Service Of Lasting Value

Service Of Lasting Value

By Klaas Rot

“And Jesus went forth and went away from the temple, and His disciples came to Him to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. And He answering said to them, Do ye not see all these things? Verily I say to you, not a stone shall be left here upon a stone which shall not be thrown down.” —Matthew 24:1-2 JND

The disciples, with their hearts occupied with the outward appearance of their service, pointed out to the Lord the grandeur of the temple and the complex of buildings surrounding it. Yet, the Spirit of God was working in their hearts. At this time they could not reconcile the prospect that their Master would leave this earth without setting up His kingdom. These beautiful temple buildings would certainly have a place in His administration here on earth, they thought.

The Lord had already told them that He would be rejected by the Pharisees and elders, and be crucified. They did not understand what He had revealed, yet they were aware that something was going to happen. The Lord utterly destroyed all their hope by answering, “Not one stone shall be left here upon a stone.” The temple they were admiring was to be destroyed.

Have we ever heard the voice of the Lord concerning our outward service for Him? If our service is not an exhibition of His person, as fruit of His work in us, His verdict is: It will not last; it is yours and not Mine. The Lord had left the temple. His place was now outside, where He spoke to His disciples of the future. It is so important that the light of the future shines on our daily walk and service for Him. Paul understood this truth, writing to the believers in Corinth about “momentary … light affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17). These things that caused pain were light, not weighty, for Paul because the blessings of the future were already enjoyed in anticipation. What a lesson for us to learn!

The Lord directs us to what is to come. In that light, or revelation, we may evaluate our present condition. The Lord is near now. Soon He will come Himself to take us into the Father’s house – a place where there will be no night!

“Will the Passover be kept for eternity?”

Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

QUESTION: Exodus 12:14,24 says that the Passover will be kept “for ever” (KJV). Does that really mean that believing Israel will keep the feast of the Passover for eternity or in the eternal state? Two other references for “forever” come to my mind: “To put my Name there for ever” (1 Ki. 9:3), and “Establish the throne of Thy kingdom upon Israel for ever” (v.5).

ANSWER: Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture. Therefore, it is important that we read Scripture carefully and compare passages one with another to see what God is telling us. God speaks plainly in His Word, but it is well to keep in mind that there are words in our older translations that have changed their meaning in the course of the centuries. Words and expressions in the languages in which Scripture was written must be understood in the context in which they were written rather than how we ordinarily use them today.

When we look at Exodus 12:14,24 carefully we see that God instructed Israel to keep the Passover feast forever. Three times in Deuteronomy 16 God commands His earthly people to sacrifice the Passover in the place where the Lord shall choose to place His name (vv. 2,6-7). In verse 5 He explicitly forbade His people to sacrifice the Passover in any of their gates. When Jewish people today keep the Passover they are keeping it in a manner contrary to God’s commandment. God does not appreciate disobedience.

The reference in 1 Kings 9:3 reveals God’s promise to Solomon, while the following verses show conditions that His people were to fulfill if God was to keep His promise. Solomon did not keep God’s commandments, so God brought in Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the temple and to make an end of the royal line of Solomon on the throne of Israel.

God will, however, take up dealings with Israel again in a day soon to come. The faithful remnant of the nation is viewed as all Israel in that day. The Lord will then indeed sit upon His royal throne and there will be a reconstructed temple. Sacrifices will again be offered, but they will be memorial sacrifices as the work of Christ upon the cross is sufficient to take care of every problem about sin and its forgiveness. We read of these things in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel and the final chapters of Zechariah, among other passages. Ezekiel 45:21-25 mentions how God will have His earthly people keep the Passover in that day.

But after 1,000 years, when He shall have put all enemies under His feet, He will deliver up the kingdom to God, having put down all rule, authority and power. Revelation 20 and the beginning of chapter 21 go into a bit more detail on this. They indicate that at the end of the millennium Satan will be released for a short time from his prison and will again go out and deceive the nations worldwide, gathering them together to battle. This revolt against the Lord’s authority will be put down by fire coming down from God out of heaven. The judgment of Satan and that of the unsaved dead at the great white throne follow immediately, the wicked being raised for their final judgment.

