According to His Eternal Purpose

by LA UBF   01/07/2011     0 reads


According to his eternal purpose���


Ephesians 3:10-11

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank God for this New Year's conference. This morning, as we make plans and pray for God's work in the year 2011 it is necessary for us to consider God's purpose, for the Scriptures say that plans are many in a man's heart, but it is God's purpose that prevails. 

What then is God's purpose for us? In the passage the Apostle Paul answers the question. Let us read the two verses once again. On the surface the words of this passage may look mysterious. But as we reflect on this passage by comparing them to the entire scriptures, especially the Apostle Paul's other epistles, it is not difficult to catch the point of God's  eternal purpose, that is, Jesus Christ. For our own use and application today, Jesus Christ then means God's wisdom which the Apostle Paul describes as "the manifold wisdom". James says there are two kinds of wisdom – worldly wisdom and God’s wisdom. Each kind has distinct characteristics. For example, worldly wisdom promotes conflicts and divisions. But God’s wisdom promotes peace and unity. Now Paul talks about the manifold wisdom of God. The word "manifold" indicates that God's wisdom stemming from our Lord Jesus is multi-layered. So in 1 Corinthians 1:30 he writes, "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." Jesus has become for us wisdom from God. To the people of this world Jesus is foolishness. But for us he has become and is our wisdom from God, that is, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. This is what the Apostle Paul believes in. This is what the Apostle wants the Corinthians, the Californians, and certainly all Christians to go for.

So let us stop for a moment and think about the great blessings we have received, that is, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. I think these three words are connected together and are progressive in the order by which they become manifested in our life, that is, righteousness first, holiness second, then redemption.

The manifold wisdom of God found in Jesus Christ is the key to understanding God's kingdom arising and thriving in the human world, for without righteousness no one can enter God's kingdom. The Bible also says that without holiness no one can see the Lord. Redemption represents the restoration of what is lost. It embraces the idea of paradise restored. 

The fulfillment of these three things (Righteousness, Holiness, and Redemption) represents the sum total of all fallen men's deepest longings. This is because God created man in God's image, which in turn reveals that man's deepest, highest, and strongest most persistent desire is to stop rebel against God, repent, come to God, and live in His presence. 

The Apostle maintains that with the intent to bestow upon his children the RHR, he sent Jesus who in turn "finished" the work. Then the Lord God made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms. 

As of Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension, already an advisory was made public, so that all of our enemies should remain broken for good, just as Ezekiel 28:17 says, "Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings." 

The evil rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms remain put on notice, so upon Jesus saving a believer, and as a believer relies upon Jesus, the evil rulers and authorities in heavenly realms ought to keep their hands off of God's children. The reading of the Bible indicates that God did not get rid of them, nor deprive them of the powers, except sending angels that sinned to hell, keeping them in gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment (2 Peter 2:4). But we can delete from the equation the evil rulers and authorities, for as long as one puts trust in Jesus, Jesus will remain operational, so that these rebels would remain completely dysfunctional. [Consider the equation, 2 x 2 = 4 vs. 2 x 2 x 0 = 0; when one deletes 0 from the latter equation, one gets constantly 4. Likewise, upon Jesus completing the work of salvation on the cross, the evil forces are categorically excluded from the equation for those who live by faith in Him.]

This observation points us to work with two directives: first, to incorporate God's vision into our lives; and second, to participate in the remaining sufferings of our Lord Jesus in order to bring the good news of God's victory to those who are yet to know the victory in the Lord. 

First, internalization.

Thank God that we can begin the new year with the victory of Jesus which he won even from before the creation of the universe.

Last year, last month, last week, last hour, last minute, or even last second, one might have been operating with a losing life-script. But we choose to begin every day, hour, minute and second with a winning script, for a long time ago our Lord Jesus said, "It is finished." So we start out with good news of great joy. 

So let us set aside all the memories, ideas, thoughts, patterns or habits of our life, that are inconsistent with the RHR, the manifold wisdom of God, for if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 

So I would urge all of us to live with a clear sense of identity as a child of God, for unlike the unbelievers, we live as children with the deep conviction that God loves us so much as to forgive us of all of our sins, cleanse us of all of our filth, cancel all of our debts, making us to be royal children clothed with the righteous garments. With this vision we need to constantly take off the old sinful self and put on the new clothes, as Ephesians 4:22-24 say, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires. To be made new in the attitude of your minds; And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Each and every day we wake in the morning, and wash our face, go out to work wearing nice tie and suit. Likewise, daily let us begin the new year by putting off old self and putting on the new self created to be like God in righteousness, holiness, in accordance with his eternal purpose. And we must do this with the deep conviction of His love for all us sinners (Eph 3:18). There is a movie entitled Walk the line (2005), a biography of singer Johnny Cash. One of his hit songs is "Hurt". The lyrics tell us how he hurt himself and went down till he hit the rock bottom at a prison cell. (Refer to the lyrics of the song "Hurt" and "Folsom Prison".) The greatest hit is however "Walk the line". As the lyrics say the movie ends with a happy ending, for he met a woman who shared with him with the heart of Jesus Christ. The problem he had during his life was regarding love. He sought his father's approval. But having grown under a despotic father, the desire to get his father's approval remained dissatisfied. Particularly, when his elder brother got injured due to a cut by a power saw, his father put the blame on him saying, "Where were you?" Due to this hurt, he kept bleeding inside. But the Christ-like love he found with a godly woman brought about healing. The devil causes us to sin causing us to suffer from wounds and scars. But our Lord Jesus went to the cross wearing a thorny cross, so through his wounds we would be healed. 

