In the book of Genesis, which literally means the book of beginnings, we are introduced to God and history from the point of creation of the present earthly order. Note, I did not say the creation, but the creation of the “present order.” We know from the opening verse there is already an earth and seas upon the earth. We are introduced here to the beginning of the present order God has purposed for planet earth. The Eternal God with His Word and Spirit has always existed outside the perimeters of time, as we know it. The scope of eternity is significantly outside our human comprehension as is some of the mystery of God. We do know from the Word of God that in pre-history, God formulated a plan for the earth that included His people as an integral part. You have been chosen of God for an eternal purpose before the foundation of the world!
“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:4-6 (NKJV)
The Beginning and His Purposes
It is important that we understand this purpose is not just about us. Ultimately, the purpose of God is not fully established in a personal way, but in a corporate one. The Apostle Paul tells us that God’s desire is “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church” (See Ephesians 3:8-10). Like Christ the firstborn of many brethren, we are the building blocks for the church which is the ultimate purpose revealed.
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-6 (NKJV)
As we see the introduction of mankind into the creation and purpose of God, this amazing reality should change our perspective on the book of Genesis. Most people see the creation and commission of mankind in the Garden as a story of the failure of man. Following this thought to its logical conclusion, we would then need to see mankind as a mistake of God to create a creature inferior to its call and purpose. However, if we will change our perspective to the unfolding of God’s eternal story then this would be viewed as the first chapter in the “Book of Life” and not a failed attempt for God or man!
God created inexperienced children in the Garden. Though they were fully developed physically, they certainly weren’t prepared for all God had for them. I am sure the all-knowing God had a plan that included mistakes that would still lead us forward and not backward. Since people see this story as “the all in all”, they are always looking back to see a restoration when God wants us to look forward for the conclusion. We need a new perspective on the beginning of His plan so we can walk in our full purpose fulfilling His story.
In the book of Hebrews, chapters three and four, the Word tells about hearing the voice of God. God wants us to be a people led by the Spirit. It is the people led by the Spirit that are truly the “sons” of God in the earth (See Romans 8:14). The Lord implores us to be people who hear His voice today. In Revelation 2:29, the Apostle John declares, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” In Hebrews, the admonition to us is to not be like the children of Israel who “hardened their hearts in the time of their trials” and resisted hearing the voice of God (See Hebrews 3:8-9). Instead, the Scripture encourages us to apprehend our opportunity today. Have a look at what the Bible says:
“… again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.’” Hebrews 4:7 (NKJV)
Navigating Through Change
God has an eternal purpose that has been unfolding throughout the history of man. The unfolding of His purpose is progressive, although the reality of it is a predetermined conclusion. Since it is progressive, the key for us is to be sensitive to the voice of the Lord during times of change. Part of the account in Hebrews describes the transition to the New Covenant from the Old Covenant. Yet as we have surveyed Church history, the unfolding of this purpose has required people to be open and change with the move of the Holy Spirit. The truth is that change is never easy. It will test our hearts to determine whether we will choose God’s present work or the comfort of our familiar surroundings and behaviors.
Change That Produces Life & Victory
When Jesus Christ walked the earth, He told people that their traditions would make void the Word of God (See Mark 7:13). The Word would not fail to be effective, but it would not have an impact on those who refused to hear. He told them they must open their hearts to the Word and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
In the Church, it has often proved that history repeats itself. As the Jewish people resisted Jesus Christ, so often have the people of God resisted and even persecuted those who declare the present truth of God. This is another “today” time. The Church needs a refreshing and the world needs the Church to be all God called us to be. Will you hear the call to go higher in God? In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” He is still building in our day! We are moving into the time when the “bride must make herself ready” (See Revelation 19:7). It will be a day of great victory for those who respond!
God has an eternal purpose that has been unfolding throughout the history of man. The unfolding of His purpose is progressive, and it is within our comprehension (through the Word) to see the pattern of God. God is a God of threefold things! Most Christians understand that the godhead has been revealed to us as Father, Son, and as the Holy Spirit. God has not only revealed Himself in this manner, but He has also made us in His image as a three-fold being: body, soul, and spirit. In the book of Hosea, the prophet declares a work that takes us to a place of living is His sight.
“Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3 (NKJV)
The Unfolding of His purpose
When Jesus Christ walked the earth, He revealed the mystery of the Kingdom of God over and again using common language and illustration. He said,
“For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.” Mark 4:28 (NKJV)
We need to understand the seed of God in the earth produces first the blade, then the head and finally the full grain in the head. When the Word of God came, new life was birthed amidst decaying religious system. The new life was the springing forth of the blade. The growth and progress in the unfolding of His purpose in the earth is demonstrated by the head. This has been witnessed over the last 150 years with the admonishment to walk in the second work of grace giving birth to many holiness denominations, the Pentecostal movement and finally the Charismatic movement.
