See you on the flip side.
I am smitten. The beauty of the eternal purpose of God is laying hold of my life as never before. Oh, the bliss of my soul….
What, you may ask, is this “purpose”? Well, I will say, it is not just any purpose; it is THE purpose. It is the very reason behind the cosmos. It is in Biblical terms, a great mystery. Hidden throughout the ages in God, and revealed through events, dispensations, and ultimately God’s Son, Jesus. This is the purpose of highest grandeur. It is the heart-beat of Father. It is the very expression of God’s mind to the creation. I shall try to explain further….
I think of a line from eternity past stretching forth into eternity future. This is perhaps a forced concept because eternity is neither linear nor comprehensible. Also, God inhabits eternity rather than moving along a fixed line of time, but for the sake of simplification for our finiteness, I see a line….
Somewhere along this line in eternity past, God, within Himself, as perfect and complete and communal with Father, Son, and Spirit as He was and is, felt a strong desire, say I with reverential humility, a need, to share Himself. This would be no ordinary sharing, for it was no ordinary need. You see, God had not a Body. God had not a Family. God had not an expression of Himself outside of Himself, thus He was unexpressed. I am not saying God was lonely. I am not saying He wasn’t self-sufficient, for He was and is. God was not incomplete as though He needed to be more than what He was. He simply had a strong desire to express Himself outside of Himself….
So, He created. And, wow, did He ever create! All that we see and know, and so much further beyond that, He created. But, it was a Body, a dwelling place, that occupied His longing….
Thus, in the beginning, God created all that would ultimately give Him expression outside of Himself, yet of Himself. In this spectacular realm of creation, He made a man. That man, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and He became the image bearing expression of God for the cosmos. Then, out of that man bore He forth and woman of equal magnitude and splendor, which was the completion of God’s expression. How beautiful God’s expression!
But God knew what was to come. And in the counsels of eternity past had already planned what would become redemption, for this man and woman, the expression of God in reality, would not stay as thus, but would rather become something other than God’s very own expression. They chose instead to express themselves, and exert themselves over God….
So, this man and woman, the original corporate identity of God in the creation, became of their own, for their own, and by their own. They now existed from God, but outside of God, separated from Him and in all their ways against Him. But God did not remain at loss. He had a purpose all along!
God began breaking into this new reality. Over and over again we read of this in-breaking throughout the history of the world through the prophets of old, until Christ, who became the very expressed image of the Most High. Emmanuel. God in the flesh….
And so this linear line of eternity of which I first spoke was altered, so to speak. A tangent. An alternate reality from that which conformed to the eternal purpose of God. Again, this was no surprise. It is not alternate in that God didn’t seit coming and came up with plan B. Rather, it lies outside God’s original purpose. This redemption was not God’s original purpose. It became part of it by our choice and course of free-will action. The linear progressionof the eternal purpose of God’s expression takes a dramatic dip, of which we are still a part today. We are on the “upswing” of this “dip”, for we are on the revealed side of the Cross, but we are yet to see fully the eternal purpose of God realized….
Until, we catch a glimpse of it in the last two chapters of Revelation. We see once again, a Man and a woman. Rather than a garden, we see a city made from the materials originally present within that garden, and so much more we see….
So, in the beginning and in the end, we see this eternal purpose of God as God’s ultimate passion. In between these two scenes we see this unfolding passion and purpose revealed over and over….
So, the question is, where does the Church fit into this ultimate passion and purpose?
More to come….
I have been excited about this interview for several weeks now. From Eternity To Here was one of the most profound and Christocentric books I have ever read. I reviewed the book here. Below are a couple of questions I asked Frank regarding his books and his ministry. Then, you will find lots of “link love” for the book, and a full list of all the blogs participating todays blog circuit. Enjoy!
How do you personally handle criticisms about your philosophy, especially from within the ranks of Christianity?
I’ve really not had any real criticism on my book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE. Quite the contrary. It’s been received extremely well by some of the top leaders in the Body of Christ today, from every denomination. Many pastors are using the book with their congregations with the free discussion guide. Sunday schools are using it as well, along with Bible colleges and small groups, house churches, and missional churches. We’ve been rather overwhelmed by the huge response and the great reception it’s had among Christians everywhere. It’s a trans-denominational book, I think.
I’ve received some criticism in response to my and George Barna’s book PAGAN CHRISTIANITY. If someone has read the book and is actually interacting with the actual arguments that we make in the book (opposed to constructing straw-man arguments or ad hominems), I listen and take it into consideration. The rest I don’t pay attention to. To my mind, if someone criticizes someone else’s work without reading it carefully or without interacting with what the work actually says, it’s not worth taking seriously. On the other hand, constructive criticism given in a spirit of humility and love I esteem highly.
