THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD Lesson #11
The Purpose of God Romans 8:28
Is the world in which we live ruled by blind fate, or uncontrolled luck, or the twists of evolutionary progress, or is it ruled by almighty God? Are the events of our lives ordered by the wise, holy, and good purpose of our heavenly Father, or are they the results of mere coincidences, without purpose and arrangement? Is the will of God supreme, or is the will of God subject to and dependent upon his creation? What does God say in his Word? No other opinion matters. By this standard every preacher, every doctrine, every message, and every statement on spiritual matters must be examined. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). This is what God says: “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The God of the Bible, the God we trust and worship, the one true and living God is a God of purpose. The whole universe and all the events of time are completely subject to, absolutely ruled by, and ultimately disposed of “according to his purpose.” God did not create the world and place man upon it and then withdraw from it, leaving his creation to the uncontrolled direction of fate, luck, or free-will. God almighty determined, purposed, decreed, and unalterably fixed all the circumstances and events in the lot of every individual, and everything which makes up the history of the universe from the beginning of time to the end of time; and he did so from eternity. “He did not merely decree that general laws should be established for the government of the world, but he settled the application of those laws to all particular cases. Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our heads. We may learn what are the extent of the divine decrees from the dispensation of providence in which they are executed. The care of providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the most minute events - the death of a sparrow, the fall of a hair” (A. W. Pink).
DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT GOD HAS A PURPOSE? The basis of our faith is the Word of God alone. Does the Bible teach that God has a purpose by which he sovereignly rules the world? Read the following passages, and learn what God himself has to say about this issue: Isaiah 14:24, 26, 27; 46:9-11; Jeremiah 51:29; Romans 8:28; 9:11-24; 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:9; 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 John 3:8. These passages of Holy Scripture unquestionably declare that God almighty has a purpose which he purposed in himself before the world began by which he sovereignly rules the world. God’s very nature teaches us that he has such a purpose. It would be contrary to the perfections of his nature not to have a purpose by which he governs the universe. To deny his purpose, to deny his sovereign work of eternal predestination, is to deny his very Godhead. This is the reason I have included this study in this series on the attributes of God. If God is sovereign over all his creatures, then everything that comes to pass in time must have been purposed from eternity. If anything comes to pass without the will of God, or contrary to his eternal command, purpose, and decree of predestination, he cannot be the sovereign God who does according to his will in heaven and earth and works all things after the counsel of his own will (Lam. 3:37; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11). If anything that comes to pass is the result of fate, fortune, or free-will, and independent of the will of God, how can he be sovereign? If God’s works are subservient to, dependent upon, or measured by the will and works of his creatures, then the Creator is dependent upon the creature! If God is not a God of sovereign purpose, how can it be truthfully said that “of him, through him, and to him are all things”? (Rom. 11:36). If the God of heaven is immutable, then he must be a God who has an eternal, immutable purpose. If something happens in time that he did not purpose in eternity, then it must be new to him. It must produce some change in him. And what he does with, or in response to that new thing implies either an addition to or an alteration of his purpose. But that cannot be, for he declares, “I change not” (Mal. 3:6). With him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Again, if God is not a God of purpose, then he is not a God of knowledge and wisdom as the Bible declares himself to be. All knowledge belongs to God. He is “a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (II Sam. 2:13). God has an exact knowledge of all things done in time. And his knowledge is from eternity (Acts 15:18). He knew from eternity both what he would do himself and what he would allow others to do. Nothing takes God by surprise. His knowledge of all things is founded upon his purpose regarding all things. He knows all things because he purposed, determined, and predestined all things. Many would destroy the teachings of the Scripture regarding predestination by asserting that God foreknew all things, but that he did not purpose, will, decree, and predestinate all things. But their doctrine has no strength. If God knows all things from eternity, he either approves of them or disapproves of them; he is either willing that they come to pass or he is not. If he is willing that they come to pass, then he has purposed it from eternity. If he is not willing, and they come to pass against his will, then he is not God! Not only does God know all things, he is the only wise God, and his wisdom implies a plan and purpose regarding all things in his creation (Isa. 28:29). Even the plowing of the farmer and the breaking of the clods of the earth is according to the wonderful counsel and excellent working of our God. Get this blessed fact of divine revelation firmly settled in your heart - The God of the Bible has a sovereign, eternal purpose by which he rules the universe.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF GOD? When an architect draws a set of blueprints, those blueprints are the revelation of his purpose. It is obvious that his purpose includes a great multitude of things, from the size, shape, place, and usefulness of every nail and screw to the final form of the structure to be erected. But if you want to know the purpose he has in mind, you need only to look at the picture on the first page. Without question, God’s purpose includes everything, as I intend to show. But if you want to know what his purpose is in all things, you need only to look at the picture he has given. God’s great and glorious purpose in all things, the purpose according to which he rules the universe, is twofold. First, and foremost, the purpose of God in all things is the glory of his own great name. All things in creation and providence are for the glory of God (Rev. 4:11). And all the works of God’s grace, election, predestination, adoption, redemption, regeneration, and preservation, are for the glory of God (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). Second,. the great purpose of God in all things is the salvation of his own elect (Rom. 8:28-39; II Tim. 1:9). God has determined to glorify himself, and he has chosen to do so in the highest possible degree by saving sinners through the blood and righteousness of his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish this great end, almighty God has purposed all that ever comes to pass in time (Prov. 16:4; Psa. 76:10). Even the black tar with which the foundation of a house is painted is included in the plans of the architect and serves a useful purpose in the structure of the house.
WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF GOD’S PURPOSE? Few would deny that God has a purpose. But most greatly limit God’s purpose. In doing so they would both limit God and his sovereignty. But the Bible does not limit the purpose of God at all. According to the Scriptures, the purpose of God reaches “to all things that come to pass in the world, from the beginning to the end of it. The world, and all things in it, were created by and according to the will and pleasure of God, Rev. 4:11” (John Gill). The heavens - Their creation, the time of their duration, their dissolving, and the new heavens to be made are fixed by the decree of almighty God (Psa. 148:6). The earth - It’s size and form, before and after the flood, its times and seasons, and the day and hour of its destruction, was set and determined by the word of God’s purpose from eternity (2 Pet. 3:5, 6, 7, 10). The seas - Their place, their depth, their boundaries, beyond which they cannot pass are fixed by God’s unalterable purpose (Job 28:10-11; Prov. 8:29; Jer. 5:21). The rain - Has its decree as well. Whether it is given in mercy to make the fields fruitful, or withheld in drought in any place, or poured out in a flood of judgment is according to the eternal decree of God almighty (Job 28:26; Amos 4:7-9; 5:8). The people of the world - Their races, nations, and kingdoms, their habitations, color, and dialect, their abilities and infirmities, their days and years, are determined by God our Creator (Deut. 32:8; Dan. 2:38-44; 4:17-20). The church of God - Her dispensations, her trials, her persecutions, her deliverances, her times of languishing and her times of refreshing, her days on earth and her everlasting glory were determined before the world was made by the purpose of God (Rev. 10:6; 11:2-3; 12:14; 13:5; Psa. 102:13; Isa. 60:1-22; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:25-27). “Everything respecting all the individuals of the world, that have been, are, or shall be, all correspond with the decrees of God and are according to them. Men’s coming into the world, the time of it, and all the circumstances attending it - all the events and occurrences they meet with throughout the whole time of life - their places of habitation, their station, calling, and employment - their circumstances of riches and poverty, of health and sickness, adversity and prosperity - their time of going out of the world, with everything attending that - all are according to the determinate counsel and will of God” (John Gill). (Eccles. 3:1-2; 7:14; Acts 27:26; Job 14:5). The purpose of God extends to and includes everything (spiritual, temporal, and eternal) relating to his elect in time and eternity (2 Cor. 5:18). God’s purpose determined everything that Christ was to be, do, suffer, and accomplish as our Substitute (Lk. 22:22, 37; Acts 2:23; 4:28; Gal. 4:4-6). His incarnation and birth, his life and family, his sorrows and temptations, his betrayal and death, his ascension and exaltation, his heavenly glory and second coming, all were determined by God’s sovereign, eternal, immutable purpose. The purpose of God determined even the most insignificant events of the world (Matt. 10:29-30). What can be less significant than the falling of a sparrow or the numbering of our hairs? Yet even these were arranged by our God from everlasting. Everything that ever comes to pass in this world, from its beginning to its end, was unalterably fixed and determined by the purpose of God in eternity. Whatever comes to pass in time, without exception was foreordained from eternity. “God’s decree, as comprehensive as his government, extends to all creatures and events” (A. W. Pink). The purpose of God even extends to wicked men and their wicked deeds (Psa. 76:10; Prov. 16:4; Acts 2:23;13:27-29). I do not suggest, or in any way imply, that God is the author and cause of sin. But I do declare, in complete accordance with Holy Scripture, that God is the Orderer and Controller of sin and evil. Sin, satan, and sinners could not exist without God’s permission and purpose.
IS THE PURPOSE OF GOD SURE? Most assuredly it shall! God’s purpose has always been accomplished perfectly. God’s purpose is being accomplished perfectly. And God’s purpose shall be accomplished perfectly in and with all things. The purpose and decree of almighty God cannot fail (Isa. 14:27). It is, in all things, infallible and effectual, because it is an eternal purpose (Eph. 1:4; 3:11), an unconditional purpose (Rom. 9:11-18), a wise purpose (Rom. 11:33; Eph. 1:11), a free purpose (Isa. 40:13-14), and an immutable purpose (Heb. 6:17).
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHETHER OR NOT WE BELIEVE IN THE PURPOSE OF GOD? Imagine, if you dare, what the religious leaders of the world would have us believe - A God without a sure and certain purpose that must be accomplished - A world in which nothing is certain - A universe without design - A planet which spins by chance - Events determined by luck - Wicked men without any governor but their own freewill - Demons without restraint but by their own determination - A future without certainty! In such a universe there could be no peace, comfort, or assurance. There would be no place of refuge in time of trouble. There could be no faith and hope in God, in his promises. in his power, or in his prophecies. No word from God could be believed absolutely. He cannot be trusted absolutely who does not control absolutely. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God that everything in the universe is determined and controlled by his infinite wisdom, immutable purpose, and sovereign goodness. We worship, love, and trust a God of purpose (Rom. 8:28; 11:36).