By Eugene Garner
THE UNFAILING PURPOSE OF GOD
The unbroken chain of revelation concerning God's covenant-purpose is one of the greatest proofs of Divine Inspiration to be found in the Scriptures. Early in the history of mankind God announced His purpose for man to "fill and subdue" the earth; the prospect for the creature made in God's own image seemed almost unlimited in its glorious opportunities.
Created free, man chose to violate the will of his Maker. He sinned. By this act he plunged himself and all his posterity into spiritual bondage. Fellowship was broken with God and man was cast out of God's presence -- away from the highest and best things for which he was created. This loss has plagued the heart of mankind with a sense of emptiness, aimlessness and hopelessness that will never be fully satisfied until he is restored to the sphere of life, and the position of blessedness, for which he was made.
God was not satisfied to abandon the masterpiece of His handiwork. He purposed and promised to redeem mankind -- restoring him to the position from which he had fallen. This plan was carefully outlined and progressively unfolded in the various covenants that God made to men. According to this outline, He purposed to work through an elect agent:
- An individual, through whom all nations would be blessed -- Abraham.
- A Family -- Jacob.
- A Covenant Nation -- Israel.
- His Own Son -- made in the likeness of men.
- Calling the nation to repentance.
- Forming a new Israel -- a spiritual people.
- Suffering as a Divine Substitute for sinners.
- A Living, Spiritual Organism -- His body, the church.
I. THE SAINTS IN EVERY AGE HAVE EXPRESSED AN ASSURANCE OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS COVENANT-PURPOSE -- an assurance, based on past experience, that His Word will not fail, (Psa. 105; 106:45; 111:5, 9; Isa. 55:11; Dan. 9:12; Luke 1:71-72; 21:33).
- ABEL, IN OFFERING, BY FAITH, AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE, (Gen. 4:4; Heb. 11:4).
- ABRAHAM, IN THE OFFERING OF ISAAC ON MT. MORIAH, (Gen. 22:1-18; Heb. 11:17).
- ISAAC, IN CONFIRMING THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT TO JACOB, (Gen. 28:3-4).
- JACOB, IN BLESSING THE SONS OF JOSEPH, (Gen. 48:15-16; Heb, 11:21).
- MOSES, IN HIS COUNSEL TO JOSHUA AND ALL ISRAEL, (Deut. 31:6-8; also see: Heb. 11:24-26).
- JOSHUA, ON THE DAY OF HIS DEATH, (Josh. 23:14).
- DAVID, IN COMMISSIONING SOLOMON, HIS SON, (II Chron. 28:20).
- SOLOMON, AT THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE, (I Kings 8:56).
- THE PROPHETS, IN CALLING THE COVENANT NATION TO REPENTANCE AND FIDELITY, (Psa. 105:8; Isa. 25; 55:8-11; Jer. 9:23-24; Lam. 3:22-23.
- PAUL CONSTANTLY REMINDED THE SAINTS OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PURPOSE, (Rom. 8:28; 9:11; I Cor. 1:9; 3:11; Tit. 1:9).
- AND JESUS STRESSED THE FACT THAT THE WORD OF GOD "CANNOT BE BROKEN," (Jn. 10:35; Matt. 5:17-18).
"Not one single word of His good promise failed;
Always has His grace and goodness for my need availed:
So I rest in Him secure, knowing that His word is sure;
Not one single word of His good promise failed."
-T. 0. Chisholm, "Not One Word Has Failed"
(Words and Music Copyrighted, The Rodehaver Co., Owner)
Used by Permission
II. "EVERY PURPOSE OF THE LORD SHALL BE PERFORMED . ." (Jer. 51:29).
It is important to understand that there is a vast difference between God's PURPOSE, on one hand, and the METHOD whereby He effects the fulfillment of that purpose, on the other hand. God changes His way, but never His purpose.
