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?
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.