(If you want to read the earlier parts of this series, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)
God’s great gracious plan isn’t just an individual plan. It’s not just about me in a perfect world with Jesus. It’s not a case of a plan for me, and another plan for Emmanuel Mbakwe, and another plan for Warren Jones, and another plan for Tim Jack. No. It’s a plan for Jesus Christ. What love and grace that God sweeps us up into His plan for Jesus! This is a plan for Jesus and His Church – and we’re invited!
In the past, in the Apostolic Church we used to talk about ‘the Apostolic Vision.’ And lots of people assume that the Apostolic Vision is about apostles and prophets in the church, but really it isn’t. It’s about something else altogether. The Apostolic Vision is all about God’s Eternal Purpose. It’s all about God’s great plan for Jesus and His Church.
And we need to recover that glorious vision. A vision where it’s not all about me – it’s not all about my blessings and my success. But instead, a vision where it’s all about Christ and His Church. Where we see that the Victory has already been won – by Him, for us! Every Spiritual Blessing is already ours in Him!
We need our eyes lifted to see a greater, more glorious vision of Jesus Christ. To see that all things were created for Him. To see that God’s Purpose is centred in Him and accomplished by Him. To know that Jesus is our satisfaction, our joy, our inheritance, & our exceedingly great reward. And so we’ll truthfully sing ‘Thou O Christ art all I want, More than all in Thee I find!’
Ephesians 3:10-11 tells us of this great eternal purpose. We’ve already seen from Ephesians 1 that this plan is all about Jesus, and now here in Ephesians 3 we see that the Church, the Body of Christ, is right at the centre of God’s plan for Jesus. This is His Eternal Purpose. It’s not a back-up plan. This purpose is Eternal – it’s been God’s plan since before the foundation of the world. It’s not just a temporary thing. He’s not going to change His mind. That’s why D.P. Williams said ‘there is nothing higher not nearer the Heart of our Glorified Lord than His Church.’
God’s eternal purpose is His incredible plan for Christ and His Church But how do you feel about the church? Are your thoughts about the church formed by God’s view of the Church? You see, the Church isn’t just a means to an end. It’s not just a way of evangelism. It’s not just a way to have fellowship. It’s not just a place to get some teaching. No, the Church is Christ’s Body – united to her living Head. The Church is the great object of His love. And the Church is the purpose of the Cross (Eph. 5:25; Acts 20:28).
And this all comes about through Christ’s Cross. For there He defeated sin, death, hell and the devil. There He bore the wrath of God which we deserved; so that He might bring us into the freedom of the sons of God. And this display of the grace of God will go on throughout the ages to come in His Church (Eph. 2:7). How? Through union with Christ and the fullness of Christ. But, this grace isn’t just for the ages to come. This display of grace has already begun: ‘to the intent that NOW the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places’ (Eph. 3:10). It has already begun. Already this wisdom is being shown – this grace is being displayed in our union with Christ and in our increasing fullness of Christ, all through God’s grace in Christ.
Ephesians 1:22-23 describes the church as the fullness of Christ. The Church is filled with His fullness: that’s God’s plan for the church. God’s Purpose to gather together all things in Christ is accomplished through the Church. Christ has been given as Head over all things to the church. So that’s God’s Eternal Purpose.
Let me just sum this up. What is God’s Eternal Purpose? It’s that Jesus Christ is highly exalted. How is He exalted? Well, John’s Gospel tells us that He’s glorified through His Cross. So, through His Cross, Resurrection & Ascension, Christ is highly exalted and is given as Head over all things to the Church. And He fills His Church with all His fullness, and through His Church He fills all things. That’s God’s great purpose – to unite us to Christ so that Christ might accomplish His purpose of filling the universe through us.
And that’s why Eph. 3:20-21 isn’t just some nice words for the end of a church service. It’s actually God’s ultimate goal:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.That’s why the church exists – to bring glory to God throughout all ages, in Christ Jesus, full of Christ Jesus.