Thursday, March 03, 2011

Not Four Spiritual Laws, but Ten Steps of Redemption in the Bible

n 1956 Bill Bright, of Campus Crusade for Christ, developed the “Four Spiritual Laws” as a way to communicate the concise message of Christianity to the unchurched world. These four precepts were communicated as a brief story that laid out God’s basic message for the world.

Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws
1.         Law One: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
2.         Law Two: Man is sinful and separated from God, thus cannot know and experience God’s plan for his life.
3.         Law Three: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
4.         Law Four: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

            If you ask a Christian about God’s plan for the world he likely will recite some version of these laws. These four steps are a great way to begin to explain God’s most basic plan of salvation, but they fall short of being a full picture of the plan God has for us. If we attend a typical new members’ class at just about any church we will get a more extensive version of these laws, but in the absence of knowing God’s specific plan, there are as many ways to explain this, as there are those who teach it. Like this four step plan, it appears God has left his own plan of salvation written in the pattern and structure of every aspect of the Bible; every list; every chapter, every verse; every number and likely every letter of his Word. The symbolism of the numbers 1-10 correspond to the text associated with them. Not only is the plan present in the Bible, it is confirmed and pointed out by the numerics of God's Word.

God Has Written His Own Ten-step Plan of Salvation
After so many years of reading Scripture and trying to discern in our own way what God’s plan is for our lives, now we possibly find that God has actually written out his ten-step plan of redemption and spread it throughout His Word as a set of instructions to explain our path with him. Like Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws, these ten redemption pattern themes explain in more detail the steps we should understand and follow if we are to become one of his faithful servants.
            I refer to the ten steps as God’s Redemption Pattern, and it could be thought of as God’s “Ten Spiritual Laws.”  The Redemption Pattern is an amazing structural organization underlying all text in the Bible. The following list is my basic way of communicating the concepts of the Redemption Pattern. These are very high level concepts which are found in different symbolic ways throughout scripture. This list represents the positive symbolism associated with each step - there is also an opposite or negative side to each one of them as well. The basic symbolism of the ten steps are:
  1. God/Creation - We learn we are separated apart from God due to sin - each to its kind
  2. Jesus - That God has appointed and sent a deliverer/redeemer who did come for us
  3. Holy Spirit - He is holy and righteous - We learn about God's spirit in our midst
  4. Fallen Creation - We seen men are lost in the wilderness without God (40 and 40 years, 40 days)
  5. Covenant Statutes and Ordinances - Instructions we must know before entering the promised land
  6. Sin/Redemption - Crossing over - Each person has to have courage and take steps to cross over with God going before us. Admitting our sin and turning from it.
  7. Becoming complete - The Good shepherd tends his sheep with rod and staff. Accepting Jesus is just the first step, then he leads, guides, and disciplines us in our growth.
  8. A new beginning/The Godly remnant - blessed/saved by God - 8 saved in the ark; baptism; circumcision. We reach a point where we are dedicated servants, prepared to serve Jesus.
  9. The Future - Things to happen; waiting and serving faithfully until Jesus return. Once we are servants, we have a responsibility to serve and persevere until we are one day with Jesus. #9 is also related to rapture or events such as being taken up.
  10. Last Things - The Day of the Lord; Judgment and wrath await unbelievers, while believers will enjoy the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. #10 also seems associated with the Jews coming to know Jesus and being saved.

God Wrote the Bible to Mirror the Ten Steps
As God has inspired the text of the Bible, he has also caused every number and list and all other parts of scriptures to be written in a structure that reflects the ten steps in his plan for man. God repeats his plan over and over again in his word. As well as being a constant reminder of the walk, it also gives us a rich set of tools that help us understand where we are on the growth path and what the objectives are at each step along the way.

Each of the ten points in God’s pattern is associated with the numbers one to ten. Although the pattern is not about numbers, God associates numbers with each point in the pattern. Every number in the Bible can be broken down into its separate numeric digits, and the association of these digits to God’s plan.In a mysterious way I find hard to explain, any combination of numbers seems to relate directly to equivalent themes found in associated text. The Bible's numbers act as a way to validate the perfection of God's Word; guide us in our understanding what is says; give us deep insights into the meaning of the text; and I suspect (once we understand them), are likely a key to understanding Bible prophecy. I don't think we will ever fully understand the numbers, but I believe one day God will show us how his entire plan was precisely coded right before our eyes in the scriptures.

A Great Guide and Evidence for the Pattern - the 1st Ten Full Bible Books
We discover the perfection of the Bible and validate the Redemption Pattern by seeing it throughout the scriptures; in the books of the Bible; in lists such as the ten commandments; in sections of important passages such as the ten parts of the Lord's Prayer; in symbolism of the Bible's numbers found in the text, and many other places. The pattern is everywhere - so to confirm it, we simply observe it in a consistent way in every part of scripture.

