We thought He was holding us back,
preventing us from achieving our ultimate end,
yet He has been calling us to a transformational purpose.
The source of God’s sovereignty stems from His very nature. For He is the creator. God is sovereign because He made the world and everything that is in the world. By His very nature, God has the right to rule this world.
But God drew from His sovereignty, and handed it to Man, giving Man dominion within the world.
God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and 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.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:24–28).
God gave Man dominion, and Man’s heart beat in tune with His Maker. God gave Man dominion, so that through Man, God might rule. Not through force. Not through power. But through love.
God gave Man everything. God gave life. God gave love. God gave a home. God gave food. God gave work. God gave His own Presence. God gave Man everything.
Man felt constrained
Yet, despite being the recipient of every good gift, Man was fooled into thinking himself constrained. For some reason, Man wanted to reach beyond the dominion God granted him, and to obtain a wisdom and a glory of his own. Man wanted to be independent. Man wanted his own wisdom, knowledge and greatness.
So when Man reached out a took hold of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, he expected liberty. But when he sunk his teeth into that fruit, he became enslaved to self, sin and death. Man lost his dominion. Man lost his purpose. Man lost his gifts.
We fear meaninglessness
The greatness we sought turned into vain ambition—mere meaninglessness.
To this day, we wonder about our lives, and wonder why we are here. We try to find purpose in work, in our children, in our family. We struggle to survive. And as we struggle to survive, we wonder whether anything we do has meaning or purpose. Life sometimes seems so lacking in purpose, we wonder whether there can be any God at all. We feel cut off, adrift, isolated and alone. Where is God?
God has called us
Where is God? God has been calling us. Outside the purposes of God, life is meaningless. But when we hear God’s call, we know that our life has purpose.
And God has been calling people to Himself. God has been imbuing generation upon generation of men and women with purpose. God has been calling people to Himself throughout the ages. He has been giving Man purpose.
God’s call through history
God called Noah to build an ark to escape a flood (Genesis 6:13, 18).
God called Abram to leave the civilised city of Ur to become a nomadic wanderer, looking forward to a land and a city of promise (Genesis 12:1–3; Hebrews 11:8–10).
God called Moses to leave a life of privilege and honour to lead a people (Hebrews 11:24–28).
God called Samuel, who answered him, “Speak LORD, for your servant hears You” (1 Samuel 3:10).
God called David to be a shepherd to his people Israel, anointing him with oil and His Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13).
God called Solomon to ask him what he would have the LORD give him. When Solomon asked for understanding and discernment, God was pleased (1 Kings 3:6, 9, 10).
God called Elijah to witness to His Majesty and Power against the hordes of Baal (1 Kings 18).
God called Hezekiah to tear down the high places and break the idolatrous pillars, to keep the commandments of the LORD, to trust in Him, and to liberate his people from oppression (2 Kings 18:4–8).
God called Josiah to be God’s burning flame in his generation (2 Kings 22).
God called Isaiah to receive revelations about the coming Servant of the LORD (Hebrews 11:27).
God called John the Baptist to make straight the way of the LORD, raising up the lowly and pulling down the mighty, smoothing the way for the Light of Life to shine in the darkness (John 1:11, 23).
God called Peter to powerfully and fearlessly witness to Jews and Gentiles alike, seeing the Holy Spirit falling on everyone—Jews and Gentiles alike—who heard the Word (Acts 2; Acts 10, esp. v. 44).
God called Paul to be apostle to the Gentiles, teaching the great salvation that has come through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:8).
The call of the gospel
So, when Paul declared the gospel at Philippi, they heard and believed. And because they heard and believed, God made Himself known to them. And they became partners in the gospel together with Paul.
So too, if you have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ—if you have heard of the Good News of the Kingdom of God—if you have felt the Presence of the Holy Spirit—you too are called to be partners in the gospel.
The gospel calls people out of sin. The gospel calls people out of the domain of darkness and ushers them into the kingdom of Christ (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 1:13). The gospel calls people out of confusion and false worship (Revelation 18:4).
The gospel calls people to come out. To come out of their homes. To come out of their sins. To come out of darkness. To come out and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). To come out and be His people (1 Peter 2:9).
The gospel calls all of us. The gospel calls people who are rich or poor. The gospel calls widows and orphans. The gospel calls men of God and men who do not yet know God.
The gospel calls people to the abounding love of God, so that the abounding love of God may live in you.
The purpose of partnership in the gospel
Man rejected the purpose God intended for Him. So God has given us a new purpose: to be partners in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us grasp hold of this purpose and be productive for the Lord.
To be a productive partner in the gospel, we need to know the God of the gospel. We need to know Jesus Christ. We need to know the power of Spirit. We need to experience the abounding love of Christ. We need to experience the overwhelming joy that is ours in Christ Jesus.
So let us commit to putting aside our false beliefs, let us commit to putting aside our ignorance, let us commit to allowing God to renew our hearts and our minds. Let us commit to knowing God in a new way, so that we clearly hear the gospel.
For at the very heart of the gospel is love, made Human, so that we may know that God is love. When we allow the abounding love of God to dwell in us, then we truly begin to live (Romans 4:17). This is the gospel of which we are called to be a partner.
“May your love abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11).
This message based on Philippians 1:5–6, 9–11.