Why were you born? What will happen when you die? And what are you doing in-between to make the most of the life God has given you? Few people understand how their lives fit into God's plan—but you can know!
When I was 15 years old, my friend Jimmy Mallette suffered an accidental death. As they let down the casket containing Jimmy's body, my mind was flooded with memories about how we sat out on the nearby Missouri hills and philosophized about all kinds of things together. As teenage boys attending different Protestant churches, we could certainly understand that we were not getting a total answer as to why we were born, what life was all about, or about the ultimate goal of humanity. So, during the long summer days and early evenings, we sat in our backyards or on the hillsides discussing these things.
Together, we sent off for various books and pamphlets by philosophers and religionists who offered to explain the meaning of life. However, being fairly intelligent and well-read, we quickly realized that these people, too, did not have any genuine answer.
Over the next several years after Jimmy's death, I continued to meditate on these things. I tried to think through why we were born, what life was really all about and what was the ultimate purpose for our lives. Our local Protestant preacher droned on and on with "nice" generalities—being good citizens, being kind to others, perhaps sending help to the "starving Chinese" (as we supposed they were, back then). Although our pastor's "do-good" thoughts were probably helpful in a way, they did not ever stir me to any kind of particular action, nor did they even begin to answer the growing questions in my mind as to why we are really here. Why must all humans suffer and die? If we were to go to heaven after death, as my preacher said, would we just sit around up there playing harps, with nothing to do?
"Is that all there is?" I wondered.
A few years later, I read one of the most touching and meaningful books I have ever laid my eyes on. It is entitled, Man's Search for Meaning, written by Dr. Viktor Frankl—an extremely intelligent and sensitive man who later became regarded as the leading psychiatrist in Europe. I found this book unique in its approach to getting at the real meaning of life. Because of Dr. Frankl's horrifying experiences as a prisoner in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and other concentration camps, he certainly had a special perspective in searching out and answering—in a human sense—the ultimate question as to our reason for being. He writes, "If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and in dying. But no man can tell another what this purpose is. Each must find out for himself, and must accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes" (p. xiii).
Please note carefully the above paragraph discussing man's purpose in life. Dr. Frankl writes, "Each must find out for himself, and must accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes." In a human sense, this is certainly true. However—and this is a huge "however"—if there is a real God and if the Holy Scriptures are the revelation from that God, then we should be willing to carefully look into that inspired writing and find out what God says is the purpose for human life! Obviously, most highly educated men—doctors, scientists, philosophers and psychologists do not do that. Unwittingly, perhaps, they leave out the only genuine possibility for finding out the real purpose of our human existence. For the One who created us reveals a genuine purpose for our lives. And we must be willing to humble ourselves before Him, our Creator, and find out what He tells us that awesome purpose is.
Turning in our Bibles to the very beginning of God's revelation, we find that—as He created man—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" (Genesis 1:26–27).
From the very beginning, God made human beings in His very "image," or likeness. As we consider this, it is obvious from the Bible that we are in the physical likeness of God—who is also described as having arms, legs, head and features. But we are also—to a limited extent—made in His likeness in that we have been given genuine mind power and creative imagination like God—in a way no other creature has been formed. For the Bible clearly reveals that there is a "spirit" in human beings. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit [that] is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:11–13).
This "spirit essence,\ which is joined to the human brain, dramatically lifts humanity far above the animal kingdom. For, again, no other creature even remotely approaches the capacity of humankind in scientific, intellectual, musical and other accomplishments. No other creature is remotely capable of sending space vehicles to the moon, building skyscrapers like the Empire State Building or inventing the kinds of computers that can store and spew out literally trillions of pieces of information per second!
For human beings are unique—they are truly made \in the image of God," their Creator.
