God’s Covenant, Part 9 – God’s Purpose

A-The Mind of God is Immanently Singular

The starting point of God’s covenant is in its purpose. Since God does everything He does with anyone, indeed with anything that exists according to His covenant, any consideration of purpose in relation to it concerns everything about Him. In other words, Gods Covenant is not secondary in any way to what He is as God, neither is His purpose in it either. Therefore, the way to define Gods purpose then is in its meaning. The proper definition of Gods purpose is that which concerns His intention, what motivates that intention and the chief principle or affection that undergirds everything about it. Of course, this too is only ascertained from what God has revealed in Scripture of Himself relative to it.

1-The Glory of God in His Decree

The purpose of God in His covenant is first and foremost Himself, indeed everything revealed in Scripture emanates from this principle. The sum total of all purpose concerning God is taken up in the exaltation of His glory. God loves Himself, indeed it is His glory which He loves. God says this of Himself, “I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.” (Is. 42:8). God is jealous of His glory so much so that He will not tolerate any love to any object other than Himself. The glory of God which elicits this love is that sum total of all His perfection. It is the totality of what God is in His nature and His attributes. God as Spirit is invisible, but when He makes His perfection known in all its glory no one can come near to Him in any way, for it is so bright, so overpowering that it consumes all that is unlike it. Therefore, when we say that Gods purpose in His covenant, indeed in all that concerns Him is the exaltation of His glory, we mean to say that it is in the manifestation of all His perfections in it.

We must understand that it is not mankind as a creature, nor anything else created that lies at the root of Gods purpose. God in eternity had no need of anything nor anyone whatsoever outside of Himself. God did nothing because He was lonely or needed any love from anyone. God is love, that is, love is His very nature (I John 4:8). Since God is Love this love for Himself is perfect and complete, there is nothing lacking in it in any way. So it is out of this purpose of the love God has for Himself and His perfection that He has chosen to do what He has done by way of His manifold personal acts. All the acts’ God has done or ever will do, is founded upon this purpose of love. It is good to meditate too, upon the fact that Gods purpose, to whatever extent it is expressed outside of Himself must be done by way of specific acts that He performs. Until that moment in the beginning in which God created, He had no avenue for which this purpose of His was to be realized in any way. So the acts of God are an extension of His purpose. When we talk about God’s covenant, we are therefore, talking about Gods purpose to do something.

The acts of God being singular in their purpose, they have only one unifying principle to them, the love of God for His own glory. This brings us to the consideration of how we are to understand this in terms of His covenant. There are many who fail to draw their ideas from the deep well of Gods word in seeking to answer this question. This is due to the fact that it is the sinful disposition of men to always start with themselves in forming their ideas of reality. If it were possible to arrive at the truth in this manner, all glory within the created order of things would go to man and not to God. But it is not possible for this to be done and therefore, God has given us His word to tell us what is not known nor could be known otherwise without it.

Now here is the starting point which God gives us in His word concerning His purpose, His covenant and all the acts He performs relative to it, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” (Acts 15:18). We have here in this text three things to consider. 1) The knowledge of God in reference to His covenant purpose, 2) The duration of that knowledge, 3) The outcome of that knowledge.

First, God is omniscient and as such He knows all things. It does us no good to torture our minds over questions of this or that possibility, contingency, or order of things within the thought of God. If God comprehends all things within His infinite mind, this is sufficient for us to know. The knowledge of God is just like He is according to His nature, singular and unlimited. Scripture speaks of Gods thoughts as many, but we should not view them as we do our own (Is. 55:8,9). When we think as creatures, we do so in reference to the limitations we have as creatures. The scope of reference as far as our thoughts are concerned are successive, historical, and hopefully but not always so, logically constructed accordingly. This is because we are creatures of time and space which God is not. God dwells in the ever present now of eternity, therefore, His thoughts are always present too. There is never any succession to the thought of God, for there is nothing historical or chronological about Him. Now since God incarnate is the Logos, meaning logic in English, He most definitely has logic as the foundation of His thought. Another way to put it, is that the many “thoughts” comprehended in the singular mind of God all have about them an absolute pattern or logic that emanates from His perfection. There is no contradiction in the mind of God for all is comprehended perfectly in conjunction with who He is and what He does.

Second, the duration of Gods knowledge extends to all eternity. Eternity is limitless, it has no bounds for there is no beginning to it and no end. God does not think in terms of contingency, or in terms of events dictating to Him what He should think. God’s covenant has been in His mind for all eternity, therefore, it is not something constructed after the fact concerning any other thing. Jeremiah reported the mind of God as it was revealed to Him concerning His covenant purpose toward him. “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ” Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jer. 31:3). Indeed this is the eternal mind of God concerning all of His people. There was no afterthought to it.

Third, the acts of God though many as they concern us all spring from one purpose and one thought. The context in which the words of Peter came in addressing the Jerusalem council had to do with the seeming novel circumstance of large numbers of Gentiles professing faith in the Jewish Messiah. The reason for the Jerusalem council was what to do about certain conflicts with arose between believing Jews and Gentiles concerning the Mosaic law, specifically circumcision. Peter was saying to them this is no chance occurrence that so many Gentiles are converting, these are the covenant works of God by which they are coming into His church. This is the single purpose of God, put forth in a single covenant that comes forth from a single intention of God to save. And so we conclude that in all of the discussion which took place at the council regarding this, it is what brings us now to what the Scripture points too in terms of Gods covenant purpose, how it is formulated and by what means it is executed. God’s covenant purpose is properly speaking a matter of Divine decree.

Now Scripture uses the word decree many times and in many places, primarily in the Old Testament. Out of the forty-nine times the word appears in Scripture there are but four verses spoken in direct reference to God making it (Ps. 2:7; 148:6; Jer. 5:22; Dan. 4:24). All of the rest are in reference to earthly rulers and their rule. But Scripture says that even those that are made by kings are actually by Gods decree too ( Prov. 8:15). Wisdom is understood here in Proverbs chapter Eight to signify the Lord Himself (Prov. 8:22,23). And so it is by decree that the sovereign Lord of all creation exerts His rule over all the earth, and that decree is but one in scope, both in its intent and in its thought as it concerns Him and His covenant.

So, what can God’s covenant decree be rightfully said to consist of relative to this one overarching purpose of His to glorify Himself? This is properly defined in the things which God has done in the execution of His decree unto this purpose. These can be boiled down too just a few major themes from which all other things flow. Everything concerning creation, including its corruption, its destruction, its restoration and its recreation all comprise one aspect of God’s covenant decree. This is a kingdom established by His Divine rule which resides within the created order. This kingdom is made up of both an earthly and a heavenly realm that coalesce together in His covenant purpose. This kingdom purpose although it is singular in scope, nevertheless includes every manifestation of it revealed in Scripture since the beginning of time until its final consummation. Every advance of the kingdom and every seeming decline in history is comprehended in God’s covenant by eternal decree. And last, but not least is the very means to this end of God in the exaltation of His glory, accomplished by Himself, all in the person and work of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. This work of God which Christ accomplished includes both the election of some to eternal life and the reprobation of others to eternal death. The eternal destiny of all persons made in the image of God is by Divine decree, according to God’s covenant purpose.

