The core teaching of the New Testament can be found in one of the most beautiful verses of Scripture: ”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This verse reveals the amazing truth that the Creator of the universe loved the human race so much that He sent His Son Jesus to become human and to die in our place for the sins we have committed, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the penalty for those sins, even though we deserve to. We have the opportunity to receive everlasting life because Jesus has paid the price for our sins through His sacrifice.

God’s plan of salvation, which was decided upon before the creation of the world, is rooted in God’s love for humankind. He made a way for us to be saved from the ultimate consequence of sin—spiritual death and separation from God in the afterlife, which is called hell in Scripture.

Some people have the impression that God is a cruel and angry God: that He judges people harshly because He is personally offended that they sinned against Him, and therefore He selfishly demands that they be punished. The true picture is very different. Because God’s nature includes the attributes of holiness, righteousness, justice, and wrath, in order to be true to His divine nature He must judge sin.

His divine nature also includes the attributes of love, mercy, and grace. His wish was that no one should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and to that end He has made a way in which humans can be redeemed. That redemption is rooted in His love, because He “so loved the world.” God’s plan of salvation is the manifestation of His mercy and love for humankind. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

God knew, before creating the universe, that human beings created with free will would sin, so He made a way to save humanity from the penalty for sin through His plan of salvation. God’s desire is to save humans, to redeem them, to reconcile them with Him. He was under no obligation to save us; He could have simply let all humans suffer the penalty of sin, but He didn’t. In His love for us, God made a way to redeem us. God had the plan of salvation from the beginning, which was put into play starting with Adam and Eve’s first sin and culminated in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Since God is the omniscient Creator, it was no surprise to Him that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, sinned. He knew that they would freely choose to disobey Him, and in His foresight, He had already designed His plan of salvation.

His plan of salvation included calling out a people, Israel, to whom He would reveal Himself and give His commandments. It was through His words spoken to Israel that God revealed knowledge about Himself, the one true God, and His law. Israel guarded and passed on His revelation from generation to generation, thus ensuring its preservation. The Old Testament not only contains prophecies about the Messiah’s life and mission, but also numerous foreshadows of the salvation to come through His incarnate Son.

God’s plan of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus was His plan of redemption for human beings before humans ever existed. Within the Old Testament He begins to reveal His plan; and then in New Testament times when John the Baptist proclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the fullness of His plan begins to be fully revealed.

The fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption through Jesus’ death, His sacrifice of Himself in our place through His blood shed for our sins, is repeatedly spoken of throughout the New Testament. He is the Redeemer who saves us from the slavery of sin. His death and resurrection are the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption. God has been holy, righteous, and just to His creations. He has been loving, merciful, and gracious. And we are beneficiaries of the greatest sacrifice ever made.