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

New Book by Frank Viola and Len Sweet: JESUS MANIFESTO

Greetings Beloved,

There's a new, much anticipated book by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet that was released today that I believe is going to be a great resource for "Re-Jesusing" the church, it is called "JESUS MANIFESTO: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ."

I read through many of the endorsements at Amazon.com and you can tell this is going to have a huge impact on placing Jesus Christ back on His throne as Head of the church and the only reason the church exist, to exalt Him and love Him supremely and only.

"Jesus Manifesto" has been much and enthusiastically endorsed by many Christian leaders that we all admire or know through their own writings. Here are some of them. I particularly liked what Calvin Miller wrote so I'll lead off with it:

Jesus Manifesto is the most powerful work on Christ I have read in recent years. The Christ of the Empty Tomb is back among us. I found a lump in my throat as I read through page after page of Biblical witness to the one and only, incomparable Christ in whom alone is our Salvation. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. ALL OF US MUST (emphasis mine), and then we must believe in this book, rise and advance on our culture with the truth we have lately backed away from in our faulty attempt to play fair at the cost of our God-given mission.
Calvin Miller, Author, The Singer and many other titles

This a timely book during a season in which God is shaking false foundations in order to bring His people to the true north of His Word. Religion has created multiples of false centers, when there is only one center, Christ Himself, the hope of glory. The Jesus Manifesto brilliantly leads readers to embrace the Person of Jesus Christ rather than the many inaccurate representations that man's wisdom has to offer. I enthusiastically recommend this book.
Robert Ricciardelli, Founder Converging Zone Network & Visionary Advancement Strategies

Today’s Church desperately needs that trumpet-like “certain sound” heard when Jesus’ own voice is heard—just as He spoke in The Revelation. Our hour is similar to that; one of doctrinal drift, double-entendre and deepening deception, both in the Church as in the world. Jesus Manifesto calls us to Jesus’ Person and position as Lord of the Church, to hear Him call us to truth’s clarity, power’s purity and obedience’s reward, to restore that “saltness” that will keep His Church alive and penetrating in its impact.
Jack W. Hayford, Founding Pastor, The Church On The Way, Chancellor, The King’s Seminary

The unrelenting purpose of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into the living presence of Jesus Christ. If we follow the Spirit, Christ can become as real to us as the world was when we were sinners. The "Jesus Manifesto" is a compass pointing toward this holy pursuit.
Francis Frangipane, pastor, author, And I Will Be Found By You

As many are defecting the ranks of the faithful for a gospel of their own making, we are indebted to Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola for unhesitatingly issuing a call for the recovery of the true testimony of Scripture, that Jesus indeed is Sovereign Lord, and that He reigns supreme over all the universe, and there is no other God but Him.
Mark J. Chironna, M.A. Ph.D., The Master's Touch International Church, Orlando, Florida

This little book is a fresh and elegant portrayal of Jesus Christ that’s epic and timely. It puts a pulse on the main problem in the church today and uniquely stirs both heart and head as it points us to the only solution, Jesus.
Pastor Tommy Barnett, Phoenix First Assembly, Dream Centers: Phoenix, LA, NY

In a day when much of Christianity seems to have missed the main point of our faith, Jesus Manifesto brings us back to center. Sweet and Viola have given us a matchless presentation of Jesus - one that combines poetic artistry, gripping metaphor, and profound insight. The book masterfully reflects what the Spirit is saying to the church today.
Dr. Kenneth C. Ulmer, President; The King's College and Seminary, Los Angeles, CA

From now on my friend Frank Viola will not be known solely by his proposals regarding the church. Len Sweet, my teacher, will not merely be known as a brilliant and original professor. With the writing of Jesus Manifesto, they will now be known as followers, broadcasters, ambassadors and articulators of Jesus. There is no higher role in life. I can offer no higher complement. Best yet, this role can be taken on by us all: doctors and nurses, policewomen and firemen, teachers and counselors—you name it. In the Jesus Manifesto there is room for everyone.
Todd Hunter, Author, Christianity Beyond Belief and Giving Church Another Chance, Anglican Bishop

