Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992




In looking at the life of William Carey I have been impressed with the intent with which he lived his life. He was serving God to the best of his ability. He worked long hours, he ministered wherever and whenever he could and he placed his own desires and needs in second place to what God had called him to do.

William Carey had great purpose in his life! That purpose was to serve God to the fullest.

Purposive according to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary is, ".....having or tending to fulfill a conscious purpose or design....." (By permission. From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.) Purposive is acting upon some goal or design that is yet future in the mind.

In God's purpose we see a completed aspect to it, as well as an active aspect. He has a specific purpose in mind and is now acting toward that end, however He, in His mind has accomplished that purpose. We are justified and glorified yet we are in the process toward that end. We have the standing before God, however our state at present is not quite adequate.

His purpose is seen in a number of ways.

HE WILL JUDGE: Isa. 14:26

God has a number of purposive lines of action, however they are all along the line of His one main purpose. Here we see his purpose is in the area of judgment however this is in line with the general purpose of showing the Devil who's boss - so to speak.


God has called us according to His purpose. He has a goal or plan in mind and is acting upon that goal or plan. If we are open to His direction through the Word and prayer, He will lead us into the things of life that He desires for us. This includes a spouse, a ministry, an occupation, schooling, investing, etc. He is interested in gaining as much benefit from our lives on this earth as He can, not only for His own glory, but for our benefit, joy and reward.


Christ is included in this purpose and the purpose is eternal in nature. Christ has accomplished some of His purpose in the work of the cross, yet has the ongoing duty of interceding for us, as well as the future work of setting up the kingdom, and ruling over the earth for a thousand years.


The purpose of God was set before creation and is HIS OWN PURPOSE - not something man dreamed up, but HIS!

Why would we say that purpose is an attribute or distinctive of personality? The beasts of the field have no purpose for themselves. They react to what is going on now, and have no thoughts to the future. They react to only that which is going on at the moment, and at times they react to their instinct and the seasons.

A snake does not go out looking for someone to attach. They attach only out of fear. An animal on the highway isn't there because he wants to make you late for an appointment. It is there because they walked across, and the sun felt good so they stopped to warm themselves.

Man on the other hand has future purpose in mind. This is not fully developed in the child for if you offer them a $.25 candy bar now or a $1.00 bill tomorrow they will probably take the candy bar. They operate in the NOW.

On the other hand most people, including Christians, are tied up in their plans for the future. They are opening savings accounts, IRA's, investing in homes and all of those neat things.

Purpose is not bad in man! Without some future purpose man becomes akin to a beast of the field. He becomes bored and tends to react to the NOW situation. Can you picture a woman or a man that spends hours in front of a television set for soaps or sports? She or he, as the case may be, is reacting to the NOW and has little thought to anything further future than the next commercial breaks for a snack. It can and does become their life.

When servicing televisions, quite often when in the homes of these addicts they would talk to me about the characters on the shows as if they were part of their family. Now and then when returning a set, one of them would get all excited because they hadn't seen Joe Blow for two weeks and they were dieing to see how he was doing.

Thus, we must conclude that purpose is a characteristic or attribute of man. So, in God the thought of purpose is that of a trait or attribute that makes God what He is. It is part of His very nature.


1. Prayer changes me and not God's purpose, ways, plans or whatever. He sees all things complete and I need to see it His way and conform to it. Prayer changes THINGS only! (Dan. 6:27, Phil. 2:13) He is working within us to bring about His purpose. Dan. 4:35 mentions, "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" AS IF ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD EVER ASK GOD IF HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!

Then again, I'm not sure that many of us don't question what God is doing in our lives when He moves counter to what we had planned and get upset with Him.

2. Are you on the right side of His purpose? This can involve one of two things. WALK: Are you walking with Him as you know you should? He has a goal for our lives and we need to be seeking that goal and be working toward it! IF we are God's children, He has a plan for us. IF we aren't heading for that plan - THEN He will bring problems into our life which will help us change our direction. SALVATION: Are you on His side spiritually?

