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The Persistent Purpose of God

by Chip Brogden
Once God has determined to do something, is there anything, or anyone, that can resist Him? Is man more powerful than God, or does it only seem that way sometimes?

I once conducted a workshop in Cincinnati, Ohio with about forty believers from various backgrounds. To get things started I asked them to do a little exercise. I asked them to write down on an index card God’s Ultimate Purpose – His Goal, His Will, the Reason that governs everything He has done, is doing, and will do. Yes, I assured them, you can sum this up on one index card!

When the people were finished writing I collected the cards and we began to discuss the answers (we could discuss them without fear of embarrassment because I had asked them not to sign their names). The answers I received were very good, but I wanted to take them deeper.

What is God’s Ultimate Purpose? Many said to save people. Certainly that is a very necessary part of the Ultimate Purpose, but there is something more. Why does God want to save people? What is the point of salvation? Is it merely to take people to Heaven? Why take them to Heaven?

Some said God’s Ultimate Purpose is to know Him, to have a relationship with Him. That is very good! But why does He want us to know Him? Knowing Him makes the Ultimate Purpose possible, but why does He want us to have a relationship with Him in the first place?

Some said God’s Ultimate Purpose is to get a Bride for Himself. In other words, the Ekklesia is the Ultimate Purpose. I responded that the Ekklesia is called upon to facilitate the Ultimate Purpose, but the Ekklesia is not the Ultimate Purpose.

Most were very familiar with my teachings and they answered that God’s Ultimate Purpose is “to gather together in one all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10). That was a very, very good answer. But I wanted them to go even deeper. That verse tells us what God will do, but it does not tell us why. It is true that this must happen in order for the Ultimate Purpose to be fulfilled, but why does God wish to gather all things into Christ?

Finally I asked them to turn to Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, and we read the following:

“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the Body, the Ekklesia: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. (Col. 1:16-18)

There it is! That in all things CHRIST might have the preeminence. The preeminence of Christ in all things! Dear friends, that is the reason for everything. It answers the question of why.

Why did God save us? So that Christ will have the preeminence in us. Why does God want us to grow spiritually? So that Christ will have the preeminence in us. Why did God create the earth to begin with? So that Christ would have the preeminence in the earth. Why did God call the Ekklesia forth as the Bride of Christ? So that Christ would have the preeminence in the Ekklesia, and through the Ekklesia, have the preeminence in all things.

Everything God has done, is doing, and will do is towards this end: that in all things Christ would have the preeminence. Salvation, redemption, deliverance, preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, worshipping God, studying the Scriptures, learning to pray – these are not mere activities, they are ways in which Christ gains the preeminence in all things.

So what does preeminence mean?

Preeminence Defined

If everything hinges upon Christ having the preeminence then this idea of preeminence is very weighty indeed. So what is preeminence?

Preeminence” literally means having the first, highest, chief, and best place in a position of ascendancy over everything else. It is an ultimacy, a glory, an honor, a distinction, a prestige, an illustriousness, a renown, a notability, and a nobility that surpasses all others. Paul simply says that the aim of God is for Jesus Christ to have that kind of position in all things!

Some may ask, is not Jesus Lord of all? Is He not already preeminent over all things? In one sense of course this is correct. Jesus is Lord of All (Acts 10:36). However, it is apparent that not all things acknowledge, submit to, cooperate with, or recognize His sovereignty. God desires for Christ to have an actual preeminence, a manifest preeminence – a sovereignty that is observable, tangible, and able to be experienced.

Obviously this desire of God, this Ultimate Purpose, remains unfulfilled. If Jesus were acknowledged as Lord of All, by everyone everywhere, then the world would certainly be a different place. As it is, it seems most of humanity fails to recognize the Lordship of Jesus and refuses to submit to Him. Thus, in a very practical sense, He does not have preeminence in them. That disparity between what God wants and what actually is needs to be resolved.

