In this concluding post of this series, I would like to offer a vision for the progressive unfolding of God’s purpose as it is outworked in and through His people. I will be drawing on the content of the previous five posts to illustrate the process by which the purpose develops and finds its fulfillment in and through the Church. It is essential that we not only know God’s end but also His ways and means of arriving at His end. A knowledge of this process is especially significant for the Church at the end of the age as God heads all things up towards a climax and a culmination. The overcoming remnant of His people will need to be fully in-step with the Father in the outworking of His plan in these last days.
From the last post, we saw that the end of God’s desire and purpose is that all things would be regathered as one in Christ, summed up and headed up in Him (Ephesians 1:9-10) and that through Christ’s redemption, headship, and dominion, all things would ultimately be subdued and brought back unto the Father, “that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28) The Church is to be the firstfruits of the fulfillment of this purpose and the instrumentality, as the Body of Christ in union with the Head, to bring it to full consummation throughout all of creation. In order for the Church to be a fit vessel unto this end, God’s purpose must first be worked into her and then out-worked through her unto all of creation. This is the Lord’s great work in this hour.
So we must ask ourselves,
“How is the eternal purpose first worked into us as the Body of Christ, and then worked out through us to all of creation?”
This is possibly the greatest question that we could ever ask!
I would like to lay out a six-fold process by which the Lord takes us from beginning to end in the fulfillment of His desire for His church in His eternal purpose. This process must take place, concurrently, on two levels, individual and corporate. These two dimensions of the Lord’s calling cannot be separated. As we consider these six phases of the “process of the Purpose”, therefore, we must apply them first to our own hearts and lives as individuals, and then do what we can to promote them in the corporate expressions of the church that we are in.
So, with God’s “Christ-centered” end in view, where does this process begin, and what are its progressive stages?
God always begins His works by shining forth light. The old creation began on day one with God saying, “‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) The “new creation” begins in our hearts when, as Scripture says, ” … God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) “Revelation” comes by the illumination of God’s light. This is where this spiritual process begins. Revelation is also that which continues to feed and fuel each phase of this process that follows after it. The degree to which we make progress in each of these phases rests almost entirely upon the degree of revelation that we increasingly receive from the Father of the centrality, supremacy and significance of Christ and of the Church in the eternal purpose.
In Part 1 of this series, “A Copernican-Style Revelation and Revolution”, I spoke about the “creation parable” of the sun being the center of the solar system even as Christ, the Son, is the center of God’s eternal purpose and plan. Everything that God does revolves around His Son. The main point of this post was to illustrate how desperately we need to have a fresh, heavenly revelation of the Son of God as to His centrality and His immensity.
Just as Copernicus had, as it were, a natural “revelation” of the sun being in the center of the solar system, so we need to have a Spirit-wrought revelation of the centrality of Christ in all things. We, likewise, need to have a staggering unveiling of the immensity of Christ as to Who He really is from a heavenly perspective. How different He is in reality from what we, from our earthly view, perceive Him to be. When God shines His light into our hearts and reveals the heavenly significance and magnitude of the Son of His Love, everything changes. Our center shifts. He no longer revolves around us, we revolve around Him, and His immensity dwarfs us into true humility and reverence before Him.
The corporate expressions of the church, likewise, need this radical, paradigm-shifting, Copernican-style revelation of the centrality and immensity of Christ if they are to be vessels fit to fulfill God’s purpose in the earth. Churches who are merely centered in themselves, and relate to the Son as if He revolves around them fall far short of their purpose and calling and ultimately become obstacles to God’s heavenly purpose. This revelation is most needed among the leadership, and faithfulness to “the heavenly vision” will be paramount for church expressions to transition into the next phase of this process.
This Christ-centered, heavenly revelation in our hearts and in the churches corporately is the beginning point of God bringing us into alignment with His eternal purpose, which centers in His Son. Even as the Copernican “revelation” was the foundation and precursor to the “Copernican Revolution” in history, so this Christ-centered revelation is the foundation and precursor to what comes next in this process.
God’s purpose in giving us a heavenly revelation of the centrality of His Son in all things is to reorient us entirely to a new center. When this new center is in-wrought by the Spirit, everything begins to revolve around a new loci. Christ becomes to us central and supreme in all things. Whereas in the past many secondary matters arrested our attention, occupied our labors, and satisfied our desires, now only Christ possesses this preeminent place in our hearts.
As was expressed in Part 2 of this series, “Centering the Clay”, we become like the clay that is thrown down in the middle of the potter’s wheel and begins to revolve around the center point of the wheel. The Master Potter’s hands press us in and around the center point of the wheel until all “eccentricity” is worked out. Everything becomes oriented to the new center. It is radical, and it is “revolutionary”. This is a most difficult, yet absolutely essential, phase of the process. Until the clay is fully “centered”, it cannot be fashioned into a vessel on the Potter’s wheel. Until we experience a Christ-centered revolution in our lives and in the church corporately, where all things begin to revolve solely around Christ the Center, we cannot progress to the next phase of this process.