Afterwards, the new heaven and the new earth come into focus. There is no more sea on the new earth – the sea is a type of the nations throughout Scripture. Israel is no longer a separate people, distinguished from the nations. We simply find that “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (21:3). All the consequences of sin that have plagued mankind since the fall – tears, death, sorrow and pain – will be taken away. “The former things are passed away” (v.4), we are told. And the One who sits on the throne says, “Behold, I make all things new” (v.5)

From all this we can see that the “forever” of the Passover takes us to the end of this present creation. As long as God views Israel as a nation it is to remember how God delivered it from the bondage of Egypt. In the new heavens and the new earth the former things will have passed away. Isaiah 65:17 already tells us: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” With no nation of Israel, there will no longer be a reason to celebrate the Passover. The full sufficiency of the work of Christ will be the portion that every believer will rejoice in with a full heart in the world to come!

Two Covenants At Beersheba

Two Covenants At Beersheba

By Hugo Bouter

“Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water … And he said, ‘You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well.’ Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there.” —Genesis 21:25,30-31 NKJV
“We have certainly seen that the LORD is with you … Let us make a covenant with you … You are now the blessed of the LORD.” —Genesis 26:28-29

Before beginning, it would be helpful to read Genesis 21:22-34, 22:19 and 26:23-33.

Beersheba, The Place Of The Covenant
Beersheba occupied an important place in the lives of both Abraham and Isaac, as is clear from Genesis 21, 22 and 26. However, Hagar is the first person we see near a well of water in “the Wilderness of Beersheba” (21:14). It is certainly no accident that the name is mentioned in connection with her story, while the end of that chapter enlarges upon the significance of the place. Beersheba means “the well of the oath.” The name is related to the Hebrew word for “to swear” and the word for “seven.” The latter meaning is because of the seven lambs that Abraham gave to Abimelech as a witness that he had dug the well (vv.28-30). Therefore it is not far-fetched to assume this well of water meant much to these three Bible characters: Hagar, Abraham and Isaac.

Beersheba speaks of God’s faithfulness to His promises, His oaths. God kept His word with regard to the heirs of the promise, Abraham and Isaac, but also in connection with the bondwoman and her son, Hagar and Ishmael. Beersheba is always the place of the covenant. It is also symbolic of the faithfulness connected with the relationship of God to men – a faithfulness people should display to each other. This is apparent from what follows in Genesis 21 and 26, where we read about the treaties between Abraham and Abimelech, and Isaac and Abimelech respectively. Just as God is true to His oaths, it is expected that we will be faithful in our relationships with others.

As the Son of the Father, Christ is heir of all the promises. We, New Testament believers, have the encouragement that the promises of God “in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory to God through us” (2 Cor. 1:18-22). In that sense we may again and again draw from the well of the oath until all that God has said and promised – with regard to Israel, the Church and the nations – is fulfilled in a wonderful way.

Abraham At Beersheba
In the last verses of Genesis 21 we read how two people made a covenant together at Beersheba, near the well of the oath. It was a treaty between Abraham, the shepherd-king, and Abimelech, the king of the Philistines (26:1). We can describe them as representatives of the people of Israel and of the Philistines, or the Palestinians of today. The present-day Palestinians are not the true descendants of the Philistines, but etymologically the name “Palestine” is derived from “Philistia.”

The story in Genesis 21:22-34 is a development of the history found in chapter 20, where an earlier conflict between the two men is described, when Sarah was at stake. That ended in a kind of reparation payment on the part of Abimelech, who hinted at it during this second conflict by speaking about his friendship – the faithfulness or loyalty he had shown Abraham (Gen. 21:23). The relationship between the two was subsequently recorded in a formal way in this covenant. Abimelech had demonstrated his faithfulness, and Abraham was expected to do the same. That happened by the swearing of an oath at the well of water Abraham claimed to own (vv.23,30-31).

Later, a similar act took place between Isaac and Abimelech, and Phichol, the commander of Abimelech’s army, when Isaac’s servants had re-dug the well of the oath (26:31-33). Abimelech means “my father is king,” and Phichol means “mouth of all,” which is related to “spokesman.” It is likely that these names were titles passed down from father to son and that the Abimelech here was a different person from the one who met with Abraham.

