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Plan A and Plan B

By Richard Gunther


Imagine a father and mother calling their children to the living room for a ‘family chat’. The five children arrive, excited and curious, and take their seats along the couch. In the centre of the room is an easel, with a large pad on it. The ages of the children range from six through to eight and all the children are intelligent.

"Now children" says father, "We have called this conference to explain to you Plan A and Plan B".

He folds back the cover of the pad and shows the children a list of items.

"If you are good children" continues mother, "This is what we will do for you. We will pay for your education, clothing and food for as long as you need it. We will also pay all your university fees should you decide to go on, and any extra training costs. We will take you for trips around the world and spend many happy holidays together. We will also finance you into your own business, should you decide to start one, and then we will buy you a house, furniture, car, and any equipment you need. In short, we will give you everything, plus all the extra things that make life enjoyable."

"This" says father, "Is what we call Plan A".

Father turns the page over and reveals a second list.

"And this" says father, "Is what we call Plan B. This plan depends on your attitude. If you have a bad attitude and refuse to be good, you will receive only what Plan B entitles you to. As you can see, this list is much shorter. All we will provide in Plan B is the basics. We will make sure you have just enough food to live, just enough clothing to stay warm, and only what you cannot live without. When you leave school you will be on your own, and should you need anything we will probably not give it to you".

"Please don’t think that we don’t love you" says mother, "Quite the opposite. We give you all the opportunity to enjoy Plan A or Plan B because we love you. We just want you to realise that what we do for you depends entirely on your attitude to us. Your choices matter. You are responsible for your own life".

Two things spring from this story. One things is the almost brutal pragmatism of the parents. They are so objective, they force their children to blame no-one but themselves for their lives. The second thing is the absolute fairness of the plan.

Before we go on, let us look at the alternative :

The family conference is called and the parents say "No matter how horrible you are, we will provide for you in every way. You may burn our house, destroy our cars, and drag us down the street, but we will continue to look after you abundantly."

What does this teach the children?

1. There is no incentive in pursuing hard work, diligence and integrity, because all receive exactly the same reward,

2. Good attitudes and bad attitudes are (morally) much the same, because the parents make no difference between them,

3. Rewards are not worth aiming at since even the wicked child receives an equal share.

When we come to the Bible, we find a similar system working, from the first chapter to the last. Dozens of examples are there, each one demonstrating the fact that God presents every person with a choice between two possible lives, although it must be stressed that God scales his two plans according to the choices we make. He uses a sort of ‘heaven slide rule’ to calculate everything - background, circumstances, personality, peers, education, etc. Only God can factor in every aspect to get a fair result - no human could ever make judgements as fairly as God can.

The rest of this essay is devoted to drawing out some of the principles involved in choosing either Plan A or Plan B. Perhaps we can learn something useful by examining characters from history who have already gone before us?


The original purpose (Plan A) for Lucifer was service to God in heaven. We are not told in precise terms exactly what Lucifer did, probably because it is none of our business, but the Bible describes his ‘job’ in such terms as :

" full of wisdom . . . perfect in beauty . . . you have been in Eden the garden of God . . . every precious stone was your covering . . . you are the anointed cherub that covers . . . you were upon the holy mountain of God . . . you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire . . .you were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created . . . O covering cherub . . . from the midst of the stones of fire . . . your heart was lifted up because of your beauty . . . you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness . . ." Ez.28.

A further insight into Lucifer’s life is found in Jude :

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness until the judgement of the great day". Jude 1:6

Taken together, it appears that just prior to creating Man on earth, God created Lucifer ( = shining one) and a host of other angels. All these wonderful created beings were given a ‘job’ and most of them it seems were content with what they were told to do. But Lucifer was not satisfied. He wanted more.

"For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High". Isaiah 14:13,14

So Lucifer, the shining one, became Satan, the adversary. (Satan means "adversary"). He has been opposed to God from the time of his rebellion in heaven, right through to today. He has been the power behind all the world’s corrupt leaders, all the false religions and cults, all the wars and tyrannies and wickedness in all places of leadership inside and outside of the Church. He resisted Jesus by sending the religious leaders, he instigated the betrayal by putting the idea into the heart of Judas, and he raised up the Roman Empire in order to crucify the Son of God and then to persecute the Christians.

