The foreordained plan of God is the narrow gate, and few find it because few look for it and few even want to find it. The wisdom of God is hidden from those who choose to not see it. The wide gate is easy to see for those following the Pied Piper of human wisdom. Just follow the crowd.
The will of God reigns in the heavenly realms through Jesus Christ. Jesus is supreme over all things on heaven and earth and under the earth (Col. 1:15-20). Even though Jesus has led the way from the heavenly realms to the earthly realms and back again, by the manifold wisdom of God, the authority to bring the earthly realms into agreement with the will of God in the heavenly realms has been given to the church. Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit of God from the heavenly realms into the earthly realms to empower that process (Acts 2:33). The church (body of Christ) is the link between the body of Christ in the earthly realms and the focus of sight on Jesus in the heavenly realms (Heb. 12:2) -- to bring all things on earth under the feet of Jesus. This is done by faith in the power and promise of God.
Being within the will of God involves growing into maturity and the full knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:12-16), bringing everything under subjection to Christ, and testifying of the wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10).
Outside the will of God, humanism reigns - the control of the fleshly, natural, sinful nature. The fruit of the Spirit is obvious, leading to life; the works of the sinful nature become evident, leading to death (Gal. 5:19-25). The character of human natural thinking is different from that within the predestined will of God (1 Cor. 2:14). Those controlled by the sinful nature in the earthly realms cannot please God in the heavenly realms (Rom. 8:5-8).
Characteristics of leading ourselves with our own human thinking
Finite - That which is limited to human comprehension and explanation, to things defined in the physical realm, and to understanding based only on human experience and the preconceptions therefrom.
Self-centered - That which is geocentric in scope, centered around human benefit, happiness, welfare, and success as defined by humans: Look at what God did for us; God thought we were so important; Jesus died for us; the universe was created for us; God needs the praise of our lips; we are so important; God sure is lucky to have us; God wants what I want -- to prosper and be happy in my comfort.
Temporal - That which is temporary and time-dependent; within limits of human experience, human lifespan, and human memory; limited to things in the physical realm. The temporal has a beginning and an end, and in between is recorded history - either written in language or in physical traces within the universe throughout time.
Here are some statements that can be traced to finite, self-centered, temporal thinking:
It's all about us.
Humans are in control of God's plan because they keep on being bad. The sin problem started with Adam when he fouled up God's creation. The solution to that Adam-initiated problem began with Abraham. God, in His infinite love and mercy, has continued to pursue us even though we are miserable, rebellious, sinful, disgusting, depraved creatures - worthy only of an eternal hell. This is the gospel - God reversed our negative to get us back to the Garden. God spares us by rescuing us from our deserved fate - the consequences of our sin and Adam's sin. So, we preach the gospel by dangling people's deserved fate in front of their faces and then offering the Jesus alternative - atonement, substitution, propitiation, justification, redemption, taking the penalty, sacrifice, blood, death, penal substitutionary atonement, appeasement of God's wrath against sinners like you, etc. This is called evangelism. So, remember this in all your unworthiness - keep up your confession of sin and keep working to make your salvation sure, or else, with your sin nature, you are destined to be busted, big-time! And don't get too presumptuous about your eternal security, because you have that "secret sin" that God knows about, and may ingloriously expose some day, and all your sins just might exceed His grace on the day of judgment before the court of God. What if Jesus takes a recess and chooses to not plead your case? And don't think you will be protected by a doctrine to compensate for this by saying that God selected you to be saved - you only think that you can maintain that.Would anyone say that this accurately describes the "rescue of redemption" or the "good news" of the gospel? Is this the story of salvation? Is this being "missional?"
What is the "story" of the plan of God? When does the "story" begin - who is the subject of the story? Does the "story" really start with Abraham? What about the Genesis chapters before Abraham? Okay then, does the "story" start with Adam? What about the creation before Adam? Does the "story" start with the creation of "matter from nothing" (Gen 1:1)? What does the Bible say to these questions? The New Testament writers, particularly Paul, explain that we are part of an eternal plan - in which the fulfillment of the ages (1 Cor. 10:11) has been brought about in the last days (Acts 2:17).
When did this plan start?
The answer is in the first verse of the Bible - that verse that we rush past in order to get to the part of the creation story that is morphed by humans into a "scientific" history of origins.
Gen 1:1 - "In the beginning God..." God existed before the beginning - the creation of matter. ["Oh, we know that!"] If so, then why do we start our theology with Adam, as though humans were in control of everything? Humans mess it up - God fixes it. Humans do well for themselves - God blesses it. That's the idea behind dispensationalism: It starts good; mankind messes it up; God has to step in and clean their clock (kick the ingrates out of the Garden, drown them, and confuse them); God starts another cycle - the last cycle was Jesus (30 AD), or will be Jesus (trumpet call), depending on one's doctrinal interpretations.
Dispensationalism is a human explanation for how humans bust things up and how God has to pick up the pieces. Dispensationalism, Calvinism, Arminianism, and all other humanisms start with "In the beginning the Bible .." instead of "In the beginning God ..." The assumption is that revelation starts with Gen. 1:1, as though God's plan started with physical creation, instead of Gen 1:1 starting the revelation of what God had foreordained before creation. In one case, we start with God's plan being revealed in the physical realm, and we fit all of the biblical account into that context. In the other case, we have to make up our own plan and explanation for things when they make sense to our human reasoning using our human interpretations of the local writings of that time in history.
In coming up with our own explanations, we lose sight of the real answers to the "who" (it's us?) the "what" (our redemption?), the "why" (God wants us?), and the "when" (we were created? Gen. 1:27). These are the answers provided by the enemy - it's all about us - pleasing to the human senses and reasonable to the human intellect looking through the veil - unenlightened by the revelation from God of His foreordained plan.
