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Caught Up Into His Purpose
By David A. DePra
God has ONE purpose in His church. One. Not two, three, or ten. But ONE. Indeed, the purpose of God for His church is really the purpose of God for this entire world. And what IS that purpose? Christ. Thatís right. The purpose of God is a PERSON.
Now, of course, that sounds a bit impractical. It sounds almost like an abstract idea that is just hanging out there. What do I mean when I say that Godís purpose is Christ? Letís look at a few passages that talk about this.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: (Eph 4:11-13)
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That 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: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. (Eph 1:16-20)
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: (Col 1:26-28)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:28-29)
Those are just a few passages that talk about Godís overall purpose Ė and we might add to them John, chapter 14 through 16, where Jesus tells us what the Holy Spirit would do when He came on Pentecost. Obviously, whatever the Holy Spirit is doing IS the purpose of God, because the Holy Spirit is God. And everyone of those things promised by Jesus centers directly on Himself Ė the Holy Spirit came to glorify Him, teach us all things about Him, and to guide us into all the Truth about Him. Again, it is all about Jesus Christ Ė knowing Him.
Once we realize that Christianity is CHRIST IN US, then this purpose become clear. Godís purpose is for Jesus Christ Ė who is IN US -- to be known by His people, and then, because of that, to grow to manifest Him. In short, God wants us to become witnesses unto Christ Ė not just by talking about Him Ė but He wants us to be living epistles of what happens when Christ has His way with people.
So Godís purpose is Christ. He wants us to contribute to the measure of Christ. But notice what this means for us: It means that if we are caught up into Godís purpose of Christ in our lives, that everything else is going to have to be adjusted TO that purpose. In other words, everything else that is going on in our lives, internally and externally, must be made subject to this one purpose of God.
This is not bad news, but good news. God is simply telling us that He will never be part of any intention on our part to subvert HIS purpose with our own. No. Rather, God knows and cares about everything that is going on in our lives, and cares about our needs and wants. But these things will only be provided as they serve HIS purpose of Christ. Why would we want it any other way?
Jesus said, "Seek you first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added." (Matt. 6:33) This is exactly the same thought. God is seeking first His kingdom, and if we want to be caught up into His purpose, then we must likewise seek first His kingdom. But if we do, we will not live in the kingdom to the exclusion to our wants and needs. No. Indeed, what will come with the package of Godís kingdom and purpose are, "all these things." But they will come in Godís way, and in Godís time. They will come as they SERVE Godís purpose of Christ in us.
Have we ever considered that Godís purpose for us might not agree with our purpose for us? This is possible. But if we yield to God and seek Him first, by the time God is done with us, we will be changed Ė and His purpose will be ours. This is part of what it means for Godís goal to be Christ Ė if we yield, we will become one with the will of Christ for us.
A Specific Will
God surely has a specific purpose for each life. But in the end, each of those specific purposes equal some filling up of the measure of Christ. That is what God wants Ė for each of us to contribute to the measure of Christ. If we do that then God has gotten His purpose in our lives.
Our problem is that when we speak of, "Godís purpose for our lives," we often think in terms of a job, career, a marriage, or some other function Ė maybe like ministry. But these are not Godís purpose. They are TOOLS unto Godís purpose. God can use a job or a relationship to give us the means to contribute to the fullness of Christ. This is done as we seek His glory in each of these issues. As I bring each of these issues in my life through to Godís glory, and seek His kingdom or rule over them, then the fullness of Christ may be realized in me. But can we see that it is Christ in me that is Godís fulfilled purpose, and not whether I made a good career move?
Our failure to realize what God is doing can cause great confusion, and often, cause us to stray out of Godís purpose. We might, for example, think that the greatest purpose God could ever have for us is a successful ministry. So we make that our goal. But God never works towards that end. He wants US Ė He wants the fullness of Christ IN US Ė and might use a ministry as a tool unto that end. And once He gets a measure of Christ in us, He might use us to minister to others. But the ministry itself is only a tool. Christ is the goal. The danger is for us to make the ministry our goal and never recognize that Godís goal has been Christ.