Whether you are a seminary professor or someone seeking answers about Christ for the first time, Jesus Manifesto promises to illuminate the truth about the greatest personality to ever walk the earth. And along the way you will rediscover, or experience for the first time, the power, prestige and primacy of Jesus Christ.
Ed Young, Pastor, Fellowship Church; Author, Outrageous, Contagious Joy

This is a really exhilarating reintroduction to a Jesus who seems sometimes to have become a stranger to the Church; a passionate and joyful celebration of God with us, which cuts right through churchy quarrelling and brings us back to wonder, love and praise - and the urgent desire to make Him known to all.
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

From beginning to end, authentic Christianity is all about Jesus and, ultimately, nothing but Jesus. No one has proclaimed this more clearly and persuasively than Viola and Sweet. Jesus Manifesto is an important and powerful prophetic call for the Martha-like Church to get back to doing "the one thing that is needful."
Dr. Gregory A. Boyd, Senior Pastor, Woodland Hills Church, Maplewood, MN. Author, Present Perfect, The Myth of a Christian Nation, and The Jesus Legend.

I look for books that call us to love Jesus and make His name more widely known. In Jesus Manifesto, Sweet and Viola ask us to step away out of the "Youniverse" (their word) of narcissistic religion and away from the pop-culture Jesus who is just a nice man. Throughout the book, they exalt Jesus as the divine Savior and ask the church to do the same. I believe this book will spark a renewed love for Christ by pointing us to the deep mystery of His person. You will be motivated to love and serve more deeply as your life is focused on Jesus the Messiah.
Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research

Brilliant, refreshing, soaring – and that's just the first chapter! This book is destined to be a classic devotional volume that will inspire generations of Jesus-followers. The line from the song goes, "you can have all this world, but give me Jesus." This book does just that.
Reggie McNeal, Missional Leadership Specialist, Leadership Network; Author, The Present Future and Missional Renaissance

One more sign of a Christianity that is beginning to look like Jesus again. Our great challenge over the past few decades has not been one of right believing but of right living. Viola and Sweet create a harmony here that invites you to give the world a Christianity worth believing in. After all, they will know we are Christians, not by our bumper stickers and t-shirts, but by our love.
Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and recovering sinner, www.thesimpleway.org

Jesus Manifesto is a passionate invitation to fall head over heels in love with the Son of God. Prepare to be shaken. Prepare to be awakened. And prepare to answer the call to follow Jesus with wholehearted abandon. After reading this book, you’ll never be the same.
Margaret Feinberg, Author, Scouting the Divine

Whenever Len Sweet writes something, I am challenged and learn so incredibly much. Whenever Frank Viola writes something, I am challenged and learn so incredibly much. So with both Len and Frank writing together here - you are reading an exponential Jesus-focused challenge and learning experience. They write not just words and sentences, but this is seriously a Spirit-shaped breath of fresh air for the church at large in all her beautiful and messy forms and shapes and for Christians of every age and diversity.
Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus, But Not the Church

I love this book simply because I love Jesus. It will deepen, widen, and heighten your love for Christ, and few books can make that claim.
Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor, National Community Church; Author, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

Wow! What a message, what a word, what a masterful work. My friends Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have again challenged us to think deeper and go higher in our commitment to the call to genuine and authentic Christian ministry. Jesus Manifesto is a must read for all serious students, teachers and leaders in the Lord’s church. In this post-modern, high-tech age, where we talk on iPhones, listen to iPods, write on iPads, but have lost the power of the great “I Am”. . . we are called through this book to come back home, to indeed return to our first love. I believe that this book will cause more than a ripple in the Body of Christ.
Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr., Senior Pastor, Cathedral International

To read more endorsements, sample chapters, listen to two new songs based on the book (one written by John Thompson who wrote some of Amy Grant’s greatest hits),
go here: www.theJesusManifesto.com

CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL,
Clark

CHRIST IS ALL IN ALL,
Clark




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