THE GRAND PURPOSE OF
THE ETERNAL SPIRIT (1)
When we consider the decadent, unstable and sometimes violent state of the world in which we live, it is perhaps sometimes difficult to see that in the midst of all the sin and turmoil, there is a Divine Hand at work. That the Almighty Creator is bringing good out of the evil, and that behind it all there is the outworking of a Purpose which shall come to a glorious crescendo when the earth will be transformed to become a place of spiritual delights and beauty. In this series of articles, if our Lord permit, we shall examine the Creator’s purpose with his Creation as it is presented in His Word.
Understanding that purpose more fully, we should be motivated to become a part of it, looking for better days to come, eschewing the evil that is in the world, and preparing for a coming new age of glory. The first point to note is that Yahweh created the earth with a particular purpose in view:
“For thus saith Yahweh that created the heavens; Elohim himself that formed the earth and made it; he that established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh and there is none else” (Isa. 45:18).
The earth then, was not created void of purpose: it was formed in order to be a habitable place for men and women to live. But the Scriptures also teach that the inhabitants of the earth were to be reflective of the Divine Image:
“… and Elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26).
“… and Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said unto them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it …” (Gen. 1:28).
The men and women who were to “fill the earth”, then, were after the likeness of the Elohim: indeed their original purpose was to show the “image” and “likeness” of their Creator.
A parallel passage in Numbers chapter 14 provides some more information
“As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh” (Num. 14:21).
Notice: the earth was formed “to be inhabited” by men and women who would “fill the earth”, and here, the earth is to be “filled” with the Creator’s Glory. Putting the two together, we learn that “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh by being inhabited by those who show that glorious array of Divine Attributes.
GLORY AND GOODNESS
The same teaching can be arrived at when we look at the matter from a different angle: What is the “glory” with which the earth “shall be filled?” Exodus chapter 33 recounts how that Moses asked to see the Glory of Yahweh
“and he said, I beseech thee, shew my thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the Name of Yahweh before thee …” (Exo. 33:18-19).
But what we find, however, is that when that “goodness” passed before Moses, it was not in what Moses saw with is eyes: it was rather in the declaration that was proclaimed to him:
“And Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the Name of Yahweh. And Yahweh passed before him, and proclaimed, Yahweh, Yahweh El, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exo. 34:5-7).
From these verses then, we learn that Yahweh’s “goodness” and “glory” consists not so much of a visible display of shining brightness, but rather the array of attributes that the Creator possesses, and chooses to reveal. As we have already shown therefore, for the earth to be filled with Yahweh’s Glory, it will be inhabited with those men and women who display the glorious array of attributes (or, “likeness and image”) possessed by their Creator.
THE FAILURE OF MAN
But man failed to accomplish his Creator’s purpose. As the wise man lamented: “ … Lo, this only have I found, that Elohim hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29). The Apostle also describes the same situation: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Coming short of the Glory, we find that the earth is instead filled with the wickedness of human rule and mismanagement showing forth the image and likeness of king Sin.
By contrast to those who claim that human nature is essentially good, and that there is an element of good in everyone, the Bible demonstrates that human nature is inherently bad:
“We all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath as also the rest” (Eph. 2:3).
“the wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Psa. 58:3).
Again, the Apostle contrasts his own experience of his sinful nature with the original “very good” condition of the earth
“I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not …” (Rom. 7:18).
THE PURPOSE OF GOD—ACCOMPLISHED IN CHRIST
But the Purpose of God with the earth has not failed, although it may seem that way at times. In the Lord Jesus Christ, that Purpose continued, and in him we see the Creator’s Glory manifest in human nature. In the Messiah, we see “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). He succeeded where all other men have failed. Speaking of our Master in relation to his Father, we read: “who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on hish” (Heb. 1:3). Though he also came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), Messiah accomplished that which Adam failed to do. He displayed his Father’s “glory” and “image,” and in so doing, provided a way for mankind to avoid destruction, and the purpose of God to succeed. Being united in purpose and character with Yahweh, Yahshua said of himself, “… he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jno. 14:9). Not that he himself was his own father—that is the illogical dogma of Trinitarian mythology. But that he displayed his Father’s likeness to glorify Him whilst at the same time bearing sin’s flesh.