The covenant with these pagan kings prophetically points to the end time when Israel will be restored and rule over the Philistines (consider Isa. 11:14; Obad. 19). Then a really enduring peace will be made between the two. The splendid testimony given of Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do” (Gen. 21:22), will have fully come true in that day.

After the making of the covenant, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba. This is a stately tree resembling a cedar. Genesis 21:33 says, “[Abraham] there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” This again is a hint of the coming kingdom of peace when God will be worshiped as El-Olaam, the Everlasting God. The government of the Prince of Peace will have no end. So Abraham knelt down as a worshiper near the well of the oath and gave the Eternal God the thanks that He alone is entitled to receive.

Beersheba As A Watch Post
Beersheba is mentioned again in Genesis 22 as being a residence of Abraham and Isaac. Just as they had gone together to Mount Moriah, so they also returned together to Beersheba, to the well of the oath. This is remarkable indeed, because in this very chapter we hear God swear by Himself that He would bless Abraham richly, and that in his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (vv.16-18). No doubt the patriarch returned to Beersheba with this delightful promise in his ears and often thought about it.

This promise of blessing for all the earth reaches to the end time, to the coming kingdom of peace. Abraham looked forward to the day of Christ, the day of His appearing, and rejoiced in it (Jn. 8:56). In Christ all God’s promises are certain and secure. They will be fulfilled in God’s time for, as we have seen already, “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20).

Isaac At Beersheba
The oath God had sworn to Abraham and his offspring also applied to Isaac, the son of the promise, whom Abraham had received from the dead in a figurative sense (Heb. 11:18-19). The epistle to the Hebrews confirms this by speaking about “the heirs … of the same promise” (v.9) in the plural. The oath is the end of every argument, and by it God wanted to show emphatically the unchangeableness of His purpose (Heb. 6:13-18).

Later, Isaac also lived in Beersheba. There the LORD appeared to him and confirmed the legality of the promise He had made to Abraham. This divine revelation also turned Isaac into a worshiper. He built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD (Gen. 26:23-25). Isaac is a type of Christ as the risen and glorified Man in heaven, God’s Beloved One, the Son of the promise and Heir of everything. In truth He is the Blessed of the LORD (see v.29). As Christians, we are His by faith and share the blessings that have been promised to Him. Ours is a heavenly home and we can enjoy it now even though we are still pilgrims on earth. Just like Isaac, we possess a “tent,” a “well” and an “altar” (v.25).

The covenant between Isaac and Abimelech at the well of the oath speaks prophetically of the peace that will be made between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming kingdom. The point is not that the Palestinians will acknowledge Israel’s superiority, but that they will recognize the nation has been blessed by God Himself: “You are now the blessed of the LORD” (Gen. v.29). That will lay the basis for a permanent and enduring peace.

A Promise For The End Time
Christ has now entered into heaven for us as our Forerunner and High Priest. He has become a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. This appointment did not take place without a solemn oath. God has sworn and will not relent: “You are a priest forever” (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:20-21).

But at His coming He will exercise this eternal priesthood for the blessing of His earthly people, as had been indicated before in a prophetic way in the story of Abraham’s victory over the kings of the east (Gen. 14:18-20). Just as Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek, the king and priest of Salem, the remnant of Israel will be blessed after all the conflicts of the end time by Christ, the true King and Priest of the Most High God, at His return from heaven. Then the nations will be blessed together with Israel. There will be peace forever. Even former enemies will come and make a covenant with God’s people, as Abimelech did with Isaac (26:26-31). What a time of previously unknown blessing and prosperity that will be!

God’s Eternal Purpose

God’s Eternal Purpose

By Alfred Bouter

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will … To me … grace was given, that I should preach … the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all see what is the fellowship1 of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ … according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Ephesians 1:11, 3:8-11 NKJV

Standing before King Agrippa, the apostle Paul testified that Jesus the Messiah had been crucified and buried, had risen from the dead and had ascended to heaven 40 days later. From the glory of heaven He appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road.2 Almost 30 years after that appearing, led by the Holy Spirit, Paul gave this king an impressive summary of what happened to him personally and how he became a servant of the One whom he had persecuted (Acts 26:8-18).

