Why are you here? For thousands of years, philosophers and theologians have searched for an answer, yet the truth remains elusive to most. Your Bible reveals the encouraging truth—your presence on the earth today is preparation for an amazing future!
Perhaps the most profound question you could ever ask concerns the purpose of human existence: why are you here on this earth? For thousands of years, philosophers have speculated and religions have offered varied and conflicting answers. One thing is sure—whatever answer you accept will have sweeping implications for every aspect of your life. It will determine your most fundamental beliefs and values. It will influence choices you make, goals you set, how you use your time and talents and how you treat people—in essence, how you live your life.
For some, the question of life's purpose is a nagging and perplexing dilemma—the troubles, trauma, evils, inequities and frustrations of life make no sense to them, and may lead to despair and even suicide. Others simply adopt the prevailing religious or philosophical ideas of their peer group. Amazingly, most people—even most philosophers, scientists and theologians—have no real understanding of the true purpose of life. Many people find their lives so busy—filled with routine and trivia—that they seldom take time to ponder the most important questions they could ever ask: Why do we exist? What is the real purpose of human life?
Anyone who sets out to discover the real purpose of life must penetrate an incredible muddle of conflicting ideas. Today it is widely assumed that the main goal of life is simply the freedom to pursue whatever makes you happy. Millions have followed the "Pied Piper" of personal pleasure to experiment with drugs, all kinds of illicit sexual activities, easy couplings and divorces, affairs, trips, parties and the acquisition of material things—only to find that physical things and physical experiences fail to bring any lasting satisfaction or provide real meaning in life. Some of the richest and most famous people in the world have led the most empty, lonely and frustrating lives, because they had forgotten—or never knew—important advice that could have brought them happiness.
Thousands of years ago, one of the wisest men who ever lived offered sage advice to anyone who would listen. Solomon, the ancient king of Israel, records in the book of Ecclesiastes the results of his search to find the purpose of life and the real source of happiness. He sought to do everything—exploring the proverbial wine, women and song—collecting 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1–11)! He built palaces, acquired great wealth, and his fame spread to neighboring kingdoms. Yet he realized that, in the end, we all die and cannot take anything with us. This led him into depression, and into contemplating suicide. He records that "all was vanity and a grasping for the wind… therefore I hated life" (Ecclesiastes 2:11, 17–20). Solomon learned that seeking physical experiences and acquiring possessions does not bring real fulfillment—that there is a greater purpose for human life. However, this important lesson has gone unheeded on a grand scale! Today many still believe the lie that "he who dies with the most toys wins."
Down through the ages, religions and philosophies have offered an incredible array of ideas about the ultimate purpose of life. Professing "Christians" commonly assume that "good people" or "the saved" go to heaven, even though the Bible clearly states that "no one has ascended to heaven, except He who came down from heaven" (John 3:13; see also Acts 2:29–34; 13:36). Many believe that in heaven we will sit on clouds and play harps, walk on streets of gold, or simply stand around and behold forever the "beatific vision" of God. Native Americans have anticipated entering a "happy hunting ground" in the sky. Buddhists strive to attain nirvana—in which the soul is absorbed into the divine and becomes one with the universe, dissolving the soul's existence as an individual entity. Hindus believe that human life is a series of reincarnations. Muslims are told if they die as martyrs they will wake up in paradise surrounded by dozens of young virgins. The Vikings believed that the souls of departed heroes slain in battle would dwell in Valhalla—the palace of immortality—where they would go on fighting and feasting forever.
Since most ideas about the purpose of life are unprovable by scientific methods, many today view them with skepticism. Some secular and evolution-minded scientists go to the opposite extreme, asserting that there is no discernable purpose for human life, and that the human body is nothing more than a bag of DNA that exists only for the purpose of perpetuating the species. For decades, academic textbooks have stated that teleology (doctrine of purpose) is outside the proper domain of science and that science, therefore, has nothing to say on the matter. However, this has not stopped outspoken members of the scientific community from making grand pronouncements. Today, many assume that if science cannot provide any answers about the purpose of life, nothing can be known for sure about the subject. This, as we will see, is a false assumption that has contributed to widespread ignorance about the purpose of life. But why are there so many different and conflicting ideas about the meaning of human existence? Why have so many failed to grasp the real purpose of life?
The Bible, a book our modern world seems reluctant to believe, reveals why so many have no idea about the true purpose of life. The Apostle John was inspired to write about a powerful spirit being, "called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). When we look, from a global perspective, at the divergent ideas about the purpose of life, this fundamental biblical key is the only explanation that makes any sense. As we discover the true purpose of life, which God reveals in the Bible, it will become even more obvious how thoroughly this world has been deceived.
The Bible not only documents the cause of our deception, it predicted that deception in a series of prophecies! Satan's malicious activities began shortly after the creation of Adam and Eve. The devil deceived our first parents into ignoring God's instructions, and into seeking for themselves the true source of knowledge (see Genesis 3:13, 22–24). As a result of their disobedience, they were cut off from the Source that reveals the true purpose of life. Later, when the foolish king of Israel, Jeroboam, established his own religion and rejected God's Holy Days (which picture the plan of God for mankind—for more information please request our free booklet, The Holy Days: God's Master Plan) he deprived his people of the real source of knowledge about life's purpose.
When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He warned repeatedly that false teachers would appear—claiming to be Christians—and would deceive many (see Matthew 7:15–20; 24:5, 11, 24). The Apostle Paul made similar predictions, warning that false teachers would rise up even from within the church to mislead people, and that many would follow their fables and deceptive teachings (see Acts 20:28–31; 1 Timothy 4:1–3; 2 Timothy 4:1–5).
