GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE: THOUGHTS AND RESOURCES

CLARK E. WADE's picture

"In reading this (Ephesian letter), you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. Ephesians 3:4

The Secret of the LORD have they who fear and worship HIm and HE will show them HIS covenant and reveal to them its deep, inner meaning." Psalms 25:14

"Our passage from Ephesians says more...The gospel includes not only the person of Jesus Christ and His unfathomable riches, but also that mystery which was hidden in past ages--which has to do with God's eternal plan. The practical outworking of God's eternal plan is the church as it is described in the same epistle.

"Our understanding of the gospel is one-sided, and too much focused on man. As strange as it may seem to some, the New Testament gospel contains things which have nothing to do with sin and lost souls. When we reduce the gospel to mere salvation of the sinner, we distort it and fundamentally alter its character and message. And we counterfeit its results. When I preach only salvation, all I get is converts. If I make forgiveness the central theme of the gospel, the only result is people whose sins are forgiven. We could proceed to list a number of things in this way, and it would occur to us how improper and unbiblical modern evangelism is compared with New Testament witness.

"And what was the result of the work and ministry of the apostles in the New Testament? Church, communities, the body of Christ! Did they preach the church? Was the community of believers the focus of their message? Never! They proclaimed Christ! They were witnesses of the incomparable Christ! They spoke of the mystery and plan of God which HE purposed before the foundation of the world and which HE carried out in Christ Jesus and churches were the result of their preaching! Outwardly, they were communities with various strengths and weaknesses, each with its own merits and disadvantages. Inwardly, however, they were churches which embodied the living God, churches in which Christ resided, which took on the form of a body. The head was Christ and members were one in Christ.

“The results of modern, large-scale evangelism cannot even be compared to the fruits of New Testament apostolic preaching. That is the best evidence that we are not preaching the same gospel they did. It is proof that we are not preaching Christ but rather things pertaining to man and his situation. The things we preach may be biblical, but that is not the deciding factor. God evaluates all things by Christ. The Bible testifies of Christ. We have to put the gospel’s original substance and power—as well as all its forgotten aspects—back into our evangelism. Then we will encounter God’s eternal purpose, because, in the final analysis, what the gospel really proclaims is that God’s purpose can now be carried out in Christ. Everything which stood in its way before has been attended to or disposed of.” (Manfred Haller, “God’s Goal: Christ as All in All”)

This heavenly epistle, this unfolding of "God's Eternal Purpose," writ as a lyrical song to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and HIS Son, is a divine subject that has been lost for 1700 years. As an experiment, I looked up the "belief statements" of several denominations and could find nothing written regarding God's Eternal Purpose. Considering that Paul made God's Eternal Purpose in Christ the central focus of his preaching and teaching, I think this is significant. What I did discover is that most of these belief statements, as Manfred Haller pointed out, seems to focus on God's gift of salvation. In other words, rather than seeing the church as God's divine vehicle, created out of the Son in order to fulfill God's Eternal Purpose, most of these belief statements are centered on man and what God has done for him. Here is a belief statement example:

We believe in the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:26; Matt. 28:19, II Cor. 13:14

We believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God, Born of the Virgin Mary is truly the Savior of the world. Matt. 1:21; Rom. 4:25.

We believe in the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers; and the gifts of the Spirit to the faithful. Luke 11:13; I Cor. 12:3-11.

We believe that the Church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head, and shall be preserved to the end of time. Romans 12:4; I Cor. 12:12-28; Col. 1:18; Matt. 16:18.

We believe in eternal life, which is the gift of God. Romans 6:23.

We believe that all persons are sinners standing in need of God's forgiving grace. Romans 3:10-26.

We believe that all persons must repent of their sins and through faith accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord if they would enter the kingdom of God.Matt.4:17; John 3:1-7; Matt. 3:2.

We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world; and that everyone who will believe in the atoning sacrifice of Christ's blood on the cross may be saved. John 3:16; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14-22.

