Friday, June 05, 2009

The Master Strategist

I've been very slowly reading Paul Billheimer's Destined For The Throne. I can't buy into everything he says yet, but he is bringing out some very interesting points that have augmented my own thinking on some foundational issues.

I've understood for a long time that God knew, before He "rolled up His sleeves" and began history, that Creation would fall and that the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ, would be necessary to save it from eternal destruction. This is what the Word means when it tells us that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. - Rev 13.8

If that reality is new to you, take a moment to dwell on it. Seeing the end before the beginning (Is 46.10), and the terrible Price salvation was going to exact, it would have been so much easier for God to say, "Nope, nice idea, but it's just way too expensive. Who needs the aggravation? For a bunch of ingrates?" He could have declined, and no one would have been around to feel bad about the decision. No harm done.

But He went ahead with The Project. And we must ask why.

God's "super-redemptive" love

I've come at this every way I know how, and have concluded that there is only one possible answer. God is passionately in love with us. Now, I don't mean that He's desperately, forelornly lovesick and swooning over us. He emphatically is not out of control. He is not a fool for love. He is not Dion's "Teenager in Love". He still is awesome and majestic, sovereign in knowledge and power, and unshakably enthroned over Creation.

But behind it all He has a deep love for us that simply will not be satisfied until we are fully reconciled to Him, and indeed, until we are in organic ontological union with Him. And that love was willing to pay any Price, even the death of Jesus, to realize that goal.

God, from the very beginning, had both Creation and Redemption in mind. And by Redemption I mean not only that He would restore Adam's race after it had fallen, but that He also would institute an entire new race, not of mere men, but one spawned from the Last Adam, the God-man Jesus Christ. We, as the Bride of Christ, will one day be "one flesh" with Him!
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. - 1Jn 3.2
As a certain pastor used to say, "Selah" on that for a while.

A secret kept

Now here's where Billheimer adds interesting insight. Paul tells us that the "super-redemptive" nature of Christ's salvation was kept as a mystery, not only to man, but to angels as well:
We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.- 1Cor 2.7-8
And Peter confirms:
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. 1Pe 10-12
So we see that while the prophets strained to see the glories of God's plan of redemption, the real meat of the matter was kept not only from them, but from the angels as well! And one of the reasons for this was to lure the devil into playing a key role in the very redemption of man!

Consider then, God, the Master Strategist. You know how great chessmen can play 50 games at the same time, against top contenders, and win them all? Or how about Bret Maverick in a high-stakes game, hiding a royal flush behind a poker face of stone? God's got them all beat, and immeasurably so.

God's enemies outwitted

So, satan sees that Jesus has become a man. This must have had him extremely nervous. What on earth could God be up to? God's not telling, and the angels don't know. So satan's employs his tactic of old by trying to make Jesus fall. He tries to trick Him, he tries to bribe Him, He tries to bargain with Him, out in the desert; nothing works.

Meanwhile Jesus goes around the countryside, preaching the Gospel, setting men free from sin, disease, self, and the law, and casting demons out left and right. He's doing major damage to satan's impoverished kingdom. The pressure is on. This simply cannot be allowed to continue.

And so satan sees a chance and jumps on it. If he can't make Jesus fall, he'll at least get rid of Him. He puts it in Judas to betray Christ, he agitates the crowd against Jesus, and he succeeds in putting Jesus to death.

Whew! At least that's over with! No more people being set free, no more forced expulsions. Jesus' attempt to set man straight on earth had been defeated!

But satan did not understand that God was the master chessman with more than one game going. And it wasn't the temporary earthly game He was concerned about, it was the eternal heavenly one. And satan hadn't a clue that behind God's poker face lay an unbeatable royal flush.

God victorious
When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. -Col 2:15.
There's a great scene at the end of Gibson's Passion of the Christ. The devil, who had been seen throughout as a cold, calculating woman, delighting in the sufferings of Christ with a heart of pure evil, now wails in unutterable anguish as she realizes her impending destruction has been secured, even as the veil of the Temple is rent and the Presence of God is loosed to dwell within man.

The devil indeed found out what the game really was, but too late to do a thing about it.

God had a plan from the beginning, and counted the Cost. As the parable tells us, He hid His treasure in a field for a season to protect it, and then in the fulness of time He paid the Price and bought the field, securing not only our redemption from the grip of satan, but our super-redemption into organic unity with God Himself.

What can you say to a God like this, but All Praises be unto You, Lord; I am Yours!

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