In the classic novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, Jane is an orphan being raised by a wealthy, but cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed.
Her aunt decides to send Jane to Longwood school run by Mr. Brocklehurst, a man who is even more cruel and hypocritical than her aunt. After her arrival, Mr. Brocklehurst and Jane have this conversation.
“No sight is so sad as that of a naughty child,” be began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”
I have talked to folks about becoming a Christian who seem to embrace Jane’s mistaken idealism of living forever and thus avoiding God’s judgment.
In the book of Ephesians, called “the Queen of the Epistles” Paul presents God’s intention for saving us from sin’s punishment. Chapter one summarizes the Divine aim, which we’ll briefly bullet with nine words, all beginning with the letter “P.”
God has a plan. It was set forth in Christ Jesus. It is not found in human schemes, denominational doctrines, religious rituals, or self-proclaimed prophets like Muhammad. God’s plan, in Christ, provides for us ALL spiritual blessings (v.3).
Predestinated (v. 5).
This means to determine before; to foreordain; to decree; To mark out the boundaries. God did not predestinate certain individuals to be saved or lost but determined that everyone who would commit their lives to Christ would be adopted into His family.
Pleasure (v. 5, 9).
In a day when many are focused on their own pursuits and pleasure, it’s easy to forget that in spiritual matters, salvation is based on “the good pleasure of God’s will.” When we surrender to Him and accept the conditions of His plan, we may bask in His delight.
Pardon (v. 7).
This is called redemption. It means to buy back. To release from bondage. To deliver from enslavement. Just like a slave’s freedom in Bible times could be purchased by a wealthy benefactor, we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. It is the only means by which we may receive ransom and realize pardon.
Purpose (v. 11; 3:11).
God’s plan had a purpose. It wasn’t an accident. Or afterthought. His purpose came together when the time was right. God’s purpose was Christ-centered. It had a unifying focus. And reveals our spiritual inheritance.
Praise (v. 6, 12, 14).
We are created to give God praise. We’re not put here on earth for our own glory, but God’s glory. Our lives ought to be about pleasing Him, instead of selfishly satisfying our own sensual desires.
Promise (v. 13)
The Holy Spirit Himself is the assurance and guarantee of the Father’s promises. When we obey the gospel, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ax 2:38). He intercedes for us in prayer (Rom. 8:26-27). And His indwelling serves as an incentive to holiness because our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
Power (v. 19)
God’s power works in and through the lives of Christians. We tap into His power through prayer and the Gospel. God strengthens us spiritually with His power. Provides power to overcome infirmities. And give us the power to defeat the devil.
Preeminence. (V.21-23; Col. 1:18).
God’s eternal purpose and plan was consummated in Christ. He occupies the highest rank. He is far above all rule. He’s above every name. He possesses all authority. And He is the head of the Body, His church.
Christ didn’t die on the cross to create a utopia on earth. The Bible wasn’t given to make us smarter sinners. Christianity is not primarily about improving the environment or eliminating social ills.
God’s plan is spiritual in nature. Its aim is upward. Its goal is heavenly. And its end is eternal.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman