Purpose and Direction for Life: October 2008

Table of Contents

1. Satisfied Purpose
2. My Purpose, Not God’s
3. Purpose and Direction in Life
4. Life Without Purpose
5. Understanding God’s Purposes
6. Purpose in the Christian’s Life
7. God’s Own Purpose
8. Thy Latter End
9. Establishing Priorities
10. Daniel’s Purpose of Heart
11. The Center of God’s Purposes
12. The Purpose of God

Satisfied Purpose

With purpose of heart they did cleave unto the Lord, and He revealed Himself to both according to their need. No heart ever really desired to know the Person of the Lord to which He did not reveal Himself. And no soul ever really desired to know the work of the Lord who will not stand in the full credit of that finished work, before the throne of God, forever. Every desire of the heart towards Christ is of the Holy Spirit and, in due time, shall be fully satisfied. The soul that has got a glimpse of Christ will ever after desire to know more of Him. Nothing will ever satisfy it but Himself.
Things New and Old, 4:86

My Purpose, Not God’s

How often do we vainly imagine and confidently assert that the cloud is moving in that very direction which suits the bent of our inclination! We want to do a certain thing or make a certain movement, and we seek to persuade ourselves that our will is the will of God.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).
“According to His pleasure
Which He purposed in Himself”  .  .  .
Inheritance and blessings —
Unfathomable wealth! But
A life lived for His glory
Must be lived outside of self.
I wish for some direction;
Does my pathway seem a maze?
An upward glance connects me
With His knowing, loving gaze;
His purpose for my life’s plan,
My moments and my days.
A life that’s truly blended
With His vast, eternal plan
Will never lack in purpose
Or make a discouraged man;
I’ll see it all from God’s side  .  .  .  
Wondrous panoramic span!
The Resurrection

Purpose and Direction in Life

“Of Him, and through Him, and for Him [are] all things: to Him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36 JND). Another has said, “The glory of God is the object and end of all God’s dealings with men.” We exist for God’s glory. Our place is to rejoice in and submit to His purposes concerning us. When we confess Jesus as Lord, we acknowledge that our Lord is supreme in His place over us and we are wholly for Him and His purposes.
When Jesus became man, He took man’s proper place of dependence and obedience upon God and His purposes. As man, His place and purpose in life was to do the will of the Father, and by doing so He could say at the end of His life, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). His purpose was to glorify God and His direction was to do the work the Father gave Him to do.
Like our Lord, our purpose in life is to live for the glory of God and our direction for life is to do the work He gives us to do. Paul summed up the matter in seven words: “For to me to live is Christ.” If we try to live for God and ourselves at the same time, then Scripture says of us, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). May we, by God’s grace, live single-minded lives, cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart.
Theme of the Issue

Life Without Purpose

For Christians to have a pointless, purposeless kind of life is dreadful. We should have the steady pursuit of purpose that characterizes those who go forth to meet the Bridegroom. This should characterize the springs and motives of our ways. It will give a heavenly complexion to all we do. When a man goes to meet a bosom friend, he steadily pursues his journey till they meet. He looks out on the way for his friend, but nothing stops his course; through rough and smooth, hill and dale, he pursues his way. The fixed purpose of his heart is that nothing shall stop him till he meets the one he has gone forth to meet. And so it is with us. When the Lord is before us, as the bright and blessed Object, which, by grace, has made everything else seem poor, how can we but pursue our heavenward course, seeking to please Him, to honor Him, to suffer for His sake, and to go forth to meet Him? In pursuing such a course, there will be the denying of ungodliness and worldly lust; there may be the loss of friends and things of this life, the tongue of slander may be used against us, or the finger of scorn pointed at us, but when there is true purpose of heart cleaving to the Lord, we shall be unmoved by these things and we shall lay aside every impediment and overcome every obstacle which may stand in the way of our going forth to meet Him. When the Lord Himself has His rightful place in our hearts, we willingly pursue our purpose at all costs.
Things New and Old, 24:87