The covenant of God is based as we have said on a single decree that of which expresses the sum of His thought concerning His purpose, toward the end that He is glorified. Although there are many things that fall within the scope of God’s covenant purpose by way of historical providential events, there is but a single decree by which His eternal council is fixed. As we have said also, a decree is a command, an edict from a ruler which cannot be annulled. So it is with God and His eternal plan, it is established by His sovereign decree. Everything to do with creation and redemption are included in the establishment of this everlasting kingdom of which Gods dear Son has been appointed King.

We have seen the second person of the Trinity, or, Wisdom personified as He appears in Proverbs Eight as existing from everlasting to everlasting, before the world was (Prov. 8:23). The Son of God who is also the Word of God (John 1:1), is also the Wisdom of God, or the mind and truth of God who is at the center of all this purpose. We can only marvel at what is said of Him in Psalm 2:7, “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘ You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” God the Father is speaking to God the Son in this verse, we are invited as it were, into their private conversation. Here we have the eternal decree of God revealed as well in reference to His Son as the eternally Begotten of Himself. Now, at this point it behooves us to camp out a moment upon this thought. God is One and yet a Trinity of Persons (I John 5:7). The One God of three Persons is not the same, in the same way and in the same sense here in this passage (Ps. 2:7). There is one essence of God not three, and conversely, there are three Persons of the Triune Deity, yet, there is only one God of one substance that comprise the Divine Being. In spite of this fact, we are told in Scripture that the second person of the Trinity, the Son, is eternally begotten of the Father, or, eternally generated. But notice what else is said in Psalm two about this, the eternal begotteness of the Son is so by Gods eternal decree. What this says is the decree of God is singular in essence just as He is so. Also, the decree of God is one with Him just as the Son is too.

When we get to verse seven of Psalm two, it is obvious what this statement concerning the decree of the eternal begotteness of Gods Son is in reference to it too, it is as the King of Gods eternal kingdom which is also decreed as well (Ps. 2:6). The truth concerning Gods Son and His eternal kingdom may be two distinct doctrines of Scripture, but nevertheless they both flow forth from the one eternally decreed purpose of God. The love God has for Himself, ie., His glory is declared by Him to be invested in His Son whom He has shown to be the Ruler of this kingdom (Col. 1:13). To be more precise about this, the object of the covenant purpose, the covenant decree and all that attend to it by way of historical events through all the ages of the world culminates in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Creation itself is part of the decree as a subsidiary element of the larger kingdom purpose of God (Ps. 148:5,6; Jer. 5:22). Unless there is a creation that exists in the first place, how else would these other things have any fulfillment? In creation God reveals His mind by what He does. It is not simply the fact of creation being stated in these two Scripture references that deserves consideration. Creation is glorious in and of itself as a distinct doctrinal reality all on its own merits. But it is stated there also to show that creation is included in all the subsequent events that relate to God’s purpose. God’s decree is joined in these verses to creation to show that it is inseparably connected to the eternal mind, purpose and plan God has in His covenant. Everything that has happened in creation after it came into being was decreed, such as sin and salvation. The people and events of history are all predestined to have their place in reference to Gods glory fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His kingdom. And of course, they all come back to the covenant purpose by which it is all framed together as a single thought, or, decree of God.

For years Christian academics have spent their time and energy concerning themselves with this question, “what order is there in the eternal council of God concerning the matter of election in reference to the order of events by which it is accomplished?” In other words, did God purpose to save His elect before His foreknowledge that sin would enter into creation, or, did the foreknowledge of sin enter first in His thought, and then the remedy for it by His Son second. Neither one of these questions nor the popular answers to them men have arrived at is found in Scripture, and that is for good reason. The reason for this is that neither one of these questions can be true of God concerning His eternal council and decree. Perhaps a quotation from the Puritan Scholar John Gill on this subject will set the matter in order. In addressing the nature of God Gill makes this remark on the eternal decree.

“The decrees of God are within himself, and, as it is commonly said, whatever is in God, is God, and so are no other than God himself, as to the act of decreeing, though not with respect to the things decreed; and though they are many and various, as to the objects of them, yet not in God, who, by one eternal act, in his infinite mind, has decreed every thing that has been, is, or shall be; and is what Plato means by en kai polla, “one” and “many” in God; one, as to his essence; many, as to the ideas and decrees in it, which many are one.” (Body of Divinity Vol 1, Chapter 4).

To further elucidate this point in our treatise, the word covenant in the Old Testament appears many times, 265 times to be exact. Various individuals and promises appear in the Old Testament as objects of God’s covenant too. This has been interpreted by many to imply that God has many covenants with many purposes. But every time this word appears, it is always in the singular form. In other words, there are not many covenants as though God has a purpose for each one, each time it is mentioned. No, there is only one covenant of God mentioned many times over in reference to many aspects of His purpose. In the New Testament we find the word covenant mentioned in the singular form 31 times. However, three of these times that the word covenant is mentioned it is in the plural form, why is this? In two of these places the reference to more than one covenant is stated as the “covenants of promise” in reference to Israel, a single entity within Bible history (Rom. 9:4; Eph. 2:12). But the other example of a plurality of covenants is obtained by the distinction that Scripture makes between the Old and the New Testament era, with its various administrations, or, dispensations which pertain to them (Gal. 4:24, Eph. 1:10; 3:2).

Nowhere in these three examples of covenant plurality do we see a multiplicity of purpose and dealing by God from an everlasting perspective. In fact, it is Christ through His blood that has redeemed every saint in every age of History (Heb. 9:15). Because of this He is the one Mediator of Gods everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20). What we do see from this however, is a multifaceted plan eternally conceived by God and executed by Him over the period of thousands of years of created history.

2-The Glory of God Revealed in Creation

Let us now explore the mind of God further, as it has been made known in Scripture and in more detail. This, we begin with concerning Gods glory in creation for it is the starting point of all things pertaining to His covenant purpose in a historical sense. But before going any further on this point it is imperative to assert the incredible importance the doctrine of creation has in seeking to determine the truth concerning God’s covenant. An attack on the doctrine of creation is actually an attack upon everything pertaining to Gods purpose, decree, and covenant. Or, put another way, an attack upon the integrity of creationism as it is made known in Scripture is actually an attack upon God Himself. Such an attack as this is made upon His very existence as it’s Creator, Sustainer, Judge, and the Author of our salvation as well. All of this is at stake in the matter. Only a fool would venture to deny Him (Ps. 14:1).

The beginning of creation is the starting point of Gods covenant purpose being realized. And it is the glory of God that creation serves to establish. Until the creation came into being by the incredible power of the Almighty everything pertaining to what would and does happen from that point on unto eternity was as of yet, simply a thought. As we have already said it is the glory of God that motivated God to do all He has ever done, and in this case too, there is no difference. Until God created there was absolutely no expression of that glory, no avenue by which it might be made known. Until there was a creature there was none to appreciate the beauty of Gods unseen glory. And certainly before any creature ever existed to behold Gods works which glorify Him, there could be no praise whatsoever offered Him in love and adoration of such marvelous works that serve to display such glory.