The old 45 rpm records were famous for having a good side and a bad side. The Lord has a good side and a bad side in the spiritual realm. Side one: Eternal life with Him as a reward for being obedient to His purpose in Salvation. Side two: Eternal damnation as a penalty for being on God's bad side in His plan of salvation.

I would like to illustrate this doctrine with a story. Friday P.M.: A man developed a toothache. He had very poor sleep that night. Saturday A.M.: He made an appointment for 1:00 PM Tuesday. Saturday noon: Pain was terrible. Called the dentist and the nurse said come in. Saturday 2:00 P.M.: Pain quit. Saturday 4:30 P.M.: The dentist couldn't find the problem - come back Tues. and we'll x-ray and fill it. Saturday 4:50 PM: Pain began. Sun.: Misery upon misery. Monday: Agony upon agony. Tuesday: The dentist pulled the tooth. Wednesday: The same toothache returned only worse. Called Dentist - It was his day off. Thursday A.M.: The dentist pulled the correct tooth. Thursday P.M.: Same tooth ache returned only worse. I went to the dentist and he started a root canal.

THOUGHTS OF THE MAN: That stupid idiot dentist! He must have gotten his diploma out of a Cheerio box. There's a guy in California with a law suit for $35,000 over one wrong tooth pulled! That's $70,000 for two teeth! However, the man was a believer and the Lord brought a verse to his mind. Rom. 8:28, "...we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,".

Some of his possible conclusions "for good" were as follows: Maybe God saw bigger trouble with the teeth if they remained in the mouth. They weren't prize specimens anyway. Maybe God was going to send him to a far off country where there were no dentists. Maybe God was going to allow him to witness to the dentist. Maybe NOTHING - He waited to see how God would use it.

He was able to use his experience in his Sunday School class that Sunday. His lesson was on God's everyday purpose for our life.


Before the dawn of time God said, "I can - I will" and He did. He had a plan - He began moving toward the completion of that plan.

He created - He formed man - He breathed into man the breath of life - man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7) - thus began God's trek down a bumpy, if not rutted road with mankind. We are thankful that He had a plan, for if He hadn't, He wouldn't have continued past the first road block with such as we.

Man tried to trip God by eating the forbidden fruit, but (Gen. 3:5) God tripped man right out of the garden (Gen. 3:23).

The coats of skin (Gen. 3:21) showed God alive and heading toward His goal. The skins meant shed blood - the only way to rectify the wrong in any age.

As time wore on, God saw wickedness across the land. None were seeking His goal save one (Gen. 6:5-8). Noah and his family found grace in the eyes of God.

Mankind gathered at Babel with a purpose - to build a tower to heaven. This however, as is normal, was not God's purpose - He scattered them across the face of the earth (Gen. 11).

God purposed to move toward His goal through the line of Abraham. This ultimately will happen but no thanks to man (Gen. 15).

God made a nation from Abraham which found itself in bondage in Egypt (Ex. 1). Pharaoh was there for one purpose - God's - to declare God to the earth (Rom. 9:17).

Out of this nation came Jesus Christ - the one that would complete the plan. Christ was to destroy the work of the devil (I John 3:8) - Christ was to set up the church which would show God's wisdom to the heavenly powers (Eph. 3:8-11). Christ's blood enabled God to gather unto Himself a people - a people desiring to follow and serve Him (Titus 2:14).

God set the path with the coats of skin - all sin must be dealt with by shed blood - the blood of Jesus Christ - God's purpose was to gather a people for His own - the people were sinful - God provided a remedy - those washing themselves in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, become a part of His people - a part of His eternal goal - a part of the people in His eternal city (Rev. 21).


Active indicates an ability to do, as well as the act of doing. God is most certainly able to act, and He is very active. Indeed, the reverse is true also, the act of doing shows the ability to act.

1. God is active in redemption: Jo. 3:17

He was not only active in providing salvation, but He is actively drawing souls unto Himself.