Second, participation.

One of the Apostle Paul's purposes in writing to the Ephesians was to encourage his sheep to not be discouraged for the sufferings he was facing, as Ephesians 3:13 reads, "I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory." None of us have suffered so much as the Apostle Paul. None of us suffered so much as to cause our sheep to worry about us suffering so much. In the case of our sheep, though, still the Apostle Paul's concern might be true of them, that is, people might be discouraged to see God's servants suffering financially or otherwise. They might think, "Well, if Jesus died 'fishing' the work of salvation, then why there are so many troubles? Why does God keep you in such ordeals? Is he sadistic? How is he different from Pharaoh?" In fact, this is the reason why the brother who led me to UBF left UBF. Not long after I met him, he  left UBF and said something astounding, that is, when he found out that God did not allow Moses to get into the Promised Land due to one minor mistake Moses made, he decided to leave UBF. He reasoned that God is not the god of love, but of cruelty. In a way he fell victim to the devil whispering into his ear, saying, "Look, do not go on suffering so much. See what happened to Moses in the end?"

One of the reasons the man was discouraged due to the episode involving Moses was the lack of understanding of the transaction that is the victory Jesus won. Moses understood the victory so he was not bitter for the rejection. Although God did not allow him to get into the Promised Land, he knew that God still loved him; after all he got paid the full dividend in serving the Lord, that is, his inner person made fully sanctified, so he was ready to depart entering into God's glory (Matthew 17:3). 

Obviously, the Apostle Paul was on the same page as Moses, so he said, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 

There are two wrinkles we need to iron out: first is the lack of understanding on the reasons why there are sufferings; and second is the alteration of the way in which sufferings work in life. 

Firstly, the lack of understanding.

Many question, saying, "Look, Jesus died and rose again. He finished the work of salvation. Yet why are there so many who still suffer so much?" This question comes due to lack of understanding on two accounts, that is, no. 1, the general purpose of God in allowing the sufferings; and no. 2,the way God reveals his truths on all objects of truths, that is, "his personal way of revealing." 

In regard to the general purpose we are told that God is the God of justice, so he has to put men and nature under curse for their sins. So the nature came was made to be subject to decay. He also allowed the god of this age to blind the minds of unbelievers. When man sinned, God allowed their thinking futile, and foolish hearts darkened. In order for this to happen, God had to continue to allow the rulers and authorities to function, so that those who remain disobedient should get what they choose, that is, sufferings resulting into eternal loss. 

In regard to the way in which God reveals his truths the following should be said: God never reveals his truth to those who are not ready. And one is ready when one chooses to believe in the Son. The classical example of this is the case of the man born blind who received sight through faith. That man said to the religious leaders, "Whether he is a sinner of not, I do not know; One thing I do know: I was blind but now I see!" Similarly, Jesus said, "His sheep follow him because they know his voice." So if any one has a problem in regards to the love of God, it is the problem of him remaining unsaved. He is yet to open his eyes so he could know the Shepherd and follow him no matter what.

Secondly, the alteration..

When one is in the Lord, the way in which sufferings hit a believer changes, that is, from that of crushing to that of constructing. When one does not know the Lord, as he is still under the rule of the ruler of the air, he finds hardships and sufferings as crushing. But the exact opposite occurs when one is in the Lord. For those who are in the Lord, sufferings come to them as opportunities to experience God's love to a deeper and higher level, even to the point of reaching the joy, peace, and rest of the third heaven. In 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul talks about a man in Christ who fourteen years before went to the third heaven. This man is reportedly Paul himself, so he might have gone to the third heaven, that is, paradise, when he fell dead while getting stoned, and thereby went through the so called out of body experience. The point is that sufferings for Jesus' name's sake represent the opportunities to come to know the greatness of the love God has on a deeper and higher level than ever. The Apostle Paul explained the same concept when he said, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..." Missionary Livingstone Chung of Nairobi said the same thing, that is, when he got robbed, for the first time in his life in the mission field, he felt deep peace. Until that time he felt greatly depressed. But after he got held  up and locked  up in a trunk of his truck, even while the five robbers driving around from 9:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. robbing a few other places, strangely he felt calm and peaceful. Then he came out of the ordeal strong and stable. To this date, he bravely and joyfully serves the Nigerian campus mission. 

In conclusion, we learned that our Lord Jesus already won the victory that is bestowing upon us God's manifold wisdom, that is, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. So it behooves us to work with this vision so that each of us should internalize this victory in our life, and we must do so with the deep conviction of God's love for us. Then we must joyfully participate in the remaining sufferings of our Lord Jesus through one to one, disciple making, and missionary sending ministry, beginning with Downey and spreading this movement to California, America, and to the four corners of the world. 

One word: according to his eternal purpose.