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God’s Purpose For Your Life

Posted by Tom Lessing on September 27, 2008

The Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren I have written a series of 20 commentaries on my Afrikaans blog (http://1joh4.wordpress.com) on Rick Warren’s highly successful book “The Purpose Driven Life” and I intend to translate them all into English as soon as time allows it. However, as an introduction to what may follow later I have decided to remind you what God’s real purpose in life is for you.

As you may know the main feature of Warren’s book is how to find purpose in your life and how to realize it. The problem, however, is that he rarely makes any distinction between believers and unbelievers which leaves the reader with the impression that God has the same purpose for both. The fact is that God has two different purposes for believers and unbelievers which I intend to lay out for you in the following article.

God’s Purpose for Believers

His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church). [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God; that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood — completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection — the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. (Ephesians 4:12,13)

What are your ideals and ambitions in life? In our so-called post-modern age with all its fascinating technological advancements, success is measured by one’s status in life, which in turn is determined by one’s financial position. Mankind is rushing after ever greater pinnacles of success at a maddening pace. Nations throughout the world regard their economies as the alpha and omega of their existence, even to the extent that decent moral behaviour and ethics are happily sacrificed on the world altars of Mammon. When the stock market falls with 1 or 2% gloom, depression and despair immediately set in.

One of the saddest snares Christians have fallen into is the notion that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross so that we might feel good about ourselves. Indeed, the devastating lie that He was crucified because we are worthy and that He shed His precious blood to restore our self-esteem so that we may be successful, prosperous and happy, is increasingly gaining credence in Evangelical Christian churches throughout the world. The inevitable result of this lie is that the entire concept of worship and praise is undergoing an entire metamorphoses. Jumping, yelling, laughing, crying vociferous crowds truly believe that they are praising and worshipping the Triune God. What has happened to the old fashioned and godly way of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth? (John 4:23). Have we completely lost sight of God’s ambitions or intentions for our lives?

What are God’s intentions for our lives? The opening passage of Scripture clearly outlines His purpose. Firstly, God intends to perfect and equip His saints. In the business world or any kind of secular occupation, it is imperative that an employee undergo the necessary education and practical training so as to equip him for his particular position in a firm. However, these educational training methods are not sufficient. Nearly all successful businessmen will admit that experience is what is ultimately needed to make a success of your vocation. In the spiritual realm this is of no less importance. If, what we learn through God’s word is not translated into an experiential knowledge, then all the other educational training methods are null and void. This is what Paul had in mind when he said:—

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

Paul’s experiences in all kinds of circumstances enabled him to encourage, comfort and teach his brethren to endure similar experiences with fortitude and patience. Throughout all his ordeals, he was continually aware of God’s comforting presence that gave him the strength to endure in his faith, even to the extent that he could cry out triumphantly, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). Keeping the faith was evidently Paul’s ultimate objective, which is also the essence of the message in Ephesians 4:12 & 13, It is apparent that the “perfecting” and “equipping” of the saints are first and foremost for the benefit of others. In fact, God equips his saints exclusively for the building up of Christ’s body (the church). It is God’s intent that the church should reflect the magnanimous and indescribable perfection and magnificence of Christ’s character, display the wisdom of God and to show forth His praises and glorify Him. There is no room for individualism within the body of Christ. The saints are all members of His body who must collectively work together toward the achievement of the complete height (measure or standard) of Christ’s own perfection.

In the last of these last days the vicious attacks of Satan are primarily targeted at the faith of God’s saints. Bearing in mind that the reason for the edifying and building up of the church is to attain oneness (agreement or unanimity) in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, it is easy to see why he particularly wants to destroy the faith. Paul counted all things that were gain to him as loss for the sake of Christ, and for the excellency of the knowledge of His Lord. (Philippians 3:7,8) Nothing was more important to him than to progressively grow in the knowledge of Christ. To know Him in this way is to be overwhelmed by the magnanimous splendor and holy radiance of His character, prompting one to worship and serve Him with complete awe and abandonment.