- It was His purpose that Israel learn to fully trust Him for their safe establishment in the land of Promise. The way of the wilderness wandering was His method of teaching the second generation their own frailty, and the utter untrustworthiness of their own hearts, after their fathers had sinned away their day of opportunity.
- He purposed to teach His people the folly of bowing down to idols; since they would not learn the lesson in Hebrew, His method was to teach it to them in Chaldee -- thus, the Babylonian captivity.
- He purposed that the nation should repent and receive her true Messiah-King; when He was rejected and crucified, the nation was cut off from the covenant and the despised Gentiles grafted in.
- This would provoke them to jealousy.
- Would show the exceeding greatness of Divine mercy and grace.
- This would so demonstrate the trustworthiness of God's Son that at His return, the nation shall say: "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!"
- GOD IS WELL ABLE TO FULFILL WHAT HE HAS PURPOSED, (Isa. 45:10-21; 46:9-11; Psa. 33:10-12; Eph. 3:20; Heb. 6:17).
- REBELLION WILL NOT CHANGE HIS PURPOSE.
- The first Adam might fail -- losing the immediate fellowship of God, becoming the slave of sin, and bringing untold misery on the race, (Rom. 5:12; cf. Gen. 3:1-7).
- The Second Adam will not fail; through Him will come redemption and restoration, (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 5:19-21).
- REDEMPTION of all that was lost in the Fall -- there usurped by the Devil, before whom the first man bowed in obedience.
(1) The Son of Man faced and triumphed over every temptation that is common to the race; then He gave His life a ransom for many, (Heb. 9:15-16; Matt. 4:1-11; 20:28; I Tim. 2:6).
(2) Only when covenant and prophecy are fulfilled will we be able to understand the glorious boon that is ours in Jesus as "the propitiation for our sins," (I John 2:1-2).
- RESTORATION -- the keynote of covenant, prophecy and promise -- is consistently held up as the goal toward which all things are moving.
(1) Restoration of mankind to Edenic innocence and purity; then the whole of material creation, now groaning and travailing under the weight of sin, will find relief from the bondage of corruption, (Act 3:19-21; Rom. 8:19-23).
(2) Restoration of Israel to the covenant, and to the land of promise, (Jer. 30:3-9; 33:15-17; Rom. 11:26-32).
(3) Restoration of the throne of David -- long cast down because of unrepented iniquity, (Amos 9:11; Acts 15:13-18).
- And God's purpose will be fulfilled without interfering with the freedom of man's will.
- FAILURE WILL NOT DISCOURAGE THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD'S PURPOSE.
- The covenant nation may prove unfaithful -- not willing that the despised Gentiles should be partakers of the promise, (Jer. 13:11; Psa. 81:11).
- Then God will fulfill His purpose by casting them aside and raising up a "holy nation" and "royal priesthood" with whom He will work His covenant-purpose; they will truly show forth His praise, (Jer. 7:13-16, 24; Eph. 1:12; I Pet. 2:9-10).
- The covenant people must understand that any deviation from a life of implicit trust in the covenant-God, and submission to Him as their absolute Lord, will end in failure; it will bring dishonor to God and loss to themselves, (Deut. 30:15-20).
- The failure of those with whom God has offered to share His blessedness, on certain conditions, does not make Him a failure; His purpose can be worked out in another WAY; He will not fail!
- OPPOSITION WILL NOT THWART THE ULTIMATE EXECUTION OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUS PURPOSE IN THE EARTH, (Psalm 2).
- The heathen may riot against it; they always have, (Psa. 46:6).
- The covenant people may be vain in their imaginations regarding it -- either in presumption or forgetfulness, (Num. 15:30-31; Isa. 29:15-16; 45:9-10; Jn. 8:33; Deut. 4:9, 23; Psa. 50:22-23).
- The high and mighty may counsel together in an effort to defeat it, (Psa. 74:23; 83:2-5; Acts 4:25-29; Matt. 12:14).
