Church of God, New World Ministries

Human Life - Why Are We Here?

Is there any designed, thought-out purpose for our lives? Or, are we and our modern complex civilization merely the happenstance result of purely accidental forces?

Scientists, philosophers and theologians have pondered these issues for untold centuries. But none has produced an answer which all can agree upon.

Why have solid answers proved so elusive? Why have endless arguments, discussions and disagreements failed to settle these most crucial of all questions? Could it be that we are looking to the wrong sources for the foundational truths of life?

Our modern societies hold knowledge and education in great esteem. Centers of research and higher learning dot the landscapes of nations worldwide.

This international preoccupation with learning led to the doubling of man’s total fund of knowledge during the sixties. Today’s rate of knowledge production is even greater. Generations of computer technology and multi-billion-dollar space ventures have combined with countless other scientific and technological feats to pump massive quantities of fresh information into the mainstream of society.

But nowhere in this expanding knowledge fund have recognized answers been found to the foundational questions: Who are we? Where are we going? Measurements and calculations of the universe have failed to show us why it exists and where we ultimately fit into it. Even brilliant advances in computer technology have yet to duplicate the feat of reproducing the human mind that invented the computer in the first place!

During the last century, it became fashionable in many scientific circles to question the validity of belief in a persona God. A process of “higher criticism” of biblical revelation, in which scholars stood in lofty judgement of the biblical record of creation, gradually came into vogue.

Men such as Lamarck, Darwin and Huxley claimed that life may have gradually evolved from non-life. Traditional theology, long steeped in its own assumptions about God and the Bible, could only counter with appeals to emotion not the logic demanded by science.

As a result, evolution soon became ingested as an accepted doctrine, not only of science but also of some major religious movements as well. The Genesis account of a special creation was thrown out the window by “rationalists,” with even many church fathers looking the other way. Though never proved, evolution was gradually accepted because the only recognized alternatives were the often confused interpretations of the biblical record by religious scholars.

However, in following this reasoning, we have only traded one form of confusion for another. Though evolutionary science and education have raised countless questions about mans’ true origin and destiny, they have not answered those questions! Their proposals and postulates are built upon a foundation of matter an energy already in existence. They are unable to explain the myriad inexorable laws which regulate the universe.

This is not merely a modern problem. The ancients, in fact, found themselves in a similar quandary.

The ancient Greeks, as we do, prized the acquisition of knowledge. But and note the striking parallel with today the more knowledge they accrued, the more confused their society became.

In Athens, the site of the ancient Areopagus, known also as Mars’ Hill, many centuries ago this rocky knoll, set in the looming shadow of the mighty Acropolis, drew scholars and philosophical thinkers from all the known world to discuss the meaning of life.

History records an encounter there in the first century of our era between a number of Epicureans and Stoics, the intellectuals “liberals” and “conservatives” of Athens at that time, and a teacher from far-off Antioch, in Syria.

This teacher is well known to most in the Western world as Paul, the apostle. His comments to those leading Athenians are recorded in the biblical book of Acts.

Here is the account: So they (the intellectuals) got hold of him (Paul) and conducted him to their council, the Areopagus. There they asked him, “May we know what this new teaching of yours really is? You talk of matters which sound strange to our ears, and we should like to know what they mean.” (For all the Athenians, and even foreign visitors to Athens, had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new) (Acts 17:19-21 Phillips translation.)

The Greeks were accustomed to their polytheistic religious system in which a number of mythological figures were deified. But the gods and goddesses of Greece were mute. The Greeks couldn’t turn to them for answers to the vital questions of life. The Athenian’s deities carried no real authority, and thus the Greeks by looking to their gods could not know the answers to these questions.

No wonder, then, that Paul’s message sounded “strange” to the Athenians. For Paul revealed to them the Person who could give the answers to their questions.

Again in Acts 17:22-28: “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said, Ye men of
Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands: neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing (from us), seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might seek after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being.”

The Bible records a time in which this “unknown” God was dynamically real to men. But men’s very nature led them to resent the nearness of this God. With the passage of time, men began to forget even who God was and, as the inevitable result, who they were as well. Histories became confused and obscured. By the time Greek culture had reached its height, this great being had receded in men’s minds to such a nebulous memory that an altar constructed in his honor could only be inscribed “to the unknown God.”

Paul may have anticipated that his words would have little effect on the Athenians. If so, he was not to be disappointed. Many of those present openly mocked and ridiculed him, refusing to believe their personal concepts of life could be so wrong. Others in the crowd evidenced only casual interest in hearing more.

After Paul left Athens, the altar on Mars’ Hill stood alone, as it had before, amidst shrines and temples to mythological heroes and heroines. The all-important knowledge of the true God and the once-revealed master plan of that God remained, except to a scattered, precious few, as it had been unknown.

When men today read that account in Acts 17, most of Paul’s words somehow manage to sail over their heads, just as they did 2,000 years ago.

Almost two thousand years of further “enlightenment” have, if anything, only led us farther down into the abyss of ignorance, making a cruel mockery of our vaunted material advances. The paradox of the ages is that man, now so eminently capable of astounding technological and scientific feats, still cannot even explain with solid facts that most basis of all issues his own existence.

