From Eternity to Here
By Frank Viola
CBN.com Excerpt from From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola.
Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God
The year was 1992. My life as a Christian changed forever.
All the sermons I heard since I was a child faded dead away. They were profoundly eclipsed by a higher vision. By God’s grace, I caught a wondrous glimpse into what Paul called “the eternal purpose” (Eph. 3:11).
For the first time in my Christian life, I discovered that I was involved in something much larger and more glorious than I ever dreamed. The Christian life was no longer merely about winning souls; helping the poor; learning theology; studying doctrine; mastering the Bible; deciphering eschatology; praying more; attending church services; praising and worshipping; doing spiritual warfare; exercising spiritual gifts; hearing God’s voice; imitating Jesus; and engaging in good works. Nor was it about the other endless activities that I had been taught were the center of God’s will.
I discovered that all of the above had an end in view that went far beyond giving people a celestial fire-insurance policy, bringing in the last great harvest, or changing the world for Christ.
Being a Christian had taken on a completely new meaning. That meaning had to do with something bound up inside the beating heart of God. The Christian life was no longer about me and what I could or should do. Neither was it primarily about others. The needs of human beings became secondary. A page had turned. Suddenly everything became about Him and His ultimate purpose. It all became about God’s ageless desire—a desire that is “from him and through him and to him” (Rom. 11:36).
I stepped into a new world where I began to look through the eyes of God and see things from His vantage point rather than from my own. I discovered something of what it means to see the unseen. This high-altitude view hit me so hard that it wiped everything else off the table. I began to see with eyes not physical, and I discovered that the intangibles are where reality lies.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:18, NASB)
Did I have it all figured out? Certainly not. Do I now have all the answers? Far from it. But a door had opened that put me on a new journey that I continue to travel this good day.
Before this “epiphany” I had read the Bible dozens of times. I had heard countless sermons and read scores of books and commentaries. Yet despite all of it, I realized that I had genuinely missed the main point. I was blissfully ignorant of the central, all-consuming dream of God that tied everything together. As a result of this realization, I pushed the reset button on my Christian life. I pressed the DELETE key and watched all my religious activities vanish into the electricity.
I hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and rebooted my spiritual CPU.
What was so revolutionary? What exactly did I see? I had discovered the driving passion of God. And that passion gave birth to a divinely crafted purpose—a timeless purpose that had little to do with my individualistic efforts at being a good Christian or “going to heaven.”
I gradually discovered that the ageless purpose of God stretches from eternity to here, then from here to eternity. It is a purpose so brilliant that the mere glimpse of it can cause the human spirit to be blinded by incomparable glory.
A sighting of that purpose has the power to deliver us from all the things that do not matter; things that do not give life; things that divide and fracture the body of Christ into pieces. The sighting of God’s all-governing purpose possesses the power to set us free from the “me-centered” gospel that’s so commonly dished out today. In addition, I discovered that this purpose runs throughout the entire Bible like an unbroken thread, weaving all of its teachings together into one heart-stirring narrative.
That initial glimpse of the Lord’s ageless purpose has become an ever-expanding revelation within me. It has given my very existence on this earth new meaning and direction. To put it another way, in beholding God’s central purpose, I found my own purpose. In touching His ultimate passion, I found my own passion. This eternal purpose burns in me to this very day.
What I will share in the pages that follow are three narratives, which woven together, tell the epic story of
God’s ageless purpose. All three narratives are solidly grounded in Scripture. In fact, they embody the whole story of Scripture, streaming through it like a constant current.
The first is the story of a God who is an ageless romantic, driven by one consuming pursuit. The second is about a God who has sought since eternity to have a resting place, a habitation, a home. And the third reveals a God from another realm who visits planet earth to establish a heavenly colony that will give Him visible expression.
For most of us, life spins on with few breaks or transitions. This book is designed to help put on the brakes and navigate you through a terribly important question: What is my purpose and my passion? And how does it map to God’s?
From the book of Ephesians, we know that the triune God is chiefly occupied with the following:
• a house and a family for God the Father (Eph. 2:19–22).
• a bride and a body for God the Son (Eph. 5:25–32; 1:22–23; 2:15–16; 3:6).
Part 1 of this book is dedicated to presenting the bride. Part 2 is dedicated to presenting the house. Part 3 is dedicated to presenting the body and the family. Interestingly, all of these images are different aspects of one reality. Taken together, they embody God’s grand mission in the earth.
This progression is also rooted in Scripture. And it is the heart of the biblical story, the metanarrative (overarching story) of holy writ. The Father obtains a bride for His Son by the Spirit. He then builds a house in which He, the Son, and the bride dwell together in the Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the bride live in that house as an extended household and they have offspring by the Spirit. The offspring constitutes a family, a new humanity called “the body of Christ.”
My hope, therefore, is that as you read this book, new life will be breathed into these familiar terms. I pray that the Holy Spirit would fill them with their original beauty and awe to this end: that you would be given a dramatically new, if not a staggering, look at the ageless purpose that drives your God. For that purpose is the very reason why you exist.
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Endorsements for From Eternity to Here:
“From Eternity to Here is a masterpiece. A must read for those who believe and for others who want to believe. It reads like a movie on paper.”
Dr. Myles Munroe
Frank continues to challenge the church-at-large with a powerful mind, an impassioned voice, and a love for the bride of Christ. You need to get this book and wrestle with Frank through the biblical passages regarding our identity in Christ as His body and the mission our God has entrusted to us.
“This re-telling of the ‘old, old story’ is a much needed gift to the church today.”
“A masterful work of art.”
Dr. James W. Goll
Frank Viola is a Christian author and conference speaker. He’s written numerous books on the deeper Christian life and church restoration, including the newly-released From Eternity to Here, Pagan Christianity (co-authored with George Barna), Reimagining Church, Bethany, and The Untold Story of the New Testament Church. His books and articles have been translated into Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, and Russian. www.FrankViola.com
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