A Plan before the Problem

Bible Book: 1 Peter  1 : 20-21
Subject: Easter; Resurrection; Cross

Pastor Giles Butler used to speak on the subject of "God's Prescription for Man's Predicament." In eternity past, before Adam and Eve sinned, God planned the redemption of sinners through Jesus Christ. Acts 2:23, "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death." From eternity past God predetermined that Jesus would die an atoning death as part of His pre-ordained plan. In 2 Timothy 1:9 we read, "Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." This truth is the foundation of the gospel. Salvation is by grace through faith, apart from works. Grace is also the basis for God's sustaining work in believers. His sacrifice made God's salvation plan possible, because He became the substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world.

I. The Foreordination of His Grace 20a

"He indeed was foreordained" - "to designate beforehand" to a position or function. In the councils of the triune God, the Lord Jesus was the Lamb marked out for sacrifice. In other words, Jesus did not shed His blood on the cross by accident nor by a terrible mistake wrought by hateful, sinful persons. His death and the shedding of His blood was the plan of God from the beginning of the world. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Paul confirms this marvelous truth concerning our redemption by declaring Ephesians 1:4, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Christ's death was an appointment; not an accident. From the human perspective, our Lord was cruelly murdered; but from the divine perspective, He laid down His life for sinners. John 10:17-18, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." Jesus repeated this phrase twice in these two verses indicating that His sacrificial death was not the end. His resurrection followed in demonstration of His Messiah-ship and deity.

His death and resurrection resulted in His ultimate glorification and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

II. The Manifestation of His Grace 20b

"…but was manifest in these last days for you" - this means the choice of God in eternity appeared in time, visited earth, this is the Christmas Story. While the plan of God was in the mind of God from all eternity, it was not made known until "the fullness of time was come." Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."

In God's timetable, when the exact religious, cultural, and political conditions demanded by His perfect plan were in place, Jesus came into the world. As a father set the time for the ceremony of his son becoming of age and being released from the guardians and tutors, so God sent His Son at the precise moment to bring all who believe out from under bondage to the law. That the Father sent Jesus into the world teaches His pre-existence as the eternal second member of the Trinity. "Born of woman"- this emphasizes Jesus' full humanity, not merely His virgin birth. Jesus had to be fully God for His sacrifice to be of the infinite worth needed to atone for sin; but, He had to be fully man so He could take upon Himself the penalty of sin as the substitute for man.

Ravi Zacharias quotes Larry King, the popular talk-show host on CNN. Larry King was once asked who he would choose, if he had the choice to interview one person across history. Larry King replied that he would like to interview Jesus Christ and that he would ask Him just one question: "Are You indeed virgin born?" "The answer to the question," said King, "would explain history for me." Ravi commented, "Larry King is right. The virgin birth, at the very least, points to a world unbound by shee materialism. The claim is lofty, but think it through, even in its original and early context, Jesus' virgin birth was claimed while giving it the clear possibility of being verified along many lines." "If Jesus had no beginning, then His very birth must explain how He could be born and yet not have a beginning."   In 1 Peter 1:20 we find the words, "for you" - believers are highly privileged persons, for God loves them so much. Galatians 4:5, "to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Adoption is the act of bringing someone who is the offspring of another into one's own family. (John 8:44) Human parents can bestow their love, resources, and inheritance on an adopted child, but not their own distinct characteristics. But God miraculously gives us His own nature to those whom He has saved and who have trusted in Christ. He makes them His children in the image of His divine Son, giving them not just Christ's riches and blessings but also His very nature.

III. The Proclamation of His Grace 21a

"…who through Him believe in God" - through Him we have come to believe in God. The gospel message of John 3:16 has been fulfilled in our lives, as we have believed in Jesus. Through Jesus Christ the believer comes to know God the Father. John 1:18, "No one has seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." "declared" - derive term exegesis or to interpret. John meant that all that Jesus is and does interprets and explains who God is and what He does. John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." John 14:8-11, "Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.'" Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." To know Him is to know God. John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus declared that He is the way to God because He is the truth of God, and the life of God. John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Jesus as God displayed the same essential glory as the Father. In these texts, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach to the Father is empathic. Only one way, not many ways, exists to God; Jesus Christ.

IV. The Resurrection and Exaltation of His Grace 21b

A. Resurrection

Why do we believe in God? Because God raised Jesus from the dead! Acts 2:24 states, "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."

Because of His divine power and God's promises and purpose, death could not keep Jesus in the grave. The cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the resurrection is centered in the proclamation of Peter. It was preeminent in his first sermon at Pentecost after being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the focus of his first teaching in this letter (1 Peter 1:3).

Peter understood the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not only in theological concepts, but through his personal experience. He knew the agony, the sorrow, and the disillusionment that he experienced after he had denied his Lord. What darkness and despair! Peter also knew the joy of the resurrection. It was he who ran with John to the tomb where Jesus had been laid - it was empty! He saw the resurrected Christ and he visited with Him. He later ministered in the power of the resurrected Christ. The God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same God in whom we believe. His power is available to us day by day as we trust in Christ and as we allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and through us.

B. Exaltation

God, through the ascension, returned Christ to the glory that He had with Him before the world began.

Philippians 2:9-11, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"glory" - honor, praise, or worship