We are finite beings who are restricted by existing in time; we think linearly. Because we are fallen we think imperfectly, our thought process affected by our sin nature. God exists outside of time; He is infinite. He is perfectly holy and without sin. Therefore, when we want to understand biblical truths we need to make sure that we are not filtering and framing scripture with our finite, limited, fallen minds. We need to be careful that we don’t operate from a man-centered view. Instead, we do well to operate from a biblical, God-centered view, recognizing that there are things that infinite God can reconcile in His mind that we simply cannot.
With this in mind, let’s examine the question: was the cross an afterthought, a plan B?
Did God have to come up with a remedy after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden? Was the plan of the cross reactionary? No, the cross was not an afterthought. God is omniscient:
- Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”
- Isaiah 46:9 “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done.”
The Scriptures declare that the cross was the only plan, in place before the world was created:
- Acts 2:22-23 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Emphasis mine)
- Revelation 13:8 “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 who was slain.”
In our fallen, linear-thinking minds, we try to frame the cross in a way that ‘makes sense’ to a sin-affected brain. Human logic reasons like this: God created perfect people who then sinned, so He came up with a plan to fix the problem: Voilà! As we have just seen, however, God is omniscient and makes no mistakes. He ordains all things for His glory and according to His good pleasure. God isn’t dependent on men, reacting to men’s choices. He purposes and ordains all things, period. And that is something to take comfort in and rejoice over.
In their book Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary Of Bible Truth, John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue explain the decree of God and the problem of evil well:
A natural objection that arises to the doctrine of exhaustive sovereignty is that it seems to make God morally culpable for sin. However, while God is properly said to ordain-and thus to be the Ultimate Cause of-all things, he is never the proper chargeable cause of evil.
While God ordains the evil choices of free moral agents, he does not coerce them; rather, they act according to their own freedom of inclination. Because God is never the efficient cause of evil and because he always ordains evil for good, he incurs no guilt.
This theodicy is substantiated by numerous passages in the Bible… But the clearest example comes from the apostolic record of the greatest evil event in history: the murder of the Son of God. If God can be absolved of wrongdoing for ordaining the greatest evil, then there can be no objection to his justice in ordaining lesser evils.
It may be observed, first, that God is the Ultimate Cause of the crucifixion, having predestined every circumstance that led to its occurrence and thus rendering it certain. Second, the Jews were a proximate cause, having incited the Romans to crucify Christ. Third, Herod, Pilate, and other godless men were the efficient cause, because the crucifixion was carried out by Roman authority. The Jews were thus held accountable as a proximate cause, as Peter said to them, “You crucified and killed [Jesus] by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). That it was the Romans who actually nailed Jesus to a cross made the Jews no less culpable for that crime. And yet God, by whose hand all things ultimately came about, is not the chargeable cause of any evil, because while the perpetrators meant it for evil, God meant it for good.
Thus, Herod, Pilate, Judas, and the Jews conspired to bring about the crucifixion because they wanted to be rid of this man who indicted them for their sin. But God ordained the evil of the cross for the good that it would bring, namely, the salvation of his people from their sin. Such an explanation may not satisfy every objection of fallen man, but such is the theodicy that arises from Scripture itself. On that basis, it must be accepted that while God is the Ultimate Cause of all things, he is not the chargeable cause of evil. (p.491, 492, 493)
Brethren, rejoice that the cross was the only plan, in place before the foundations of the world. Because of the cross, we will have life eternal with Him. Because He is in control, and always planned the cross, we can rest knowing that He is able to keep us from falling; His promises will not fail.
Soli Deo Gloria!