“We Do Not Yet See”

Scripture confirms what we already know to be true: that even though God “has put all things under” the feet of Jesus, it remains that “we do not yet see all things put under Him” (Heb. 2:8b). Even though Jesus is Lord, not everyone recognizes that, appreciates it, or acknowledges it. Our adversary the devil still walks around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

That there exists some spiritual force that continues in active resistance to Christ is proof enough that we do not yet see all things put under Him. We also note the presence of sin, poverty, disease, death, and evil as being very much a part of the world in which we live. So there is still much to be done in terms of putting all things beneath Him.

But the presence of the word “yet” should inspire us and fill us with hope! Although we do not yet see all things put under Him, the word “yet” implies that eventually we will see all things put under Him. That is to say, in due course, God’s Purpose will be fulfilled, and we will see all things put under Him – even though we do not “yet” see it.

So here is the question: once God has determined to do something, is there anything, or anyone, that can resist Him? Is man more powerful than God, or does it only seem that way sometimes? It does appear that God, in His infinite wisdom and loving-kindness and patience, chooses to delay the fulfillment of His Will. Man can try to withstand it, the devil can rebel against it, and by collaborating with man can even appear to hinder and prevent it temporarily – but in the end, God will have His Will.

Let no one mistake God’s longsuffering for any inability to bring about His desire and accomplish His Purpose. His plan is unavoidable and irresistible.

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16 Comments

  1. kenneth dawson

    I just put up a post on facebook–faith in jesus Christ is not just something we profess but someone we express and only the very being of Christ himself can actually express himself and he uses our humanity to do the expression out of-we humans cannot express Christ by our own efforts for we are not divine beings-so when we subject our human selves to god for him to use us for his expression then he is well pleased with us and his divine Christianity will be expressed out of our humanity–we will not take credit for the expression but will be thankful for the participation–all for his glory.christ then is truly preeminent.

    Reply
    • Chip Brogden

      That’s a good way of putting it, thanks Kenneth!

      Reply
  2. Karen Foust

    Amen and amen!
    However, won’t there always be a place in the universe for those spirit beings who refuse to allow His preeminence in them? I don’t think you are saying this, but I am acquainted with several people who espouse a universalist view that ultimately everyone accepts the salvation of Jesus and no one spends eternity in hell away from Him. I do not believe that is the truth at all according to the bible.

    Reply
    • Michelle Y. Graves

      Brother Chip, I was one of those people in the Cincinnati class and, you teachings were so transformational to my thinking that my entire teachings on the Christos changed FOREVER. Yesterday, I was in a marketplace setting and got such a profound insight into what Preeminence looks like in practice. May we always be mindful that He is much larger than our greatest concept of large; much bigger than our biggest concept of big….and that is a good thing. Helps keep us balanced!

      Reply
      • Chip Brogden

        Good to hear from you Michelle… I’m impressed that you’re sticking around and haven’t gotten tired of this message. I think, really, when someone is tired of hearing it, they haven’t really heard it or really appreciated the heights and depths of it. Because it’s really infinite.

        Reply
    • Chip Brogden

      If there will always be a place in the universe that refuses to allow Christ the preeminence, how can God’s Purpose ever be totally fulfilled? That’s the point of the article. I realize it creates some challenges for people who try to figure out how hell fits into that Purpose, but love never fails, and that’s what I hold on to. God is able. God is willing. And I believe, in the end, Christ will have the preeminence in all things. Judgment has a place, but “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

      Reply
      • sherry

        God will judge by the law of Love, James 2 v 12-13, So whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of Love, the law that will set you free. For there will be No Mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over His judgment against you. For all who obey Jesus, who is Love, there will be no judgment, but for those who do not possess Love, they have already been judged.

        Reply
      • bondservant

        Chip – I don’t often have a chance to read your studies, so maybe what I’m about to share is not new. But I’m inclined to believe that hell doesn’t fit into the equation. Man sinned, the punishment was death. Jesus conquered death and the grave. In Hebrew it was called sheol. In Greek, hades. Both mean death, grave, underworld. From what I’ve been able to read, it wasn’t until well after the ascension of Jesus and the death of the disciples that the idea of a “hell” came into church teaching (other religions did have a form of “hell”). Think “Dante’s Inferno.” To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t one place where hell is mentioned in scripture where the word isn’t better translated as “death” or “grave.” Which means something completely different.