But with today’s society facing more and more escalating crises, time may well be running out. “We’ve got to know.” We must be willing to forego our preconceived impressions and opinions and turn to the one source that can give us answers. We must open-mindedly examine the one unfailing foundation for all knowledge.

That foundational source is our Creator God and his instruction book for mankind, the Bible. It’s time that this “mystery” book be opened for all to see. It’s time that we understood.

The logical place for us to start is at the beginning, with the true origin of mankind.

The Bible opens by displaying a finished physical creation. The beginning chapters of Genesis explain that, contrary to theories of evolution, man was shaped and molded in the very image of his Creator. Thus man was clearly distinguished at creation from all other life forms (Gen. 1:26-27).

God, significantly, is revealed here as not merely a lone individual but rather a divine family (Compare Gen. 1:26 with Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:12-19; Rom. 8:14, 29; I John 3:1-2; Eph. 3:14-15.) The family name, translated “God” in English, comes from the original Hebrew word Elohim which means one family but more than one member.

When God created the first humans, he gave them dominion over the earthbound, physical creation (Gen. 1:28). But as the many biblical writers recorded, the master plan of God embraced far more than merely a physical legacy. The following quote from the Psalms illustrate this:

“Thou (God) hast made him (man) a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:5-6).

Though King David, the author of this particular psalm, reiterated that man was given use of the earth, oceans and atmospheres at creation, he went much further to explain that “all things” are to be put under man’s control. This startling scripture transcends the concept of dominion over just this earth.

Paul, expanding David’s words, goes on to make the picture even clearer: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Heb. 2:8). This scripture speaks of the entire universe!

Man’s puny “conquests” of outer space notwithstanding, we are not now in control of the pulsating, unlimited, largely known powers that course through the endless galaxies of this universe. Man finds himself even unable to adequately define and explain the universe, let alone master it.

The Bible is, among other things, a legal document. It is the written record of God’s personal will or testament. The Old Testament records God’s offer of a physical inheritance to a particular nation, Israel. The New Testament presents the vastly greater spiritual inheritance made available to all mankind.

We realize, of course, that when a wealthy man chooses to mention a certain person in his will, that person immediately becomes an heir to a certain, specific portion of his worldly goods. Thus it is staggering to discover that God, the very owner and proprietor of the entire universe, speaks of human beings as potential heirs of his wealth!

Notice Romans 8:16-18, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Again, “He that overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21:7).

“In the beginning was the Word,” wrote the apostle John, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him” (John 1:1, 3). Other scriptures (especially Eph. 3:9) identify this “Word” who had made all things as the very one who eventually came to earth as Jesus Christ.

After being martyred for the sins of humanity (John 1:29; 19: 16-38), Jesus was raised from the dead to assume a new relationship with the one known as the Father in heaven. In this new relationship, he who had been man was again made God and was given power over all things in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). Jesus qualified for a new title of vast significance; “the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29).

Returning to Heb. 2:9-10, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

God is bringing many sons unto glory. And Jesus Christ, “the firstborn among many brethren, “came as the forerunner to set the example of becoming perfect as God himself is perfect through a life of human experience which included suffering (Heb. 5:8-9).

Various theologians have assumed that man’s destiny is to drift off into heaven and be occupied with staring intently into God’s face for all eternity. Others speculate that man, after death, becomes a sort of “special angel.”

But the truth of the Bible is so different, so vastly more spectacular than that. God is a family! And he now wants that family enlarged!

One of the great mysteries of which the Bible speaks is that God, a divine family to begin with, is now beginning to add additional members. You were created after the God kind (Gen.1:25-27). You were born to be a son of the living God! Can you now begin to grasp the awesome purpose for your existence?

What, then, does all this involve on your part? A successful, abundant life which would lead to an even more fulfilling, eternal life in God’s everlasting Kingdom.

Instructing his followers on the true purpose of life, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit (those who become humble, teachable): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (God’s universe-ruling government, administered at this time from heaven).

“Blessed are the meek (those full of self-control, submissive to the awesome authority of Almighty God) for they shall inherit the earth (the location of God’s soon-coming Kingdom).

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness (the very character and personality of God): for they shall be filled.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (and to see God they will have to be God Ex. 33:20).

“Blessed are the peacemakers (those who understand and practice the one true way to peace): for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:3, 5-6, 8-9).

God Almighty invites you to inherit his limitless creation and take part in greater and greater creative works throughout all eternity. But a wise God will never allow anyone to use the tremendous forces of his creation until that person can be completely and thoroughly trusted to use that power rightly.

Thus we go back to the apostle Paul’s discourse with the Athenians about the “unknown God.” Paul warns: “And the times of this ignorance God (once) winked at; but now commands all men every where (as this knowledge comes to them) to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man (Jesus) whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him (Jesus Christ) for the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

You will not be in the family of God for all eternity until you first come to see yourself for what you really are. You must, with the help of God’s own spirit with and in you, begin to change. To inherit the Kingdom of God, you must begin to grow in the very character traits that marked the personality of Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:22-23).

God Almighty now offers this challenge to you and to all mankind: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed (posterity) may live” (Deut. 30:19).

May God grant you the desire and the character to accept this mighty challenge. If you would like to know more about The Kingdom of God, enroll today in our Mini-Correspondence Course.

 
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