The Eternal Purpose of God
Canoga Park, California
God is not an experimenter, trying first one thing then another, and then making such changes as trial and error demand. His purposes are eternal and his methods of accomplishment sure. In Ephesians 3: 9-11, we read: "To make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The Divine scheme of redemption for lost humanity was conceived and hidden in the mind of God before time began, but has now been made known through the gospel. This plan of saving sinful man involved the church of the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us in the New Testament. This church with its simplicity in organization, doctrine, work, and worship stands as a manifestation of the "manifold wisdom of God according to his eternal purpose."
Ephesians 1:4 adds this bit of testimony: "Even as he (God) chose us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should he holy and without blemish before him in love." The phrase, "before the foundation of the world" is from the Greek "pro kataboles kosmou." "pro" means "before"; "kata" is a Greek preposition denoting direction from higher to lower, therefore "down"; "boles" is to "throw", and "kosmou" is translated "world." Hence, "pro kataboles kosmou" is literally "before the throwing down of the world." Before God stretched forth his hand and said, "Let the world exist" and before he threw it down as the "footstool of his feet" (Matthew 5:35), he had formed purposes and made plans for the saving of man--even before man existed. This but evidences the concern which God has for our salvation. Can we afford then to treat it lightly?
According to his eternal purpose "when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of Sons" (Galatians 4:4,5). The old prophets who prophesied of this salvation "sought and searched diligently concerning what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit set forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:10-12).
The old prophets knew they were foretelling glorious events and wanted to know more about it, but God would only reveal to them that it was not for them but for those to come after them. We are today among those for whom the prophets ministered these things, which have been announced by the preaching of the apostles as they were guided by the Holy Spirit, and which have been recorded in this book we call "The New Testament." We are living in a highly favored age to have access to these things and the freedom to obey them to the saving of our souls. MacKnight judiciously puts it this way: "If our salvation and the means by which it is accomplished, are of such importance as to merit the attention of angels, how much more do they merit our attention, who are so much interested in them?"
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 40, p. 2
August 20, 1970