An excerpt from the forthcoming book PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace:
It’s perfectly possible for you or me to have a plan and pay the price but then lack the power to make it happen. That’s why we sometimes need a vacation to recover from our vacations.
That never happens to God.
When God makes a plan, he can always pay the price and he never lacks the power to make it happen. God’s planning never writes a check that his power can’t cash.
God’s Work of Grace Always Extends Precisely as Far as God Planned
That’s what we mean whenever we talk about “planned grace” or “definite atonement.” God didn’t plan for Christ’s work on the cross to extend a certain distance only to discover later that his creatures have somehow thwarted his good intentions. God’s grace always goes precisely where God planned. According to Scripture, God’s plan for his grace is simultaneously universal and particular. The work of Christ reaches throughout the cosmos to conquer every power of darkness and, at the same time, takes root by God’s sovereign design in particular people’s lives. If that’s the case—and we are convinced that it is—consider how intricately and carefully God the Father must have planned his work to redeem his people!
The Death of the Son, Planned Before the World Began
Eternal eons prior to the moment when forbidden fruit touched our first parents’ tongues, the Triune God had already planned for the Son to do what Adam ought to have done: God the Son would go to war against the ancient serpent and grind his skull into the dust (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:1-9). The infant who drew his first ragged breaths between a virgin’s knees wasn’t sent to be a trinket in the crèche beneath your Christmas tree. This child was a warrior-king sent in flesh to set the cosmos free. Desperate to preserve his crumbling dominion, the rebel prince of this world conspired to have the warrior-king murdered (Luke 22:3; John 12:31; 13:27; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:4). And so, the Son from heaven died, his disciples scattered, and all God’s good intentions seemed to have failed.
But nothing in human history—-not even the Son of God spiked and slaughtered on a splintered beam-—has ever taken God by surprise.
Every aspect of the atonement happened according to God’s eternal design. Long before time began, the plot that sent Jesus to the cross had already been a linchpin in God’s perfect plan (Luke 22:22; John 19:11; Acts 2:23). Even when Jesus was sentenced to die, no devil or demon, no religious leader or Roman ruler, slipped even a single step outside God’s sovereign design. God allowed the crucifixion—-the most horrific method of execution known to mankind—-knowing beforehand that he would transform this ghastly crime into the axis of his kingdom and the supreme display of his beauty.
The Extent of the Son’s Work, Determined Before Time
Three days after the warrior-king’s last breath, his tomb erupted with more life than any earthly power could hold. The victim of the cross was revealed to be the victor over every power in heaven and earth. The death that had seemed like a falling curtain of darkness turned out to be the dawning of the light. Through the resurrection, God reduced every “rule and authority, power and dominion” in all creation into mere footstools for the feet of Christ the King (Ephesians 1:20-23). Jesus became a perfect high priest who sacrificed his own life for particular persons chosen by his Father and set apart through his Spirit before time began (John 17:9; Hebrews 10:10-14).
In God’s perfect plan, the death of this perfect high priest purchased precisely the same people that the Father chose and the Spirit seals. This three-personed work was selective, effective, and definite.
* The Father’s choice was selective because he predestined individuals that he chose before time began.
* The Son’s sacrifice was effective because he secured the salvation of these same persons.
* The Spirit’s sealing is definite because his presence in the lives of God’s chosen people guarantees that they will persevere to the end.
The intent of the Father’s plan determined the extent of the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s pledge.
To learn more about PROOF, click here.