Christmas wasn't the backup plan
For most of my life I thought that Christ and the cross were “plan B.” I believed the narrative of the Bible began with God’s original design of creation being ruined by sin through Adam and Eve. Then, because of this thwarted plan, God sent Christ to atone for and salvage what went horribly wrong.
Through own personal journey over the law few years, I truly fell in love with God’s holy Scripture and began understanding what David meant in Psalm 1 when he said “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on this law he mediates day and night.” Through my renewed passion of treasuring, reading and studying I began to see such a different Biblical narrative being told.
Jesus Christ has always been the only plan for humanity and creation. God’s original design of Adam and Eve weren’t the perfect design of man - it was merely the beginning of our story. Our perfected design was not how God started creation, but with how he will finish it.
Let me explain.
In the beginning
Rather than starting with Genesis and the beginning of creation I’m going to go back even further.
Before the foundations of the world and universe were made God had a plan in mind. This plan was all about his son, Jesus Christ. In the prophetic book of Revelation by John, we see several descriptions of the state of God’s church during the end times, and of Satan and his antichrist. In the first half of Revelation 13 John writes about the antichrist and the saints of God:
“And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.” Rev. 13:8
So before the foundation of the world God, the author, had a book. And this book was titled “The Book of Life of the Lamb that was Slain.” So in God’s mind, the Lamb – Jesus Christ – was to be slain. This slaying wasn’t something that he thought of as a result of man’s sin in the garden but before it ever happened. In fact, the slaying of Christ is central to what the Book of Life is all about.
In the end
To support this I also look to Revelation 5. Here John is seeing a vision of God on the throne of heaven holding a scroll with seven seals – called “The Book of Life of the Lamb that was Slain.” A mighty angel proclaims ”Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” John begins to weep because no one in heaven or on earth was able to open or look into the scroll. But one of the elders that surrounded God’s throne tells John “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Revelation 5:1-5).
Then John sees the Lamb standing near the throne, appearing as if it had been slain. The Lamb takes the scroll from God and everyone in the throne falls down and worships:
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9
So before the foundation of the universe was created, God authored a book that’s central purpose revolved around the slaying of his son Jesus Christ. In a prophetic vision of the end of days we see Christ as the slain Lamb of God taking and opening this book, which he was only worthy to do because he was crucified on the cross at calvary. The crucifixion is the center of all history. It is clear it has never been an afterthought or reaction to a manifested problem in God’s mind.
Our destiny was always in Christ
This narrative is supported all throughout the Bible. It is touched on so many times by the New Testament authors that I will only reference some of them for the sake of this blog’s length. God has always destined us to be ransomed to himself through Christ Jesus.
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8-10
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:15-20
“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:4-10
“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-21
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” Titus 1:1-3
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30
The garden wasn’t perfect
With all of this in mind:
1. God authored and sealed “The Book of Life of the Lamb that was Slain” before the foundation of the world was made.
2. Christ was crucified, according to God’s plan for eternity, and he alone can open the Book of Life.
3. Our salvation and inheritance have always been intended to be in and through Christ Jesus.
I think when one goes back and reads Genesis and God’s creation of Adam and Eve a different narrative takes place. It is clear, to me at least, that the garden wasn’t flawless and perfect like I grew up thinking it to be.
“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:8-9
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
While there were many incredible aspects about it, there was always the possibility of man falling away from both God’s presence and the tree of life by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Even in the immaculate garden Adam and Eve were tempted by sin. It only took one moment for their minds to be swayed and hearts to be blinded with desire. In the midst of our broken and sinful nature, when we are called by God to freedom in Christ, we are promised and assured that we will never fall away. We are kept eternally in the hands of our Shepherd and Savior (John 6).
Jumping back to the book of Revelation and John’s prophetic visions we have descriptions of what the new heaven and new earth will be like after Jesus comes back for those whom He has kept for salvation. These descriptions are unimaginably rich and glorious. They are the hope for all believers, despite the trials and tragedies of this world. They describe a life that far surpasses that of the Garden of Eden. There’s no possibility of falling away or of eating fruit that separates us from God. Our wills and desires will be perfected in Christ for all of eternity. We won’t ever be tempted towards sin again like Adam and Eve were. And while we currently experience sin on earth, our purpose and eternity is infinitely more glorious than the first garden that Adam and Eve lived in.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Revelation 21:23-27
Christmas is superior to the garden
The first garden may have been the original design, but it wasn’t the perfect one. Christ has always been and always will be the purpose for humanity and all eternity. The story of humanity is not one that climaxes at the cross because things got out of control and God needed a Plan B. The cross has eternally been the most beautiful moment in all of time. God planned to have his son ransom us and adopt us to be his fellow heirs in the kingdom of heaven. It’s the most glorious ending. It’s our most secure eternity.
If I was given the choice to live in that garden or live reconciled to Christ by his blood, death and resurrection I would absolutely prefer the latter. To Him be all the glory.
This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ and serve and give, find joy in the hope of the Lamb who was slain. This was always the author's plan from before the foundations of the world were made and he carefully watches over his word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). Creation is not out of control. The world is not overcome with evil. A couple of thousands of years ago our Savior was born. The Messiah has come. And this was always the perfect and most desirous outcome for us all.