Sunday, July 17, 2016

The eternal purpose - Ephesians 3:11-12

"This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him." (Ephesians 3:11-12)
Paul's calling as an apostle, the revealing of the mystery of Christ, and the making known of the manifold wisdom of God were all part of God's eternal plan which He accomplished through Jesus Christ. Our view of history is very short. We tend to see only on immediate history which includes, at best, the sum total of the memories of our own life. To us, history is what is happening to us right now. However, God sees our lives from outside of time. God has a much larger view of history; a view that extends back to when time was not yet created. God sees and purposes on a grand and large scale that takes all of history into account in a single glance. To us, history is a series of wins and losses, ups and downs, joys and disappointments, but to God it is a continual process of the expression of His purpose upon creation and especially upon mankind.

What is important to understand from all of this is that, no matter what happens or comes into our lives, God has a plan and a purpose to deal with it. Even when Adam and Eve witnessed the introduction of sin into God's creation, God already had a plan for its eradication. This can offer great comfort to out lives in that, when facing hard or difficult times, we can trust in the eternal purpose and wisdom of God and know that, no matter how bad it may be, God has a plan for our lives. How comforting to know that, even before the unfolding of our lives, God had a plan which tends to our good.

This eternal purpose was carried out in Christ, but what was this purpose? Paul gives us a hint when he says that we now have "boldness and confidence" to appear before God by faith. The purpose of God is, and has always been, to bring His creation into close relationship with Himself. We saw this in the Garden of Eden where it was said, "They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." (Genesis 3:8) This was not a one time event but a regular occurrence and experience for Adam and Eve until the day they sinned. Prior to sin, God fellowshiped with His creation and mankind was in intimate relationship with His God. However, after sin, thing changed and a wall went up between God and mankind. This is the wall that Paul refers to when he speaks of "the dividing wall... which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:14-15) and the reality that Isaiah describes when he says, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) However, in Christ, this wall is removed and we are once again invited into relationship with God.

God's eternal purpose is that we would be in right standing with God and in intimate relationship and fellowship with His spirit. This knowledge should give us boldness, not to run away from God, but to run to Him knowing that He will receive us and forgive us and welcome us back into His family. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us saying, "therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) Where ever you are, whatever your circumstances, run to God. Do not be shy or cowardly, but take boldness and confidence and come unto Him. If you do, you will find a welcoming God, one who from all eternity has been waiting for you and had destined you to be His child.

David Robison

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