God's Eternal Plan of Salvation
This will likely be more of a testimony of what I believe and, perhaps, how I arrived at that belief, than a thesis on theology because I am definitely not a theologian. I don't have the training nor the education for the job. What little I do know I gleaned from reading and rereading the scriptures and listening to almost countless sermons over the years. I have been fortunate to have had parents who saw to it that I attended church and sunday school for as long as I can remember. My earliest recollection of being in church was with my grandparents in Plymouth, Illinois. I remember quite distinctly, Grandmother Lu Schwanke scolding me for something I had done. I assume that must have been restlessness and wiggling around because she grasped me by the shoulders and seated me firmly in the pew beside her with the admonition to sit still. Grandmother Lu passed away in October 1929 and I was born in September 1924 so I couldn't have been more than five years of age but it made an impression on me.
Later, during the Great Depression, Dad was without regular employment and we were on the move, seeking employment to feed and clothe a family of five. We stayed with Grandpa in Plymouth for about three years following Grandmother's death and I finished the third grade in school in Plymouth. We moved to Oklahoma in 1933 to seek work in the oil fields, living first in Bristow, then Stroud and finally a small town known as Wilzetta, near Prague. Dad, by this time had found employment with Mid-Continent Oil Co. and had been promoted to the position of "pumper" on the Mary-Ellis Lease. I attended school at all three locations, finishing my 9th year at Prague. We didn't attend church much except while we were living in Stroud, as the church there was within walking distance from our house.
In the spring of 1938 Dad was advanced to the position of Lease Foreman and we were transferred to a small town called Sweeny, about 70 miles south of Houston, Texas. While there we continued to attend the Methodist Church and became involved in building an addition to the building. As a Junior in high school, I attended a revival with a friend at the Church of Christ. I was convinced by the evangelist, Raymond Teal, that immersion was the correct method of baptism, rather than sprinkling and went forward to confess my belief in Christ and was baptized. My biggest error was in doing so without consulting with my parents and it caused a severe rift in the family that required a long time to heal with Dad. Mother accepted it much sooner, as mothers are prone to do.
Shortly after my 18th birthday I enlisted in the Marine Corps and was sworn in on December 11, 1942, in San Antonio, Texas to serve for the duration of the war. My term of service was from December 11, 1942 until November 3, 1945. I came to Missouri around Christmas time in 1945 and worked for Lois' father in the Oliver Implement business and on the farm in Shelby County where we still reside. I began some work in the College of Agriculture, University of Missouri in the fall of 1946 and Lois and I were married during the Christmas break in that year. We spent our summers of 1947 and 1948 working on the farm. When Lois became pregnant in January 1948 we decided to cut the school to a Two-year Certificate and move back to the farm permanently. During all this time and the time I spent in the Marine Corps I did very little reading of scripture and drifted away from God. When our first son, Carl Orin, was born in October, 1948 we began attending Hagers Grove Christian Church, somewhat sporadically at first, but gradually becoming more involved in the work of the congregation. I was elected treasurer of the Shelby County Christian Assembly when we first organized, to build a Christian camp, a few miles north of Clarence, Missouri and became more active in the Northeast Missouri Men's Fellowship.
During all this time my concept of the over-all context of the scriptures was based on what I had been taught as a child from bible stories and from Sunday School lessons through the years. Those bible stories, and Sunday School lessons also, were, and still are, quite often taught as individual or "stand alone" stories without much effort to connect them to an over-all context of the scripture. Consequently I labored under the assumption that God had tried many ways to lead mankind to a holy and acceptable way of life and each time the effort had been mostly fruitless, with a few exceptions. In desperation He conceived of the plan of coming to earth as a man, living as a man, serving as a man, all the while suffering the same temptations that face each of us today. All this was done to show us just how He wanted us to live. Then, though faultless and innocent of any wrong doing, He was beaten and crucified on a cross as was commonly done by the Romans of that day when a man was convicted of sufficient crime. The blame for the crucifixion, in my mind at the time, was placed on the shoulders of a group of Jewish leaders who felt that their authority was threatened by Jesus because of the following that He had gathered through the many miracles He had performed.
One evening, some years ago, after listening to a sermon by Seth Wilson, a professor from Ozark Bible College, I asked him a question. I don't remember what the question was but I remember his answer quite vividly. He told me, in a rather abrupt manner, that there was no contradiction in the matter that I asked about but that these things didn't happen by accident or by trial and error but they were carefully planned by God, before He began creation. He quoted Ephesians 1:4 " For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight." Perhaps I had slept through too many sermons but this was the first time that I had heard anyone comment on the fact that God had devised a plan of salvation before He ever began creation. This cast a whole new light on the scriptures for me and changed my concept of the over-all context of the bible completely. From that time on, whenever reading the scriptures, I have had that thought in mind and have found many passages throughout the scriptures which seem to me to corroborate that thesis. In the interest of brevity, I will mention just three.
