Dear friends — a few notes about the following post:
– This post is unusually long. I don’t and won’t make a practice out of writing long posts. Your time (and mine) is precious, and fiercely allocated. I am sensitive to this. However, the nature and importance of this particular message warrants the words, longish as they may be. I thank you for and urge you to take the added 10 minutes or so and read on. If you don’t have that time now, please come back to this when you do.
– While this may or may not be my “best” post (however that is measured), I do consider it to be the most critical. I have not written in a while because I have been moved to the point of understanding that everything I have written, or will ever write, should be viewed through the lens of this message.
– Any earnest seeker of the Lord will be challenged, inspired and eternally changed if they prayerfully engage this message.
– The above not withstanding, this is not, and never could be, an exhaustive unveiling of the subject. After reading, I trust you’ll agree that we could never fully reach it’s depths – but we should give it heck trying.
Who am I?
How did I get here?
What is my purpose?
How can I achieve it?
Have you ever found yourself musing any of these? Of course you have. These foundational questions are at the heart and core of our being. Whether we consciously recognize them or not, they are crying out from within to be asked… and answered.
How about these?…
What is Church?
Why is there so much division in the Church?
What is God’s purpose?
What provoked Him to create in the first place?
What does He want from me (us)…really?
What is the POINT of Christianity?
Any Christian who has a sincere and seeking heart for the things of God will ultimately be confronted with these as well – and they are more spiritually amplified in their nature of crying out to be asked and answered than those that exist on a human, personal level.
As human beings, we all want to know who we are and why we are – and how to fulfill our destiny.
As Christians, we should want to know what is the very pounding of the heart of the Father – and how we fit into His desire.
In my journey I have asked similar questions. By His Grace I have been given many answers, and in the process, I have been repeatedly pointed in a specific direction….
…God’s Eternal Purpose.
I have received a glimpse into the eternal heart of the Triune God, from before time, and I am wrecked by it (in a very glorious way). I am convicted that we are called to step into a realization of this eternal heart, this Eternal Purpose – and appropriate all of life from It’s lens. I am convinced this is the deepest essence of the Life Jesus came to give us – Zōē Perissos.
I believe that this topic is God’s choicest wine. It has been aged in His cellar to perfection, and He is calling us to drink. In fact, He is calling us to become intoxicated by It.
Let me be clear – I want to repeat that I’ve seen but a glimpse of this Eternal Purpose, and I am certainly not an expert. The truth is, there are no experts. Just as we will spend all eternity exploring the depths of the inexhaustible riches of our Lord Jesus – we could (and should) spend the rest of our days growing into a deeper revelation of God’s Ultimate Intention.
Indeed, the knowing of Jesus and the knowing of God’s heart and Intent are really one in the same!
Needless to say, a simple blog post from a simple man will uncover but a fragment of the fullness of the topic. But this is a topic that the world and the Church need to be pursuing above all, and I am moved to play a small part in beginning the conversation here.
I will attempt to place before you just a picture of the Eternal Purpose of God. There will be much more to follow as time moves forward, and I pray you will dive in.
Ok, here we go…
If you poll most Christians today and ask them, “What is the Eternal Purpose of God? What is His goal? What is His heart beating most passionately for?” I think you’ll hear a few common responses:
– “To save the lost.”
– “Demonstrating His love.”
– “To make us like Jesus.”
These are all good, and true, but they are NOT God’s Eternal Purpose. Consequently, the Christian life has been watered down to:
– Get saved, and then go find other sinners and get them saved.
– Go to church more, read your Bible more, pray more, help those less fortunate than you more….all in an effort to “get” God’s love.
– OR, to try to “be like Jesus,” which is impossible in our own strength.
Ok so far? Stay with me.
Most of Christendom happily traces its story’s beginning back to Genesis 3, the Fall. You know the familiar refrain, right?…
…Adam and Eve sin and create the need to be saved from that sin… God comes to Earth in the form of a man, Jesus, His only Son, who dies on a Cross for the forgiveness of our sin… He is raised to life after 3 days and one day will come back to reign on Earth forever with all those who will believe in Him as Lord… In the mean time, we wait, try to live by the counsel of the Holy Spirit, “be a good Christian and make the world a better place.” God is still Holy and we are not – so we “go to Church” and we work really hard to please God and go to Heaven and not Hell one day.
Does that about cover it?
Is this all there is to being a Christian?
Well, not completely. There is more, MUCH more.
We’ve gotten off track by starting from the wrong place.