And it is not just any kind of creature that can do this. It must be an intelligent creature such as that pertaining to the angelic host, and especially, man who is made in the image of God endowed with understanding of his Creator. Animal and plant life most certainly glorify God in serving the purpose for which they were created. But these forms of life do not do so with understanding or purpose, only out of instinct and nothing else. But until anything was made nothing at all was around to declare this great glory. And so God decreed that the world and all that are in it must come into being. Of one special man that God made we see this covenant purpose, both in its thought and in its actual deed performed, “(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;” (Rom. 4:17). The man referred to is of course, Abraham, the great Old Testament saint whose faith is so much built upon, and from whom so much theology in Scripture is derived (Rom. 4:13; Gal. 3:8).

None of what happened in history concerning Abraham and the nations, the entrance of sin and salvation from it, and the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom would ever take place apart from creation. For this reason, even though creation itself is incredibly wonderful, complex and glorious, still, God’s covenant purpose revealed in His word provides much more to it in terms of its actual glory. But without creation nothing of this glory in the first place would ever be known. At once, when God brought into being that which existed only in His mind, there now was provided a perfect tangible display of the beginnings of that unexpressed thought, it provided the avenue by which the purpose behind it would eventually come into fullness and ultimate perfection.

Once God had created, His glory was now on display, set above the very heavens for all with understanding to see (Ps. 8:1; 19:1). There is a testimony in it, a declaration of its Creator set forth in tangible reality. Creation declares Gods glory according to what it is by way of certain attributes He possesses, first His wisdom, then His power, and finally His goodness, all of which is exhibited in it. In short, the excellence of His creative genius is declared in what is observable in creation. When the word of God tells us of God and His covenant purpose, we have a display of His handiwork before us that agrees with it. And it is not that there is anything created that faith needs for this confirmation, but to the one who believes in His word, God gives them a glorious display of these attributes. And to those who refuse to believe in Him, they can never escape the silent message contained therein of such a glorious Creator as that which can and did create it, and whose word must and will come to pass.

Gods purpose in His covenant salvation is first and foremost the display of His glory in His creature who is part of creation, but this does not come without the other being done first. As we have said, God loves Himself, His nature and His attributes, and this He does rightfully so. God made everything for this very purpose “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36). Paul wrote these words in conclusion of his tome upon the glory of God in salvation, but he begins it with creation and the creature who lives within it (Rom. 1:20). Everything God does in creation, whether it is in providence, in redemption, in reprobation, or in final judgement, all are done to this end that they glorify Him. The covenant of God is the plan in which this purpose is accomplished.

Since God made man for the purpose of joining with Him in the glorification of His Being, it is the will of God that he (man) engages himself in doing the same thing toward his Creator. In fact, the Westminster Catechism sets this purpose forth as the first duty of man. The Shorter Catechism asks this as its first question, What is the chief end of man? And the answer is, Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. God loves and enjoys Himself and made man to join with Him in the fulfillment of this purpose. And this man will do either willingly or unwillingly, but nevertheless all will do some day for all eternity (Phil. 2:9,10). After wise Solomon had experienced everything in life and found it all to be vanity, he came back to God with full recognition of this purpose, that mans chief duty was to glorify Him (Ecc. 12:13).

Well, what exactly is comprehended in this purpose of God for man, or, specifically, what does his duty entail? In order to begin to understand this we must first go back to the beginning of creation where mankind was first formed and became established on earth. In the first pages of Genesis it is shown that God made mankind in His own image. What this means simply stated is that man was made in order to display the unseen moral and spiritual qualities of his Creator. Man was made a living, thinking, volitional being, with the ability to love and hate, to choose right from wrong, but most importantly of all to worship and serve his God. Closely tied to the purpose of creating man for service was his duty as a creature concerning the maintenance of the earth itself. This purpose was spelled out for Adam in the form of several positive duties. First, he was to multiply in the earth through his descendants. And second, in doing this, Adam was to take dominion over all the earth for the glory of his Maker (Gen. 1:26-28). Man’s duty to worship and serve God also entailed the keeping of a certain moral code which was given to him by God. Adam was told to eat of every tree in the garden that was made for him to live in, that is, all but a single tree that he was forbidden to partake of (Gen. 2:16,17). These commands he received, along with the one single prohibition was what gave meaning to man concerning his duty to glorify his Creator.

Let us take a moment now in further consideration of what it means for God to love Himself and His glory in reference to the end for which He created man. We state the matter like this in the form of a question asking what is it about man as a creature made in God’s image that is so essential to the fulfillment of this end? The answer to that is that there are certain qualities pertaining to God that can have no expression in nature in any other way than in a creature such as man showing them forth. Man was made to serve God by choice rather than by compulsion, such as the elect angels who were not permitted to rebel (I Tim. 5:21). Man was made with the capacity to empathize with his fellow creatures, or, to feel for them as we might say. This is something that the Divine nature cannot do. Man was made with the capacity for passion, emotion, sensation, all things which have nothing at all in Gods nature.

A good example of the difference that exists in the two natures that nevertheless Scripture draws a parallel to is found in Exodus chapter four concerning Moses and Aaron being commissioned by God to approach Pharaoh. “So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.” (Ex. 4:14). We see the words “anger” and “glad” used in reference to God and Aaron. Concerning God, an anthropopathism is used to describe the disposition of His mind toward Moses’ obstinance. Concerning Aaron we see the combination of human emotion with thought. All of these things are displayed in man in a way unlike that of God, and inseparably connected to his outward human acts. These acts, when done in love to God as their primary motive, tend to His glory in their expression (I Tim. 1:5).

God loves and acts too in very specific ways toward His creation, and of course, the motivation of God is absolutely holy. God’s love does not involve feelings; God has no form or body; God has no part or passion, and certainly there is no other Being like God for Him to act toward. What we are dancing around in this description of God and the parallel example to the creature made in His image is the principle of righteousness. The uniqueness of that which displays the glory of God in man is the fact that he was made to reflect God in his character. The character of God in man is reflected when proper obedience is given Him, and that done in a voluntarily way, involving his entire being in all its faculties which include mind, heart, soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). Righteousness means right acts motivated by right principle. For without this (volition) there can be no such thing as actual righteousness. God acts with volition, He does so as the only absolute free agent in all things. Although man is a creature and therefore, limited, he too was made to act volitionally.

Now God most certainly is righteous, and His righteousness was forever known by Him. When Jesus, the Son of God prayed His high priestly prayer to the Father in the presence of the disciples the fellowship which exists between the members of the Trinity was made known to them (John 17:5,26). But no one ever sees God or the fellowship that exists within the Trinity, so hence, the righteousness of God that is inherent to His nature is hidden. But man sees man, and righteousness is an attribute that is and was at his creation communicable to man. And it is not just man who sees man but the angels in heaven do as well (Luke 12:8,9; 15:10). The love that mankind should have toward God and toward his fellow man, ie., that love He has for Himself, is the display of Gods glory in His righteousness. Is it any wonder then that the second Person of the Trinity took on the nature of man in His incarnation? These unseen attributes of God, that is, those that are communicable to man are seen in perfect array and harmony in Him. For it has been said, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18).

