The Hearing of Faith
Several crucial verses in the New Testament speak of God’s purpose, especially God’s eternal purpose. In Ephesians 3:11 we have this phrase eternal purpose. In Romans 8:28 Paul says that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. In 2 Timothy 1:9 Paul says that God has saved us according to His own purpose. If we ponder these verses, and if we have a heart to seek the Lord and the significance of our salvation, we surely will want to understand what God’s purpose is.
God’s eternal purpose by definition is something eternal. It was conceived by God in Christ in eternity past with the intent to work out something that will remain in eternity future. So God’s purpose is the eternal plan of God made in eternity past with a particular intent. It was made in eternity past, it will be carried out in time, and the results will stand forever in eternity future.
God’s eternal purpose is closely related to God’s will. God’s will, simply stated, is what God wants, intends, and desires. God’s purpose is God’s plan according to His will. God wants something. To attain what He wants, He has a plan that is according to what He wants, according to His will. This plan of God that is according to the will of God is what the Bible calls the eternal purpose of God.
God as a God of purpose is surely determined to fulfill His purpose. God is absolute. When He wills to do something, when He resolves to do something, He will surely do it. God’s purpose is God’s purposeful determination in His plan.
We see then that God has a good pleasure, which is the desire of His heart. This good pleasure or heart’s desire of God is expressed as God’s will, God’s wish. To fulfill this heart’s desire, He needs to have a plan with a purposeful determination. This plan with its purposeful determination is God’s eternal purpose. Our God is a God of purpose and His purpose has its source in the desire of His heart. Because God has a heart’s desire, He wants something that will fulfill this desire. What He wants is His will. Since God is a God of purpose, He does not act in a random, arbitrary way. On the contrary, God acts according to plan. He has made a detailed, determined plan in eternity past that will stand in its result for eternity future. That plan is His purpose.
God’s will is linked to God’s economy. God’s economy is God’s arrangement and administration to fulfill His plan so that He may attain what would satisfy the desire of His heart. God’s economy can be traced back to the desire of God’s heart. We begin from within the desire of God’s heart, then we see God’s will as what He wants, and then His plan, which is His purpose. For His purpose to be carried out, God must have an administrative arrangement. That arrangement is God’s economy.