God knows all things past, present, and future; moreover, God is presently in all things past, present, and future and so when speaking about the plan of salvation it is important for us to remember that God is not troubleshooting His way through the messes that we humans are always finding ourselves. From the Beginning God knew how we would screw up and how He would save us through His Son’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. The plan of God does not make sense to those of us who see in part the plan, but from the entirety the plan of salvation makes perfect sense even though it is a wonderful mystery to us at present. Yet the plan of God makes even less sense to those of us who have such a wrong conception of the purposes of the plan of God. It should not be thought that the plan of God is to affect the happiness of we who believe in this life. Nor is it in the plan of God to make it so that we are comfortable in this life. Indeed the plan of God often calls Christians to live in abject misery for God and to suffer through the most extreme discomforts and even death. We can only know the plan of God through reading His word in the Bible just as the scientist can only learn about nature by studying the facts of nature. And from the pages of the Bible we can learn that it is the purpose of God to bring all creatures to the point of bringing glory to Him.
Through the pages of the Bible people have taken different approaches to the understanding of the Bible through supralapsarianism, infralapsarianism, the remonstrant doctrine of Arminianism, and the plan of salvation as it has been understood by Augustine. In supralapsarianism the belief is that before all men came to be they were foreordained to their eternal fate; whereas, in infralapsarianism the belief is that they have been elected to their eternal fates. The remonstrant doctrine introduced by Arminius denied the Biblically based doctrine of the Sovereignty of God believed that the plan of God required the cooperation of man to be able to be completed. The difficulty with the supralapsarian theory is that it suffers from the appearance of being contrary to the revealed character of God Who loves mercy and justice. Arminius taught that it is we who make the determination who is saved; whereas, Augustine taught that it is God Who makes the determination by His grace who is saved. We must hold to the authority of the Bible when it talks about the sovereignty of God over His creation and in the determination of all events with the certainty that man’s free agency will work in perfect cooperation with the divine plan that has been predestined for us as the great masterpiece symphony that the plan of God will be revealed to be. This sovereignty of God we recognize as Christians whenever we pray to Him to work in our lives. Yet we should not think that we who are finite would ever be able to comprehend all of the pieces of God’s plan in this lifetime.
It is ultimately the Glory of God which is the purpose of all things. Augustinian belief is that what we see here in this world is really what God had purposed for eternity, but that we must not look at how things are right now as the ultimate culmination of all things but all as necessary to the end that God intends. It is ultimately only the Augustinian model which takes into account all of the facts of Scripture and remains consistent.
From the scriptures we know that we are dead in our sins before we believe in the death of Christ on the cross and the resurrection of His body from the dead for the forgiveness of sins. Because we were dead it is only through the grace of God that we can come to the point of belief in Christ that is required for salvation. And repentance from our dead sins is a necessary step towards having the eternal life since it is unreasonable to think that we could have eternal life while still treasuring the death of sin. This true repentance, and faith, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit comes through the gift of God and not through what we do in this life. So much of this plan seems so foolish to us as humans, but we must understand that the truth of God as seen from eternity is the ultimate wisdom of all. The foolishness of God to save men from their sins is wiser than the greatest wisdom of man. Praise God.