The Eternal Purpose

By J. L. Leifeste

We often wish that good things would last forever. Everything eventually seems to wear out or to cease. We desire that the bad or unpleasant things would end, but we want the good and pleasant things to last as long as possible. Many people set their goals and desires upon the things of this world. Such things are unreliable because they will not last. As examples, see Prov. 27:24; Luke 12:13-21; 16:14-31; and 1 Tim. 6:17. However, each of us can have something now that is better than anything else upon this earth. More importantly, it will last forever. It is the result of God’s eternal purpose. It is spiritual salvation through the gospel of Christ.

In Ephesians 3:8-11, Paul wrote these words: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When God created all things (Gen. 1:1 - 2:25; Prov. 3:19), He gave Adam and Eve (the first man and woman) a free will. They had — and we have — the choice to do either good or evil (Deut. 30:19; 1 Tim. 2:4). Since God is love, He did this out of love for us (1 John 3:1; 4:16). It is from His divine love and goodness that He gives us the option to love and worship Him from our own heart, rather than designing us to perform thoughtless, automatic acts of “worship.”

Possessing free will, each of us chooses to sin (Genesis 3; Rom. 1:20-21; 3:10, 23). Our sins separate us from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Eph. 2:12; 4:18). The harmful nature of sin and the reality of God’s justice require that sin be punished by death (Ezek. 18:4; 33:13; Rom. 6:23). Adam’s sin brought physical death into the world (Rom. 5:12). Yet, the sins committed by each of us produce our personal, spiritual death (Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14-15).

God knows all things (Job 37:16; Ps. 139:14-16; 147:4-5; Rom. 11:33-36). Before He created the world, God loved us, knew that each of us would sin, knew that we would need to be saved from spiritual death, and made a plan (purpose) by which we could be saved. (1 Chron. 28:9; Isa. 46:9-10; 1 Pet. 1:2).

To understand God’s eternal plan, we must study and compare the Old Testament and New Testament portions of the Bible (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Jn. 5:11-13).

We begin by turning to the Old Testament. There we find that God made promises regarding His plan. Genesis 3:15 shows His first prophecy of a Savior (her Seed) for mankind. And from that time onward, many promises and prophecies were made for the preparation and completion of His plan (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:12-17; 18:10; 21:12; Ex. 24:1-8; Deut. 4:13; 5:1-21; 2 Sam. 7:12-17; Ps. 89:3-4; 110; Isa. 55:3-4; Jer. 31:31-34; Dan. 2:26-45; Hosea 1:10; 2:23).

Some of His promises concern both physical and spiritual results. For example, “blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:17-18). This refers to Abraham’s physical descendants, the Jews, as well as Abraham’s spiritual “heirs,” Christians: “so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law [Jews], but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham [Jews and non-Jews who become Christians], who is the father of us that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Rom. 4:16, 18). The apostle Paul reminded Christians in Galatia, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:26-29).

Another example is God’s prophecy in Daniel chapter two concerning four earthly kingdoms and the spiritual kingdom of Christ. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed...and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). All of God’s promises and prophecies throughout history have been part of His eternal purpose. Since God is faithful and cannot lie, His prophecies are fulfilled and His promises are kept (1 Cor. 1:9; Titus 1:1-3; Heb. 10:23; Acts 3:18; 13:16-41).

However, a complete understanding of God’s plan was not known by any man until the gospel revelation by Christ’s apostles (Acts 2:16-33; Rom. 16:25-27; 1 Cor. 2:7-13; Eph. 1:7-10; 3:1-7; 1 Pet. 1:10-12). The New Testament reveals that Christ is the fulfillment of God’s great plan, which had been a mystery (Acts 3:18; Gal. 3:8, 15-29; 2 Tim. 1:9-10; Heb. 8:6-12; 1 Pet. 1:18-21; 1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 13:8).

The death of Christ upon the cross was the sacrifice for our sins (Rom. 5:8-11; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Col. 1:13-14, 19-23; Heb. 2:9; 9:11-15, 26; 10:14-22; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). This is the essence, or primary part, of God’s eternal purpose.

God is perfect in His love and righteousness. Through His eternal plan, justice is accomplished, and yet, men and women can also be justified — have spiritual life: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24-26).

Christ was one with God before creation, before Christ was born of a virgin in Bethlehem (Isa. 9:6; Jn. 1:1-14; 17:5, 24; 20:28; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Jn. 5:20; Rev. 22:13; also see Ex. 3:14 and Jn. 8:58). Christ was divine and sinless (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22). Out of God’s love for us, and through His design, God settled our debts for our sins when He gave His Son to suffer the death penalty that each of us deserved (Jn. 3:16-17; 17:2-3; Acts 20:28). “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).

To receive the saving benefit of God’s plan, we must fully accept His plan. God calls us according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life (Jn. 6:68). By His gospel Jesus invites (calls) every man and woman (Rom. 1:16-17; 2 Pet. 3:9; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1Tim. 2:14; 6:12; Mk. 16:15-16). To be saved from our sins and receive eternal life, a sinner must yield to the plan and participate in the eternal purpose (Jn. 10:27-28). Fully obeying the gospel from our heart is necessary (Heb. 5:9; 10:26-31; 2 Thess. 1:8-9; Rom. 6:17-18). The sinner must believe the gospel, repent of his sins, confess his faith in Christ, and be baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 17:30; 8:35-39; 22:16; Rom. 10:10; 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:14). After we become Christians, we must remain faithful (Jn. 8:51; Col. 1:21-23; 1 Pet. 1:13-16; 2 Pet. 1:10-11; 1 Jn. 1:5-7; Jude 20-21; Rev. 2:10). “...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12).

All of the things which God has done for mankind have been in accordance with His eternal purpose. He offers and promises eternal life which is in Christ (Jn. 5:24-27; 11:25-26; Rom. 6:22; 1 Jn. 2:25; 5:20). An eternity of spiritual death, which is eternal punishment, awaits those who do not accept God’s entire plan (Matt. 25:41, 46; 2 Thess. 1:7-10). God has revealed that plan, and we can understand it. We have the freedom of choice to accept it by obeying the gospel of Christ, or to reject it.

Out of everything that is available to us, we can have confidence that the best thing, eternal salvation in Christ, will not wear out or cease (Deut. 7:9-10; Eph. 3:12). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). His purpose is eternal.

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).