I had a conversation with a friend recently about these posts on God’s eternal purpose. He didn’t like the concept I seemed to be implying, namely that God has a need. I wasn’t really comfortable saying that God “has a need” explicitly when he first brought it up, but now I feel confident with that phrase: God has a need.
God in and of Himself is perfect. He lacks nothing and needs nothing. In his virtues, existence, and attributes He is totally self-sufficient and independent. Yet, God determined and purposed something in Himself (Eph. 1:9). He desires something that He is currently working to obtain. And for God to gain what He has purposed in Himself and desires, He needs something.
Another friend of mine, Kyle Barton, thought of an analogy to describe it. If you come up to me and say, “Hey, I want to build a house.” I might respond by saying, “Great! Are you gonna use stone or bricks or wood?”. If you answered saying, “No I don’t think I’m gonna use anything,” you will surely end up disappointed and I would laugh at you. You need materials in order to build it! Just as you don’t “need” the house, God doesn’t need anything. However, once you determined that you desired a house, you needed building materials. In the same way, God desires something that needs materials, and we are the fulfillment of that need.
So I’d now like to look at God’s eternal purpose, what He desires and why He needs us, from a third angle: many sons.
“Predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).
Many Christians have read this verse before and either get stumbled by the thought of predestination or are completely comfortable with the concept and read right on to the next verse. Few stop to consider what we were actually predestinated unto.
God, in eternity past, according to His foreknowledge, selected those who would be saved. Yet, that concept seems incredibly silly if you think about it. “Those who would be saved” implies that God desired “to save” first and foremost. Yet, a God whose eternal intent and desire is to create and redeem a fallen race is not only tough to swallow, it lacks biblical foundation. We know that God did select those who would be called, justified, and glorified, but were these things in and of themselves His eternal purpose? Ephesians 1:5 tells us no.
God wanted sons. He wanted many sons. The Father has enjoyed the fellowship of the Son for all eternity, and He has expressed His desire to have many sons. This is why the Lord Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins, that we might receive the Spirit of sonship (Rm. 8:15).
Like the past two facets I wrote about, this eternal desire is seen in the beginning of creation and consummates at the end of Revelation. In Genesis 1:28, God tells man to “be fruitful and multiply.” Have we ever considered why? It’s a tragedy that people read this verse and have debates on birth control and having kids rather than wondering what this means in terms of God’s desire and purpose.
God reveals His desire for many sons in telling Adam, who is a type of Christ (Rm. 5:14), to be fruitful and multiply. God’s command to man reveals the desire in the Father’s heart to have many children for Himself. This purpose is fulfilled in Revelation 21 when God says, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be God to him, and he will be a son to Me” (v.7).
Old Testament Types
God also expresses His desire many times in the Old Testament, referring to His called saints as His sons:
“He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon is the one who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I will be a father to him'” (1 Chron. 28:6).
“Hear, O heavens, and hearken, O earth, for Jehovah has spoken: ‘I have brought up children, and I have raised them'” (Is. 1:2)
Believers as REAL Sons
Among the Jews, it was clear that God desired a people whom He could call His sons. Now that Christ has come, lived, died, raised, and sent forth the Spirit, we can be God’s children.
This also isn’t simply an interesting thought or a blessing to have a new title as “sons of God”. Rather, it is a spiritual reality that our life, nature, and identity have changed to that of sons of God (2 Pet. 3:14, 1 Jn. 5:12).
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name, who were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
This is not a mere adoption. This is not simply an empty, legal title written in heaven that we can chose to believe or not. It is a matter of birth and who our source is (Jn. 3:6).
It’s very interesting in John’s gospel how He portrays Christ’s relationship to the Father and then the disciples relationship to Christ. He begins by describing Jesus as “the only Begotten from the Father” (v. 14). And in regard to the disciples, their most intimate description is that of “friends” (15:15). Yet, once Christ resurrects, He deems these ones as “brothers” and calls His Father their Father (20:17)!
Christ revealed that this would happen earlier:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (12:24).
This verse proves that not only are we the fruit of Christ, who is the grain of wheat, but also that our becoming fruit allows the grain to no longer remain alone! Christ is unique as the only begotten Son of God, but in a definite sense He is now “the Firstborn among many brothers” (Rm. 8:29).
Christ and His believers “are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Heb. 2:11).
This is a marvelous revelation. We are now God’s very sons and He is our Father! Now the question is, so what? It’s cool to know and all, but what does this have to do with us practically in our Christian life? To this I have two final verses:
“Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers” (Rm. 8:29).
“And not only so, but we ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body.” (Rm. 8:23)
The process of God son-izing (yes, I know this isn’t a real word, but it should be) us isn’t complete. Yes, we have been born again and can 100% say that we are children of God (Rm. 8:16), but He is doing a transforming and conforming work in us currently. He is taking the Spirit of sonship in our spirit and spreading out to change every part of our being (Eph. 3:14-19). If you disagree, I ask you to check your experience and ask yourself if you think you have been fully “conformed to the image of His Son”.
God is shaping and molding us into the image of His Son today! We must be continually praying that the Lord would transform us and we must cooperate in His transforming work by reading the word (1 Pet. 2:2), presenting ourselves to Him (Rm. 12:1), pursuing with others (2 Tim. 2:22), confessing (1 Jn. 1:9), meeting with other believers (1 Cor. 14:26), witnessing (Acts 13:49,52), and serving (Rm. 1:9) that the Church would be built (Eph. 4:12) and so that the we would all be conformed to Him (2 Cor. 3:18).