CONFORMING TO THE DIVINE IMAGE
In order to avail ourselves of the free gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23), we must endeavour to put away our old selves—the Old man of the flesh, and put on a new character, the New man after the spirit. And this involves becoming like Christ:
“… 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. 8:29).
But how is this conformity to be achieved? The answer is to allow the Word-Seed to germinate within our hearts, and grant us a new wisdom and knowledge of the glory of Yahweh
“lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:9-10).
There are those who decry “head-knowledge” as being undesirable. As it was recently put to the present writer: “I would rather live the truth than learn the doctrine”. But this misses the point that for the Truth to be lived, we need to be “renewed in knowledge”, for how can we perform the Father’s Will if we do not “know” what it is?
So the Apostle continues to describe the future glorious state of the redeemed:
“As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49)
“we look for the saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto his glorious body …” (Phil. 3:20-21).
There is then, a twofold aspect to the process of salvation. Firstly, there is the renewing in knowledge, imparting a “full assurance of understanding” (Col. 2:2) and a wisdom which is able to save, and then Secondly there is the transformation of our mortal bodies to be made literally like the glorious body of Messiah himself.
THE PURPOSE OF SALVATION
As we have shown, the furtherance of the Divine Purpose, and therefore the hope of salvation has to do with things concerning the earth. By contrast to those who would have our souls whisked up to heaven beyond the skies, the Bible promise is very down to earth. So we read thus
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mat. 5:5).
And as a consequence it is written
“the righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth” (Prov. 10:30).
What all of the above serves to show, is that the salvation of man is not an end in itself, rather it is but the means by which the Creator’s Greater Purpose will be accomplished. Hence we read:
“[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us before the world began …” (2 Tim. 1:9).
And that purpose is that Yahweh himself will be glorified upon the earth:
“Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land” (Psa. 85:9)
“… suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14).
A CHOSEN PEOPLE
It has so pleased our Heavenly Father to develop the unfolding of His Purpose by calling out from the nations a remnant who desire to exercise their own freewill to serve Him, and manifest His Glory. Not all the individuals who make up the world will be saved, as the majority choose to exercise their freewill for the satisfaction of the flesh, and have no desire to demonstrate their Creators attributes in their lives. “God so loved the world” (Jno. 3:16), not that everyone in it will be saved, but that the world as a whole will be perpetuated and will not be destroyed. Though there be a few in each age and generation who will respond to the High Calling—the “few” that find and walk down the narrow way—the cumulative number throughout the earth’s history will be “a great multitude, which no man could number” (Rev. 7:9). This is the “world” that will be loved by our Father, a world filled with righteous men and women. Accordingly, we read
“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name” (Acts 15:14).
“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a purchased people; that ye should show forth the praises (marg. Virtues) of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9)
In the foregoing, we have demonstrated from Scripture the following:
* The Purpose of God is to populate the earth with men and women who display His Glorious Attributes.
* Salvation of men and women is therefore a means to an end, and not the end itself.
* In order to progress His Purpose, God is calling out a people for the Glory of His Name
* The Chosen People will be saved from death, and will ultimately fill all of the earth.
* At that time, the earth will be filled with the Righteous, with there being no place found for the wicked.
Brother John Thomas summarised the situation thus
“Men were not ushered into being for the purpose of being saved or lost. God-manifestation, not human salvation, was the grand purpose of the Eternal Spirit. The salvation of a multitude is incidental to the manifestation, but it was not the end proposed. The Eternal Spirit intended to enthrone himself on the earth, and in so doing, to develop a Divine Family from among men, every one of whom shall be spirit because born of the Spirit, and that this family shall be large enough to fill the earth, when perfected, to the entire exclusion of flesh and blood.”
(John Thomas, 1858)
In subsequent issues, we shall if our Lord permit, continue to examine the development of the Divine Purpose as it appears in the lives of men and women, described throughout the pages of Scripture.