Now, please don't get me wrong that I am saying that the peripherals are not important or not essential, I am not. What I am suggesting is that if proper perspective has been put in place, then all things will fall in their rightful places, fulfilling God’s eternal purpose holistically. I am not exactly a painter, but I do hope you get the picture.
How many times have you asked a question similar to this such as “Why did God create the human race", "Why were there two trees in the garden" so on and so forth, and the answers you get are like, "It doesn’t bother me" or "I will ask Him when I see Him face to face"? Yet how intriguing is the fact that everyone will agree that we don't build our products without first consulting our client’s requirements, failing to do so would put us in the risk of building a different specification of products from the client’s expectation. How much more should the ultimate intention of God matters to us?
Of course, you may ask if God has spoken or dropped any hint to us on this important issue. This is an honest and legitimate question, for there is no way we can know God or anything of God, unless God Himself chooses to reveal to us. As it is written, "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." Now before you say, "Look, we will never understand the mystery of God because only God knows!" It would be good to note a little further down where it is also written, but we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).
If you have Christ, you have the mind of Christ. The issue should be whether we are flowing in the mind of Christ. But what exactly is in the mind of Christ? Does the risen Lord know anything about God's eternal purpose or ultimate intention? I am inclined to say He sure does. But if He does know and we have the mind of Christ, what does that leave us with? So having the mind of Christ means sharing the plan, purpose, and perspective of Christ. May the Holy Spirit continue to take the things of Christ and reveal to us.
While there is the subjective knowing of God's eternal purpose, God has not leave us without an objective measure of knowing His ultimate intention. In fact, it pleases Him to reveal to us in the Scripture (more of this to come). So apart from what is being revealed in the Scripture, we need not worry about the rest of the unknown. If we are able to know how much we do not know, then we do not really not know in the first place. So according to the Scripture, what is God's ultimate intention or eternal purpose?
Some may say that God's desire is for us to be saved. But is our salvation the ultimate intention of God? Do bear in mind that salvation is required only because of the Great Fall. Therefore the redemption thread is merely one of a recovery nature, a rescue plan, despite the fact that God foreknew before Creation. There must be something more in the ultimate intention of God than mere redemption. So the question is, what ought to take place if sin has not entered the world. That would be the eternal purpose of God.
So if our redemption is only the beginning, then what is the timeless end? Is it evangelism then, reaching out to the lost in order to snatch them from the fiery fire of Hell? But when all that would be saved are saved, what is left on the ground? Is it sanctification? But is there something more than sanctification after we are cleansed? For what purpose are we being cleansed? Is it glorification? What then remains in eternity after we have received our glorified bodies?
It should be obvious by now that any eternal purpose would necessarily involve an eternal being, none other than God Himself. God wants a community who cares for one another, loves and worships Him as one big family. He wants to enter into a living vibrant relationship with the people and to love them as His own beloved, the outpouring of divine love within the Trinity. All these sound perfectly fine, but are these truly the ultimate intention of God?
Sure, God loves us. In fact, He demonstrated His own love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners, so that we will be saved from God's wrath through Christ. But before we celebrate our special favor before God and became overly engrossed in our selves, let us not forget that we were previously condemned and deserved God's full holy wrath, if not for the fix through Christ. Let us not forget that only Jesus is the beloved Son of God, of whom Father is able to speak of, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" twice in the Gospel of Matthew.
Here we have a glimpse into God's ultimate intention. It is all about Jesus Christ, for which we are to be conformed to His image (Rom 8:29 and 2 Cor 3:18). You could also say that God's ultimate intention is in Himself, reflecting His own glory in His creation. He alone is worthy to be worshipped, blessed, praised and adored. And the Glory of God is none other than Jesus Christ (Rev 21:23). It is not about a thing, an idea, a concept but a living Person.
So here is the eternal purpose of God, His very ultimate desire, that of the preeminence of Jesus, Christ being all in all. Chip Brogden in his article, "All Things in Christ", defines preeminence to mean literally having the first, highest, chief, and best place in a position of ascendancy over everything else. It is an ultimacy, a glory, an honor, a distinction, a prestige, an illustriousness, a renown, a notability, and a nobility that surpasses all others.