Understanding God’s Purposes

The great interpreter and elucidation of all God’s purposes is our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is according as we apprehend, know and have common feeling with Him that we are able to comprehend what the counsels and ways of God are tending towards, for God will glorify Him and set Him forth in full manifestation in all the excellencies which are now partially and feebly apprehended by us, but in proportion as it is apprehended are we able to comprehend His ways and works and to be practically in common feeling — in fellowship —with Him. This is a partaking of His mind, as it were, an understanding and responding to it, and a sharing of His judgment of things.
From The Christian Friend

Purpose in the Christian’s Life

Today’s world is very complicated. The various choices placed before us can make us spin and make us wonder in which direction we should be heading. Bookstores offer best sellers on purposeful living, some from a natural point of view, others from a Christian perspective. People are obviously interested, for sales are into the millions. However, many today seem to live aimlessly, without any real objective. Their mentality seems to be, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). But how much better it is to be able to say, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).
An Integral Part of Living
In the Word of God, and especially in the New Testament, we see clearly that purpose was an integral part of the character of those who were saved and walking to please the Lord. This sense of purpose was necessary both for young converts and for those who had been walking with the Lord for some time. When Gentile believers were first saved in Antioch, Barnabas “exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23). At the end of his life, Paul could remind Timothy of his “doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions” (2 Tim. 3:10-11). Paul ran the race, “not as uncertainly”; he did not fight “as one that beateth the air” (1 Cor. 9:26). Rather, he had a sense of the Lord’s will and the incorruptible crown at the end.
The Secret of Having Purpose
What then is the secret of having purpose in our lives, and how can we get it? No doubt it is something that we all want, yet somehow it seems to elude many. I would suggest that Scripture gives us some definite guidelines in the matter.
First of all, we must remember that the purpose of our lives is not to be found by looking within ourselves. In today’s world, we are often told to assess our abilities, to set a realistic goal, and then to strive for it. However, the humanistic thinking that has pervaded the world today has tended to focus all this on ourselves, while leaving God out. Man is viewed as being an end in himself, and his own pleasure a sufficient parameter by which to set a goal. As we have mentioned before, this has tended to produce a mind-set that thinks of self-gratification, often more immediate than long-term. We have become accustomed to having instant results, and suffering is viewed as something that need not be tolerated. All this is not God’s way.
As is brought out in other articles in this issue, God has His purposes concerning the honor and glory of His Son, and through His grace, these purposes include those whom He has chosen to be associated with His Son. Man was created for God’s pleasure, but instead of bringing God pleasure, man chose to believe Satan and brought sin into the Garden. For thousands of years (in the Old Testament) God tested man, but this only proved that the “imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). It is clear that “the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Now God has chosen to reveal His Son Jesus Christ, to bring out His purposes in Him, and to bring us into blessing with Him. If we are going to have purpose and direction in our lives, we must seek God’s will and work according to His purposes, not our own.
Giving up Self Interest
This not only involves looking to God, but also involves the giving up of all my own thoughts, ambitions and self-centered ideas. It involves seeking the glory of another — the Lord Jesus Christ. Just before He went to the cross, the Lord Jesus could say to His disciples, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Those who follow their own will in this world (whether unbelievers or believers) may obtain the world’s approval, but they will lose eternally. Those whose purpose is outside of themselves, and thus greater than themselves, will perhaps lose their lives down here, but will have that which will last for eternity.
The question may arise, “If I follow the Lord and surrender to Him, does this mean I cannot enjoy life?” No, for if we begin with ourselves, God is always dishonored, and we miss His blessings. If we begin with God, He is honored and glorified, and we are far more blessed. God’s greatest thought was to make Himself known, and in doing so, He has declared the counsels of His heart. Without God, man may acquire a certain amount of knowledge in creation, but he cannot find out God. If we occupy ourselves with our own interests, we fail to find out God, and then we lack real purpose in our lives. Even as believers, we may look to the Lord for mercies, help in difficult circumstances, and even ask Him to bless and work out our purposes, for our blessing. This is to miss the opportunity of seeing things from His side and working with His purposes, not our own.
Taking up God’s Interests
If we take up God’s interests in our lives, what will be the result? There will be a true sense of purpose, not only for time, but for eternity. We will not be drifting aimlessly, flitting from one interest to another, but rather “understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). More than this, there will be enthusiasm and energy, for the Spirit of God gives energy for that which is according to God’s will. When we are working “in sync” with God, there is a sense of having His interests before us—interests that transcend this present world. There is joy in our hearts that comes from Himself, the same joy that is spoken of in Hebrews 12:2 —“Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We experience the same joy that our blessed Master had, for His was the joy of doing the Father’s will and anticipating the exaltation in consequence.
God’s Purpose for Each of Us
Let us remember that God has a purpose for each of us — something that He has for us to do. For some, it may be a job that puts us in the public eye, while for others it may simply be to “serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:24) in our everyday work. However, let us remember that this purpose is not for ourselves, but for the One who loved us and died for us. Energy of purpose for the believers comes from the Spirit of God, but also comes from our affections being engaged. Scripture knows no other motive, except that “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor. 5:14). Such love enjoyed in the soul gave those like Paul energy and purpose, and so it has been down through the ages. Many dear believers have given up their lives for Christ, and continue to do so, because of the tug of that love on their affections and the sense of God’s purpose in their lives. It is possible for every one of us, by His grace, to have this too!
W. J. Prost