And finally, how was man to perform this task of glorying God on earth? Gods glory in His righteousness is displayed in the keeping of His commandments. This single purpose of God would have fulfillment in a single command if it were kept by man. But whether it is one, ten, or six hundred and thirteen commandments as those which was later on given to Israel, absolute conformity to Gods righteousness is the end to which man was put here upon earth. The righteousness of God is the spiritual application of that moral code which is contained in His commandment(s). This is the manner in which Gods purpose in creation has expression. Inanimate creation has no moral aspect to it at all, nor does lower life forms as we have already considered in plants and animals. But these are sanctified by the presence of Gods righteousness on earth. The dominion man was to have over it was a righteous dominion, manifesting these moral qualities throughout. As we will see, God’s covenant is the ultimate fulfillment of this purpose.

3-The Glory of God in His Kingdom

As we have already seen, Gods covenant purpose given by eternal decree involves a kingdom (Ps. 2). Because God’s kingdom is eternal, it is primarily spiritual in nature. But that being said, because God created the cosmos, consisting of both the spiritual and material realms of nature, the kingdom of God is actually a combination of the two. The glory of God in this kingdom comprehends both aspects of its being. We find this revealed in Scripture when we study its pages from start to finish, for in it there are both earthly and heavenly things that work together in Gods purpose and covenantal decree (Rom. 8:28). This concerns not only people who are the subjects of the kingdom but the entire cosmos itself (Rom. 8:19).

Scripture portrays God’s kingdom as a progressively developed ideal. The glory of God’s kingdom is only fully realized in a future age yet to come. This aspect of it is actually Eschatology, or, what is commonly called end time theology. But Eschatology in Scripture is not something that is revealed as a doctrine apart from God’s covenant, and of course, His covenant purpose. What we mean by using this concept of progressive development is not that Gods kingdom is built incrementally per se. Nor do we mean that it doesn’t exist at all until some future event or events take place. What we mean to say is that the kingdom of God is revealed progressively in history eventually ending in what is called fully realized Eschatology. God’s glory is revealed in the historical development, or, the manifestation of God’s eternal kingdom. The ultimate, eternal purpose God has concerning His kingdom is what His covenant is all about.

The kingdom of God existed in the mind of God from eternity past as we have noted from the second chapter of the Psalms, “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.” “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘ You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” (Ps. 2:6,7). Someone will immediately bark, “This text is referring to Israel, the earthly people of God.” To this we reply, yes, and it applies to the heavenly, spiritual, redeemed and glorified people of God too, some of which are Jews. But to restrict the meaning of this passage, indeed of the whole Psalm to an earthly kingdom exclusively is to miss the point God gives in the midst of the verse itself. Gods Son is the king of an eternal kingdom, and that by eternal decree. It is necessary to ascertain the nature of this kingdom by examining the totality of Scripture not only in its parts, but also in its whole, as a unified revelation from God. Any attempt to dissect God’s kingdom into pieces, or, to make it more than one kingdom is an egregious error.

The proof we offer of this assertion is found in the Book of Galatians, chapter four (verses 21-26). The apostle Paul draws a parallel between two different Jerusalem’s, the one is of the earth, the other is of heaven. But notice that the heavenly Jerusalem, “which is the mother of us all” is the one that concerns the true members of God’s kingdom. One is symbolic of the other, or, the earthly Jerusalem is a type of the heavenly Jerusalem which is the substance, or, the antitype, of whose citizens are all those to whom the covenant promise of God pertains. So how does this relate to Psalm two and Zion? Zion in the Old Testament is the city of God, or, Jerusalem the city of David, of the King, and of the Lord (II Chron. 5:2; Ps. 48:2; Is. 60:14). Zion means the Eschatological city of God which is interpreted to mean His heavenly kingdom (Heb. 12:22-24). This is the actual Zion of Psalm chapter two.

To begin to understand the kingdom purpose of God it is necessary to start in Genesis again, at the very beginning of time. For when God first created and made as it is said, the kingdom purpose of God commenced in real time as we say today. Every part of Gods creation is part of His kingdom purpose. The kingdom of God is introduced to us first in the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1). The unfolding of the kingdom however, really comes to us beginning in chapter three where we see that besides the general creation of the heavens and the earth, God made a special place for man to live. This place is where he was to perform a special function as the human representative of God in His kingly rule of the earth. It is in this place that the Eschatological kingdom of God finds its original theological meaning, at least in elementary fashion, it being the central focus of Gods purpose in heaven and on earth. This place is called in Scripture the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8).

The garden of Eden is referred to also in Scripture as Paradise, or, heaven on earth combined (Rev. 2:7). The term “Paradise” is not simply a metaphor for some idealized state of existence, or, some utopian dream world. Paradise is heaven and this is what Eden was on earth. This fact reveals the mind and purpose of God in the original creation that it was to establish His dominion or kingdom in a joint combination of the two in an altogether united spiritual and material realm. In reflection, this is what was comprehended in the first verse of Genesis in the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1). In this verse the word earth is in the singular form, and heaven is in the plural form, signifying not just the expanse or firmament above it, but a spiritual place called heaven that exists too. This is the place that God has chosen for His presence to dwell in, to establish the center of His kingdom authority (Is. 66:1; Matt. 5:34; Acts 17:24). Also, the unity of heaven and earth are joined as a single created place in which God and man both dwell together. Adam’s role as a representative was to show forth the nature of mans duty that it is primarily spiritual and not just earthy (Acts 17:25). Adam was to serve a mediatorial function from the garden in the pursuit of Gods theocratic dominion over the earth. Eden served as a sort of temple by which the descendants of Adam would come and worship and know God.

Furthermore, God put man in a Garden that was made to be exquisite in every respect, suited to his every need by an abundant supply of resources. Man’s duty was to serve God in the maintenance of the garden (Gen. 2:8,15). The garden of Eden as it was called served a greater purpose than just a place to live and grow food. The garden was sacred ground. It was a meeting place between God and man; The garden was a place where God walked and spoke audibly and appeared visibly to man, “And the LORD God said,” “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 2:18; 3:8a). Immediately, a question is raised in our thoughts about this, how could God who is invisible and has no body, be seen and heard walking in the garden of Eden? The answer is easily resolved in Scripture when we are told two things. The first being that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the triune God was present and active in creation, and second, Jesus appeared pre incarnate many times in the Old Testament era as the Angel of the Lord (John 1:1,2; Jud. 13:3,21; Is. 6:1). Gods glory which no man can see and live was shrouded by the visible manifestation of this Angel (Jud. 13:22,23).

