The meaning of life — our primary purpose — should be to give our hearts to God, and then help others to do the same.
What Is The Meaning Of Life?
On June 10th, Joanne and I were sitting in front of a coffee shop, celebrating our 47th anniversary of the day we met way back in 1967.
A man whom I’ll call “Gary” started a conversation with us. He told several stories of things he’d done in his 81 years. As we listened, it became apparent that for Gary, the meaning of life had been all about trying one scheme after another to become materially wealthy. But he also gave us the impression that he never really achieved his goal.
Joanne and I gently steered the conversation toward spiritual matters. Gary said he had been raised as a Lutheran, but he had left all faith practice a long time ago.
I stood up so I could talk to Gary eye-to-eye. As gently as I could, I said to him,
As I spoke, Gary’s face told me he wasn’t buying it. “You don’t believe a word I just said, do you?” I said. Smiling politely, Gary shook his head and said softly, “No.”
A few minutes later, Gary got into his car and drove away, his beliefs about the meaning of life intact. I’ll probably never see him again.
That Incident Saddens Me
If it saddens me, imagine how Jesus feels. He created each one of us. Then He paid the astonishing price of sacrificing His own life for our sins, hoping that we would chose to surrender our lives to Him, so we could ultimately have fellowship with Him for eternity. He just wants some friends.
Why are so many people indifferent to His invitation? I can think of several reasons:
- Lack of teaching: There is a body of fundamental knowledge that everyone needs. Churches seem to assume everyone has it. Some people do have it, but many do not.
- Unbelief: Many just do not see a connection between Bible wisdom and the moment-by-moment situations of everyday life! To put it another way, they really don’t take God seriously.
- Distraction: There are so many priorities competing for our time and commitment: internet, family activities, careers, sports, etc. to name a few.
- Comfort: Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Living the true Christian life is hard, and most people don’t want “hard”. Most prefer an easy-chair faith in an easy-chair church.
- Inertia: If a person was raised in a certain faith tradition (or none at all), they tend to continue as they were raised. They’ve always done things that way; why change it?
- Religion: So many have been beaten down by dead religion where rules, rites, and rituals are emphasized and the Word of God is marginalized. In effect people are saying, “If that’s what God is like, I’m not interested.”
- Affluence: There are exceptions, but in general, the more of the things of the world we have, the less we seem to acknowledge a need for God in our lives. We feel self-made, as though we ourselves were the source of our success.
The “affluence” disease is as ancient as humanity:
11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…
19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:11~14, 19)
The phrase “follow other gods” (lower case “g”) in the last verse refers to all the things that have a higher priority in our lives than God.
Guess what happened? After spending most of their lives living in tents and eating manna, they moved into a land that had everything they could imagine.
Sure enough, they promptly forgot about God! Eventually they were conquered by their enemies.
You’re thinking, “Oh, that’s Old Testament theology!”
OK then, how about this admonition from the Apostle John:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15~17)
Or these, from the Apostle Paul:
Here is the entire Scripture passage:
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3~4)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
God is saying to us: “Don’t get too comfortable with this world. It will always let you down, and it could keep you away from Me for eternity!”
So is God a heavenly killjoy? Does following God mean that this life is like having to eat broccoli instead of pizza and ice cream?
Absolutely not! God is so good. Look at what He does for us:
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:27`31)
Are you still thinking that the things of the world seem more appealing?
The genius of God is that He hides His wisdom in plain sight.
It’s like He dumps out a big jigsaw puzzle, and we’re supposed to put it together. But there’s no box top. You have to find mating pieces. Only as you find pieces that fit together does a picture begin to emerge.
Thus, when you “Delight yourself in the Lord”, the “desire of your heart” will be to serve Him.
But the truth is, you absolutely do not see any of this… until you choose to step out in faith and commit yourself to following Jesus. Then, like the picture on the puzzle, the real meaning of life begins to come into view.
But you have to begin by faith in what you cannot see.
In a way, it comes down to choosing our priorities, does it not? Considering the meaning of life, what should our Number One priority be?
Maybe this illustration will help you to put life into an eternal perspective.
The Dot And The Line
Use your imagination for a minute:
Imagine that the little square, black dot below represents your mortal life as a human being. Let’s say that the dot is 1/8 inch square, or about 3.2 mm. (The size may appear different depending on your screen.) But the point is: that little dot represents your life, around 75 years on average.
