God's Purpose for the Church

by Dennis Smith
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God established the church for one primary purpose.  Paul tells us of God’s purpose in his letter to the Ephesians.

 

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:10-11 (NIV)

 

According to Paul, before Jesus returns the “wisdom of God” must be made known or manifest in His church (people).  This “wisdom of God” was “accomplished in Christ,” and is to be seen or manifest in the church.  This is the church’s primary purpose or mission on earth. 

A vital question is, “What is the wisdom of God that was accomplished in Christ?”  Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians. 

 

“so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him [the Father] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” 1Corinthians 1:29-31 (NIV)

 

The KJV translates the word “holiness” as “sanctification.”

You see, the wisdom of God is the righteousness, sanctification (holiness) and redemption that Christ provided for His people. This wisdom of God will be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms as the church experiences Christ in their lives to the fullest extent.  That “wisdom” is Christ’s righteousness, holiness or sanctification, and redemption.  I will say it again.  It is only as the church manifests Christ’s righteousness, sanctification and redemption that she fulfills her purpose for existence.  It is when God’s wisdom is fully manifest in this manner in the church that the latter rain will fall and Christ will return. 

 

Satan’s Accusation

Satan declared to the universe that God’s law was unfair, unjust and was impossible to keep.  His goal was and still is to overthrow God’s law.  Hence, the great controversy between God and Satan is over God’s law.

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve broke God’s law when they disobeyed His command taking the forbidden fruit by believing Satan’s accusation that God’s command was unfair and unjust; that God was keeping something good from them.  As a result they broke their pure and sinless relationship with God, feared Him and tried to hide themselves from Him (Genesis 3:9-10).  Falling out of harmony with God Adam and his descendants came into harmony with Satan and his rebellious attitude toward God and His law.  Paul clearly states the condition of fallen man when he wrote: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7.   Soon after Adam sinned God promised to provide a Savior when He said to Satan, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15.  God promised to make a way through Jesus Christ to bring man back in harmony with Himself and His law.

Ellen White understood this when she wrote:

 

“Satan represents God's law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts.” Desire of Ages, p.24

 

“From the very beginning of the great controversy in Heaven, it has been Satan's purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator; and though he was cast out of Heaven, he has continued the same warfare upon the earth.” The Great Controversy, p.582

 

“The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws which it was impossible for men to obey.” Desire of Ages, p.284

 

Christ Vindicated God and Proved Satan Wrong

            Because of Satan’s accusations Jesus came to planet earth to prove his accusations wrong.  Jesus perfectly kept God’s law; obeying from the heart every precept.  Jesus did not sin in thought, word or action. 

 

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”  1Peter 2:21-23

 

Christ proved Satan wrong in his lying claim that God’s law cannot be kept.  However, Christ did even more than vindicating God’s law in His life.  He also provided for God’s people a “righteousness, sanctification and redemption,” (1Corinthians 1:30) which could be theirs through faith.

 

God Uses His Church to Vindicate God and Prove Satan Wrong

It was through the church that God purposed to prove Satan’s accusations about God’s law wrong.   It was through Christ that this purpose was to be fulfilled and manifest in the church.  It is through the church that God and His law are to be vindicated as God’s people by faith allow Christ to live out His perfect obedience to God’s law in and through them. 

Ellen White clearly understood the purpose for which God called the church.  She knew it was essential for God’s people to be an obedient people.  For if they are not they are actually vindicating Satan’s accusations against God’s law.

 

“Exact obedience is required, and those who say it is not possible to live a perfect life throw upon God the imputation of injustice and untruth.”  SW – The Southern Review, December 5, 1899

 

There are many Seventh-day Adventists today who along with many other Christians say it is impossible to live a victorious life over sin.  They don’t realize it, but they are actually agreeing with Satan and imputing to God injustice and falsehood.   

As long as we as a church have the attitude that living a victorious life over sin is not possible the latter rain will not fall, the full gospel of deliverance from all sin will not be proclaimed and Jesus will not come. 

I pray we will say “NO” to Satan’s lies about God and His law.  I pray we will allow God to vindicate Himself through us and His church.

 

“The Lord desires through His people to answer Satan's charges by showing the results of obedience to right principles.”  Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 296.

 

“The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.”  Desire of Ages, p. 671

 

This is the reason the latter rain has not fallen and Christ has not returned!  The church has failed to “make known” the wisdom of God; to fully manifest Christ’s righteousness, sanctification and redemption.  She has not yielded herself to Christ to the fullest extent so that Christ alone is seen in the church.  When Christ is fully seen 100% in His church then the latter rain will fall and Jesus will return.  Ellen White understood this when she wrote:

 

“Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69

 

Paul refers to this full sanctifying experience in Jesus Christ when he wrote:

 

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20

 

When the church experiences to the fullest what Paul describes as his experience she will have then fulfilled her purpose for which she was called, the latter rain will fall and Christ will return without delay.

 

The Mystery of God

John in the book of Revelation tells us that the last work God will do in His church is to finish the “mystery of God,”

 

“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Revelation 10:7

 

Since finishing the mystery of God is God’s last work in this earth it is important we understand what the mystery of God is.  Paul tell us,

 

“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Colossians 1:25-27. (emphasis added)

 

According to Paul, the mystery of God is “Christ in you,” and is our only hope of glory; of glorifying God by reflecting the character of Christ (Christ’s obedience to God’s law)by which the earth will be enlightened with the glory (character) of God (Revelation 18:1).  Hence the mystery of God must be finished before Jesus returns.  This mystery of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ; a gospel of deliverance from sin.