If that were not enough, God also made man a helper, one made in his image as man, in order to accompany and assist him in the pursuit of Gods purpose for him in the service of His creation (Gen. 2:18). But the most important duty of all for mankind was in the maintenance and furtherance of his fellowship with God on a moral and spiritual basis, for this is the purpose of God’s kingdom. We come back again to the words of God in Psalm two, “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.” (Verse 6). Gods kingly rule over heaven and earth was the purpose revealed in the dominion mandate, and it was founded upon the principle of Gods righteousness. “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” (Ps. 24:1-4). This is the glory of God revealed in His covenant purpose.

In His infinite wisdom, God had made another form of life to dwell in heaven and on the earth, one that is not mentioned in the Genesis account of creation but rather in other places of Scripture. These creatures were designed in the mind of God to play a very important role in the manifestation of His kingdom. These other creatures are known to us as angels and are unlike mankind in that they are singular, or, monistic in nature, without bodies being entirely spiritual. These creatures were actually set in their created order according to their nature, far above mankind even though it is man and not they that are made in the image of God. This angelic realm was created to serve God and man within His creation with a view to the instituting of His kingdom authority in heaven and earth (Ps. 8:4-6). That this angelic host of creatures was made for this very purpose is established by the inspired writer of Hebrews who quotes Psalm eight in applying it to this very end (Heb. 2:5-8). The writer of Hebrews ties the original purpose of God to the eventual end of the same, showing forth God’s covenant purpose within its overall scope, and its never-ending existence. These angels are first and foremost called the ministers of God according to this covenant purpose, sent to minister to Christ in the earth and to His covenant people (Heb. 1:5,6).

The chief angel of this heavenly host was situated by God in Eden too, whose place and purpose were set forth in opulent array among His other glorious works. This figure, as we are given to think of him from Scripture, as he is first spoken of in it in any great detail, is made known to us by way of a certain analogy (Ez. 28:11-14). This angel whose name is not mentioned in this text, is compared to the king of Tyre whose name is not mentioned either. The use Scripture makes of the king of Tyre to portray this angel should be quite obvious to the casual observer. This Phoenician king was an earthly prince, whose beauty, wealth, and industry commended him to all the nations. He was powerful and clever to the point of exporting his language and religion everywhere throughout the Mediterranean Sea nations while in the pursuit of international commerce. We are quickly brought in this text however, to the chief personage that it is intended to expose, the anointed cherub, or, Satan as he is otherwise known (verse 14).

Now this angel who was given such an exalted position in God’s kingdom also enjoyed dual access into Gods presence, both on the earth and in heaven. We see this taking place in two particular places of Scripture (Job 1:6,7; 2:1,2; Zech. 3:1). And just for a little clarification, the term “sons of God” appear sometimes in Scripture in reference to Gods children as in Genesis 6:2, and at other times as a reference to angels as in Job 38:7. We go to the trouble to point this out for there have been certain ultra-literalists who have forced a single interpretation upon this phrase to the destruction of Gods truth, for instance, teaching before the flood angels married “the daughters of men” and produced some sort of grotesque offspring. This interpretation of Genesis 6:2 which comes from the literalist camp, along with many other interpretations they come to in other texts, renders the Scriptures a set of ridiculous assertions. The meaning of the passages cited in Job however, using the term “sons of God” is in reference to angels. The context of these passages bears this interpretation out.

We know that Satan did not remain in the exalted position he enjoyed in God’s kingdom, but rather fell into sin and rebellion from Him (Ez. 28:15-19; Is. 14:12-15). Satan, or, Lucifer as he is called too, took in his rebellion with him a large number of the angelic host (a third, Rev. 12:4), who together with him was eventually all cast out of heaven, and will ultimately be cast into a place of eternal separation and torment (Rev. 12:9; Matt. 25:41; Jude 1:6). Now there is something here in this consideration that requires some amount of comment. The reasons for this being that certain alternative ideas of God’s kingdom, again we are referring to the ultra-literalists, make much of certain statements on it in Scripture that bypass the proper understanding of this event. As we have already noted, after his fall Satan did still have access into Gods presence. The exact wording in Job goes like this: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” (Job 1:6). A similar wording is found in chapter 2, verse 1. It would seem from this that Satan was summoned with these other angels rather than having some sort of liberty to come and go as he pleases as it would seem he had on earth (Job 1:7; 2:2). And though we are not told which angels these were that appeared with him, it can be assumed by these being called “sons of God” that these were good angels, not those who rebelled.

There are a couple of things in relation to Satan’s place in God’s kingdom after his fall that merit our consideration too. First, Satan was given authority by God over the elements and people on earth as it is revealed in the providential troubles of Job (Job 1:12-19; 2:6,7). Second, Satan was in the position to offer to Jesus the kingdoms of the world in his temptation of Him in the wilderness, showing his immense control over them even after his fall (Matt. 4:8,9). Third, Satan is called the god of this world by the apostle Paul, meaning the actual authority behind its events in terms of his appointed position (II Cor. 4:4). Satan is also called “the prince of the power of the air” by Paul as well, showing the nature of the current command he has within God’s kingdom over those who are under his spiritual dominion (Eph. 2:2). So we see that Satan’s rebellion had enormous consequence in creation, and specifically within God’s kingdom.

And so upon learning this truth from Scripture we are immediately faced with certain important questions like, how exactly did Satan’s rebellion affect the kingdom of God? The answer to this brings us to the reason we have labored so much in establishing Gods preeminence over all things in previous sections on His covenant, leading up to this point. For it is here that grievous errors and confusion have been wrought by those who suppose two things: 1. That God began His kingdom after the rebellion of Satan and those who followed him in it. 2. That there is some sort of contest at work between Satan and God as to who will prevail.

On this second point there have been two basic modes of thought in the world. The first of these is pagan and heretical as seen in the gnostic sect called the Manicheans. Because of the obvious presence of evil in the world coupled together with the obvious presence of much good, these people believed that there were actually two Gods at work, the one who does good and the other who does evil. These two forces act in opposition to each other within the cosmos. Augustine was converted to Christianity from this false religion. The second of these two opinions is false too, but it sits in much closer proximity to us within orthodox Christianity. These people suppose that Satan and his forces, although they are created, are on almost equal ground with Him in terms of their power, freedom, and ability to implement their will within the cosmos. Translated, this means that there is a supernatural cosmic contest at work for control over the franchise so to speak, between them. This conflict which God will eventually “win” is still nevertheless one which offers to Him a formidable challenge.

Neither of these opinions is true in the least. The first one does not merit our attention for obvious reasons. The other opinion is much harder to refute owing to the fact that there is an obvious presence in the world of good and evil. But here, as in other places we have already covered the solution to the problem begins and ends with God. Just as Gods kingdom is no afterthought, neither is all that takes place in it from beginning to end unto its full realization, including every form of opposition to His will that takes place in the interim. God’s kingdom with all that it takes in, in terms of good and evil, in terms of war and peace, in terms of faith and unbelief, in terms of sin and salvation etc., is all comprehended in the mind and purpose of God as set forth in His eternal decree. “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,” (Is. 46:10). The purpose of God takes in even the evil that occurs in creation as a result of Satan and his forces who act in opposition to Him.

