As one who has been writing on the Eternal Purpose of God for the last decade, it’s rare to find another author who is writing on this subject in our time.
Recently, I discovered another author who is writing on the subject. His name is Henry Hon and he’s written a new book entitled One: Unfolding God’s Eternal Purpose from House to House.
I caught up with Henry recently to discuss his book. (This should go without saying, but the views represented in this interview are Mr. Hon’s.)
Instead of asking, “what is your book about,” I’m going to ask the question that’s behind that question. And that unspoken question is, “how are readers going to benefit from reading your book?”
Henry Hon: It seems that Christians have generally accepted the status quo of divisions in the body. The system of Christianity is such that for the last 1500 years there has been division after division. Sectarianism has become the norm, and true oneness among diverse believers is a rarity. This should not be. If oneness is not manifested in reality, then Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was in vain. Since we have full confidence that His prayers are all answered, the perfect oneness that He prayed for must come to pass in this age. He must have His glorious bride to welcome His return.
My hope is that all those in the faith of Jesus Christ will have a renewed consideration and seeking for the oneness of the body of Christ. “That they may be ONE” was prayed three times by the Lord Jesus the evening before He went to the cross (John 17). This matter of His people being ONE is paramount in the Lord’s heart. It is for this oneness that He died and resurrected. Being one is the assembly (ekklesia) that He is building. The goal of this book is to inspire believers to hit a “reset button”: reset to ONE. Come back to the unity of the body of Christ. What a benefit it would be if believers have a renewed vision, aspiration, pursuit, and even hope that oneness can be achieved and experienced on earth today before the Lord’s second coming.
If believers would come back to this oneness of the body, the oneness among all kinds of diverse believers, then God will command His blessings to be poured out. The benefits on those living in the oneness of the body cannot be measured: the more oneness, the more blessings. Listen to Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in oneness or unity…it is like the anointing oil on Aaron…like the dew upon the mountains of Zion…God commanded the blessing, life forevermore. There is peace, rejoicing, the anointing Spirit, the freshness of Christ and the commanded blessing of God’s eternal life on those living in oneness.
This book is not just a book of vision concerning God’s eternal purpose, but it also provides a practical outline of how this can be attained. There are clear steps on how to grow in the eternal life which is one of the keys to being one with all believers. It unveils what is the truth that keeps believers in unity. The truth is the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. Why would believers divide over non-essential doctrines and practices when the truth is the spiritual food that unites. Finally, believers will learn what each can do as part of daily living to serve God and humanity according to God’s eternal purpose and become a co-worker with God for the building up of the assembly (ekklesia) from house to house.
It is this oneness that manifests the love of God which causes the world to believe in Jesus Christ. This high revelation of God’s eternal purpose can be lived out among family, friends and divergence of believers in homes, from house to house. Not only are the believers blessed in this oneness, but the unbelievers witnessing this oneness, the love for one another, will believe and come to salvation. Becoming one will usher in the next and final revival to bring Jesus back in His kingdom.
What motivated you to write the book?
Henry Hon: I have been blessed in too many ways to count: A growing family with a wife of over 40 years, four married children that are active spiritually in the Lord, five beautiful grandchildren and expecting more. Also as an entrepreneur starting with nothing, I have successfully founded new businesses. Additionally, during almost 50 years of enjoying and serving the Lord, I have received countless unveilings of Jesus Christ through the Bible; I have regularly led people to the Lord and have discipled them to become useful vessels for the Lord; I have hosted and started home assemblies that are fresh, dynamic, growing, spreading, life-giving in the oneness of the body over decades; and I am connected to a growing network of like-minded believers with Jesus Christ and the oneness of His body as their primary spiritual pursuit.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not at all boasting of myself as if I am specially gifted or spiritual. In fact, I can humbly admit that I am just like everyone else, a regular guy, with all the typical challenges of family and business life. Over the course of my life, I have succumbed to various worldly temptations; therefore, I do not consider myself a “holy” man in any way. I love because I have been forgiven much. Therefore, I truly believe that what has helped me in my journey through life, which has brought on so much blessing, is also available for all people, the regular “Joe” and “Jane.”
