Was Jesus’s death on the Cross a result of God’s best-laid plans gone wrong? Did human sin take God by surprise? Was there an emergency plan B forced upon the Creator of the universe after the Fall in Genesis? The question might be restated this way: Did the Bible’s redemptive history in a fallen creation result from an eternally wise and powerful God’s purposeful plans, or was it His attempt to remedy an unforeseen tragedy?
If the Fall in Genesis was a surprise to God, we would certainly have some major questions to ask. For instance, how could we be confident that another surprise won’t happen in the new heavens and earth yet to come? How could we be confident that God’s plan of redemption will actually work?
To find these answers we must look into the subject of God’s eternal wisdom and gain a miniscule glimpse of the riches of God’s glory. There is, however, a word of warning. Many theologians through the ages have wrestled tirelessly as they have gazed into the eternal wisdom and counsels of a triune God. We can only dip our toe into this infinite ocean.
The Power and Scope of God’s Purposes
It is certainly difficult for us as finite humans to understand the concept of infinite wisdom. After all, we are talking about the kind of wisdom that is the predetermined purpose behind all the works of an almighty God, from creation to Christ’s redemption at the Cross, and the yet-to-happen final consummation when He returns. The Bible reveals clearly that behind every work of God is His wisdom from eternity past. “The Lord possessed me [wisdom] at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth” (Proverbs 8:22–23).
The design of an atom, the color of a rainbow, the information in a strand of DNA, and countless other wonders—including the very breath of life—all started not just at a point in time but in eternity past according to God’s eternal wisdom.
God’s eternal wisdom displays His true deity.
God’s eternal wisdom is simply amazing. It is not just a selection of clever sayings that we should study simply so that we might somehow be more knowledgeable. God’s wisdom is the display of His power. As He follows through on His plans, we see that His purpose is sure and His will is certain. What other being has power like this? “Then I [wisdom] was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always” (Proverbs 8:30).
God’s eternal wisdom displays His true deity. While man has been created with a capacity for wisdom, only God’s wisdom is infinite and omnipotent. Only God’s wise purposes are 100% certain and drive everything else to display His ultimate glory. Paul expresses this truth beautifully in his writings about the redemption of both Jew and Gentile. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? . . . For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33–36).
The Goal and Fulfillment of God’s Purposes
God’s will and purposes aren’t random. They pursue a single objective: the glory of Christ. Nowhere better are the riches of God’s eternal wisdom on display than in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in whom “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
Through the wisdom that is displayed in Christ, we are also able to discern the vain philosophies of fallible mankind. Any philosophy that does not place God’s glory as the pinnacle focus is empty of real wisdom.
Look at the sweep of the plans that God is fulfilling through Christ: “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” (Colossians 1:15–17). Christ both ordains and accomplishes all, and He does this in fulfillment of God’s eternal plans.
As the One who is before all things, He providentially rules over all things as He pleases. Christ is the sovereign Lord. He does not make choices willy nilly; nor is He surprised by anything that happens on earth—even Adam’s original sin. He is the unchangeable God, and what He purposed before the world was created will certainly happen. Nothing can change those plans.
No, Jesus went to the Cross exactly as God had intended before the world began. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
Jesus is the very design and accomplishment of God’s eternal wisdom. The plan of redemption was not a necessary afterthought to remedy a plan gone wrong. Jesus Christ had purposed to redeem us from eternity past. His work on the Cross is nothing short of the pinnacle of the revelation of God’s eternal and sovereign wisdom.
This means that when you have faith in Jesus Christ, His promise of salvation is as sure as God’s eternal power. No surprises, just the execution of eternal wisdom.
- How does the thought of God’s eternal wisdom help you to deal with your concern for the future?
- Look up Proverbs 8:22–23 and John 1; Colossians 1:15–17 and Ephesians 3:10–11. What relationship is there between each pair?
- How do you think Proverbs 1:7 relates to God’s eternal plans?
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:24 and discuss how it describes Christ in relation to the gospel.
- If a person believes in the possibility that something could come as a surprise to God, how would that affect his or her confidence about the Christian’s position in eternity?
- Read Isaiah 55:8–9. How does this passage help us trust God when He does things that don’t make sense from our finite perspective?
- Read verses six and seven in the same passage above. How should we respond to God’s infinite wisdom?
- Read all of Isaiah 55. Discuss how this chapter parallels and reinforces the good news of the Cross: that God’s infinite wisdom works to the benefit of His people.