So what, then, does the Bible say about the meaning of life? Why are we here on the earth? What are we to do? What is my purpose on this earth? What is your purpose? What is uncle Steve’s purpose?
LOOK FOR THE TRUTH
Paul the apostle strolls into the city of Athens, Greece, a notorious haven of academia—particularly philosophy—and attempts to educate them regarding the purpose of man’s existence—the truth about life:
“…And he made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God…”
It is God’s intention that mankind—the pinnacle of His glorious Creation—seek Him. Paul said this to a group of Greeks in a city that, in a manner of speaking, had more gods than people! “What are they good for? Absolutely nothing!” There is a God Who is alive, however, and Paul wanted them to know that this God created the universe, including themselves, and that this God wants them to seek Him—to look for the truth.
IDENTIFY THE TRUTH
And what is the purpose of this search? What is the purpose of any search? To find what it is that you seek, of course. And so, since God intends and expects man to seek Him and His truth, He full intends that they be able to find Him, and to identify His truth.
“…if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being…”
— Acts 17:27b,28 —
In fact, not only is it true that God is “not far from each one of us,” but, as far as He was concerned, that “not far” was not close enough—for He came even closer to give us and show us the truth He would have us identify:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In him was life; and the life was the light of men… That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth.”
— John 1:1,4,9,14 —
If truth is what we seek, and what we need to find, in whom, then, is truth—and life itself—to be found? Who is this “Word,” “full of grace and truth”? Jesus Christ:
“But that is not the way you learned Christ! —Assuming that you have heard about him, and were taught in him, even as the truth is in Jesus...”
— Ephesians 4:20,21 —
He left heaven in order to come to earth and show us the Way of eternal truth, and eternal life. Yet, even so, being born in the flesh (cf. Php. 2:6), living the perfect life (Php. 2:5-8; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:22), and even giving His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28) did not constitute the end of God’s great, eternal plan of man’s redemption and reconciliation to Him:
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you… [and] he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
— John 16:7,13 —
This is NOT a promise that the Holy Spirit will directly guide each and every person into all truth; rather, it is a promise that the word which was given through the apostles (to whom this promise was strictly given¹) was, indeed, from Almighty God—a fact that was repeatedly confirmed by their performance of various miracles (cf. Mark 16:20)—the same way Jesus proved Himself to be Who He claimed to be!
Jesus and His apostles stressed just how important it was for us to identify the truth, and where to find it:
“Sanctify them in thy truth: thy word is truth.”
— John 17:17 —
“To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears My voice.”
— John 18:37 —
“My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me. If a man wishes to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself.”
— John 7:16,17 —
“…you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation… whereby, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ…
— Ephesians 3:3,4 —
Truly Proverbs 23:23 is worth repeating here: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; yea, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding,” —all of which can be found only in the word of God, come down through the ages to be known as The Holy Bible.
FOLLOW THE TRUTH
However, we must not stop at merely identifying (i.e., “knowing”) the truth. Instead, once we have identified the truth, we must then begin to follow it! The number of passages of Scripture that show the need to follow God’s word are astronomical. A small sample will suffice:
“The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commands men that they should all everywhere repent.”
— Acts 17:30 —
“Oh send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me: let them bring me to thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.”
— Psalm 43:3 —
“But he that does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.”
— John 3:21 —
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”
— James 1:22 —
“IF YOU ABIDE IN MY WORD, THEN YOU ARE TRULY MY DISCIPLES.”
— John 8:31 —
“Whoever believes on the Son has eternal life; but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
— John 3:36 —
This (John 3:36) is an extremely important passage, as it—notwithstanding the woefully unfortunate rendering of the KJV/NKJV—demonstrates the synonymity of biblical “belief” and active obedience. Observe:
“Whoever believes on (pisteuoon) the Son has eternal life; but whoever obeys not (apeithoon) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Other passages, however, illustrate this same monumental truth of true, Biblical “belief” or “faith”:
“And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief….
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience…
— Hebrews 3:18,19; 4:6 —
Or consider the contrast of these two statements from Jehovah to Moses and Aaron:
“Because you believed not in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
— Numbers 20:12 —
“…When you have seen [the promised land], you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin, when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.”
— Numbers 27:12-14 —
Are we to suppose that Jehovah of hosts contradicted Himself? Certainly not! Rather, we see the divine, spiritual, biblical principle that to “rebel against” God’s word—to disobey—is, in fact, to disbelieve! In other words, the “unbelievers” of the world are not those who deny God’s existence; but those who defy God’s word.
So, it isn’t enough to look for the truth; nor is it enough to identify the truth. If we would fulfill our purpose in this life, we must follow the truth—wherever it takes us: even if it takes us away from mom and dad, granny and granddad, wife or husband, son or daughter.
As the psalmist declared:
“Put not your trust in princes,
Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in Jehovah his God:
Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,
Who keeps truth for ever…
— Psalm 146:3-6 —
EXTEND THE TRUTH
Finally, once we have Looked for the truth, Identified it, and made it our habit to Follow it, we still must not stop: but we must then strive to spread it to others.
“GO INTO ALL THE WORLD, AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE WHOLE CREATION…”
— Mark 16:15 —
“GO THEREFORE, AND DISCIPLE ALL THE NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM INTO THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I COMMANDED YOU.”
— Matthew 28:19 —
This is what the first century Christians did (cf. Acts 8:4), and the results were “out of this world” (cf. Acts 17:6).
Solomon summed it up like this:
“This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
— Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 —
In other words:
Our purpose in THIS life is to prepare for the NEXT life.
Our purpose THIS day is to prepare for THAT Day.
Our purpose on EARTH is to get to HEAVEN.
¹ The statements recorded in chapters 13-17 of John’s gospel account are all in the upper room, spoken between Jesus and His twelve (or eleven—cf. Jn. 13:30) apostles, alone (see Luke 22:14). The parallel accounts of this quiet evening alone with the apostles (which would be their last evening together) are as follows: Matthew 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-38; John 13:1 – 17:26. Everything spoken in these sections of Scripture were spoken strictly to the apostles, and therefore should not be taken out of context to mean something they don’t. This is commonly done in regard to the promise recorded in John 14:15-26 and 16:4-15—namely, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and what He was to do. Many erroneously believe this promise applies to anyone who “believes in” Jesus. However, when engaging in a closer examination of the balance of testimony in the New Testament record, it becomes evident that this promise—in its directness—was limited strictly to the twelve apostles [- Judas, + Matthias (cf. Acts 1:26)].
[NOTE: If you would like more information on the subject of this footnote, I would be more than happy to address it more elaborately. P-L-E-A-S-E email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, put “BIBLE QUESTION” in the subject box, and simply tell what’s on your mind (generally and specifically). I will do what I can to address it in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Don’t be shy—I sincerely look forward to hearing from you!]