According to Ephesians, the existence of the church is according to the eternal purpose which God made in Christ Jesus our Lord, for God planned to have from eternity past for eternity future.
God has an eternal purpose – the purpose of the ages, which He made in eternity past for eternity future (Eph. 3:11). Before the foundation of the world, before the heavens and the earth and all things were created, in eternity past, God made a purpose for something in the future, for eternity to come; this purpose is related to the church.
God’s purpose is simply to gain the church, the corporate expression of Himself through a group of regenerated, transformed, built up, and coordinated people.
This is what God wanted to gain from eternity past, this is why He came to the earth, this is why He died on the cross, and this is what He is doing right now: He is building up the church.
But if we look at the general situation in Christianity, where is the Body of Christ, the church, the corporate entity that is composed of God’s redeemed who are built up together? The matter of the church has been lost, and God’s people are scattered, divided, and they are not one for God’s testimony.
Therefore, today God wants to recover the church that the church would be according to how He purposed it. In order to participate in the recovery of the church, we need to see God’s eternal purpose concerning the church.
God has a purposeful determination in His plan, and this is related to the church. All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his eternal purpose (Rom. 8:28). There’s a connection between the things that happen to us personally, the things happening around us, and the world situation – God is working in all things for good, for us to be part of the church, part of His corporate expression on earth.
Hallelujah, we have been called according to God’s purposeful determination, and all things work together for good!
God’s plan is to have a corporate expression of Himself in Christ the Son by the Spirit through the Body of Christ, which is composed and built up with many regenerated and transformed people by the mingling of Himself with humanity (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:16).
The Existence of the Church is according to the Eternal Purpose God made in Christ
According to Eph. 3:10-11, the existence of the church is according to the eternal purpose which God made in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When we speak of the existence of the church we don’t mean the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Lutheran church, the independent groups, the Calvinistic denominations, the Anglican church, the Apostolic churches, or any denominations.
All these are at most allowed by God to develop historically, but what He desires is to build His church (Matt. 16:18), the church which is according to God’s eternal purpose. There must be something that God gains as a practical expression of Himself all over Europe and all over the earth, something that He calls, This is My church.
The church was planned by God in eternity; before time began, in eternity, God purposed to have the church (Eph. 1:4-5, 9, 11, 22-23). This was a mystery hidden from the ages in God’s heart, something deep in the heart and purpose of God, and it was revealed to His holy prophets and apostles.
God purposed to have the corporate expression of Christ, who is the embodiment and expression of the Triune God.
God created the universe as the environment of such an expression, He became a man to be the seed that will be enlarged and duplicated for God to gain such an expression, He is working to build up the church to be His corporate expression, and when He gains a full expression of Himself, there will be a new heaven and a new earth as the environment for the New Jerusalem, the holy city, the ultimate consummation of the church.
In eternity past and for eternity future, God planned and purposed to have the church in Christ and for Christ. The church is in Christ – the church is His Body, the means by which He lives, is expressed, and moves, and the means for His administration.
The church is for Christ – the church becomes His counterpart, His bride, His match for eternity. This is how the New Testament ends: rejoice and exult, for the bride has made herself ready!
In a very real sense, when the Lord brings us into His desire to recover the church, there is nothing here in His recovery of the church for us. In the Lord’s recovery there’s only Christ; everything is for Christ, in Christ, and unto Christ.
The church is not a temporary matter – the church is an eternal matter in the eternal purpose of God, and the church is the center and subject of God’s eternal plan. The church should be the center, subject, and goal of our living and work, and when we decide things or do things, the church should be in our consciousness.
God planned in eternity past to have the church, and He expects to have the church in eternity to come. Many Christians think that our destiny is heaven; but if God wanted, He could have populated heaven from the very beginning! What He wants is a corporate expression of Himself!
The church is in this age and throughout this age, yet the church is from eternity past and for eternity future (see Matt. 16:18; 18:17; Rev. 21:2, 9-11). Therefore, our way of carrying out our church life in practicality should be with eternity in view.
The unique foundation has already been laid, and now we all need to take heed how we build, for the fire will try everyone’s work of what sort it is – whether it is wood, hay, stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Cor. 3).
