God's End Game - Conclusion
Series: God's End Game
April 05, 2020
God’s End Game - Part 56
I’ve been preaching this series for so long, I kind of hate to close it out. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Many of you have shared how what God has shown us from his word about his End Game, about how he’s going to set all things back to rights, has blessed and encouraged you. It has me too, especially right now with all that’s going on.
When you step back and look at the big picture of God’s all reaching, history sweeping, extravagant redemption plan — a plan including all creation and not just people — you realize more than ever God is in control and nothing, absolutely nothing, not even a pandemic, happens apart from his providential will. You realize he really is working ALL things together for good, moving us ever forward towards and ever closer to the day he turns to his Son and says, “It’s time,” setting in to motion events that close out this present age and begin a new age in a new heaven and earth.
For many, the virus outbreak ravaging the world and toppling economies is just another reason not to believe in God. How could a good God allow that? How could a good God allow so much suffering and pain in the world? That’s an honest question, one the Western church church has been dodging for far too long.
Those who choose not to believe in God because of pandemics and such are saying the world ought to be a place where no one has to hurt or suffer or die. The world ought to be a place where bad things do not happen. They are 100% right. It ought to.
Question, though. Where would we get the idea that the world ought to be a place free from pain and suffering? If there is no God and never has been, and we all are just the byproducts of some random mingling of proteins in a pond eons ago, and the whole of our existence has always been chance, chaos, and survival of the fittest, then the idea of a world free from pain and pestilence should have never entered our minds.
CS Lewis, once an avowed atheist, talks about how this quandary influenced his becoming a Christian…
If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong?… for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling ‘whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into another difficulty.
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? … Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
Folks, the pandemic is not evidence against the existence of God or that he is angry with us and casting down judgment, it’s just another reminder of what happened in the garden in the beginning. The beginning is where we started in this series.
Genesis 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
We know that God lovingly made all there is including us. It’s our origin story. It tells us why we’re here and where we came from. In the beginning, everything was good.
Genesis 1:31 (ESV) — 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good…
In the beginning, the world was exactly the way we all, even the atheists, long for it to be.
But things did not stay that way. In God’s good world there was just one rule. Adam and Eve broke it, plunging the universe into darkness, death, and sin. What happened in the garden explains why things are the way they are, why there are such things as viruses, why God needed an end game plan.
All of history, all the Bible, is a record of God’s end game plan for setting things back to rights, for restoring our relationship with him, a relationship that was severed when sin came into the world.
If you remember, as we went through this series, we discovered…
That plan revolves around a person, Jesus, and has three telescoping parts, one flowing from the other.
It begins with the INCARNATION. Jesus is God with us in the flesh, both 100% God and 100% man.
The author of all there is actually wrote himself into his own book in order to save us. That’s what the apostle John introduced his gospel with…
John 1:1–4, 14, 16—18 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men… 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Jesus came as God in the flesh with a mission, a plan.
1 John 4:14 (ESV) — 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
1 John 3:5 (ESV) — 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
Jesus came to undo what Adam did. Where Adam failed, plunging us all into sin and death, Jesus succeeded making the way for us all to be made right with God. Jesus lived the life Adam and we all should have lived.
God’s end game plan revolving around Jesus begins with the incarnation, and…
It climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION.
You see, Jesus also did something else, along with living the life we should have lived, he died the death we should have died. He gave himself as payment for our sins on a Roman cross.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) — 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV) — 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
Traditionally, we Western Christians have majored on the crucifixion. We camp out there. That’s what we’ve written the most songs about. That’s what we’ve framed the Christian life with. It’s all about the cross for us and how it allows for the forgiveness of our sins and opens up the doors of heaven. We might even sum up God’s plan this way…
Jesus died on the cross so we could go up to heaven when we die.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you look at the bigger picture of God’s end game plan, you realize the crucifixion, as cosmically important as it was, was more so the means by which God could bring on the next phase in setting all things back to rights, the phase which would set everything in motion towards that end.
God’s end game plan for rescuing the world carries on through the RESURRECTION.
The early Christians were all about the resurrection because it was the link, the bridge between their future forever heavenly home and the here-and-now. Heaven wasn’t about when the role is called up yonder one day. It was about heaven invading the right now, the present.
A theology book helped us frame the importance of the resurrection:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is that central moment in human history that serves as the foundational doctrine of Christianity. After having truly assumed human nature and submitted to an agonizing and shameful public death, the eternal Son of God was truly raised from the dead in his glorified physical body, no longer subject to decay and death. His resurrection validates his identity as the divine Son of God, demonstrates his irrevocable victory over death and the grave, and secures both the present salvation and future physical resurrection of believers.
Look at that first part:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is that central moment in human history that serves as the foundational doctrine of Christianity.
The resurrection is the hinge on which all of Christianity swings. Paul the apostle knew this.
1 Corinthians 15:12–20 (ESV) — 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Now look at the last part of theology statement:
His resurrection… secures both the present salvation and future physical resurrection of believers.
See the bridge? The link? Look at the last part of what Paul said about Jesus’ resurrection…
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Jesus’ resurrection is a foretaste of the resurrection of all believers which happens when he returns at the end of the age. That’s when God’s End Game plan plays out. That’s when the devil, sin, and death are vanquished. That’s when we — and all creation with us — is redeemed and a new world, a new heaven and earth, is established. And it is a physical place, just as in the beginning.
This new world is free from sin and death and pain and suffering forever, just as in the beginning. And the glorious crown of the new earth is a city called New Jerusalem, where God himself dwells with many. Heaven and earth are one, just as in the beginning. And Jesus will be there!
Revelation 21:1–5 (ESV) — 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Christians throughout the centuries have not only weathered the storms of life but have raced into them to help the suffering because they know they have a city! We can look beyond all the uncertainty right now because even if the wars and rumors of wars, the pestilences and pandemics, the earthquakes and volcanoes are a sign the end is near, that just means our city is just around the bend.
And that, brothers and sisters, is God’s End Game plan. I didn’t do it justice, but I did the best I could.
They do say all good things must come to an end. That’s true in this world, but that’s not so in the next. In the new heaven and earth we will live in the light of God’s glory forever.Will you be there?
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