Life is measured in seasons of time as predictable as the sunrise and sunset of each passing day. We busy ourselves with the tasks of daily life, working, raising a family, which often leaves little time for anything else. It can become a drudgery, these gears of life grinding away, stealing our joy, leaving us to wonder what is it all about? We surround ourselves with things, distractions from our toils, always looking and planning for the next big thing, a vacation, a new car, sometimes anything to help us look beyond our current circumstances. But why? There it is, that ever-present question, the one we bury deep inside – what does it all mean and what is my purpose in life?
With each passing month, we work our way through this tangled existence, hoping to meet the demands that press against us. The rent or mortgage payment is due, car payments, credit card bills, this never-ending circle of requirements often become all-consuming. Sometimes you just want to escape from it all but it never stops, time just keeps coming at us, relentlessly, and round and round we go. There has to be more to life than all of this…
Believers wait and watch for the hour of our Lord’s return as the world around us crumbles under the weight of transgressions and denial of the Creator. Pressures continue to mount against those that believe in the Word, having received salvation through Jesus. It is hard to watch as the world, blind to the truth, spins more out of control each day, while evil grows and spreads like a plague. While seekers clamor for answers and believers seek the Lord for strength to persevere, let’s step back to the beginning and follow the path of God’s perfect plan that leads to the one true answer, the way, the truth and the life.
John Chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Verse 14 further states, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In the previous reference, John speaks of the beginning, which is also detailed for us here in Genesis chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. When we put that together with the words from John chapter 1, we know that Jesus was there at the beginning of creation. The Word was with God, the Word became flesh. Jesus came to this earth, walked among us, shared in the trials and tribulations we all face, then in perfect obedience to God the Father, Jesus died on a cross for our sins. But let’s look even deeper, to gain a full understanding of why Jesus came to this earth as an atonement for sin.
The Bible tells us that God created day and night, He separated the land from the seas, He created all manner of creature, both in the seas and on land. But something was missing, creation was not complete until God created man. However, we also know that God created all angelic hosts, which included the most beautiful of the angels, the one called Lucifer, as referenced in Isaiah Chapter 14 verse 12,
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
In Ezekiel Chapter 28, in verses 12 through 16, Lucifer is described in this way,
You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every kind of precious stone covered you:
carnelian, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and emerald. Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created. You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones. From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you. Through the abundance of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
From this, we know that God’s perfect creation, including man, was set on a collision course of good against evil, as Lucifer was cast out of heaven, along with the legion of angels that followed. Satan, as he became known, so despised God that he made it his mission to seek and devour all of mankind, like a hungry lion prowling about as described in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8,
Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
Why did Satan fall? It can be summed up in one word, pride. It is revealed in Ezekiel chapter 28 verse 17,
Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor
you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground.
It was through the sin of pride that Satan fell from grace and turned on mankind as we read when he encountered Eve in the garden. In Genesis chapter 3, Satan used the serpent to tempt Eve by contradicting God. The instructions had been made clear, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God forbid them to eat. Satan tickled the ears of Eve by deceiving her into thinking that if she ate of this tree, she would become as God with all knowledge and wisdom. Adam and Eve both ate the fruit of the tree and became aware that they were naked and they hid from the Lord. When God came into the garden in the evening he called out to Adam, “where are you?” God knew where Adam was but in calling out to him, he was indicating that they had become separated by sin. Adam was asked what he had done and he blamed Eve and in a sense blamed God as he explained the fruit was given to him by the woman that God had created. At this point, the perfect creation of God was corrupted, sin had entered into man and this sinful nature would be passed through every generation. Adam did not repent of his sin in disobeying God’s command regarding the tree of knowledge, instead, he made excuses, blamed others and in so doing, all mankind suffers the consequences of that day.
So why did God create us if we were doomed to failure and sin? Was God lonely, was he taken by surprise that Man sinned against him? Satan would love for us to believe that he was able to sneak into the garden of Eden and ruin creation without God having any knowledge, but that is not the case. Man was created by God and given a free will, but it is a mistake to think that man has autonomy over God’s plans, that sin was introduced by happenstance and God needed a new plan to rectify the situation. God knows the future events as demonstrated throughout the Bible, both in prophesy and by the very words of Christ as he foretold his own destiny. Furthermore, we know that God not only possesses foreknowledge of events, he plans those events and puts them into action.
Isaiah chapter 46 verses 9 through 11
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”
We see it throughout God’s word time and again as the prophets were given knowledge of things to come according to God’s plans and purposes. It even carried forward through Jesus as He walked on earth. Jesus foretold the disciples of the coming crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus told the disciples at the last supper of the betrayal of Judas and of Peter’s coming denial. Therefore it is without any doubt that we can know there is nothing that surprises God. Not only does he know the future, he plans for it and carries out his purposes according to His will. So we wonder why did God create mankind, was He lonely? I think it is best answered by C.S. Lewis,
“God did not make us because He was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do. He created us to be the objects of His love! Sometimes our actions make us unlovely, but we are never unloved. And because God loves us—we have value. And nobody can take that value away. God’s love revealed at Calvary fastens itself onto flawed creatures like us, and for reasons none of us can ever quite figure out, makes us precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. And this is the love with which God loves us.”
