People generally appreciate a good plan that is well executed—like engagements, surprise parties, and covert military operations. God’s plan as laid out in the Bible culminated at the death, resurrection, and ascension of his Son, Jesus, who came to save the world from sin. But God’s plan didn’t stop there.
The good news about Jesus has to spread all over the world so that everyone might know what God has done for us. But Jesus ascended back into heaven. So what’s God’s plan for spreading the good news and how will it be executed? Let’s find out.
Jesus Tells Us His Great Plan
In a fictional play, there’s a scene where God’s Son Jesus has just completed his work on earth and has ascended back to heaven where a host of angels greets him.
Michael the archangel is especially enthusiastic in his reception and excitedly asks Jesus about his plan for continuing the work of his kingdom on earth. Jesus smiles and tells Michael to come look down with him at what’s happening now on earth.
Jesus takes him by the arm and points down to the earth below and asks:
“Do you see that city down there?”
“Yes,” replies Michael.
“Do you see that upper room in that house?”
“Yes, I see that too.”
“Do you see those men in that room?”
“Those eleven or so guys?” questions Michael.
“Yep, those are the ones,” answers Jesus.
“Okay, I see them, what about it?” responds Michael.
“Well,” says Jesus slowly, “That’s the plan!”
Michael stares down for a while trying to grasp the significance of what he has just learned. After several moments he finally responds: “You mean those guys down there are your plan?”
“Uh huh!” says Jesus.
More silence follows and Michael offers a very tentative query to Jesus. “With all due respect, my Lord, may I ask what your back-up plan is?”
The ascended Jesus looks Michael straight in the eye and solemnly responds, “There is no other plan.”
Even though it’s just a fictional story, Michael raised a pretty valid concern, didn’t he? How would Jesus’ heavenly kingdom spread to the whole world through twelve ordinary men? Gamaliel may have the answer for us.
Why Jesus’ Plan Won’t Fail
Gamaliel was a distinguished Pharisee (teacher of the law) noted for being the mentor of Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul. He was present at the Sanhedrin’s (the Jewish ruling council) examination of Peter and the apostles after they had been arrested for preaching the good news about Jesus.
The apostles (some of Jesus’ twelve closest followers) defied the high priest and rulers by refusing to refrain from preaching God’s Word about Jesus. The Sanhedrin was ready to put them to death. In this context, Gamaliel rose to speak.
He offered the following conclusion: “Therefore in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39 NIV).
Gamaliel hit it right on the head, didn’t he? There was absolutely nothing to fear from these guys if they were acting on their own. A few uneducated, untrained religious amateurs could hardly be considered a threat. How could anyone worry about any plan that this ragtag group had?
But if it were God’s plan, they would not fail. For “The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11 NIV).
Two thousand years later here we are and guess what? God’s plan worked! His Word is the bestselling book of all time; and he used many of these ordinary men shaped by their experiences to write it.
Your Role in God’s Plan
Do you want to know something amazing? The plan hasn’t changed!
If Michael were to ask that same question today, Jesus would point to those who believe in him and say, “That’s it! They are my plan!”
It’s a pretty sobering thought. It’s also a terribly exciting thought. We each have the opportunity to play a role in the plan of the Almighty and Sovereign God of the universe by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. For whatever reasons, he has chosen to work through us.
It’s comforting to realize that ultimately, it’s his plan and it will work. The only reason those few early disciples could pull it off was that they had the support and power of God helping them accomplish his purposes. The same is true today.
Author Robert E. Coleman wonderfully exhorts us in his book The Master Plan of Evangelism,
When will we realize that evangelism [sharing the good news of Jesus] is not done by something but by someone? It is an expression of God’s love, and God is a person. His nature, being personal, is only expressed through personality, first revealed fully in Christ, and now expressed through his Spirit in the lives of those yielded to him…the work itself is done by people reaching other people for Christ. That is why we must say with E.M. Bounds that “men are God’s method.” (108-9)
To learn more about God’s master plan and how you are a part of it, read Coleman’s book linked above!