Feeling Lost?: Finding Our Focus in God’s Purpose

           You are probably like me. We feel overwhelmed. We don’t really know which direction to go. We aren’t sure what to do next. Maybe, something as simple as finding a place for lunch can trigger our anxiety. American wealth has provided the miserable cloud of a thousand options which overshadows us. We retreat. We are overwhelmed with trying to figure out what we should do. We even have trouble trying to decide between options of what we could do.  How we be thankful for someone to just tell us what we are supposed to do?  

           Its good to know that God doesn’t experience this overwhelming attraction to thousands of options. From eternity past to eternity future, God has had the singular purpose of bringing everything together in Christ. We are a part of this plan, so whatever else we do, we must always be focused on being involved in bringing everything together for God in Christ. That is the focus God has given us.

God Has Made the Mystery Known

Ephesians 1:9

           Life is a mystery. What are we supposed to do? Why do we suffer? Why do they suffer? Why are they blessed? Why am I blessed? Why am I suffering when they are partying? Life is often a big mystery. Even when we know some Bible, life continues to by mysterious. Imagine how difficult it must be to live without God’s Book and God’s Son.

           The Bible teaches us that we can learn from nature that there is a God and we can even learn some things about God from nature (Rom. 1). But we can’t learn the mysteries of the universe from nature. We can’t learn the mysteries of God’s will from the universe. We can’t learn the Divine purpose for our lives from the universe. Without special revelation—the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16)—the most important questions remain mysteries.

           It is in this Holy Book that we find the mysteries revealed. So Paul wrote that God was “making known to us the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9). As we examine this sentence, the first thing we see is that God acknowledges that there is mystery. Its right there in the text—the (mysterion) mystery of his will. Do you feel like your life is a mystery? God said it is mysterious, but he doesn’t say it is chaotic—he said it is his will.

           So then, we can find comfort. Life isn’t a mystery in which we are jostled about trying to find our way to a random goal. Life is a mystery without God, but God is in control of the mystery and God has revealed his plan to us. The angels and prophets in the Old Testament didn’t know what we know. Peter wrote “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). Here is the key to unlocking the mysteries of life—Jesus and the subsequent glories.

We Can See God’s Plan

Ephesians 1:9-10

           God’s plan isn’t random. It isn’t chaotic. It isn’t out of control. It is exactly what God wanted it to be, and it is beautiful. Paul described this plan which has been made known in Christ as “according to His good pleasure which was put forward in Him for the plan of the fulness of time” (Eph. 1:9-10). God’s plan is so much better than our desperation.

           God’s plan is “according to His good pleasure.” This is important for us to remember. Many of the “mysterious feelings” which we experience in life are brought about by our confused notion that God’s plan is “according to my good pleasure.” Remember this—God’s plan is not your plan. God’s plan is God’s plan for His purpose which results in his glory. If God were to act for anything other than his own glory he would necessarily be an idolater. Remember when God told Israel how to be like him? Remember when Jesus told his people how to be godly? Both times the commands begin with “Love they Lord thy God…and have no other gods before him.” God’s plan is God’s plan. God isn’t an app on your phone to pull out when you have questions or need help. This is God’s world which was made for God’s purposes and operates according to God’s plan.

           When Jonathan Edwards wrote his magisterial work A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World, he concluded that God made the world for himself. Edwards helped us to see his thesis that God made the world for himself is confirmed by  passages such as Rom. 11:36, “For of him and through him and to him are all things.” Col. 1:16, “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, principalities or powers, all things were created by him, and for him.” Heb. 2:10, “For it became him, by whom are all things, and for whom are all things.” In Prov. 16:4 ’tis said expressly, “The Lord hath made all things for himself.” Since God’s plan is God’s plan for God, then we should order our lives that way if we want to be with God and if we want to be successful. If we prioritize our lives with anything other than God’s glory at the top 100 spaces, we will only find frustration because we are living in treason before the Sovereign of Heaven and earth.

           God’s plan is “put forward in Him for the plan of the fulness of time.” Note that Paul told us that God’s beautiful plan has a “fulness of time.” In other words, everything has been leading up to something. In Galatians 4:4-5 we find the only other time that phrase is used in the Bible and it reads, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

           Everything has been leading up to is Jesus. He is the fulness of time. From Genesis to Revelation, we are pointed to Christ. Jesus preached himself “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets” (Lk. 24:27). Luke said “he explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Everything from Acts to Revelation is about Jesus too! Now lets make a couple observations. First, everything in the Bible is about Jesus. Everything points to him. Second, everything in time is about Jesus. Everything is about him. So, if God has made the Bible to be all about Jesus and he has made all of time point to Jesus, shouldn’t we be wise enough to make our lives all about him too? As we plan our lives around God’s plan, God’s plan will become more apparent as the mysteries of life continue to open to us.  

We Are a Part of God’s Plan

Ephesians 1:10

           We are often allergic to submission. We want to be our own people. We want to be an individual. We want to do our own thing and live life our own way. But we have already seen the foolishness of this. We aren’t in charge. We aren’t sovereign. God is in charge. He is sovereign. This is His world. We are His creation. This can sound hard, but it is actually beautiful. God’s grand purpose will continue to be worked out in Christ and we can be a part of that Divine plan. In fact, the Bible says that God’s plan involves God’s people being reconciled to Him. This is the way God has chosen to glorify Himself—by saving us.

           Paul described it this way. He wrote that everything that has ever happened and will ever happen (Rom. 8:28) when he said that God “united all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10). This word ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι is incredible. It has to do with summations in literature and in mathamatics (BDAG). It has to do with “bringing everything to a head” (EDNT). God gathered “everything together under the control of one person.”[1] Jesus is the “unifying principle” (L&N) of all things. All the moral demands of Scripture, Paul said, are summed up (ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται) in the word “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Rom. 13:9). “Christ is the “cardinal point” in which all lines of the universe come together (recapitulatio omnium).”[2] We could summarize by saying that all of God’s plans and actions are summed up in the person of Jesus who is now head of all things and the one for whom all things exist.

           What did God sum up in Christ? The Bible says that is “all things in heaven and on the earth” (Eph. 1:10). This was God’s plan before the first particle of light flew across the sky. Titus 1:2 says this receoncilaitoin brought about the “eternal  life promised before the world began.” In 2 Timothy 1:9 we see that this grace was given “in Christ before the world began.” So everything in Heaven, everything on earth, everything in all time is for Christ and pointing to Christ. What about us? What about our lives? Are we in Christ? Are we living for him? Has he raised us up?

Finding Your Purpose in His Focus

           If your purpose is outside of Christ, it will fail. You will continue to be overwhelmed with options. You will continue to struggle with where your life should go and what your life should be about. You don’t have to live this way.

           You can live with purpose. You can, with God, live focused on Christ. So, why not come to Him?

[1] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 50.

[2] Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), 83.

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