Have you considered the topic I mentioned in my last message on “What Is God Doing, Anyway?”  I think knowing the purpose of God in His works today is perhaps one of the most important things a Christian can know.  But, before we learn what God’s purpose for today is, we must know what His ultimate purpose is. 

Of course, God’s ultimate purpose is His Own glory.  But He chooses to share His glory with others He created.  His ultimate purpose in creating us is so that we might know Him and His wonder and glory.  And the only way we can truly know Him Who is unknowable is through His Son, Jesus Christ.  But there is more than just God’s purpose for us.  God has a purpose for this earth as well.  God’s purpose for the Earth is wrapped up in His purposes for us, for He created us to live on the Earth, after all.  And what is His ultimate goal for the Earth?  Of course, we would say the New Heavens and the New Earth.  But God has a more immediate goal for this Earth.  That is what is known to Scriptures as the Kingdom of God.  It is a time when God Himself takes control of the Earth on which we live and makes everything to be as He planned it from the beginning.  Whether this be in our relationships to animals (the lion laying down with the lamb) or to our marriage partner (what God has joined will never be separated by man in that day!) or to our fellow nations (nation will not take up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.)  It will be a time when God’s order will rule everything-all will be equal at last.  What a time to live on our Earth!  I wrote in my message, “Thoughts from the Waiting Room” examples of some of the wonderful promises God has given for that time upon the Earth-not the least of which is the promise that, “”They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”    Isaiah 11:9.  What a promise!  This is the goal for this Earth toward which God has been working ever since He created Adam.  And this goal is just as much in His mind today as it ever was.

And as for the death of Christ?  That was the most important key toward moving into that wonderful time!  For without His death, no such Kingdom would have been possible on our fallen Earth.  But now that Christ has died for the world, it can be redeemed.

But I have already mentioned in “Thoughts from the Waiting Room” how I look forward to that time.  Such as the time in the hospital with the lady in the wheelchair.  Well, in considering God’s purpose today, we must keep this overall purpose in mind, for it must relate to it.

I can think of a certain event in regards to this.  I remember the day well.  I was at the Mall, and I happened to glance up and see her.  She was young, probably about twelve or thirteen years old.  She was dressed very stylishly, carrying a fashionable purse over one arm and sporting a trendy hairdo.  However, her face was very plain and ordinary looking.  She was standing next to one of those mall directory signs-you know, the three-sided ones that have a map of the mall on one side and advertisements for one thing or another on the others.  The one she was standing in front of was a big add for Camels cigarettes.  It sported a picture of Joe Camel in the foreground, dressed splendidly and smoking a cigarette.  In the background was the classic sporty-looking car with a slinky-looking but gorgeous female sitting on the hood-you know what I’m talking about.

As I took in this scene with a glance I was just in time to see this girl reach out and touch with her hand the billboard at the place where the “lady” was sitting on the car.  It was just a moment, and then she was moving off into the crowd.  But I could sense the longing that was in that one single gesture.

As I turned away my heart was struck by the scene I had just witnessed.  I wonder how many other innocent little boys and girls have stood, just like that one, looking at the world’s great display-the lights, the colors, the music, the bells and whistles-and longed for the happiness and satisfaction that is offered there.  And yet it is all empty-a lie.  No satisfaction is to be found there-only the same emptiness that that young child is already starting to feel taking over his or her life.  But they will follow the lie, and pay the price for doing so.

Oh, for a day when such deception will no longer be possible!  I think there is no way that our loving God will let such a thing go on for ever.  Surely He must soon put a stop to it!  As Mr. Otis Q. Sellers has said on the subject, “It hardly needs to be said that it is not at all strange that God will some day put forth His power to bring about the victory of good.  It is what you would do if you were God.  It is what I would do if I were God.  It is no mystery at all that He will do this.  THE GREAT MYSTERY IS THAT HE DELAYS SO LONG.”  This is absolutely true.  So we must ask, why has God waited so long?  Why does He not break into history and put a stop to this great flow of evil that is around us?