It always thrills my heart to hear of a person that sits down to read the Bible as one lost and on the way to hell, and stands up a new creature in Christ due to his acceptance of the gospel that he has just read. The Holy Spirit draws each one to Himself personally.

I recently read an article concerning how the big parachurch groups teach their people to witness. One of the groups clearly made this very point. They encourage their people to begin and end with prayer - asking for the Holy Spirit to work in the life, because it is God that saves and not the witnessing.

2. God is active in guiding nations: Rom. 13:1

The recent breakup of the Soviet Union should move people to realize that God is in the business of raising up and putting down nations. Any study of history will reveal that many nations have risen and fallen just as quickly. A nation that honors God often thrives, while a nation that dishonors God seldom prospers or survives.

3. God is active in protecting us: I Kings 19:5, Ps. 91:11,12, Dan. 6:22, Matt. 4:11, Matt. 18:4-10, Heb. 1:14

Many are the accounts of how God has protected His people in modern days as well. One Christmas when we were in Denver for college, we had made plans to go to Nebraska for Christmas. We had all the plans laid and when I piled into the car to go home to pick up the family, the car would start but not continue to run. I discovered the fact that if I pumped the foot feet that it would continue to run so off I went 20 miles across Denver pumping the foot feet to keep the thing moving.

When I arrived home I pulled the top off the carburetor to see if I could find anything that was blocking the fuel passage. I found a piece of a rag about an inch square that had settled over the jets. We had owned the car for a year or so and the thing had never given any problems. It had died unexpectedly now and then a few months earlier but no great problem.

We set off on the interstate for the trip. As we neared the junction of two major freeways, called the mouse trap, where we had to turn north I could see a blaze of flame in the sky. I had the distinct feeling at that moment that the rag in the carburetor had been planned by God to delay us. We turned the radio on as we neared the accident to hear that it had taken place just about the time we would have been going through if we hadn't had car trouble. A tank truck had turned over and several cars were involved in the blaze. I don't know for fact that the Lord protected us that evening, but I have to think that it was so.

4. God is active in guiding us: Ps. 32:8

He will guide you in planning your life's work. He will guide you in planning your life's mate. He will guide you in planning your studies. He will guide you in planning your week's schedule. He will guide you in purchasing a car. He will guide you in anything that you want his guidance in!

He is, as we have seen many times, interested in all that we do. He is desirous of being a part of our life; even our everyday life.

I have to admit that as I was going through this study, I was looking back through the dusty memory banks to see some ways that He has been active in my life, and I had to stop to dry my eyes. He has been so active in my life and in so many ways, and in so many instances! I hope as you walk with Him you will allow Him to be very active in your life!

5. God is active in teaching us: I Jo. 2:27

We saw in Bibliology that He is involved in illuminating our foggy minds to the truth of the scriptures. He wants us to know more about Himself, as well as to know Him more. He is not the great mystery of the universe, rather He is the great teacher.

6. God is active in providing our needs: Matt. 6:33

A missionary from Alaska I met in the 70's shared that he and his wife were in need of a car and that it was going to cost about $2000. They sat down one day and told the Lord of the need and when they went to the mail that day there was an envelope with no return address on it. Inside was $2000. They never found out where it came from.

At other times God provides our needs through a good job, or maybe at times a mediocre job, but He always will provide our needs! When we left teaching in Wyoming He provided a janitors job for me. I could not find any other more productive work. The plus side of this job was that it only took about fifteen hours a week and it paid very well. It was during this time that I was able to put together this book.

7. God is active in His time table: Acts 1:7

I enjoyed hearing the testimony of a man when he read the words of Isa. 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;" He mentioned that he really knew what it was to wait on the Lord, but that the waiting was GOOD! (He had been waiting upon the Lord for a ministry for several years.)

The rest of the verse is of interest as well. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

My wife received a card once that mentioned that it was hard to soar as an eagle when you have to work with turkeys like you. God is the one that made the promise in Isaiah, and it is He that will fulfill it even if you have to work with turkeys.

