God's Revealed Purpose

by H.W. Fry

Shewing that in permitting sin and evil to enter the universe,
He was giving the greatest possible proof of His wisdom, love and goodness

LET us open this study by stating that we recognize God (or the Godhead) to be the great intelligent Source and Center of infinite wisdom, and infinite knowledge, infinite power, and infinite goodness, and in addition to these unlimited attributes, He is the God of love, of light, and of life. We cannot comprehend infinity, but we can and we do believe and accept it in reference to the Godhead. Our heavenly Father could not be the center of perfect or infinite love, or light, or life, if His attributes were less than the above, for, just as far as these attributes lack infinite perfection, so far would love, light, or life be incomplete.

Having come to this conclusion, let us remember that God's gracious purposes apply to all things in heaven, in the earth, and under the earth, thus including the whole of His universe in its scope, and then let us throw our thoughts backwards to the eternity of the past--"in the beginning"--Genesis 1:1. Nothing has been revealed to us, or next to nothing, concerning this past eternity, but we conclude from the opening words of Scripture, that God Himself existed, and that He was then, as He is now, infinite in all His attributes. We also assume that hosts of heavenly beings surrounded His throne, as now, but we have no reason to believe that sin and evil then existed, but that the heavenly hosts were entirely actuated by the heavenly principle of love--they knew nothing but love--they were created by love, in love, and for love, and they intuitively served God in the only principle they knew, which was love.

It seems as though a time came, when the wisdom and the goodness, and especially the love of God suggested to Him (if we may use such an expression in connection with the Godhead) that the introduction of sin and evil might result in further satisfying His desire for a more exalted principle of love than was then, practically automatically, prevailing in His courts of glory.

We are, however, approaching such exceedingly solemn considerations, that I wish to say that I do so with the utmost reverence, and must impose full responsibility on any reader, only to consider the following lines with an equal sense of reverence, whether the suggestion is fully approved or otherwise.

The origin of evil is very mysterious. It seems impossible to allow that God Himself caused or originated or committed evil, but at the same time it seems impossible to imagine any other source of origination for evil or anything else, than God Himself. Before the introduction of sin and evil into the universe there could have been no evil beings of any kind. Who then, or what could have tempted or caused the fall of heavenly beings who had never known anything but good?

The solution of the problem may possibly be found in the principle involved in the thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy, summarized in verses 15 to 20 and still further summarized in the one word "choose." There may also have been a substratum of truth in the deadliest of all lies, when Satan induced Eve to believe that in accepting his lie, she and Adam would become as gods, knowing good and evil, and choosing which they would. Possibly he was passing on to them a truth which he may originally have heard from God Himself, God having possibly explained to His angels, possibly on the principle laid down in the above mentioned texts, what evil was and what it might accomplish, giving them at the same time power to choose between good and evil, but doubtless warning them against it, relating its wages as death and prolonged and acute suffering both for the sinner and for Himself. He would thus originate evil in a sense, yet giving it no manner of approval or support.

Sin and evil were to be permitted. God Himself was to permit their entering into the scheme of things, and, we may be sure, that if infinite wisdom was to permit evil, it was for some infinitely wise purpose.

Can we trace any reasonable solution of the perplexing problem, why God acts thus? I think we can, for possessing the attribute of infinite knowledge, He knows "the end from the beginning" (Isa.46:9,10), and He knew, of course, all that the introduction of sin and evil would involve of sorrow and suffering, not only for His creatures, but also for Himself! He, however, not only knew of the sorrow and suffering which would result, but, knowing the end from the beginning, He knew of "the glory which should follow" (1 Peter 1:11,12) and which prospect, we can well understand "the angels desire to look into."

Let us now briefly consider the "sufferings," and then the "glory," as well as the gracious principle which prompted the toleration of sin and evil and the establishment of both the "sufferings" and the "glory."

First the sufferings. Who was to suffer? We all recognize that the human race, individually and collectively, was to suffer, and we know very well by painful experience, that they have suffered and do suffer; but what we are slow to appreciate is, that the Godhead has and does suffer infinitely more seriously. Was not our blessed Lord, when He took upon Him our nature, essentially "The Man of Sorrows?" Did He not have to say in the garden of Gethsemane, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (Matt.26:28)? Was the Father unaware that His purpose would result in this? Did He not persist in His purpose notwithstanding this, yet with full knowledge of it?

How frequently, and in what terrible measure, has not the love of God been continually outraged since sin and evil were permitted, and does not this mean continuous suffering for Him? We human creatures, in our individual experience, are permitted to sin and suffer during the brief term of our own natural lives, but God suffers in His infinite measure, during the whole continuance of sin and evil! The measure and the duration of His suffering infinitely exceeds ours.

What must it have cost the God of love in painful grief, when multitudes of His angelic hosts first embraced evil and betrayed Him? What must have been His further sorrowful suffering when His chosen people, Israel, on whom He had lavished so many favors, rejected Him and had finally to be rejected by Him? Does He suffer any less grief when we, His children, are unfaithful to Him in the present day?

