The Ageless Purpose of God
To expand God’s community in Love is the ageless purpose of God.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.1 Cor 15:19 (ESV)
God Dwells Outside Time and Space
In a previous article, I postulated that God dwells outside of time. Fundamentally, this appears to be the only possible explanation for much of what has been revealed to us about God: that He has always been, will always be, that he knows the beginning from the end and so on.
Science speaks of the relationship between space and time. Space-time is a mathematical model that fuses time and the three dimensions of space (height, length and breadth). Albert Einstein linked the two in his special relativity postulate as a logical consequence of the fact that the laws of physics are invariant in all inertial systems and the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers. (thanks, Wikipedia, for the summary!)
If God exists outside of space (as the Creator of Space) it follows that He likewise exists out of Time. Therefore, you can’t point to a section of sky and say, “ah… there is Heaven!”. Heaven as God’s dwelling place is outside of Space (not another dimension but something other and unrelated altogether, in my view).
Jesus was with God from the Beginning
If this theory (not particularly dealt with in Scripture but only hinted at) is correct, then those who dwell in Heaven with God likewise dwell outside of time. Therefore, I think it quite reasonable that there is a sense that Jesus was with God in the beginning in a real sense as well as in a figurative sense. Consider Jn 1:1-14 for an example of the figurative but that could also be interpreted in the literal sense as well.
Christ Dwells Outside Time with God
At the time that Jesus ascended to his Father in heaven, he stepped outside of time. Of course, it is nigh on impossible to bend your brain around the implications of this and I think this is why Scripture is largely silent on this theme of timelessness. In stepping outside of time with God, Jesus at that moment became privy to, in essence, something we might as well call “everywhen and everywhere” as God Himself and His angels are.
In some sense, he furthered the ageless purpose of God in becoming part of the divine community on a more profound level.
Peter tells us that the Angels LOVE to look into the drama of sin and redemption and watch the work of God’s salvation unfold in history and in the lives of the Saints! (1Pet 1:12) (discussed by John Piper)
This issue is fundamental to understanding the ageless purpose of the God, Most High.
God’s Temporal Purpose
You see that when people seek in scripture to understand the purpose of God, they seem to wind up at Num 14:21 “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the Glory of God, even as the waters cover the sea” or Hab 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea”.
The Ageless Purpose
In some sense, this is correct, this is the TEMPORAL purpose of God, but with the earth. It IS His purpose in Christ to saturate the earth in His Glory. At the moment this purpose is fulfilled, it is also supplanted. So, in 1 Cor 15:20-28, the Apostle Paul gives us the ageless purpose of God.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.1 Cor 15:19-28 (ESV)
Jesus hands a perfected and beautiful body to God at the end of the millennium and God becomes “all in all”. Jesus destroys death, finally and completely, as the last authority and power and rule under his feet.
God’s Ageless Purpose
In this statement, we find God’s purpose.
At the beginning when God purposed to create the earth, He had a wonderful purpose. It did not involve the earth save as a temporary place to for a creation as a means to an end. God’s sole intention was to expand the community that at that time consisted of Him, His Angels working His will and the foreshadowing of a Son in His thoughts. (1 Jn 1:1-14)
God’s purpose was to expand His community in a bride for His son. That bride and His son would be a corporate community with Jesus as head and the bride as body and together we would all be part of a community together outside of time, outside of the petty constraints of this space with all its sorrows and evil.
The Love Story of the Bible
God’s purpose appears throughout Scripture as a love story and repeats it time and time again.
Whilst I was aware of this dimly, it took my recent reading of Frank Viola’s “From Eternity to Here” to gel these thoughts together. I can’t recommend Frank’s book too strongly. It really annunciates God’s purpose to expand God’s community in love.
But there are others who have written powerfully of this love story.
John Eldredge in Wild at Heart exclaims:
And after years of hearing the heart-cry of women, I am convinced beyond a doubt of this: God wants to be loved. He wants to be a priority to someone. How could we have missed this? From cover to cover, from beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart is, “Why won’t you choose Me?” It is amazing to me how humble, how vulnerable God is on this point. “You will . . . find me,” says the Lord, “when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). In other words, “Look for me, pursue me — I want you to pursue me.” Amazing. As Tozer says, “God waits to be wanted.”Wild at Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secrets of a Man’s Soul (John Eldredge)
The heartfelt purpose of God, expressed in scripture from cover to cover is His desire for us to want, love and desire Him above all others. John also points out in “The Sacred Romance” that “the point is the love story. We live in a love story in the midst of war.”
