God's Plan B
Posted on 09/02/2018 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.
HOLY IS THE KING
He is worthy, and we proclaim
The name of Jesus
is far above every other name
He is holy and we declare
His glory fills the earth
and there's rejoicing everywhere
He is mighty, and sovereign over all
He's coming for who's ready
when they hear the trumpet call
He is Jesus, the ruler over all
And every soul in worship
to the King will fall
Holy, holy is the King who reigns
The Son of God,
heaven and earth proclaims
In joy we bring to you our offering
(In spirit and - in truth we sing)
(And so to you - our lives we bring)
(As a li - ving offering)
ALL OF ME
I give you all of me
I give you all of me O Lord
I give you all of me
Come fill this place
Fill me with your Spirit Lord
So I may do your will and walk in your way
Keep me in your presence
Every moment, I pray
So I will always love you
So I will always love you
YOU ARE MY ALL
You are my life
You are my strength
You are my song, Jesus
You are my heart
You are my soul
I want the whole world to know
That you are everything to me
And for all eternity
I will sing your praises
I give you my life
I give you my strength
I give you my song, Jesus
I give you my heart
I give you my soul
For you have made me whole!
*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***
Do you believe that God's plans are completely perfect? That His perception is flawless? That He is never surprised by things going in a way that He did not forsee?
Certainly that does not describe US. We make plans, but how often do unforseen events or circumstances or choices derail our most carefully-orchestrated plans?
We can anticipate what MIGHT happen when a time we call "the future" becomes the Now; but we are often wrong. God, on the other hand, has a pretty good track record.
All the prophecies concerning Jesus, for example, played out perfectly, down to the very last detail. There were many events throughout history that were predicted by prophets of God.
Today, we continue to see Biblical prophecies come to pass exactly as they were written thousands of years ago. So it might be fair to say that God is not surprised by the twists and turns that time unfolds.
When He inspires a prophet to fortell events that are yet to happen, it's almost as though He was already there. We could say that He is not limited to time and space, and they exist only because they were necessary for the creation of the physical universe and the innumerable events which therein unfold.
So with that being said, we could conclude that God does not need a "Plan B," for his "Plan A" is always perfect and He is never surprised. And we COULD ask this:
Was it therefore God's plan for us to eat the forbidden fruit and be cursed by sin and death? Were the countless atrocities committed throughout history also a part of His divine plan? Or was Jesus' sacrificial death to pay for our sins simply God's "Plan B," when His "Plan A" didn't work out quite the way He intended?
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB) says this:
9 The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Another translations words verse 1 like this:
"We may make our plans, but God has the last word."
And in Proverbs 21:1 (NASB), we read this:
1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
Of course, discussions like this lead to all sorts of different positions. Even to religious denominations.
Perhaps we don't really have a free will. Let's make our own church to expose the truth.
Perhaps God is actually evil, and we should worship the other Guy, or just cease to believe in Him at all.
But we are taking little pieces out of the whole, and using our tiny matter-based brains to divine for us what is completely out of their realm, and out of their ability to even begin to understand.
There is an old story that has been circulated far and wide with manifold versions. Here is one penned by John Godfrey Saxe in the 1800s, called The Blind Men and the Elephant. And it goes like this:
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear:
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
Reminds me of a passage from 1st Corinthians 13, "Now we see in a glass dimly... (and) Now we know in part..."
To walk with God, is to begin to know Him. To try to categorize and define God, is to give to the mind a bone on which it will chew and choke, and break its own teeth.
We expect others to swallow the results, but as the pieces go down their throats, they sometimes splinter, and stick and stab, until, rooted there firmly in place, nothing else seems to go down right.
Now, we could piece together the descriptions of God given by Biblical writers throughout the ages, and we might conclude:
Our every action is preordained, and in those actions we ultimately have no choice.
We DO have a choice and have been instructed countless times to "choose this day whom we will serve."
God's plan was not for sin and death and evil and torment to plague the earth for thousands of years.
God knew from the very beginning that sin and death and evil would torment His creation until the end of this time.
Evil men are acting against God, and that is the only reason atrocities take place.
Our plans might be either good or evil, but God directs our steps and steers the king's heart wherever He wishes.
God is good.
God is complicit.
Satan is His enemy.
Satan is His tool.
And here's one, found in Romans 8:28 (KMV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We question the story. We question God's motives. We question God's nature. We question the tiny fraction we can dimly see. And we tend to believe the mind's conclusions, as it insists that it has it all figured out.
Our minds try to dissect God, like an aomeba dissecting an elephant. But just like the aomeba cannot know the elephant, so the human mind cannot know God.
"Those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth."
Of course I could prattle on about my own opinions about these matters. I could say I think God has given us a free will, that we can disobey His plan for us without derailing His bigger plan, that satan acts outside of His will, and so-on... but these are only tiny glimpses into the matter of God and of His Nature, and though each oneis partly in the right, all are in the wrong.
But this one thing is pretty certain: Before all these details, all these stories, all these things that come and ultimately go, there was a cause. And He is who we long to intimately know. Not just in mental details we can write down in a book, but in the part of us that is greater than the mind. In the words of Psalm 42:7 (NASB)
7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
It's the deep of you, beyond the body, beyond the mind, beyond the intellect, beyond what you can see, taste, hear, and touch in this temporary world of form; We forget that those things are fleeting and temporal, just like a dream;
We tend to fall asleep, and in that dream we think we are the characters, we bemoan the unpleasant twists and turns, and we fear the end of the dream, when all we hold dear and all we believe to be true, will come to a sudden end.
But sometimes, we temporarily stir, and we can feel, just faintly, that we are comfortable and safe in bed, with the sunlight gently filtering through the window sheers, and the melodies of song birds dancing on the morning breeze;
That might be in a time of deep worship, or in silent prayer, or in an unexpected moment when we get a brief glimpse of what lies underneath the noise and hustle of what we call "reality."
And then we fall back into the dream.
The Life that lives and breathes and gives us our being, is in that room where we are sleeping, holding us securely in the eternal embrace of purely perfect Love; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
You have absolutely nothing to fear or dread. All these temporary forms in your dream are fleeting and are all changing and passing away. And as you walk with Him, in or out of the dream you call life, you can fully trust that He is holding you, and when you finally wake up, you will gaze upon His wonderful, glorious, beautiful face.
And that is the only plan there is.