Is there meaning in your life? Do you know what your future will hold? Even most who call themselves Christians do not understand the full reason why God created and sustains the universe. But you can understand!
Millions of professing Christians assume that they will somehow "float off to heaven" when they die. They are told about playing on harps or staring at God's face for all eternity. Few have dared to rigorously question or seriously try to prove these quaint theories, so most do not realize that these ideas come not from the Bible, but from human imagination.
Most of you reading this article believe that God inspired the Holy Bible. That is good. For that is the fundamental starting point for any truly intelligent discussion of life's purpose. As most of you know, scientists freely admit that they do not understand such matters. "That is not our field of study," they say when asked about the meaning or purpose of life.
But if you believe in a real God—the God of the Bible—and if you believe that the Bible is God's revelation to man, then why not really study what the Bible itself says about mankind's origin and destiny—about why you were born? I challenge you to open your mind and be willing to "see" the awesome purpose for every human life—the purpose that has been revealed in your own Bible!
Do you realize that God Himself—in the Holy Bible—states again and again that the entire world is deceived? However, any of you whom God is calling can become "undeceived"—if you are truly willing to open your minds and believe what God says in His inspired word.
Notice! The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians of his day: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). The real "god" of this age—the "god" to whom most people are now paying attention—is Satan the devil, who, as Paul wrote, has "blinded" those who do not believe the Truth. Paul describes Satan as: "The prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is busy. He is "working" constantly in this world's atmosphere, confusing, deceiving and misleading people by spreading wrong attitudes and ideas. He often does this through the media and through this world's religious and educational establishments. As "prince" of this society's atmosphere, Satan virtually controls the media; he heavily influences the vile images of immoral sex and violence that spew forth from our television sets and now, increasingly, from the mis-use of the Internet and almost every other form of communication.
Describing this "time of the end," the Apostle John wrote: "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9). Please try to wrap your mind around these inspired words—"Satan, who deceives the whole world." Of course, most people assume that they, somehow, are not deceived. But a deceived person does not know that he is deceived! Otherwise, he would "know better" and he would not be deceived, would he?
If you want true understanding of a deep or complicated subject, it is usually wise to go back to the very beginning and look at its foundation. To understand why we were born, we must go to the beginning of God's inspired word—the Holy Bible—and begin our study in the book of Genesis. There, God tells us: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" (Genesis 1:1–3).
The Hebrew word for "was" in verse 2 is properly translated as "became." The phrase "without form and void" is better translated as "chaotic and confused." Following the initial creation billions of years ago (v. 1), the earth "became chaotic and confused" after a cataclysmic devastation, probably caused by Satan and his demons. In response, approximately 6,000 years ago, God re-created the earth, brought forth light, separated the seas from the clouds above and began creating plant and animal life on earth (vv. 2–25).
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth'" (vv. 26–28). As God added to His creation by making human beings "in His image," He was certainly creating something vastly different from the rest of His creation. For the plant and animal creation has a very limited scope of accomplishment.
By making human beings "in His image," God showed His desire to create beings who could relate to Him! These human beings were given "dominion"—a capacity to think, plan and rule like God Himself, though to a limited degree. They were given real mind power and creative imagination as no other beings were given. And the "dominion" they were given—the responsibility to govern the earth, to be "in charge" over the plant and animal life—was a remarkable responsibility that would certainly prepare them for far more responsibility in the future.
Most people—even most theologians—have not fully thought this through. They just assume that man was made to be a kind of "super animal" and remain on a lower level than God for all eternity—eventually "floating off to heaven" with virtually nothing to do and no really big challenge ahead! But, in fact—from the beginning—God had far more than that in mind!
