The capstone of the accounts of Jesus life, ministry, and redemptive work is John’s gospel.
It is quite possibly the most profound book in the Bible. It opens with the same three words that the entire Bible commences with – ‘In the beginning.’
Genesis 1 deals with light being distinguished from darkness and so does the Gospel of John. What is particularly striking about John’s gospel is just how much planning God did in order to rescue us.
As we begin 2016 let us consider that we are created in the image of a God who delights in planning and encourages us to do the same.
Plans sometimes suffer delays!
The other month I had planned to have four weeks leave so that I could sit a biblical Greek exam and complete my F W Boreham documentary series. But on the first day of my leave I collapsed and was bedridden for the first week then relatively immobile for the other three.
Proverbs 16:3 promises: ‘Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.’ I still plan to master biblical Greek and I still plan to complete the Boreham documentary project – despite the delays I have experienced.
Plans give direction
F W Boreham tells the story of a young man who excitedly brought his sweetheart to a patch of ground and declared that one day they would own it! ‘Our kitchen will go here,’ he said pointing, ‘and our lounge-room will go here.’ Escorting her to another spot a little distance away from the layout of the house he then said, ‘And this will be where our fruit trees will go. And this will be where our sun-dial will go. And this is where I will be buried.’
And, as Dr Boreham explained, that’s exactly what this couple did after they married and bought this land. The detailed plans for their house and yard were completed precisely even up to the point of where these owners were buried in their old age.
Dr Boreham (left) himself revealed his grand plans to the students of Pastors’ College where he had been studying, ‘And it is my hope, that in the course of the ministry I shall hold three pastorates, and then be free to travel in many lands preaching the everlasting gospel among all denominations.’ This also was precisely what he did, even though his journey had more twists and turns than he could possibly have foreseen.
God’s great plan
New Year Bible readings for some Christians have started with Genesis 1 and John 1. Both of these biblical books are connected by God’s great plan.
In Genesis, God begins to announce it. In John, he enacts and begins to fulfil it. It is central to God’s plan that he will have a church made up from people of every tribe, nation and language (Rev. 7:9).
In John 10:16, Jesus announced that ‘I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.’
God’s plan involves him working through you and me to bring people to know him!
When we read about the Jesus that John describes in his gospel, we read about a Jesus who knew his Father had a plan.
Jesus was confident that his Father would complete his plan. This was despite –
• Thousands of people walking away from him in the closing stages of his ministry
• His own disciples abandoning him and one even betraying him and
• Massive opposition toward him from those in authority.
Despite this, he served his Father with great zeal. Jesus’ disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’ (John 2:17).
Plans always stand a greater chance of fulfilment when zeal (passion) is maintained.
Do you have plans that will outlast you?
Too many people give up their lives for small dreams, small visions, and small plans. Yet the God of the universe who planned the placement of every molecule in the universe calls and invites you to join his grand plan.
You might have some natural plans – take a holiday, renovate you kitchen, buy a new car (which are all commendable), but none of these will go on and outlive you for a hundred generations!
Yet the Father’s plan of saving lost, broken, hurting, souls through your life and witness will outlive you for eternity! This is why I am so passionate about Christ’s church! It’s why attending church is not optional for me – it is my participation in God’s grand plan!
In Romans 12:1, Paul encourages our active participation: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’
I have plans. I plan to do what I can to further God’s grand plan. Our church has plans… we plan to do what we can to further God’s grand plan to rescue and redeem lost, broken and hurting people. We sense God’s plan for us to reach as many as we can as a church which is why we will need to extend our facilities, appoint new leaders, commence new programs, and take greater steps of faith for him.
Whatever your plans, give Christ your best – not your leftovers. May we make it our aim to formulate plans for our lives, our families, and our church that are worthy of the price that Christ paid to redeem us!
Reading through John’s gospel this January?
• Do note the subtle references to God’s plan.
• Observe how God planned to use a certain number of miracles.
• Listen as Christ delivers a certain number of messages according to God’s plan.
• Notice how Christ seemingly ‘wastes’ his valuable time with certain individuals (John 3, 4 and so on). Consider that his involvement with his disciples was actually the unfolding of a plan and how this plan involves us today.
• There are hints within this gospel about how we can make plans that attract the favour of God.
We’ll see that plans are made and enacted prayerfully. They may experience delays. They may require detours. They nearly always incorporate what is, to us, unforeseen circumstances. And every plan must have a goal and the steps required to achieve that goal.
After you’ve read John’s gospel, be sure to reflect how the apostle himself used a plan to tell us his account and that he notes his gospel leaves more out than it put in.
And while there are some of us who have made trifling plans that keep us from God’s best for us, perhaps there are some of us who need to particularly note this last point as one of the biggest mistakes most people make with their plans is they lack focus and try to do too much. The best plans are simple.
Paul’s Ephesians 3:8-10 involves us as well…‘To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.’
Dr Andrew Corbett is National President at ICI Theological College Australia, an avid reader/researcher, Christian apologist and author pastoring Legana Christian Church, Tasmania. Link: Twitter: DrAndrewC / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.andrewcorbett.net