God’s Eternal Drama

“The works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.”

- John 5:36b

Simon Peter, at Caesarea Philippi, confessed Jesus as the Messiah, and our Lord began to unfold exactly what that would mean. Importantly, He taught them “that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). As Mark indicates in that summary of our Lord’s teaching on the work of the Messiah, Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection were an obligation (“the Son of Man must”), which in turn implies a definite plan that Jesus had to accomplish. This plan, of course, is the plan of salvation, which is unfolded for us in Scripture. We will now pause our  study of Mark’s gospel for a week or so in order to focus on this plan of salvation. The Drama of Redemption, a teaching series by Dr. R.C. Sproul, will help us better understand our Creator’s great plan to redeem His people.

In addition to Mark 8:31, several other biblical passages indicate that our salvation is the result of a specific plan devised by God Himself for our redemption. Ephesians 1:10, for example, speaks of God’s “plan for the fullness of time” to unite redeemed Jews and Gentiles as one people in Christ Jesus. The Lord’s work of salvation is purposeful, having proceeded according to His wise design.

When referring to this plan, theologians often speak of the “covenant of redemption,” which refers to the agreement among the three persons of the Trinity to save the elect in order to magnify the Creator’s glory. In this covenant, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit agreed to assume certain roles in the outworking of salvation. The Father would send the Son to atone for sin; the Son would willingly be sent by the Father and atone for the sin of His people; and the Spirit would sustain the Son in His work and apply it to those chosen for salvation (John 3:16; Heb. 9:14). In this, we see the harmonious unity of the Godhead. The Father is the primary person identified in Scripture as sending the Son, but the Spirit concurs in this sending and the Son can even be said to send Himself in His willingness to go. The Son gives up His life for our salvation. The Father hands over the Son to judgment, and the Spirit surrenders His fellowship with Jesus according to the humanity of Jesus as He dies on the cross. The Spirit applies salvation to us, not alone but because the Father and Son work through Him to regenerate and sanctify us (Eph. 1:3–14).

Coram Deo

The Father gave the Son specific works to do (John 5:26b), which speaks to the agreement among the persons of the Godhead to save us. What this agreement, this covenant of redemption, tells us is that the Lord acted purposefully in providing salvation for us. Our redemption is not some contingency that arose after God’s initial plan failed; rather, it was willed by God freely from all eternity out of His great love for His children.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 46:8–11
John 12:44–50
John 16:25–28
Acts 2:23

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.