        An eternity of suffering appears to be a tactic to force man to submit to other men out of fear.

        While there are many biblical texts that we point to as proof of hell, I would suggest that this is because the church has taught this manmade tradition for 1700+ years. It’s what we’ve been taught scripture says – rather than what it really says.

        An example – the use of the word “brimstone.” Better translated, this should be “sulfur” – which interesting enough is used to PURIFY.

        Another example – the rich man and Lazarus. A parable in which Jesus was warning the religious leaders that they were going to lose their position of authority – which they did to the Gentiles – because of their disobedience and rejection of Him.

        The sin of one man caused all men to be sinners and received death. Jesus conquered death and the grave for all men. Not “universal reconciliation,” which ignores what Jesus did. But the restoration of all by what Jesus accomplished for all.

        Does this make all men “saved?” Not by the typical Christian’s definition. But I’m not interested in man’s tradition.

        All men will bow down one day and call Him Lord. And everyone who calls Him Lord will be saved.

        The question is the timing. Does scripture actually say man must confess while on earth to be saved? What if God’s purpose for someone like Pharaoh was so that God could glorify Himself to the world? Does a just God condemn a man to “hell” when He Himself has chosen this role for him… or is there another possibility? Do we have the ability to open our own eyes to the truth – as if our confession is what “saves us” – or is it God’s responsibility to open man’s eyes in His timing? And does God have a plan for all men to be redeemed – some by testing on earth while others by “fire” after their physical death?

        To the question about different levels of reward and punishment, scripture does say we will be rewarded for our “good works” (obedience to the Law) – which is completely separate to salvation, which we do nothing to earn. It also says that the bondservants/overcomers/firstfruits – first the dead, then those alive – will be caught up to rule and reign for 1000 years. (Bondservant/overcomers/firstfruits are those tested by the Refiner’s fire during the lives). After the 1000 years, the rest of mankind – non-bondservant believers, along with non-believers – will be judged. The overcomers will not be judged – having already been found worthy. Believers will receive their reward, while those who were not believers will be judged according to God’s perfect judgment – purified by fire (“lake of fire” – a picture of God’s law).

        And as Chip said – mercy triumphs over judgment. In the end, God is a God of restoration, who does not punish “for eternity” (mistranslation) but for an aeon (unknown – to us – period of time). In the end, all things will be restored to Him.

        1 Corinthians 15:22-28 – “22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.”

        Reply
        • dan

          Too many issues to spend time with any one… but to others reading this post..
          be not spoiled through vain philosophy and vainer deceit. “they who as others wrest the scriptures to their own destruction.” reward and punishment is a universal theme throughout the word and reveals the very nature of God toward man. HE COMES IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE ON THEM THAT KNOW NOT GOD AND OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL. the FEAR OF GOD is the begining of wisdom.

          Reply
  3. Martina

    I strongly agree Chip with the preeminence. When we pray we say unto God: let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is because we sense preeminence at its best in heaven and wish for our world to be like that. And I also believe that what we sense is what God has injected in us for us to know that there is a best space elsewhere in His Kingdom and can only be accessed through one channel – preeminence of Christ in our lives, a total takeover by Christ in our lives as you normally put it ‘ not I but Christ’. Equally, if we want to share in the kingdom’s wealth, let’s be like Him for us to be called one in Christ; and I agree, preeminence should take precedence. Thanks for the insight and stay blessed!

    Reply
  4. dan

    my 2 cents. Gods ultimate purpose is to have a fellowship of equality. this could not be accomplished with the angels. they are obedient in a robotic sense, not having a free will as humans have experienced. as a result they also do not have any means of salvation should they fall, as we see with satan and those who fell with him. the angels worship God in a manner that is fully subservient, as we now do here on earth–we willingly, they mechanically. this is why in the end we will be above the angels, even judging them. we will see God face to face as scripture says, or even more succinctly, eye to eye, being made as equals with God. this is his ultimate goal–to have fellowship with equals! Equals in the sense that my wife is as my equal. this is why we are to be as his wife. This was what he saw on the cross, and endured it–for this hope. who will this wife company be? She is depicted in Rev. 12. she is those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord-the overcomers- the 100 fold christian- the 5 wise virgins- the talent doubling believers. not all believers will enjoy this fellowship unfortunately. who are they–the fearful- the unbelieving- the hardened of heart. those who are ashamed, who did not watch upon the wall and were stripped naked and perish with the world, becdause they did not know the hour of his visitation, believing the commandments an doctrines of men, and not of God. the church is full of these sorry souls- the lukewarm. although they will be saved-albeit by fire- they will not enter into the ultimate goal of God for the ages-true fellowship in equality. there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when they realize what measure of fellowship they passed up by there neglect of the things of the kingdom–their lamps are only half full. they have succumbed to the churchianity you are warning against. keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • sherry