The topic of God’s “eternal purpose” is very rich and multi-faceted, expounded especially in Ephesians in several long sentences.3 The Holy Spirit has used and is using those Scriptures to enable Christians to grasp amazing things, with many practical lessons. He equips us to respond to these wonderful thoughts in worship and praise, now and throughout eternity.

Saul’s conversion opened the door for the rejected but glorified Messiah to further work in and through the former persecutor, doing so by His Spirit whom He had sent to earth. He showed Saul, known later as Paul, the greatness of God’s eternal purpose and counsel (Acts 26:16). God also gave him a special ministry to make known everywhere the preeminence of the glorified Man, Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God. Among other things, the apostle was to show how He is inseparably linked with all the believers on earth, members of His Body, the Church. They have free access into God’s sanctuary to “see Jesus … crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9).

Some Key Terms
The things we are talking about necessitate and imply two things:

  • An intimate and personal relationship with the Father and the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 1:3-14),
  • An understanding of how believers are linked with each other and with the glorified Son of Man. This is according to God’s “will,” “counsel,” or “purpose”;4 and His “good pleasure” as linked to the second Man, Jesus. There is no failure in Him whatsoever. By contrast, the first man, Adam, was marked by failure and disobedience.

God’s eternal purpose, literally the “purpose of the ages,” is from before the world’s foundation,5 and therefore it is beyond any possible failure. It is intimately linked with God’s “predestination” (Rom. 8:28-29) as foreordained and realized “in Christ Jesus.” This last expression we find 49 (7×7) times in the New Testament, to be distinguished from the term “in Christ.”

“Mystery” is another keyword in Paul’s ministry, occurring 21 (3×7) times in his letters, with seven others in the rest of the New Testament. In Paul’s writings, “mystery” refers to something that was unknown until the first coming of the Lord Jesus. These mysteries are still unknown to the world, but they have been revealed to God’s people. In God’s time these things will be revealed to others, at least to a certain degree, but unbelievers will have no part in them. Let’s note that there is nothing mystical about these divine mysteries. God’s truth is wholly separated from the realms of popular, mystical beliefs, and it is independent of any human system.

Without God’s salvation, no one can be introduced to the things related to His eternal purpose. Furthermore, He “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim. 1:9). All has been “revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (v.10).

God’s purpose is linked to another keyword, “testimony,” because these amazing things are communicated through the gospel and linked with the Lord Jesus (v.8). It is His authority we own, even though He is rejected in the world to which this testimony is given. These things belong to a realm that is “in Christ Jesus” (v.9) – mentioned seven times in 2 Timothy – instead of being “in Adam” or “in Christ.” This last expression includes Adam and Eve after they repented and all true believers until the end of time. They are all linked with “the power of God” (v.8).

A Brief Summary
Let’s summarize the seven points related to God’s eternal purpose, or “own purpose” (v.9):

  1. God’s “grace,” or “favor,” is from before “the world began” (KJV), or “before the ages began” (ESV). These expressions literally mean “before eternal times,” and they are used only here and in Titus 1:2.
  2. This grace is “in Christ Jesus.”
  3. This grace “now6 has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior,” which refers to His coming in flesh (see Jn. 1:14).
  4. This grace is communicated through the gospel, the message of good news.
  5. We are saved through the power of God.
  6. The great Savior-God called us with a holy calling.
  7. All of this is according to His purpose and grace in Christ Jesus. Not even one tiny part of this is the result of our own works. What a tremendous victory by the Lord of Glory!

The Lord had appeared to Paul and appointed him to be:

  • His herald, or “preacher,” to proclaim this new message;
  • His “apostle” and ambassador to officially represent Him; and
  • His “teacher” to teach and expound these things doctrinally according to God’s thoughts (2 Tim. 1:11 NKJV).