Let’s also imagine that the line represents the eternal life of your soul and spirit. This is the real “you”.
The line represents a row of dots. Every 75 years another dot is added to the end of the line.
Thus one inch of “line” contains 8 “dots”, and represents 600 years.
Therefore one foot (12 inches) is: 12 x 600 = 7200 years. (I don’t think recorded history goes back that many years, does it?)
And therefore, 1 mile (5280 feet) is: 7200 x 5280 = 38,016,000 years! That’s over 38 million years, and the line hasn’t even reached the edge of town yet!
To put it back into 75-year lifetimes, one mile would represent 506,880 lifetimes.
Are you with me so far? Good!
Now, Here’s What All That Means:
Your line comes into being at the same moment as your human life does. But, unlike the dot, the line continues to live on forever after your body dies.
Have You Ever Thought Of This?
THE REAL YOU IS ALREADY IN ETERNITY!
The arrowhead at the end of the timeline indicates that the line continues beyond this screen. In fact, the line never ends. The line, representing your immortal soul, comes into being when your human body does, but it extends off the screen and continues on and on forever.
In the timeline diagram above, the line is about 50 times longer than the dot, again depending on your device. Assuming an average life span of 75 years, the line represents nearly 4,000 years of your eternal life.
The Line Had A Beginning, But It Will Never End!
The line goes off the screen you are viewing this on and extends out into space. For example:
In the illustration below, when the line of 75-year lifetimes reaches the Orion Nebula (about 1300 light years distant), more than 3.8 BILLION TRILLION lifetimes will have passed!
When this imaginary line of 75-year lifetimes eventually reaches to the edge of the universe, it will still represent just the FIRST MOMENT of eternity! Your transformed body and spirit – conscious and aware – will live on throughout trillions upon trillions upon trillions of lifetimes… eternally!
The Question Is… WHERE?
You’ve seen the “dot-and-line” illustration. Now see where God’s heart is toward you.
Here is the entire Scripture passage:
17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save; He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you by his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 niv)
What you may not realize is that Jesus loves you with a love that is beyond your comprehension. And why not? After all, He created you.
As someone has said, “God don’t make no junk!”
Heaven will be more wonderful than we can even imagine:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Jesus Himself assures us that He is preparing a place for us. I have great confidence that it won’t resemble a slum.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
I’m convinced that the reason Jesus didn’t tell us much more is because Heaven is beyond our comprehension.
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Heaven will be a place of perfection.
Just think: no disease, no pain, no weakness, no fatigue, and no growing old.
Your clothes will not become dirty, and your furniture (if we have such things) will never become dusty. Dirt and dust are imperfections that we have to deal with here.
And what about us? In a million years, no harsh word will ever be spoken. No disputes; no anger, no disappointments, no problems, no worries. Also: no fear, no panic attacks, no evil thoughts of any kind.
Are you getting a sense yet of what heaven will be like?
A lot of people will have to learn new skills. There will be no need for doctors, or police officers, or military personnel. Garbage collectors will be out of work, because waste is an imperfection, so there will be no waste of any kind.
There will be no tears, no injuries, no sense of lack. Whatever we need, we will have it.
Best of all, we will have fellowship with Jesus, face to face!
He’ll spend centuries showing us the delights of heaven, and introducing us to the heroes of the Bible. I can’t wait to hear David talk about what it was like to face Goliath!
You and I cannot imagine the joy, the grandeur, the magnificence (I can’t find adequate superlatives) of heaven.
Did you know that the Bible describes what our transformed bodies will be like in Heaven?
Listen to this sermon and hear the details RIGHT FROM THE BIBLE!
Speaker: Dr. David Jeremiah
Title: The Ultimate Extreme Makeover
Ministry: Turning Point
In the sermon, Dr. Jeremiah lists these qualities our resurrected bodies will have.
Our Resurrection Bodies:
- will be real bodies
- will never get old
- will never get tired
- will never be weak
- will be able to eat food, but…
- will never get hungry
- will never be fat or overweight
- will have perfect eyesight
- will will not be subject to accident
- will not be subject to disease
- will never have pain
- will will never wear out
- will never die
- will out-live the Earth and the stars!
