Four Steps
To Purpose

1) Get The Big Picture

2) Eliminate Objections

3) Reconnect with God

4) Join the Cause


GetPurpose Home

Solid Rock Church Home


The Big Picture
full text version

     The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian message. Much effort has gone into spreading this  story. But as powerful as this story is, it is even more powerful when seen in the context of God’s overall plan.
     Have you ever worked on a large jigsaw puzzle with hundreds of pieces? Such a puzzle can be quite a challenge! If it were not for the picture on the front of the box, it would be nearly impossible to find how all the pieces fit together. But with a picture to refer to, we can find colors and patterns that match, thus eliminating much of the trial and error. 
     The same is true  concerning God’s plan to restore immortality to the human race. We need to get a good look at the big picture if we are to readily grasp the Christian message. When we do, many of the difficult issues of life become non-issues.

The Way it Was

A Magnificent Creation
     You’ve heard the story, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). God created the sun, the moon, the stars, and billions of galaxies. On the earth, He created the seas, the dry land, all the plants and the animals. Then He created man—male and female. 
All of God’s creation was magnificent beyond anything we can imagine, but man was a very special creation. Why? Because God made man in His own image!  God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Gen 1:26).
     Of course, no created being can ever be equal to the uncreated God. But to be made in the image of God is as close as any created being could ever be to being like God.  No other creature was created to be godlike. What a privilege to be created in God’s image!
     God planted a wonderful garden called Eden, and He placed the man and the woman in the garden to keep it. God came often to this garden to enjoy sweet communion with the man and the woman. He told the man and the woman (Adam and Eve) to be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over all the earth. God intended for the entire earth to be like the garden—a paradise!

Eternal Life
     There was even a tree in the garden called the Tree of Life which gave eternal life to those who ate of its fruit. God told man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 1:16–17). 
     But Satan, who had rebelled against God, tempted man, saying,  “You will not surely die...God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4–5). So, yielding to the temptation, man doubted God’s Word (that death would really come) and actually believed he could be equal with God. In spite of all that God had made available to man, man rebelled against God.
     The rest is history. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and, through sin and rebellion, death entered the human race. Mankind fell from the position of close personal companionship with God and has sought ways of regaining dominion over the earth ever since. The result has been jealousy, murder, theft, suffering, wars, and every kind of evil.
     So, we see that man was originally created to live forever and enjoy wonderful fellowship with God— then, sin entered the picture. But don’t despair! God has a plan to restore eternal life to mankind and perfect order to creation. What’s more, you and I have been offered the privilege of participating in that plan!

The Plan of Restoration

     By definition, a plan is: 

       a) a scheme or program for making, doing, or arranging something; project, design, schedule, etc. 
       b) a method of proceeding. 

     Any worthwhile plan has guiding principles or rules. The rules and principles of a plan are always linked directly to the nature and character 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 nature of the Planner—God Himself. We must also understand the method of proceeding, the rules, and the overall purpose.

God is Holy
     One primary aspect of God’s nature is holiness; He is absolutely and completely pure. Therefore, when man sinned, God placed a barrier of separation between Himself and man. This was necessary because if the very nature of God were compromised, all of creation would be without hope. It was also an act of compassion, since anything unclean that touches God would surely be destroyed in an instant. 
     God’s holiness is therefore the basis for one of God’s eternal laws: the wages of sin is death. All sin will eventually be judged. However, 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.

Atonement ? Covenant
     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.”  Through an 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 shedding of blood to cover sin was established in the very beginning. Some Bible scholars believe that, prior to sinning, Adam and Eve were literally clothed with bright light, the glory of God. However, having sinned, this covering of light faded away and they knew that they were naked. Then 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.

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, God blessed them and gave them victory over their enemies when they offered the required blood sacrifices and obeyed His laws. Yet, when they disobeyed God and worshiped false gods, God handed them over to be defeated by their enemies. 

The Perfect Sacrifice
     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. 
     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.
     However, since sin had entered all men, there was none totally righteous, not even one. All the while, God surely 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.
     This god-man would triumph over judgment! He would endure all the tests and temptations of this world, yet without sin. Then He would  offer His own life (blood) as the atonement for the sins of the world—once and for all!
     So, God entered the womb of a young virgin named Mary and she became pregnant. When the time came, Mary gave birth to the Son of God. This man was Jesus Christ. God had come to earth in the form of a man—God in the flesh!
     Though Jesus Christ is fully God, He is also fully man. He overcame the world as a man, facing all the same temptations that we face, yet without sin. 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.
     This Jesus demonstrated true humility and love in the midst of a perverse world. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and did many wonderful miracles. He brought good news about the coming kingdom of God and gave this world a taste of eternity.
     But, those descendants of Abraham, who were supposed to be expecting 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 law that says, the wages of sin is death.