Is our work in the church is merely something in time and for time, or does it have an eternal worth? We need to exercise our spirit in time and space to carry out something that was planned in eternity and will stand in eternity!
How much we need to be purified in our heart so that the river that flows from the eternal throne of God would flow through our being and work to produce precious materials for God’s building, the church!
Lord, we praise You that the existence of the church is according to the eternal purpose which God made in Christ Jesus our Lord! Hallelujah, in eternity past and for eternity future, God planned and purposed to have the church in Christ and for Christ! Uplift our view of the church, and grant us to see the church the way You see it. Lord, may our work here be with the church in view, and may our living and work have an eternal value for the church, so that You may gain a corporate expression of Yourself in the church!
God Planned to have the Church composed of Regenerated, Transformed, Coordinated, and Built up People
In eternity, God planned to have the church composed of regenerated and transformed human beings who are coordinated and built together as a corporate Body, the Body of Christ (see Eph. 1:22-23; 2:21-22; 3:14-21).
For us to participate in the recovery of the church, we need to know the eternal purpose of God, and we need to realize that we are regenerated by God with His life to be transformed in our nature and be built up as the Body of Christ.
Our being needs to be daily in the process of transformation, and we need to learn to be coordinated and built up together. We need to be transformed for the church, coordinated for the church, and built up as a corporate Body, so that God may gain a corporate expression in the church.
God planned that this corporate Body would be a corporate vessel into which He would work Himself (Eph. 3:14-17), and the local churches are the local expression of the corporate universal expression of God.
We need to give God our full cooperation by allowing Him to deal with our disposition, character, and opinions, so that He may have no hindrance in being expressed in the church as His corporate vessel.
The existence of the church is eternal and for eternity, and in time we participate in the recovery of the church by cooperating with God’s central work, which is to work Himself into us. God’s central work is to build Himself in Christ into our being for the producing and building up of the Body of Christ, His corporate expression.
God’s purpose, His determined intention, is to have a corporate Body with which He can mingle Himself and all that He has; this corporate vessel, this Body, is the church (Eph. 4:4-6, 16). This is what the church is in its intrinsic element, and this is what the Lord wants to recover today.
The church is dear and lovable to God because the church is His good pleasure, the desire of His heart (Eph. 1:5, 9, 22-23). Because the church is precious to God, the recovery of the church is the recovery of what is most precious to God.
The church is what makes God happy; the church is the desire of God’s heart. We need to ask the Lord to make the desire of His heart become the desire of our heart, so that we may live and work for the building up of the church, the desire of His heart.
God desires to gain a group of regenerated and transformed people who are coordinated and built up together to be the church, the Body of Christ, the corporate expression of God. In the church, therefore, Christ is everything, and we are in Christ, for Christ, and even Christ – the corporate Christ.
In the church there’s nothing for ourselves – everything is for Christ, and we live a life of participating in the building up of the Body and the preparation of the bride, for God to gain His heart’s desire.
Lord, for the sake of the church, cause the desire of Your heart to become the desire of our heart. Infuse us with Your desire to gain the church composed of a group of regenerated and transformed people who are coordinated and built up together to be Your corporate expression. Oh Lord, the church is dear, lovable, and precious to You – may the church also become the desire of our heart, our good pleasure! For the sake of the church, work Yourself into us and build us up together so that You may gain Your corporate expression!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ron Kangas for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1968, vol. 1, “The Practical Expression of the Church,” ch. 1, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Church (2017 fall ITERO), week 1, Seeing God’s Eternal Purpose concerning the Church and Enlightening All concerning the Economy of the Mystery Hidden in God.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Lord, Your purpose and Your heart’s desire / Is to build Your church, Your temple. / For this purpose You created man / As a vessel to contain You. / You were processed as the Spirit / Now You’re working in our being. / To Your image You’re conforming us. / Lord, Your work is glorious. (Song on God’s central work)
# We shall, through Thy building work, / Then become Thy loving Bride, / In one Body joined to Thee, / That Thy heart be satisfied. (Hymns #839)
# As the product, the fulfillment, / Will the church in glory stand, / Consummation of the purpose / In eternal ages planned. / God will have His corporate vessel, / All His glory to contain; / Lord, we’re wholly for Thy purpose / All Thy goal in us attain. (Hymns #1325)
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