Treasury of Faith index
THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD
by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.
Copyright 2008 by J. W. Jepson. All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof: The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes. *Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.
Did you ever wonder why God created the human race?
Just think. Nothing takes God by surprise. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the potential outcome of every possible course of action.
So before God created Adam and Eve as moral agents (with a free will), He knew exactly what was going to happen. He knew that they would use that God-given free will to disobey Him and introduce into this world human sin with all its horrific consequences.
God saw that the entire human race would follow their first parents down the destructive road of disobedience. He saw ahead of time all the heartache, sorrow, and suffering that selfishness would cause, both for time and for eternity. He saw all the wars, the violence, the injustices, the divorces, the broken hearts and homes, the traumatized children, the immorality and greed, and all the evils that sprout out of the love of money.
Most of all, God saw the eternal consequences of human disobedience. He saw that the majority of humanity—that masterpiece of His creation—would persist in their evil rebellion and be lost forever. And only God knows the full tragedy of even one soul being lost forever in Hell as the just and necessary penalty for moral rebellion; and He saw that tragedy multiplied by the billions.
God knew also that to save a comparative minority would cost Him nothing less than the agonizing death of His Son, Jesus Christ—God in Christ—on the cross.
Knowing all this ahead of time, God went right ahead and created the human race.
First of all, God is love (1 John 4:8). That means that in everything He does or allows to be done, God’s ultimate purpose is to secure the greatest possible amount of good and happiness, all things being considered together. So then, God must be after something so supremely and eternally valuable in itself, to Himself, and to the entire universe that it far outweighs the unavoidable consequences of sin, as awful as those consequences are.
God is also all-wise (Romans 16:27). That means that God has taken the present course of action to secure the supremely valuable objective because, all things considered, it is the best course that His perfect love and infinite wisdom could possibly devise. It only makes sense that if there had been a better way, God would have chosen it. He chose this way because it is not only the best way by far but also the only way.
So then, what can be so supremely and eternally important—that can be secured no other way—that its value far outweighs all the horrible evils God saw would happen in the process? Whatever it is, it must form the grand design of the ages. It must be the very reason for our existence and therefore our highest personal priority.
Whatever it is, it is essential that we know and understand it clearly, lock into it with all our heart and soul, and pursue it with full commitment and steadfast diligence.
So, what is it?
Well, remember that God had a perfect and supremely happy kingdom. All the angels and archangels were in their proper places, everyone loving God, devoted to Him, and obedient to His just and wise administration of the universal moral law—the law of love.
Then something devastating happened, something that effectively introduced “Hell into Heaven,” violating the very nature of Heaven itself. Satan, an archangel, introduced rebellion into God’s perfect and happy kingdom. Against the holy and wholesome will of God, against all reason, and against the well-being of the universe, Satan asserted, “I will!” That declaration terrorized Paradise, and it has been terrorizing the universe of created beings ever since. A massive minority of the angels followed Satan’s criminal act.
And so, in a sense, God’s perfect kingdom failed Him.
Because it had one unavoidable weakness: it was made out of previously untested components. When the test came, part of it collapsed.
A Fail-proof Kingdom.
But God is going to have a kingdom that will never fail. Everything about God is infinitely valuable—His well-being, happiness, honor, authority. He is worthy of highest love, devotion, and obedience. To deny this to God would be an immeasurable loss, both to Himself and to all beings. He must have a people who will render to Him what is rightfully His, both for His own sake and also for the sake of the universe.
Also, because love is the very essence of His moral character, God must have a people upon whom He can lavish His love fully and forever with absolute safety.
Both require a relationship based on moral character that has been fully developed and thoroughly tested.
So, why didn’t God just create a new group of angels to replace the ones that fell?
Because that would be building again out of previously untested components.
Then why not just make do with the angels who remained loyal?
Because the angels had just witnessed an awesome demonstration of the justice of God; but without a full revelation of the mercy of God, that would have given them a less than complete knowledge of the character of God. That full revelation would come in God’s great redemptive act in Jesus Christ and in His glorious purpose in the Church (Ephesians 3:10, 11).
Then why not create beings who have no free will and therefore are incapable of sinning?
That would not work, because they would also be incapable of loving and obeying God. They would be robots at worse or mere pets at best. They would be incapable of moral action, thus incapable of moral character, and thus incapable of any real and meaningful relationship with God.