Now, having said this we are brought back at once to our previous consideration concerning the effect rebellion had within creation, indeed within the entirety of God’s kingdom itself. Jesus gives us some insight into this at the time He sent the seventy disciples out with authority to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:17,18). The words Jesus spoke concerning this give us a clue to understanding the state of God’s kingdom that occurred after Satan’s rebellion and still was at the time of His advent.

Apparently, up until this time Satan exerted his influence upon the earth from heaven itself. The opening scene in the book of Job bears this out, for it was from heaven where Gods presence dwells that Satan challenged Jobs integrity. And we should not suppose that the will of God was in any way subject to the suggestion of Satan when authorization was given him over people and even over natural elements in Jobs trial. But rather, these events within God’s kingdom were all part of His glorious purpose, and we might add too, His covenant purpose, done for the benefit of His chosen people of whom Job was most certainly connected. Although Satan is not mentioned again in the remainder of the book, the conclusion of the events surrounding it and Job is seen in the final pages. Gods purpose, which Job acknowledges cannot be withheld from God was that he would grow in grace and maturity (Job. 42). Also, God restored to Job everything that He had taken way, or, we might say, took away through Satan, giving him far more than he had before.

So this cosmic contest between Satan and God is not one that hangs in the balance, as those who think less of God than they should do, but is rather one that exists for the express purpose of the almighty. This kingdom conflict as we might call it, it exists for the purpose of implementing God’s covenant kingdom in history, in real space and time, looking ahead to its grand finale when all has been done to His glory. The words of Jesus to His disciples, in response to their amazement at the authority they were given, show us that Satan’s stock in the kingdom fell through the preaching of the gospel. And furthermore, what Christ came to accomplish in Himself in history, by way of redemption, worked toward the overthrow of Satan’s presence and influence within creation. This is the only way we can understand the words of the Lord as they are given in Johns revelation (Rev. 12:7-9).

Revelation is a book in which ultra literalists have made a great deal of hay concerning God’s kingdom. They do this in assigning to Scripture literal interpretations to all that is prophetic in nature concerning God’s kingdom, not the least of which is done to Revelation too. It is not our purpose to write a polemic for or against alternative interpretations here. Instead, we put forth what seems to be the most obvious and consistent approach to our position. The reader will notice that the Book of Revelation is set forth as two divisions of parallel progression in its content. The first division is from chapters’ 1-12. The second division is from chapters’ 12-22. In both of these divisions there seems to be a progression of events surrounding conflict within creation that culminates in the victory of the Lord over it. The first division starts with the church of Johns day concerning persecution upon the earth. The second division starts with the same conflict, this time as it is waged in heaven.

And so we understand the words of chapter 12 as it begins to reveal this cosmic activity. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9). Here, we can clearly see that this war is fought by angels. It is necessary to remember angels were created to be ministers or servants of God within His kingdom. When Satan (the dragon) who is an angel rebelled, and all those who followed him rebelled too, this made war in heaven. God does not fight with anyone, nor does His Son King Jesus. The conflict that raged in heaven was due to either obedience or disobedience toward God by His ministers, and this was the substance of the war. That this war involves the objects of God’s covenant, to wit, His chosen people are what the earth and all of its turmoil throughout history centers on.

But what else do we see in this passage in Revelation? We see that Satan and his angels were overcome in this cosmic struggle. But how was it they were overcome, was it by the angels they fought with? No, Satan and his host were overcome by the Lord here earth through His people as it is disclosed to us in Luke’s narrative (Luke 10:17,18). What is done on earth through Christ has its accomplishment in heaven, and ultimately here on earth too. For it is seen that at His advent, and the commencement of His ministry here on earth through the preaching of the kingdom and the power that attended it, that Satan and his followers were soon kicked out of heaven. This marked the beginning of Satan’s demise, which by the way did not end at that time, but does await the fulfillment of the Eschatological realization of the kingdom. This will be taken up in further detail as we continue the study of God’s covenant.

We now come to consider the main objects of God’s covenant purpose in His kingdom. This is man, who was made lower than the angels, but has been crowned with the glory and honor of being made bearing Gods image (Ps. 8:5). And for what purpose was he made to dwell on the earth? It was to have dominion over it as the subjects of the kingdom (Ps. 8:6). But we know that mankind fell from obedience to God in the garden through sin and rebellion too, just as Satan did. Also, Scripture tells us that this rebellion against God took place at the very outset of his existence here on earth. Although Scripture says nothing in the early pages of Genesis about the circumstances surrounding the defection of the angelic host, we are immediately confronted with the fact that it had already occurred when man fell. This is evident by the introduction of the serpent in the garden who confronts and tempts the woman to sin, and ultimately her husband too (Gen. 3:1-6). This serpent is none other than Satan, the dragon spoken of by John in Revelation.

Man rebelled against God in the garden when he violated the single command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16,17). The result of this was that all mankind partook with him of not only his defection from God, but also the curse that God pronounced upon it. Surely, the glory of Gods love toward His creation was displayed in the prohibition not to transgress this command. For had man obeyed his Creator then there would be no death, no curse, and no suffering such as there is now which has befallen him and his posterity. Because of sin mankind does not live to glorify God anymore, but rather they have rebelled against Him “For they have sought out many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29b).

The introduction of sin and rebellion into creation certainly has all the appearance of failure on the part of God to secure His purpose. But as we have already stated the establishment of God’s kingdom includes all of that which appears to be contrary to it. This would include sin and rebellion on the part of Gods creatures. It also includes all of those who were predestined to eternal damnation along with those who were predestined to eternal glory. On the one hand, God’s covenant is primarily concerned with the redemption of the people of that kingdom, while on the other hand, God’s decree is concerned with both His elect and with the reprobate as well. Both salvation and damnation come together as one purpose of the decree of God in this way. In the garden of Eden mankind enjoyed Paradise, heaven on earth as it was. But without sin and its consequent curse the fullest display of Gods glory in His covenant would never have been known. We talk of course, of the glory of God in salvation. For it is in salvation accomplished through the king of glory, Jesus Christ, that all God’s eternal purpose which He decreed will find its full expression. If Adam had not sinned, he would never have known the mercy and grace of God in salvation, which is according to the highest of His attributes, and all of which He purposed to give those in Christ through His covenant (Eph. 1:3-14).

4-The Glory of God in Christ

We now come to consider the Lord Jesus Christ especially. There is no other subject, no other object that finds the approbation of God in the pursuit and maintenance of His glory than that which is found in Him. Of Jesus the Father said “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:15b). God the Father assigned to Him as well the distinction of being called “the Son of His love” over that kingdom in which all His covenant purpose resides (Col. 1:13).