I mentioned that most of our faith is often celebrated from the “genesis” (pardon the pun) of the Fall of man. This was in Genesis 3, and of course that leaves out the 2 earlier Chapters.
And in those Chapters there was no sin, and therefore there was no need for redemption. It is only in Genesis 1 and 2, as well as in Revelation 21 and 22, that we find Scripture about the universe outside of sin – and it is here that we find hints into the Eternal Purpose of God. (Do yourself a favor and go compare the elements you find in the first 2 Chapters of the Bible, and the last 2.)
From the Beginning (Genesis 1 – and before) God has had a Secret, an Intention and a Purpose. This Purpose remained a “Mystery” hidden in His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26; Ephesians 3:4-5,9). This Mystery was not revealed to Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, angels or demons. No one knew but the Triune Counsel of God…
…until Paul of Tarsus.
“…by revelation there was made known to me the mystery…” – Paul in Ephesians 3:3 (See also Colossians 1:25-29).
“According to His Eternal Purpose of the ages, which He [the Father] realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Paul in Ephesians 3:11
Paul’s entire life, temporal and eternal, was transformed by this revelation. He spent every remaining breath he had exhausting known language to proclaim the glory of this “Mystery” he was charged to “steward” and unveil. With a careful eye, you’ll see all of his writings (which make up 2/3 of your New Testament), cascade from the heights of this Purpose.
And yet…so few Christians know anything about it. I for one, have been “in church” since I was “in diapers.” I had never once heard anyone preach, teach or write about the Eternal Purpose or Mystery of God. It is not that the topic is completely absent, but it is certainly not mainstream. (See the end of the post for resources I have unearthed.)
Father, I join Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-23, that You would give us all a spirit of wisdom and knowledge in the revelation of You and Your Eternal Purpose. Amen.
God’s Eternal Purpose: A Bride for His Son
Whether you realize it or not, you are in the middle of an epic, sweeping romance. God’s Word opens with a Husband and his Bride (Genesis 1-2). It closes with a Husband and HIS Bride (Revelation 21-22).
The theme of weddings, husbands and wives, Brides and marriage are littered throughout all of Holy writ. This is not an accident. The Holy Spirit was testifying through each writer to an Eternal Purpose. He was giving us pictures and glimpses into the Divine Romance in which we find ourselves.
God did not deem it “good for man to be alone.” So, He created for man a companion. God knew that Adam would never be happy simply having dominion over created life. One by one, Adam named all living things – and they all had a companion. He did not. God is not a God of loneliness, and so He pulled out of Adam’s side another of his own kind, but one more beautiful.
God had hidden the mystery of a woman inside the man – to be revealed in her glory to man, and to receive the passionate love of that man. She in turn would return that love back to her lover – out of the capacity of love that was in her, in him, from the beginning.
Sadly, there are still those who interpret the creation of humankind as “man first, woman second.” This has had all kinds of unfortunate and just plain wrong manifestations throughout history and today.
The truth is, woman was created with man, but hidden inside him until she was to be displayed.
Paul – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32 NKJV)
God is a Lover. He is in fact Love Itself (1 John 4:16). And from eternity past, before He ever created, God was there. His Son Jesus was there too, and the Holy Spirit. God poured forth all of His passion and Love into His Son. Jesus, in turn, returned that Love back to His Father. Holy Spirit shared in their Oneness and Love-fest (John 17:24; 14:31).
But Jesus wanted a created being to whom He could pour out His Divine Love. He was in this sense, like Adam (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45).
And so God created.
Out of the motivation to give His Son a companion – a Bride to pour out His Life and Love upon – God created.
Frank Viola, in his book From Eternity to Here paraphrases the scene Scripturally like this:
“It was as if God the Father said:
“It is not good for You to be alone, My Son. I will make for You a companion who corresponds to You. One like You, but not You. I will give You one upon whom You can pour out the passion of Your being. But there is only one way I can accomplish this task. I must remove a part of Yourself out of Yourself and build another You. And You will no longer be one. There will be another, a She. She will be you in another form. She shall be the object of Your unbridled passion. You shall be her Lover, and She will be Your beloved. Indeed, She shall reciprocate Your own passion, just as You reciprocate My passion.”” (Genesis 2:18; Romans 5:14; Ephesians 5:31-32)
Jesus Christ came for far more than to save us sinners. He came for his Bride. He came to have the Object of His passion. He came to be the Bridegroom that the Apostle John describes:
“He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom…He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30)
John said Jesus Christ HAS the Bride and IS the Bridegroom. This can only be if the Lord Jesus had His Bride hidden inside of Him all along! He obtained His Bride just as Adam obtained his – through the bringing forth of Her from His side. Jesus went to the cross, enduring the “joy set before him” (She was His joy), and when the spear pierced His side, out poured streams of blood and water (signifying purity and Divine Life), and the Bride of Christ was revealed in all Her glory.