It is the knowledge and understanding of the truth of Jesus Christ and His purpose that has made a difference in every aspect of my life. This truth is the common treasure for all believers and is available for all to see throughout the Scriptures. Over the course of my Christian life, I have studied the Bible diligently and have learned myriads of various teachings and practices from teachers: some have worked for me in my life and in my services, others I have put aside because they were confusing, deadening or divisive, and many are just not important enough for me to dwell on. I have collected and sorted out all the teachings that have affected me. By the Spirit’s direct guidance (not learned from others), I have also discovered fresh revelations and received new insight from the Scriptures. This book represents a curating of the teachings and practices relating to the truth of God’s eternal purpose that has brought blessings to me. God desires that all people would come to the full knowledge of the truth and it is through truth that His people receive and experience all spiritual blessings that have been poured out. It is the understanding of the truth, which renews the mind that opens the window of our being to receive all that is related to the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
I am compelled to share with all what I have seen and practiced concerning God’s eternal purpose. Specifically, I have seen that God’s eternal purpose is intently realized and manifested when His people are ONE. I have also seen that this oneness can be practiced and enjoyed throughout daily living and in homes. I am convinced that this oneness of fellowship among believers from house to house does not have to conflict with the system of institutional churches. Believers do not need to choose one over the other. Churches today are really ministries. They represent the ministries of pastors, ministers, or different schools of teachings. Though often they can disappoint, many people do receive help and support from them. Therefore, institutional churches and independent home assemblies can co-exist because they serve different purposes and believers can participate in both. Of course, there are actually sectarian churches where they hold back their members from fellowshipping with other Christians. In such a case, individuals will have to decide whether his or her calling is to be dedicated to a person’s ministry or enter into the freedom of the universal fellowship with all believers.
I am motivated because I believe that there is a yearning within every follower of Jesus Christ to participate in the one fellowship of Jesus Christ where diverse believers of all stripes love one another. This fellowship in oneness is primarily manifested in homes, from house to house, where Jesus Christ is lifted up in the unifying Spirit. This oneness of believers within the Trinity practiced and manifested today will bring salvation and liberation to the unsaved, those under bondage, and the spiritually deadened. I want to see the prayer of Jesus in John 17 answered completely in my days.
Tell us a bit about the experiences that shaped the insights in the book.
Henry Hon: I came to know Jesus Christ and serve Him in 1969 during the Jesus People movement. Although I was only 16 at the time, I gave myself to study the Bible, to preach the gospel, and I wanted to see the building up of the one body of Christ. In the first fifteen years after being gained by Christ, my understanding was that in order to serve the Lord, I needed to be a good preacher—a dynamic speaker; therefore, I did my best to learn to speak publically—from open-air preaching to teaching weekly at a church, and eventually speaking in conferences. I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with my own performances and the long-term results of people that were inspired by this type of speaking.
Additionally, though I had received the vision of the oneness of believers, I was frustrated in its actual practice: it wasn’t happening. While church groups that grew out of the Jesus Movement were typically contrary to the traditions and divisiveness of mainline denominations, they also competed amongst themselves. Being in such a group, we expected Christians to leave their churches and groups to join us if they, too, saw the vision of God’s purpose. Needless to say, that didn’t work well; rather, it produced even more divisions.
During this time of dissatisfaction and reflection concerning the way for me to serve the Lord and how to practice oneness, I received help to see from the New Testament that the way to build up the assembly, His body—from bringing people to know the Lord Jesus to mutual edification—was in the homes. I began to understand that the life of fellowship in the one body of Christ should take place from house to house. Therefore, since mid-1980, my focus of service and fellowship has been in the homes, house by house.
Over these last thirty years, it has been a joy to participate in the Lord’s move in building up His body in the homes. Our home became a gathering place of young people in large part due to my four children and their network of friends. They all contributed and participated in the assembly in our home as they were growing up and many in their network of friends were brought to salvation and fellowship. Over the course of these years, we have continued to assemble in our home and have spread out into a number of other home gatherings. Believers are liberated to function in the body, just as they are, in Christ.
As I progressed in learning to assemble and fellowship in the homes from house to house, I found that it is in this environment that the oneness of the body and the believers’ gifted functions are manifested. People from diverse backgrounds have been received and accepted, and hundreds of people over the years have come to Christ and have grown spiritually. Additionally, any differences that would normally divide Christians have become a non-factor in the genuineness of the one fellowship of Jesus Christ. The love for one another as Christ loves is freely expressed when there is no hierarchy or tradition that one has to follow.