- Nevertheless, the kingly Son of Man will yet rule gloriously and universally from Mt. Zion, (I Sam. 2:10; Isa. 24:23).
- His possession of the Kingdom will be by conquest, (Psa. 72:4; 110:4-6; Isa. 2:10-22; Rev. 6:15-17; 19:11-21).
- This possession cannot possibly be fulfilled by evangelization.
- THE ILLUSION OF APPARENT DEFEAT, IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE, WILL NOT PREVENT THE ULTIMATE, OR IMMINENT TRIUMPH OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE.
- The Son of Man was crucified and buried, yet He arose victoriously, (Rom. 1:4; Eph. 1:19-23).
- Mockers and scoffers may ridicule the faith of God's elect, but the vindication of the faithful is near, (2 Pet. 3:3-7; Heb. 10:36-38).
- When temporarily delivered into the hands of the Beast, some may lose hope and despair -- thinking God has forgotten His covenant; such a foolish conclusion will be pre-mature; it is always wise to "wait on the Lord," (Rev. 13:7-8; Psa. 37:7-9; Dan. 7:21, 25).
- The Judge of all the earth will do right; He will ascend His earthly throne to establish justice and equity in the earth, (Isa. 11:1-5).
- The demonic powers of the heavens will be broken when the Son of Man descends from heaven in power and great glory, (Matt. 24:29-30).
- Then the kingdom, power and dominion under the whole heavens will be possessed and exercised by the saints of the Most High, (Dan. 7:18, 21-22, 26-27).
- THOUGH UNBELIEF MAY DELAY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUS RULE IN THE EARTH, IT CANNOT CHANGE HIS PURPOSE.
- The offer of the Kingdom to Israel, at Christ's first advent, was an authentic, sincere and genuine offer -- conditioned on the nation's repentance; they rejected it, saying: "We will not have this man to rule over us," (Luke 19:14, 27).
- Because of their rebellion and unbelief, the establishment of the Kingdom was delayed while God raises up a people who will willingly submit themselves under His benevolent authority, (Lk. 19: 11-13; Matt. 23:37; Psa. 110:1-3).
III. THE UNIVERSAL AND AGE-LONG PRAYER OF THE SAINTS WILL SOON BE ANSWERED.
- JESUS TAUGHT HIS DISCIPLES TO PRAY: "THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN," (Matt. 6:10).
- This was AFTER He had begun to "call out" men to follow Him -- hence, after the establishment of His church.
- And to the church (His "little flock") He announced the good news of the Father's pleasure to give them the Kingdom -- NOT to make them one, (Luke 12:32).
- THE TRIUMPH OF GOD'S WILL ON EARTH WILL NOT BE ACCOMPLISHED BY HUMAN INGENUITY; NO HUMAN SCHEME, EFFORT OR ORGANIZATION WILL BRING IN THE KINGDOM.
- It is not within the power of men to "take the world for Christ" or to make it a fit place for His reign.
- We may, by lives of faithful and devoted service, assist in reaching the allotted number of Gentiles for His kingdom; this may "hasten His appearing," (Rom. 11:25; 2 Pet. 3:12).
- But the rule of God on earth will never be willingly accepted by the plurality of men; it must be established by supernatural intervention, as certainly as that same power first established the covenant nation in the land of promise, (Rev. 11:15-18).
- THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRIST'S RIGHTEOUS KINGDOM ON EARTH WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED BY DIVINE INTERVENTION.
- God is not indifferent to the earthly state of affairs, (Psa. 11:4; 14:2; 33:18-19; 34:15-16).
- He is longsuffering -- not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, (2 Pet, 3:9; Ezek. 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4).
- He is recording the thoughts, attitudes and actions of men; one day these must be faced in judgment, (Matt. 11:20-24; 12:36; Acts 17:31; Rom. 14:12).
- At the time appointed He will call a halt to the sinful processes of disintegration and destruction, (2 Pet. 3:9-10).