Remember also, in the creation account in the book of Genesis, God describes how each of the animal and bird creatures was created "according to its kind" (vv. 21, 24, 25). When God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness," He was indicating that human beings were to be created according to the God kind! Your Bible says more than once: "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16). A normal, happily married young couple nearly always want to share their love and their lives with a child—born after "their kind." Is the God of the Bible so inward and selfish that He would not want to share His thoughts, His plans, His love and His glorious universe with others of His kind? People usually fail to think this through! But it should be obvious, if we are willing to truly understand what God tells us in so many ways throughout the Bible. For He tells us that we are to be "born again."
Is being "born again" merely an emotional religious experience that we can work up in church or at an evangelistic campaign? No! It is the most important and transcendent experience that we could possibly imagine—literally being born into the very Family of God! The Apostle Paul was inspired to tell us, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 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" (Romans 8:16–18). Here, your own Bible clearly indicates that true Christians are to be "joint heirs" with Christ, and that we are to be "glorified" together with Him. The clear indication is that all the trials, tests, suffering and anguish we go through are only preparatory to becoming full sons of the Creator God—sharing His glory and this magnificent opportunity with Jesus Christ Himself, the firstborn Son.
Paul continues, "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" (v. 29). If Christ is the "firstborn" among many brethren, then it should be obvious that there are many more brethren who will be born of God, as Christ was when He rose from the tomb. Earlier, Paul writes that Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). So Christ was not born of God in an evangelistic campaign. He was declared the Son of God with power by being resurrected from the dead. For, as we have seen, He was the firstborn among many brethren.
My friends, when you really understand it, our heavenly Father is not merely creating lower creatures such as cows or goats or squirrels "in His image." He is creating beings who are like Him in many ways and who have the awesome potential to become full sons of God Himself by a resurrection from the dead! They will then be able to share—with the Father and Jesus Christ, their Elder Brother and "firstborn from the dead"—the plans, the joys and the experiences of the God Family. In this way, God Himself will be giving, sharing and loving human beings made in His image who become fully surrendered to Him and willing to live according to the way the Creator intends—and thus bring peace and happiness throughout all eternity!
This has been God's supreme purpose from the beginning! Not some sentimental ideas of merely having a few emotional experiences, or of performing rituals established by the churches of this deceived world (Revelation 12:9)—all of those are nothing compared to the awesome purpose for which God has actually made us "in His image"! We need to understand. And we must be willing to cry out to the Eternal God to help us genuinely do our part to overcome our human nature, the pulls of this world, and Satan the devil. For, again and again, the Bible clearly indicates that we do not just automatically become children of God through some religious or emotional experience. Rather, we must make a total surrender to our Creator—burying ourselves in heart and mind, as symbolized when we are "buried with Him through baptism" (Romans 6:4). As Jesus said, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). When we finally make that total surrender to the true God to let Him genuinely rule our lives—when we accept the true Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, and daily let Him live His obedient life within us through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20), then and only then will God put His Spirit within us, to enable us to be overcomers and to be "born again" at the resurrection!
Only the genuine overcomers will inherit eternal life as full sons of the Eternal God. Speaking in the first person in the book of Revelation, Jesus said, "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'—as I also have received from My Father" (Revelation 2:26–27).
Please understand: God will not allow human beings to be born into His divine Family unless they first totally surrender to Him, to His rule, to His righteous laws and to His entire way of life. Otherwise, they would become potential adversaries—like Satan the devil, who tried to exalt himself and became willing to fight against God (Isaiah 14:12–15)!
When we are really born of God, we will truly be like God. Although God the Father will always be in total power and authority as the ultimate Head of the Family, and Jesus Christ will always be our Elder Brother and High Priest, we will have the same basic capacity once we are made Spirit beings and full sons of our Creator! As Jesus now appears with "eyes like a flame of fire" and whose voice is as "the sound of many waters"—like the mighty waves crashing on the rocks of the Northern California coast—so we may be joined and become part of the Creator's family and rule with God and Christ forever in glorious power, if we fully surrender to our Creator!
