Precisely what—if anything—did Jesus of Nazareth accomplish by means of his birth, his life on earth, his tortuous death on the cross, his resurrection, and his return to heaven some 2,000 years ago? Coupled with that question is this: What are God’s ultimate plans and purposes for his entire creation? For you? Are there answers to such questions? Yes—if we believe the Bible is God’s revealed written Word to humankind. If we don’t believe that of the Bible, then we are totally at a loss to answer such questions. No other religions or philosophies (or science!) offer more than vague, nebulous, and incomplete glimpses into such matters. The Bible alone offers clear, substantive, definitive answers.
The answers I share with you from the Bible in this teaching are very controversial, unconventional, and “unorthodox,” but I believe you will find tranquil peace and soothing rest in your inner being if you will read on and allow God to teach you through what I write—although I readily confess to you that my understanding and comprehension of such matters is faulty and limited.
I begin by stating that the concept of the ages of time is quite often misunderstood by many people—even by those who believe the Bible’s teachings. The concept of eternity is even more misunderstood by many people. For example, eternity is not a state of unending time—or of time that stretches on . . . and on . . . and on . . . forever and ever. Just a thought: How can there be a forever . . . with an “ever” after it, anyway?!
Eternity is a state of absolute timelessness and absolute simultaneousness, a state in which time does not even exist. Hebrews 1:2 informs us that Jesus created all the vast reaches of space and the rolling ages of time: time had a beginning . . . and time will end; time does not go on . . . and on . . . and on into eternity. Time has both a beginning and an end. Eternity is not unending time. In eternity there is no time or space. I invite you to read our companion teaching on this web site entitled “Beyond the Far Shores Of Time.”
Time and space are “gifts” given by God to humans so they can learn and appreciate his plans and purposes for them in both time and eternity. But time and space are not eternity. God uses time and space to work out his plans and purposes for each of us in preparation for our life in eternity. Time is divided into ages and eons, and at some point time will end and be swallowed up into the state of being we call eternity.
After that brief introduction about time and eternity, I now want us to consider 11 STATEMENTS in the Bible declaring God’s ultimate purposes for all people . . . including YOU. I could write many more such statements, but these 11 seem to best summarize the subject about which I am teaching.
1. The FIRST STATEMENT is found in Revelation 4:11: “God created everything for his purposes and for his glory.” That’s such a simple, clear statement, isn’t it? First, let me state the obvious: God is Creator; all else is part of his creation. As Creator, God is in charge. He is infinite and unlimited in all aspects and in all respects. We are—and always will be!—finite and limited. We will never be God; yes, ultimately we will be like him in some respects, but never God! Only God is—or ever will be—God.
God created everything—including YOU and me—for his purposes and for his glory. It is one of God’s ultimate purposes he has decreed from the very beginning. Everything is part of his purposes, everything was created for his glory. Everything includes everyone, of course, but many people have been taught that only those who are called Jesus believers were created for God’s purposes and God’s glory.
When this reference says God created everything for his purposes, what does that mean? It means there are no accidents of creation. Everything God created is intentional and directed toward a specific end in view. Did you know that about your life? This thought makes me think of another biblical reference, Jeremiah 29:11, where God says of YOU: “I know the thoughts and plans I have for you—thoughts and plans for your welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope about the final outcome of your life.” I hope such promises of God are meaningful to you. God is always thinking about you. He is always working out his plans and purposes for your good. Your birth. Your life. Your death . . . are no accidents! God is always working to fulfill his pre-determined, definite plans and purposes for your good.
What does it mean that God created all humanity for his glory? The definition of the word “glory” is multi-faceted throughout the Bible, but one important aspect of it’s meaning is that God takes great delight in his creation (including YOU and me); he is very proud of his creation; he is elated, delighted, and in high spirits about YOU, all the while he is working out his plans and purposes for the entire creation. He glories in his creation. He glories in YOU!
That’s what it means when this reference in Revelation claims God created everything for his purposes and for his glory. I find that tremendously encouraging and hopeful as I rely upon him to keep working in my life (both in time and eternity), to bring me to his appointed, pre-determined end.