- The "day and hour" in which this will be accomplished is known only to God Himself; it will be accomplished, (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13 :28-33).
- At Christ's promised return the man of sin will be destroyed by the brilliance of His body-presence, (2 Thes. 2:8).
- This is the coming for which all saints are commanded to watch.
- This is a coming "in power and great glory" to assume His kingly throne and rule with a rod of iron.
- Until such a time He is commanded to remain at the Father's right hand; He still does not disobey His Father, (Matt. 22:44; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 20:43; Acts 2:35; Heb. 1:13; 10:13).
- Jesus Christ will be enthroned to reign from the re-established throne of His father, David, for a period of 1,000 years on this earth, (Isa. 32:1; Rev. 20:4).
- The wrath of God will be poured out upon all who rebel against His glorious sovereignty; this will take place AFTER the reign of Christ has begun and while the faithful are enjoying the blessed fellowship of their Divine Lord on this earth, (Rev. 11:18). Every eschatological passage in the New Testament easily harmonizes with the "order" of this passage unless one approaches it with a bias toward another "order" that is not found clearly stated in the Scriptures.
- Satan himself will be bound for a thousand years -- cast into the bottomless pit, (Rev. 20:2-3).
- Such as have suffered with Christ will be permitted to reign with Him, (Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10; Rom. 8:17-18).
- At His glorious appearing the nation of Israel, on the basis of their repentance and acceptance of Jesus as their true Messiah, will be brought back into the covenant, (Zech. 12:10; 13:1; Ezek. 20:37).
- They will be chief among the nations in the Kingdom of God, (Ezek, 36:24-38; Zech. 10:6; Mic. 4:6-8: 7:15-20; Zeph. 3:14-20; Isa. 61:8-11; Zech. 8:23; Isa. 49:22-23; 66:12; 60:11-12; Zech. 14:12-19).
- The twelve apostles of Christ will exercise their rule over the twelve tribes of Israel during the millennium, (Luke 22:28-30).
- George N. H. Peters has suggested that the ability of Jesus Christ to meet all the requirements of such a universal reign was adequately demonstrated, in every area of human experience, by the miracles He performed while on earth.
- His power is superior to that of death; this was evidenced in His own resurrection and in His raising of three others from the dead, (Jn. 10:17-18; Lk. 8:41-56; 7:11-17; Jn. 11:38-46.)
(1) The daughter of Jairus was just dead.
(2) The widow's son was on the way to his burial.
(3) The body of Lazarus had already undergone four days of decay in the corrupting embrace of the tomb.
- His power was superior to disease, (Matt. 8:2-3; Mk. 2:1-12; Jn. 5:1-47; Lk. 6:6-11; 13:10-21).
- His power restores body and mind to perfect wholeness, (Matt. 11:4-5; Jn. 9; 5:16; Mk. 7:31-37; 5:15).
- His power supplies a table for His people -- even in the presence of their enemies, (Psa. 23:5; Jn. 6:1-13).
- His power controls the elements of the natural world, (Lk. 5:1-11; Jn. 21:6-8; Lk. 8:22-25; Mk. 6:47-52; Matt. 17:24-27; 21:18-20; Jn. 2:1-12).
- His authority is supreme over the spiritual world, as evidenced by:
(1) His healing of the demonic and casting out a legion of devils, (Lk. 4:31-37; 8:26-39).
(2) His transfiguration, (Matt. 17:1-9).
(3) His own resurrection and ascension into heaven, (Jn. 10:17-18; Rom, 1:4; Jn. 14:1-3; 16:7; Acts 2:32-33).
- All the miraculous works of Jesus Christ were designed to strengthen our faith, enliven our hope and cheer our hearts as we anticipate the coming of our glorious King and the wonderful transformation that His coming will bring to this earth, (Acts 3:12-21).