The Resurrection ? The Promise of Power
     Before His crucifixion, Jesus taught extensively about the kingdom of God. His disciples had expected Him to establish His throne in Jerusalem and rule the earth. But watching Jesus die on the cross dashed their hopes.
     However, on the third day after His death, something wonderful happened. Jesus had paid the price for man’s sin, but being innocent, death could not hold Him; Jesus rose from the dead! What a plan! He was seen alive by many people over a period of forty days. One time, He was seen by five hundred people at once!
     Now, being witnesses to the resurrection, the disciple’s hopes were restored. At one point they asked Jesus, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” The disciples thought the time for the kingdom of God on earth had surely come. But there was more to the plan.
     Jesus told them not to concern themselves with when the kingdom would appear—at least as it related to time. Instead, He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power by the Holy Spirit. With this power, they would spread the good news of the kingdom of God and salvation from sin to all nations, not just Israel.
Shortly after receiving these instructions, the disciples watched as Jesus ascended into heaven and disappeared into a cloud. As they gazed into heaven, two men dressed in white assured them that Jesus would return again.

The Holy Spirit Poured Out
     About ten days later, Jesus’ followers were all gathered together in one place, and the promise of power from on high was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit came upon one hundred twenty people with such great power that it sounded like a mighty rushing wind! The Spirit appeared to them as flames of fire that lit upon each one of them.
     The noise of it was such that it was heard by people all around the city, and they gathered to see what was going on. One of the men, named Peter, stood up and explained to the crowd what had happened. He told them that Jesus who had been crucified was the Christ. He explained that death could not hold Him and that He was risen from the dead and had sent the Holy Spirit. This was the plan of God coming to pass that had been spoken of by the prophets centuries before.
     Peter exhorted them to be saved from this perverse world by believing on the name of Jesus. He told them that if they would turn from their sins and be baptized, they too would receive the Holy Spirit. About three thousand people believed and were baptized that day!
     Now the disciples understood their part in the plan. They would carry God’s plan of salvation to all nations, preparing the earth to receive the King, the King who would bring peace on earth!

One Sacrifice—One Plan
     The atonement through the blood of Jesus 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. The requirement now is to believe on the name of Jesus Christ and follow Him. That is why there is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved.
     The followers of Jesus received the power of the Holy Spirit and began to spread the message of salvation and do the same kinds of miracles and works that Jesus had done. And it continues today. There have been many struggles in taking the good news about Jesus Christ to those who are still under the power of sin.  Many Christians have suffered or even lost their lives at the hands of wicked men. But the plan has not changed. There is only one sacrifice. There is only one message. There is only one Savior.

The Plan Marches On
     It is easy to wonder why God has allowed His plan to stretch out over so much time. Why prolong the struggle? The reasons are many, this much is sure. 
     For one thing, God is patient. It is not His desire for anyone to suffer eternal judgment. For generation after generation, He offers the gift of salvation for those who will believe in Jesus Christ and repent of sin. 
Another reason is because He is preparing people who will rule the earth with Jesus when He returns. This preparation involves the tests of time and trials. Character and  faithfulness are developed as we endure difficulties. Through these tests, God finds those who will be faithful for eternity.
     Oh, yes, He could have made us like robots, simply programming us to act according to a specific plan. But then, since God is not a robot, we would not be created in His image. To be made in God’s image is a high privilege. It is to have a level of companionship with God that no other creature can have.
     God is not bound to time and space as we are. A thousand years to God is like a day and a day is like a thousand years. God’s plan is marching on. Jesus will return again, but not as a sacrifice for sin. This time He will come as a conquering King. 
     When the good news of the kingdom of God has spread to the ends of the earth, Jesus will return. He will judge all those who resist Him and establish His Kingdom throughout the entire earth. He will correct all injustice and complete the plan of restoration.  At that time, immortality and eternal life will be a present reality for those who have trusted and follow Jesus.
     God’s plan of restoration is a reality that is taking place right now.  It is confirmed every day in the lives of hundreds and thousands of people who have experienced the life-changing power of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. There is much more to this plan than what could be written in this short account. But the question for you is, “Will you be a part of His kingdom when it appears?”

Go To Step Three:
Reconnect with God

Suggested Reading

The Kingdom of God:
What will earth be like when it appears?

"The Big Picture" 
is an excerpt 
from the book:
Getting A Grip On Life
by Brad Sherman
© 2000 Brad Sherman/Purpose Ministries. All Rights Reserved
Purpose Ministries
PO Box 5004
Coralville, Iowa 52241