The third day represents the “full grain in the head” which is built upon the foundation of the second day, just as the second day was built upon the first day. The full grain is the church walking in maturity and fruitfulness as the Father intended. The church is admonished in the book of Hebrews, chapter six, to not keep laying the foundation stones, but to go on to perfection.
The Perfect Church
The word “perfect” in the scriptures is not an impossible declaration, but simply the call to fullness and maturity. It is time for the church to fulfill her destiny and to answer the call to maturity. In the time of Abraham, the Lord called to the father of our faith a third time and said, “walk before me and be perfect” (See Genesis 17:1). During this meeting place, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, for he was going to fulfill the plan God had purposed. The Lord also declared, “I am the Almighty God” in the midst of the encounter so Abraham could see God as never before. The Lord is calling the church to maturity and we need the faith to believe everything He has spoken will come to pass. The mature church will release the fullness of the operation of spiritual gifts as spoken by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church of Corinth:
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 (NKJV)
Now is the time of the third day–the time of maturity and completion in His purpose for us individually, but more importantly, as His bride in the earth. I hope you can see the results are worth the challenge!
If we are going to grasp the fullness of God, we need a revelation of Christ in our lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus about the place God wanted to lead them so they would understand the complete work that had been accomplished. Paul guided and even urged the early church, as recorded in the books we call “the perfecting epistles”, to walk in maturity. In Ephesians chapter three, Paul wrote to “spirit-filled” believers, telling them they can be filled with more of God!
“…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (NKJV)
Consistent with the dealing of God in the life of Abraham and the history of His church, one overwhelming truth comes forth: the more we see of God, the more we can become who He has called us to be. It is possible to be filled with the fullness of God! This might be hard to receive for many, but Jesus Christ declared that He was the firstborn of many brethren (See Romans 8:29). Our “fullness” is not something within ourselves, but the place we have in Christ, so let us have an expectation of walking in fullness. Remember, it is only in Him that we will find our completeness (See Colossians 2:9-10).
The Fullness of God Manifests Love
The Word of God is very clear about the fact that the journey into Christ is a journey of love. Throughout the Word, we learn that God is love, but it is when the fullness of love comes, will we operate in the mature, complete (perfected) level God desires for the “third day”.
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16-18 (NKJV)
Paul, in writing to the church of Corinth, declares, “Now abide faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love” (See 1 Corinthians 13:13). In this world, we will have two loves made manifest: one will demonstrate the true love of God and the other will reflect the perverted love of the world. As believers, we need the apostolic/prophetic ministry so we can walk in the spirit of revelation to see God’s perspective rather than our own. I hear the cry of the world calling out for love, but the only love that will satisfy is the love God has for us! The only love that will bring lasting change will be the godly love He has called us into and has amply demonstrated to the world in which we live.
There has been a lot of discussion recently in the Charismatic movement about the function of apostles and prophets. Many people have been especially excited about the titles they claim for themselves, which seemingly give them more credibility and a higher calling than “lowly” pastors and teachers. Unfortunately, because of our immaturity, we have used them as vanity, rather than for the operation of the full authority these callings bring to the body of Christ. This is why we need the scriptural reminder to go to maturity so we can put away our “childish things” (See 1 Corinthians 13:11), as the Apostle Paul called them. As noted in his prayer for the church of Ephesus, the major role of apostles and prophets is to bring the body to greater revelation and spiritual understanding of who we are in Christ and in the world.
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…” Ephesians 1:15-19 (NKJV)
Time for Proclamation
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church that he did not come with enticing words of human wisdom, but he came in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 2:4). These were not just works he performed with his preaching, but were the manner and demonstration of his preaching. The word preach is defined “to herald or proclaim something.” It resembles what the town criers of old did before the invention of mass communication. They would ride through the streets of the cities proclaiming some important news, especially an impending crisis they would be facing. Therefore, the act of preaching is proclaiming the message of the Kingdom of God to the people of the Kingdom. Preaching is the means by which the Kingdom of God is proclaimed and advanced. Have a look at the Apostle Paul’s exhortation:
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15 (NKJV)
Note that the Scripture asks, “how shall they preach unless they are sent?” The word sent is the same New Testament word used for the word apostle, which literally means sent one. Most people think that preaching is an emotionally delivered message rather than a logically or passively delivered one. Yet, true preaching is a message motivated by a heavenly call and a heavenly commission. This is not a commission that will come from a human organization but one that comes from heaven.
Hearts Laid Bare
When we think about prophets, we typically think about prophecy, which involves edification, exhortation, and comfort. In 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul declares that when the prophets speak, the secrets of men’s hearts are revealed which causes them to fall on their faces and worship God (See 1 Corinthians 14:25). This is the ministry of the prophet and is very necessary when establishing new truth within the body of Christ. Jesus spoke concerning His contemporaries that they resisted Him because their hearts were not right (See Matthew 13:15). We cannot know our own hearts and this is why we need true prophetic ministry. If we are going to hear Him and what He is declaring, it must be with hearts that are prepared to walk in His fullness!
“again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.””” Hebrews 4:7 (NKJV)