IV. EVERY PROVISION OF THE COVENANTS WILL BE FINALLY AND PERFECTLY FULFILLED IN THE COMING AND KINGDOM OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
- THE AUTHORITY OF UNIVERSAL DOMINION, GIVEN IN THE EDENIC COVENANT, BUT LOST IN THE FALL, WILL BE REGAINED AND EXERCISED BY JESUS CHRIST -- The Second Adam, (I Cor. 15:22, 45, 47).
- THE CURSE OF THE ADAMIC COVENANT WILL BE LIFTED FROM MANKIND AND ALL CREATION BY THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST -- the "seed of the woman" Who shall soon crush the serpent's head, (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20).
- RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT WILL BE EXERCISED IN THE EARTH -- God's order being fully established, (Isa. 9:6-7; 32:1-4; Dan. 2:44).
- THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL BLESSING AND INHERITANCE, MADE TO ABRAHAM AND HIS SEED, WILL BE ABUNDANTLY FULFILLED IN THE COMING KINGDOM OF CHRIST, (Matt. 5:5; Dan. 7:27; Rev. 11:15; 12:10; 2 Tim. 2:12).
- THOUGH THE COVENANT NATION FELL SHORT OF REALIZING THE FULL BLESSINGS OF THE MOSAIC COVENANT, THEY WILL BE RESTORED TO THE POSITION OF COVENANT-FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AT CHRIST'S RETURN; THEN THEY WILL SUBMIT THEMSELVES TO HIS RIGHTEOUS RULE AND EXPERIENCE THE BLESSEDNESS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN THEIRS CENTURIES AGO - but for their unbelief.
- THE EVERLASTING PRIESTHOOD, ENVISIONED IN THE LEVITICAL COVENANT, WILL BE A BLESSING TO ALL NATIONS WHEN MESSIAH SITS ENTHRONED AS A KING-PRIEST; a nation of king-priests, sharing His nature and glory, shall administer righteous judgment and dispense indescribable blessings to all peoples.
- THE THRONE OF DAVID, LONG CAST DOWN, WILL BE BUILT UP; from that throne King Jesus will rule gloriously.
- THE BLESSINGS OF THE NEW COVENANT, INCHOATELY BESTOWED ON THE CHURCH DURING CHRIST'S EARTHLY MINISTRY, WILL BE MANIFESTED IN ALL THEIR RADIANT BEAUTY WHEN THE SPIRIT IS POURED UPON ALL FLESH; when the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
- WHEN CHRIST IS KING OF THE EARTH HE WILL MANIFEST THE FULLNESS OF THE COVENANT-GOD AS ONE WHO IS FAITHFUL:
- To Himself, (Ezek. 36:22; Rom. 11:28).
- To His People, (Lev. 26:42-45).
- To His Justice.
- WHEN, AT THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM, REDEMPTION IS COMPLETE, THEN THE KINGDOM WILL BE DELIVERED UP TO THE FATHER, (I Cor. 15:24-28); a new order will be established; everything will be new, wonderful and marvelous!
- There will be no more sin, sickness, separation, rebellion and death.
- The purpose of God will be accomplished; man, exercising perfect liberty will have joyfully aligned himself with the revealed will of his, infinitely wise, Creator.
- And, with unlimited opportunities, he will have only begun to live.
V. THE MOST IMPORTANT IMPLICATION OF THE COVENANT-REVELATION IS THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF MEETING GOD'S CONDITION ENTERING INTO THE FULL ENJOYMENT OF COVENANT-BLESSINGS IN HIS COMING KINGDOM.
- MAN MUST ACCEPT THE PLACE OF A CREATURE AND CEASE TO STRIVE WITH HIS MAKER, (Rom. 9:19-21).
- MAN MUST RECOGNIZE HIS JUST CONDEMNATION AS A SINNER AND ACCEPT GOD'S PROVISION FOR HIS DELIVERANCE AND CLEANSING, (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Gal. 1:3-5).
