Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No Plan B

"And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure...to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Ephesians 1:9-10, emphasis mine).

Christians often say we serve "the God of second chances." I know many times I've expressed my personal thankfulness for that fact. But I don't think we fully grasp the magnitude of that statement. As I'm reading an awesome new book, Randy Alcorn's Heaven, I'm becoming more and more astounded by God's power and glory. It's not only that God doesn't give up on me. It's not only that He gives depraved sinners chance after chance (though that alone would be incredible!). He will give all of creation a second chance--God has no plan B for the world because He doesn't need one!

Heaven will be a revolutionary book for most people--especially if you've never read any of Alcorn's other books to gain insight on his understanding of heaven. And it's inspiring. Contrary to (unfortunate) popular belief, God has no plans for disembodied spirits floating around on clouds and playing harps, eternally sinless but eternally bored. Far from it!

Lately I've been especially gripped by Alcorn's explanation that redemption isn't just for mankind--rather, the redemption of all of creation is essential to God's plan. "God's redemptive goals are far less modest than we imagine. He surrenders no territory to the enemy," he says. He refers to Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1, which all speak of God's promise of a New Earth--a fully restored and renewed version of our fallen, cursed planet.

"What lies behind our notion that God is going to destroy the earth and be done with it?" Alcorn asks. "I believe it's a weak theology of God. Though we'd never say it this way, we see him as a thwarted inventor whose creation failed. Having realized his mistake, he'll end up trashing most of what he made. His consolation for a failed Earth is that he rescues a few of us from the fire. But this idea is emphatically refuted by Scripture. God has a magnificent plan, and he will not surrender Earth to the trash heap."

This is stuff I never considered--but it's incredible once Alcorn unpacks it. A few excerpts:
God has never given up on his original creation. Yet somehow we've managed to overlook an entire biblical vocabulary that makes this point clear. Reconcile. Redeem. Restore. Recover. Return. Renew. Regenerate. Resurrect. ...These words emphasize that God always sees us in light of what he intended us to be, and he always seeks to restore us to that design. Likewise, he sees the earth in terms of what he intended it to be, and he seeks to restore it to its original design.

God placed mankind on Earth to fill it, rule it, and develop it to God's glory. But that plan has never been fulfilled. Should we therefore conclude that God's plan was ill-conceived, thwarted, or abandoned? No. These conclusions do not fit the character of an all-knowing, all-wise, sovereign God. God determined from the beginning that he will redeem mankind and restore the earth. Why? So his original plan will be fulfilled.

God hasn't changed his mind; he hasn't fallen back to Plan B or abandoned what he originally intended for us at the creation of the world. ...God doesn't throw away his handiwork and start from scratch--instead, he uses the same canvas to repair and make more beautiful the painting marred by the vandal. The vandal doesn't get the satisfaction of destroying his rival's masterpiece. On the contrary, God makes an even greater masterpiece out of what his enemy sought to destroy.

Well, I could sit here all day and type quotes from the book to you. But besides the problem of getting tired, not to mention violating copyright laws, you'd miss out on the richness of Alcorn's studies of Heaven. You better just go get the book for yourself! You won't regret it.

I am so grateful for and in awe of the fact that God does not give up on His creation. He won't destroy and abandon His people or His world--He has already set the plan in motion to redeem all things, to restore and resurrect all that He once called "very good." As hymn writer Isaac Watts put it, "He comes to make his blessings flow / Far as the curse is found!"

*All quotations (c) 2004 Tyndale House.

1 comment:

K said...

Wow, I have to be honest with you. That's much deeper than I have thought in a long time. Lately study for me has been review just so I can keep moving. When did we start that thought process that God would limit his grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and redemption to just us? Are we wrapped up in the idea that we are God's most precious creation, His chosen people and he msut reserve all his glory to saving us? Once again, your blog is calling me out of my self centered world and calling me to growth in the Lord. Thanks.