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." ~ Col 1:15-18 (ESV)
Now, according to the Scripture, the eternal purpose of God is actually Christ-centric, and this rules out any tendency towards a Man-centered gospel message. It moves away from "It’s Me" to "It's Him". Of course, this is not to say that our own individual salvation is not a major issue among others, but I contend that they are only means to a greater end. It's no longer about me getting anything, but about Him getting everything. It is longer about my opinions, preferences and rights but His. It is all about His centrality and supremacy! And as we understand His Lordship (individual) on a progressive measure, we will also see greater things in regards to His Headship (corporate).
This of course involves the painful process of brokenness, dying to the self. For those who have experience and understand how hard the old man fights and struggles to live, you know what I mean. Remember also the day when Jesus washed the disciples' feet and what was Peter's ultra-cute response (John 13:9)? It is our human nature to act and speak like Peter, asserting the self and seeking one's own welfare when the Master was teaching about servanthood and dying to self. As indicated by Watchman Nee, there is a crucial need for our outer man (natural self) to be broken in order that our spirit with the Spirit of Christ may be released to impart life to others.
T. Austin Sparks in “The School of Christ” also has this to say. The mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit is that such a life is continually and ever more and more occupied with Christ, that Christ is becoming greater and greater as time goes on. The effect of the Holy Spirit's work in us is to bring us to the shore of a mighty ocean which reaches far, far beyond our range, and concerning which we feel - Oh, the depths, the fullness, of Christ! If we live as long as ever man lived, we shall still be only on the fringe of this vast fullness that Christ is.
"And he put all things 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." ~ Eph 1:23 (ESV)
The Church then is the fullness of Christ. Milt Rodriguez wrote in "The Sum of all Things" that she is the full expression and embodiment of Jesus Christ. And He is the one who fills all in all. All things are been gathered up into One. He is to be the fullness of the universe. And He is to fill all things with Himself. The vehicle for His purpose is the Church. She is the fullness of Christ and all that is of Him will be expressed and manifested through her.
The Church has a large part to play in God's eternal purpose - the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Should we then not be concern about His Church? She is the spiritual Bride formed out of the side of His broken body where the soldier pierced, just as Eve was taken out of the side of Adam. If anything, this should gives a fresh understanding on the significance of the meaning of Church and the way she functions whenever the Church gathers together by the divine life of the Bridegroom.
It never fails to amaze me whenever I recall the parallel between the account of Abraham (Father) sending the servant (Spirit) on his way to find a bride for Isaac (Son) and ended up meeting Rebekah (Bride) in Genesis 24, and that of God passionately pursuing His Bride in accordance to His ultimate intention. If you want a more detailed retelling of Genesis 24, try "God's Ultimate Passion" by Frank Viola. There is a section dedicated to it. And for those who have read "The Shack" by William P. Young, I bet one million dollars (get it from Ray Comfort) that the servant’s name is Sarayu! :)
Coming back to God's eternal purpose, and now bringing the Church into the picture, see how the preeminence of Christ stands for all eternity, in the perspective of the Trinity. The Father will have a Family of sons and daughters whom He can call His own beloved, of which Christ is the Firstborn. The Son will have a Body, made up of believers and together they made up of the One New Man of which Christ is the Head. The Spirit will possess a holy Temple made of living stones for His indwelling, of which Christ is the Chief Cornerstone.
Do you now see Jesus Christ jumping out of every page from your New Testament? Now that we see the bigger picture and understand what we were saved for, with a deep appreciation of what we were saved from, would we race towards God's heart? Would we be that beautiful Bride of Christ? Will we fulfill His eternal purpose starting right here on earth? Do we care about the Ekklesia, as Christ loves His Bride? What is your response to Him? :)
Other Related Book Recommendation:
"Ultimate Intention” by Devern Fromke
"The Mystery of God: Christ All and in All” by Manfred Haller