seed in Abraham's promises.
Galatians 3v16 - In this passage Paul makes it clear that the seed promised to Abraham was indeed Jesus Christ. It couldn't be made clearer than in this verse.
The conclusion is that Jesus Christ is the promised seed and he is the key to God's Master plan.
But why do we need this promised seed?
3.3 Why do we need Jesus?
The answer is actually quite simple. Without Jesus we cannot be reconciled to God. Sin separates us from God. Look at what the prophet Isaiah says;"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear"(Isaiah 59v1,2) .
We need to have sin removed so that we can be reconciled to God. This was the most important task of Jesus Christ. The angel Gabriel confirmed this when he instructed Mary to call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1v21)
3.4 How can Jesus save us from our Sins?
The Bible makes it clear that through his sacrifice on the cross Jesus saved us from sin. Let's have a closer look at how this happened. Let's start at the beginning again...
3.4.1 Adam and Eve
When Adam and Eve sinned they realised that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves coverings (Genesis 3v7). But God was not satisfied with these coverings and He made them garments of skin and clothed them with these (Genesis 3v21). What made the skins acceptable and not the fig leaves? Surely they both covered their God's nakedness? There are differences which mattered and were important in eyes. The covering of skin required ‘death' and the ‘shedding of blood'(Hebrews 9v22). Adam and Eve saw that forgiveness of sin cost the life of an animal. This pointed forward to the crucifixion of Jesus; that God would provide a covering for sin by death and the shedding of blood. It is important for us to take note that the consequence of sin is death, and forgiveness of sin cost the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3.4.2 The law of Moses
The people of Israel had to offer sin and guilt offerings (Leviticus 1-7). These had to be animals, either a bull or ram, that were without defect. The person offering had to lay his hands on the animal as it was killed (Leviticus 4v4). In doing this they acknowledged their guilt and the animal was a sacrifice for their sins. This pointed forward to the more perfect sacrifice of Jesus. The animal was physically perfect whereas Jesus was morally perfect. The offerer had to associate with the sacrifice for it to be an effective means for forgiveness. We must publicly associate ourselves (through baptism - see Section 7) with the death of Jesus to be covered by his sacrifice (Romans 6v3-14)
3.4.3 Why was there a law?
You may be asking why God went through this process of setting up the law of Moses (the Old Testament)? Why didn't the history of mankind start with the Lord Jesus Christ and his crucifixion for our sins?
To answer this question let us take a well known example. If you are trying to unravel a mystery you never appreciate the problem if you are told the solution straight away. It is only after grappling with the mystery for many days that you really understand the full meaning of the solution when it is revealed to you. The same is true with the law. It is there to make us truly realise that we are sinners (Romans 7v13; Galatians 3v19) and that we need the solution of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3v24-AV). Without the law we would not have realised our true position before God.
3.4.4 Jesus Christ - a covering for sin?
So we can see from the previous 3 sections that sacrifice was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. It would seem evident that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were all pointing forward to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "But now Christ has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself... so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people". (Heb 9v26,28) The crucifixion of Christ represents the perfect sacrifice and shedding of blood which is able to cover the sins of many.
3.5 Why did Jesus need to be both Son of God and Son of Man?
3.5.1 Son of God
God provided the world with His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the solution from God's point of view because he perfectly displayed the character of God and so gave an effective example for us to follow. He could say "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father"(John 14v9).
Jesus also said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him" (John 14v6,7).
He showed us the glory of God. He was able to do this because he was the Son of God. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being" (Hebrews 1v3). He had a very special relationship with his Father (Luke 2v49; 3v22). He had God's power without limit (John 3v34). Here was a man who could be perfect if he chose to be. Jesus was named "Immanuel - which means, ‘God with us' "(Matthew 1v23). This is the solution for God because now men could see a living example, someone displaying perfectly the character and purpose of God.