While I was actively enjoying the body life from house to house, I was still involved in an organized church group. This church was founded on the basis of practicing the oneness of the body; therefore, I was attracted because they lifted up Christ and were receiving all believers as the one body. But their teaching also included accusation and condemnation of institutional churches. As this church evolved, their teaching of unity in the body became one of having a unique leadership structure, an exclusive ministry led by specific teachers, and a singular way to practice the oneness. My assembling from house to house in the complete freedom of the Spirit became conflicting with their way to practice oneness. Due to my unwillingness to submit to their direction, I was told that I was no longer part of building up the body. They directed and influenced believers that we were fellowshipping with to stop coming to our home gatherings. This experience caused me to reexamine the Scripture to improve my understanding of the oneness of the body, including the practices and manifestation of this oneness.
Due to confusion caused by the opposition from the leadership of this church, the home gatherings that I initiated were greatly disrupted. Our family with just a few other believers started again in a small home gathering. We started to grow again with new and young believers, and I started to proactively go out to greet, to embrace in fellowship, other believers and groups that are not in our small circle of relatedness. As I was enjoying expanding my circle of fellowship, I received fresh insight to Romans 16 with strong confirmation. In that chapter, believers were commanded to go out to greet other disparate believers to expand the fellowship in order to manifest the oneness of the body.
What I am presenting in my book and what I am experiencing in the past few years is not a matter of merely building a supporting relationship among believers in a “home church”, nor is it related to being a part of an ecumenical movement among institutional churches. I herald the oneness of believers that is innate in each one, to trumpet the unique fellowship of Jesus Christ among diverse believers that is instantly and constantly available. Finally, my message is to show how the three gifts given by the Lord Jesus in John 17 are able to bring the perfect oneness that He prayed for into practice and manifestation.
Today, I am experiencing and enjoying a growing network of home assemblies with believers that are diverse not just ethnically and socioeconomically, but some are into the charismatic practices of tongues and miraculous healings, while others may be suspicious of such practices; some are Calvinists on the side of Reformed Theology, others emphasize free will; some attend institutional churches, and others only meet in homes; and that does not even cover all the variations relating to baptism, communion, end times, musical style and Bible teacher preferences. This diversity manifests genuine oneness of the body in the unique fellowship of Jesus Christ. Additionally, the various gifts given to all individual believers are functioning and being manifested among non-professional ministers, just common believers that go to work and raise children doing: home assembly planting, teaching, evangelizing, exercising deliverance, healing, caring for the homeless and the ex-addicts, and more. Though diverse in ministry and gifts, we are all working together in one fellowship to build up the one body of Christ.
So the things in this book have shaped my experiences over the past 47 years of Christian living and service; conversely, my human and spiritual experiences over these 63 years have shaped how I have perceived and applied the revelations of Jesus Christ and His eternal purpose.
What makes your book different from the other books written on the Eternal Purpose from 1963 until today?
Henry Hon: This book expounds on the Lord’s prayer in John 17 for His followers to be one. This is to explore and unveil the oneness of God’s people produced by the three gifts given by Jesus to accomplish God’s eternal purpose. It clearly defines God’s eternal purpose being intrinsically fulfilled and manifested by ONE: God’s people in perfect oneness in the Trinity as the Father and the Son are one. Becoming one is the building up of the assembly (ekklesia).
This book is a step by step journey for seeing and entering practically into God’s eternal purpose. Although God’s eternal purpose is mysterious, wonderful and elevated to the peak in its vision and concept; yet, it should be experienced and applied right in the center of our daily living; in the heart of where we are the most exposed and genuine, in our homes. It should not be relegated to merely a theological discussion in seminaries and churches, but it should be effective and practical in our job, with our family and friends, and in our service to society and God.
The first gift for accomplishing God’s eternal purpose is eternal life. This book dives into the four spiritual essentials that will naturally cause the eternal life in the believers to grow and mature: nutrients (eating and drinking), breath (environment), exercise and sleep (rest). A spiritually mature believer can love and have fellowship with all kinds of Christians and can usher others into the oneness of Jesus Christ.
