Purposive according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary is, “…..having or tending to fulfill a conscious purpose or design…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.) Purposive is acting upon some goal or design that is yet future in the mind.
In God’s purpose we see a completed aspect to it, as well as an active aspect. He has a specific purpose in mind and is now acting toward that end, however He, in His mind has accomplished that purpose. We are justified and glorified yet we are in the process toward that end. We have the standing before God, however our state at present is not quite adequate.
His purpose is seen in a number of ways.
He Will Judge: Isaiah 14:26
God has a number of purposive lines of action, however they are all along the line of His one main purpose. Here we see his purpose is in the area of judgment however this is in line with the general purpose of showing the Devil who’s boss — so to speak.
He Will Direct: Romans 8:28
God has called us according to His purpose. He has a goal or plan in mind and is acting upon that goal or plan. If we are open to His direction through the Word and prayer, He will lead us into the things of life that He desires for us. This includes a spouse, a ministry, an occupation, schooling, investing, etc. He is interested in gaining as much benefit from our lives on this earth as He can, not only for His own glory, but for our benefit, joy and reward.
He Will Work Through Christ: Ephesians 3:11
Christ is included in this purpose and the purpose is eternal in nature. Christ has accomplished some of His purpose in the work of the cross, yet has the ongoing duty of interceding for us, as well as the future work of setting up the kingdom, and ruling over the earth for a thousand years.
He Will Carry Out His Plan: 2 Timothy 1:9
The purpose of God was set before creation and is His Own Purpose — not something man dreamed up, but HIS.
Why would we say that purpose is an attribute or distinctive of personality? The beasts of the field have no purpose for themselves. They react to what is going on now, and have no thoughts to the future. They react to only that which is going on at the moment, and at times they react to their instinct and the seasons.
A snake does not go out looking for someone to attach. They attach only out of fear. An animal on the highway isn’t there because he wants to make you late for an appointment. It is there because they walked across, and the sun felt good so they stopped to warm themselves.
Man on the other hand has future purpose in mind. This is not fully developed in the child for if you offer them a $.25 candy bar now or a
$1.00 bill tomorrow they will probably take the candy bar. They operate in the NOW.
On the other hand most people, including Christians, are tied up in their plans for the future. They are opening savings accounts, IRA’s, investing in homes and all of those neat things.
Purpose is not bad in man. Without some future purpose man becomes akin to a beast of the field. He becomes bored and tends to react to the NOW situation. Can you picture a woman or a man that spends hours in front of a television set for soaps or sports? She or he, as the case may be, is reacting to the NOW and has little thought to anything further future than the next commercial breaks for a snack. It can and does become their life.
When servicing televisions, quite often when in the homes of these addicts they would talk to me about the characters on the shows as if they were part of their family. Now and then when returning a set, one of them would get all excited because they hadn’t seen Joe Blow for two weeks and they were dieing to see how he was doing.
Thus, we must conclude that purpose is a characteristic or attribute of man. So, in God the thought of purpose is that of a trait or attribute that makes God what He is. It is part of His very nature.
APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE
1. Prayer changes me and not God’s purpose, ways, plans or whatever. He sees all things complete and I need to see it His way and conform to it. Prayer changes Things only. (Daniel 6:27, Philippians 2:13) He is working within us to bring about His purpose. Daniel 4:35 mentions, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” As If Anyone In Their Right Mind Would Ever Ask God If He Knows What He Is Doing.
Then again, I’m not sure that many of us don’t question what God is doing in our lives when He moves counter to what we had planned and get upset with Him.
2. Are you on the right side of His purpose? This can involve one of two things. WALK: Are you walking with Him as you know you should? He has a goal for our lives and we need to be seeking that goal and be working toward it. IF we are God’s children, He has a plan for us. IF we aren’t heading for that plan — THEN He will bring problems into our life which will help us change our direction. SALVATION: Are you on His side spiritually?
The old 45 rpm records were famous for having a good side and a bad side. The Lord has a good side and a bad side in the spiritual realm. Side one: Eternal life with Him as a reward for being obedient to His purpose in
Salvation. Side two: Eternal damnation as a penalty for being on God’s bad side in His plan of salvation.
I would like to illustrate this doctrine with a story. Friday P.M.: A man developed a toothache. He had very poor sleep that night. Saturday A.M.: He made an appointment for 1:00 PM Tuesday. Saturday noon: Pain was terrible. Called the dentist and the nurse said come in. Saturday 2:00 P.M.: Pain quit. Saturday 4:30 P.M.: The dentist couldn’t find the problem — come back Tues. and we’ll x-ray and fill it. Saturday 4:50 PM: Pain began. Sun.: Misery upon misery. Monday: Agony upon agony. Tuesday: The dentist pulled the tooth. Wednesday: The same toothache returned only worse. Called Dentist — It was his day off. Thursday A.M.: The dentist pulled the correct tooth. Thursday P.M.: Same tooth ache returned only worse. I went to the dentist and he started a root canal.
Thoughts Of The Man: That stupid idiot dentist. He must have gotten his diploma out of a Cheerio box. There’s a guy in California with a law suit for $35,000 over one wrong tooth pulled. That’s $70,000 for two teeth. However, the man was a believer and the Lord brought a verse to his mind. Romans 8:28, “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,”.
Some of his possible conclusions “for good” were as follows: Maybe God saw bigger trouble with the teeth if they remained in the mouth. They weren’t prize specimens anyway. Maybe God was going to send him to a far off country where there were no dentists. Maybe God was going to allow him to witness to the dentist. Maybe NOTHING — He waited to see how God would use it.
He was able to use his experience in his Sunday School class that Sunday. His lesson was on God’s everyday purpose for our life.
THE DOCTRINE OF PURPOSE
Before the dawn of time God said, “I can — I will” and He did. He had a plan — He began moving toward the completion of that plan.
He created — He formed man — He breathed into man the breath of life — man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7) — thus began God’s trek down a bumpy, if not rutted road with mankind. We are thankful that He had a plan, for if He hadn’t, He wouldn’t have continued past the first road block with such as we.
Man tried to trip God by eating the forbidden fruit, but (Genesis 3:5) God tripped man right out of the garden (Genesis 3:23).
The coats of skin (Genesis 3:21) showed God alive and heading toward His goal. The skins meant shed blood — the only way to rectify the wrong in any age.
As time wore on, God saw wickedness across the land. None were seeking His goal save one (Genesis 6:5-8). Noah and his family found grace in the eyes of God.
Mankind gathered at Babel with a purpose — to build a tower to heaven. This however, as is normal, was not God’s purpose — He scattered them across the face of the earth (Genesis 11).
God purposed to move toward His goal through the line of Abraham. This ultimately will happen but no thanks to man (Genesis 15).
God made a nation from Abraham which found itself in bondage in Egypt (Exodus 1). Pharaoh was there for one purpose — God’s — to declare God to the earth (Romans 9:17).
Out of this nation came Jesus Christ — the one that would complete the plan. Christ was to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8) — Christ was to set up the church which would show God’s wisdom to the heavenly powers (Ephesians 3:8-11). Christ’s blood enabled God to gather unto Himself a people — a people desiring to follow and serve Him (Titus 2:14).
God set the path with the coats of skin — all sin must be dealt with by shed blood — the blood of Jesus Christ — God’s purpose was to gather a people for His own — the people were sinful — God provided a remedy — those washing themselves in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, become a part of His people — a part of His eternal goal — a part of the people in His eternal city (Revelation 21).
 Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A./Denver Baptist Bible College and Seminary. DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.