Jesus walked out of the tomb with His Beloved – you, me, His Church – and His unbridled passion and Love found It’s place to be poured out upon, for eternity to come.
Why is it critical that we know and live out of the Eternal Purpose of God, as the Beloved Bride of Christ?
This Bride is the most beautiful woman in all of creation. She is Jesus Christ in His companion form. She personifies “all things new,” as She has taken on the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) nature of God’s people, a new race. She is a masterpiece and God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). She is completely intoxicated by and devoted to Her Lord, and He to Her. She is flawless and perfect – in every way. She exists for the Lord, and derives Her Life from Him. She is the glory of the Lord. When you see Her, you see Christ.
Paul said woman is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7). In the same way, the Bride of Christ is the glory of Her Husband, Jesus – and this glory will fill the universe with Him in the fullness of time (Ephesians 1:9-10).
We must appropriate this Truth, by receiving our position as the Bride of Christ. We must see ourselves as He sees us. We must receive His furious love, and reciprocate it.
In doing so, we will stand in the earth and express His love, making Him irresistible and eternally glorified in the entire universe.
In John’s Revelation we read about the Bride being made ready for her Bridegroom. Our destiny as the Church is to be fully united with Christ and His Father in absolute oneness.
Friends, if that doesn’t sweep you off your feet, then I don’t know what will.
God’s Eternal Purpose: A Home and Dwelling Place
The entire Bible reveals God the Father on a quest for a house. The Lord has eternally been acquiring real estate, drawing up plans and constructing His dream dwelling place.
He desires a place to rest. He wants to live in a comfortable home, in which He can express Himself freely. He wants to have a place to be welcomed, received and to release His Presence.
The Garden of Eden is the Lord’s lot on which He intended to build in creation. We find there in Genesis 2 the Tree of Life, a river, gold, pearl and precious stone.
In Revelation 21 and 22, we see these same elements fitted together in the House of God, and the same Tree of Life and flowing river.
The Eternal Purpose of God was for Adam and mankind to eat of the Tree of Life – thereby entering into Divine Life – and to dwell with God. When Adam chose to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God was made temporarily homeless. The earth was given over to Satan and sin.
But God has never let go of His Purpose for a dwelling place.
The Lord called Abraham to leave everything he knew and had – to go to a land that the Lord would show him. This new land would become the building site for God’s House.
Jacob is seen later in Genesis 28 in an extraordinary scene. He falls asleep on a stone and has a dream where he sees a ladder with angels of God “ascending and descending” on it. This ladder connects the realms of Heaven and earth. What was established in the Garden of Eden (God connected with man) is seen again here.
Jacob awakes and exclaims, “God lives here! This is God’s house!” He anoints his stone with oil, and calls the place “Bethel,” the House of God.
Oil speaks of the Holy Sprit and Life. By pouring oil on a dead stone, Jacob establishes the first of the “living stones” that Peter says we, the Church, are in 1 Peter 2:5.
Later, when Moses was raised up to bring God’s children out of captivity and through the wilderness – he was to lead them back to God’s site for His dwelling place. In the process, he is given a specific glimpse into a picture of God’s house – the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle contained the Holy of Holies. Inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, and here is where God’s presence dwells.
Many years pass and Joshua has lead the Lord’s people into the Promised Land, Canaan. Then another 400 years pass and the Lord raises up David as King. David is seen as consumed with finding a home for his God:
“Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” (2 Samuel 7:2).
“I will not go home; I will not let myself rest. I will not let me eyes sleep nor close my eyelids in slumber until I find a place to build a house for the Lord, a sanctuary for the Mighty One of Israel.” (Psalm 132:3-5 NLT)
David rescues the ark of the covenant, and creates the Tabernacle of David as it’s new resting place. For 40 years David established exuberant worship and praise in and around the ark – around the clock. There was no longer need for a once a year Priesthood to make petitions in the Holy of Holies. David approached the throne of Grace in all its splendor and awe with a romantic intimacy. This is a man who unashamedly said that he would be “even more undignified before his Lord” while dancing and singing.
The lesson is that where the House of God is built, there is abandoned freedom, a freedom that expresses itself in joy out of an overflow of intimacy and love.
