In the last installment of the Testing God series, I encouraged you to align yourself with God's purposes. I just want to take a pause here to discuss, briefly, what I believe are the three purposes of God.
Rather, I'll briefly discuss the three things about which God is most concerned. It is these three things, also, that I believe we, as the crown jewel of His creation, ought to be most concerned.
These three things are, namely:
- The care of the cosmos
- The care of the Church
- The salvation of man
It is these three things about which God is most concerned, and for which He most patiently and diligently pursues His purposes.
The Care of The Cosmos
I want to be perfectly clear that when I speak of "the cosmos," what I am talking about is the created order. In other words, that which God has made.
To state this succinctly: God has a plan for creation.
In the Gospel of John, first chapter, the first three verses, it reads:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made.
These three verses are parallel to the first chapter of the Old Testament, the book of Genesis. The first verse reads:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Christians believe that God, in the beginning, created everything there is. All the heavens and the earth, and everything within them. God created it all. This is what we call the cosmos.
In the New Testament, when the text uses the Greek word kosmos, it very often is translated "world." In my view, this is an insufficient translation for it usually means much more than what comes to our 21 century minds when we think of "the world." I believe it has more to do with God's entire created order. At least, I believe that is the view in the most popular Bible verse in our day, John 3:16. It reads:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The Greek word used for the word "world" in that verse is kosmos. It is the word from which the English word "cosmos" is derived. That Greek word, literally translated, means "order," or "the entire ordered system." Like many words in English, the word, in Greek, is flexible and can be used in different ways, changing meaning based on context. For that reason, many Bible commentators have ascribed the meaning of the word in the context of John 3:16 to mean the entire human population. Others have said it is referring to everyone who ultimately comes to believe in Christ. I would argue that it certainly includes both of these categories, but I also believe that it encompasses so much more. There are several reasons I believe this.
- God called His entire creation "good" - After the sixth day, when God created man, He looked at "all He had made" and said it was "very good." (Genesis 1:31, Berean Study Bible) This is significant because after Adam sinned, God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17, Berean Study Bible), but He does not plan to leave it in that state forever.
- God is reconciling all things to Himself - In Colossians 1:19-20 (Berean Study Bible), it says that "God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross." In other words, Christ did not die on the cross merely for the salvation of men, but for the reconciling of "all things" in heaven and on earth. The cosmos.
- Man is God's steward over creation - Genesis 1:28 tells us that God blessed Adam and Eve and commanded them to "be fruitful and multiply" and to "subdue" the earth. He also charged man with ruling over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every creature. The word "subdue" in Hebrew is kabash. It means to "bring into bondage." In other words, man is to literally rule over the creation. Quite often, especially in conservative Christian circles, what is emphasized is the violent nature of subjugation. I've heard Christians actually advocate for the "rape and pillage" of earth as our God-given right. I don't believe this is what God had in mind. In Genesis, chapter 2, verse 15, the text says God put man in the Garden of Eden to "cultivate it" and "keep it." The Hebrew word for "cultivate" in that verse is *abad," a word which means to work and to serve. In some contexts, the connotation is to "work and serve" as a slave in bondage to a master. So we have what appears to be a conundrum. Man is to both subjugate and serve as a slave to the created order. I believe the view that God had in mind with man's relationship to His creation is that we are to keep it, cultivate it, rule over it, and care for it as God's representatives within the order. We are to care for what God called "very good" as if God Himself were doing the caring. We are stewards over God's created order.
The Care of the Church
In the New Testament, it is very clear that God has a high regard for His church. Simply by analyzing the many names for the church, and how God speaks about His church, we can see that one of God's most important purposes is the care of His church. Here are just a few ways the New Testament refers to the church that Jesus Christ built.
- The Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23)
- Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9)
- Heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22)
- God's flock (1 Peter 5:2)
- Golden lampstands (Revelation 1:20)
- Holy temple (Ephesians 2:21)
- The pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15)
- Salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
- Light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
Each of these idioms used to describe the church are God's way of indicating His value for the church. He has given the church the great responsibility for representing His will, His authority, and His plan for all of creation and all of mankind in what Christians call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Berean Study Bible).
He tell us to love all people (Matthew 22:39), but says the world will know we follow Christ if we love one another (John 13:35). The entire New Testament is about how Christians ought to love God and love each other so that we are to be the best representation of God, who is love (1 John 4:8), on earth.
His purpose for the church is to express His love for all. To do that, the church must love itself, and its members must love each other.
The Salvation of Man
We express God's love for the world best when we share the good news with it. God sent Christ to die for the sins of man. Everyone who believes in him will be saved (John 3:16). This is God's message for the world, and He has given this message to the church to share with the world. He wants everyone to hear the gospel message and turn from their sinful ways. His will is for everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9) so that no one will perish.
The day is coming when there will be no more repentance. Until then, the door is open to anyone willing to align themselves with God's purposes and join the throng of the saints proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
Our duty is to align ourselves with God's purposes for creation, His church, and all of mankind. We can put God to the test. His promises are true and will be fulfilled at the time He has ordained them to be fulfilled.
Want to read the entire series? Follow these links:
- Is God Testable?
- How the Hall of Faith Encourages Us to Test God
- How I Came to Faith in Christ
- Studying God Where He Is and Has Been
- Why Studying the Bible is Necessary for Testing God
- Testing God: Moving Beyond the Canon of Scripture
- Why Fellowship With Other Believers Is Important
- Testing God Through Prayer and Meditation
- Obedience: The Ultimate Test of God
- Align Yourself With God's Purposes
Posted via neoxian.city | The City of Neoxian