As God’s special envoy, Paul had declared, or made known, “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

God’s Eternal Purpose Revealed
The revelation in the previous paragraph is intimately linked with the person who is its subject and object: our Lord Jesus Christ. It pleased God to reveal Him to Saul when he met Him on the Damascus road. God also revealed His Son in him, which implies an actual and ongoing work of God, when he met the glorified Lord Jesus (see Gal. 1:15-16). Such a work of God is taking place in all believers now, during the period of grace. God’s work continued in Paul as he became a model for all believers through the period of grace. We should note that these things did not start with Adam at the beginning of this world, nor with the giving of the law. They began only after the glorified Christ in heaven – who is the Messiah and the Son of God – revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus.

At the same time, God continued a work in Saul, which in His providence He had started from his mother’s womb (see Ps. 139). God prepared Saul so His plan that had existed from before the world’s foundation – the eternal purpose – could be revealed to and in him without any racial, social or gender distinctions or barriers (Gal. 3:28). God’s concept was radical and new, as it put the believing Jews on the same level as Gentile believers.7 For this reason, Paul endured much opposition and persecution, and even became a prisoner of Rome – while being a prisoner of Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:1, 4:1).

It is significant that Ephesians 3, outlining the administration of the mystery for which Paul had become a prisoner and including Paul’s prayer and worship linked with it (vv.2-21), is a parenthesis. That means it is something which the writer inserted between the rest of the teaching. It does not indicate something of lesser importance as we sometimes do by adding certain details, but it emphasizes the unfathomable greatness of this mystery revealed to Paul. This is in addition to Ephesians 1, which presents God’s counsels as to the Church, and chapter 2, which explains how God brought this counsel to fruition, or realization.

Paul always let the Scriptures speak when presenting to his audience that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, as seen in Acts 17:2-3. He is the One who revealed Himself to Saul and would continue to do so (22:14, 26:16). The eternal purpose represents something new – not yet revealed in the Old Testament. However, the new element that was revealed and is contained in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s writings, did not contradict earlier Scriptures. Sadly, they are still rejected by unbelieving Jews, for they do not acknowledge their validity.

The new revelation was not against or opposed to the Old Testament; the new simply overrode it. Paul had shared this revelation with the apostles in Jerusalem, who recognized that it came from God and then expressed their fellowship with Paul (see Gal. 1:18, 2:7-10). Thus, the 12 apostles confirmed that Paul’s ministry was given by the same Lord. Later, Paul recapped what was new with three words, that the believers from among the Jews are joined together with those from among the Gentiles: joint-heirs, joint-body and joint-sharers of the promise in Christ Jesus, communicated through the gospel (Eph. 3:6).

The King James Version reads “in Christ,” which puts what is new on the same level with what the believing Adam, Abraham or other Old Testament believers possessed, since all promises are “in Christ” (2 Cor. 1:20). However, the expression “in Christ Jesus” emphasizes what is entirely new, as linked with Christ in the glory. This new position – elsewhere summarized as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27)8 – implies that the believers are associated with the glorified Jesus as:

  • His fellow-heirs;
  • Belonging to the same body, of which Christ is the Head; and
  • Being partakers of the same9 promise, namely of eternal life (Ti. 1:2, consider 1 Jn. 2:25) and of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13).

The promise of the Messiah, as coming, belongs to Israel. It will be fulfilled when they will turn to Him as a nation (Mt. 23:39), whereas Gentiles have no part in this promise (Eph. 2:12). The new dimension and promise we are talking about, which was unknown until then, fits our theme of the eternal purpose quite well. God had prepared Paul as a special instrument to receive this new revelation – to proclaim, to teach, and to defend it – according to His all-various wisdom.

The eternal purpose revealed to and administered by Paul caused him to be cast out, hated and persecuted. But this could not prevent him from truly enjoying this “new truth” and responding to it in worship and adoration (Eph. 3:14-21). In his prayer to the Father,10 Paul expressed seven requests in view of this special ministry he had received as linked to the revelation of God’s eternal purpose. His prayer implies an example and a challenge for us today to actually enter into these things.

