[b]God's Purpose For Man[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
God did not create man because He needed a servant. He already had millions of angels to serve Him. He created man because He wanted someone who would manifest His character and His nature. If we forget this truth, it is easy to get sidetracked into imagining that service for God is the primary purpose of our salvation in Christ. This is the mistake that many believers have made. When God was about to make Adam, His words were, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness" (Gen.1:26) When Adam sinned, God in His foreknowledge, had already made provision for lifting man out of the pit of sin into which he had fallen. The incarnation of Christ and His death on the cross were in God's mind, before Adam was even created. God's intention in the redemption that He has provided for us in Christ, is that we might be brought back to the place where we can fulfil His original purpose for man - to manifest His nature. Our salvation is through faith in Christ. But faith can be based only on a divine revelation of the Person of Christ. It is only such faith that will allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Christ.
Jesus has not only redeemed us through His death, but also shown us through His life on earth, how God intended man to live. He is not only our Saviour but also our Forerunner (Heb. 6:20). He has given us an example of how to live at all times and in all situations, in perfect obedience to God. Forgiveness of sins, the fulness of the Spirit and all the means of grace that God has provided, are all meant by Him to lead to one final goal - that we might be conformed to the likeness of His Son. In fact, every doctrine in God's Word can be understood in its proper perspective only as it is seen in the light of God's eternal purpose for man - to make Him like Jesus. The chief ministry of the Holy Spirit is twofold, and is described thus: "We behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit" (2 Cor.3:18) The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to show us the glory of the Lord Jesus in the Scriptures (the mirror) - and then seeks to change us into that likeness.
God the Father in His sovereignty, also orders all our circumstances to this same end. "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.......for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:28,29). Every event and circumstance in our life is meant by God to mould us and transform us a little more into the likeness of Jesus. And so we see, that our Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit in our hearts are both working towards one goal - that we might become like Jesus. The more we partake of our Lord's nature, the more we will live on earth as He lived. This is the Spirit-filled life. Jesus did not come to earth as an angel, but like us. The Bible says, "He was made like His brothers in all things" (Heb.2:17) (His brothers are His disciples - Matt.12:50). If He had not been made like us (His brothers) "in all things", He could not have become our Example. Neither could He have commanded us saying, "Follow Me," for we obviously could not follow One Who did not have our limitations, even as an angel cannot teach us to swim, since he does not experience the downward pull of gravity as we do.
Then Paul's exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11:1, to follow him as he followed Christ would also become meaningless, for Paul could not possibly have lived as Jesus lived. Then the life of Christ becomes a life that we can only admire, but never follow. But praise God that Christ did come in our flesh, and having accepted the limitations of our flesh, has given us an example to follow. Since it was as a man, that Jesus lived a holy, pure life, there is no reason now why we too cannot "walk as He walked" (1 Jn. 2:6). Because we are weak as human beings, God offers us the same power of the Spirit that was given to Jesus when He lived on earth as a man. What God did for Jesus He will gladly do for us, for "He loves us as He loved Jesus" (Jn. 17:23). But His power is made available only "to those who believe" (Eph. 1:19). So it is because of lack of faith in God's Word that believers today are impotent and powerless against sin and Satan. The excuse that the Devil would have us make when we are commanded to "follow in His steps who committed no sin" (1 Pet. 2:21,22), is that being human we cannot but sin occasionally. But when we see that Jesus came in our flesh and did not sin, then TWO things happen: (1) We no longer have any excuse for sinning. (2) We have faith that we too can live in victory over sin as Jesus did.
And so Paul's prayer is mine too, as you read the truths of Scripture in this book: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him (Christ)...and...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man." (Eph. 1:17; 3:16). It is only through the full knowledge of Christ that we can know the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the perfect example of the Spirit-filled man. As we look at His life and see how He lived on this earth, we can understand unmistakably what the characteristics of a Spirit-filled life are.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon