Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | May 6, 2006

God’s Plan of Redemption

The subject of God’s redemptive plan has become much more common in my life lately.  It started while studying for my senior paper last year, which was about Mormonism (See first three posts).  One of the arguments against the concept of continued special revelation is that God’s pattern for special revelation throughout history has been progressive.  From Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to Christ the plan of redemption was unfolded incrementally.  However, when we arrive at Christ in the New Testament there is the declaration that He is the culmination of this plan of redemption.  This culmination of God’s redemptive plan implies that continued special revelation is no longer needed.  All things necessary for our salvation have been revealed and recorded in the canon of Scripture (Old and New Testaments).  Geerhardus Vos comments on the link between revelation and redemption in the following:

“It has not completed itself in one exhaustive act, but unfolded itself in a long series of successive acts.  In the abstract, it might conceivably have been otherwise.  But as a matter of fact this could not be, because revelation does not stand alone by itself, but is (so far as Special Revelation is concerned) inseparably attached to another activity of God, which we call Redemption.”  Biblical Theology Old and New Testaments, p 5 (Emphasis his).

This year Tabletalk (a monthly magazine published by Ligonier Ministries) is going through the first half of Genesis.  As a result, a lot of concentration has and will continue to be focused on God’s plan of redemption. Currently, we are in Genesis chapter nine covering the Noahic Epoch of redemptive history.  In addition, I just completed auditing my first class in seminary, which was titled “From Eden to New Jerusalem”.  In this class we reviewed God’s plan of redemption, which was revealed through a series of successive epochs.  This recent exposure to the God’s redemptive plan has been extremely edifying and enlightening allowing me to see the continuity of this plan that is revealed in Scripture.  The following assessment regarding this unity of the covenants revealed throughout the history of redemption is made by O. Palmer Robertson:

“At those points in history in which God initiated the new covenantal relationships under Moses and David, evidence indicates that God was intending to bring to a further stage of development the same redemption that had been promised earlier.  Instead of “wiping clean the slate” and beginning anew, each successive covenant with Abraham’s descendants advanced the original purposes of God to a higher level of realization.”  The Christ of the Covenants, p 29   

In studying the Scriptures we see the unity of God’s plan of redemption.  One of the common themes revealed throughout the Old Testament is that God requires sacrifice.  In the Old Testament, God prescribes sacrifices to be made continually for His people.  However, later in redemptive history we learn that these sacrifices were only types and shadows of a more perfect sacrifice to come.  As we continue our examination of the Apostles Creed we are still reviewing the portion, which summarizes the perfect sacrifice of our Savior.  Question 39 of the Heidelberg Catechism inquires about the mode of that perfect sacrifice in the following:

Q. Is it significant that he was "crucified" instead of dying some other way?

A. Yes.  This death convinces me that he shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was accursed by God. 1

1 Galatians 3:10-13 (Deuteronomy 21:23):  For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.”  However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Churches of Galatia points out the fact that the mode of Christ’s sacrifice was not by accident.  Christ suffered for Law breakers who were cursed and He became a curse in His death by hanging on a tree.  This sacrifice settled the curse against God’s people for all time.  As stated above, all other sacrifices that were prescribed by the ceremonial Law were only types and shadows of the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  This clarifies what is sometimes confusing to some about the people of the Old Testament, who were in no way saved by animal sacrifices.  Rather they were saved by the sacrifice that Christ made, which was credited to them by grace through faith in God’s promise.  This was God’s redemptive plan from eternity past, which was progressively revealed throughout history.  In each successive announcement of this plan it did not change, but became clearer than it had before.  Nonetheless, in each portion of redemptive history Christ and His sacrifice is prefigured in some form.  As a result, we can then conclude that all of Scripture is about Jesus Christ who is the integral part of the plan of redemption.  The following comment by O Palmer Robertson is supportive of this conclusion:  

“In this single person all God’s purposes find climactic fulfillment.  He is the head of God’s kingdom and the embodiment of God’s covenant.  In this person “I shall be your God and you shall be my people” achieves incarnated reality.  Because the various strands of hope for redemption converge on this single person, He becomes the unifying focus of all Scripture.”  The Christ of the Covenants, p 51 (emphasis mine).

Since Christ is the focus of all of Scripture, shouldn’t He be the focus of every sermon?  This is not the case for most Churches, especially in Southern California.  However, shouldn’t it be?



  1. […] After long week I am able to return and continue our overview of the Belgic Confession.  This week was incredibly busy and I am only thankful that I was able to get through it.  In the future, you may see an interruption in this series with some Bible studies again, which will be provided due to my inability continue with the topic due to home, church work and/or school.  Believe it or not I am still not done with Article 2, yet.  Since we are still on the topic of special revelation proper, it is appropriate here to discuss its nature.  By nature we mean what is the principle way special revelation manifests itself, which happens to be progressive.  In light of today’s topic it may also be helpful to supplement it with a previous post on the similar topic Gods-plan-of-redemption.    We see God’s revelation manifest itself progressively throughout His word.  After creation then the fall of man we see the first revelation of redemption in Genesis 3:15.  From this particular promise not much can be known about the details of God’s plan.  However, in subsequent encounters God’s revelation is further clarified by more specific information.  We see more revelation given to the patriarchs that builds upon the original promise given to men about a coming Redeemer.  A fuller expression is made known by the time of Moses in fact the full expression of God’s Law is given during that period of time. John Calvin in his commentary on Genesis makes note of this when handling Chapter 32 and Jacob wrestling with God:  The sum therefore is this, that though Jacob’s wish was pious, the Lord does not grant it, because the time of full revelation was not yet completed:  for the fathers, in the beginning, were required to walk in the twilight of morning; and the Lord manifested himself to them, by degrees, until, at length, Christ the Sun of Righteousness arose, in whom perfected brightness shines forth.  This is the reason why he rendered himself more conspicuous to Moses, who nevertheless was only permitted to behold his glory from behind:  yet because he occupied an intermediate place between patriarchs and apostles, he is said, in comparison with them, to have seen, face to face, the God who had been hidden from the fathers.  But now, since God has approached more nearly unto us, our ingratitude is most impious and detestable, if we do not run to meet him with ardent desire to obtain such great grace; as also Peter admonishes us in the first chapter of his first epistle (1 Peter 1:12-13).  Calvin Commentary on Genesis, 32.29 Although, at the time of Moses more revelation is given than in the past it did not contradict that which was given before.  This continues through Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Malachi.  The revelation that they received was not to modify or change previous information, but only to further clarify and specify the truth of this coming Redeemer.  This is why, when we get to the New Testament Christ can say that the entire Old Testament was completely about Him John 5:37-40 and Luke 24:25-27.  As we read Calvin he referred to the Apostle Peter who indicates that our predecessors in the faith were aware that they did not yet have the full picture Peter 1:10-12.  They knew that a future generation not themselves would receive the full expression of God’s revelation.    […]

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