Other Christians make a job or a marriage their goal. God cares about these things. But will affirm them only to the extent that He knows they will serve His purpose of Christ in our personal lives. If they wonít serve His purpose, He isnít going to give them to us. And it isnít going to matter how much we want them. Why? Because it is our natural man wanting them Ė and they may even be good and legitimate wants. Not sinful ones. But God simply knows better Ė He knows what such things will do in our lives. So He remains faithful to us to the disregard of our protests. It is something for which we will eventually be thankful to Him.
So what we are seeing is this: God has a purpose, and despite the unique details of accomplishing it in each life, that purpose is the fullness of Christ IN US. Therefore, Christians need to STOP trying to get God to affirm their purpose, and begin yielding to Godís purpose. If we would do that, we would have all things necessary added to us, and much more. But if we wonít do that, we will, at best, get things we want some other way, but wonít realize Godís purpose.
Surrender to God
It is only natural to think that surrender to God is a negative thing. Usually surrender will involve us relinquishing control over an issue, or perhaps suffering some loss. And THAT is often what occupies our thinking and emotions. Thus, surrender to God sometimes seems like nothing more than a resignation to a state of being deprived. This is how we usually think Ė that if I surrender to God it is going to mean that I will lose what I want in life.
Temporarily, this may actually be the case. I may lose what meant most to me. After all, didnít Jesus say we had to LOSE our lives in order to FIND them? Sure. But note that there IS another side to this Ė there is a FIND side to LOSING. There is a resurrection side to death. Itís just that at the time of surrender, this is easy to forget.
What Jesus promises is amazing. He is saying that if we LOSE into His hands our life Ė which would include what means most to us in life Ė then what we will FIND is Ė what? Well, the first thing we will find is HIM -- in a deeper way. We must see this. The reward for losing yourself to Christ is that you FIND CHRIST. I'm not talking about salvation. I'm talking about coming to know Him.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil. 3:8-11)
When Paul suffered the loss of all things, He WON Christ, and found Him Ė or better yet said, was FOUND IN HIM. Isnít that what Christians want? Well, it is supposed to be what we want. It certainly is what God wants?
But things do not end there. If you LOSE your life, you will FIND Christ Ė you will come to a greater fullness of CHRIST IN YOU. But then Ė because you are established in Godís purpose Ė God can be free to add everything to you that serves this purpose. He can add jobs, relationships, money, etc. You can now be trusted with it.
You see, this is not a game. God did not sit down one day up in heaven and say, "Letís see. I donít want to make Christianity easy. So I will refuse to bless people unless they first pay Me off by surrendering." No. That is not what is going on here. What is going on is that God is restoring us back to Himself through Christ. He is trying to establish us back upon His basis, and in His purpose. And as mentioned, there is only ONE purpose: Christ. And because we begin in a place that is completely off Godís purpose, indeed, often contrary to it, we must first surrender ourselves to Him.
We must see that Godís purpose cannot be accomplished in us as long as we are in control. It cannot. It cannot be accomplished as long as we are living this life for ourselves. All of that is contrary to Christ. Godís purpose can be accomplished only if Jesus is Lord. And this will require surrender.
Belonging to God
Many Christians have forgotten that God is God. We have forgotten that God has rights. This is His creation and Jesus died to redeem it. God is working a purpose for His glory and for the restoration of His name. We donít have any business dictating to Him. But He has ever right to command us.
This is true in the overall. But it is just as true specifically in our individual lives. You and I do not have the right to tell God what we want to be, how our lives ought to be, or what He needs to do for us. Rather, we are supposed to seek HIM, and HIS will, and HIS glory. We are to get on HIS page. If we do, we will end up with HIS WILL Ė and benefit from that more than we could imagine.
Even such privileges as the right to ask God for something in prayer are made subject to Godís will and purpose. We are told to pray only, "according to His will." We are told that we are to pray, "in the name of Jesus," which means to pray only for what Jesus would pray for Ė i.e., the will of God. We are told directly to pray, "Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done." Indeed, even when we are told to, "ask what you will," we are told that we are supposed to will only what God wills! What? Do you think we are supposed to will what God does NOT will?