So this time instead of starting at the top, God started at an entirely different point of beginning. God did the most dangerous thing that He could do. He created us in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26). In so doing He endowed us with a free will, knowing full well that we would use that free will to turn against Him, with all the devastating consequences.
Nevertheless, God did not take a chance on an uncertain outcome. Remember, God has perfect foreknowledge. Nothing takes Him by surprise. When Adam and Eve sinned, God did not exclaim, “Oh, no! I didn’t know that was going to happen! Now, what are we doing to do? Let’s go to ‘Plan B’. I’ll go to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He will die on a cross as the perfect substitute to provide redemption, and then rise again. We will send The Holy Spirit. If some people repent and are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, we will mobilize them into a body called the Church and send them into all the world to tell the rest of humanity. When it is all over, we will see who finally gets to Heaven. Then we will figure out what to do with them.”
Of course not! God is not the “Supreme Guesser.”
Before the ages began, God saw ahead of time that He could turn the hearts of untold millions to Himself. He foreknew them—not only what they would do but also what He could do with them
If you love God, God saw you in your former sin and rebellion. He saw you respond to Christ, to His word, to His Spirit. He saw you repent and become a believer. He saw everything you would go through, and He knew exactly how to make all things work together for your good (Romans 8:28). He saw everything the world, the flesh, and the devil would throw at you, and He saw you coming through victorious by laying hold of His overcoming and sustaining grace!
God knew that His grace will secure and stabilize your steadfast love and obedience under the severest temptations and trials, in spite of temporary failures and set-backs. He knew that when those temptations and trials were over and the pressures of the world, the flesh, and the devil were removed, He would have a kingdom that will never fail—and you will be a part of it!
That is the meaning of life. That is the true purpose of our existence. And it is found only in a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ.
Your everlasting love and obedience, developed, tested and proven in the fires of temptations and trials—that is the supremely and eternally valuable objective God is after. For that God is willing to allow all the unavoidable evils to happen in the process, as immense as they are. For that God sent His son to die on the cross to save us. That should open our eyes to see the value of every believer, and how vitally important it is for us to remain true to Christ. God has everything at stake in us. Let us never lose sight of that fact.
Yes, we will have a free will in Heaven. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of the character building process that is now going on and being perfected in believers? The love, devotion, and obedience that we will give to God forever will be voluntary.
But what guarantee is there that sometime in eternity somebody will not sin and we will have this mess all over again?
We have a wonderful answer in Revelation 22:3. After picturing the glories of Heaven, the passage ends with these words: “and His servants shall serve Him.” In other words, God looks at the totality of eternity future (so to speak) and declares in effect, “I have so won the hearts of my elect and so built my love and my character into them that they will never fail!”
God is going to have a fail-proof kingdom!
God has eternal plans for His chosen ones; and if you love God, you are part of those plans!
Second Timothy 1:9 says that God has “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (KJV). Think of it! Before the world began!
Ephesians 1:4 assures us that God has chosen us in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love “ (KJV).
The apostle Peter says that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obdience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2 KJV).
Please notice that 1 Peter1:2 does not say that we are foreknown according to the election of God, but “elect according to the foreknowledge of God.” The “election” does not follow the “foreknowledge” in time, because it all happens together in the eternal mind and purpose of God; however, the election is conditioned by God’s foreknowledge. God’s choice is not arbitrary, but takes into account His foreknowledge of our susceptibility to His grace. That in turn guides Him in where and how to invest His grace where it will be effective.
We do have a definite choice in our destiny. So, what did God foreknow about you and your susceptibility to His grace? What choices did God from eternity foresee you making right now in this present life in response to His gracious influences, choices that mold your moral character and determine your eternal destiny? That is up to you. That is why we are to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10 KJV).
Believers do not live mundane, meaningless lives. We carry in us the eternal purpose of God! We are the centerpiece of God’s grand design of the ages. For us the worlds were created. In response to all of this, what kind of lives should we be living? What priceless and eternal values should energize us?
Genuine Christians should be the most highly motivated people on the face of the earth. Each day, each moment, is charged with eternal potential and possibilities. The high calling of God demands that we aim at nothing less than being our very best for God. What a challenge! What a high and holy ambition!
The apostle Paul prayed that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know the hope of His calling and “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17, 18 KJV).
Believers are destined for nothing less than total and eternal fellowship with God Himself. And that requires moral compatibility with Him—conformity to His character. There must be nothing in our character that is incompatible with the character of God, and every moral quality in His character must have its counterpart in ours.