Yes, all things—including all people—were created for God’s glory. I don’t presume to explain that, but I believe it. It just makes plain sense to a normal thinking person who believes God exists and that he has created all things. He didn’t create all things—including all people—simply to abandon some of them and separate them from his good creation. No, he is actively involved in working out his plans and purposes in all things and in all humanity for our good and for his glory.
2. Colossians 1:20 furnishes us the SECOND STATEMENT about God’s ultimate purposes for all humanity. “God’s purpose is that through the work of Jesus on their behalf, God has reconciled everything and everyone in the universe and earth to himself, making peace with them through the blood Jesus shed on the cross.” The word “reconcile” in this reference means to restore to favor someone who had previously fallen out of favor; it also means to renew broken friendships. It also means to reconstruct something that has fallen into ruin. Many of us have “fallen into ruin” and broken our friendship with God because of self-centered, wrong choices and decisions we’ve made during this stage of our life journey. We’ve gotten detoured from our journey. God is in the process of rebuilding our lives and bringing us back from our detour, placing us back on his High Way.
Through sin, we humans fell out of favor with God and broke off our friendship with him. By means of the work Jesus accomplished on our behalf, God has taken care of the estranged and broken relationships we fell into and brought all people back into a loving relationship with himself. He didn’t merely wave a magic wand and arbitrarily reconcile all humanity to himself. He did it by means of the awesome, eternal work of Jesus dying on the cross for us.
Yes, God is always in the process of rebuilding, reconciling, restoring, rehabilitating, reclaiming, and renewing. He will not stop until the entire creation has been fully restored to himself. We must always remember that God is able to accomplish his purposes in our lives because of the completed redemptive work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. No Jesus on the cross, no shed blood: no reconciliation! I invite you to read our companion teaching on this web site about God’s restoration of all things; it’s entitled “Restoration.”
3. Our THIRD STATEMENT is found In Revelation 21:5. God proclaims: “I am creating all things new!” In the original Greek language in which this statement was written the tense is present-progressive, and the word is “create” rather than “make” as it reads in some older versions of the Bible. Simply stated, it means that God is still in the process of creating and making all things new, of making all things in his image. God is presently—progressively—unfolding his plans and purposes for all people everywhere. His ultimate objective will be reached when all things are made new and his image is fully restored in all humanity.
When the Bible teaches that humans are made in God’s image, it means that we are visible representations of the invisible God. We have marred his image in us by our sin. We are presently imperfect images of God, whereas Jesus is God’s perfect image. God is progressively restoring all humanity into his clear image as exemplified and personified in Jesus.
When the Bible speaks in four different places of the “new heavens and the new earth,” the Hebrew and Greek words for “new” mean “freshly restored.” God is not going to destroy the present earth and universe and create new ones. No, he is in the process of “freshly restoring” all the present created universe, the present earth, and everyone and everything on the earth and under the earth (in graves).
One example of the process of making all things new is found in 2 Corinthians 5: 17. It claims that whenever any person is joined to Jesus, all his or her old self-filled life passes away and they become totally new persons, re-created to live God-filled lives. The Bible is replete with other corroborating references informing us that God is in the process of renewing and restoring the entire creation—including all humanity—to himself—always making all things new. A few such references are Isaiah 43: 19 and 65: 17; Ezekiel 11: 19; Revelation 2: 17 and 5: 9.
Yes, God is in the process of renewing everything throughout the entire created cosmic order. Everything is in the process of metamorphosis, in the process of transition and change, in the process of being reconstructed and restored. That’s what the ages of time were created for. The ages of time will continue to unfold and progress until God’s plans and purposes are finalized—and then time will end and the ages and eons will be swallowed up by the eternal state in which everything will be new. God is in the process of creating your life and mine into something newly restored and beautiful! We may resist his work, we may take 3 steps forward and 2 backwards many times, we may not understand his creative work in our lives, but his plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. He is inexorably at work making us new!
4. The FOURTH STATEMENT about God’s plans and purposes for his creation is Acts 3:21. There we read that “Jesus returned to the heavenlies to remain until the time of the complete restoration of all things.” That complete restoration of all things actually began with his birth, life, and death, and continued with his resurrection and ascension into heaven. God’s work of restoration continues to unfold in the lives of each person born in each generation since Jesus returned to heaven. The restoration of all things is finished and complete in a transcendant, cosmic, and eternal sense, and yet—in another sense—it has only begun being worked out in the lives of individual humans born in each generation since Jesus was here as a perfect human. This complete restoration . . . or restitution . . . or reconstruction of all things was foretold by many of the prophets of Old Testament times.