I realize everyone is very different, but I wander, can you give a “list” of possible “steps” one may go through along the journey from institutionalism into authentic, organic church life?
FROM ETERNITY TO HERE doesn’t address church practice, form, or traditions. It deals rather with the big, sweeping epic of God’s grand mission and eternal purpose. To my mind, unless a group of believers understands and adjusts their lives corporately to God’s ageless purpose, it really doesn’t matter if they have a so-called “Biblical” form of church.
I know a good number of Christians who are part of house churches, simple churches, missional churches, and emerging churches, and they have no grasp of the eternal purpose at all. Consequently, I feel that such groups miss the beating heart of God. So to my mind, the critical issue … the starting point … is not structure, form, or shape. It’s rather the receiving of a revelation of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.
Once that happens, then each existing church and individual Christian will want to answer the question: Does my church match the eternal purpose of God? Is it standing for that purpose or is it hindering it? In what ways is it fulfilling it and in what ways is it detracting from it? These are large questions. My next book, the final book in the series, explores it in detail.
I’m not sure about my readers, but I am excited about how Father is using Frank and many others to ignite passion and exploration into the deep riches of Christ. The status quo is not longer sufficient. It is time to ask tough questions and search out the answers. Does my church match the eternal pupose of God?
OTHER BLOGS PARTICIPATING IN THE “FROM ETERNITY TO HERE” BLOG CIRCUIT
Today (June 9th), the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola’s new bestselling book “From Eternity to Here” (David C. Cook, 2009). The book just hit the May CBA Bestseller List. Some are posting Q & A with Frank; others are posting full reviews of the book. To read more reviews and order a copy at a 33% discount, go to Amazon.com:
For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website: http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org
Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:
Shapevine – http://www.shapevine.com/ (June newsletter)
Brian Eberly – http://www.brianeberly.com/
DashHouse.com – http://www.DashHouse.com/
Greg Boyd – http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/
Vision Advance – http://vision2advance.blogspot.com/
David Flowers – http://ddflowers.wordpress.com/
Kingdom Grace – http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/
Captain’s Blog – http://www.captainestes.blogspot.com/
Christine Sine – http://godspace.wordpress.com/
Darin Hufford – The Free Believers Network – http://www.freebelievers.com/
Zoecarnate – http://zoecarnate.wordpress.com/
Church Planting Novice – http://www.churchplantingnovice.wordpress.com/
Staying Focused – http://kimmartinezstayingfocused.wordpress.com/
Take Your Vitamin Z – http://www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/
Jeff Goins – http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/
Bunny Trails – http://bunny-trails.blogspot.com/
Matt Cleaver – http://mattcleaver.com/
Jason T. Berggren – http://blog.jasonberggren.com/
Simple Church – http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/
Emerging from Montana – http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
Parable Life – http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com/
Oikos Australia – http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/
West Coast Witness – http://www.westcoastwitness.com/
Keith Giles – http://www.keith.giles.com/
Consuming Worship — http://www.consumingworship.org/
Tasha Via – http://www.tashavia.blogspot.com/
Andrew Courtright – http://www.andrewcourtright.blogspot.com/
ShowMeTheMooneys! – http://www.showmethemooneys.com/
Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer – http://leavingsalem.wordpress.com/
Jason Coker – pastoralia.missionaltribe.org
From Knowledge to Wisdom – http://isthistheway.typepad.com/
Home Brewed Christianity – http://www.homebrewedchristianity.com
Dispossessed – http://kblog.kevinjbowman.com/
David Brodsky’s Blog- “Flip the tape Deck” – http://flipthetapedeck.blogspot.com/
Chaordic Journey – https://jeffrhodes.wordpress.com/
Renee Martin – http://www.reneemartinmusic.com/profiles/blog/list
Bob Kuhn – http://organicchurchnola.wordpress.com/
Living with Freaks: http://www.livingwithfreaks.com/
Real Worship – http://therealworshipleader.com/
Fervent Worship – http://ferventworship.blogspot.com/
What’s With Christina?! – http://w2christina.blogspot.com/
Irreligious Canuck – http://www.irreligiouscanuck.com/
This day on the journey – http://guychmieleski.blogspot.com/
Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity – http://liveandmove.blogspot.com/
Spiritual Journey With God – http://www.elvineve.blogspot.com/
Journey with Others – http://journeywithothers.blogspot.com/
On Now to the Third Level – http://www.080808onnowto.blogspot.com/
Christine Moers – http://www.welcometomybrain.net/
Breaking Point – http://marybethstockdale.wordpress.com/
Hand to the Plough – http://www.handtotheplough.com.au/
Weblight – http://www.blog.worldwidewebservices.se/
D. L. Webster – http://gzmproductions.com/dlwebster
Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life – wholeheartedlife.blogspot.com
I hope you have benefited from this blog circuit. Be sure to leave a comment!