Of course, David’s son Solomon ends up realizing David’s dream of building the Temple of God. God has a building on earth, but as the Temple is eventually destroyed and then rebuilt, we see that it is still just a picture of His dream House.
Enter Jesus Christ.
“I am the house of God.” “I am the temple of God.” “God lives in me and I live in Him.”
Jesus is “Emmanuel” – God with us. He is the House of God.
The Garden of Eden, Jacob’s ladder, the ark, and the Temple were the spaces in time in which God met man in dwelling with them, but they were fragments. Jesus Christ, living now outside of time and space, is the fullness of God’s dwelling, through whom He abides in and with man.
Jesus is the “Cornerstone” of God’s eternal House.
Why is it critical that we know the Eternal Purpose of God, and be about building His House?
By the “Life-giving Spirit” of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45), the Holy Spirit will “fit together” (Ephesians 2:21) “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4-6) to form the habitation of God.
This is the Church.
The Apostle Paul laid hold of this Eternal Purpose desire of God to have His Home among His people. His language is ripe with the terminology of “building”:
“You are God’s building…as a master-builder…I have laid the foundation…take heed how you build…lay no other foundation but Jesus Christ…” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11 KJV)
“You are the temple of God, and the Sprit of God dwells in you.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
“You are members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to form a dwelling in which God lives by His Sprit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
“The house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of Truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
Paul was exhorting the Church to take part in God’s restoring His House on earth. He was joining the plea of the Lord Jesus Himself, who said:
“Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20)
The goal of so many Christians is to live in such as way as to “get to Heaven.” But from eternity past, God desires to “get Heaven to earth.” He wants to dwell here, with man.
This will happen. It is His Eternal Purpose and it is our destiny as His children.
“And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is WITH men, and He will dwell WITH them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be WITH them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
Let us be about the building of God’s House. Let us individual “living stones” be “built together” to form the House of our Lord.
After all, the Lord’s cry to the prophet Isaiah has profound application to His people today,
“Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool. Where then is a house you could build for me? Where is a place that I may rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)
God’s Eternal Purpose: A Body for Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He expressed the Life of God in a tangible, visible form on earth. He said if you have seen Him, you have seen God (John 14:7).
God wanted to express His Life into the earth, and He chose a human body in which to do so.
The sole purpose of a body is to express the life it carries.
Jesus expressed His Father’s Life during His earthly ministry. He did many amazing things – so many that the entire world could not hold the books that would tell the tales, according to John. Remarkably, Jesus did all of this as fully God, but still fully man – and thus was limited to the space and time He occupied over a 3-year period.
Following His death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus is now Spirit, but still craves expression. He still wants to make His Life tangible and visible.
He too does this through a Body – by inhabiting a human’s spirit and dwelling, and making His home in it (Ephesians 3:17). And therein lies the genius of God. When the Spirit of the Lord dwells in a body, or better yet, in many bodies – He is magnified in His expression. He is no longer bound by time and space, but is expressed in eternity – around the clock and around the universe – through the Body of Christ.
This Body was birthed in Acts on the day of Pentecost, and is charged with continuing the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. John said, as Jesus was in the world, so now is the Church. (1 John 4:17)
We clearly see the seriousness of this when Jesus confronts Saul on the Road to Damascus. He does so with painfully personal words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?” (Acts 9:4)
This is astonishing. The Lord makes no distinction between His own self and the Church. When Saul was persecuting the fellowship of believers on earth, called the Church, he was persecuting Jesus Christ Himself!
This same man, Saul became the regenerated Paul of Tarsus. And Paul wrote exhaustively about the “Body of Christ.”
“Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself?” (1 Corinthians 6:15)
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)
Just as a physical body is one unit having many members, so also is Christ. Or in other words, Christ is a body with many members. Christ is the Church, and the Church is Christ – a Person who lives and expresses Himself, as the Head, and through His many parts.
As the Father loved the Son (the Head), so too, does He love the Body. The Head and Body cannot be separated. They share the same Life – and it is Divine Life.
The Body is the “fullness” of the Head (Ephesians 1:23). In that way, we, the Church, are called to fill out the completion of the Head on earth.
Why is it critical that we know the Eternal Purpose of God, giving the Lord expression as Head, through His Body?
How different would your life look if you lived out of an unshakable belief in the Truth about who you are? How different would our world look if humanity lived as if they embodied Christ in the earth? How would the Church look today if the “Body of Christ” lived out of the Life of It’s Head?
