Chapter 7: The Eternal Purpose.
We have spoken of the need of revelation, of faith and of consecration,
if we are to live the normal Christian life. But unless we see the end God
has in view we shall never clearly understand why these steps are necessary
to lead us to that end. Before therefore we consider further the question of
inward experience, let us first look at the great Divine goal before us.
What is God’s purpose in creation and what is His purpose in
redemption? It may be summed up in two phrases, one from each of our two
sections of Romans. It is: “The glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “The glory
of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
In Romans 3:23 we read: “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory
of God”. God’s purpose for man was glory, but sin thwarted that purpose by
causing man to miss God’s glory. When we think of sin we instinctively think
of the judgment it brings; we invariably associate it with condemnation and
hell. Man’s thought is always of the punishment that will come to him if he
sins, but God’s thought is always of the glory man will miss if he sins. The
result of sin is that we forfeit God’s glory: the result of redemption is
that we are qualified again for glory. God’s purpose in redemption is glory,
Firstborn Among Many Brethren
This consideration takes us forward into Romans chapter 8 where the
topic is developed in verses 16 to 18 and again in verses 29 and 30. Paul
says: “We are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may
be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present
time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to
usward” (Romans 8:16-18); and again: “Whom he foreknew, he also foreordained
to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn
among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom
he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also
glorified” (Romans 8:29,30). What was God’s objective? It was that His Son
Jesus Christ might be the firstborn among many brethren, all of whom should
be conformed to His image. How did God realize that objective? “Whom he
justified, them he also glorified.” God’s purpose, then, in creation and
redemption was to make Christ the firstborn Son among many glorified sons.
That may perhaps at first convey very little to many of us, but let us look
into it more carefully.
In John 1:14 we are told that the Lord Jesus was God’s only begotten
Son: “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father)”. That He was God’s only
begotten Son signifies that God had no other Son but this one. He was with
the Father from all eternity. But, we are told, God was not satisfied that
Christ should remain the only begotten Son; He wanted also to make Him His
first begotten. How could an only begotten Son become a first begotten? The
answer is simple: by the Father having more children. If you have but one
son then his is the only begotten, but if thereafter you have other children
then the only begotten becomes the first begotten.
The Divine purpose in creation and redemption was that God should have
many children. He wanted us, and could not be satisfied without us…
The Lord Jesus was the only begotten Son, and as the only begotten He
had no brothers. But the Father sent the Son in order that the only begotten
might also be the first begotten, and the beloved Son have many brethren.
There you have the whole story of the Incarnation and the Cross; and there
you have at the last the purpose of God fulfilled in His “bringing many sons
unto glory” (Heb. 2:10).
In Romans 8:29 we read of “many brethren”; in Hebrews :10 of “many
sons”. From the point of view of the Lord Jesus it is “brethren”; from the
point of view of God the Father it is “sons”. Both words in this context
convey the idea of maturity. God is seeking full-grown sons; but He does not
stop even there. For He does not want His sons to live in a barn or a garage
or a field; He wants them in His home; He wants them to share His glory.
That is the explanation of Romans 8:30: “Whom he justified, them he also
glorified.” Sonship — the full expression of His Son — is God’s goal in
the many sons. How could He bring that about? By justifying them and then by
glorifying them. In His dealings with them God will never stop short of that
goal. He set Himself to have sons, and to have those sons, mature and
responsible, with Him in glory. He made provision for the whole of Heaven to
be peopled with glorified sons. That was His purpose in redemption.