But we may rejoice in the knowledge that this "suffering" is to culminate in such a super-abundance of "glory," that all will eventually gladly acknowledge that the suffering, both for God Himself, and for His creation, consequent on the introduction of sin and evil, was well worth while, when its final result is taken into due consideration. Well may Paul say, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom.8:18).

But to appreciate these wonderful facts more fully, we must realize the great principle on which God's mysterious action appears to be founded. I submit that we find this principle laid down, revealed to those who can accept it, in Luke 7:47, where our Lord said of the woman who was a sinner, "Her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much, but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."

The angels who have never sinned, and who consequently have never been forgiven, cannot love as that woman loved! Still less could they love as Paul loved! He was the chief of sinners, because he was the relentless persecutor of the people of the Lord. Yet, when he appreciated his own sin, on his conversion, he became the chief of the saints! Who ever offended more than he? Yet whoever, after forgiveness, loved more than he?

In Romans 12:20,21 we read "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink," and so "overcome evil with good." To do this, to overcome evil with good, is the same principle, applied to the same purpose, as where much is forgiven, the same love much. In Matthew 5:14,15 our Lord says "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you...that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." Surely the above texts indicate that God not only commands His children to act on these principles, but does so Himself in an infinitely perfect degree.

We get then, do we not, in this principle, the solution of the problem, why God permitted the introduction of sin and evil? It seems that His loving heart yearned after a more intelligent love than His unoffending and therefore unforgiven angels could render Him. When we consider what it cost Him to attain this purpose, what greater evidence of His goodness and love, could be granted to us?

Having considered these important points in the great purpose of God, we will turn our attention, very briefly, to the manner in which He decided to accomplish that purpose. Let us again cast our thoughts back to the time spoken of as "the beginning." It appears that He then definitely marked off a certain period of time, lengthy to us, but probably not so to Him to Whom a thousand years is as one day, and He divided that whole period into a certain number of what are called "ages" in the Bible. Special events were to characterize these ages, but the full purpose seems to have been that He would allow some of His heavenly beings, under the leadership of Satan, at one time the most exalted of His creatures, to lapse from their loyalty to Him, and introduce sin and evil, with all their terrible consequences, into His universe.

This, however, He does, fully recognizing the frightful depths of iniquity into which these beings themselves would fall, and into which they would lead the human race; yet He determined that, however desperately "sin abounded," His grace would "still more abound," until, in due time, He would ensure the "reconciliation of all things," at such a cost to the sinners, and such a still greater cost to himself, that will "heap coals of fire" eventually upon the heads of all offenders, so that when once they realize, as, sooner or later, after a more or less retributive suffering, in this life or in the life to come, they certainly will, the heiniousness of their guilt, as contrasted with "the exceeding riches of His grace" (Eph.2:7) and "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge" (Eph. 3:19) all will finally be subdued unto Him in heartbroken sorrow, gratitude, eternal love and affection!.

Then will He be surrounded with a glorious company of beings, intelligently appreciating the exceeding riches of His grace, in a measure impossible to those who have never gone through the terrible experiences, resulting first from their fall, and subsequently from their undeserved reconciliation. Sin and evil will have accomplished their wonderful purpose, by introducing into the heavenly regions a more exalted, and a more trustworthy quality of love, than could otherwise have so adorned it, and satisfied the infinite love of God.

This sublime subject, the love of God to the members of His true "church," is exceedingly sacred! We have seen in others, or perhaps experienced ourselves, the wonderful power for self- sacrifice and suffering which love to others--wives, children, or friends--can originate. Sometimes this love is expressed in ardent yearning after an erring child. Parents have given their all, and even themselves, to save their offspring. Moreover, how precious to the parent is the knowledge of the reciprocating love of the child! But, if we, being evil, and with all our feebleness and many limitations, know what it is to love even to death, how much more does our heavenly Father, with His infinite capacity for love, suffer, if we may so say with the utmost reverence, when He feels Himself neglected by those He loves, and rejoice when they center their affections upon Him? What a claim He has, together with the Lord Jesus Christ, upon our heartiest and most enthusiastic affection, as a reflection, poor at best, of His own condescending affection for us, His unworthy children? Let us beware of wounding such ineffable tenderness and goodness, and rather do our utmost to render Him every acceptable gratification.

"God's purpose as revealed in the Bible" will not be accomplished until that time comes when "in the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil.2: 10,11; Romans 14:11; Isa.45:23) and inasmuch as no man "can call Jesus Lord except by the Holy Spirit," we may be quite sure that all these bended knees, and all these confessing tongues, will belong to those who have been reconciled to God, however far away from Him they may once have been, for His faithfulness will be manifested, and the whole universe, and every intelligent creature in it, will acknowledge with ecstatic acclamations (now so woefully withheld), that where sin once most deeply and apparently most hopelessly abounded, even there, grace, literally and actually, did still more abound!

We will conclude with the eloquent words of Paul in Romans 11:33, where he says "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"

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