      Dan,
      This is something that I have question about. Some say you either go to heaven or you don’t, there is none that will be different in heaven. I have also been taught that there are different levels of heaven and different levels of punishment in hell. In other word’s not all who enter into heaven will be the Bride of Christ sitting at the banquet table before her Husband. I thought the story of the 10 virgins is saying that 5 made it to heaven and 5 did not, I did not know all 10 of them did go to heaven, but only 5 was prepared to meet her Husband, and 5 was put somewhere else in heaven. I’m a little confused about the different levels of reward and punishment?

      Reply
      • dan

        sherry— some quick thoughts. all run the race only one wins the prize,,,run that you might be that one!!! the others who lose that race are those who don’t prepare, who don’t know their way like the one who wins. the winner has fewer distractions to slow their progress, they are the focused ones, not in love with the world, but continually reaching for the prize of the HIGH CALLING OF GOD. Also, we are depicted as differing in glory one from another just as the stars of the heavens. we see that around the throne there are 24 elders who are in close proximity to God–not everyone has that priviledge–only elders. how about the overcomers in the seven churches–they receive a reward far in excess of the rest of the church. as i mentioned also, the differing rewards of the talents. i see no difference of reward to those who go to hell. As for the ten virgins parable, they are in fact called virgins, not whores. they have lamps with oil which speaks of the spirit. they just didn’t prepare as those who had oil (spirit) in excess, not just enough to get by–their weeping is to say –after seeing the reward they failed to obtain– why didn’t I prepare as did the ones who went in, the overcomers. i see all around me the lukewarm. i would characterize almost every christian i have met as falling in this category. they just don’t have the sense of urgency that i have, to know God, and to “GO ON TO PERFECTION.”

        Reply
  5. Lynne Clark

    I have never heard it put this way before,, but really strongly agree and really enjoy your messages Chip, thank you

    Reply
  6. Chinyerem

    Wow Chip, this is wonderful. I’ve been battling with this issue for sometime now. I’m glad you’ve made it easier for me by this exposition.
    I have encountered some people that resist the Gospel with every strength in them. They are my people who live abroad in the USA or England and other parts of Europe. They refer to Jesus as a god of the Jews rejected by his people and we, the brainwashed Christians want to impose him on them.
    They say that they prefer to worship the god of their fore fathers, which they worshiped before the white men came and deceived them with this god of the Jews. Any attempt to convince them attracted names and insults.
    I know that God in His infinite mercy will get through to most of them one day. But those that died with that rebellion, definitely have no hope any more. It does not mean that Christ is not having the preeminence.
    Thanks for your messages. Looking forward to more of them.

    Reply
  7. Laurine McGillivray

    Dear Brother Chip – All praise, honor and glory be to God Almighty and to Jesus Christ, His Son and to the Holy Spirit for revealing to me, through your writing and interpretation of the Word (Col1:16-18) that I have died, was buried, resurrected and ascended with Christ; and now I live in Him, at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly’s. I am beginning to see all things from a heavenly perspective, by Grace. Oh! What Hope (eager expectation) as we await ALL THINGS to be PREEMINENT IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST! Yes, the trials and tests are hard, but as the title of the old song says “I’d Rather Have Jesus” – or as Paul says, I count all things but loss, for the gain of my Lord Jesus Christ. (South Africa-I have been following your teaching since 2002.) Bless you and Karla. Love Laurine. (I am so excited, I can hardly breathe!!!)

    Reply

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