Missing God’s Purpose

By Pastor Teck Uy

God has a good plan for us—he created us for a purpose. Foremost, it is his plan that we be saved. He accomplished this when he sent his only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as emphasized in John 3:16. Secondly, it is His plan that we live good lives through the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Thirdly, it is his plan that this life we live should be victorious and a good testimony to others. This he accomplished by sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These are great plans of God made available to anyone. However, many are missing out for a reason. Jesus himself said, “But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John” (Luke 7:30).

From what Jesus had said, the stumbling block for many, so that they are not blessed as they should be, was their rejection of John’s baptism. But what is John’s baptism that Jesus considered it critical for our salvation? When the apostle Paul was ministering in Ephesus, he met some disciples and asked them if they had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. After they responded in the negative, the apostle Paul asked, “What baptism did you receive?” When they told him that they only received John’s baptism, he then proceeded to explain saying, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus” (Acts 19:4). Therefore, the reason the Pharisees and teachers of the law missed God’s purpose in their lives was because they had not repented of their sins. They were almost perfect before God except that they needed to go through John’s baptism. Because of this, Jesus warned the disciples: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). The righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law was based in their knowledge of Scriptures. However, they were lacking in obedience hence, Jesus said further, “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matt. 23:3).
Repentance is the first step to salvation. Repentance is not merely being sorry for the sins we have committed. Rather, it involves a firm decision to turn away from it and then turn to God. This was emphasized by the apostle Paul when he said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20). Many would like to be refreshed in their lives after having messed it up, but there are two things that are needed – repentance and turning to God. It is only then that we can come before God with clean hands. Often, we do not take sin seriously because we are prepared to deal with its consequence which could be suffering. Little do we know that these sufferings are only the temporal consequence, and not the eternal one.  The eternal consequence of sin is separation from God.

Since God’s purpose for us is blurred by sin, we make our own plans and pursue them vigorously. However, we often find ourselves frustrated because instead of advancing as planned, we fall into all kinds of troubles and the cycle goes on. We even have the tendency to compare ourselves with others and get frustrated even more when we see them in a better position. But the Book of Proverbs says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21). No matter what we do, we shall fall short of our expectations unless we align ourselves with God’s purpose. Again, the first step to making right our relationship with God is John’s baptism. This will pave the way for us to know God more intimately and to know his plans and purposes for our lives.  Our repentance will restore us and allow us to have a fresh start. Certainly, God will overlook our sins if we only submit to his purposes just as the tax collectors and all kinds of sinners did during Jesus’ time. In the Gospel of Luke we are told “All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John” (Luke 7:29). Indeed, we need to humble ourselves before God and repent of our sins for us to be blessed. Let us not miss out on what God has prepared in advance for us. His plan is to prosper us and to give us hope and a future. Hallelujah!