God's End Game - Part 14
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
February 17, 2019
We’ve invested quite a few Sundays looking at God’s End Game, trying to answer the question of what is God ultimately up to with us and the world, where’s all this headed? By the way, we’ll probably invest quite a few more.
To figure out the end game you must go back to the beginning of the game which is found in the first few chapters of Genesis, which tell us where we came from and why the world is the way it is.
It’s obvious from experience and observation that this is a good world gone bad or as CS Lewis aptly puts it:
“the Christian view is that this is a good world that’s gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what to ought to have been.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
God’s good world went wrong when the pinnacles of his creation, his image bearers, Adam and Eve, broke the one rule He gave.
Their sin brought shame, a breaking of fellowship with God, a struggle between the sexes, a struggle between good and evil, and a struggle even in nature, and ultimately darkened hearts for all humanity.
That is what brought on the need for an end game. How is God going to deal with his good world gone bad?
Last week we covered some of his options.
- He could have scrapped it and started over (totally, unlike the flood). But he didn’t.
- He could have just run with it and let everything slide (many say if he was a good God he would have).
- He could have “religified” it and made a set of rules for everyone to follow.
That way, if folks kept enough of the rules, if they did a good job of working their way into God’s favor by obeying his codes, then they’d earn the right to be put back into relationship with him.
Some think the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai was God doing exactly that. But Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Galatia, a community of believers giving in to the idea that keeping the law is a means of getting right with God, blows this out of the water by referring them to a transaction between Abraham and God in Genesis 15:6…
Genesis 15:6 (ESV) — 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Here’s what Paul wrote…
Galatians 3:6–7 (ESV) — 6 … Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
This verse tells us the way God deals with his good world gone bad, the way sinful man is made right with him is not works or the keeping of the law. It’s faith; it’s by believing in His promises.
It’s not those who have Jewish blood running through their veins that are sons and daughters of God (put back into a right relationship with him), it’s those who have faith in his promises living in their hearts.
God’s law, Mt. Sinai, was never intended to fix God’s good world gone bad, it was never designed to be a way to restore us back into a right relationship with him. Instead, it was meant to be a guide, a tutor, a guardian, to point us to the ultimate fulfillment of what God was doing to make things right.
The law shone a light on our sin, revealing our need for saving!
Back to Paul…
Galatians 3:24-26 (ESV) — 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
The law was our guardian UNTIL CHRIST CAME. Circle that.
If believing in the promises of God has something to do with his plans for the world - and it does - then you must accept the truth that all the promises of God are bound up in a person, Jesus Christ.
Now we are getting somewhere in God’s end game. Now we are seeing the big play in what God’s going to do in setting things to rights.
The arc of God’s End Game is coming into view.
The apex of this arc is Jesus.
This big play in God’s plan revolving around Jesus has three telescoping parts, one flows from the other.
It begins with the INCARNATION.
It climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION.
It carries on with the RESURRECTION.
Now don’t tune me out when you hear those theological sounding words. I try when I can to avoid sounding all preachy and smartical so you’ll listen. But sometimes the old fashioned words can’t be improved upon. Just because something is old, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Just look at Rob.
Let’s define incarnation this way…
INCARNATION - God taking on human flesh, becoming a man, and living a life in perfect fulfillment of God’s law.
We’ll “flesh” this out more next time (see what I did there?), but here are our major verses…
John 1:1–3 (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.
John 1:14 (ESV) — 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.
And then Paul in his letter to the Christians at Philippi…
Philippians 2:1–11 (ESV) — 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Matthew 5:17–18 (ESV) — 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
CRUCIFIXION - the God-man dying at the hands of sinful men in our place.
Matthew 27:33–38 (ESV) — 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.
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.
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.
RESURRECTION - the God-man coming back to life victorious over sin and death as a forerunning to restoring his people and his world.
Luke 24:36–42 (ESV) — 36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
1 Corinthians 15:50–55 (ESV) — 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Romans 8:18–23 (ESV) — 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
This last part, the resurrection, everything else in God’s end game radiates from that. We either don’t focus on it enough or focus too much on those details that obscure the big picture of what God is doing.
I cannot wait to get there, because it carries us into the final stages of things. But, I need to hush.
Conclusion: Let’s have a replay: God’s big play in his end game…
Begins with the INCARNATION.
Climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION.
Carries on with the RESURRECTION.
I know those are familiar words for the most part. And they are certainly theological words. But I fear our exposure to them over the years may desensitize us to their meaning, their significance.
In the coming weeks, I will show you how those three words that make up the big play of God’s end game are astonishingly revolutionary. No one would have EVER guessed God would have dealt with his good world gone bad this way.
If we were going to guess, we’d have gone with the Mt. Sinai solution. But this, never. That’s one of the reasons we know it’s for real. I’ll close with more observations from Lewis…
“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion that you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all thee boys’ philosophies – – these over simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.”
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