Incredible Wealth
We only indicate some points for further study, meditation and worship, as our main topic, the eternal purpose, links several rich concepts together. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3) and predestined for the adoption as sons (v.4), so God can share with us – His sons, heirs and coheirs with Christ – what is precious to Him. We possess these treasures and make them our own through faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, in a spirit of prayer, thanksgiving, praise and worship (see 1:15-20, 3:14-21). Thereby we have fellowship with the Father and the Son. Also, with each other as co-heirs, we may lift up to the Father the Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then it is that God takes possession of His inheritance, namely in us, for His own delight and pleasure. This is indicated by these words: “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (1:18). We should distinguish this from our own taking possession of our heavenly blessings (v.3) and from the future inheritance we will enjoy when we reign with Christ (v.4). Notice that the divine “energy” that operated in raising Christ from among the dead and exalting Him above the highest heavens is the energy, power, strength and might that worked in us for salvation. It works in us already to give us our position in Christ and practically by lifting us up to Christ and associating us with Him in heaven. Through this we may bring Him what is due even before He will enter with us into His reign in public display.

1. Literally “economy,” which is sometimes translated as “administration” or “dispensation.”
2. This may have occurred about two years later, possibly 32 or 33 AD.
3. Ephesians 1:3-14,15-23, 2:1-7, 3:1-7,8-13,14-19, 4:1-7,11-16, 6:14-20.
4. The Greek word prothesis means “what is set before,” and it occurs seven times in Paul’s writings (Rom. 8:28, 9:11; Eph. 1:11, 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9, 3:10; Heb. 9:2).
5. ”Before the foundation of the world” occurs three times, related to the Father’s love of His Son (Jn. 17), to God’s counsel to choose us (Eph. 1:4) and to the Lamb’s sacrifice foreknown from before the world’s foundation (1 Pet. 1:19-20).
6. “Now” is a little word found often in Paul’s writings to indicate the present period of grace, in contrast to Judaism.
7. In fact, before a holy and righteous God, all human beings are equal, for all are sinners (Rom. 3:10-23).
8. This is not a contradiction, but it shows the other side of the same truth, that we are in Christ (a theme of Ephesians) and Christ is in us (as discussed in Colossians).
9. The Greek text reads co-heirs, co-body and co-partakers; or joint heirs, joint body and joint partakers (JND). 10. To be distinguished from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-22, addressed to the Father of Glory, who is the triune God linked to the glorified Man, Christ Jesus.

One God, One Eternal Purpose

One God, One Eternal Purpose

By Paul Palmer, Sr.

The One God
“There is one God” (Rom. 3:30 NKJV).

“God is one” (Gal. 3:20).

“There is one God”(1 Tim. 2:5).

God has been pleased to reveal Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. The Lord Jesus is the only person in the Godhead who became incarnate, “coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). We would not have known about God the Father and God the Holy Spirit apart from God the Son. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (Jn. 1:18). The Lord Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).

We have seen from Scripture that there is one God. We also learn that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead: Father, Son and Spirit. In the Lord Jesus “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He is Immanuel, “God with us” (Mt. 1:23).

The persons in the Godhead are eternal. “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Dt. 33:27). The Lord Jesus “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1:1-2). The Word is the Lord Jesus. He is the Eternal Word, the Eternal Son. So in eternity there were three distinct, eternally divine persons.

The Eternal Purpose
There was established in eternity an eternal purpose: God’s eternal purpose. This was revealed to the apostle Paul, and in writing to the Ephesians he was at liberty to share this truth with them. He said,

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:8-11).

This eternal purpose was the plan of the Godhead in eternity. It is what the Godhead determined and established. “Plans are established by counsel” (Prov. 20:18). The persons in the Godhead counseled together, the Three in One. “As I have purposed, so it shall stand” (Isa. 14:24). “I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (46:11). What the apostle Paul shared with the Ephesians and the Colossians was no afterthought on God’s part. It was not conceived in time; it was from before the foundation of the world.

O God! the thought was Thine …

The motives, too, Thine own,

The plan, the counsel, Thine!