Incidentally, in case you are struggling with this concept of God reconstructing ALL things, in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written the word “all” really does mean all. It does not mean some, or a few, or a partial amount. It means all, i.e., the entire amount, the whole extent or quantity, everyone, everything, the totality, etc.
Ephesians 1: 9 and 10 corroborates Acts 3:21. At the “climax of the ages” (when Jesus was here on earth) all things were consummated in Him. All things includes all humanity. There are those who feel the climax of the ages is yet to come in the future. That’s a misconception. The climax of the ages—a time when all the ages came together—a time called “the fulness of time”—a time called “the maturity of the times”—began 2000 years ago. The work that Jesus did on behalf of all humanity is a finished work; it’s complete, it’s over, it’s done.
5. My FIFTH STATEMENT may shock you: The Bible does not deal primarily with eternity! It is primarily a book dealing with time. The Bible is about the journey that all humans take through time . . . on their way to eternity. It is a book about the grand plan for humanity that God is working out through the ages of time—ages which reached their climax or maturity beginning with the birth of Jesus and which will begin to end when He returns to earth from heaven.
Ephesians 1: 19-23 constitutes the “blueprint” of God’s grand plan of the ages. This reference teaches us God’s almighty power raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenlies. Jesus is far above all other powers and dominions of all the ages of time. God has put all things—including all people—under Jesus’ dominion and has appointed him Head of the Church. The Church is actually God’s corporate, organic body on earth, just as Jesus was God’s body when He was on earth 2,000 years ago. The Church is not an organization! Working through the Church, God will make everything complete and fill everything and everyone—everywhere—with himself. God’s blueprint is to use the Church to work out his plans and purposes for reconstructing the entire creation. Don’t shun the Church: you need the Church; it needs you; you are an integral and intrinsic part of the worldwide Body of Jesus, the Church.
6. Romans 11: 36 discloses the SIXTH biblical STATEMENT about God’s grand plans and purposes for creation: “All things originate with God and come from him. All things exist through him. All things center in him. All things consummate and end in him. To him be glory for all time!” What a bold statement. What a clear statement. What a concise statement. What a precise statement. How can it possibly be misunderstood? How can such a statement be limited in any way? God was fully present at the beginning of all things. He is fully present now while all things continue to unfold. He will be fully present at the end—and beyond—when he consummates all things. It’s a “package deal,” dear reader, from beginning to end. Nothing—and no one—is left out of his grand plans and purposes.
7. 1 Corinthians 15: 28 is the SEVENTH STATEMENT, again giving us the ultimate purposes of God for all humanity: “When everything is finally subjected to God, then Jesus will voluntarily place himself under God, too. Once, God put everything under Jesus, but Jesus will put everything—including himself—back under God. And then God will be All in all!” This cosmic event occurred in the heavenlies when Jesus ascended to Father God to usher in his unfolding eternal kingdom.
This is a cosmic event occurring beyond the scope of time and space. Although it occurred in time 2000 years ago, in reality it occurred in eternity before time was even created. We must always distinguish between events that occur in eternity (over, above, and beyond the limitations of time and space) and how those eternal events are actually manifested and worked out in time so we humans—who are bound by time and space—can see them, understand them, and have them become part of our own experiences. From his perspective in eternity, God is already—and has always been—All in all.
From our perspective within the limitations of time and space God is not yet All in all. But he is in the process of making himself All in all as each of us makes our journey through time enroute to eternity. From God’s vantage point everything has already been returned to God. From our limited vantage point, it is yet to occur.
8. Our EIGHTH STATEMENT is found in Philippians 2: 9-11: “God has highly exalted Jesus and given him a name above every other name. Before him every knee shall bow and every mouth confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Some people might suggest that although every knee shall bow to Jesus and every person confess him as Lord, some of those doing so will do it only because God forces them to do so. Not so! 1 Corinthians 12: 3 tells us the only way people can bow their knees and confess Jesus as Lord is because the Holy Spirit lives in them, gently and sweetly influencing them to bow to Jesus and of their own free wills confess him as Lord.
