So what, then, does the Bible say about the meaning of life? Why are we here on the earth? What are we to do? What is my purpose on this earth? What is your purpose? What is uncle Steve’s purpose?
Look for the Truth
Paul the apostle strolls into the city of Athens, Greece, a notorious haven of academia—particularly philosophy—and attempts to educate them regarding the purpose of man’s existence—the truth about life:
“…and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on
all the face of the earth… that they should seek God…”
It is God’s intention that mankind—the pinnacle of His glorious Creation—seek Him. Paul said this to a group of Greeks in a city that, in a manner of speaking, had more gods than people! “What are they good for? Absolutely nothing!” There is a God Who is alive, however, and Paul wanted them to know that this God created the universe, including themselves, and that this God wants them to seek Him—to look for the truth.
Identify the Truth
And what is the purpose of this search? What is the purpose of any search? To find what it is that you seek, of course. And so, since God intends and expects man to seek Him and His truth, He full intends that they be able to find Him, and to identify His truth.
“…if haply they might feel after Him and find Him,
though he is not far from each one of us: for in Him we
live, and move, and have our being…” (Acts 17:27b,28).
In fact, not only is it true that God is “not far from each one of us,” but, as far as He was concerned, that “not far” was not close enough—for He came even closer to give us and show us the truth He would have us identify:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God… In Him was life,
and the life was the light of men… That was the true
Light which gives light to every man coming into the
world… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among
us… full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,4,9,14).
Yet, even though He came to earth, being born in the flesh (cf. Php. 2:6), living the perfect life—selfess (Php. 2:5-8) and sinless (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:22), and even giving His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28), He still did not consider that sufficient:
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage
that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not
come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you… [and]
He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not
speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears
He will speak, and He will declare to you the things
that are to come” (John 16:7,13).
This is not a promise that the Holy Spirit will directly guide each and every person into all truth; rather, it is a promise that the word which was given through the apostles (to whom this promise was strictly given¹) was, indeed, from Almighty God—a fact that was repeatedly confirmed by their performance of various miracles (cf. Mark 16:20)—the same way Jesus proved Himself to be Who He claimed to be!
Jesus stressed just how important it was for us to identify the truth, and where to find it:
“Sanctify them in Your truth: Your word is truth”
“To this end have I been born, and to this end am I
come into the world, that I should bear witness
to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My
voice” (John 18:37).
“My teaching is not Mine, but His that sent Me.
If any man wishes to do His will, he shall know
of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I
speak from Myself” (John 7:17).
Buy the truth, and sell it not;
Yea, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
Follow the Truth
We must not stop at merely identifying (i.e., “knowing”) the truth. Instead, once we have identified the truth, we must then begin to follow it! The number of passages of Scripture that show the need to follow God’s word are astronomical. A small sample will suffice:
“The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now
He commands men that they should all everywhere
repent…” (Acts 17:30).
“Oh send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me:
let them bring me to Your holy hill, and to Your
tabernacles” (Psalm 43:3).
“But he that does the truth comes to the light,
that his works may be made manifest, that they have
been wrought in God” (John 1:17).
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only,
deluding your own selves” (James 1:22).
“If you abide in my word, then you are truly My
disciples…” (John 8:31).
“Whoever believes on the Son has eternal life;
but whoever does not obey the Son shall not
see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
This is an extremely important passage, as it demonstrates the synonymous nature of Biblical “belief” and active obedience. Contrary to the KJV/NKJV, the Greek in this verse bears out the distinction:
“Whoever believes on (pisteuoon) the Son has eternal life;
but whoever obeys not (apeithoon) the Son shall not see life,
but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Other passages illustrate the same:
“And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his
rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that
they were unable to enter because of unbelief”
(Heb. 3:18,19; cf. 4:6).
Or consider the comparison of these two statements from Jehovah to Moses:
“And Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you
did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the
people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly
into the land that I have given them'” (Num. 20:12).
“Jehovah said to Moses, ‘…When you have seen [the promised
land], you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother
Aaron was, because you rebelled against my word in the
wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing
to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes‘” (Num. 27:12-14).
Are we to suppose that Jehovah of hosts contradicted Himself? Certainly not! Rather, we see the divine, spiritual, Biblical principle that to “rebel against” God’s word—to disobey—is, in fact, do disbelieve! In other words, the “unbelievers” of the world are not they who deny the very existence of God; but they who refuse to submit to the word of God.
It isn’t enough to look for the truth; nor is it enough to identify the truth. If we would fulfill our purpose in this life, we must follow the truth—wherever it takes us: even if it takes us away from mom and dad, granny and granddad, wife or husband, son or daughter.
As the psalmist declared:
“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man,
in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth, he returns
to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is
he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is
in Jehovah his God: who made heaven and earth, the sea,
and all that in them is; who keeps truth for ever…”
Extend the Truth
Finally, once we have Looked for the truth, Identified it, and made it our habit to Follow it, we still must not stop: but we must then strive to spread it to others.
“GO into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole
creation…” (Mark 16:15).
“GO therefore, and disciple all the nations… teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19).
This is what the first century Christians did (cf. Acts 8:4), and the results were “out of this world” (cf. Acts 17:6).
Solomon summed it up like this:
“This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard:
fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is
the whole of man. For God will bring every work
into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it
be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecc. 12:13,14).
In other words:
Our purpose in this life is to prepare for the next life.
Our purpose this day is to prepare for that Day.
Our purpose on earth is to get to heaven.
¹ The statements recorded in chapters 13-17 of John’s gospel account are all in the upper room, spoken between Jesus and His twelve (or eleven—cf. Jn. 13:30) apostles, alone (see Luke 22:14). The parallel accounts of this quiet evening alone with the apostles (which would be their last evening together) are as follows: Matthew 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-38; John 13:1 – 17:26. Everything spoken in these sections of Scripture were spoken strictly to the apostles, and therefore should not be taken out of context to mean something they don’t. This is commonly done in regard to the promise recorded in John 14:15-26 and 16:4-15—namely, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and what He was to do. Many erroneously believe this promise applies to anyone who “believes in” Jesus. However, when engaging in a closer examination of the balance of testimony in the New Testament record, it becomes evident that this promise—in its directness—was limited strictly to the twelve apostles [- Judas, + Matthias (cf. Acts 1:26)].
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