The second gift is truth. The truth in John 17 is God’s Word, and the Word throughout John is defined as Jesus Christ. He is the truth. It is He, as truth, who sets people free. It is the truth that builds up believers into one. The truth is unveiled in the Bible, but not everything presented in the Bible is truth. Although Christians should treasure the Bible, Christianity has divided over various teachings and practices in the Bible. This book points out the major points of the truth that unites. All the points of truth are focused on Jesus Christ: who He is, what He has accomplished, His salvation and the building up of His corporate body into one.
The third gift is His glory. This is the glory that Jesus Christ received in His humanity through His service on the cross. This same glory is now given to every believer that we too may bear our cross, deny the self (ego), in service to minister Jesus Christ for the building up of the assembly, His body. Pride among Christians is a major dividing factor. The glory of Jesus is the humility needed to minister in the gospel work and to serve one another in the love of Christ for the building up of His body. A servant in the glory of Jesus Christ will unite and not divide.
After giving each one of these gifts, Jesus prayed that they may be one. Three gifts given, three times prayed for the oneness of His followers. It is very significant indeed. It is by understanding, accepting and entering into the experiences of these three gifts that believers are made one…as one as the Father and the Son are one. It is this oneness that will cause the world to believe. This was promised by Jesus in His prayer. Just as the oneness among the believers brought in the first “revival” in Acts 2, it will be the believers becoming one that will bring in the next and last revival.
If someone said to you, “I follow all the missional leaders today and read their books. So why do I need your book?”
Henry Hon: When Christians are missional, what does it actually mean? It means that Christians are activated to carry out a mission. Christians can carry out many types of mission work, and every believer should participate in a mission: helping those less fortunate, preaching the gospel, new church planting, teaching the Bible and more. But to be truly missional, we need to enter into the same mission that Jesus Christ was anointed to accomplish.
As the Christ, His mission was to build up the assembly, His body, which is God’s eternal purpose. His followers need to enter into the same mission as He. Too often, Christian mission stops at one of the stations along the way to the destination without the complete view of the actual goal. For example, if your mission is merely evangelizing to save people from perdition, that alone is short of God’s eternal purpose. Yes, we need Christians to preach the gospel, heal the sick, care for the needy, but all of these missional activities need to be governed by the ultimate goal of accomplishing God’s eternal purpose in the building up of His body into one. Otherwise, those that are serving God can become judgmental toward other Christian work, competitive, and even divisive toward other Christians.
This book considers the building up of a proper functioning assembly as the final missional goal. The gospel, the nurturing of young and weak believers, discipleship, and the proactive embracing in fellowship with all believers are all for the one mission of Jesus Christ, which is the building up of His body. This book explores the various steps along the way to the final goal of building up the assembly. This universal and unique fellowship is manifested in home assemblies as described in 1Cor. 14 where the love for one another is displayed through the mutual functioning of each and every member of the body. As practiced throughout Acts, the aim is one assembly testifying of the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ house after house.
This book also attempts to make being missional within reach for every single believer no matter their environments, limitations, and personalities. Of course, it is admirable that some believers can actually go on a mission to another country or have the boldness to bring food to the homeless on the streets. But rather than waiting to make a big decision to submit to God and be missional in some impactful way, this book emphasizes on the “baby steps” in carrying out Christ’s mission that every believer can take just as they are, where they are, at any time and any place. When there is the proper vision of God’s eternal purpose, then our entire living is missional. When the oneness of Christ’s body is the goal then not only is preaching the gospel missional, but even seeking out unfamiliar believers to pray and fellowship whether in a commuter train, while grocery shopping, or at a little league game is all part of our mission in Christ to build up His body.
What do you believe is the reason why so few authors and speakers write and speak on God’s eternal purpose today?
Henry Hon: Most Christians are concerned mainly with what God can do for them, their own interest. As long as they are saved to go to heaven and God blesses them, then they are quite satisfied. God’s eternal purpose is concerning what God is after, His interest, and what is on His heart. Therefore, most Christians are not interested in such a topic if they don’t think it can affect them or benefit them directly.