All people will not be coerced into bowing to Jesus and confessing Him as their Lord. They will do so of their own free will, fully recognizing and acknowledging all Jesus has done for them in order to restore them into God’s clear image. Their eyes will be fully opened and they will see Jesus as He truly is, thus freely swearing to Him their allegiance and fealty.
9. We’ll begin our NINTH STATEMENT with 1 Timothy 4: 10: “We labor, strive, and even suffer reproach because we have fixed our hope on the living God who is the Savior of all humanity, especially of those who believe.” Here again, the word “all” as in “all humanity,” means all. Verse 11 commands us to teach these matters. I’m obeying God’s command by writing this teaching and teaching you these truths about God’s grand purposes for all humanity. 1 Timothy 2: 4 tells us it is God’s will for everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Can anything God has created thwart God’s will?! True, people might stubbornly resist God’s will for a time, but in the end they cannot thwart the complete fulfillment of his will. In the end, God will prevail. In the end, God wins and declares “It’s good!” about all he has created.
Look at Titus 2: 11. It boldly states “God’s grace, bringing deliverance from sin and salvation to all humanity, has been made known to all people.” Can anything be clearer? Can any statement be plainer? Can there be a simpler statement about God’s plans and purposes for you and me? God’s grand plans and purposes for their lives has been revealed to all people. Presently, it might be clearer to some than to others, and some may deny knowing it, but everyone has some intuitive knowledge that God is a good God and is working all things for their good. God has made it known to all people. It’s usually not lack of inner intuitive knowledge that causes some people to deny these truths; it’s wrong teaching that has led them to wrong conclusions about God’s character, nature, and the good things he is doing for all humankind.
Yes, there is sin, evil, and wrongdoing in our world—but that’s caused by us, not by God. God is always at work behind the scenes restoring, correcting, and making good out of all our wrongdoing. Don’t blame God for your own wrongdoing or for the sin and evil caused by others. That’s your fault, my fault, their fault. We’ve made sinful, evil, and wrong choices, not God. We’ve chosen to lead self-filled lives instead of God-filled lives. But God will swallow up into final victory all our sin, evil, and wrongdoing and make something amazingly beautiful of each of our lives!
10. Here’s our TENTH STATEMENT. 1 Corinthians 15: 22-24 unmistakably affirms: “Because all people are ‘in’ Adam, they die, but all those same people are made alive ‘in’ Christ. Each person takes his or her own turn: Jesus first, then those who are ‘in’ him when he comes back to earth. After that, the final consummation of all things will occur when Jesus voluntarily gives the kingdom back to God the Father—after he has rendered inoperative and abolished every other authority and power. (verses 25-27 continue the same theme; earlier, we examined verse 28 in detail) Simply stated, this passage in 1 Corinthians 15 says: In the end, God will be in everything and everyone . . . everywhere . . . everywhen! Yes, God will be ALL in all!
At this point in my teaching, I want to ask you this question: Have I taken any of these references out of their context, twisted them, or stretched them? You may feel that’s the case because of some preconceived notions or traditional religious beliefs based on what you’ve been taught in the past, but the truth is I have not done any of those things. I have written those references just as they’ve come from the Greek language in which they were first written.
The only liberty I’ve taken with any of the references is to paraphrase portions of them to make them a little easier to read in modern, everyday English—and put some clarifying information in brackets. [The information in brackets is my own viewpoint, not what the biblical text says.] All the biblical texts I’ve quoted and written are true to the original biblical language in which they were written. Check them out with a good Bible concordance. Check them out with someone you know who understands biblical Greek and Hebrew. Check them out with various modern-language versions of the Bible.
Romans 5: 17 and 18 shed even more light on what God has accomplished for the salvation of all humanity: “Death came to all people through Adam’s trespass. By the same token, God’s grace and righteousness cause all humanity to reign in life through Jesus. Put another way, Adam’s trespass led to condemnation for all humanity, but Jesus’ righteousness leads to acquital, right standing, and life for all people.”
