“According to the eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11)

By Bob Myhan

Review of Part Two

Matter and Spirit co-exist. Since matter is not eternal, it must be the case that spirit created matter, or brought matter into existence.

God is that Spirit (Genesis 1:1; John 4:24). He is all-powerful, having all the power necessary to carry out His eternal purpose.

In the beginning, He created all we see from invisible elements.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Heb. 11:3).

Man’s Unique Nature

As the primary object of God’s eternal purpose, man is the only one of God’s physical creatures that is accountable for his actions. He alone was given the power to choose whether or not to do what he was designed to do - comply with the will of God. This uniqueness exists because man alone was created in God’s image.

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)

The Fall of Man

Man’s responsibility is tri-directional. C. S. Lewis illustrated this by a fleet of ships. Each ship is related to itself [its own inner workings], the other ships in the fleet [making sure it doesn’t collide with any of them] and its ultimate destination [making sure it arrives safe and sound]. Jesus alluded to man’s threefold responsibility in this conversation with a scribe.

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel , the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31)

Man’s primary responsibility is to love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength [probably signifying strength of will, rather than physical strength].

Secondarily, he is to love his neighbor as himself [probably meaning “as an extension of self”].

In a letter to Titus, Paul also referred to man’s tri-directional responsibility.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-14).

Man is to be sober [of sound mind - rightly related to self], righteous [rightly related to those around him always treating them fairly] and godly, rightly related to God, realizing that He is aware of every thought, word and act.

The fall of man is related in the third chapter of Genesis.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Gen. 3:1-13)

Man’s fall involved three consecutive changes: a change in affection - from the love of God to the love of knowledge (Gen. 3:1-5), a change in volition - from obedience to disobedience (Gen. 3:6) and a change in relation - from friend of God to enemy of God (Gen. 3:7-13).

Immediately God revealed His plan to reconcile man unto Himself by creating enmity between man and the serpent.

So the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." (Gen. 3:14-15)

The serpent is the devil (Rev. 12:1-9) and the seed of the serpent are the devil’s spiritual offspring, while the seed of the woman is Jesus.

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal. 4:4).

The twofold bruising was figurative of (1) the “bruising” Satan would give Jesus from which Jesus would recover in the resurrection (Luke 22:3-6; Acts 2:22-28), and (2) the “bruising” Jesus would give Satan from which Satan would never recover (1 John 3:8).

[To be continued]


As one year draws to a close and another year dawns, resolutions are being made. Most people resolve to do such things as lose weight, break a bad habit or settle a dispute. The Epistle to the Hebrews, however, contains thirteen divine admonitions, which - if we resolve to accept them - will have a much greater impact on our lives than things we might normally resolve to do.

Concerning Our Attitude

1 “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (4:1).

This is a resolution to be more in awe of who God is, and of what it means to displease Him. This Holy Awe will have a sobering effect upon our daily activities. The facts related in the previous verses [3:12-19] should produce this in us.

2 “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (4:11).

This resolution is to make haste, which will be relatively easy to keep if we can only keep the first one, for it is Holy Awe that produces Holy Haste.

3 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (4:14).

This is to resolve to be more stable in our claim to be Christians. Holy Awe and Holy Haste produce Holy Stability.

4 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16).

This resolution is to allow Holy Awe, Holy Haste and Holy Stability to create within us a Holy Confidence that He will help us “in time of need.”

Concerning Our Growth

5 “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection” (6:1).

It is not possible for us to make Holy Progress in our relationship with God if we are ever discussing elementary principles and never confronting the difficult themes of God’s revelation. Keeping the previous resolutions of Holy Awe, Holy Haste, Holy Stability and Holy Confidence will aid us tremendously in keeping this one.

6 ‘Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (10:22).

The acts of worship God expects of us are designed to draw us into nearer to Him in Holy Fellowship. But worship, to profit us, must be “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24). Until “our bodies [have been] washed with pure water” [in baptism] “and our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” [in forgiveness] we are not qualified to engage in true worship. But, having thus qualified ourselves, we must still “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”  The proper acts of worship will not achieve their designed purpose unless they are accompanied by faith.

7 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (10:23).

This is a resolution to Holy Perseverance. We cannot afford to waver in our worship or service to God for we could die, or the Lord could come, while we are wavering and we would have no chance to repent.

8 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (10:24).

This resolution is to give Holy Consideration to those who look to us for encouragement. “No man is an island,” said John Donne, the English poet. This is a scriptural concept, inasmuch as the Lord, through the apostles, instituted the local church wherein Christians can and should be of mutual and reciprocal support. Let us be there for one another in 2006.

Concerning Our Fruit

9 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (12:1).

The resolution to Holy Surrender is preparatory to the next one. We must surrender or forfeit anything and everything that will either slow us down or ensnare us. There are some things not wrong in and of themselves that will be more problematic than helpful in living the life that one ought to live. They are unnecessary weights. There may also be a sin that will more easily ensnare one Christian than another.

10 “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1)

This is a resolution to Holy Dedication, and can only be kept if, and to the extent, the previous one is kept. “The race that is set before us” is the life that one ought to live morally and spiritually. If one is to persevere he must “run with endurance.”

11 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (12:28.

This resolution is to Holy Usefulness in the temporal kingdom of heaven, while it can and will be shaken, in order that we may enjoy the eternal kingdom of heaven, when it cannot be shaken (see also 2 Peter 1:5-11).

12 “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (13:13).

This is a resolution to Holy Sacrifice. To the first-century Jewish Christians it involved leaving mainstream Judaism; to Gentile Christians in the twenty-first century it could very well involve turning one’s back on the “family religion” (see Matthew 10:34-39; Mark 10:29-30).

13 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (13:15).

This resolution is to Holy Gratitude, the natural response to the knowledge that Jesus has prepared us “a continuing city” in heaven above (13:14). &