On the other hand, there is a longing within every Christian, a desire to know what their purpose is. They want to know what God has in store for them. Therefore, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren sold over 30 million copies. In his book, Mr. Warren did not unveil the highest revelations concerning God’s eternal purpose as books such as “From Eternity to Here” by Frank Viola. So, the reader of the Purpose Driven Life didn’t really receive the real understanding concerning God’s eternal purpose other than what most have already understood, but presented in a more concise manner. There was not the kind of fresh and in-depth revelation as in Mr. Viola’s book.
Generally, the presentation of God’s eternal purpose is exalted and majestic in the form of His people being the kingdom of God, the bride of Christ or the body of Christ, and more. Yet, most of these presentations may not have clearly identified inclusively that the matter of oneness among all believers in the Trinity is the essence of all descriptions concerning God’s eternal purpose. If oneness is not emphasized then the vision is mainly for personal inspiration and edification. But if oneness is emphasized, then this high vision of God’s eternal purpose becomes very challenging in the current practices of Christianity. Oneness among believers is where the rubber hits the road, bringing God’s eternal purpose down to the practicality of how Christians interact with each other, and what the assembly should look like according to God’s eternal purpose.
Furthermore, some prominent Christian groups have staked their claim on being the true church and they preach the oneness of the body, but generally, they have come across to be even more judgmental and sectarian. Therefore, most Christian teachers shy away from emphasizing on the matter of the oneness of all diverse believers, and most Christians relegate this beautiful image to the future, in the by and by, maybe in the kingdom of God or in heaven one day. It’s too tangled of a mess to deal with now.
It is my opinion that the above reasons have limited the market for such books. Therefore, my book is to elevate the matter of oneness in relation to God’s eternal purpose and to explore practically how the prayer of Jesus in John 17 brings believers into one without starting another division, another church.
What do you hope readers will walk away with after they finish your book?
Henry Hon: I hope believers will be encouraged to become one for the fulfillment and manifestation of God’s eternal purpose. This will happen according to the Lord’s Prayer in John 17 and by embracing the three gifts given to each of God’s children. Knowing, understanding, and enjoying these three gifts expounded in the book will fulfill God’s eternal purpose of building up the Lord’s one mystical body, with three divinely natural results:
- Believers would be released to enjoy the divine eternal life that they have received. By focusing on Jesus being the resurrection life in them, they would trust this life, grow, and be spontaneously shaped according to the nature of this divine life. As a result, they would express the image of the Lord Jesus in oneness with all believers.
- Believers would methodically connect spiritual truth recovered from past centuries with fresh insights that can be simply understood by Christians, including new believers. The result of this fuller knowledge would be an enjoyment of the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). Believers would possess the ability to walk according to God’s eternal will, and be open to receive, fellowship with, and love all kinds of believers.
- Each and every believer would be inspired and equipped for their mission to serve God and humanity. This is to minister Christ to humankind for their salvation, growth, and maturity in the divine life. Thus, Christ’s body will be built up practically in homes (from house to house), while seeking to blend in fellowship with all believers to become one for God’s satisfaction and glory.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your book?
Henry Hon: Many of the major items of Biblical truth and Christian experiences are often taken as disjointed teachings; thereby, can be quite confusing for many Christians. In this book, teachings and experiences related to the life in Christ, Biblical truth, and missional service are curated together with fresh insights and presented through the single vision of “one” according to John 17. Therefore, this book is a good reference book as a Systematic Theology of sort, but rather than the traditional categorizing of the points of theology, this book arranges the major points of theology based on the three gifts in John 17: life, truth and glory. This book can be a sound challenge to Bible study on some of the latest thoughts concerning God’s eternal purpose. It is also beneficial for a systematic discipleship guideline. Although this book can be regarded as high in its revelation and deep in its experiences, the thoughts are presented in a understandable language, not of a theologian, but of an engineer/entrepreneur/family man.
My family immigrated to the USA from Hong Kong when I was eight years old in 1962. We were poor and literally came with no money, and there were no government programs for helping poor immigrates. Therefore, I started working when I was nine years old and have not stopped since. I grew up mostly in Berkeley, California and went on to graduate from UC Berkeley with an engineering degree. Soon after graduation, I co-founded a folding bicycle company, Dahon, which became the largest in the world. I have been a serial entrepreneur ever since. I and my wife of 40 years have raised four children and currently have five grandchildren. my immediate family represents the “melting pot” of America with descendants from Europe, Africa, China, and Southeast Asia.