Tag Archive: purpose

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1.

In a few simple words, the Scriptures reveal that every star and galaxy, every atom and whiff of dust, every stretch of space was there, and before that, was not. There was a time when there was not even time. There was only God.

That in the beginning, God created the world out of nothing leads to this inescapable conclusion: God must know the end. And every event in between.

Now this consequence may not be apparent at first. Quite a few people claim that God cannot know the future, saying that man has a free will that can choose any option it desires. How can God predict exactly what man will do? In fact, some people say that the failings of mankind illustrate how God’s plan to bring man into fellowship with Himself did not work, and thus He could not have seen the future implications of what man would do. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the Creator supposedly was sorrowfully surprised and had to devise a new plan in order to fix the soiled world. He chose Israel among the nations and gave them strict rules of righteousness, bristling with the utter holiness of God. Israel woefully failed again and again. So God supposedly “learned” from these experiences and changed course in the New Testament. And now God is waiting for and hoping that men will respond to His new message. Certainly, they say, God could not have known the future, for why else did He make all these “mistakes” in His plan?

This idea is totally un-Biblical and even irrational. For when a smart scientist invents a machine, he knows exactly how it works and its strong and weak points. He must know because he was the one to fit together its beams and nail in the bolts. So also God must know every cranny and instinct of his creation. However, one may object that an invention sometimes acts contrary to the predictions and expectations of its inventor. But such mishaps can happen because the inventor did not know enough about the natural properties and laws governing the materials and energies of his invention. He cannot always predict what his machine will do because it is made of parts which he himself did not make. If the scientist created every part from nothing, then he would know all there is to know about his invention. Nothing about it can surprise him.

But God is not like the inventor; every aspect of the machinations of the universe were set up by Him alone, from nothing. How can anything go against His will when He knows everything’s exact dimensions and abilities? If there are no “foreign” elements in God’s creation, how can anything transgress the function it was given to perform by God? Since all the parts were created by only one Inventor, then He must know precisely what His invention will do. It is logically impossible otherwise.

“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” Romans 11:36.

Thus, everything is happening according to God’s grand plan, and God knows exactly what will transpire in the future because He planned the future. He created everything in just the right way so that the laws of nature and the instincts of man will lead history to one inescapable, glorious conclusion. When He formed Adam and Eve from the dust of the earth, He knew that eventually, the desires of their hearts would lead them to sin. God could have created their wills differently, totally unable to think or do wickedness. In fact, He could have just left out the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from Eden, and none of the messes of man would have even started. He could have created Satan to have a will that desired only Him, and then no heavenly rebellion would have been possible.

But God did not create this world so that He could be a great Genie or because He was bored or needed anything. In the overflow of His triune, everlasting, unfathomable inner joy, He created man and the angels. He planned that evil and suffering would enter His perfect world because He has planned a divine Story. He designed from before the beginning that He would come to earth and take up human form, to be the perfect Redeemer of sinners that have yet to exist. He has created the universe the way it is so He can show His incomprehensible glory. He has created the angels as watchers and participants in a Play situated upon a little planet circling a star among billions, in a galaxy among trillions.

“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” I Corinthians 4:9.

For though the angels can see His majesty without impediment, they have never experienced His mercy, His loving, unfathomable grace.

“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” I Peter 1:12.

The angels are watching as the pages unfold upon earth, as God’s wisdom and power clash with evil, as God’s righteous wrath is revealed against sin, and God’s love and mercy are showered upon undeserving sinners. They are watching as the Author weaves His theme in the lives of men, the characters in the Story. Some characters have been chosen to be the good guys, others as the bad guys; some characters play a little role; others appear again and again. But the purpose of everything is one: to glorify God, the only One worthy of glory.

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” Romans 9:21-23.

We sometimes wonder why life does not seem to make sense. But we are only a little part of the plan; God sees the whole plot. We only see the present conflict, seemingly impossible to solve. But God has already written the end. He has already worked out all the twists in between. We can rest in assurance and peace, for Good will triumph in His Story.


The Summer of My Life

The cool days of spring have just left; summer’s here so quickly, I’ve hardly had time to watch my apple tree blossoms bloom. I’ve been too busy studying for the last tests of high school, so busy with the last finishing touches of my childhood years, and now, my spring has gone. But with the deadlines passing and the lessons trickling to a few, I turn my face to the new season before me, beholding the vast freedom of summer. The whole world lies sparkling, bright pebbles in the creek, begging me to pick up and do. A new season of life is rising in the dawn, a season ripe to live and shape as my very own. But how shall I live it, and for what purpose? What shall I do with the Summer of my life?

For the season does not last long; the bright and busy days flash by so swiftly that somber fall soon arrives, then grave winter. Thus, I see many people “living for the moment,” chasing their whim wherever it takes them, whether the boat or the beach or the trail. Why spend the good days doing dreary tasks and hoarding a savings? Delight in life, for “tomorrow we die.”