Christ did not die to forgive sinners who do not value God
John Piper in “God is the Gospel” comments in somewhat more prosaic form:
Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.God is the Gospel (John Piper)
And lastly, Frank’s wonderful words:
She is flawless. In the eyes of God, she is every bit as holy and as pure as Christ. Recall that when Eve made her appearance on earth, she was perfect, spotless, and without blame. (She made her appearance before the fall.) In the same way, the bride of Christ is flawless. She was in Christ before creation and before the fall (Eph 1:4). Thus she was extracted from ultimate perfection, the Son of God Himself. Adam could not give his heart to that which was less than himself. And Jesus Christ cannot give Himself in marital love to anything that is less than Himself. Therefore, she is as pure as He is, and she cannot be condemned.From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God (Frank Viola)
The Flawless Perfect Bride in the Ageless Purpose of God
God has created in the Ecclesia, the flawless, perfect bride of Jesus, that He Himself created and desires greatly as a bride for His son.
In Eve, we see the prototypical bride. Eve captivates Adam, mesmerises him and he has eyes for no other. God creates her separately to the rest of creation from Adam’s side. John Eldredge says (poetically) that this creates a pain for the man whenever she is away from his side.
This woman is flawless (as the prototype of all women, she could not help but be perfection personified for the man).
Eve becomes the mother of all living, she is a lifegiver. As a type of the Bride to come, she exemplifies the fact that in her is life burgeoning forth.
As the Bible begins with a man and a woman, so it ends with one (Rev 21:9). The angel comes to John and tells him “Come, I will show you the Bride…” and he takes John to see the new Jerusalem!
New Heavens and New Earth
Both the Bride and the City of Zion, New Jerusalem represent the Ecclesia of Christ. The Body of Christ (the Ecclesia) is all about worship itself and has no temple for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. At that time, God’s ecclesia becomes at one with God and His Son, combining in an eternal community. We therefore expand God’s community in love.
There is then a new heavens and a new earth with all the former things forgotten (Isa 65:17).
Peter tells us in 2 Pet 3:9-13 that we wait for this new heavens and new earth because the old shall be set on fire and dissolved. In figure, we wait for the day when the old political and earthly powers will be destroyed with fire and replaced with the divine order of the new age.
Ultimately, God will fulfil His temporal purpose and we will with Him, embark on the Ageless Purpose of God. God will bring the flawless, matchless beauty of the Body of Christ into oneness with Him.
Embodying the Purpose of God
In this life, the principal, indeed only, mode of the Christian is to express both individually and as part of the corporate body of Jesus, the life and salvation that dwells in us.
We express the life and salvation that dwells in us in every action and thought as well as in our words.
To live as Jesus is not to seek out and denounce error but to be ready to confront and conquer evil. It is to be swift to love and compassion and slow to anger, it is to express light with no darkness at all and to seek to be life givers at every turn.
Personal holiness is not censorious but rather permissive of only those things in our life that further the purpose of God. Not only the temporal purpose of filling the earth with His glory, but also the ageless, matchless and joyful purpose of God… to expand His community in love in the bride of Christ.
Living in His love and joy is the purest expression of Gods life within us. It takes bravery and determination and the practice of a lifetime.
God took Eve from the side of Adam in the beginning. Adam recognised that he was complete and whole in Eve. She was the most beautiful woman, God’s masterpiece and Adam had eyes only for her. He was smitten with her and she with him.
This prefigures the beautiful relationship of Jesus and his bride that is also prefigured in Isaac and Rebecca and many other love stories we read in Scripture. The theme has been repeated down the ages with many men and women who do not see flaws in each other but rather transcendent beauty and joyful love. Marriages of heart and mind.
To Expand God’s Community in Love
The eternal purpose of God can be clearly seen in this. God’s purpose is to expand His community in Love. The purpose of God is to find a bride for His Son.
The bride He has selected is beautiful, captivating and has fully captured the heart of Jesus.
We form part of that bride and our Lord can’t wait for the marriage supper.
Now there is something to desire deeply.
We will be startled by those we know when we sit with them at the table of the Lord. We will exclaim, “Look at you! You are glorious!”
You wonder what God’s purpose is? Now you know!