Jesus is longing for us, giving us every chance, not wishing that any should perish!
Jesus is longing for each one of us to repent and surrender our lives to Him. But sadly, He knows that most will perish. Our free will includes the freedom to reject Him.
But just as heaven will be perfect and astonishingly awesome beyond our understanding, so also we cannot imagine the horror and agony and loneliness of hell.
Consider This Example.
Here’s a foretaste of hell on earth!
Have you ever burned your finger by accidentally touching something really hot? Remember how you screamed with pain? In less than a second, that hot thing you touched seared the flesh of your finger.
FREEZE FRAME! Not just your finger; your WHOLE BODY! Everywhere on your body — intense searing, burning pain! But it doesn’t consume you. (That would end the pain.)
No, The Pain Never Ends… EVER!
Many people choose to believe that a good and loving God would never condemn people to hell. In our post-modern culture, this belief is very popular. I’ve heard it preached at funerals, for example. They say it as though just by denying the thing they don’t want to be true, it becomes untrue.
But here’s one example of what God has said:
The Great White Throne Judgment
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Want a look at what the final judgment of mankind will be like?
The passage above (from Revelation 20) talks about it. Get details from this sermon.
Speaker: Pastor Greg Laurie
Title: The Final Judgement Of Mankind
Ministry: Harvest Ministries
In the sermon, Pastor Greg describes in detail what happens to those who have steadfastly chosen to keep Jesus off the throne of their lives.
The Bible teaches that physical death is nothing compared to spiritual death. In spiritual death we are separated from Jesus for all of eternity.
As Jesus said, we must be born again. This is our spiritual birth.
As someone has said, “Born once: die twice. Born twice: die once.”
The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:48)
Our lives will be filtered through the grid of God’s Word. Were we indifferent to God? By their indifference to God’s Word, people condemn themselves. He’s told us what to do. He’s given us everything we need.
As I said to Gary, life is a sorting process.
But, as Isaiah said:
Who has believed our message? (Isaiah 53:1)
Is The Bible Really The TRUTH FROM GOD?
That is the critically important question, isn’t it. Can we really believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that He intends for us to have at least a working knowledge of what’s in it so that we can live according to God’s ways?
I was once very skeptical of the Bible and of those who claimed it was written by men who received it from God.
I was SO WRONG!
But I did something right. I chose to review the evidence about the Bible (and there is an incredible amount of evidence) and I am convinced beyond all doubt that the Bible is God’s book of instructions for us.
It’s not wrong to have doubts about something. But according to the Bible, here’s what happens to those who become hardened against the Truth of His Word:
[those who refused] were hardened… God gave them a spirit of stupor: eyes that would not see, and ears that would not hear. down to this very day.” (Romans 11:8)
The Evidence Is “Hidden” In Plain Sight:
God does this all the time. And we, like detectives in a novel, must find the clues and put them together. When we do, suddenly God reveals another astonishing Truth about Himself.
Have you had doubts about the Bible?
What if, as many believe, it’s all a hoax? I urge you to listen to this compelling evidence. I guarantee: it will reassure you.
This audio sermon provides great evidence for why we can trust the Bible.
Speaker: Pastor Chip Ingram
Title: Why I Believe In The Bible
Ministry: Living On The Edge
The following outline is taken from message notes available on the ministry web site:
5 Crucial Questions About The Bible
- Is the Bible the words of men or the very Words of God?
- Is the Bible full of myths, legends, and fairy tales, or historically reliable?
- Is ALL of the Bible true and trustworthy or only portions of it?
- Can a Bible that has been translated so many times for so many hundreds of years really be accurate?
- What makes the Bible so different than all other religious writings and their claims to truth?
7 Reasons Why I Believe In The Bible
- ARCHEOLOGY The Bible is a Historically Accurate Document.
