The Meaning of Life? Where Are We Going?

What is the meaning of life? We conclude our investigation with the fifth great question: Where are we going?

History Has an End

Unlike some eastern religions, in Christianity time is linear, not circular. History had a beginning and will have an end. Genesis 1:1 declares: “God created the heavens and the earth.” This agrees with science which tells us that all time, space, and matter began at a single moment with the Big Bang. Everything that exists—including time—began long ago. And history is marching from a beginning toward an end.

God has a plan for history. History has purpose and meaning, and it’s this: God is creating a people for himself from those who will believe in the Son he sent—a people he will love, who will love him, and among whom he will dwell.

What will happen to this physical realm where we live? The earth itself is doomed, as is the universe. In its place God will create an entirely new reality.

Where are we humans going? We are given a choice. We can join God’s people and live in his heaven. heavenOr we can reject God and his plan for humanity. How do we join? We believe in Jesus as God’s Son, through whom we can receive eternal life.

The following vision that God gave to the Apostle John say it all. From Revelation 21:1–8 (NLT):

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Where Are We Going?

Where are we going? Either to heaven or to hell. Either to live with God for all eternity, or to a place of the damned that God has abandoned, a place of torment and agony.

The choice couldn’t be clearer. Either we believe in and follow Christ and live forever with the source of all goodness, justice, mercy, and love. Or we spend eternity in suffering in a place without God.

But is this fair, you ask? Well, let me ask this: If you were God, would you want your heaven filled with people who didn’t believe in you and who rejected your Son and his teachings? I think not. None of us would do any differently. God gives us every chance, a lifetime of chances, to turn to him. He offers his grace—the free gift of eternal life to all who believe. All we have to do is believe, accept, and obey. So that is our destiny, and we are given the ability to choose it.

The Meaning of Life: The Five Great Questions

We’ve now answered the five great questions that answer the meaning of life:

  1. Where did we come from?
    • God created the universe, the earth, and men and women from nothing. Everything that exists is an intentional creation of God for a purpose.
  2. Who are we?
    • We are created in the image of God, with some qualities of our divine Creator. One of the attributes God gave us was free choice.
  3. Why are we here?
    • We are here to love and honor God and to love others as ourselves. We are here to expand the church, which is God’s kingdom on earth.
  4. How should we live?
    • We should live according to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, loving others, honoring God, and expanding his kingdom through the church.
  5. Where are we going?
    • If we believe in Jesus as God’s Son, we will live for all eternity as members of God’s people in heaven. But if we reject God’s Son, we’ll experience eternal death in a place of torment.
    • It’s our free choice to make. God wants us to choose him.

Look no further, intrepid seeker. This is the meaning of life.

Next week (or the week thereafter) I will begin a new direction with this blog. As befits an author trying to gain potential future readers, the focus will change to: “Christian Fantasy and Historical Fiction.”

The Meaning of Life: How Should We Live?

What is the meaning of life? Today we answer the fourth great question: “How should we live?”

Note that because this blog will take a new direction in the new year, we are going to speed up our investigation and finish “the meaning of life” next week.

We were created in God’s image. Within that image of the Creator, God placed the Moral Law. TenCommandmentsThis is an inherent knowledge of right and wrong. We know what is good and what is evil. Everyone was born with a conscience. This didn’t come from society. It wasn’t something we created ourselves. It came from a source outside of us, from the source of all good. It came from God. Thus, in one sense, we know how we should live—according to our consciences.

But God also revealed to us how we should live. He did so in a book called the Bible. And the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles can be summarized into broad categories. We can call this teaching, for lack of a better word, the Didache. This is a Greek word for teaching.

How could we summarize the teachings of Christ and the Apostles into broad categories? C.H. Dodd has given us the following categories:

  1. We are asked to reform our conduct.
    Ephesians 4:21–24 (NLT): 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Also Romans 12:1-2; 13:11-14)
  2. We should strive for the virtues of a new way of life:
    Galatians 5:22–23 (NLT): 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Also Col 3:12)
  3. The primary unit of Christian community is a family of one man, one woman. Within the family God sets forth proper relationships.
    Ephesians 5:22–25, 33 (NLT): 22-25 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord… As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.
    33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Also Eph. 5:22-6:1; Col 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7)
  4. Proper relationships within the church are set forth.Romans 12:9–11 (NLT): 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. (Also Col 3:13-16; Phil. 2:1-4)
  5. Our relationships toward non-Christian neighbors are described.
    Colossians 4:5–6 (NLT): 5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Also 1 Peter 2:12,18)
  6. Then our relationships with authorities are defined.
    1 Peter 2:13–14 (NLT): 13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. (Also Romans 13:1-7)
  7. Finally, we are called to watchfulness and responsibility.1 Peter 5:8 (NLT): 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (Eph. 6:10-18)

That is how we should live. Christ and the Apostles gave us these guidelines. Notice how they start with our personal relationship with God, move to our relationships with our family, then with the church, then with neighbors and authorities. It ends with a call to be responsible, to work with our hands, to be watchful for Christ’s return and to watch for the attacks of Satan.

Next time we’ll answer our last question for the meaning of life: Where are we going?

The Meaning of Life: To Establish the Local Church, Part II

We’re investigating the meaning of life and the question: Why are we here? Last time we showed how Paul implemented the Great Commission—by preaching the gospel, gathering believers into churches, establishing believers in sound doctrine, appointing leaders and equipping them, and repeating the process. This is called the Pauline Cycle. Not only is it the pattern we should follow for missions, it’s the life cycle of all healthy churches.

But how do we, as individuals, engage with this? We aren’t all called to go to some foreign country to preach the gospel. This post will examine that question.

  1. Outreach. One thing everyone can do is to reach out to those around us who don’t know the gospel. We all have friends, neighbors and even family who don’t know Christ. We can speak about how we came to learn of Jesus—our personal story. We can bring the conversation around to our involvement with our local churches, which might lead to questions about our faith. Before we do this, we must be careful that we are living lives that reflect the character of Jesus and showing him through us.
  2. Invitation. We can ask our friends and neighbors to church or to church events. Some might refuse, but if you ask often enough, someday they might say yes. This assumes the local church is a welcoming place for unbelievers, seekers, and the unchurched.
  3. Spiritual education. Believers need to be firmly grounded in the faith. They need to understand the whole counsel of God. They need systematic, ordered learning. Not all Bible studies provide this. The “First Principles” series from BILD International does. What’s needed are studies that present the big ideas of the gospel, summarized in manageable lessons, such that by the end, a believer has been exposed to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.
  4. Community. No local church can exist without a vibrant Christian community. Believers should meet not only for Sunday group worship, but also gather during the week, for friendship, prayer, Bible study, and even sharing a meal. This is what the early church did. And it’s the pattern established and given for us through the ages.
    People at the Cross

    People at the Cross

  5. Leadership. If we are called to leadership in the church, we should obey the call. We should support those called to leadership with encouragement, prayer, and thankfulness.
  6. Monetary Support. We need to tithe to the local church. We also need to support missionaries that steward the Pauline Cycle with our generous contributions. Missions, both local and foreign, is the main goal of the church.
  7. Prayer Support. We need to pray for our local church, our church leaders, and our missionaries. We need to unleash God’s power in the endeavors we’re involved in.
  8. Engagement. Above all, wherever the church needs workers, we should be involved and engaged. We should not be a “pew sitter” but a willing participant in Christ’s plan to bring the gospel to all who do not know him.

Why are we here? To engage with and support the local church under Christ. There can be no higher endeavor than that.

Next time we’ll look at the next question on our list: How should we live?