Although humanity has for many years tried to explore outer space and "conquer" the universe—in that sense—God's full sons will really be able to do all of this with virtually no effort! For we will be members of the God Family! Can we understand that? God is making true Christians full sons in His glorified Family—to share with these future sons the glory, the power, the full creative imagination and intelligence which He has.
Just think! Not having to resort to rockets and capsules and air tanks to help us breathe in space, we will be able to travel to Mars or Pluto or even farther—not at the speed of sound, but at the speed of thought! Can we begin to imagine the magnificence of God's ultimate purpose for creating human beings "in His image"?
The Apostle Paul was inspired to pray that Christians, "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 genera-tions, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:18–21). When we are literally "filled with all the fullness of God," then we will be full members of the God Family. For God's actual sons are not like goats or cows by comparison. They are real sons. As my four sons share the human potential and capacity of their father, so too will God's sons! Do we get it? Can we comprehend it?
The Eternal God inspired the Apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews to explain all of this even further. God inspired Paul to tell us, "For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: 'What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have 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 do not yet see all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:5–8).
Linguists acknowledge that the Greek word translated as "all" in the above passage literally means "everything"—the entire universe! For God plans to make His true sons real sons with the total capacity of the God Family in the same way that all of us in the human family are totally human! Describing this awesome fact, the Apostle Peter wrote of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). So—when we are literally born of God at the resurrection—God does not just call us His sons. Rather, He places His very nature in us so that we come right from God, bearing His divine nature—in the same way that we came right out from our human parents and have their nature. That is what it means to be "born of God."
Finally, in discussing this transcendent topic, we must never leave out the magnificent and truly inspiring prayer Jesus uttered to God on the night before He died. Jesus said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You…. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John 17:1, 4–5).
Later, He said, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (vv. 20–23).
Here, our Savior—who was God in the flesh and whom God had used at the beginning to create everything (John 1:3)—was asking the Father to give His disciples the same glory which He had shared with the Father from eternity!
In this final section of Jesus' most inspiring prayer, He was obviously praying for us—we today who believe "through the word" which the disciples wrote for us in the Bible. He prayed that "all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us" (John 17:20–21).
At the resurrection, true Christians—the real overcomers—will be born of Spirit, made full members of the Family of God and be totally one with God and with Christ as They are one with each other. Notice how Jesus states that the magnificent glory which God had given Him was also given by Jesus to His true followers—"that they may be one just as We are one" (v. 22).
Could it be any clearer?
This verse definitely indicates that we will become full sons of God and totally members of God's divine Family—"one" with God and with Christ just as They are one! If you wish to learn more about this vital topic, please contact the regional office nearest you (listed on page 30 of this magazine) and ask for your free copy of our inspiring booklet, Your Ultimate Destiny.
By working with human beings through His Spirit—and through allowing all of us to make our mistakes, to go through our trials and tests, to try out our own forms of human government, education and religion—we will have finally come to the place of total surrender to our Creator and will then—through His Spirit—become fit and ready to have the glorious power of the very Creator as full members of the Family of God. We will then be able to walk, talk and "fellowship" with God and Christ in a way very few now even imagine. We will be able to share—as members of the God Family—various challenges that will yet arise in governing, and in making ever more complete God's plan throughout the entire universe. We will have spirit bodies. We will never grow tired. We will never be sick. We will never feel discouraged. For we will be glorious Spirit beings in the divine Family—the Creator Family—of the whole universe! This is the awesome future of those who are willing to totally surrender to their Creator and do His will.
All of the previous sufferings of humanity—all the trials and tests, the torture camps, the loss of loved ones through sickness or accident or war, all of the anguish and sadness that comes upon us because we ourselves and all humanity have been going the wrong way—will vanish! The Bible tells us, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4). May God help all of us truly understand the ultimate purpose—the real reason why we were born. And may He help us have the willingness and the humility to study His inspired word—to prove these things to ourselves and—through His Spirit—to "make our calling and election sure."