3.5.2 Son of Man
You may then be asking why Jesus always described himself as the Son of Man (Matthew 8v20; 9v6)? This is because he had to share our human nature. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2v14-18). This explains why God himself couldn't have done it. Firstly God cannot overcome something to which he is not exposed. God cannot be tempted (James 1v13). If God had come to earth and lived a life of perfection there would be no battle and victory over sin because there would have been no possibility of defeat. Secondly God could not be a merciful and faithful high priest because He could not share man's nature.
3.5.3 Son of God and Son of man
To bring two irreconcilably separated parties together you need a mediator. In the Old Testament the high priests carried out this role (Leviticus 16v15-17). As we can see from the verses quoted above, Jesus has now taken over this role.
A mediator needs to understand the feelings of both sides and to be respected by both sides. God sent Jesus as a mediator to bring us back to Him. "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ"(1Timothy 2v5).
Jesus had to understand our temptations and so he was born of a human mother. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4v15). Jesus shared our human nature and he conquered it because he never gave in to its desires (Romans 8v3,4). He is able to set us free from sin because he was never captured by sin. "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous"(Romans 5v19). The mission of Jesus was to save sinners (Matthew 1v21). The meaning of the name Jesus is ‘God saves'. The Power of God and the virgin birth have made it possible for Jesus to be both Son of God and Son of man. Being the Son of God meant Jesus could attain perfection and being the Son of man meant Jesus was able to represent man.
3.6 Why did Jesus have to die?
Jesus had led a perfect life, overcoming sin and fully revealing to us the character of God. But how does that help us? Only through his death can we associate with that victory.
God wants to save us so that we can also be part of the Master Plan. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3v16).
Jesus was a sinless man and did not deserve the wages of sin which is death (Romans 6v23). However to save us he bore the sins of the world (Hebrews 9v26,28) and so he had to die. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53v5). Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins, but because he was sinless, the grave could not hold him. He shared our sinful nature which, as we have seen from Section 3, is destined to death.
"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (Acts 2v24). He rose again and was given eternal life because he conquered human nature (Hebrews 2v14). He took his place in heaven at the right hand of God (Acts 3v33) to mediate for us, bridging the gap and bringing us into fellowship with God. "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2v1,2) and "...we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5v11).
3.7 What does Jesus' death and resurrection mean to us?
If forgiveness was easy, how would we ever be moved to change from a lifeserving sin? Sin costs lives and the forgiveness of sin cost a life, the life of Jesus. Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins. We can be forgiven of our sins if we accept his sacrifice. The way in which we accept his sacrifice is for us to be baptised into his name. "...Don't you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?" (Romans 6v3) . In doing this we associate ourselves with the death of Jesus and also with his perfect life.
"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6v5-11) . Through baptism we become the Sons of God (Galatians 3v26,27). God is willing to forgive our sin, overlook our impure lives, and count our faith as righteousness (1 John 1v7,9; 3v5,6; Romans 4v5). If our sins are forgiven, then and only then, can we become part of the Master Plan.
However if we ignore the sacrifice of Jesus then we stand naked before God and we shall receive what our works deserve - death (Revelation 16v15). What is more, we would be rejecting the love that has been extended to us in Jesus dying on the cross so that we could be forgiven. If we ignore his love now, we can only fear his judgement in the future. "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God"(Hebrews 10v26,27). Jesus will judge us at the resurrection. "...This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed" (2 Thessalonians 1v7-11).
The death of Jesus leaves no room to be neutral. We either accept it or we reject it.
We have learnt that:
Man and God are separated because of sin.
The Bible establishes the need for a perfect sacrifice.
Jesus was the Son of God which meant that he could be perfect if he chose to be.
Jesus was the Son of man because he had to be made like us to overcome sin.
If Jesus had not died, there would have been no forgiveness of sin.
Through baptism we associate ourselves with the death and resurrection of Christ.
WHO IS THE KEY TO THE MASTER PLAN?
Jesus Christ, the promised seed, the only one who has revealed God's Glory.
Why did God need a representation of Himself on earth?
Why does man need a representative in God's presence?
Why should we not ignore the death and resurrection of Jesus?
Read Exodus chapter 12. Look at the requirements needed for rhe Passover lamb and see how many of these requirements Jesus fulfills.