Jesus told His chosen disciples that He had given them a special understanding of "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" that had "not been given" to the rest of mankind (Matthew 13:11). Christ told His disciples that "many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it" (v. 17). The real purpose of human life, as we will discover, has to do with this coming kingdom—a mystery to most of humanity.
Paul's writings echo Jesus' words. Paul comments: "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained [predetermined] before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers [leaders and teachers] of this age knew… but God has revealed them [these things] to us through His Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:7–10). Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). The Bible plainly reveals that even the wisest mortals have been unable to discover on their own the real purpose of life. That ultimate purpose must be revealed—by God Himself!
Paul chided the supposedly knowledgeable Romans, pointing out that God has made the truth available to human beings, yet "although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God… but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools… [and] exchanged the truth of God for the lie" (Romans 1:21–25). This is why so little is known about the real purpose of life. Human beings have ignored or misunderstood what God has revealed through His Word. As a result, most people on earth have been deceived into believing fables about the purpose of human existence—or into believing that it is impossible to know why we exist. However, real answers do exist, and they can be found!
The Bible explains why you were born! This basic theme runs from the beginning to the end—from Genesis to Revelation. Scripture explains that human beings were created (as male and female) in the image of God and commanded to "be fruitful and multiply" and to "have dominion" over the earth (Genesis 1:26–31). From the Bible we learn that we are not mere animals—our ancestors were not ape-like primates. Rather, God Himself is the "common ancestor" of all human beings. God created men and women for a purpose: to marry, establish families and learn to work together to rule our families and the earth as stewards of God's creation (Genesis 2:15–25). These are highly significant responsibilities related to our ultimate purpose.
Job, held by ancient tradition to have been a king in Edom (see Halley's Bible Handbook), knew that there is a great purpose for human life. He asked and then answered a rhetorical question: "If a man dies will he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait [in the grave], till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands" (Job 14:10–15). Job knew that he would sleep in the grave until the time when God would use him for an ultimate purpose. The prophet Daniel reveals that at the end of this age "the God in heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… then the kingdom and dominion… shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High" (Daniel 2:44–45; 7:27).
Jesus emphasized this same theme in the New Testament. He urged His disciples to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" instead of focusing exclusively on physical things (Matthew 6:33). He told his chosen Apostles that they were destined to "sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). Paul reveals that when we become Christians and choose to follow Jesus' teachings, we become "children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16–17). Paul is saying that children grow up to be like their parents, so Christians will eventually share what Jesus Christ will inherit. Paul reveals that the physical Jesus inherited immortality at His resurrection from the dead (1 Timothy 6:15–16), and became "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20–25). Those who follow Christ's teachings will inherit eternal life when He returns to establish His kingdom on earth (1 Corinthians 15:50–54). This is part of the "mystery" of life's purpose that the world does not fully understand (v. 51).
Writing to the Hebrews, Paul explained more about the real purpose for human life. He wrote that God "has not put the world to come… in subjection to angels" but that He made mankind "a little lower than the angels… and set him over the works of Your hands. You have set all things in subjection under his feet" (Hebrews 2:5–8). Human beings' ultimate purpose will be fulfilled in the future (verse 9). John ties this all together in the book of Revelation, writing that God has "made us [to become] kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on this earth" (Revelation 5:10; see also 1:5–6). He shows that those called to be saints [Christians] "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4–6). This is the future to which Daniel's prophecies referred!
God has revealed in the Bible that He created human beings in His image, to become part of His divine family and eventually reign on this earth with Jesus Christ. That is the ultimate and incredible purpose for human life. When we consider the speculations of philosophers, and the wildly varied ideas of man-made religions, they all pale into insignificance when compared to the real truth. Only when we understand the true purpose of human life does the extent of Satan's great deception become obvious. The world has been deceived about the real purpose of life.
But how can we attain this incredible future? What must we do to qualify for the kingdom of God? Many professing Christians believe that we must do nothing—just accept that Jesus died for us and believe that He is the Son of God, and we will instantly be given eternal life! However, the Bible tells a different story. Scripture reveals that God is only calling a few in this age to understand the ultimate purpose of life (John 6:44, 65–66; Matthew 13:10–17). The rest of mankind will be given this opportunity in the future, during the 1,000-year reign of Christ and the saints on earth, and during the judgment period at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:5, 11–15). Those who are called in this age must repent (Acts 2:38), and begin to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). This includes learning to live by the Ten Commandments—in the letter and in the spiritual intent (Matthew 19:16–22). Solomon arrived at an identical conclusion (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Abraham was rewarded for the same reason (Genesis 26:5). Scripture indicates very clearly that God's method and purpose do not change (Malachi 3:6).
When a person repents and is baptized, and begins to obey God's commandments, He gives that person the Holy Spirit—a spiritual power that enables growth in spiritual understanding and character (Acts 5:32; 1 Corinthians 2:10–16). God does not automatically do everything for us—we have our part to play in the process (2 Timothy 1:6–7; 2 Peter 3:18). Those called now to understand the plan and purpose of God, who learn to apply the laws of God, will become teachers in the coming kingdom of God (Isaiah 30:20–21). As the civil and religious leaders (kings and priests) they will reign with Jesus Christ and bring about a "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:19–21). This will occur when the laws of God are proclaimed from Jerusalem by a world government set up at Christ's return (Isaiah 2:2–4; 9:6–7; Revelation 11:15–19). This is why we were created—to qualify to become a member of the God Family and participate in this soon-coming government of God that will change forever the course of human history. This is the real purpose for human life that is plainly revealed in the Bible. This is the gospel. This is why you were born. And this is what has been hidden by the philosophical speculations and religious fables that Satan has used to deceive the world.