The fact is that for almost two thousand years God has remained strangely silent.  We have gone from the time recorded by the book of Acts where God was working in such an open and manifest way that no one could deny it to a time when God’s work is so unobtrusive that, without faith, we might suppose that He is not doing anything at all.  As Sir Robert Anderson wrote in his book The Silence of God, “The Divine history of the favored race for thousands of years teems with miracles by which God gave proof of His power with men, and yet we are confronted by the astounding fact that from the days of the apostles to the present hour the history of Christendom will be searched in vain for the record of a single public event to compel belief that there is a God at all.”  This statement is very true–we all come to God, not because we witness any proof of His existence or the truth of the gospel message, but through faith alone.

And why is this so?  If God used such great miracles to draw men to Himself in the time described by the book of Acts, why does He not do so today?  I believe that the answer is that His purpose has changed.

The statement of John the Baptist that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” lays the groundwork for all that follows in the New Testament.  We see Christ preaching the Kingdom, the death of Christ that made the Kingdom possible, and then the miracles and message of the apostles seeking to spread the Kingdom message around the world.  God’s purpose during the book of Acts is to bring in His Kingdom, that is, His rule in the earth.  He is doing so as He said He would do in such passages as Matthew 12: 18-21 and Mark 4:26-29–that is, not by a hostile takeover, and not all at once.  However, if God had continued with that purpose, I believe that the Kingdom of God would soon have become a reality for all men on the earth.

But, God suspended His Kingdom work.  He set it aside to do another work, a work that, while related to the Kingdom, was totally separate from it, and had nothing to do whatsoever with bringing it in.

To speak of God for a moment–I believe that God is what we might call “polar” in nature, that is, that He is like a magnet, having two opposite poles.  You know, a magnet it interesting in that way.  You can cut a magnet, and yet no matter how many pieces you cut and how small they are, they will always have two poles…a north and a south.  There is no way that any scientist has ever figured out to isolate one pole from the other.  The two go together, and that is all that there is to it.  And yet they are totally separate poles to each other and act in a totally different manner from each other.

And in the same manner, no matter how we look at God, we always see two sides to His nature, and we must keep in mind both of these parts of Him.  Yet, when examining one “pole” of His nature, we find that it is totally exclusive of the other “pole”, that is, both cannot work at once.  These two poles are God’s Grace and God’s Government.  His grace gives favor to the undeserving.  His Government gives exactly what is deserved, no more and no less.  These two aspects of God are always present, but they cannot both work at the same time.  That is, God might show grace to Noah and his family by saving him from the flood, and he might show government to the other people on the earth by destroying them for their sins.  Yet, God cannot show both grace and government to the same person at the same time.

When God’s Kingdom is on the earth it will be a time of absolute government.  That is, God will give every man and woman on the earth exactly what that person deserves, no more and no less.  Therefore, this will be a time when all God’s actions toward mankind are based on the government side of His nature.  However, I believe that, in the purposes of God, He determined to have a time when exactly the opposite was true.  That is, a time when God would deal with each and every person on the earth only by means of His grace.  That is, a time when God would show undeserved favor to every man, woman, and child on the earth.  Never would He give anyone what he or she deserved, but always would He give His free gifts and favor to men.  No one would be punished for crimes he had committed by God Himself.  No one would be rewarded for righteousness by God Himself.  All would equally receive the gifts of grace at His hand.  This time was not a part of prophecy, and one would search the Old Testament in vain for any indication of it.  It was a secret hid in God until He chose to begin it.

I believe that that time of God working only by His grace is the time we live in today.  No one on earth has been punished for wrong or rewarded for righteousness since God began this work.  God has always acted in grace.  Yet, He has always mixed this gracious work with a work of justice and government.  As I stated about Noah’s time, so it was in the Acts period, that is, great works of God’s grace were done in spreading the gospel message to the undeserving, even to Saul, the most undeserving man of all!  Yet, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead in judgment for lying to God.  This was a time of grace and government working at the same time, which was as it had always been with God since the beginning of the world.

