What do you live for? What is your purpose?
Please take a few minutes at least and stop here to reflect on this a bit, if you would. Pray to the Lord God to reveal your true intentions, not just what you think you should answer. What might He be saying?
Let’s look at it from another angle.
Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you do or not do what you do in life? Is it on your mind frequently? How do you evaluate if what you do fits with the pleasure of God and not into the schemes of the devil? Does the Spirit in your heart of hearts speak to you at times about His wishes and desires, what pleases Him, not just you?
For instance, the big rage some years ago in the west was Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life book, teachings, and groups. It captured much of the body of Christ, the “church,” here in America for a time, and also made inroads worldwide. We pray Jesus will be able to use it for His eternal purpose, and not just more fodder for self-absorbed affluent Christians as they continue exporting their brand to the whole world.
But how would we know Rick’s book really has anything at all to do with God’s eternal purpose? Did it really, or was it off base?
We go to prayer, His Word, and expect the Spirit to guide us!
And what does God’s Word say about His eternal purpose? The Word itself is a good place to start, for any purpose of ours must match up with His or we very well might be left at the wedding banquet without the proper wedding garments. A spiritually dangerous proposition, wouldn’t you agree?
The main verse in the New Covenant record describing His eternal purpose is in Ephesians 3:12 and reads:
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose (purpose of the ages, i.e. of all time) which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord…
Putting aside for a moment the word “this” mentioned above in the passage and God’s eternal purpose itself, let’s reflect on the balance of this single verse and make some vital observations.
That is, His Purpose has no beginning or no end in the mind of God. It always was (past), always is (present), always will be (future). There’s really no way we can relate to eternity since we currently are trapped in time without any familiar frame of reference describing eternity. It’s like trying to describe the Trinity Godhead to someone. Only gracious supernatural intervention by the Spirit can help us begin to understand.
2. His Purpose is probably one of the most important things we can know about God.
Let me say that again. His Purpose is probably one of the most important things we can know about God. Why? Because it is the reason He does what He does. It is God’s main focus, and commands His full power and resources. It consumes Him, in all the full range of His emotions as a real living Person.
Eternal things that God designs and creates for Himself in and for His kingdom are supremely valuable and important. Not only are they incorruptible since they are eternal, but worthy of all our attention as His loyal slaves.
If His eternal Purpose is His driving force, and it is, then we are wise to follow suit with our lives.
If we live His purpose in hope and power by His Spirit, we’ve gained Him and all His glorious promises. If we miss this and how best to live it out daily in this vile, corrupt world, in a large part we’ve missed our calling as “little Christ’s” or Christians.
More tragically, we’ve missed really knowing and loving Him intimately as He commands. We very likely may miss heaven. We may be headed for eternal torment in hell. No matter what our mouths may utter (“Oh, of course, I love Jesus. He is Lord, you know.”), if our lives aren’t that of grace-filled, sacrificial, intimate service to Him and His kingdom, our house has been built on the sand. As it declares in Matt. 7:21-27, “many will say to Me in that day…I will declare to them…depart from Me…” We’ve very well may have been living as a goat, and not a sheep.
This may sound blatantly heretical, but bear with me a moment if you will: Jesus His Son is not His eternal purpose. Please hold on. Jesus was the means, the way, the Father used to carry out His eternal purpose with the help of the Holy Spirit. Remember the passage says “which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord”?
Let me give an illustration, albeit not a great one for such a magnificent and lofty concept. It’s sort of like clean, cool, water running through a pipe to give life to thirsty human beings in need. The water is the purpose and the pipe is the means to carry it to its intended recipients. The pipe plays an indispensable role, but it’s not the water.
Obviously, Jesus plays the key role, but He Himself is not the purpose.
4. “This” in the passage seems to refer to the Gentiles and the wisdom of God.
In this Ephesians 3 passage we see a) the mystery that the Gentiles are co-heirs to the kingdom of God, and b) this act is part of the manifold (many faceted) wisdom of God Himself. Please note: the Eternal is putting His inscrutable wisdom on display…
The evil spirit world. The passage says “to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Who are these creatures?
The demonic powers include those that God created and rebelled against Him in eternity past. The devil and his messengers, his evil angels. The demons we believe as many do are the disembodied spirits of the nephalim spoken of in Genesis 6, and in numerous places in the New Testament.
Who reveals this wisdom to the demons?
His church – His assembly, ecclesia, body…
Amazing. You and I are giving the holy task of living and proclaiming the very eternal wisdom of the Almighty Ancient of Days to the evil spirit world.
This is one of the most stunning themes from God in all His Word. It’s as if our great God seems to be saying “My children, in My infinite wisdom and love, I am both gifting and charging you to display My wonder-full kingdom on earth and resulting glory to the ones who deserve none of it except the shame of rejecting it.”
Why might He do this? I will venture a thought…let me know what God is telling you in this, if you will.
To prove to these despicable evil creatures for all the cosmos to see that His love and trust of us who will obey and persevere is so vast that we can adequately reflect this wisdom when guided by Him.
To prove to us how much He can trust and love us to represent His true identify in this wisdom, and that only His Spirit can carry it out effectively as He mixes with and leads our spirit to victory.
I’m not at all sure we can ever scratch the surface in what God is saying to us here and the enormity of the task He has assigned to us and called us to complete.