- Hittites Empire Discovered
- Regal House of Nebuchadnezzar Found
- King David’s Reign – Inscription
- Luke – New Testament – Sir William Ramsey’s Work
- 2 Timothy 3:16
- 1 Timothy 5:18
- 2 Peter 3:16
- 3,000 Inferences of Divine Authority
- 40 Authors, 3 Languages, 1,500 Years
- Central Theme is Jesus Christ
- 2 Billion Publications Since 1455
- Who would write such an honest account (even unfavorable) of themselves? i.e. David, Solomon, Paul
- Not Concept or Portions, but the Actual Words are God-Breathed
- Matthew 5:17-18 = The Scope of the Whole Old Testament
- Matthew 22:29-32 = Jesus Based His View of the Resurrection on the Tense of a Verb
- Galatians 3:16 = Argument Based on Plural vs Singular Use of the Word “Seed”
- Specific Future Events vs Vague Generalities
- Judgment of Tyre — Ezekiel 26
- Succession of World Empires — Daniel 2, 7
- Fulfillment of Jesus as Messiah — 300 Predictions (probability of 8 predictions = 1 out of 1017)*
Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, “we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th. That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that ”˜we take 10 to the 17th silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.
Peter Stoner, Science Speaks
- Meticulousness of Copyists in Transcriptions
- Proximity of Manuscripts
- Over 24,000 New Testament Manuscripts
- Dead Sea Scrolls
I’ve asked myself questions like these many times:
- One hundred years from now, will what I am doing now have made any difference to me or to anyone else?
- What am I doing today that is more important than getting ready for eternal life?
- In light of eternity, does this (the thing I’m thinking of doing) really matter?
- What am I doing in this life that will last longer than I will?
If I ever saw Gary again, I would ask him this question (which I’m asking you right now):
If you were to stand before God today, and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you into Heaven?”, what would your answer be?
I actually have asked that question of a few people. As I recall, everyone’s answer had to do with “being a good person”. Wrong answer!
Being a good person is fine! In fact, let me encourage you: BE THE BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE!
But I can show you atheists who are “good persons”. These are people who totally reject the message of Christianity. Will they be going to heaven? Not according to the Bible.
Good people don’t go to heaven. Forgiven people go to heaven.
Besides, in regard to the “good person” idea, none of us can be good enough. Don’t compare yourself to other people. They aren’t the standard. God doesn’t “grade on a curve”. In God’s courtroom, you have to have lived a perfect life in order to be good enough. The only human being who ever did that is Jesus.
There is only one correct answer to the question about why God should let someone into heaven.
Here’s the answer:
“Lord, You shouldn’t let me into Heaven… based on the merits of my sinful life. But I know that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, then He died on a cross to pay for my sins. I have accepted His offer to forgive my sins and grant me eternal salvation. I gave my heart and my life to Jesus.”
But you have to mean it. REALLY mean it!
You can fake it in front of people, but you can’t fake it before the God Who created all things and Who knows the deepest thoughts and “hidden” secrets of your heart.
If that describes you, you’re going to Heaven.
The real life is yet to come.
We get one chance — ONE CHANCE — to take hold of this reality:
- We are created beings. (We did not evolve.) Our creator made everything in the universe from nothing.
- There was a point in time when our creator (Jesus) came among us as one of us.
- He interacted with us, teaching and demonstrating by example how we should live.
- He, though completely innocent, willingly died on a cross and rose from the dead as FULL PAYMENT for the sins of everyone.
- He left us His written guidelines (the Bible) for how to live in safety and in harmony with His ways in this very temporary world.
- Through His Word, He made it known that He would love to have a deep, personal relationship with every one of us.
- He has offered to send His Spirit to live within each of us, through whom He will give us His power, His comfort, and His guidance. But it’s up to each of us to accept His offer.
- He has said that those who accept Him and His ways will one day be in heaven with Him.
- He has invited us to be His ambassadors to the world.
- He has made it abundantly clear that the only way we could succeed in any of this would be by knowing and living by His Word.
Do we have to do these things perfectly?
NO! God knows we can do nothing perfectly. He’s just looking for steady progress in the right direction.
But Wouldn’t You Agree: Our Main Stumbling Block Is Worldliness!
- We tend to focus only on the present life, and it’s packaged to look so attractive. Meanwhile, the devil encourages us to accumulate “things”. In so doing, we put ourselves under the yoke of bondage known as credit.
My response, back in the 1990’s, was to get rid of all credit cards. Joanne and I have a small mortgage and that’s our only debt!
- The world system with all it’s advertising works relentlessly to make us discontent. We feel we have to have more.
My response is to get off that treadmill.
- Worldly wisdom says, “He who dies with the most toys wins”.
