[Listen to post here.]
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Five years ago this month, I had a terrible fall off of a ladder that broke under me while I was doing some tree work. Fortunately, I had enough wherewithal to toss the chainsaw far from me as I fell, but the ten foot “seat drop” onto hard ground left me with a crushed vertebrae and eight and a half months of at-home recovery. During my unplanned “vacation”, I sought to make the most of the situation by pouring a good amount of time into writing a draft manuscript for a book that had been on my heart to write for some time. It focused on the Christ-centered restoration of an overcoming remnant at the end of the age. (Hmmm, sound familiar?? 🙂 )
It was during those months that I also began blogging as a way of sharing some of the things that were on my heart in more bite-sized pieces. As my recovery period came to a close, I felt that I had to lay aside the larger book project for a season and focus what time I did have on blogging. Here, five years later, there has yet to be a significant window to revisit that manuscript and push the project through to completion. (Frankly, much of the time it is difficult to find time even for regular blogging. 😦 ) I continue to hold all of that before the Lord, though, and trust that He will somehow make a way, in HIS time!
As I was glancing over some of the manuscript pages recently, though, I came across a portion in Chapter 1 that I thought would be worth sharing on the blog as a stand-alone post. This excerpt is concerning the eternal purpose and five of its essential characteristics. The eternal purpose is where God begins and ends in all that He does. It is also that which governs everything He does in between. It is of the utmost importance, then, that the eternal purpose be that which governs all that we do as well as we live and work in union with Him!
I offer this meditation for your consideration, then, and pray that you will be blessed by this brief glimpse into God’s ultimate intention!
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THE ETERNAL PURPOSE
Behind all that God does, from eternity to eternity, lies what the Scriptures call the “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11). This ultimate intention was established before the beginning of time and will endure into eternity future. It is what undergirds, guides, informs, motivates, and harnesses all of God’s activities throughout the vast expanses of time and eternity. Apart from the knowledge of God Himself, there is nothing more essential, significant, and consequential to spiritually apprehend than the eternal purpose of God as it is revealed in Scripture by the Holy Spirit. We will take just a few minutes to begin to explore this immense matter in regards to a number of its most significant facets. Let us begin by looking briefly at some of its most essential characteristics.
First, by its own self-definition, the eternal purpose is eternal in nature. It existed in God before time began. Before the “In the beginning…” of Genesis 1:1, the eternal purpose of God had already been established. Genesis 1 and 2 are the product of that eternal purpose, as well as the motivation and wisdom behind the creation of all things. All of the vast array of created things were fashioned to fit and to serve this eternal purpose in its outworking in time. We do not rightly understand the created order, seen and unseen, until we comprehend the motivating force behind it.
The eternal purpose not only preceded Genesis 1:1, but also endures long after the commencement of the events described in Revelation 21 and 22. The eternal state described in Revelation 21 and 22 is a picture of the long-awaited culmination of the eternal purpose at the end of its temporal developmental stages. Its ultimate fulfillment and enjoyment begins there and has no end. All of eternity future will be composed and choreographed by that which played and danced in the heart of God before time began. Not a note will be missing, and not a step out of place.
Not only does the eternal purpose define the ends of the spectrum of God’s eternity, but the epochal unfolding of time between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 21 and 22 is contoured and shaped by the eternal purpose as well. Our Sovereign God meticulously and persistently works, conforming everything to the unfolding of His Grand Design. Paul speaks of “Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11) However man’s will and actions interplay with the sovereign work of God, through it all and in the end the eternal purpose is obtained. All of history is superintended by that which was established before time began and will endure through times eternal. This then is a brief description of the eternal nature of God’s ultimate intention.
Secondly, the eternal purpose is good. Standing behind the eternal purpose is the “good pleasure” of God. Ephesians 1:9 says, “And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ,”. When all has been accomplished, all of creation will resound with the goodness of God in its infinite perfection. God, being good, could do no other. His word to Israel was, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.” (Jeremiah 32:40-41) This is God’s ultimate good intention not only for Israel, but, in essence, for all of His people. The eternal purpose, therefore, becomes the deepest spring of hope and rejoicing for the human heart. Its contemplation is “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8 KJV). The eternal purpose is hallmarked by the manifestation of the infinite and everlasting goodness of God.