I Peter 1:20, (speaking about Jesus) "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."
This would indicate to me, without question, that God knew, before creation,
that mankind would make the wrong choices and would need His grace and
love to reconcile them to Him. He then included the crucifixion of Jesus to
serve as a final sacrifice, cleansing mankind of their sin and offering them a
way of salvation, if they would accept Jesus as their savior.

2 Timothy 1:9, (speaking of God's grace) " This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."
Again, as stated before, this was planned before creation, or before the
beginning of time.

1 Corinthians 2:7, 8
7. "No, we speak of God's secret wisdom that has been hidden and that God
    destined for our glory before time began.
8. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not
   have crucified the Lord of Glory."
Time and again, as recorded in the scriptures, efforts were made by God to
maintain a position of secrecy, as to the diety of Christ. Admittedly, I don't
understand it at times, so it will be just one of the many questions to seek
the answer to when someday we are with God. How one could perform the
many miracles that Jesus performed and not appear to be beyond human
is a puzzle to me but this passage of scripture seems unquestionable. Some
bright day in the future we will aks Him to explain it. It is also recorded in the
gospels that His apostles, the men closest to Him, did not fully understand His
mission here on earth.
There are numerous prophesies also in the Old Testament. Most notably in Isaiah but in many of the other books as well.
These passages are very convincing to me and they don't stand alone. They are not pulled out of context and noted simply to prove a point of doctrine but, I believe, are part of the whole. There is no question in my mind that God, in His infinite wisdom, planned it all, from Genesis to Revelation. We have divided the scriptures and even sub-divided them, mostly for purposes of study but also for doctrinal purposes. To me, the bible is one magnificent love story, telling the story of God's love for mankind and the rest of His creation. As human beings, we cannot conceive of His infinite wisdom and knowledge. He told Jeremiah, for instance, that He knew him before He formed him in his mother's womb. There are references in Revelation to our names being written in the book of life since before creation. I believe we must make a choice as individuals but I also believe that God knows now, and always has known, what that choice will be.
There are those among us who believe the Old Testament to be of no benefit to us as Christians because Jesus Christ did away with the law but that is not so. Christ Himself tells us that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Going back to Ephesian 1:4, we are told that we, as followers of Christ, were God's chosen people since before creation. Later, after creation, God chose the nation of Israel as His chosen people. Why?
Again, I firmly believe that He did so to teach us by example, through the study of their struggles, their successes and their failures, that as hard as we might try, we simply cannot live our lives in such a way as to be worthy of His love and salvation by following a set of rules. The very first lesson was presented to us in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given everything they could need or desire, including a daily walk with God. They even had eternal life because the tree of life was in the garden for them to eat of. They had only one rule to follow. They broke that one. God knew they would because He had already planned the crucifixion of His one and only Son, before creation. Remember? This sacrifice was carefully and purposely prefigured by every sacrifice He commanded of the Israelites. They were to give, not just any animal, but one without spot or blemish just as He planned for Christ. It was to be the very best they had. As we study the lives and fortunes of the Jewish peope, we find that when they were prosperous and had everything they needed and wanted, they turned away from God, just as we do today, Then when they were threatened or when they felt they had a dire need, they turned once again to God. Again, just as we do. If we would only study the struggles of the nation of Israel more closely, we would see more clearly the many ways we fail.The Old Testament and its teachings are just as relevant today as they were yesterday. We are now, just better able to see how relevant and in what way, when we realize just what part those lessons play in the Eternal Plan of God. I am convinced that is the purpose of God in recording all the struggles of the nation of Israel, His "chosen people".
This might bring us around to the question of who is to blame for the crucifixion. This is, to me, quite simple. God is to blame. He planned it from the beginning. When He made mankind he gave us a choice because our love for Him would be quite meaningless unless we had that choice. He didn't want robots that were programmed to love Him, but people with a choice to make as to whether to follow Him or not. I have often wondered why, knowing that mankind would need the sacrifice of His Son as a demonstration of His love for us, why He would create man in the first place. We could just be another animal on the planet, like the horse or the dog. I know of no passage in the bible that tells us specifically why. There is one in Psalms however, that comes close.
Psalms 115:3, " Our God is in heaven. He does whatever pleases Him."
He must enjoy watching us grow up, much like any parent enjoys watching a child mature and make their way in the world. Sometimes it can be very frustrating when they/we decide to go about things our own way but oh, the joy of seeing them/us make the right choice. In the words of a modern author, He must get enjoyment out of seeing our pleasure because he made the sunrises and sunsets beautiful; He gave us colorful birds and flowers to marvel at, and He gave us our own offspring to take pleasure in and to learn from. He gave us many things in life to wonder at and take pleasure in.
I think, if I should be asked if there was one commandment that God insists on above all others, it would be the commandment that He gave us first in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
4. Hear, oh Israel: the Lord our God is One
5. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with 
   all your strength.
6. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
7. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and 
  when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
8. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
9. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
God made us capable of sin, or, capable of rejecting Him. We were given a choice in life. The choice of following His direction and His rules for living, or of following our own selfish desires. He gave us that choice so that our love for Him would have some meaning and not be just a robotic response.
Is there any question about the importance of this commandment? Which part of it do you not understand? It is recorded in the synoptic gospels that Jesus quoted this commandment when the Pharisees asked Him which was the greatest commandment and He added a second commandment,"To love your neighbor as yourself". Matthew records that Jesus added the admonition that "all the law and the prophets rest on these".
They are that important to God. After all, He gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, which He knew we would be guilty of. He made that decision before He began creation. He didn't give Him unto death in what we would term as being a humane form of death but one of extreme torture, just to demonstrate to us how much He loves us.
If anyone doubts the importance of our love for God, I would urge them to read, slowly and with thought, 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, and the 4th chapter of 1 John. Love of mankind and His creation is, I believe, God's motivation and He will cherish each person in the end who is motivated by love for Him to follow His way, as He has attempted to show us by example in the scriptures. Membership in a congregation, tithing regularly, studying the scriptures or, as is said in 1 Corinthians 13, even surrendering ones body to the flames, if done without love, will be useless. Love of God is foremost in importance.

I think it is very important that we teach of God's Plan of Salvation and stress it at every opportunity in our sermons so that we all have a better understanding of the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament. We are, in this country at least, a "who's to blame" society. Whenever anything happens that raises a question as to why, we always seem to want to cast blame on someone. This has long been true of the crucifixion of Jesus. When we understand that God planned it to be so before creation; when we know that He went to great lengths to keep it secret from the rulers of that day and when we understand that He created mankind with a decision to make as to whether to follow Him or reject Him, then I think we will better understand just how much He loves each one of us. Once again, using the words of a well known modern author, it was not the hands of the Roman soldiers that held Jesus' hands still while they drove the nails into them but it was the hands of God which did so. He did it for you and for me. It is recorded in John 10:17,18, that Jesus said:
"The reason my father loves Me is that I lay down my life - - only to take it up again.
No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord."
This page was last updated: August 17, 2008
History II
C. F. Schwanke
H. S. Gillespie
S. S. Huston
J. M. Bennett
O. F. Schwanke
C. E. Gillespie
Lois & Bill
Carl & Les
Ray & Pat
.Alan & Sharon
Pete & Sharon
The Palmers
Dan & Brandy
Curt & Jenny
Jesse & Diana
Shoebox II
God's Plan
One last word in closing. John records, in John 19:28-30:
28. Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the scripture would be
     fulfilled, Jesus said,"I am thirsty."
29. A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge
     on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips.
30. When He had received the drink, Jesus said,"It is finished."
It must have been a tremendous relief, knowing that God's Eternal Plan of Salvation had
been completed. He had completed the course set for Him. He had fulfilled all the scripture. He had suffered the last and final sacrifice for the salvation of mankind and
offered us a way to salvation and eternal life, if we would only accept it.
I would like, at this point, to use the words of Max Lucado, from his book of devotionals,
"Grace for the Moment". He says it much better than I ever could.
"It is finished"
"Stop and listen a moment. Let the words wind through your heart. Imagine the cry from the cross. The sky is dark. The other two victims are moaning. Jeering mouths of the crowd are silent. Perhaps there is thunder. Perhaps there is weeping. Perhaps there is silence. Then Jesus draws a deep breath, pushes His feet down on that Roman nail, and cries,"It is finished."
What is finished?
The history-long plan of redeeming man was finished. The message of God to man was finished. The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished...........The sting of death had been removed. It was over."
From his book:  "No Wonder They Call Him the Savior"
Do you doubt that God loves you?