We believe that Jesus Christ will come again and at His coming God's eternal kingdom will begin. Luke 21:27; Acts 1:11; I Cor. 1:7-8; Phil. 3:20; I John 2:28, 3:2.

We believe that it is our sacred duty to identify ourselves with a congregation of believers with whom we can worship God, observe the ordinances of Christ, exhort and support one another, labor for the salvation of others, and work together to advance the Lord’s Kingdom (Acts 16:5; Hebrews 10:24).

We believe in the Bible as God's own Holy word; written by men of God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. II Peter 1:21.

We believe that soul winning is the “one big business” of the Church on earth, and that every hindrance to worldwide evangelism should be removed (James 5:20; Mark 16:15).

We believe that tithing and offerings are ordained of God to sustain His ministry, spread the Gospel, and release personal blessing (Malachi 3:10; 1 Corinthians 16: 1, 2).

Do you see here how so much of this belief statement does center on man's salvation? It appears that over half of what is stated here does refer to what God has done for man. But God had a purpose for the creation of man before the foundation of the world that was planned in HIS heart before the Fall. What we have done in centering our preaching and teaching on man's redemption rather than God's eternal purpose is to egregiously miss God's high calling in Christ Jesus.

As we continue to contemplate God's Eternal Purpose in this epistle, there are a couple of things that may happen if the LORD is gracious to us:

1. The scales will fall from our eyes; we will realize how far we have strayed from God's purpose. It will dawn on us how narrowly New Testament truths have been handed down and continue to be taught. We will see how carelessly and indifferently we have regarded the deep things of God.

2. The longing will awaken in us to do everything we can to see that God's principles and desires are obeyed, and His intentions realized. (Manfred Haller, "God's Goal: Christ as All in All).

What I want to do here is to add thoughts and resources that may help us in our understanding of God's Eternal Purpose. If we would ever experience revival in the church, we must see revival of the deep things of God in Christ Jesus. We need to pray that God's Eternal Purpose will be recovered in its New Testament fulness and glory and that we will no longer contend with God by substituting other spiritual things in the place of HIS purposes as revealed in Paul's writings.

If any of you know of other resources or writings that would be of benefit, please post those as well.

P: I pray here in the Name of Jesus Christ, that those who follow You, who love You, who serve You will not give rest to our eyelids until we have made a place for Your Eternal Purpose in our thinking, in our practices, in our praying, in our serving. May everything we think we know submit to all that You are in Your Eternal Purpose. Forgive us LORD for substituting spiritual things, spiritual experiences, and all spirital pursuits that do not lead us deeper into Your Eternal Purpose as co-workers and co-participants with You.

CLARK E. WADE's picture

GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE by Silas Rodriguez

"GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE
by Silas Rodriguez
www.thestewardshipofthemystery.com

PART I: THE VISION"

THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD

The eternal purpose of God, what is it? How can it be defined? In order to understand the eternal purpose of God we have to go back in to the eternal counsels of God. In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus , he communicates a revolutionary truth to the believers there. He reveals to us that God has made known to us the mystery of His will according to the good pleasure which he purposed in Himself. We must understand that God had a purpose encapsulated within his very being, a purpose that would transcend the very borders of time and eternity. The word “mystery” can also be rendered “secret”. God’s “will” can also be rendered “purpose”. God has made known the secret of His purpose unto the church!

Within the economy or the administrative dispensation of God, it has been His purpose to head up all things, sum up all things in Christ. The very sphere in which God reveals His purpose is the Son. The purpose, the very mystery of God is Christ. To the Colossians, the apostle Paul writes, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those in Laodicea, even all who have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of the understanding, unto a full knowledge (Gk. “epignosis” epi-full; gnosis-knowledge) of the mystery of God, that is Christ, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.” (2: 1-3)

As I meditate upon these thoughts, they are pregnant with meaning for me. The eternal purpose of God whose center is Christ and the church (who is the corporate expression of Christ) has been the central contemplation of my life for quite some time. I invite you to join your Lord in His eternal thought concerning the quest for the heart of His bride. "We preach not ourselves, as if anything coming from ourselves, but we preach Christ, the sufficiency of God."

GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE, PART II: FULL KNOWLEDGE"

THE “EPIGNOSIS” OF CHRIST

“Epignosis” denotes an exact and full knowledge, discernment and recognition. It is a stronger form of “gnosis”, expressing a fuller or full knowledge. It captures the thought of a greater participation by the knower in the object known, generating a more powerful influence on him. This word, interestingly, is not found in the Gospels or Acts. Paul uses it 15 times (16, if Heb. 10:26 is included) out of 20 occurrences in his letters.

THE ETERNAL PURPOSE AS THE DEFINITION OF PAUL’S MINISTRY

This purpose consumed and defined the life and ministry of Paul. He spoke about the stewardship of the grace of God which was given to him by the Holy Spirit to the church. (Eph. 3:2) He states that by revelation the mystery was made known to him. He desired that men might perceive his understanding in the mystery of Christ which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has been revealed to the apostles and prophets in the Spirit. (3: 3-5) To clarify, the mystery of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. And the mystery of Christ is the church! In verses 6-7, Paul emphasizes that in Christ Jesus the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the Body and fellow partakers of the promise through the Gospel.

It was Paul’s calling to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel, embodying the full counsel of God. It was within this train of thought that Paul was able to see that the purpose of this stewardship was to enlighten all that they might see what the administration of the mystery is which throughout the ages has been hidden in God, the creator of all things.

Paul beseeched the church at Ephesus to pray for him that utterance would be given him in the opening of his mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. (6:20) The Gospel is just not limited to: “Repent and be saved.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the revelation of the full counsel of God! The heavenly vision that Paul refers to in the book of Acts is the eternal purpose of God. (26:19) As the apostle stands before Agrippa, he recalls a visitation of Christ: “At midday, on the way I saw, O king, a light from heaven beyond the brightness of the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all fell to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. And I said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute. But rise up for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a minister and a witness both of the things in which you have seen Me and those things in which I will appear to you; delivering you from the people and Gentiles, to whom I send you, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me.” (26: 13-18)

"GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE, PART III: SONSHIP"

God loves His Son so much that he decided to bring other sons unto glory who bear His image. Sonship is part of the ultimate intention of God. God is in the process of establishing maturity amongst His people. God’s goal is to cultivate and produce full-grown sons. The Christian church for the most part and quite sadly is composed of infants and little children! They have not entered into God’s eternal purpose nor shall I say the understanding of it.

We have been predestined unto sonship. (Eph. 1:5) The King James Version translates this “sonship” as “the adoption of children”. However, our view of adoption is different from the Eastern perception. One brother writes: “Wherein does a son differ from a child? Adoption makes the difference. In the West, adoption is the taking of a child from one family and making it a member of another. The Greek or Roman father, however, adopted none as a son but his own child (emphasis mine). Birth made him a child; adoption gave him sonship (emphasis mine). Between the period of birth and adoption there were stages of growth, education, and discipline.”

God takes us through the caverns of testing, stripping and deep, intense inward confrontations with the cross to bring us into the realm of sonship. God deals with us as with sons. For what son is there whom the father does not discipline? But if we are a without discipline, of which all sons are partakers, then we are illegitimate and not sons. This is the word of God. Sobering, isn’t it? It is high time that we take our rightful place in the Father’s kingdom.

Galatians, the great Magna Charta on Christian liberty outlines the incomparable benefits of walking in sonship. Sonship yokes us to the reality of Jesus Christ and emancipates us from the law. The very Spirit of sonship gives us the revelation that God is our Abba, literally “Daddy” in the Aramaic. Sonship sets us in the place of our inheritance through God. The grand truth of justification by faith becomes an experience as opposed to a mere dead doctrine! The clarity of who we are in Christ is crystallized in the realm of sonship. We are not mere servants or slaves in the house of God but sons fathered by His Spirit. This changes everything and links us to the eternal purpose.