Another vital phrase in the above verses is: "Let Us make man in Our image" (v. 26). When you put this clear statement together with many other biblical verses, you can begin to realize that, from the beginning, both the Father and the Word (who became Christ) were together in the God family. How does this relate to human beings' destiny? King David of ancient Israel, the "man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22), was inspired to write: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet\ (Psalm 8:4–6). David explains that God made mankind \a little lower" (Hebrews 2:7, RSV)—or, as more properly translated, "for a little while lower"—than the angelic hosts. David, paraphrasing Genesis, was inspired to write that God has given human beings "dominion"—rule—over "all things."
The Apostle Paul would greatly enlarge on this understanding, revealing to New Testament Christians the amazing purpose for mankind's creation. After paraphrasing Genesis 1, and showing how "all things" were put under mankind's feet, Paul wrote: "For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:8).
Many biblical commentators have puzzled for hundreds of years about that verse. For the Greek used here, ta panta, refers to the whole cosmos—the entire universe. Yet Paul acknowledges that "we do not yet see all things put under Him."
But even now, mankind is constantly trying to take to itself God-like responsibilities and powers. We want to "conquer" the universe. We want to "play god" by introducing the process of "cloning"—fashioning life out of a test tube! Mankind wants to do all kinds of things that are frankly God's prerogative. For, from the beginning, man has been given God-like qualities and creative imagination—yet without the full power of God—and certainly without the Creator's full wisdom to know how to use these powers!
Eventually, however—in God's time and in God's way—mankind will have the capacity to "conquer" the entire universe! God will allow His children to join Him, and Jesus Christ, in ruling this earth (Revelation 5:10) and the whole universe! Christians who are willing to totally surrender their wills and their lives to God, through the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, and to let God genuinely rule their lives through His Spirit, will have the honor of helping, healing, blessing and "straightening out the mess" among man's nations in a way never accomplished before, even stopping would-be dictators right in their tracks (Psalm 149:5–9).
As full-fledged sons in the ruling Family of God, true Christians will become spirit beings with spirit bodies—filled with the divine nature of God—able to enjoy the wisdom, power and creative capacity of God. That, my friends, is your destiny—if you are willing. That is why you were born!
Even many professing Christians find that this truth sounds "way out" or even "heretical." This is because they have never been willing to fully think through the implications of being genuinely born of God Himself! However, if you are willing to believe that the Bible says what it means and means what it says, you will have to face this fact!
As the first-born Son of God, Jesus Christ should certainly know where we are headed and what our destiny involves. Jesus described the coming resurrection from the dead in this way: "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection" (Luke 20:35–36).
In many places, the Bible itself indicates that we are not "born again" through some emotional feeling generated in a revival or evangelistic campaign. Rather we are finally "born of God" through the coming resurrection from the dead. Then, as the above verse clearly indicates, we will have power to live forever and to travel throughout the universe as do the angelic hosts. Yet we will have much more power than angels, because we will be full sons of God at that time. The angels will be "ministering spirits" to serve us in the coming spirit life, even more than they do today (Hebrews 1:14). In fact, as the Apostle Paul plainly wrote: "Do you not know that we shall judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:3). Just before, Paul had asked: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (v. 2).
For, in the resurrection, the true saints will assist Christ in ruling the entire world—and, by implication, the entire universe—as Hebrews 2 plainly shows. Also: "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'" (Revelation 2:26–27). Those who truly "overcome" themselves, the world and Satan the Devil will be given unfathomable power as full sons of God. We will be given honor and glory far beyond what our human minds can currently grasp. Notice what the Apostle John reveals: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Since we will be fully "like Him," it may be helpful to understand how the resurrected Jesus Christ now appears: "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength" (Revelation 1:14–16).
Yes, the sons of God will have faces that absolutely glisten, and that radiate power and glory "like the sun shining in its strength!"
Most professing Christians—even most theologians—have utterly failed to grasp this, because it has just seemed "too much" to their human imagination, and because Satan the devil has blinded mankind as a whole from grasping the magnificent reward God is offering those who genuinely serve Him!