Hence, the “mystery of God” is the “wisdom of God” and is revealed in Jesus Christ; Christ’s perfect obedience to God’s law.  In short, the wisdom and mystery of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”  Romans 1:16-17 (emphasis added).  You see, the mystery of God, the wisdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the means God has provided for our salvation; our deliverance from sin.  The justification God provided in Christ frees us from the guilt and penalty of sin, which is death and covers us with Christ’s imputed righteousness.  The sanctification God provides in Christ frees us from the power of sin to rule in our life.  For we have been sanctified or set aside by God for good works, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.  These good works are works of faithful obedience to God’s law.

This is why Paul over and over again in his letter to the churches is constantly instructing them to be like Christ; to let Christ manifest Himself in and through them. 

 

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

 

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”.  Romans 13:14

 

This was the burden of Paul’s concern for the church; that Christ be seen in their lives.  Why was this a passion for Paul?  It was because he knew that this was the purpose for which God called the church into existence and that it was the only way she could fulfill her mission. 

 

A Personal Experience

I attended our Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary from September of 1967 to December 1969.  While at seminary one class I took was on Seventh-day Adventist Church history by C Mervyn Maxell.  Being an Adventist for about 18 months I found the class very interesting and was learning a lot about my new found denomination.  Each of us in the class was given a topic to research and write an essay paper on that topic.  The topic I was given was Reason De Entre, if I recall the title correctly.  I was to research our denominational history and determine the reason God called the Seventh-dayAdventistChurch into existence in the 19th century.  In my studies I discovered that there were two purposes for the existence of the church I had recently joined.  One was to develop the character of Christ, and the second was to prepare the world for Christ’s second coming.  I also discovered that these two purposes are closely connected to one another; those ready for Christ’s coming must have His character.  This has always been the purpose for the Christian church and especially the Seventh-day Adventist church in these last days of earth’s history.  .

Jesus prophesied that the gospel or mystery and wisdom of God would be proclaimed to all mankind before the end would come and Jesus returns.

 

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’Matthew 24:14

 

One might question at this point, “Hasn’t the gospel been preached to all the world?”  For centuries missionaries have traveled around the world to sacrifice their lives to proclaim the gospel.  Millions of dollars are being spent every year on public evangelistic meetings, worldwide radio and television programs proclaiming the gospel. 

Yes, this is all true and God is blessing these efforts.  Thousands are coming to Christ every year as a result of these efforts.  Yet, even with these tremendous results, which have been taking place for years, the latter rain hasn’t fallen and Jesus hasn’t returned yet.  In the January 4, 1990 Adventist Review, Neal C Wilson wrote that “we are adding nearly 1,500 new members per day to our spiritual family…”  That was over 20 years ago.  Today that number is even greater.  Amazing numbers of individuals are accepting Jesus Christ and the Advent message, and yet Jesus still delays His return.

Another discouraging fact emerges when one considers the growing world population compared to the growth of the Christian church in the world.  Even with millions of Bibles distributed around the world, satellites beaming religious radio and television programs, and millions of dollars spent every year on evangelistic meetings along with tens of thousands of Bible studies being given in homes the church is not even keeping up with the population growth. 

At times such statistics and the delay in the latter rain being poured out and Christ not returning can cause some confusion and deep questioning; “What is missing?”  “What are we not doing that is causing the delay?”  Do we need to spend more millions of dollars on more radio and television programs?  Do we need to conduct more public evangelistic meetings in the large population centers costing $50,000-100,000 or more per effort?  Such efforts to lead others to Christ are good and God will bless.  Men and women will accept Christ.   However, I am firmly convinced that these efforts alone will not usher in the latter rain and Christ’s return. 

One of the committees I served on as pastor for a conference was their Evangelism Committee.  At one of our meetings a fellow pastor serving on the committee quoted a Union President as saying, “If everyone in the world became a Seventh-day Adventist Jesus still may not come.”  I agree 100% with that union president.

Why am I so convinced of that?  I have been a Christian for over 46 years.  I began pastoring in January of 1970.  During my 46 years as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian such efforts have not achieved what is necessary for Christ to return.  My simple logic says if we continue to do these same things expecting them to usher in the latter rain and Christ’s return we will be disappointed at the end of the next 46 years.  I heard a definition of insanity once.  It went something like this; insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  If we keep doing the same things that we have been doing to bring the latter rain and hasten Christ’s return expecting a different result from those efforts we will be disappointed.  There has been and is still a significant ingredient missing in our efforts.  This book is dedicated to presenting what I believe to be that missing ingredient that is keeping the church from manifesting the “wisdom of God.” 

I know that I am taking a bold step in writing this book.  However, I feel convicted I must write it.  What I will present in the following pages I believe with all my heart.  I truly believe it is the answer to finishing God’s work under latter rain power; to the church fulfilling the purpose for which God raised her up.

I pray that as you read this book the answer to why the latter rain hasn’t fallen and Christ hasn’t returned will become clear.  I believe that once we understand and experience the mystery and wisdom of God; the gospel of Jesus Christ, the latter rain will be poured out and Christ will return.  I pray you will see that the answer is not complicated.  It is quite simple and Satan has tried very hard to blind us to the full truth of what the gospel of Jesus Christ really is, and the impact that gospel it is to have on every aspect of our lives as Christians.