The "who" is God; the "what" is the foreordained plan of God; the "when" is before physical creation; the "why" is that God predestined it. God and God's plan predates "the beginning," and God's plan predestines everything that will happen in the sense that it will happen in accordance with God's foreknowledge and will. It's either that, or else God just "winged it" and scrambled up the plan "on the fly" as things went bad, starting with Adam. The descriptions of Adam's poor choice, Cain's murder of Abel, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel were indications of how humankind could not fulfill the plan of God with the intelligence and social maturity available at that time. Mankind needed more "training" to be ready to receive the revelation for building the foundation for the holy temple of God - the church - within which He lives by His Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).
Since the plan of God existed before creation, the design for creation was in accordance with His plan, and everything in creation and everything recorded in the Bible were subject to His eternal plan. Everything in creation has been, is, and will be in accordance with the will of God as revealed in His plan (Eph. 1:11). That is the meaning of predestination. The temporal is subject to the eternal, humans are subject to God; everything physical is subject to that in the heavenly realms. Everything in the Bible must be interpreted in reference to and consistent with the development and fulfillment of the foreordained plan of God. Everything - from Gen. 1:1 to Rev. 22:21). All of the parts of Scripture must be subject to the whole of Scripture, as it reveals God's eternal plan, and not as isolated events, and the "whole" of Scripture was already foreordained and predestined before creation in Gen. 1:1.
Since everything recorded in Scripture happened in accordance with the foreordained plan of God, our decisions in the present time must be in accordance with the will of God as well. Is this new building addition going to glorify God or just make our physical plant took more pleasing to the eye? Is this new kitchen with WiFi appliances controlled from the i-cloud going to lift up Jesus or only be good for food and potluck dinners on game night? Is this new TV broadcast facility going to proclaim our transformation into the likeness of God or the transmission of our human wisdom? (see Gen. 3:6). How does this sermon condemning sin according to the Old Law make the church more like Christ?
How does each decision of the church line up with the direction of the will of God for creation - that everything will grow up and mature into Him (Eph. 4:12-16)? That is the difference between the physical and spiritual, the wide and the narrow, the flesh and the Spirit. The leaders in the church chart that course. How do we know that we are "on target?" Does the church have "performance standards?" Is performance measured by cash flow, seating capacity, viewership, square footage, number of site visits and button clicks, or number of new members attracted from a different church?
Do we know what the church should be doing to be within the will of God according to His foreordained plan? Do we know what the Bible says for us to be doing, or is everyone too busy with institutional programs to care about that? Or, do people complacently think the million fragments of the church are already fulfilling the predestined will of God?
What is the next question -- "What must we do to be saved" (Acts 2:37), or "When is the next business meeting?" The meeting had better be about how to testify to the predestined plan of God, or else they have no business meeting.
The philosophy of dinosaurs
Way back when I was in high school (i.e., the good old days when someone had to be a sentry by the door to watch out for a dinosaur invasion) those of us interested in Bible study were invited to a discussion by a minister of a particular denomination. He started the conversation with a question, "Was Jesus a philosopher?" We looked the word up in a dictionary, discussed the meanings, and compared with what Jesus did and said. Did it fit the dictionary meaning and our common usage? Yes, of course, the minister knew it would; therefore, the group concluded that Jesus was indeed a really good philosopher.
I went home and my mother was curious about what topic had been covered. When I told her about the "Jesus was a philosopher" discussion, she was filled with the righteous indignation of defending the faith once delivered to the saints and said I shouldn't go back there and become contaminated by such ungodly talk. Too late, here it is over 60 years later, and I still remember it -- clearly an attachment ensured by my mother's input.
I have wondered: If that scenario of labeling Jesus as a philosopher could be repeated today, what could I say in response, knowing what I know now - assuming I could remember it, synthesize it together, and say something in an organized meaningful manner - on an intelligence level at least on a par with "duh?" Maybe something like this .... ?
"Excuse me, but I must object to this faulty line of human inductive logic. Just because we can identify a small segment of the teaching of Jesus with a definition that we can humanly comprehend doesn't mean we get to confine Jesus to a limited human mold. Sure, Jesus taught in ways that people would have recognized and understood within the philosophical boundaries of that culture, but to take that minute characteristic and expand it to encompass all of Jesus is absurd misuse of logic. We don't fit Jesus into our human mold - we fit into His mold. He doesn't whittle down to our size - we grow up into Him. Through Him, we are declared to be blameless and perfect in the sight of God in the heavenly realms. Explain that one with human philosophy."
Moving right along.
"Let's ask some real questions. 'Do you believe Jesus was God like He said, or just a human philosopher?' 'Why did Jesus come to earth? Was Jesus part of a plan, a design, a larger purpose of God? 'Are we to be a part of that plan, also?' 'Do we even know what the eternal plan of God is? Then explain it using your philosophy model.' Isn't 'How do we fit into the plan of God' a better and more relevant question for the church to ask than 'Was Jesus a philosopher?' Where would we go with that self-defined human discussion - find Jesus a little spot to cozy up in our comfortable self-confirming doctrine?"
I would gotten myself kicked out after offering that little philosophical tirade, or at least polished my reputation of being a fundamentalist troublemaker.
This de-deifying of Jesus is the kind of human thinking we get into when we seek our own fleshly direction instead of the foreordained plan of God. If we remove the supremacy of Christ, what is left except the supremacy of ourselves?
Hmm. Maybe my mother had the right discernment on this one after all. At least I didn't see any dinosaurs. I'm sure there must have been some out there ... lurking for whom they might devour.