Christians, according to the Bible, donít even belong to themselves. We arenít supposed to live for ourselves. It is only because we donít know God, or know His purposes, that we think this means we will be deprived. No. It is the key to all that God has for us Ė both spiritually and materially. But make no question, when the Bible says these things, God is dead serious. And we need to begin to realize it.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor 6:19-20)
For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Cor 5:14-15)
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1-2)
The bottom line is this: We belong to God. God does not belong to us. We are called to glorify God and be caught up into HIS purpose. God has not put Himself at our disposal to serve OUR purposes. But again Ė this is all good news. Have we come to the place yet where we see that maybe God knows a bit more about our lives, and His purpose, than we know? If we would only get on Godís page, we would find our lives in Christ.
The Need to Know God
If we knew God we would realize that He is incapable of doing us wrong. The fact that He will sacrifice anything for His purpose in Christ is simply faithfulness on His part Ė even though we might not be faithful. God has a purpose and will not deviate from it. The question is whether we are going to get on board Godís purpose.
Now, today it is becoming more and more popular to teach people ways to get God on board OUR purpose. This is being done everywhere. Lost in all of this is the absolute fact that we have no right to decide what we want in life to begin with. God must decide. And it will always be good. Surrender means we allow God to decide. We enter into HIS purpose and we fully give ourselves to Him for it.
Think about this: What if everything that we want in life is based on a faÁade Ė is based on fears, and wants, and a preoccupation with that which God wants to alter or eliminate from our hearts? What if, for example, my desire for a ministry is based on my desire to draw attention to myself Ė and I am blind to the fact that it is? Do I think that all the faith in the world that God will bring my ministry to pass is going to matter? No. God will want to deal with my motives. And by the time He is done dealing with them, I may no longer want what I wanted so much before.
So many Christians have plans, hopes, and dreams Ė a life they desire. They have been taught that God wants to make all of that happen -- and all we need to do is believe and obey. But this is misleading. The real Truth is that God has a plan that He wants to accomplish for His glory and our benefit. THAT is what we are to seek Ė even if it costs us everything that we would have wanted otherwise.
God is not here to, "service our lives." He is not here to do our bidding. Indeed, if we really understood it, we are to have absolutely NOTHING to say about our lives. Nothing. God is to have EVERYTHING to say. What else do we think the Bible means, as we read above, when it says that, "we are not our own?" We arenít. We belong to God. And what else do we think Jesus meant when He said, "He that loses his life for My sake will find it." These arenít just a nice clichťs. They mean exactly what they say.
But again -- this might seem scary to some Christians. It might seem to some that such a thing would DEPRIVE us of what we want in life. However, we need to come to terms with the Truth here. Is it possible to surrender ourselves to God and LOSE OUT? No. It is not possible. For if you surrender to God YOU GET GOD Ė and everything that is part of His will for you.
The fact is, it is not possible to come under the full Lordship of Jesus Christ and end up regretting it. Sure, there will be loss. You will lose YOUR lordship over your life. You will NO longer be in charge. You will also have to undergo quite an internal change. There will be suffering. But if you seek Christ with all your heart, what you get IS Christ.
We donít believe this because we donít KNOW HIM. We donít TRUST HIM. Rather, many are afraid of God; afraid that He will violate their trust. Well, God will put us through situations that are intended to BUILD FAITH in us, and that may, for a season, make it seem as if God has forsaken us. But in the end, if we fully give ourselves into the hands of God, what we will get IS GOD, and everything that He wants us to have in life. It may not be what we would have expected or wanted. But it will be what HE wants Ė and therefore, it will be the best for us.
Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
Godís glory is the manifestation of Himself. It is His nature, character, and personhood being made known in Spirit and in Truth. Of course, Godís glory was fully seen in His Son, and is being accomplished in Christ.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (Eph 3:11)
When Godís glory is accomplished, everyone experiences God. Thus, for God to glorify Himself isnít a matter of God being selfish. It is a matter of God being able to give Himself to all.
God wants to glorify Himself in each life. He does this by edifying us in Christ Ė so that Christ might become preeminent in each of us. However, this means that He must dismantle our purposes. And yet, in the end, if we yield to Him, we will be caught up in HIS purpose, and not hindered by our own.
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