Yet the pleasures of summer are even briefer than summer itself. For the moment after the boat glides back to the dock or the foot steps off the beach or trail, the lingering euphoria fades away. And the feeling cannot be recaptured by memory, but must be mustered again and again by repeated experiences of the same. So life travels in a cycle of continuous quests for pleasure, pleasures that grow increasingly hard to enjoy as time slows and weakens the body. For who, reaching the age of eighty, can still pulsate with the desires of youth? For “the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing” (Ecclesiastes 1:8b), so in the end, what value has been retained?

Others, too, feel the continuous striving for pleasure as too shallow a life philosophy. Rather than frolicking in the carefree ocean, these people study the currents, the wind patterns, the seagull formations. Not “live in the moment,” but “seek knowledge” is their maxim. Theories expounding the world’s secret complexities, from the workings of the atom to the origin of the universe, are their life’s end. Is not this what the marvelous mind of man was made for, to desire and know truth?

Yet in the eye of science, truth seems so transient. Thousands of theories have been hailed as true, then abandoned years, decades, or centuries later. Once, the scientists and intellectuals of a past age hailed as fact that the sun and planets turned around the earth and that mice arose from stale wheat. Now, their sure ideas are laughed at. But how are we to know that our current knowledge will not follow the futile way of former ones? If anything is proven by scientific history, it is that theories come and go as the tides of the sea. For what purpose is all this knowledge painstakingly gained?

But maybe I will forsake the knowledge-seekers and the pleasure-seekers, and turn to my fellow man. Don’t I see many others giving their summers to those they love, holding their babies and kissing their wives and laughing with friends like these were the essence of life? Surely to love and be loved is more enduring than passing pleasure, more meaningful than mere learning. Surely what could be greater, more wondrous, and more lasting than a life dedicated to friends and family?

Yet even these do not last. Children grow and run away to their own sunny places. In the summer days, friends abound; but often when the sky darkens and the rains begin, they migrate to better climates. Even spouses grow bored and restless, wandering from their solemn pledges. How are we to know if love can evade betrayal? And even if so, then death stings all the more colder, when a dearly loved one is untimely gone. Who will be there to remember and to comfort, when they all will go or be gone?

Yet now, there is a Constant beyond these varying, fading, earthly things: a Creator who’s chosen His children to live for the greatest Goal. For this, the heavens and earth were made, and all that is in them. For this, we have been created – to glorify God. He is the center and the axis upon which all the universe turns. He is the Theme and the Writer of history, the Teacher and the Lesson of creation. He is the Good that shines and defeats the darkness, turning its schemings straight into His plans. And because He is not just infinite in time and space and power, but also in goodness, He is also infinite in value.

And because He is perfect in holy worth, nothing we find can excel Him. This life’s love may betray, but His love is always faithful. All knowledge may pass away, but He knows and reveals all secrets and all wonders. Earthly pleasure passes, but His heavenly joy and glory surpasses every delight for all eternity. The seasons grow and wither, but He forever lives. Glory be to God! How can we wonder then, when the Son of God proclaimed the greatest commandment of all: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

So when this summer comes, I pray that the Lord will be my single goal and glory.

So when I laugh and play, I’ll remember: Every moment is His, lent to me by His gracious hand. O, how I must spend it wisely. For life is too short to dwell on that which doesn’t matter, to invest in that which has no lasting value. Only God has everlasting value, only He matters when the winter comes. From the dawn’s first sunrays to the shadows of dusk, I will praise His name, proclaim His name, and pray His name.

So when I lie still and ponder, I’ll remember: In Him alone can I find not just perfect knowledge, but perfect wisdom: not just the how’s of the universe, but the why’s. The greatest search for truth is to know God – in the mind and in the heart and in the soul.

And when I kiss and hug those I love, I’ll remember: When they and I have gone our separate ways, God still will be there. When our love is shaken, His love remains unbroken and everlasting. For how could God stop loving us His children, when He has demonstrated “His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Yet sinners! Yet, God died for us His enemies, to create us pure and blameless before Him as glories to His name. So “not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:6-8).

So as the new season dawns, I do not know where I’ll go or what I’ll be. But I know that I will glorify God – not just for this summer, but to the fall and through the winter and onward to the everlasting Spring.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

The Purpose of Evil and Suffering

Almost nothing else pervades the world so deeply. Everywhere man travels, and everywhere he looks, he finds them. They wrestle inside his inner being and often reign victorious. From storm and sickness to lying and murder, they are the smear upon a glorious creation.