God’s Own Purpose

God has His own purpose before Him; we should always remember this when making plans. Behind all God’s outward acts towards His people Israel, His dealings with the nations of the earth, and His discipline of the saints who form the church, He has a purpose concerning all of them. Everything is made to bend and fit the accomplishment of it in a magnificent way, regardless of how hidden it may be from the sight of man. “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.  .  .  .  This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?” (Isa. 14:24-27). It is not a purpose formed because events have turned out as they have in the world’s history, but the events that have happened serve to bring about God’s purpose, for His purpose is an eternal purpose. When the church is spoken of, it says, He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” and “according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 1:11; 3:11). A good understanding of what He has revealed in the New Testament concerning this purpose will enable us to make plans and decisions that fit with His plan and will be sure to endure.
Concise Bible Dictionary, adapted

Thy Latter End

“Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (Deut. 32:29). In the life of a man of purpose everything takes its coloring from the end to be attained. And if this is so in the natural life, so surely should it be in the exercise of the divine life. Hope —that is, something beyond — is the spring of human life from the cradle to the grave, even when a man’s view is limited to this world. True hope has to do with God and His purpose.
Learning Along the Way
When the end to be attained is clearly seen by the believer and God’s purpose is accepted by the soul, still, I think, he has to learn another thing on the road of daily life. Nature always resists God’s purpose for us, and we have to learn God’s estimate of it as the flesh. I think we shall find there is no other way to go on. There is one way out for us, and God will surely bring us out and accomplish His purpose in us all, but I must go through the process, painful as it is, wherein I learn what flesh is and that God’s heart is set upon the end for me, and not on the necessary flesh-rejecting, present process through which I am passing. He wants my heart to be set upon it too. Nothing diverts Him, and everything moves on in my circumstances, which He has arranged, toward the accomplishment of His purpose for me. Whatever may happen to me on the road, God’s heart has in view the end, where there shall be no flesh and no evil at work. He would have us now, as we thread our way along His path for us (the everyday circumstances of each human life), to be in communion with His mind about this. He would occupy us with what are His ultimate purposes and counsels respecting us.
God’s Purpose and Counsel
When a poor sinner considers his “latter end” as a sinner, it must land him in the blackness and horror of despair. And it is just at this point that the gospel comes in with all its blessed and gloom-dispelling light. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, [for the outshining] of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” I see here that it is all settled, all finished for me, a poor guilty sinner. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And that glory which shines now and which I see in the face of Jesus Christ is God’s warrant and rest for my soul. “The true light now [shines].” All is done. Thus the heart is set at rest as to the question of sins and judgment. But still I have to learn with God what the flesh is and its corruption. This is the process when I have accepted God’s purpose and counsel respecting me, and as I accept the one I have to learn the other. But God would teach me the incurable nature of the flesh that is in me, not by occupying me with it, but rather with His purpose respecting me. I am privileged to say, wherever I may be along the path, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). I can say, “It matters little what the fare on the road may be, so that I know surely and clearly what awaits me at home.” God’s desire is to occupy us with what awaits us there. Christ is there, and the joy of that scene is what He is. We are going to be exactly like that Christ.
It is in this way that I learn what the flesh is, not by being occupied with it, but by being occupied with God’s final purpose and counsel for me. I say, “Is this God’s purpose to conform me to the image of His Son? How unlike Him I am now! What a wretched thing is this flesh in me —nothing but rebellion all the way along!” This is true, but as your eye is upon the end and that blessed Object (to which, remember, it is God’s purpose to conform you, and not yours to conform yourself), you are “transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18 JND).
Occupation With Christ
It was not when the Apostle Paul was looking at himself that he saw how imperfect he was, but it was when he was looking at Christ. “I press toward the mark.” “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend [lay hold of] that for which I am also apprehended [laid hold of] by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12). Perfection here is complete likeness to Christ in glory. This was God’s purpose for Paul, and nothing else is His purpose for each of us. But seeing what it was, getting hold of it in his inmost soul only set the Apostle running faster in the race. “I press toward the mark.” It was clear and distinct before his eye, and it eclipsed for him everything else. “That I may win Christ.” Has it become the eclipsing object for us all?
Satan always is seeking to occupy me with myself. This occupation never leads to a true judgment of myself, though to be moaning over my inconsistencies may appear to some to be pious and humble. The true object is outside, and as I am engaged with it and with God’s purposes respecting me, I fashion my way and judge myself as an obstruction to those purposes. But Satan can get a good man occupied with himself. Job is an example of this, and in twenty chapters he expresses it, but God had to empty him of all that (Job 42:56).
The object of the enemy is to get you completely occupied with yourself that God’s purposes respecting you are all as if He had none. Herein was the ground of all the failure of Israel in the wilderness. Were they looking in unbelief at their strength or in faith at God’s purposes for them when they thought of the giants of Anak?
Pressing on to the End
I am going to be like Christ in glory, and as I look at that Christ I am “transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.” God’s desire, then, for me, as expressed in Deuteronomy 8:16 and 32:29 is that I should consider the end — His end for me, and it is similar to what I find Paul considering in Philippians 3. He says, “I press toward the mark.”
H. C. Anstey,
Christian Friend, 15:113

