(Author's note: This series is an expansion of a message given at LTCF on 6/23/10. It would be a good idea to have your bible out to follow the scriptures used in this post. J)
Ok, I know what you're thinking. Entire books have been written on this subject by much smarter people than an old football coach. I entirely agree. So why am I dealing with this topic? Well, is there any more important question to ask than why are we here and do we have a purpose? If so what is it, how do we find it? All of the great philosophers in history have wrestled with that question. I think that every person on earth must think of that at some point in their life. If you have not yet settled this is your mind and heart, I believe that this series will help.
Have you ever thought about how an atheist, who believes in evolution, must answer this question? After all, if we are a cosmic accident, evolving over billions of years from some other life form, then we couldn't possibly have a soul or spirit. If that is true, then how could we have any purpose other than what we ourselves might decide to have? The famous atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell once said, "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless." How depressing is that? But it's true.
Let's think for a minute about what people who don't believe in God might decide their purpose is. I often ask my students what they would like their future to look like. Many would say that the sole purpose of their life is to become rich, famous and powerful. That can end in a couple of ways;
- It never happens in which case they may become depressed, angry and sometimes become self-destructive
- They reach their goal, but they find out it doesn't satisfy them.
We have all heard testimonies of people like this. People, at the pinnacle of worldly success, admit that they are empty inside. They realize that all they have achieved does not bring them the fulfillment that they thought it would. They still must ask themselves, "What is my true purpose in life?" Even people who have a more noble purpose than fame and riches, still find themselves unfulfilled in the end. I recall at the end of the movie "Schindler's List", the scene where He is being praised for his good works. His statement was "I SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE!"
Well, as Christians, we receive our purpose from God. Rick Warren, in his bestselling book, "The Purpose Driven Life" begins chapter one with the title, "It All begins with God". So true! Maybe you have read his book so you think that you can go ahead and take a nap now, but I hope, that in this series, I can share some important things about this topic that were not discussed. SO, STAY AWAKE! Pastor Rick is right, fulfilling life's purpose does begin with God, but it's more than that. Let's start with what God's word tells us our purpose is.
Eph 2:10 says: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Our purpose then is really quite simple. Do those good works that he has prepared in advance for you to do. The question is, how do we accomplish this? Notice it says that we are created for good works. I believe that the context of this word "created" is speaking of our recreation at the point of salvation, being born again. Why do I say that? Look back at verse 1 in Eph 2
(1) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, (2) in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (3) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
We were dead (spiritually) in our transgressions. DEAD! Not mostly dead like in Princess Bride, but DEAD! A (spiritually) dead person cannot do good works. Before being born again we cannot do any truly good works. You say "but what about non believers who give to feed the poor or save the whales or find a cure to cancer?" Well, I am glad that people do these things, but remember that God judges the intent of our hearts. Even if we think our motives are pure, there is always some selfishness involved.
Jer 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Truly good works always bring glory to God, not man. We don't have it in our human nature to do good works without wanting some glory for ourselves. But, praise be to God he saves us from this plight and recreates us to do good works
2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. We are new creatures, recreated. All of this done by His grace!
Look back at Eph 2:7-9 "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Therefore, when we are born again we gain the ability to do good works that bring glory to God, not us. So the first step in fulfilling our purpose in life is receiving Jesus as our savior and becoming a new creation in Christ. If you want to find your purpose in life, you must take that first step and receive Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord. If you have never done that I pray that you would take that step right now. You can follow the steps listed in the left hand column of this blog entitled "How to become a Christian" Then you will be ready for step two in fulfilling your purpose in life, which will be in the next post entitled, "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit"
May God bless you as you follow His leading in doing the good works He has prepared in advance for you to do! Coach