When I first looked to see if the pattern could be seen in the messages of the books of the Bible, I was puzzled because the symbolism did not seem to fit after the 9th book - 1Samuel. After much struggling about how the pattern could be imperfect here, it came to me (I suspect God's spirit guided me) that maybe the pattern of the text would fit the pattern of Bible book numbering if I would count the books differently than we traditionally do. I later learned that if Icounted all the split books (like 1st and 2nd Samuel) as a single book,  the pattern fell perfectly into place in the numbers of all books of the Bible.

I can only speculate as to the reason, but it seems the Bible is structured intentionally by God with two sets of book numbers; the normal 66 book count we know today; and another hidden count of 57 books that counts split books as a single book. Using this 57 book count, we then have one of the best evidences for God's perfect ten part redemption pattern found in the Bible. The text and messages of  1st ten books fit the pattern and symbolism I presented above. The following list shows the number, the basic concept associated with the number, and how the text of the book seems to validate and itself be confirmed by the number association.

  1. God - Genesis - creation and how men are continually separated from God and keep getting separated into groups that either follow God's ways or do not. Consider the 1st Bible chapter where everything is separated by their own kind. One is about being counted - as an individual member of some overall category or kind.
  2. Redeemer Sent - Exodus - Moses is sent by God to free his people and begin them on their journey to the promised land. Number two seems about relationship/love and being joined.
  3. Holiness of God/Holy Spirit - Leviticus - where we learn of the holiness and perfection of God and how we can have God living in our midst. We must understand our sin and God's holiness.
  4. Wilderness Wandering - Numbers - Israel wandered in the desert for almost 40 years (4) suffering in trials and being cleansed in the process - finally ready to enter the promised land. An example of our wandering without God that hopefully will result in our seeking him.
  5. Statutes and Covenants - Deuteronomy - Why were the ten commandments repeated in Deuteronomy? I suspect because before the people can enter the promised land, they must know the requirements for entering, and understand the consequences of not doing things God's way. It is the same for us - before we can enter the special places of our inheritance, we must understand what is required of us (I'm not necessarily speaking of basic salvation here, but something deeper).
  6. Sin and Redemption/Crossing over - Joshua - once we understand what we are commanded to do, we are to cross over the water (Moses in the Basket/The Jordan/The Flood/Sea of Galilee...) knowing God goes before us. We must have the courage to take the steps. We are recognizing our sin, turning from it (at least that's our intention) and in the process, are being redeemed.
  7. Becoming Complete - Judges - Although the people tried to rid of the strongholds of sin in the promised land (Joshua) - they failed to completely do so. They have more work to do to become complete. This represents a repeated process we go through in our lives of trying to do things God's way, failing and the Lord continuing to be faithful to redeem over and over again - until one day we are ready to become fully his. We see this trying and failing pattern repeated many times in the book of Judges, until at some point that God decides, we become a faithful godly servants - we see this in the next book - Ruth..
  8. Godly/faithful servants - Ruth - Upon becoming complete (at least complete enough), we become like Naomi and Ruth who have returned from Moab back to the promised land and become a blessing to others. Boaz (Jesus) redeems us with a price and we become his.
  9. (The Future) Faithful servants persevering until Jesus return - Samuel - Once we become a faithful servant we are to be serving the Lord while we await his future return. Every step of the Redemption Pattern has it's positive and negative side, and in the books of 1/2 Samuel we find examples of both - successful and unsuccessful servants of God - Saul and David. These are our examples of how to serve God well, and what not serving him well looks like.
  10. Last/Final Things/Salvation vs Judgment - 1st/2nd Kings - In the 9000th verse of the Bible the temple was completed; God entered it; and we then find the Lord standing before his people (1Kings 8:14). A pattern that seems to show what Jesus return will look like. Following Jesus standing before the people, the remaining chapters of 1/2 Kings tell us of the history of events leading to the final judgments and exiles of Israel. This tenth book representing the tenth step of the redemption pattern seems to show the judgment that will one day we will all participate in.
 The first ten books of the Bible are maybe the best explanation and guide to the redemption pattern I know of - but this is just the beginning of an endless list of examples. Another great evidence can be observed in the first ten chapters of the first book of the Bible. In Genesis chapters 1-10 we find the same number/text pattern we find in the first ten books of the Bible. They are: Creation/separation by kind (chapter 1); Adam/man sent (2); sin and separation from God (3); wilderness wandering begins/Cain (4); summary of blessings/curses of generations (5); God fed up with man's sin and instructions to build the ark (6); the cleansing flood (7); the remnant of 8 saved (8); The covenant with Noah and future generations/the rainbow (9); and the judgment/separations of nations at Babel (10).

I'm really not a Bible expert and don't claim to totally understand all about God's Redemption Pattern, but I think I'm in the ballpark (pretty close). If you disagree with my explanation that's fine, more importantly, recognize the pattern exists and is there to guide us in our understanding of God and his instructions for our salvation. In past and future blog entries I try to explain more about God's pattern and related number symbolism.

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