Above all else, God is building character in believers because character is forever! What we are to be we are becoming.
The Final Product.
So, what is the final product? What is our destiny?
Here it is in Romans 8:28 and 29. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (KJV).
The elect are predestined not only to get to Heaven but also to be conformed to the character of God, revealed in Jesus Christ. If you love God, God is determined—He has made up His mind—that you are going to be like Jesus, no matter what it takes! God has invested too much in us and the stakes are too high for Him to do a half-way, second-rate job on us. So whatever it takes is more than worth it.
So we can come either the easy way or the hard way. Either way, God is going to do it. So, let’s not make it hard on ourselves. Let’s cooperate with The Holy Spirit, live Biblically, and save ourselves a lot of problems, pain, and paddlings.
This is one reason God did not take us to Heaven the moment we became Christians. He left us here to bring others to Him, of course. He also left us here to go through a process. He is building permanent character in us, and He is doing so under the pressures of life. We are in “The University of Adversity.”
Second Corinthians 4:17 says that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (KJV). Notice, it is all working for us, not against us. The NIV puts it this way: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
This present world is an excellent place to develop saints. It provides a fully equipped workshop for building us into the image of Christ. There are so many problems and provocations, so many hassles, so many people getting on our case, so many trials and temptations. Every day is loaded with excellent opportunities to be like Jesus!
But if we are destined to “soar with the saints,” why in the meanwhile do we have to put up with so many sinners?
Well, let us imagine a football game with only one team on the field. No opposition. The team that showed up would make a touchdown every play (that is, if nobody dropped the ball). The quarterback takes the ball from the center, and everybody strolls down the field together. After all, how much personal discipline does it take to walk a hundred yards? Nobody has to stay in shape. Nobody has to obey the training rules. The team on the field would win every game.
But the victory would be meaningless.
But put an opposing team on the field, looking at you eye-to-eye across the scrimmage line. Now what do you do? You dig in your cleats and give it all you have. You think beyond the goal line, and you are determined to get there in spite of everything the other guys do to stop you. You have been training, working out, staying in shape, learning the rules and honing your skills. Now it is time to do it!
But people who love God are already predestined to win. So why try? Why do anything about it?
O.K. Let’s imagine that it were possible (though it is not possible in real life) to view the film of the game you are about to play before you play it. You watch yourself carrying the ball play after play. You get excited as you see yourself making first downs. You wince as you see yourself flat on your back after being thrown for a loss. The coach sends in the key play. Excited, you watch intently as you take the hand-off. You break tackles. Your team is opening up big holes and taking out the secondary. Only the safety stands in your way, but your momentum carries you past him and into the end zone for the winning score!
So, after viewing the film before the game, what do you do? Do you shrug your shoulders and say, “I know I’m going to win; so what’s the use of going out there and playing the game?”
No way! It is time to take to the field. But now you are all charged up and raring to go out there and make those plays. You are full of confidence because you know that, no matter what happens, you are going to win!
For believers this life is a training ground for eternity. Through Christ we are sure to win. Still, we have to experience the training course.
People who die in infancy go straight to Heaven. Jesus said this about little children: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14 NKJV). “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels do always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10 NKJV).
People who die in infancy and go to Heaven will experience forever the basic joys of Heaven. Also, they will not remain infants. Furthermore, they will grow in their knowledge of God and His truth. However, God will not give a person who died in infancy the same rewards, nor entrust to that person the same positions of authority and degrees of responsibility that He will to those who faithfully and consistently walked with Him and went through the character building process on this earth for 30, 40, 50, 60 years or more.
To become like Jesus means to “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death” (Philippians 3:10 KJV). It means to have the fruit of the Spirit developed and matured in us, because the fruit of the Spirit is the character—the moral nature—of Jesus Christ.
To be like Jesus we must diligently pursue an intimate relationship with Him. We must spend time with Him, giving The Holy Spirit the opportunity to make Him real to us. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we read, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (NKJV).
This is a direct, intimate relationship in The Holy Spirit with nothing between our soul and the Savior—no sin, no clutter of distractions, nothing to put Him “out of focus.”
Have you ever watched a potter working at his wheel? As the lump of clay spins around and around, what does the potter do? Does he or she take a club and beat on the clay, muttering, “I’m going to make a vessel out of you even if I have to knock you into shape!”
No. Instead, the potter applies gentle pressure to the pliable clay. As the clay yields to the master’s skillful fingers, under the potter’s hand a beautiful vase takes shape.