Made for Thy Son,
Bone of His bone,

In glory bright to shine.
—George V. Wigram (1805-1879)

It was established in eternity that in time – the measured periods – the Lord Jesus would come into His own creation, suffer, bleed and die. His side would be pierced. He would rise from among the dead on the third day and subsequently enter into His glory. Christ having been glorified, the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost and baptized all believers into one body. That was the formation of the Church. The Church is composed of Jew and Gentile in one body. This is the mystery which was hid in God but is now fully revealed. This was God’s eternal purpose, that there should be a company for the Son. This unique living organism taken out of Jews and Gentiles is united together in one body, of which Christ is the head. It is the vessel through which principalities and powers in heavenly places are learning the manifold, or multi-faceted, wisdom of God.

The Lord Jesus “Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:14-15). The Church is the “One New Man,” entirely new. In the purpose of God it was hidden in Him, but now it is fully revealed, fully made known.

In deep, eternal counsel, Before the world was made,

Before its deep foundations On nothingness were laid,

God purposed us for blessing, And chose us in His Son,

To Him to be conformed, When here our course was run.
—George W. Frazer (1830-1896)

Thank God we are those who have believed on the Lord Jesus and are subjects of God’s eternal purpose!

By Paul Palmer, Sr.

The supreme exhibition of unfathomable wisdom is seen in the way taken to fulfill the eternal purpose of God. The cross is its center (Acts 2:23). It is the grand unifying power of the universe of bliss. By becoming Man, the Son brought an eternal relationship into manhood, for He did not cease to be the Son when He became Man. The Son, in nature and relationship eternal, became a Man to die, that the claims of divine holiness might be met in the heirs predestined to sonship. Glorified on high, He is the Firstborn of many brethren. —James McBroom (1934, adapted).

God Lives In Eternity

God Lives In Eternity

By Alan H. Crosby

God is “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy” (Isaiah 57:15 ESV). He described Himself to Moses saying, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14), emphasizing the present tense and thereby indicating that He lives in perpetual now.

Time And Place Were Created
“By Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16). When we look up into space we are looking back into what we call “space-time.” God created it; and before it was created, there was no time or place. These things had a beginning – there was no “eternity past” or “eternity future”; there was just “now.” God created space-time where humans live, but “eternity,” where God lives, was not created!

“The Foundation Of The World”
This expression (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20; Jn. 17:24) is a metaphor for the beginning of space-time at creation. The very instant that it was in God’s mind that we “should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 1:4) in eternity, He knew that the blood of Christ would be necessary for this to result (1 Pet. 1:20). He foreknew that Adam and Eve would succumb to Satan’s craftiness and God the Son would have to become Jesus Christ our Savior to achieve His purposes.

We Are Creatures Of Time And Place
As creatures of space-time, we really cannot comprehend eternity! In our experience all events “take time.” Try as we may, we cannot describe a happening or an experience without bringing in “time.” We speak of things occurring rapidly or slowly, frequently or occasionally. Happenings are marked with a date, and even distances are spoken of in terms of time.

But God is an eternal being. He lives in eternity, and for Him the end and the beginning are both “now.” He can declare “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things not yet done” (Isa. 46:10). God may speak of things that to us take place in time as being immediate, or He can enter space-time and tell of things to come – prophesied in Scripture – as being future.

Up “Into Eternity”
During the rapture we “will be caught up … to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Th. 4:17). We should interpret this as being a metaphor for being taken away from the material realm, from earth, into the spiritual realm where our Lord lives. Consider what would happen to believers living in scattered parts of the world if they are literally taken “up” – they would be going in different directions. Surely not!

Change Must Occur
We will have to be changed to go out of space-time and into eternity. Scripture says, “We shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:50-51). Then, each believer will be given a “spiritual body,” a body that is quite different from our present one. These spiritual bodies will be like our Lord’s present human body (see 1 Jn. 3:2). They will be “imperishable,” having “immortality” (1 Cor. 15:42,44,53-54). Although being able to be felt and touched, having flesh and bone, these bodies will be able to pass through closed doors (Lk. 24:39-40; Jn. 20:26-27). We will not have the normal material food to obtain the energy needed, for like the Lord we will “have food to eat that [we] do not [now] know about” (4:32). Life processes in eternity will be quite different from what we know today. There will not be “death … nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things [will] have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Heaven Will Not Be What We Imagine
The Word says, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). The coming changes are “revealed to us through the Spirit” (v.10). Scripture also says, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1:3 JND). Certainly the fullness of these will be wonderful beyond our imagination!