Despite his apparent autonomy, Satan does only what God allows him to do, but that freedom has brought untold misery to this planet, and why? Because people who choose to reject God’s ways naturally fall into the only other option - Satan’s ways. Satan can only take what people give him, and his power depends on Man’s willingness to yield to him.


Adam and Eve were given:

1. Perfect communion with God

2. Perfect communion with Nature

3. Perfect communion with each other

4. Utterly amazing intellects

5. Immortal bodies

6. The promise of eternity in a perfect world

7. Free will

This was God’s Plan A for them, and as long as they obeyed, they would continue to enjoy all the blessings of Plan A. But they chose Plan B.

"And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have hearkened (been persuaded by) the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shalt not eat of it: cursed (degraded) is the ground for your sake; in sorrow (discomfort, difficulty) shall you eat of it all the days of your life; Thorns also and thistles (diseases, droughts, floods, etc) shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; (instead of the perfect fruit of this garden). In the sweat of your face (hard toil, labour) shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return". Genesis 3:17

Plan B was the only option left for Adam and Eve. They made their choice and they received a different life. God said it was "for your sake" which shows that it was still a blessing, and a demonstration of His love, but it was not as good as Plan A. (Perhaps the whole aim of Science-driven, and Technology-driven Man today is to regain Plan A without including God or obedience to Him?)

Abel and Cain.

The first two human babies born into the world were both male, and at some point in their lives they each chose a lifestyle which suited them. Abel became a shepherd, Cain became a horticulturist. There is nothing inherently wrong or sinful about either choice, but Cain also chose an attitude. He decided to bring produce - plant material - as an offering for his sin, while Abel chose to bring the specified offering - a specific animal.

It seems, from the account, that Cain was sincere (Gen.4:5,6) but his offering was not the one God wanted -

"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain". Hebrews 11:4

And as a result of his rejection, Cain grew angry. He had decided that his way of offering, and his type of offering were acceptable to God, but now he realised that his brother Abel had beaten him. This produced bitterness, hurt pride, resentment, hate, unforgiveness, revenge and finally murder.

"Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous". 1 John 3:12

Cain is called "of that wicked one" meaning Satan, because Cain murdered his brother. Satan too is called a murderer (John 8:44, 1 John 3:15). Here we have, in a nutshell, one of the main reasons for religious intolerance. It has been estimated that some 50 million people were killed through the persecutions of the Roman Catholic church over the Dark Ages, and countless millions have suffered before and after that time in other ways because of religious opposition to Christianity. Even today there are numerous stories of missionaries being killed or mistreated because of their attempts to bring the light of God’s love and truth into countries where religion has bound the people. Behind it all is the fact that the only ‘religion’ in the world which teaches salvation by grace through faith in God’s Son is the Christian religion, and it always stands in opposition to all other faiths. Cain is still alive and well today.


"Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God". Genesis 6:9

What this means is, Noah chose Plan A. He chose to obey God - unlike everybody else in the world. (Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he".)

"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear (motivated by conviction), prepared an ark to the saving of his house (family); by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith". Hebrews 11:7

"Noah . . . a preacher of righteousness" 2 Peter 2:5

The record is clear and simple. Noah was given instructions and offered the choice of obeying them or not. He, though a sinner like all of us, decided to do what he was told. This meant that he had to exercise faith. He built the ark and God saved him. Noah’s obedience was called "righteousness".

But what of the people in Noah’s day, who refused to make provisions against the coming flood? They had 120 years to make up their minds. They could have sheltered in Noah’s ark, or built copies of it. They could have made all sorts of provisions.

The "days of Noah" are frequently pictured, in ‘Bible story movies’ as wild and drunken, but I think that is quite a false view. I think the "days of Noah" consisted of civilised communities, and well-ordered systems, with people living in respectable towns and cities, enjoying well-organised lines of communication and transport. Noah, I believe, lived in the equivalent of a quiet, settled Western city. People then had plenty of food, good clothes and time to be idle. Commerce was thriving. Resources were seemingly unlimited. Most people in Noah’s day (I believe) would have wondered why Noah was so ‘antagonistic’ as they would not have thought there was anything ‘bad enough’ going on in their midst to warrant any major judgement. Those people, who chose Plan B, soon discovered that Noah was, unfortunately, correct in his assessment of the situation.