One thing is overtly obvious…we better get sober with our life if the unending Spirit of the world, the indescribable deity of maximum love and care, is declaring we have the responsibility, His command, of being ambassadors of His very mind.
And to His arch and sworn enemy…can you fathom this? Personally, I am unable to grasp this…it is too high, too intense…the Holy Spirit must, must, must help us!
So, we proclaim this wisdom to the evil spirit world at the decree of God Himself.
This appears to be significant in the fact of the great paradox in that the kingdom of God is already here, but not yet fully. Many call this “already, but not yet.”
For instance, this kingdom is here, now, within us, growing…but is not yet transferred, completed. Paul talks about our resurrection, the end, and the seemingly completion of the kingdom and says:
1 Corinthians 15:22-24 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
So, it appears in the mind and eternal there-and-then-as-well-as-here-and-now timelessness of God, the eternal Purpose “was carried out” by Jesus Christ.
Let’s take a quick look at the whole passage here.
Ephesians 3:1-12 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;
so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
Then, what is the eternal Purpose of God?
When our Lord and God wishes to make something clearly known to an oral culture like most of the world even today, He repeats Himself so the doctrine (teaching for the obedient life) becomes memorized.
He also repeats words to emphasize the importance of the passage: verily, verily (i.e. amen, amen); Martha, Martha; woe, woe, woe; and the most crucial: holy, holy, holy.
Therefore, we look to the Gospels and Christ to see what He keeps repeating over and over. And one theme does stand out repeatedly.
We’ve heard over the years of only three good possible options: 1) the Great Commission, 2) the bride of Christ, His church (body), and 3) the kingdom of God.
Certainly, evangelism and discipleship is vital as described in the Great Commission. And the Lord’s body, His true children, is highly valuable in the Word too. Several books have been written attempting to claim one of these is His eternal purpose.
Which one do we here at Walk Worthy believe is the best, or true, option?
The repeated theme of Christ is the kingdom of God. He only mentions the church three times, and twice in one passage.
Ah, but the kingdom!
He speaks to that over 100 times…and I’m afraid we’re so used to hearing that word separated from the context, plus hearing other teachers repeatedly mention the Great Commission and the church, that we’ve missed the obvious.
“I must preach the kingdom of God…”
“The kingdom is like…”
“Your kingdom come…”
“the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…”
“To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God..”
“…for the sake of the kingdom…”
“…first seek His kingdom…”
“the gospel of the kingdom of God…”
“You are not far from the kingdom of God…”
“the kingdom of God has come near…”
“how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God…”
And on and on He goes. When you begin looking for it, you’ll discover the kingdom references all over the Word!
As a matter of fact, our brother the apostle John makes this declaration right out of the shoot in the Revelation of Jesus Christ giving us more confirmation:
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
There’s several other mentions of God’s “purpose” like to destroy the works of the devil. But all these fit nicely under the main eternal purpose of His kingdom…
Population, maturation, and completion
So, when we teach about the eternal purpose of God, we announce that it’s the population, maturation, and completion of the kingdom. That kingdom also includes all of God’s gracious created wonders like His church, the cosmos, the angelic beings, and other marvels. They all give Him glory and groan to be delivered from this current curse due to the first Adam’s sin.
God desires the kingdom to be populated with every human being He’s created. In Matthew’s account, Jesus makes the claim that “many are called, but few are chosen.” The word “many” is the same Greek word, polus, used in Romans 5 to describe “For if by the transgression of the one the many died.” Therefore, the proper use of an English word here should be “all,” not “many.” All are called, but few respond to be chosen.
God also desires deep and abiding maturity that leads others back to Him in repentant faith. In the book of Titus as Paul describes the “doctrine” of living obedience, he uses one term with all four categories of believers which are older men, younger men, older women, younger women. And that word is sensible…not the nonsense that the enemy sows daily in the lives of humans through various means like a-muse-ment.
And God yearns, we’re certain, as we do for the completion of His kingdom. His Word reflects this final chapter in His kingdom. And to the surprise of most of us, the Father, not Christ, will be all in all even as Christ is King of the kingdom with all other things in subjection to Him.
1 Corinthians 15:22-28 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE (the Father) HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS (Christ’s) FEET. But when He (the Father) says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He (the Father) is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him (Christ).
When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One (the Father) who subjected all things to Him, so that God (the Father) may be all in all.
Revelation 5:7-10 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him (the Father) who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God (the Father); and they will reign upon the earth.”
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
Revelation 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.
The enemy of God is determined to depopulate, promote immaturity, and postpone the completion of our Lord’s kingdom. He’s a supernatural genius at his craft of deceiving both the lost and the brethren. We read in the end times this chilling warning to the saved:
1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away (apostate) from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…
But we joyfully remember that God’s power has granted us everything for the holy life and entrance into the final kingdom stage shown in the Revelation.
The admonition from our brother Peter helps shape our will with warning that all diligence must accompany all our life with these increasing qualities to continue to escape the snares of the devil and his spirit’s seduction and doctrines.
2 Peter 1:2-11 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
We desire to remember our purification, and not be blind, useless, or unfruitful so as to always “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1.10).”
We are to be like other saints in the past: at work serving others and waiting.
Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.
And, of course, our Lord…who is also at work…and awaiting the supper reunion on that great and terrible day for the billions who have trusted Him.
Mark 14:25 “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Now…won’t that be a day!
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org