Thirdly, the eternal purpose is wise. This Grand Design is the crafted genius of infinite Wisdom and Knowledge. Every faculty of God’s mind has been employed to composite this Plan and nothing has escaped His purview. As such, the eternal purpose is unimprovable, unrevisable, immutable. Nothing can be added to it to make it better, and nothing can be taken away from it without making it less. It is the supreme product of infinite wisdom and can, therefore, be fully trusted and marveled at in every detail.
Fourthly, the eternal purpose is sure. It is established by the Sovereign God and will be carried out by the Almighty. There are only two types of forces that could possibly hinder or stop this Plan from being carried out. The first is some force that resides within God Himself. He alone could choose to alter or abort this Purpose as an act of His will. This is an impossibility since God is unchanging, His eternal purpose is already the highest expression of His “good pleasure”, and the perfect genius of His infinite mind. God has committed Himself, and there is no power within Him that will ever cause His purpose to fail or change.
The second type of force that could possibly thwart or change God’s eternal purpose is that which exists outside of God. This would of necessity have to be in the created order which came into existence at the mere word of His mouth. Here, again, lies an impossibility. There is no created force that is mightier than its Creator. All things are subject to His Sovereign and Almighty hand, and He reigns supreme. We can have full assurance that in the end, God has no rivals. His will shall come to pass. It is as sure and as steadfast as God Himself.
Finally, the eternal purpose of God is all-glorious. It is designed to manifest and display forth the glory of God in its fullness. It is, likewise, designed to bring man into the participation and enjoyment of the glory of God in fullness for all eternity. God could not conceive of a more glorious plan for Himself and for you and I. This is our destiny, to the praise of His glorious grace!
Before we explore this eternal purpose more fully in relation to the members of the Triune God and to the Church, it would be beneficial to pause for a minute to consider our personal relationship to it. We have the opportunity, as believers in Christ, to align ourselves with and be the first-fruit partakers of the supreme purpose of the ages. We have the privilege of yoking ourselves with that which represents the infinite goodness of God’s heart and the infallible wisdom of God’s mind. We have the honor of being called to serve and labor for that which never fails and will never pass away. We have the blessing of giving our lives to that which is unsurpassed in its unspeakable glory. All other purposes will fail. All other endeavors will come to naught. All of man’s greatest and best intentions will fall short. This and this alone will endure and shine with the glory and favor of the Sovereign God for all eternity. To the fellowship of this Purpose we have been called.
When a man’s life becomes consecrated and committed to living, serving, and laboring for God’s supreme purpose, it, likewise, becomes marked with certain distinctive characteristics. First and foremost, it becomes purposeful and focused. It is not frivolous in its use of time or selfish in its ambitions and pursuits. It is not shifting and meandering in its intentions or flagging in its commitments and obligations. It does not follow the most popular fads or hop on the latest bandwagons but joyfully and sacrificially keeps its hand to the plow, tilling a straight furrow. It is marked by a persistent and patient zeal in a purposeful, settled direction. Such a man is approved of God for he is a man after God’s own heart. He will in no wise lose his reward, for he co-labors with the One whose purpose never fails. He is further marked by joyfulness of heart and sagacity of mind as he follows the good, wise, all-glorious, enduring purpose of his Father. God is seeking such men and women to be the forerunners and first-fruits of His eternal purpose and kingdom in the earth. Will you and I be those who will be marked and sealed in this way? We need only to bow our knee and yield our heart to this one great and glorious purpose.
© 2011 David Bolton All rights reserved.
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This is just the beginning of the exploration of God’s eternal purpose. If you would like to explore more, you might find the following posts and pages helpful:
May we all be yoked together in this one Grand Pursuit…for His highest glory, and our deepest joy!