At this point, I hope you have clearly seen that I have not been taking isolated, obscure, and hard-to-understand texts from here and there in the Bible. I hope you see the consistency of this teaching about God’s plans and purposes for everyone. It is a strong, recurring theme found throughout the Bible if one will simply open one’s eyes to see it. I am giving you only eleven statements from the Bible. There are many more I could furnish you, but that would make this teaching far too lengthy.
11. Finally, here is STATEMENT ELEVEN. Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 5: 14-21: “The love of Christ compels me to tell you if he died for all, then all were dead. Yes, he died for all so that those who live might die to the old life they used to live—because he died and was raised from the dead for their sake . . . . . Therefore, if any person is in Jesus, he or she becomes a totally new creation, beginning an entirely new life. Yes, all these things are accomplished for us by God who reconciled us to himself through Jesus. God has given us the privilege of inviting everyone to return to God and be reconciled to him. God was in Jesust, reconciling all humanity to himself, completely removing their sins from them. We are ambassadors of Jesus, urging you to be reconciled to God. God poured all our sins into the sinless Jesus. Then, in exchange, he poured his goodness into us!” Dear reader, this is the real GOOD NEWS called the Gospel of Jesus!
In conclusion, I will attempt to answer some important questions that often arise when people hear this good news for the first time: “What about people who have already died—people who weren’t ‘saved’ before they died? What about people who have never heard about Jesus? What about atheists and agnostics? What about people who lived and died many thousands of years ago? What about—?” Those are very insightful questions. Some of my other teachings on this web site attempt to answer such questions in more detail.
There is much we do not know about the process of how God is working out his plans and purposes for all people—for YOU!—everywhere and everywhen. But God has given us some insight into how all this takes place. First, we know that all of us originated with God. God is the “father of spirits,” and when we are born on this earth, he places our spirits within us and we come alive as human beings. We also know that there is much, much activity in other realms and spheres other than what takes place only on this earth. There is much activity in the heavenlies, in spirit realms and spheres, and after death that we know very little about—other than brief glimpses and insights we may get from time to time from the Bible and from our interactions with God and with other people.
True, some of those processes and activities may involve punishment, correction, judgment, and the like. But think about this: in the Bible, the concept of “hell-fire” after death is always used by God as a means of cleansing and correction, not punishment forever and ever. See our companion teachings entitled “Fire” and “Beyond The Far Shores of Time.”
In fact, the Bible declares that the “real world” constituting eternity is invisible and vastly “larger” than what we think is real here; our so-called reality this side of the grave is only a dim reflection of the real world beyond the grave and outside the limitations of time and space. Let’s not limit God to working in humans only when they’re alive on this earth. That’s only a very limited part of the overall work God is doing throughout his vast creation.
In that light, many people tend to think that death is a final “passage” wherein people who die simply cease to exist. Not so! The Bible is clear that death is merely a temporary passage, a momentary transition into a state of existence far more real than our present state of existence. But the Bible doesn’t really tell us very much about the new life we enter into after we die.
Some well-meaning people often quote Hebrews 9: 27 as proof positive that when a person dies, he or she is immediately judged by God. Yet Ruth 2: 20 and various references in chapters 3 and 4 of 1 Peter (and many others) give us some blurry glimpses into other types of activity which occur in the “place” to which the spirits of people go after they have died. The truth is we cannot be certain about what happens to people after they die. Perhaps all we can say with any certainty is that God continues dealing with people and working out his plans and purposes for them after they die—in ways we know very little about this side of the grave.
There is only one thing about which we can be certain: God is the God of both the living and the dead. Jesus died and rose from the dead. He knows all there is to know about death—and beyond. And because God has reconciled all humanity to himself through the risen Jesus, we will rise again “in Jesus” after our own death—and go to be with him in the realm or sphere where he is. That we can say with certainty. Most everything else is speculation and wishful thinking.
So what happens when we die—bottom line? Our spirits return to God, the father of spirits, the God of both the living and the dead, fully reconciled to him with a totally new form of life because of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return to earth on behalf of all humanity. That’s what happens when we die. After that, God alone knows the full story. My own belief is that the brief journey we began here simply continues on, while God continues to work out his plans and purposes for each of us during the remainder of time and then beyond time when we enter into the eternal state.
Let’s journey on!
God, I pray for your eternal plans and purposes to be fully worked out in the life of the person reading this teaching!
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Revised and Updated October 2020