Aside note: There is a lot of talk in pulpits and Christian media about God having a purpose and plan for our lives. However, at the very core of it is man-centeredness. The modern-day plan as it is portrayed has man at the center and how we can be bettered. But God's eternal purpose has a corporate man in view. God's eternal purpose emphasizes the enlargement of Christ within the entire universe. This is not some ethereal theory but a bonafide reality within the mind of God. That vehicle that God is using is the church. And mind you the church in the eyes of God is not seen. Our view of the church and God's view of it are immensely different. What you are experiencing every Sunday morning does not capture God's full thought concerning the church. In our natural minds, we run the church like a corporation but God sees it as a vivacious, living, breathing organism.

I challenge you to read Ephesians chapter 1 and compare it to your church experience. Do the two coincide, do they match up? I would venture to say that they don't but ultimately I will leave that up to you to decide.

"GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE, PART IV: THE EKKLESIA"

In writing about spiritual depth, T. Austin-Sparks wrote: "While never meaning to or thinking to overstress this one dimension, we are particularly concerned and burdened to restore it to its equal place. (along side the length, breadth, and height of God's ways) Depth does matter, dear friends, for the storms and adversities will find out the roots and the foundations. The ministry of spiritual depth is the least popular, and only a comparative few will want it, but it is the ministry of the long-term."

LOCAL EXPRESSONS OF THIS PURPOSE

Paul saw the exceeding brilliance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The light of the almighty Christ surpassed the brightness of the sun. This very light surrounded the being of Paul and henceforth penetrated the inner chambers of His spirit, making him a new man.

Paul proclaimed to Agrippa that he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. The heavenly vision embodied a Person. The heavenly vision unfolded a purpose. The brightness of the eternal purpose is to be expressed through the local assemblies of believers in cities.

The local church concept is not the invention of man but is centered in the scripture.

The local churches were birthed by the Holy Spirit for the corporate expression and manifestation of Jesus Christ. Paul interpreted the constitution of the body of Christ as follows: “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.”

Throughout Asia Minor the churches were the local expressions of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are directed by the practical headship of Jesus Christ. They exist without a rigid hierarchical structure. The Lord condemns this Nicolaitan spirit in the book of Revelation. It has never been God’s intention for individuals to rule over the flock. The clergy-laity distinction disfigures the Christ’s headship and hinders the corporate expression of the Lord in the local assemblies.

God’s goal is the church which can be proved emphatically from the Scripture. Paul writes to the believers at the church in Ephesus:

“He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.”

As evidenced here God’s delight is the building up of His house in the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a truth rarely, if perhaps ever, discussed in American pulpits. The full knowledge and apprehension of Christ can never be attained without the local church being “allowed” to function freely. In the local church, every member is functioning. Let us look at another neglected biblical truth of “one-anothering”:

“Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.” (Col. 3: 12-17)

The scriptures are replete with “one another” passages. A simple reference to a concordance will produce a fruitful study in this matter.
Another interesting sketch of the local expression and functioning of believers can be found in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth :

“Now concerning spiritual things, brothers, I don’t want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were amongst the heathen, you were led away to those mute idols, however you might be led. Therefore I make known to you that no man speaking by God’s Spirit says, “Jesus is accursed.” No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” but by the Holy Spirit. Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

There are various kinds of service, and the same Lord. There are various kinds of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, by the same Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages. But the one and the same Spirit works all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires.” (1 Cor. 12: 1-11)

But above all, the local church must be characterized by the greatest principle: love. The Lord said: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.”

Paul also gives his summary:

"If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I dispense all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, does not behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13)

We can have all of the doctrine and moral rightness. We can be exact in our outward worship. Our preaching can be impeccable. We can have the most beautiful buildings. We can be feeding the poor, clothing the naked, literally giving our bodies to be burned. We can even understand the deeper things of the Spirit but without love, which Paul calls the "bond of perfection" or the benchmark of maturity, we are nothing, our church is nothing. If there is a lack of love and feeling for one another, we must re-examine and re-adjust our lives to the Lord's demand and interest concerning this factor. The author is certainly challenged by this and desires the grace to walk in it consistently.

"GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE, PART V: A CLOSER LOOK AT BETHANY"

When I first shared this publicly, this section was originally apart of "Part IV" However, I felt to make it its own part. I believe that this section is most important to God. I will not elaborate here, but we do encourage the reader to read this section closely and carefully further regarding the practical expression of God's eternal purpose concerning His Son Jesus Christ.

THE BETHANY OF GOD

The local church is to be the Bethany of God. Jacob had a revelation of the house of God. God gave him this marvelous revelation. Jacob was Israel in singular form but with inside of him, the corporate Israel was waiting to emerge. Jacob held the House of God within him. God simply gave him an outward revelation of what he possessed within. The DNA of the house of God is within the believers. We are by nature designed to be apart of the House of God composed of living stones.

The church is the vessel, the very means by which God’s House is revealed. Why did Jesus long to be in Bethany so much? It was where He was welcomed, worshipped, cherished. Jerusalem was not in Bethany . Jerusalem represents all that is religious and man-centered. Bethany housed the ethos of God. His divine nature and will were revealed in that house in Bethany .

Christ frequented there often because it was in Bethany that Christ revealed himself in full clearness. The fullness of God was revealed in the living room of Bethany . The fullness of God even reached the Kitchen, which represents the busyness and the activity of life.
Bethany was a local expression for the Lord Jesus Christ. And God is in the business of producing more of these Bethanies throughout the earth. It is God’s ultimate purpose to have a corporate man that fills the universe.

The late T. Austin-Sparks said something incredibly revealing involving this corporate man:

“The Bible speaks of the creation of man, of the Lord seeking to have a man-race, a corporate man in whom his own thoughts and features are reproduced in a moral way. The Lord has ever sought Him that man. It was the seeking of such a man that led to the incarnation. It is the seeking of such a man which has led to the Church, the ‘one new man’. God is all the time in quest of a man to fill the universe; not one as a unity but a collective man gathered up in His Son. (emphasis mine) Paul speaks of this man as ‘…the church which is His body, the fullness of Him…’ That is the fullness, the measure of the stature of a man in Christ. It is the church which is there spoken of, not any one individual. God has ever been in quest of a man to fill His universe.”

With this mind, one can never look at the church the same again. This is God’s ekklesia. The ekklesia is more than a company of called-out ones; it is a community of believers who experience a shared life in Christ Jesus. Ekklesia cannot be defined with human words and expressions. Ekklesia is a divine reality of which JESUS gives the shape and order. Life in the ekklesia is spontaneous and a habitat where all of God’s people are free to function in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The gifts are simply means by which Jesus Christ expresses and communicates Himself. The gifts are not to be sought, where the Anointed One is there will all of his fullness be! We simply come to Him as we are and He meets and fills us with all utterance and function. This is something only one can experience. True life in the ekklesia cannot be boxed by human jargon; one can only behold itto understand the deeper dimensions of its reality. The ekkelsia is the very “container”, if you will of the life of God.

In the ekklesia, the headship of Christ is felt and experienced. In the ekklesia, the unity of the body of believers becomes a tangible and vital reality. As one brother once shared in a gathering: “You begin to see that we are one!” The oneness of the believers cannot be denied within the precious environment of the ekklesia.

This study of the eternal purpose is the passion of my heart. Everything pertaining to Christ, God, and the church is bound up in this inexhaustible purpose. The theology of Paul evolved into and found its consummation in this one all-encompassing purpose of God. I challenge the reader to read the epistles of Paul in chronological order, Galatians being the first letter. Read them through in chronological order and you will see the ever-deepening revelation of Jesus Christ unfold before you. It is a magnificent journey for those who have ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying unto the local churches! My life will never be the same. I also eagerly anticipate for God to unveil more of this purpose to me.

Christ in You My Hope of Glory,

Clark

CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL,
Clark




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