Truly we have much to rejoice over, and much to anticipate, if we are genuinely willing to surrender our lives to God and believe what He says in His inspired word. For through His divine power, there have "been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4). Certainly, most professing Christians have assumed that they have "a little" of the divine nature—which is certainly true in this life. What most have failed to grasp is that Christians will be born of God—through a literal spiritual birth that is just as real as our birth from our mother's womb. We will be full sons of God, not "pseudo-sons" of much lesser worth and stature!
As God's Plan plainly reveals, He intended from the beginning for each creature to reproduce "according to its kind" (Genesis 1:24). After stating this wish regarding every other creature, God then said: "Let us make man in our image according to our likeness"—according to the God kind! Do you "get it"? Can you wrap your mind around this awesome reality? God is reproducing Himself!
When you are willing to let your mind accept this magnificent truth, then scripture after scripture will begin to make sense. For instance, when you read that we are now children and heirs of God, "and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:17), then you may grasp that we will have to be full sons of God if we are indeed "joint heirs" with Christ and "glorified together" with Christ. As Paul meaningfully wrote: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (v. 18). All the trials and tests and suffering that humanity has experienced—even the Holocaust, the Second World War and the recent terrible destruction and death caused by the Sumatran earthquake and tsunami waves—will seem as nothing compared to the everlasting and magnificent "glory" that all who enter the Kingdom of God will finally share! Things make a lot more sense when the Truth is fully revealed.
Consider, too, the analogy of the Church's "marriage" to Christ. The Bible touches on this in several places. The Apostle Paul described: "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:23–25). Would Christ "marry"—even figuratively—someone far below Him in stature and level of existence? Of course not! The true Church of God is composed of human beings who, together, will become full children of God—made on the God level and therefore worthy of "marrying" Jesus Christ!
In Romans 8:29–30, we read: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." If Christ is, indeed, the "firstborn" among many brethren, then are His other brothers like chickens or goats by comparison? Or are they real brothers?
As explained earlier, when we are "born of God" we become His real sons, bearing His nature, just as at physical birth we bear the full nature of our human parents. In Revelation 1:5, we read of "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth." This clearly indicates that God's other sons would literally be "born" from the dead—by a resurrection—just as Jesus was! Why do theologians and philosophers try to twist this to mean something it obviously does not? Why are they so embarrassed that God has chosen to make us real sons, with a transcendent glory and power that Jesus Christ Himself now shares with the Father?
Of course, the Bible clearly indicates that all true Christians must acknowledge, and surrender to, God and Christ as supreme—and build within themselves this attitude of surrender and obedience that will last throughout all eternity. God does not want to be creating more Satans—"adversaries"—rebellious personalities who would cause dissension in His Spirit-born family throughout all eternity! We will have to become fully "one with God" long before we are born of God! But, nevertheless, the ultimate reward for those who are willing to give their lives to God unreservedly is indeed awesome!
So, as Jesus' full "brothers"—sharing with Him the divine level of existence and interacting with Him and with the Father throughout all eternity—we will be able to exercise fully all of the hopes and dreams humanity has ever nurtured, and dreams and opportunities even beyond what the human mind has yet imagined! Then we will more completely grasp the significance of the Apostle Paul's inspired prayer: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:17–21).
How, indeed, could we be "filled with all the fullness of God" and not be a full member of God's family—on His level of existence? No wonder we read in the New Testament so many statements about the "glory" that will come to the true saints in the resurrection. To those who do not understand, these statements may seem overly sentimental and almost exaggerated. But when you genuinely understand, you will come to realize that our reward will, in fact, be beyond all human comprehension.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven." Our Father in heaven will soon be our real Father. If we fully surrender to Him through Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we will soon be His full sons and will bear His name forever. This is why you were born! This is the genuine reason why you and I have been given life and breath. God grant that we will surrender our lives to our Creator, through our loving Savior, in a more complete and understanding way than we have ever done before. We will, then—with Christ living His life within us through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20)—be fulfilling the very purpose for which God created us "in His image."