- MAN MUST ACCEPT THE YOKE OF A SERVANT AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE RIGHTFUL LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST OVER HIS WHOLE LIFE, (Lk. 9:23-26; Jn. 12:26; Acts 9:6; Phil. 2:7).
- MAN MUST WILLINGLY TAKE HIS PLACE AS A WORSHIPPER AND OFFER UNTO GOD THE JOYFUL SACRIFICE OF PRAISE, (Jn. 4:23-24; Acts 24:14; I Cor. 8:5-6; Eph. 1:12; 3:14; 5:19; Heb. 13:10, 15; I Pet. 2:5).
How great is the power of God! How faithful are His promises! How stedfast is His love; and how unchangeable His purpose! The God of heaven and earth; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will not fail in anything He has purposed. And His purpose is glorious. To suggest the vast sweep of His covenant purpose, as progressively revealed to mankind in the Scriptures, has been the purpose of this series of lessons.
One's attitude toward, and relationship to, God's covenant-purpose is of vast and eternal importance. Divine mercy has opened the door whereby men may enter into the fullness of Divine fellowship and blessing- even to sharing the divine nature. That door is open to all who will submit themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There is no other way of entrance. Faith in Him, and a faith-yielding to His benevolent Lordship, is not an optional matter; it is essential.
It is quite possible for one to understand a great deal about God's purpose, intellectually, and never enter into it -- never be blessed by it. Knowledge, if alone, tends to lift one up in pride; it may become an avenue of positive sin, (John 13:17; Jas. 4:17). Only as our hearts are moved, through understanding, to a loving and joyful obedience may we have any legitimate expectation of sharing the fullness of Christ in His coming reign. Nor should this be difficult. He counted the cost of our salvation and decided it was worthwhile; the price His love was willing to pay may still be read at Calvary. And if our hearts are moved by a reciprocating love (which only ungrateful and calloused hearts will deny Him), then we will not find His commandments grievous. His yoke is made easy to all whose adoring eyes are stayed on Him.
May these lessons help to arouse in many hearts a sincere desire to enter the fullness of joy in Christ's Kingdom -- even now experiencing the righteousness, joy and peace of the Spirit as foretastes of that coming age. But let no one, and no organized people, lay any exclusive claim to these blessings; they are to be shared. The Good News of salvation that is full and free must be heralded to the ends of the earth. Let us faithfully tell the wonderful story, and urge upon others the need of submitting themselves under the yoke of Christ's service. Wherever faith is motivated by a love that is sincere, IT WILL FIND A WAY.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
- How would you summarize God's purpose to work through an elect agent?
- How many testimonies can you recall from Old Testament saints who spoke of God's faithfulness to His covenant-purpose?
- What about New Testament testimonies?
- How would you distinguish between God's "purpose" and His "way"?
- What two things will be accomplished through the Second Adam?
- Will the failure of an elect agent discourage the fulfillment of God's-purpose?
- Can any confederation of nations prevent the establishment of Christ's Kingdom on earth?
- Will the discouragement of God's people prevent the triumph of His program?
- What age-long prayer of the saints will soon be answered?
- Will human plans or organizations be a help to Christ in setting up His Kingdom?
- Is God indifferent to things on earth today?
- Is God keeping a record that men must face in judgment?
- For how long has Christ been commanded to sit at His Father's right hand?
- When will the wrath of God be poured out -- before or after the coming of Christ in power and great glory?
- What is the order of event set forth in Revelation 11?
- What will happen to the Jews when Christ returns?
- What important lesson was taught by the miracles of Jesus?
- How may the coming and Kingdom of Christ be related to the various covenants thhat God has made to men?
- What change will take place, in the direction of affairs, at the end of the millennium?
- What is the most important implication of the covenant-revelation?
- Is your present life one that is regulated by the principles of Christ's Kingdom?
- Are you actively engaged in recruiting others for the glorious service and Kingdom of Christ?