Establishing Priorities

A Christian friend recently shared with me what he felt was the cause of his downward slide from being a happy believer. He said, “It began with the little things that crept in and stole my time from the Word and prayer.”
In our Bible reading not long ago we had this verse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). Here we find that the secret of overcoming is getting our priorities right. As Christians, we have to put the principles of God’s kingdom first in our lives. We have been chosen as soldiers of Jesus Christ, and as such we are not to be entangled with the things of this life. The early Christians were exhorted “that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23).
Our danger is not so much that we can become criminals as that we can become careless, drifting Christians. The temptations that sap spiritual power in our day include the good secular books, television, the easy chair, and the credit card. We either move forward or fall backward in those seemingly innocent little moments of decision. If we are to live for our Lord, we must eliminate in order to concentrate. We must establish priorities and put on the blinders (Prov. 4:25-27). This cuts out the clutter, that in all things our Lord might have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).
The Old Testament prophet, Elijah, found that God speaks in a still, small voice, rather than in a hurricane. The same is true today. In order to hear that still, small voice, we need time alone with our Lord. Taking quiet moments involves discipline and self-control (a fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23), but we can draw this from Him. We can crawl out of bed on time. We can set the tone for the day, rather than being out of tune and letting the day control us.
When we value something, we will go to a lot of trouble for it. How much do we prize the moments of fellowship with our Saviour? Have we grasped the amazing truth that He desires this fellowship, and not just our patronage? How much have we comprehended that we live, not by bread alone, but by “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4)?
We arrange our priorities to suit our needs. We have to decide that we need these moments alone with the Lord — that we cannot go on without them. But if these quiet moments are an obligation rather than a personal choice, they will be only a ritual and will eventually be given up.
God’s Evaluation
Another vital aspect of all this is found in 1 Corinthians 3:13. Have we ever noticed that God is going to put His evaluation on what we have done in our Christian lives? The judgment seat of Christ will test the kinds of materials we used to build on that foundation, which is Christ.
We are either serving self or Christ. If we seek His fellowship now, there are wonderful and positive benefits here, plus much, much more in that future day. It is blessed to realize, too, that our Lord initiates this kind of fellowship. He says to the believer, as it were, “Everything I have is yours. All My righteousness I give to you. The riches of glory are yours.” What can we give in return but our sins, our failures, our inabilities—ourselves? Then the believer receives forgiveness, constant love, friendship! Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
The Right Priorities
We are all debtors to the love of God, and only the god of this world can deprive us of enjoying the Source of it all in those quiet moments. Let us, my Christian friends, by His grace, set our priorities in order. “Seek ye first,” and be ever so jealous that the “little foxes” (Song of Sol. 2:15) do not steal those tender moments with our Lord Jesus.
In his failure to set right priorities, my Christian friend has caused untold grief and heartache to himself and others, and much dishonor to his Lord. He would give anything to have his time over again and to be able to do things differently. But there are no reruns — we get only one chance to pass through this life. We cannot turn back the clock; all we have is “the rest of [our] time.”
In another evil day, a man of God said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve  .  .  .  but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Let us, too, echo these words by lives that demonstrate that they have been won and are controlled by the love of Christ. What we do with what we have received proves our satisfaction with it.
J. Kilcup,
Christian Truth, 37:62-64