As the individual vessels of our lives and the corporate vessels of the church become fully centered on the “wheel”, revolving solely around the Lord Jesus Christ in all things, the Potter can then begin to re-form us into the vessels that He truly desires. We were formerly pots that had been oddly shaped by man’s hands off the potter’s wheel, but now God wants to refashion us into beautiful, symmetrical vessels for His glory and purpose.
Only clay that is soft and pliable can be re-formed in the Potter’s hands. That which is dried and hardened is unfit for reformation. Such pots are either set aside, or they must go through a long soaking and re-wedging process before they are fit to be re-centered and re-formed on the Potter’s wheel. It is at this very point that the Church is most apt to resist the Lord’s process, being too rigid and set in its ways to conform to change. The longer a vessel has been in use, the more resistant it can become. Only those vessels which fully yield themselves to this Christ-centered reformation, however, will be fit to progress to the next phase of this process.
God is fashioning His chosen vessels, conformed to His Son in all things, that He may have fit containers for the fullness of His Son. This is our high calling in the eternal purpose of God as the Church. Paul spoke of, “the church, which is His body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23). He also said, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.” (Colossians 2:9-10). We are likewise, called to attain to “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) The end of God’s desire for the Church is for the fullness of His Son to be contained (“re-stored”) and displayed forth in and through His Christ-centered, Christ-conformed corporate vessel.
In Part 3, “The Heart of the Matter”, we saw that Christ fulfilled the definition of the word “center” as: “A person or thing that is the chief object of attention, interest, activity, or emotion.” This describes the Beloved Son in the heart and purpose of the Father. The Church is to be the Christ-shaped container of this “chief object” of His love. When the vessel is formed according to Christ, and is overflowing with the fullness of Christ, she will fulfill God’s purpose of restoration in these last days. Those who experience this Christ-centered restoration will be used mightily of the Lord in the next phase of this process.
When multitudes of the Lord’s people, and the restored corporate expressions of the Church become vessels of the fullness of Christ, they will be filled to overflowing with the LIFE of God. The restored remnant of the Church will be fully alive and will be fully life-giving. God desires to not only fill the Church with the fullness of Christ, but to flow out through the Church the very LIFE of Christ to bring salvation, healing, restoration, and “revival” (LIFE) to the nations.
In Part 4, “Unlocking God’s Eternal Purpose“, we saw how Christ is the Mediator and Instrumentality of all things related to creation, redemption, the Church and the Kingdom. We saw how He is comparable to a Fountain through which, in which and by which all things come forth into manifestation according to the will of the Father. As the Church is filled with the fullness of Christ, all of the Father’s works will come forth through Christ in and by the Church. She will be the vessel through which the Life of God will flow to bring a Christ-centered “revival” to the world. This, I believe, is God’s desire for the end of the age that all things may culminate in the final phase of this process of the Purpose.
The Lord is heading all things up to a climax and a culmination in His Son. This is expressed most clearly in Ephesians 1:9-10:
“And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”
As was shared in Part 5, “Unlocking God’s Eternal Purpose – Cont.“, all things are being recapitulated: headed up, summed up and unified in Christ, the “Main Point.” According to the definition given in this post, He is the “Center”: “A principal or important point of concentration; the nucleus around which things are gathered or to which they tend; an object of attention, action, or force; as, a center of attraction.” (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)
The ultimate calling of the Church is to be the instrumentality through which Christ fulfills His work of recapitulation in the universe. In order for her to fulfill this calling, however, she must first restore the headship and unity of Christ within herself. This will only be possible if she will fully embrace and progress through the phases of the process unto that of “restoration.” Once Christ has been fully restored to His central and supreme place in all things, the Church will then be sufficiently equipped to co-labor and co-rule with Him in the ingathering of the final harvest, and the subduing of all things under His feet (i.e. under His Body.) His overcoming Bride will be intimately and intricately involved with the Christ-centered recapitulation of all things in the fullness of times.
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This, then, is the “process of the Purpose”: a Christ-centered revelation, revolution, reformation, restoration, revival and recapitulation. The Father will not fulfill His purpose apart from the Church, the Bride and Body of His Son. In contemplating these things, then, we are left with just two questions, “What does God require of me personally?”, and “What does God require of us corporately?”
All God is really asking is that we yield ourselves fully to the phase of the process that we are presently in, and ask Him to do that work fully within us, both individually and corporately, so that we may progress to the next phase.
Would you search your heart and ask the Lord to reveal where you are truly at in this progression? Will you yield yourself as soft and moldable clay in His Hands to become a fit vessel for His purpose? Would you join with others in your circle of fellowship to see this process advanced in the corporate Body of Christ? The signs of the times are all around us that the culmination of this age is near at hand. God is restoring His end-time vessels. May we be among those who are thus prepared for His Purpose.