When Jesus wanted to define the purpose of marriage he referenced “the beginning” and God’s original intention for marriage (Matthew 19:3-9). He went back to God’s purpose for marriage in a pre-fallen world, described in Genesis 1 and 2. Likewise, the purpose of God for humanity and the earth is found “in the beginning” before humanity’s sin and fall.
God is working through his people to bring about his original purpose. That purpose is that his image bearers, living in joyful and loving relationship with him, rule over and enjoy an earth that even he thought was “very good.” (Hawaii and its pleasures have nothing on the original creation.) The fall of humanity into sin, however, left in us the “twisted ruins” of the image of God (Calvin’s imagery), human disinclination and inability to love and be governed by God, the resistance of the created order to our rule and, finally, our death both spiritual and physical. But God has not abandoned his purpose. He has not thrown in the towel.
The good news, therefore, is not simply an offer of the forgiveness of sins and heaven when we die. Rather, it is that the image and likeness of God is being restored to people by the power of God and we are given back our calling to rule over and enjoy the earth in loving relationship with him right now. We offer those under the sin-curse the gift of new life from above, training for spiritual transformation into the image of God (discipleship), a renewed call to rule over and enjoy the earth in loving relationship with God, a community to do it with, and the promise of the ultimate fulfillment of God’s purpose for us in a new heaven and earth.
Life is to be shaped and motivated by the understanding that the purpose of God has already been secured in Christ and will ultimately be fulfilled. He places his Spirit in those who believe resulting in a new life and relationship with God. This is the down-payment of what is to come. He rules over our lives and we bring his rule – his truth, goodness, ways – into our families, workplaces and relationships. His purpose has become our purpose, a purpose that is eternal and joyful.