Yet, in Ephesians 3:2, Paul tells us of a “dispensation of the grace of God.”  A dispensation is a management or a method of dealing.  God’s current method of dealing with mankind is through His grace.  Not one act of government has been done by God since Paul made this statement–if God is not able to act in grace, then He will not act at all.

The purpose in all this is so that God can show forth the surpassing riches of His grace, as stated in Ephesians 2:7.  As I said earlier, God’s great purpose is to reveal Himself and His glory to His creatures.  During the Kingdom of God on the earth men will learn a complete and convincing record of the government side of God.  Yet, so that we would not be left without knowledge of the other side of God, that is, the all-important truth of His boundless grace, God has postponed His Kingdom to provide a time when He shows forth the exceedingly great riches of His grace.

In Ephesians 3:8 it is stated that God’s grace is unsearchable.  All the best gifts are given anonymously so that no credit whatsoever can be given to the giver, and it is even so with God’s grace today.  No one can point to an open and manifest work of God today and say that this is His grace in action.  Rather, all of the abundant riches of God’s grace are given today in secret.  Why?  Because if God were to work openly, so that none could mistake that this was the work of God, then we would be brought under an obligation to that work.  We would be obligated to respond to it, acknowledging it as the work of God.  If we did so, God would be obliged to treat us accordingly.  If we failed to do so, God would be obligated to punish us accordingly.  Both acts on our part would then force Him to act in government rather than grace.  This is the reason for the long silence of God–any open work on His part would defeat His purpose to act only in grace so that His grace might be revealed.  God’s Spirit will not do a work that will defeat God’s purpose for today.  Therefore, all of God’s works today are secret, and can only be discerned by the eyes of faith.

Yet, let none say that they are not there!  I fully believe that God works miraculously in many ways, healing the sick, rescuing the lost, saving those who call out to Him in distress.  Yet, all these works are hidden, that is, if we wished to we could say that it was mere luck or happenstance, and that God had nothing to do with it.  This is so that all might be through His grace.  Mr. Otis Q. Sellers put it very well on one of his tape messages.  He said, “We might say that when miracles take place under God’s present administration, and I am sure that they do, these miracles are always in some manner veiled by providential devices of God, and this permits the willful skeptic to attribute the miracles to causes which are secondary, and thus that makes it utterly impossible for a believer to prove their supernatural character.”  We cannot prove that God works miracles.  We can only believe it.  That is the way it must be in the time of God’s silence.

I will admit that this is an unusual interpretation, and I do not expect anyone to accept it without reservation upon first hearing of it.  This, however, is why I do not believe in speaking in tongues, or in any of the other miraculous gifts that many today are trying to “stir up.”  I believe that the gift of tongues was wrapped up in God’s Kingdom purposes.  When He finishes the record of His grace and brings in His Kingdom, I have no doubt that tongues and other miracles will return in greater force than we can even imagine.  However, such things have no place in God’s purpose to show forth His grace.  I do not believe that God does not have the power to give tongues or to heal.  I do not doubt God’s statement that “these signs shall follow them that believe.”  I know that they did during the book of Acts.  And they will in the future when God gives His Kingdom and all its gifts to mankind.  I do not believe that the tongues died out with the apostles–this is foolishness, as it is clear that ALL believers were given powerful gifts of one sort or another.  I fully believe in the authenticity of the last chapter of Mark.  I will not count myself as having less faith than anyone in the power of God to work such miracles.  Yet, I do not believe that God has such gifts for me.  If He did, I would gladly accept them.  But He has a different purpose in mind, both for me and for the world in this time of His grace.

I greatly respect all who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and love Him in truth who attempt to please God through the working of miraculous signs.  I have seen far too many of them and their love for our Lord to simply turn my nose up at them or write them off, as many do.  Oh, how I wish that all things were clear, and we could all know what the truth of God is!  Yet this is not to be–at least, not now.  So, we must all continue to search for God’s truth as it is contained in His Word.