When we try to fathom this abundant love, we grapple in our attempts to reason it out and often times this leads to frustration as we struggle to comprehend God’s true purposes for our lives. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 8 verses 37 through 39,
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In our own limited ability to reason this out, we look for balance, a way to justify the means to an end. However, we always come up short in trying to determine a way that we are good enough to justify the love that God shows to us. Some will simply give up and say this is ridiculous, God would not create man simply to make us the objects of His love, but consider this undeniable extension of that love in Romans chapter 5 verse 8,
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This brings us to the amazing grace extended to all mankind from our Creator. Satan introduced sin and all evil into this world and he continues his all-out assault without ceasing. If Satan hates God, then why does he attack us? Genesis chapter 1 verse 27,
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Because of God’s unending love for us, we have value in His sight, and this value causes Satan to seethe with rage against us. We are created in the very image of God. We are caught in a spiritual battle, a tug of war for our very souls, yet in all of this, God also created the perfect plan of salvation. We are not hopelessly lost, for we have a way out, not because of anything we do, but because that very love that brought about our own creation is why Jesus died in our places as a living sacrifice to cover all of our transgressions. God values each and every one of us, so much so, that he provided a path for our redemption so that we may move on from this brief time on earth, to an eternity with Him.
John chapter 3 verse 16 says,
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
The Bible further explains this pathway to salvation in Romans Chapter 10, verses 9 and 10;
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Paul the Apostle of Christ reminds us in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 and 20,
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We give ourselves over to God completely when we accept salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are no longer our own, we belong to God. Jesus took our rightful consequences upon himself, and tho he was without sin, he paid the debt that we could not pay. Jesus laid bare his back and took the scourging of a Roman soldiers whip. Jesus then carried our cross through the streets along the Via Dolorosa or the way of suffering, where he was then nailed to that cross at Golgotha where he died a slow and agonizing death for our sins. That is the price of our salvation, the cost paid by Jesus so that we may find redemption and avoid the wages of our own iniquities, which is death and eternal separation from our Creator.
Unfortunately today, a new religion has sprung to life, enjoying great success as they share a message of love of self, how to be happy, how to enjoy life in this world with catchy phrases of sunshine and good times with very little mention of God, or the price of sin and the payment that Christ made on our behalf. This watered-down form of religion allows people to hold onto a form of godliness without the baggage of all that talk of sin, after all, they will tell you, “who are we to judge others?” Paul spoke of this coming age and warned against it in 2 Timothy chapter 3, saying that people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful and proud, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power. We are warned to avoid such people. Our shared mission as believers in Christ is to share the message with compassion for those that have not found salvation in hopes that others will come to a place of repentance and experience the gift of redemption. The most basic of all truths that apply to everyone is found in Romans chapter 3 verse 23,
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
The good news continues in the same chapter as we read in verses 24 through 26,
And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is why we share our faith, as we are instructed by Christ, so that the world may come to know the true grace of God. As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “if you aim for heaven, you will get the earth as well, but if you aim for the earth, you will receive neither.”
How terrible for anyone to have to stand before Jesus on that day and hear him speak the words from Matthew chapter 7 verse 23,
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Satan is real, the spiritual battle is on-going, the crucifixion of Christ was a bloody, humiliating and violent death…Jesus paid the price for our sins…we are bought at a price. Our hope comes through the resurrection when on the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead and he now sits at the right hand of our heavenly Father.
But let’s not fall into another trap, seeking the kingdom without understanding what it is and our responsibility in leading the lost towards the light. When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time, he was lauded as a King and cheered as a conquering hero. The people expected to see the long-awaited kingdom of God to be revealed right before their very eyes. They were anticipating an overthrow of the system that they had come to despise. It had less to do with their passion for the Messiah as much as their own selfish desires to see their occupiers turned away in defeat. When this did not occur, they turned against their Messiah and joined together in rage as they called for his death.
Where is the kingdom? The people had no desire to share in the faith of Christ, to be changed in their hearts, to turn away from their sins, to love their fellow man, they wanted justice and revenge. In many ways we see this misguided effort in our own churches, we want our institutions of government to conform to our ways, we want justice, we stand on the steps of the supreme court and shout for right and push away those that need to hear the message of salvation the most. We say we want revival but our actions say we want political change and justice even more.
We have a calling as believers as laid out for us in Matthew chapter 28, the great commission, to share the love of Christ with everyone so that they might come to a place of repentance. Paul the Apostle extolled the virtues of patience and gentleness when he spoke in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verses 24 and 25,
The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.
We have traveled a long way, from creation through redemption, asking the questions of purpose in life and living in God’s amazing grace, so let’s take hold of this great redemptive story and share the passion of our Christ, our savior and Lord. Our purpose is to strive to be like Jesus, to accept God’s unconditional love and to share that love with one another. Paul the Apostle so eloquently taught that we should turn away from impurity and ignorance in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 20 through 24,
But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.
Finally, Paul continued these teachings of patience and kindness in verses 29 through 32,
No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
We have found the kingdom of God, it resides within the hearts of believers, by the grace of our heavenly Father. So let’s seek revival by starting in our own heart, praying on our knees that God will search our hearts and minds and show us His will as we journey through this life in preparation for the next. We know that God’s principles and moral foundations work, but let’s not become distracted in our pursuit of change, expecting a lost world to adapt to our ways. To bring about change, to turn the world back towards God, we should focus on the hearts of man, not the institutions of man’s creation. We are all one through Jesus Christ, we are all created in God’s image and we all have great value in His sight.
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John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons Ministry