8. God is active in the Church through the Holy Spirit and His gifts: Eph. 4; Rom. 12

Might I suggest that if you don't see the Lord working in His church, that it is not God that is at fault. It is His people that are not exercising their gifts. More and more I think that most churches are dead because the people are not using what God has given them.

Our God is powerful. Our God is active. Our God is desirous of people being saved. Our God is able to do anything. If His church is the pits then the cause can be found in His people!

If you see a dead church it is because the people want it that way. I have seen churches with pastors that have no business being in their position, and the church continues to allow it to go on. That is a conscious decision on the part of the church to fail!

9. God is active in controlling the physical world: Acts 14:17, Col. 1:16,17

In 1990 the out of focus Hubble Telescope took a look into the Orion Nebula and took a picture of a star that was just forming. Actually the occurrence that Hubble photographed occurred about A.D. 500, because Orion is about fifteen hundred light years away from earth.

If He can control the intricacies of the universe and keep all that together, surely He can assist us in keeping our lives together, if we ask Him.

10. God is active in answering prayer: Acts 12:5ff

While interim pastor of a small church in Wyoming, we had been told of a young man that someone had been talking to about the Bible. The man was in the church service and seemed to be very convicted by parts of the message. As the service closed, I ask the Lord to allow me to talk to him before he left. As I left the platform I saw the man leaving the sanctuary. I thought that the answer had been no. Before leaving the church, one of the couples asked us to lunch and mentioned that this young man was going home for a moment but that he was going to join us for lunch!

God is in the business of answering prayer! I kept track of the prayer requests in that same church for about six months and marked each item as the Lord answered. There were twenty-two specific requests answered, and I'm confident, many other general requests were answered just because people took time to pray.


1. This doctrine refutes two major false teachings:

a. God is dead. NOPE, NOT ON MY BLOCK HE ISN'T! As the bumper sticker says, "My God isn't dead - SORRY ABOUT YOURS!"

b. Deism: The teaching that God created and went on vacation or went away and isn't around anymore.

Theissen tells us, "For deism God is present in creation only by His power, not in His very being and nature. He has endowed creation with invariable laws over which He exercises a mere general oversight; He has imparted to His creatures certain properties, placed them under His invariable laws, and left them to work out their destiny by their own powers. Deism denies a special revelation, miracles, and providence. It claims that all truths about God are discoverable by reason, and that the Bible is merely a book on the principles of natural religion, which are ascertainable by the light of nature." (Thiessen, Henry C.; "LECTURES IN SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, pp 74-75)

This was the religion of some of our forefathers. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson for two.

Another quotation that might help you to know more about Deism is from a book on Western Civilizations. (Burns, Edward McNall; "WESTERN CIVILIZATIONS"; 7th edition, New York City: W.W. Norton and Co. Inc., 1941, p 575) Any encyclopedia would also give you some information.

In light of what we have read, consider Benjamin Franklin (From Guideposts Nov. 1974. From an article entitled, "They Speak Today.") He said that he believed in one God and that God created the universe. He believed in worshiping that God and that the best you could do was to serve God's children. He also respected all religions that felt as he did about God.

He spoke of these beliefs in relation to a conversation concerning his trying to help Roman Catholics. Benjamin Franklin was said, to have played both ends against the middle.

2. If He is active then it is logical that He would expect his children to be active also. How is your activity doing for the Lord? Are you as active as you should be?

3. His activity on our behalf should be of a help to encourage us when we are in hard times and trials. He is actively moving in our lives for our betterment! This one is hard to really make practical especially when we are having problems.

4. One final point. I find that oft times God wants to be active through his people. I trust that you will be sensitive to those around you that God can use you to help. Yes, you are terribly busy, yet your five minutes listening to someone's problems may well be the encouragement that will carry them through! Be open to minister to those around you, because they will appreciate it!