The Lord Jesus Christ having taken on a body of flesh, and having entered into creation, by this did glorify God in the so doing. Immediately we are confronted here with the need to consider and meditate upon several important things. Remember, man was made lower than the angels, yet, he was endowed with God’s image stamped upon him as the very crown of His creation. Therefore, the incarnation of our Lord was no afterthought in the mind of God, but the fullest expression of that crowning achievement, at least as it concerns His humanity. In Christ we have the nature of the eternal Deity joined together in a hypostatical union alongside that of limited, earthly nature. Though man is forever himself below angels according to the stature of his nature, he is brought far above them in Christ through the incarnation.

And through the exaltation of Christ as the king of God’s vast domain He received this epithet from the Father, “For to which of the angels did He ever say: ” You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: ” I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?” (Heb. 1:5). The angel who led our first parents astray, contending for control of God’s kingdom is now put low through Christ, yea, lower than even man himself. “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ” Let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Heb. 1:6). Now it is this Man, whom God chose and sent to be Head of His kingdom that we read, “But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” (Heb. 1:8). The kingdom purpose of God is established in Jesus Christ. And notice too, what is said in verse eight, it is both eternal and righteous in character because of Him and His rule, never to be anything other than that again.

Now here is where the incarnation of Christ in the form of man excels all other revealed glory. It has to do with the nature of nature itself. What do we mean by this? The glory of God is most certainly revealed in creation for it shines forth many of the glorious attributes of its Creator. The power of God is seen in the fact that He brought something out of nothing in a moment simply by His will. The wisdom of God is seen in the order and design apparent throughout creation that could not occur by some fluke or chance event. And the goodness of God is displayed in the sufficiency, beauty, and usefulness of all that exists as a result of His creative power and wisdom.

But the glory of God is infinitely greater than what creation by itself displays. In the very same Psalm in which David writes “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” He also says “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:1,7). David sets forth in the Psalm two different forms of revelation based on two different sources. The first is in creation itself, what it testifies primarily by way of those three attributes cited above, power, wisdom and goodness. But here in this Psalm David puts forth a second form of revelation which he refers to as the law. By the term “the law” which appears frequently in the Old Testament as well as in the New, we understand it to mean one of two things. One use of the phrase means the word of God in Scripture such as the “Law of Moses” (Luke 24:44), the second use means the commands of God as it is used in the ten commandments. Both are equally valid uses. But whether we use one or the other meaning exclusively it does not change the point David makes of it in this Psalm, namely, that the second form of revelation far exceeds that of the first. But why is this the case? It is because the first revelation which is contained in nature is far less sufficient in itself to show forth the glory of God than that of the second which is the law, or, the word of God.

Also, in doing this David tells us that the creative glory that God puts on display in nature is not all of the glory which He possesses. For it is only through a written code that any further revelation of God and His glory can be made. What this law David sets forth in Psalm nineteen reveals to us is that of the unseen glory of God, those things that eye cannot perceive. And though the eye may perceive certain qualities of God in nature, yet, never does it do so in its fullest sense merely in this way. It is only through propositions of truth contained in the law, taught according to their accurate meaning which can show forth the spiritual and moral attributes of God that flows from His most excellent nature. These propositions of truth pertaining to Gods moral and spiritual excellence comprise many more attributes than can be seen in nature. For instance, Scripture reveals God to be Spirit, Light, and Love in His nature. Scripture reveals God to be eternal, simple, immutable, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient in His Being. But those attributes that especially show forth His moral character are primarily those which He is also able to communicate to the creature He has made in His image, those such as love and hate, such as grace and mercy, such as justice and wrath, such as goodness, truth, and wisdom. All of these the word of God reveals about Him.

But there is something even more profound in this which brings us further toward the glory of God in Christ. God is called in the New Testament alone “the living God” 16 times. All that Scripture says of Him pertains to these moral and spiritual excellencies as those things that describe His life and Being. Now, Jesus became man as the Word of God, living and powerful in His Person (John 1:1,14; Heb. 4:12). In His Deity, Jesus possesses all of those qualities and attributes which pertain only to God alone. But in His humanity, Jesus possesses all those attributes which are communicable to man, and we might add, does communicate to His people. To sum it up, the law which David speaks of in Psalm nineteen is something that Jesus embodies in His person. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Ps. 19:7-9).

In short, what the “Word who became flesh” made known to us in and through the person of Jesus Christ, He does so as the Revelation, or, the Testimony of God to the world. Jesus reveals a salvation which takes in every aspect of God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness which yields to the recipient of it reconciliation, restoration, communion, and glorification. To those who rebel and refuse His yoke and salvation, Jesus is a Lawgiver and a Judge (Gen. 49:10; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:16). All of these things that concern Christ reside within the covenant purpose of God.

Now this glory that pertains to Christ, if He were not incarnate as the God Man, could not be known or experienced by His people. For before Christ came in flesh, Moses desired to see the glory of God as a pledge of His covenant assurance toward him and Israel, not realizing what it was he was asking, “For no man shall see Me, and live.” (Ex. 33:12-20). The perfection of God when revealed is so intense, so powerful, so holy, so bright that no one uncovered can stand before Him (Ex. 33:21-23). Yet, as a believer in the true and living God Moses yearned to see His glory, a desire that all who are saved have and will ultimately experience some day. As the Lord passed before Moses, He preached a sermon to him upon the glorious attributes of His nature (Ex. 34:5-7). The Lord declared Himself to Moses in the following words: mercy, grace, patience, goodness, truth, justice, wrath, and of course, a Sovereign who rules in the application of each one of these to His creature (Ex. 33:19). These were all made known to Moses in answer to His request to see His glory, and done so by way of propositional self disclosure. Keep in mind too that these attributes listed in the sermon were only the back parts and the mere edges of Gods perfection, for many more are true of Him (Job 26:14).

And now, the day has come when this intrinsic glory that God owns in Himself, which no man has seen or can see, has been enfleshed in the Person of Jesus Christ for all to see. And through Him, that glory of God is now both seen and known, received and worshiped by men and women of faith. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

The covenant purpose of God is salvation by Jesus Christ, the redemption of His own special children and the restoration of creation (Rom. 8:19,21). It is through the cross, the vicarious death for sinners and glorious resurrection from the grave that Jesus has accomplished this. There will be a time when God will also judge the world through His Son, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” (Acts 17:31a). As the Judge of all the earth’s inhabitants, Jesus Christ who has been exalted to the right hand of God will execute either Gods mercy or His wrath upon men for “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (I Pet. 4:5).

Jesus Christ is the central theme and purpose of God’s covenant. Man was made by God with an original glory being made good. The original creation showed forth itself with that same goodness that was revealed in man. Truly, before sin and rebellion entered into it this was Paradise, or, heaven on earth. But sin marred this Paradise bringing death and destruction into it. But none of this happened as an after event in the mind of God, but it was in fact by His express purpose and design. The purpose of God is to restore that which was lost in the fall which is creation itself, and specifically those elect persons whom Christ came to save. But here again, there is something far more profound to consider about this. The purpose of God in Christ is not simply to bring mankind back to what he was in the beginning, even though it was good, but to restore him to something better. That is to say, those who are saved are restored to a greater glory than they had before in Adam (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).