The Holy Spirit is like that master potter. He applies gentle but effective pressure on us to shape us into a vessel of honor. Our problem is that we are usually too sensitive and responsive to the impulses of our own human spirit. We react too much to our own emotions. That gets us into all kinds of trouble. The bumper sticker slogan, “If it feels good, do it,” is a prescription for disaster.
Instead, we need to quiet ourselves before God and learn to be sensitive and responsive to The Holy Spirit. No matter what the provocation, no matter what people say or do, no matter what emotions we feel or how strong they are, the important thing at that moment is not to say what we feel like saying or do what we feel like doing. It is not to assert our rights or set somebody straight. The most important thing at that moment is to be like Jesus.
The story is told of a sculptor who was commissioned to sculpture a statue of Abraham Lincoln. He brought a block of marble into his studio and began to work on it. He “tap-tapped” here and “tap-tapped” there, chipping off pieces of marble in the process.
A by-stander who was watching the process finally spoke up. “Pardon me, sir. How do you know what pattern to follow?”
The scuptor replied casually, “Oh, that’s easy. I just take away everything that doesn’t look like Abraham Lincoln.”
Sometimes we feel like that block of marble. Will we ever be like Jesus? We realize that we have so far to go. But let us remember, we are predestined “to be conformed to the image” of Jesus Christ, and God is not through with us yet. He is working daily to “take away everything that does not look like Jesus.”
So if there is anything in your character, your nature, your personality, your behavior that does not look like Jesus, you can be sure that sooner or later The Holy Spirit is going to go to work on it. As He does, go ahead and say “Ouch,” but do not pull away. Hold steady and let The Holy Spirit do His perfect work. Keep in mind that He is shaping you for your glorious destiny.
Jesus said, “The disciple is not above his master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40 KJV). The word, “perfect,” means mended, repaired, completed, prepared.
The apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has his hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3 NIV).
The major instrument that God uses to fashion us into the image of Christ is His word. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17 KJV).
And Peter wrote, “He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4 NASB).
Jesus is the living Word of God. The Bible is the written Word of God. The two match perfectly. The image of Jesus Christ is indelibly imprinted in The Scriptures.
Let us refer back for a moment to 2 Corinthians 3:18. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (NKJV).
There is a saying that goes something like this: “As we as the children of God look into the Word of God, the Spirit of God transforms us into the image of the Son of God.”
God also uses the Church and its ministry in this process. Christian growth and maturity do not take place in isolation, but in relationship. It happens in fellowship with other believers who also share in “the hope of His calling” (Ephesians 1:18 KJV). We must not reject Christ’s Church. It is His body and every believer is a part of it. Those irritating saints might be some of the very people God is using to help us become like Jesus!
Ephesians 4:11-16 say that God has given us ministers to prepare us for service, so that the body of Christ (the Church) will be built up, until “we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (KJV). We are to “grow up into Him in all things.”
This is the desire of true ministers. The apostle Paul said that the objective of his preaching and teaching was to present every believer perfect (complete, mature) in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
The goal of every true pastor is to be able on the day of Christ to say to Him, “Lord, here is ____________ Church. I have fed them Your Word, watched over them, prayed for them, and endeavored to be an example to them. They have been teachable and responsive; and now here they are. I am delighted with them. They are just like Jesus.
It is sad that so many professed Christians are right now all they ever intend to be. But those who have caught the vision of the eternal purpose of God join the apostle Paul in declaring, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:13, 14 KJV).
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you do not know the real meaning of life. You are missing the purpose of your very existence. You are on the wrong path. Each day you are making and reinforcing choices that are forming the wrong kind of character and preparing for the wrong destiny. The heart that is self-willed, rebellious, and disobedient cannot have fellowship with God. It is totally unfit for the kingdom of God.
If you are not right with God, Satan also has a plan for you; and if you knew what that plan is, it would terrify you. You have the potential of eternal fellowship with God, but you are wasting your time in sin, preparing yourself for the wrong eternity. If you keep going the way you are, you will end up on the “scrap heap” of eternity, a total loss. You could have spent eternity with God, the angels, and the redeemed; but instead you will spend eternity with Satan and demons. What a waste! What an unspeakable tragedy!
No, friend, it is not too late. Surrender your heart to Christ now. Trust Him as your Savior and then follow Him as your Lord. God loves you. He has a glorious plan, and you can be a part of it. Lock into God’s plan. He will give full meaning and purpose to your life.
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