Daniel’s Purpose of Heart

As the Lord’s coming nears, we find the world marked by ever-increasing changes that affect us all as believers. The question is, How shall we face them? The Lord uses such occasions to teach us lessons, and we will carry the results for all eternity. We see this illustrated particularly in the life of Daniel.
He began his life in a privileged position. He was “of the king’s seed, and of the princes  .  .  .  in whom was no blemish, but well favored and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them” (Dan. 1:34). We see that he was not only of royal blood but possessed the physical and mental capacities necessary to carry out his duties.
A Captive
But this was all about to change. Zedekiah, Judah’s last king, was dethroned by the invasion of the Chaldeans, and Daniel, although spared from an untimely death, found himself a captive in Babylon. How did Daniel react to these circumstances? Did he give up and enjoy life as best he could? No — the Bible tells us he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1:8). He determined to remain separate from the idolatry which surrounded him. As a result, he made moral and spiritual progress which gave him outstanding power in prayer that was soon to be proved.
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and insisted the wise men of Babylon not only interpret it but also recall the dream to his memory. Daniel and his three friends earnestly prayed about the matter. They obtained a remarkable answer which not only satisfied the infuriated king but caused him to pay Daniel homage, confessing the supreme glory of Daniel’s God and making him “ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon” (Dan. 2:48).
Daniel was once again in an exalted position but this turn of events did not spoil him, as we see in the fourth chapter. With great courage, obtained by a close walk with God, he rebukes Nebuchadnezzar and tells him what would befall him, regardless of the fact that “whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down” (Dan. 5:19). Daniel did not fear the possibility of being removed by the king but counseled him to break off his sins by “righteousness .  .  . and showing mercy to the poor” (Dan. 4:27). Only a man who practiced these virtues himself could give such advice to the king.
In Obscurity
After Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration to his throne, it seems that Daniel dropped into obscurity for several years. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar had died and Daniel was forgotten, but for whatever reason, we do not hear of him again until chapter 5. Belshazzar with a thousand of his lords are feasting and mocking the God of heaven when they see the handwriting on the wall. The queen mother remembers Daniel and speaks of him in much the same language as he is described in chapter 1, saying that “light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him” (Dan. 5:11). How wonderful was his godly testimony to the world! Daniel played no part in Belshazzar’s riotous living and remained completely separate from the royal court’s evil behavior. Also, it was in these latter years that Daniel received those amazing visions recorded in the seventh and eighth chapters of his book which show that during this time of relative obscurity, Daniel continued to enjoy close communion with God. In spite of Daniel’s solemn pronouncement to Belshazzar concerning the doom of his kingdom and his refusal to accept the king’s rewards, Daniel found himself promoted to third ruler in the kingdom. Once again he was in a position of prominence, although he knew well that it would be for a moment at best! That very night Belshazzar was slain, Darius the Mede took the city, and Daniel lapsed once more into obscurity.
Identified With His People
This was the third time Daniel had been brought low in his career, but it was a period of great profit. He had an intense love for Jerusalem, where God’s honor dwelt, and he also had a deep affection for God’s people. This led him to study the prophecies of Jeremiah and to discover that the desolations of Jerusalem would be limited to seventy years. The effect of this discovery brought him to his knees, identifying himself with the state of his people, confessing their sins and interceding for their forgiveness and restoration. His prayer is full of hope and repentance and anyone who reads these words cannot help but be touched by Daniel’s spirit. Like Elijah, another righteous man in a former day, his effectual fervent prayer was quickly answered. God’s ear is always open to the prayers of His people and He delighted in His servant’s supplication. As a result, Daniel received the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” which clearly foretold the exact time of the death of Israel’s Messiah and our Lord and Saviour.
Courage and Strength in Old Age
We do not know the circumstances, but Darius, the new ruler of Babylon, heard of Daniel’s excellent qualities and promoted him to become the chief of the three presidents over the princes and next to the king in authority. At this time Daniel must have been a very old man, well over eighty years of age. In this new position, Daniel continued to walk by faith and in obedience to the Word of God with grace and meekness. He showed his courage and spiritual strength in a time of great crisis by continuing in exactly the same path “as he did aforetime” (Dan. 6:10). There was no attempt to compromise or alter his course. We all know where this purpose of heart led him; he was thrown down into the den of lions. How quickly he was flung from his exalted position to a place of degradation and danger! But God was with him and by the next morning Darius once again raised him to even greater heights than before, to the great glory of his God! He was to continue in this exalted place into the reign of Cyrus and probably to the end of his life.
During this last period of life, God permitted Daniel to see the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy and the decree issued that allowed the rebuilding of God’s house in Jerusalem. In chapter 10, he was also given a final vision by the great river Hiddekel (probably the Tigris) where he was twice proclaimed to be “a man greatly beloved.”
His Death and Final Prophecies
In Daniel 12 the vision comes to an end and Daniel is informed of one more low point in his life that was greater than any other he had to face. He was told that death would overtake him before the fulfillment of future glory. But even the solemn announcement of his death had a bright prospect. After a long period of rest in the grave, he would not be missing when the dawn of glory burst forth, for it was stated that he should “stand in [his] lot at the end of the days” (Dan. 12:13). Here Daniel saw the sure hope of resurrection before his eyes closed on earth. In that coming day, Daniel will look back over his life and realize that all its vicissitudes were for eternal blessing since he came to know God in a far richer and fuller way than if he had never had those experiences.
As we face further change until the Lord calls us home, may we display more of Daniel’s spirit. It is possible, with the Lord’s help, to have true purpose of heart today, even in our rapidly changing world.
E. S. Allan

The Center of God’s Purposes

The Spirit of God invariably gives Christ the first place and the center place. He is the Alpha and the Omega of all God’s purposes and plans. He is God’s center, the foundation, the chief cornerstone, and the head stone of the corner. Precious Jesus! “Over all God blessed forever,” everlasting praises be unto Thy name.

The Purpose of God

Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).
All that God is — all the fullness of the Godhead — is pleased to dwell in Christ, and it is God’s purpose or “good pleasure” that it be displayed in Him, a purpose rich with blessing. We shall attempt to elucidate a small part of that purpose — the visible part — and show how God is soon to display it. God is pleased to do so visibly, taking us into His confidence, in order to preserve us from substituting the wanderings of our minds for the holy manifestation He has given us of Himself and His glory. Ephesians 1 expresses His desire that we may be enlightened as to it, and then, in Ephesians 3, that we may be “strengthened with might.” We enjoy the great truths revealed in chapter 1 in the measure we personally feel their power in chapter 3.
The Church and Israel
The church and Israel are respective centers of God’s heavenly glory and of His earthly glory in Christ; these are the two grand subjects of all scriptures which refer to the millennium—the heavenly and earthly spheres of glory. The Son, image and glory of God, is their common center—the Sun who lightens both. The nations will “bring their glory and honor” into the earthly center and unto the heavenly one, and they will walk in its light — enjoying its blessings. When all is accomplished, God will be all in all, and His tabernacle will be with men — their God.
The church and Israel, the heavenly and earthly spheres, cast on each other a mutual brightness of blessing and joy, yet each has its own proper sphere to which all respective things are subordinate: to the church, angels, principalities, powers — all that belongs to heaven; to Israel, the nations and all else below.
“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) proclaims the foundation of a lasting glory higher than that of the first creation and on which rests its restoration from the ruin brought upon it by man. God rested for but a brief moment in that which came, “very good,” from His hand. His rest, and man’s with Him, passed like the morning dew, through the weakness of its head, Adam, but it is to be restored in the blessing of God on an infinitely higher footing by the display of the glory of the last Adam, for God’s purpose is to head up all things in Him (Eph. 1:10).
Christ As Heir
Through resurrection from the dead, Christ is heir of all things; all things are headed up in Him, and the church is joint-heir. This is our proper hope and our exalted place in Him till God is all in all. “We  .  .  .  have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1:11) in Him who is “heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2). We are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” for that blessed day (Rom. 8:17).
Adam was a “figure of Him that was to come” — the Last Adam —Christ. How blessedly for us is this seen in Ephesians 5:2532. Adam (head of creation), after awaking from “deep sleep” (symbolic of death), was given his bride and joint-heir; she was taken from his side, the place of affection. Thus, she was of him, after he arose only (not of the creation that existed before her). She is his companion in the headship of the inheritance, paradise, the “garden of delights.” Thus also Christ receives the church, His bride, through death, but in resurrection, to share His coming glory.
God “called their name Adam” (Gen. 5:2). They were one, as Christ and the church (Eph. 5:30), one mystical body. The church is Christ —1 Corinthians 12:12.
Psalm 8 is the key passage as to His dominion. “Thou hast .   .   . crowned Him with glory and honor.  .  .  .  Thou hast put all things under His feet.” Hebrews 2:79 shows that this is not yet realized, but that Jesus has been crowned with glory and honor, and assures us that He as Man is to have all under His feet. He is seated at the right hand of the majesty on high, in the patience of God in this dispensation, until His present purposes are accomplished and until His enemies who rule in unrighteousness are made His footstool.
Ephesians 1:17 through 2:7 shows the church united to Him now and forever by the power that raised Him from death. Chapter 2:7 is God’s blessed motive in it, and in chapter 1:22, where Psalm 8 is quoted, it is added, “And gave Him to be head over all things to the church  .  .  .  His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”
His possessing the church as raised from death is specially presented in 1 Corinthians 15, which again quotes Psalm 8. “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet.  .  .  .  Then shall the Son also Himself be subject [as last Adam, risen Man] unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
Christ will reign millennially over a kingdom that He will later deliver up, that “God may be all in all” —that the glory of God, simply, may be universal.
The Rejection of
the Natural Seed