Satan knows that the destruction of the faith of God’s children will lead to a total misrepresentation of Jesus Christ. Throughout the world there is an alarming upsurge of a new kind of Christianity that is increasingly turning away from faith in God and Jesus Christ to a faith in your faith or faith in your own mind power. Indeed, we are literally experiencing the falling away (departure) from the faith. (1 Timothy 4:1). The knowledge derived from such a faith leaves one with a distorted view of Jesus Christ. It is preposterous to hold the view that the body of Christ can represent “— the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him”, when it has departed from a Biblically grounded faith. Spiritual maturity, nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection, is what God has in mind for the body of Christ.

In order to understand more clearly what is meant by spiritual maturity, we should look at immaturity. Our Lord plainly said that unless we are changed and become like a child, there is no hope for us; we will never enter into the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 18:3) There is however a vast difference between child-likeness and childishness. In our main Scripture reading at the beginning of this commentary, verse 14 goes on to say that spiritual immaturity is typical of everyone who is easily “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming”. In complete contrast to this, the spiritual man or the man who is governed by the Holy Spirit, tests or discerns all things. (1 Corinthians 2:15). Contending for the faith is not merely having the right attitude about faith, but to combat and reject outright any false thing that even looks remotely like the authentic teachings or doctrines in the Bible. (Jude 3 & 1 John 4:1). Vigilance, sobriety, and a keen discernment are all traits of an acute mind that has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. This is probably the most important prerequisite for spiritual maturity—a discerning mind. In fact, we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have the mind of Christ. Anything short of the mind of Christ will not be sufficient to discern spiritual truths. What is meant by the mind of Christ. It is definitely something more than the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially. It is to exemplify his example by living the same way He lived and died when He walked the earth.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. — Let Him be your example in humility —

Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained; But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity] so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of [the] cross! (Philippians2:5-8; Amplified Bible).

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh [for us, for you], arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] has done with [intentional] sin — has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God. (1 Peter 4:1; Amplified Bible).

The core of both the above passages of Scripture is the inevitability of a humble mind. And indeed this is the very essence of God’s purpose in the “perfecting” and “equipping” of the saints for the building up and edifying of the body of Christ — humility. Meekness or a lowly mind is indeed “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Jesus Christ and the completeness found in Him”. Did Jesus Himself not say that we may learn humility from Him? (Matthew 11:28). This truly is spiritual maturity. No measure of knowledge or studying will ever be able to build up the body of Christ when a humble mind is absent. Is not this the reason why Paul said:

1 Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church (Emphasis added).

1 Corinthians 8:1 Knowledge alone puffs up, but charity (humble service and speaking the truth in love) builds up.

Please note: Paul did not say that knowledge puffs up but that knowledge alone puffs up. The reason for the gaining of knowledge should not be to show others how well educated and how well grounded you are in spiritual matters but to use your knowledge for the benefit of other believers so that they may grow to full maturity in the Lord.

God’s Purpose for Unbelievers

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, . . .

2 Peter 3: 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

An unbeliever once asked: “Why do I need to repent? Why do some Christians keep on harassing me by saying ‘repent, repent, repent?'” A Christian looked at him with compassion in his eyes and simply said: “Because you are lost.” Jesus once looked at the crowds with the very same compassion because they did not have a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

The essence of being lost, is to be without a shepherd – the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd does not point you to the way that leads to eternal life – He IS the Way; the ONLY Way.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The sad thing is that many refuse to repent and turn their lives over to Jesus Christ so that He may transform them into new creatures. They themselves choose death (eternal separation from God in hell) above life (eternal life and bliss in heaven with God). Is it God’s will that they perish? No! a thousand times, no!

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Emphasis added)

God did not prepare hell for human beings but for the devil and his angels, but whoever prefers to follow the devil in stead of Jesus Christ must be prepared to follow Satan into hell as well.

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