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Purpose, Promise and Performance.
pp. 1 - 6
In Eph. 3: 11 we read:
"According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord",
and to this passage we shall return for close scrutiny presently. The climax of God's
gracious purpose in Ephesians is found in Eph. 5: 27:
"That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or
any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
Turning to Philippians, we find the stress is laid on the `performance' of the promises
"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1: 6).
Even though the Apostle expresses "confidence", some doubt has been injected into
this verse, suggesting that what had been begun would be discontinued, but the rule of
I Cor. 2: 13 when applied, shows what the Apostle meant by "begin" and "perform", for
he uses the same two words in II Cor. 8: 10-11, where he reminds the Corinthians of
what they had `begun' a year ago, that there should be a "performance". It would make
nonsense of his exhortation to teach that Paul told the Corinthians that their willingness a
year ago to make a contribution to the poor saints should not now be fulfilled. Later in
Philippians, Paul expresses the earnest wish that he may "apprehend that for which he
had been apprehended of Christ Jesus". The change of this `vile body' that it may be
fashioned like unto the Saviour's "glorious body", is "according to the working whereby
He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3: 12, 21). Colossians traverses
much the same ground as Ephesians, but with different emphasis and different sequence.
We read that Paul was made a special minister,
"according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil (or
complete) the word of God; even the mystery . . . . ." (Col. 1: 25, 26).
In II Timothy, the Apostle stresses the purpose of grace that is implied in his
ministry, saying of God:
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works,
but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before
the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the
gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the
Gentiles" (II Tim. 1: 9-11).
Having given this rough survey, we propose a more detailed and careful study of the
words and context of "the eternal purpose" of Eph. 3: 11. Before considering the