My response is, “Wins what?? No, he who dies with lots of toys — is DEAD!”
How Then Can We Live?
And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ”˜Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’” (Ezekiel 33:10)
On Tuesday June 27, 1967, I was drafted into the United States Army. Near the end of the induction process, we were lined up in rows and sworn in. At that point we officially became “property” of the Army.
After that swearing-in process, if I had said, “Well, this has been interesting, but I have to be going now. I have a few other things I want to do”, what do you think would have happened? Instead of leaving, I would have been taken into custody. I had made sworn promises which the Army took very seriously. And for a period of time, they had complete authority over my life.
In The Same Way, If We are Truly Christians, Shouldn’t God Have Total Authority Over Our Lives? Of course He should!!
I’ve heard many “sinners-prayer” sermons over years of listening on the radio and in church. I can’t quote them all, but it’s common to invite the listener to make Jesus your “Lord and Savior”.
In biblical times, a “lord” had authority over his subjects. So when we call Jesus our “Lord”, should we not be inviting Him to have dominion over our lives?
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” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Here are a few steps I’m taking toward that end:
- Rising Early: By going to bed early and getting up early, I choose to give to God the first part of each day. I know myself well enough to realize that if I don’t do these things first, I probably won’t get to them later.
- Putting God First: He is first in all things, particularly in my finances. After all, it’s all His money. How blessed I am that He allows me to be the steward of some of it!
- Praising God: As frequent opportunities arise, I choose to praise God throughout each day. The more I do this, the more God reveals Himself to me.
- Applying Scripture: By diligently memorizing more and more Bible verses, I’ve begun to see God applying His Word through me every day.
- Encouraging Others: People respond better to someone with a positive attitude. By choosing to apply principles of Scripture, God is reshaping my attitude.
- Sharing Wisdom God Has Given Me: You’re reading some of what I have to share right now. And when I’m with people, I look for opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life on a one-on-one basis.
- Guarding My Thoughts: On the tightrope of life, where I am so perilously close to slipping, I choose to rely heavily on the power of God’s Word to keep from falling.
How I would love to have known these things when I was younger! My own life would have been richer, and I could have done a better job of communicating Biblical values to my children.
Back To My Original Statement To Gary:
Call To Action
So, how about you? What are you believing? Do you want to go to heaven? Are you at a place where you want to agree with Jesus that, “I want Your way”?
Remember the “dot-and-line” illustration?
Whether you believe it or not, one day a line like this will describe you!
Have you said to God by your words and actions, “Thy will be done”?
Or do your words and actions say to God, “Stay out of my life!”? If so, one day God will say to you, “Thy will be done!” You will have separated YOURSELF from Him for all of eternity!
Pray to receive Jesus RIGHT NOW!
Say these words out loud:
If you sincerely prayed that prayer, and if you really follow through on what you said, the decision will turn out to be the ONE THING that you did in your entire lifetime that will be important to you 100 years from now!
IN FACT: If you sincerely prayed, and chose to follow Jesus, the part of your being that is eternal is ALREADY LIVING IN ETERNAL LIFE WITH JESUS!!
One final question for you:
The most dangerous word in your vocabulary right now is the word “TOMORROW”, as in “I’ll get on that starting Tomorrow”. That’s how the devil wants you to think. Instead, start now!
Here are two ways I can help you get started:
- Now that you have Jesus as Lord of your life, the devil will try to get you back. But he can’t touch you if you are properly equipped. My article, What The Devil DOES NOT Want You To Know will help to start equipping you for spiritual warfare. You are in a battle for your soul!
Read What The Devil DOES NOT Want You To Know
- Someone has said about overcoming the devil: “The battle takes place in our minds, and we win the battle with Scripture.” Speaking Bible verses from memory are like firing bullets from a rifle at a human terrorist. I know the topic of Scripture memory puts some people off, but would you at least take a look and let me just show you how easy it really is? Here’s an article entitled:
Memorize Bible Verses; Here’s How!
Inspiration for The Dot And The Line
I got my inspiration for “The Dot And The Line” segment of this article from “A Life God Rewards” by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Prayer of Jabez.
Here is part of page 28 of “A Life God Rewards” containing the diagram that got me thinking about eternity, and how to express it.
Excerpt from “A Life God Rewards” by Bruce Wilkinson