The Plan of Restoration
Presenting The Christian Message
About the Planner
Yes, God has a plan to restore eternal life to mankind and perfect order to creation. But first, we should understand at least two things about plans in general: 1) Any worthwhile plan has guiding principles or rules, 2) The rules and principles of the plan are always a reflection of the character and values of the planner. God’s plan of restoration is no different. If we want to participate in God’s plan, we must familiarize ourselves with the rules and guidelines of the plan. And if we want to understand the rules, we must be familiar with the character and values of planner—God Himself.
The first rule (or law) of God is the law of sin and death which says: the wages of sin is death. Adam and Eve sinned against God by rebellion and death was the result. To understand this rule, we must understand a primary aspect of God’s character—He is holy. The purpose of the law of sin and death is to uphold the eternal standard of purity and ensure that the plan of restoration finds its fulfillment in the lives of men. Later in this book we will illustrate why holiness is so essential to God’s plan.
Atonement & Covenant
When man sinned, God placed a barrier of separation between Himself and man. This was necessary because if God’s holy nature of God were compromised, all of creation would be without hope. Though the wages of sin is death, God did not totally abandon mankind. Though man was infected with sin, God still loved him and made a way to maintain contact with him through a process called atonement. The shedding of blood to cover sin was established in the very beginning. In atonement, innocent animals were killed and their blood was received by God to atone for or, in other words, satisfy the requirement of God’s law which says, “the wages of sin is death.”
Some Bible scholars believe that, prior to sinning, Adam and Eve were literally clothed with the glory of God (like a garment of bright light). However, having sinned, this covering of light faded away and they knew that they were naked. The Bible tells us that God made clothing for Adam and Eve out of animal skins to cover their nakedness. This, of course, required the killing of innocent animals; thus, we have the first case of sin being atoned for by blood. Through atonement by blood, God established a means of “covering” man’s sin. By doing this, God was able to maintain a degree of communication with man and establish covenants or “agreements” whereby He would work out His plan of restoration.
The Covenant with Abraham
God found very few people through history with whom He could make a covenant. But eventually He found a man named Abram and made a special covenant with him by blood and changed his name to Abraham. God commanded Abraham to keep this covenant and to command his children and household after him to keep the ways of the Lord. God promised Abraham that through his family line He would eventually bring the blessing of salvation from sin and death to all nations.
Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had an experience with God and God gave Jacob the name Israel. Israel had twelve sons and they became twelve clans (or tribes) which became the nation known as Israel. Through hundreds of years of Israel’s history, when they offered the required blood sacrifices and obeyed His laws, God blessed them and gave them victory over their enemies. Yet, when they disobeyed God and worshiped false gods, God handed them over to be defeated by their enemies.
All the while, through many good times and bad times, God was still working on His plan to bring salvation to all nations, not just Israel. Through the nation of Israel (the bloodline of Abraham), God would bring forth a special man. This man would offer the perfect blood sacrifice once and for all.
The Perfect Sacrifice
You see, the blood of animals was only a temporary atonement. Even the most perfect and innocent animal, such as an innocent little white lamb, could not atone for the sin of man, because animals were not created in the image of God as man was. Something lesser cannot purchase something greater. A perfect sacrifice in the image of God was needed. However, since sin had entered all men, there was none totally righteous, not even one.
But God had a plan. All the while, He knew what He would do. He would come to earth Himself in the form of a man and live life on the same level as man. Even His entrance into this world would be like ours, through the womb of a woman. God caused a young virgin named Mary to become pregnant. When the time came, Mary to gave birth to the Son of God. This man was Jesus Christ. At this time angels appeared and were heard saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” God had come to earth in the form of a man—God in the flesh!
Jesus grew up and taught His followers about the coming kingdom of God. He instructed them to prepare and be ready so they might rule with Him when this kingdom appeared on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus demonstrated true humility and love in the midst of a world full of people who were under the judgment of the law of sin and death. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and did many wonderful miracles. He gave this world a preview of what eternal life in the kingdom of God would be like.
But certain descendants of Abraham (who should have rejoiced at His coming) refused to believe in Him and had Him killed. Though Jesus was killed by those who hated Him, they did not take His life—He gave it. He gave His life because He knew His purpose—to be the sacrifice for man’s sin. It was all part of the plan. Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross and hung there until He died. This was the greatest act of love the world has ever known.
Jesus’ death satisfied the requirement of the God’s law which says, the wages of sin is death. He paid the price for man’s sin by dying on the cross. But death could not hold an innocent man. On the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the dead! He was seen alive by many people over a period of forty days as He continued to speak about the kingdom of God. One time, He was seen by five hundred people at once!
One Sacrifice—One Plan
There has never been anyone who can compare to Jesus Christ. He endured all the tests and temptations of this world, yet without sin. Then He offered His own life (blood) as the atonement for the sins of the world. Though Jesus Christ is fully God, He is also fully man. This qualifies Him alone to be the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin. He and He alone is God’s “Sacrificial Lamb” who takes away the sins of the world. He is risen from the dead and He lives today! There is only one sacrifice. There is only one Savior. There is only one name given among men whereby we can be saved—Jesus.
The atonement through the blood of Jesus and the resurrection happened almost two thousand years ago. Since that time, blood sacrifices have no longer been required by God. The sacrifice of Jesus’ blood is good, once and for all. He has established a New Covenant whereby men can be forgiven of their sins. Instead of offering the blood of animals to atone for sin, men are now required to believe on the name of Jesus Christ and follow Him. Through faith in the name of Jesus, the cleansing blood of Jesus is activated in our lives.
Next: The Rest of the Story