God Uses Metaphors
Things too difficult for a listener to understand are often expressed in metaphors, including in Scripture. The familiar is used to explain the unfamiliar even though the likeness is known to be imperfect.

In Revelation 15:2-3, Scripture speaks of believers “standing upon [a] glass sea, having harps of God … [and singing] the song of the Lamb.” A respected Bible commentator, H. A. Ironside, wrote that the sea of glass is a “type of the Word of God, needed for cleansing.” Thus we realize that what is spoken in this passage is a figure of speech, not a literal geographic feature of heaven.

A metaphor for life after death is the word “paradise,” used by our Lord when He said to the repentant thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43 ESV). W. E. Vine said that it is “an oriental word … denoting the parks of Persian kings and nobles … To the oriental mind it expressed the sum total of blessedness.”

The Father’s House
This is an even more delightful metaphor. Vine said that this is “metaphorically, the heavenly abode … the eternal dwelling … of believers.” It was the plan from the beginning of time, “from the foundation of the world,” that there would be human beings provided with eternal life living with our Lord in the Father’s house (See Jn. 17:2,22,24). This dwelling is not described very clearly, but the statement that there are “many rooms” tells us figuratively that there will be plenty of space for all who will believe on Him.

We will be welcomed into the Father’s house. How much better it will be for our Lord Jesus to say to us something like, “Welcome to where I dwell with My Father, into the place that I have prepared for you” than to hear Him say, as He will to some, “Depart from Me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25:41). Where will your eternity be?

We hope it is with the Savior, worshiping Him for all eternity!

A Purpose That Gives Life

A Purpose That Gives Life

By Paul Alberts

Let’s think about the passing of years between toddler and adulthood. Little children tend to want to be like their daddies or mommies. Toward that end, they often try to dress like their parents or mimic their behavior. Obviously, therefore, it is extremely important that they see a good example in their parents, learning what is right by word and action (Dt. 6:6-9).

Later, having become teenagers, these same kids begin to think about other things. Many teen boys, for example, seek to develop their muscles (Prov. 20:29). Intent on that aim, effort is made and money sometimes spent to be in “good shape” physically. The years continue to pass and thoughts enter the mind of young men and women regarding long term goals and desires, such as college, careers and family. Toward those ends, a number of steps are then taken.

For the believer, choices in such matters need to be made prayerfully, seeking God’s will. Reading the Bible regularly and frequently will guide in this process. We must realize however that the Lord works through small steps. Moses did not become the leader of God’s people overnight; it took decades of training as a shepherd. David was anointed to be king years before he was granted the throne. For both, there was hardship along the way. The list of biblical examples could certainly go on, but thinking of just these two we recognize that the manner in which God worked in their lives was perfect. The failures we find in their stories are related to their own lack of faithfulness.

Before man ever sought a direction for his life, God established His own eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11), “accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We realize that God’s purpose is one that we should look at carefully, like children wanting to learn. His was a purpose that involved incredible effort and cost. We may also see that it occurred through a series of steps. These are all points that we recognize to a much smaller extent in the purposes we seek for our lives on earth. Certainly there are many more valuable details to consider, which will be addressed in the Feature articles this month. For now, let us be reminded that we who have put our trust in the Lord Jesus have been blessed through God’s purpose – one that gives life. To Him be the glory!

Magazine March 2018


Emphasis: A Purpose That Gives Life -Paul Alberts
Worship: God Lives In Eternity -Alan H. Crosby
Feature: One God, One Eternal Purpose -Paul Palmer, Sr.
Feature: Gods Eternal Purpose -Alfred Bouter
Uplook: Two Covenants At Beersheba -Hugo Bouter
Discover: Discover Questions -Alan Groth
Series: Sign Gifts -Albert Blok
YouAsked: Will the Passover be kept for eternity? -Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
Serving: Service Of Lasting Value -Klaas Rot
Overview: 2 Corinthians -Leslie M. Grant
Series: The Sons Prayer In John 17 -David Anderson
Response: Thank you for your magazine!
GoodNews: Where Are You Going?
Full Magazine PDF: Magazine PDF