The world is in desperate need to see the Church expressed as the functioning Body of Christ. For this to happen the Church must make Jesus the pre-eminent and practical and functional and all-encompassing Head of It’s Life.
“He is the Head of the body, the church…so that in everything He might have supremacy.” (Colossians 1:18)
“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
The supremacy of the Lord Jesus is the Eternal Purpose of God – that all things are created by Him, for Him and to Him – and are to be summed up in Him. When we as the Body submit to His Headship, all the created universe will follow suit, and be filled with His supremacy.
God’s Eternal Purpose: A Family
God the Father was so enamored with and in love with God the Son that He desired to clone Him.
God wanted to have kids – to have a family.
He accomplished this in His Church. This Church, or family, is made up of an entirely new species, a “new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We are described as a new humanity in the Family of God throughout Scripture:
“God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” (Colossians 3:12)
“…adopted as His Sons through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:5)
“…fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” (Ephesians 2:19)
“His purpose was to create one new man..” (Ephesians 2:15)
“There is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
Jesus Christ is the firstborn of a new species, so that in the fullness of the Family of God, He would be supreme. (Colossians 1:18)
He announced that His Kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) He is a Ruler from another realm. But more, He proclaims that He was sent to establish a people of His kind, which will rule with Him on earth. To do so, they must abandon their former life and be “born from above,” or from His realm. They will then inherit Life from that Kingdom, and become a part of His species.
C.S. Lewis describes it like this:
“Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage.”
Why is it critical that we know the Eternal Purpose of God, and live as members of His Family?
God made Jesus the “firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29; John 17:23-24; Hebrews 2:10-11) because He wanted to have children to bear His glorious Son’s image.
He wants a family to share in His Divine fellowship.
Fulton J. Sheen in his book, The Divine Romance says this:
“Away back in the agelessness of eternity, in that day that had neither beginning or end, God was enjoying infinite communion with truth and love in the amiable society of the three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
God’s dream is to expand that “infinite communion.” We have been invited into this Life of Truth and Love – the eternal love affair between God the Father and God the Son through God the Holy Spirit.
We are God’s chosen kids. His Sons. We are in His Divine Family and receive the fullness of the Love that endlessly flows between the Father and His Son.
This is incomprehensibly glorious news! This is “Good News!” This news should rip the cover off of conventional Christianity and ignite a reciprocal passion of Truth, Love and Family – to the Heavens and in the earth.
In closing, I pray that God has given me Grace to paint but a picture of His Ultimate Intention, His beating heart Love affair, His Mystery revealed, His Glorious Plan and His Eternal Purpose. I further pray that you have caught a glimpse of It.
Even a fragment of an understanding of God’s Eternal Purpose changes everything. An understanding that God created the world, and us, with an Intention that far exceeds rescuing His creation from sin – is circuitry blowing. It should reverberate from your spirit to the Heavens and back – shaking everything you’ve ever thought you’ve known about God, Jesus, the world, yourself and Christianity.
On that note, to answer one of our original questions, and the title of this post – the only “point” of Christianity is to be about the business of fulfilling God’s Eternal Purpose. The best reason to believe in Jesus and follow Him is to join Him in the establishment of God’s Ultimate Intent. The highest calling for the Church to exist is to live out and express and proclaim that which God carried in His heart from before time.
Anything short of this forfeits the very essence of God’s passion.
Jesus gave us the keys to the Kingdom and a directive to bring Heaven to earth, to proclaim the Will of His Father be done, here. I believe He was speaking to the Eternal Purpose. If Christians will rise up as the Bride of Christ, the House of God, the Body of Christ and the Family of God – we will see Heaven on Earth. His Kingdom will come, and His Will will be done.
You are the Bride of Christ, to whom Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom.
You are the House of God, of which Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone.
You are the Body of Christ, of which Jesus Christ is the Head.
You are the Family of God, of which Jesus Christ is the Firstborn.
You are the Eternal Purpose, in which all things are summed up in Jesus Christ.
Amen and Amen.
I humbly encourage you to take the above content to the Lord. Spend time with Him on His Eternal Purpose. Begin to read Scripture through the lens of the themes of His Eternal Purpose – that is: The Bride, A Dwelling Place, A Body and A Family – with Jesus Christ being the fulfillment and summation of all.
For further study:
Genesis 1 and 2
Revelation 21 and 22
The Stewardship of the Mystery by T. Austin Sparks
Ultimate Intention by DeVern Fromke
The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee
From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola