Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | March 13, 2008

The Plan of God Part 2

The Son of God would have become incarnate as the man Jesus Christ even if humanity had never sinned. The incarnation was always the plan of the Triune God.

Back in February I wrote this about God’s plan in creating us:

The Father created us in the Son, by the Spirit, so that he could adopt us as his children and include us in the life of joy, freedom, and love that he shares with the Son and the Spirit. You can read the full post here: The Plan of God

The Father didn’t create us so he could save us from sin. His plan has always been adoption and sin is just one obstacle he overcame to fulfill that plan.

This means the Son was going to become incarnate and live out a human life whether humanity ever fell or not. In order for us, in our humanity, to share in the divine life of the Trinity the Trinity must share that life with us and participate in our existence. In his important work, Against All Heresies, St. Irenaeus of Lyons explains why the Son had to become incarnate:

For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by his relationship to both, to bring both to friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man. For, in what way could we be partaken of the adoption of sons, unless we had received from Him through the Son that fellowship which refers to Himself, unless His Word, having been made flesh, had entered into communion with us? (Against All Heresies Book 3, Chapter 18, Paragraph 7.)

Do you see what Irenaeus is telling us? We could not be adopted as children unless God gave to us, through the Son, the fellowship he has as Father, Son and Spirit. The Word had to enter into communion with us in order to accomplish our adoption.

I find this something worth thinking about during the upcoming Holy Week. The Son’s incarnation becomes a crucifixory experience because of our sin, but his incarnation is not necessitated by our sin.

The incarnation is necessary because of the Father’s passionate heart to bring us into full communion with himself, his Son, and the Holy Spirit.

He loves us that much!



  1. Interesting thoughts. I think we do have to admit, however, that Jesus came into a particular context with a particular message. His message would have been different, and the “adoption” you speak of would have been altered had he come at a different time. I think that context is so important in understanding Christ. But I really think that your post challenges people to think about the nature of the incarnation. Thank you for this enlightening post.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting in such a positive way.

    I think I would say that Jesus’ message would have been expressed in different language in a different context but I still think the message would be the same.

    He came to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27) and to reveal our adoption (Eph. 1:5) into the life of the Father, Son and Spirit. So I don’t think his message would change in a different context and I don’t think the adoption would be altered because that was the Triune God’s eternal plan. But I would say that the message might be expressed in different language in a different context.

  3. A friend referenced this post on a forum I frequent so forgive me if I’m a bit late to the party. I’m just not following your logic here or the reason for speculating on what might have happened if the fall had not happened.

    It seems to me that the implication is that the relationship between God and Man (Adam) was somehow flawed prior to the Fall of Man and I’m not seeing that from Scripture. Granted – the account of man prior to the Fall is sketchy at best but I don’t see that your scenario is any less sketchy.

  4. My thoughts here can be summarized in three simple questions:

    Why did the Father, Son, and Spirit create humanity? The bible says God created us so that he could adopt us as his children (Eph. 1:5.)

    How did this adoption take place? By the Son becoming what we are so that we might participate in the divine nature (Eph. 1:5, 2 Peter 1:4.)

    What about our sin? The Son’s incarnation also takes care of our sin problem (Heb. 2:14.)

    So the Son became incarnate to accomplish our adoption.

    His incarnation also fixes our sin problem, thus making sure that our sin will not derail our adoption.

    If there had been no sin there would still have been the need to accomplish the plan of adoption.

    Therefore the Son would have become incarnate whether we sinned or not.

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