This was all purposed and done according to the eternal decree of God. God in eternity purposed all these things to happen in His covenant, to be accomplished through His Son, and for His glory, “according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). In other words, the way in which God is most glorified is in His Son Jesus Christ, in His person, His righteousness, and His work of redemption. Here is why we took such pains to introduce the eternal covenant of God as we have done so in the many previous sections leading up to this particular point. It is to show forth the central glory of God in His covenant, to show forth the central figure of His purpose, and to provide an explanation of the antithesis that exists between Him and His creature. It is also to show the glory of God in His singular purpose, one of distinction, of clarity, of uniqueness, of unity and of completeness in all of its events. It is easy for man to suppose that the purpose of God is somehow a manifold thing in its essence, when in fact, it is not. What is manifold is the number of things comprehended in the single covenant intention God has, all of which pertain to His eternal council, but the council itself is one.

God’s purpose is to send His Son Jesus Christ into the world to display to it all of these things that comprise His thought toward it. Now we know that there will be some who believe in Him as their Savior and have eternal life, and there are some who won’t who obtain eternal death. Both of these are in the mind of God too, for those who won’t believe have been excluded already just as God has predetermined it to be (John 3:16,18). By this fact, sense is made of the work of Christ in redemption when Scripture asserts of Him, “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.” (Is. 53:11). The work of Christ in redemption is complete, lacking nothing, and we might add, nobody for whom it was intended. “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is. 53:12). Those who believe are those who were marked out for this in God’s purpose. Those who don’t believe have been marked out for this purpose too, that the glory of God may be exalted in their destruction (I Pet. 2:6-8).

The purpose of God in the gospel of Christ is therefore, the display of His glory through the cross upon which He died. The cross declares Gods hatred of sin and its punishment. The cross declares Gods love for His covenant people by the bestowal of His grace to them, He does so in counting it the payment for their sin. And the cross declares His justice and wrath toward those who violate His law, who reject His mercy and refuse to believe the gospel. All of this is comprehended in the eternal purpose of God, and is part and parcel of His covenant.

5-The Glory of God is in Both Salvation and Reprobation

At this point we understand that there are things presented here that are hard for some to accept. This is due to the fact that this is a generation brought up on sentimental, man-centered religion. This kind of religion puffs man up in the esteem he has of himself, thinking that the central purpose of God in salvation is first and foremost the happiness of man. Of course, anyone who is saved and knows the grace of God in Christ is extremely happy in a spiritual sense. But the happiness of man is not in any way the central theme or interest of God’s covenant as we have endeavored to prove up too now. And for the benefit of anyone having had the interest to have read up to this point, we want to supply more comment on this matter.

Salvation and reprobation are both included in God’s purpose toward the glorification of Himself. If it were not so, God would cease to be who He is. God is absolutely sovereign and nothing happens outside of His eternal decree and rule over His creation. There is not a single atom made within the cosmos that is not fully controlled and fully directed by Him. Because this world with all its various circumstances appears to be a place of cause and effect motions, it is easy to assume otherwise. Furthermore, we as Christians see that men do not generally obey what God says is His will in Scripture, giving the impression to many that therefore, they are free agents in respect to it. Rational and responsible man most certainly is, but free is something else that is true only in regard to whom and what he is as a creature under the sovereign rule of God.

As this sovereign rule concerns man, God’s purpose is twofold, either to redeem or to reprobate, for He is glorified in doing both. In the eternal council of God some humans have been chosen by Him to be the objects of His redeeming love, while others have been chosen to be the objects of His destroying hatred (Rom. 9:13,18). As we have said, this truth is a hard pill to swallow for men who think their eternal happiness is necessarily at the center of all of God’s eternal purpose simply because God made them. This view is based on a selfish notion of who man is as a creature of God. In a cause and effect concept of philosophy this might make sense, for after all, if God made man in His image and He is good, then it only stands to reason that man is good too and therefore, the object of His love.

To go even further, God says that love is His very nature (I John 4:8). But since God is love and He loves His own nature more than anything else, then He must hate all that is contrary to it. The idea that because God is love He therefore, must love all men and desire their salvation equally is contradicted by what He clearly says about this in Scripture. It is true that the love of God from which flow His mercy and grace are seen as the source of the highest of His attributes as was declared by Him to Moses (Ex. 34:6,7). This being the case then, we can understand that out of love God purposed in eternity past to save some humanity after their fall and defection. And nowhere is it ever said in Scripture that God is hate, or, that He possesses the attribute of hate. But here is where we must understand what Scripture tells us about God and those whom He does indeed hate. A love for His nature on Gods part demands that He hate those who sin against it, and it also gives us the reason why He would and does purpose to save some and damn others. The reason why the individuals themselves are chosen or rejected however, is known only to Him. And we might add too, that predestination has nothing whatsoever to do with the goodness or lovableness of the creature, and certainly not one creature over another. But the simple fact is that God does this in His sovereign purpose and it is stated clearly enough in Scripture (Rom. 9:22,23).

God’s decree of reprobation magnifies the glory and attributes of God in reference to His covenant mercy too. This is again why the apostle Paul when teaching the solemn nature of these things regarding God’s decree answers a series of objections to it that are raised on this very point. After saying that God loves one but hates another the cry of the rebel is thus, if this is so there must be “unrighteousness with God.” But Paul answers them with a “certainly not” (Rom. 9:14). And why is this? It is so because if someone sins against a Holy God and is hated for it by Him, why would God be under any obligation to show them mercy, as if that were some sort of entitlement? The very nature of mercy itself is that it is something undeserved.

The next objection goes out claiming it is unfair to punish someone who has been reprobated, that is, predestined to eternal destruction (Rom. 9:19). Paul sets them straight by pointing out that God their Maker has the right to make one person for honor and another for dishonor (Rom. 9:20,21). Nowhere does such a reality excuse a sinner from their obligation to God, for He has made all men in His image, granting them an intellect that understands right from wrong. This, along with an innate understanding of sin and righteousness, and the moral duty that accompanies these things makes man morally culpable. The decree of God may be the reason for a sinner’s eternal destruction, but not the ground of it. God judges all on the basis of righteousness, or, the lack thereof. The ground of a person’s eternal destruction is their unrighteousness which is the case of every reprobate sinner. The ground of a person’s eternal blessedness is based on righteousness too. But in their case, it is not the righteousness of the person saved, for obviously, they too are sinners, just as the lost are. Here it is that God is glorified in His covenant purpose, for the righteousness that gives His redeemed their eternal standing comes from Him through His Son (Jer. 23:6, Is. 49:6,7).

So Paul concludes with His doctrine of eternal election by answering the objectors with this rhetorical question, “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:22,23)? Whether anyone likes it or not is irrelevant, it is the purpose of God as He has decreed it, that some should be saved, and some should be lost.

The mind of God is eternal just as He is, and no one is able to plumb the depths of it. But God has revealed Himself to us in His word that we may know Him. God has made His covenant purpose known in Jesus Christ for the express purpose that we may serve Him in that knowledge (Deut. 29:29).

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
%d bloggers like this: