The Purpose of God

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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. 1:9-109Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 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 1:11In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (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. 1:1010That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 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. 1:1111In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11)) in Him who is “heir of all things” (Heb. 1:22Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:2)). We are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” for that blessed day (Rom. 8:1717And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 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.
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 1:1717That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (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. 39:55Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. (Psalm 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. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 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. 4:1010He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 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 14:2323Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (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 17:2424Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: 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. 3:33For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 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. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)). “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:22The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:2)).
His Saints Will Judge the World
“The Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment” (Jude 14-1514And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 14‑15)). “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee” (Zech. 14:55And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 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