Why is there evil and suffering? And why would a loving, righteous, just God allow such terrible things? Men have long pondered over this paradox. Every religion has had to deal with the problem. It has caused some to assert that a loving God cannot exist at all. A few even deny the very existence of suffering and sin, claiming that reality is just a dream. But, when one reads the mayhem in the news, and sees the pain and wickedness in life, their existence is very real, and the soul longs for an answer.

The Bible is the place to look. Part of the explanation is right in the first book, Genesis. It records that after the Creation, mankind was tempted in the Garden of Eden by Satan, and they disobeyed God. As a consequence, God cursed mankind and all Creation. Death entered the world. Floods, storms, and droughts became natural occurrences. Thistles and weeds flourished in the once-perfect earth, and man had to toil in the ground for his bread.

This harsh world was actually necessary for sinful man. In Genesis 1:28, the Lord commanded Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” But now that man was fallen, how could he subdue the perfect earth? Thus the creation had to come under the Curse as well. Also, now that man was sinful, God made him toil and sweat just to get food so that man would not have so much free time to sin. The curse of work is actually beneficial to man, keeping him from slothful wickedness.

But, why did God permit the possibility of disobedience in the first place? If God knows all things and is all-powerful, why did He create man with the ability to rebel? And why was Satan allowed in the Garden? Why was Satan permitted to continue existing after he fell away, or why was he even created? Obviously, the Lord allowed the entrance of evil for a purpose.

Romans 9 gives an enlightening and piercing discourse pertaining to evil and God’s right to be God.

15) For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16) So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18) So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

So the purpose of Pharaoh’s life is to disobey God and try to prevent God’s people from leaving Egypt, so that the Lord may show His power through His miracles. God used Pharaoh’s sin for His glory, and He actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh, through his sin nature, would choose to disobey! This concept is at first quite unbelievable, even offensive for many. Paul, the author of Romans, senses his readers’ rejection right away, and so answers:

19) You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20) On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this?,” will it? 21) Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23) And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24) even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Notice how Paul responds. He immediately rebukes accusing man for questioning God, for man is nothing. According to Romans, we are of the same clay lump, and God, the Potter, has mercy to shape a few of these clumps into glorious vessels for His enjoyment and the rest for dishonorable use. Do the clay have a right to tell the Potter what to make them into?

If the Lord wants “to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known,” why did He not just destroy evil when it sprung up? Why has the earth dragged on for thousands of years in sin? God has been so “slow” because He wants His chosen ones to know His great mercy and patience toward the wicked. Even though they deserve instant and eternal punishment, He yet waits until the appointed time of judgment, after all His elect have believed.

Pastor S. Lewis Johnson, in “The Goodness of God and the Existence of Evil,” states, “The Bible says simply, I think this, that God’s self-manifestation is the highest good.” He says that since the glory of God is the greatest good, then the ultimate, supreme purpose of all things is to glorify Him in all His attributes. For what other reason where all things created for? Johnson continues:

His mercy cannot be known if there are not some people who are miserable. And His grace cannot be known if there are not some people who are in sin. And His justice cannot be known if there are not men who are under condemnation. And so He has permitted sin in order that He might be perfectly glorified in all of His attributes, inclusive of His mercy and His grace.

The knowledge of God is eternal life. It is for men the highest good and so, consequentially, He must give us the knowledge of Himself. And that demanded sin, condemnation, and judgment. But He is good, and even this works for His good.

It is necessary that the Lord show all His attributes, and not just some. God is not one dimension. Yes, He is love, but He is also holy, just, righteous, almighty, all-knowing, wise, etc. He displays His love to His chosen ones, but His righteousness demands that justice be carried out. He is so, so holy, set apart, and incorruptible that He cannot tolerate sin, at all.

What better purpose can life have, but to glorify the Creator? Even the angels are watching us, seeing the display of the attributes of God that they never would have known without the entrance of evil.

This concept is so difficult for human minds to grasp. But we must remember, that we are just the little ants who try to understand Einstein’s mind. Is it possible that we, as mere dust, will understand the almighty, all-knowing God?

But for the mind repulsed by the thought that God would allow people to suffer for His glory, think of this: when Christ died on the cross, He bore the punishment for the sins of man. Each of our eternal punishments was laid upon God. He had to bear the greatest suffering of all. No pain of any man can compare to His pain on the cross. And so when people demand to know why God allows evil and suffering to happen to man, they are asking the wrong question. They should ask, “Why did God allow His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for wicked men?” For we were His enemies, and yet He died for us. He suffered more than anyone and everyone; God allowed Himself to suffer the greatest humiliation. Why? Because He loved us before the beginning of time. He chose us to be saved before the foundation of the world, so that we may see His glory, and worship the only One worthy to be worshiped. And is it not worth all the evil and suffering of the world to show such love and glory? As Paul declared, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18.

Note: Information from the New American Standard Bible and from pastor S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology, Part 1: Theology Proper, “The Goodness of God and the Existence of Evil.”