The rejection of the natural seed, Israel, gave occasion for the introduction of the spiritual seed into the heavenlies as joint-heirs. Israel was best placed of all nations to receive Him when He came, for “He came unto His own.” It was to them He had been promised. The time and place of His birth were predicted in their scriptures, yet when they learn that He is come, “all Jerusalem is troubled” and seeks to kill Him. This was a desire they soon fulfilled. Thus vanished the last hope of God’s rest in this creation. It proved that “every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Psa. 39:5).
But that opened the way for a dispensation infinitely more glorious. Israel and the earthly glory are deferred while God’s purpose, hidden in Him from eternity, is revealed —the gathering of Jewish and Gentile individuals into one body, the body of Christ, seated in the heavenlies. The bride of the rejected but risen One is gathered from all nations while her Bridegroom is seated in the highest glory of God. She will be radiant in the same glory as He when He appears to the world (Col. 3:4).
Christ, the Seed of Abraham, is heir of the promise to Abraham that in him would all nations be blessed. But if He had taken possession at His first coming, He would have had it only for Himself, for “except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” He inherits the promises of which His bride partakes, not merely as having come to earth, but as risen after having redeemed the church and in the power of that risen life. The result of this union is that His own are said to be risen with Him.
The church is redeemed to be united to Him that, when He takes possession of all things publicly, He may have a companion “meet for Him,” associated with Him in all things and in all His glory and made like Him.
Christ Exalted Prepares
a Place for the Church
Christ exalted above all prepares a place for the church. He waits to fulfill the promises to Israel, and meanwhile the church is called out of the world. In His resurrection He redeemed the church and secured the “sure mercies of David,” the promise to Israel. But it was needful also that He take possession of the heavenly places to establish the kingdom of heaven (His rule over the earth from heaven), fill all things with His glory (Eph. 4:10), and associate the church with Him in it. He is now preparing His bride’s heavenly abode and calling her out of all nations to reign with Him — His co-heirs. “I go to prepare a place for you. .   .   . I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:23). “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, [to]  .  .  .  behold My glory  .  .  .  for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
Christ Receives the Inheritance With His Church
At His appearing Christ receives the inheritance with His church. Now, He is hid in God, and our life is hid with Him (Col. 3:3). Having finished all that was needed to redeem her, He is seated at God’s right hand, waiting till the Holy Spirit, who reveals Him and reveals the Father through Him, gathers out all His co-heirs. He is waiting till His enemies be made His footstool, waiting to take possession of all things publicly. We wait with Him, and creation waits “for the manifestation of the sons of God.” “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
His Saints Will Judge the World
“The Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment” (Jude 14-15). “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee” (Zech. 14:5). How blessed when Christ presents the church to Himself glorious, clothed in His own glory and beauty He has arrayed her in, when she sees in her Lord all the glory of God, when she is associated with her Bridegroom’s glory in the power of His endless love for her unto death, when she is perfectly pure and glorious with Him where He is and like Him, manifested in that glory with Him, surrounded by His honors, sharer of all His glory that the Father gave Him, that the world may know that the Father loves her as He loves Him! Associated thus with Him, we shall judge angels and the world, and dispense the light and blessing of His kingdom over a creation delivered of all its sorrows, and where sin and Satan cannot enter.
The Kingdom of the Father
and the Day of God
The place of the Father’s love in the display of all this glory is deeply comforting. Jesus taught the disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom of the Father, where the righteous shall “shine as the sun” like Christ, “the Sun of righteousness.” He is to appear in the Father’s glory—for us a most blessed thing. Here we enter deeper waters, though more calm, into eternity — serene and boundless ocean of infinite joy, of which we shall know the breadth and length and depth and height, which passes all knowledge. We shall ever be learning its infinite blessedness and studying His glory. Now, we are privileged to feel what His grace is. Then, we shall be the full display of it to wondering worlds, poor sinners made just like Christ and displayed in the same glory as He!
Beloved, the above is but a simple outline of the church’s position when Christ is revealed in His glory. The rapture begins the pathway of glory.
J. N. Darby, abridged