"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (i.e. The same conditions will exist) For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not ( = deliberately ignored, or refused to acknowledge) until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be". Matthew 24:37-39


Abram was told to leave his home and city, and he did. He was also told to go to another country to live, and he did. In Genesis 12 God presented a rough outline of Plan A to Abram, and later added the promise that from him would come descendants as numerous as the dust - Gen.13:16, and the stars - Gen. 15:5. The Abrahamic Covenant includes many tremendous promises - worthy of a separate essay - but the point is that God presented these things to Abraham as a possible future for him and his descendants.

Abram’s response? "He believed in the Lord, and the Lord accounted it to him for righteousness" Gen.15:6.

Abram (and later Abraham) heard, believed, and acted on what he heard, even to the point of taking his son Isaac to a mountain to kill him. So intent was Abram on receiving the blessings of Plan A that he gave up everything to gain them. Likewise also his children Isaac and then Jacob.

This pattern can be seen all the way through the Bible. It is even more pronounced when we come to the whole nation of Israel, some three million plus Hebrews, gathered at Mount Sinai:

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live" Deuteronomy 30:19.

Plan A and Plan B were both clearly spelled out. If Israel obeyed God, they would receive health, prosperity, security and so on, but if they chose to disobey, they would receive all the opposite things, and end up being taken away as slaves to die in foreign countries.

Just prior to entering the ‘promised land’ Joshua challenged the people - "choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD". Joshua 24:15

The Israelites reached the ‘promised land’ and settled in. "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes". Judges 17:6. In other words, they chose Plan B. Eventually, with Satan’s prompting, a majority of rebels called for a king, and Satan tried to rule God’s people from behind the throne. The kingdom split into ten tribes to the north and three to the south, and their separate histories are largely the story of a kingdom crumbling into ruin. Finally both sections were taken captive - the northern section went north to Assyria, and the southern section went east to Babylon.

One of the great kings of Israel was David, but he didn’t always obey God. On one occasion, God offered him Plan A, B or C :

"For when David was up in the morning . . . the prophet Gad (said) - "Thus saith the LORD, I offer you three things (options, potential futures) choose . . . one of them . . . seven years of famine . . . three months (of military defeat . . . (or) three days' pestilence in thy land?" 2 Samuel 24:11-14. (David chose number three.)

From the smaller, southern section some returned to Jerusalem after 70 years under Ezra and Nehemiah. These people became the nation of the Jews, (From ‘Jehuda’, a derogatory term, similar to ‘Kiwi’ for New Zealander) and for 400 years they waited for the Messiah to come. When the Messiah did come, the leaders of the Jewish nation rejected him, and the opportunity to enjoy all the blessings of Plan A were removed.

Matthew 23:35 "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar".

Jesus Himself described this terrible future for the Jews of his day :

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! (You refused)

Behold, your house (nation) is left to you desolate. (ruined)

For I say to you, You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord". Matthew 23:37-39. (This means that Jesus will come when there are a significant number of Christians within the Jewish nation - something we see being fulfilled today.)

To all people Jesus says :

"Enter in at the narrow gate (Plan A): for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and there are many who go that way (Plan B),

Because narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it". Matthew 7:13,14

Overall, we live on a Plan B planet. There is evidence of this in every area of life. One needs to simply pick up a newspaper, or watch the News on TV to know this. But living in ‘enemy occupied territory’ is not necessarily a bad thing. From one point of view it can be a very good thing, because it presents a golden opportunity to those of us who want to show our allegiance to God. After all, we cannot be overcomers when there is nothing to overcome, nor can we use any of our weapons (2 Cor. 10:4,5 and Eph.6) when there is no opposition.

God reminds us through all of Scripture that our world is dominated by Satan, the arch Rebel, the enemy of truth, and the being who will do anything he can to destroy humans. Christians enter a real and very tangible war when they decide to obey Jesus, and there is no escaping it, because Satan attacks Christians and unbelievers alike. Either we are captured and become servants of Satan, to work God’s purposes one way, or we choose to become soldiers of the cross, and work God’s purposes the other way.

There is, however, one huge difference between the two - only one of these two warring armies receives a reward. I know which side I would rather be on. Do you?

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