Index of Lessons in the Westminster Shorter Catechism
Why Did God Make Us?
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(Westminster Shorter Catechism Q:1-2)
by Bob Burridge ©2011
There are some really big questions of life. Often they tend to loom in the back of our minds. They work their way to the surface in those challenging times, the very lonely times. That’s when people wonder why they’re here, what’s the point of it all?
To the secularist, there can’t be an answer. There is no “why”. Without an understanding that God is central in it all, we’re just part of an accidental series of events that evolved out of primal life forms. If that’s true, then there’s really no purpose in our being here, no reason beyond just surviving, and doing our best to enjoy what time we have while we’re alive.
Those who think this way, usually end up very unsatisfied and depressed. They just live to get as much pleasure as they can out of life while it lasts. They eventually discover that indulging their own pleasures never really satisfies. It just makes people hunger for more. Death in that view of things is just the end of it all, and there’s nothing else beyond the grave.
So when pleasure ends, life may as well end too. Many come to think that it’s therefore merciful to eliminate the elderly, the sick, the depressed and the handicapped. They kill unborn babies if they don’t think they can live a pleasureful life, or if they think they are an inconvenience to the parents. There’s nothing to human existence beyond getting things and enjoying them for awhile.
There is much more to live for than just trying to enjoy surviving.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes what God says in the Bible. It starts with that big question: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is simple but profound: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.”
What an astoundingly different outlook on life! There is a good reason why we’re here, why we were created and put on the earth.
The second catechism question is about how we can know how to fulfill that purpose. Question 2 asks: “What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?” The answer points us back to the writings God preserved for us to know why he put us here. It says, “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.”
The whole creation is meant to be a constant lesson
about God’s nature, plan, and glory.
In Psalm 19:1-2 God moved King David to write,
1. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
It’s not reasonable that God would make all things to display his nature and glory but then keep it as a closely guarded secret. If God created everything to tell about himself, he would also create us able to understand it, and to have a way to find out about it.
That’s exactly what he did. He gave us a book, written by many chosen writers throughout early human history, and kept free from error by his perfect oversight so that it exactly preserves his truths for us. That book is what we call The Bible.
Later in Romans 1:20 the Apostle Paul said, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”
Everything in the entire universe is here to declare God’s glory, and God gave us a written document to tell us so.
From the most infinitesimal things we can see or measure, to the most vast expanses of the cosmos, and in all the mysteries of both, God’s the complex detail in all he made and his incomprehensible power amaze us.
The Bible is written for us humans in particular.
It tells us why we’re put here as part of it all.
There are many places in Scripture which summarize our importance in the Creator’s world.
When God first made humans he explained their purpose. In Genesis 1 he said he made us in his image. We are a simplified reflection of his nature. He made us to “have dominion” over all other things on the earth. We are to manage creation so that its seen for what it is, his handiwork. We’re to be the objects of his mercy and grace even in our rebellion against him.
In Colossians 1:16 Paul said, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
In John’s glimpse of heaven in Revelation 4:11 Jesus Christ is honored with these words, “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
When Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers about the dietary rules some were insisting upon, he said in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The Apostle Peter gives a warning to those who teach God’s word. In his First Epistle 4:11 he wrote, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter’s concern was that ministers stay true to what God had said in his word. They were to teach as God’s oracles, those called to deliver the Creator’s message.
The purpose is that God is to be glorified in all things. This is the goal of all teaching, of all living, of everything we do. Through the redemption that is ours in Jesus Christ. His is the glory and the dominion, forever.
The problem is that when mankind fell into sin,
he lost fellowship with God.
Man started to think of his own pleasure as the main purpose for being here. He re-directed all the glory to himself instead of to his Creator. Aside from the work of God’s grace to repair that twisted mind-set, we all would be this way to the extreme.
That’s what Paul said in Ephesians 4:18 about all who aren’t made alive by Grace in Christ. There God’s word says, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;”
This is why the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Man-centered religion might accept that there is a god of some kind or another. However, the god of those religionists is there for their own pleasure, rather than their being created for his pleasure.
The truth of God revealed in the Bible
liberates us from this tragic misconception.
We are here to glorify him and to enjoy him forever. This changes everything.
If you’re redeemed in Christ, your goals in life aren’t just to find momentary pleasure for yourself. The pleasures offered by the culture of our lost world can’t really satisfy and fulfill you. Your life was designed by God to expect more than just pleasing feelings. The best you can get aside from living for God’s glory is a temporary experience. When it fades you’re left with emptiness, and a hunger for more. Moses knew this when he decided to side with God’s oppressed people instead of enjoying the luxury of a life in Egypt’s royal palaces.
In Hebrews 11:24-26 God’s word says, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”
1 John 2:16-17 warns us saying, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life— is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
In Christ you can find eternal satisfaction in glorifying God and enjoying his fellowship. That’s what was made to satisfy you. Any other goals in life are deceptive illusions.
Don’t believe the lie. You were made to enjoy honoring God in all things. Any substitute will keep you from experiencing real life-satisfying pleasure.
This means that your values aren’t found in your bank statement or in all the things you have. These things are part of the distraction from what you ought to do with what God gives you. They aren’t ends in themselves. They are your’s to manage responsibly for God’s glory.
In Matthew 16:26 Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Real value is when you use your time, talent, income, and possessions for God’s glory. As Jesus said, by obeying God in all things, you lay up treasures in heaven. That doesn’t mean just some remote reward for after you die. It means you build up riches in God’s Kingdom, beyond just what this world offers. You fulfill your created purpose, and life takes on a whole new meaning.
It means that your entertainment isn’t just to find pleasure for the moment. Indulging your physical urges and imaginations will not honor God if it’s contrary to his morality. You can enjoy your foods, movies, romance, jokes, games, and web-browsing in ways that fully please God. Any other way just buys into the lies of hell itself. It baits you into a trap. You’re here to enjoy the created world in ways those out of fellowship with God can’t imagine.
There’s no better way to occupy yourself, than to appreciate the wonder and beauty of God’s creation and redemption. Friends and families that share those values are the best companionship.
As the writer says over and over again in Ecclesiastes, aside from fulfilling our created purpose of honoring God in all things, all is vanity — emptiness.
If you’re redeemed in Christ, Church isn’t just a nice social group, or a way to get an emotional or psychological boost. It’s the union of God’s people as a spiritual family to learn together, and to serve God together. It’s not just membership in an organization or fraternity.
Belonging to a sound church means being a living and responsible part of the gathered body of Christ on earth. Submitting to the appointed Shepherds who lead the churches, and helping it do its worship and work, brings a blessing beyond merely what you think you get out of attending or donating. It secures the promised blessing of God for obedience to the order he set up himself.
The Creator, our Redeemer, calls you to be committed to a local body that worships, learns, prays, serves, and encourages.
Our culture, influenced by the attitudes and values of a fallen world, has reduced the church to little more than a service or entertainment corporation. What Christ calls you to is radically different than that. It’s how he tells you to unite together to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
This is how you can really help those around you.
Knowing your created purpose is how you can find real peace for yourself, and meaning for all you plan for in your life. The best you can do for your children isn’t to prepare them for a career, or an envied social life, it’s to prepare them to live for God’s glory in all things.
When John wrote his Third letter, he said in verse 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
You best help those around you, you best meet the real needs of the needy, not by feeding them, clothing them, or providing health care. While it’s good to help others in material ways, that’s not what really makes a difference. You best help when you restore them to fellowship with God through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This isn’t just a formal creed. It must be your way of life. 24 hours of all seven days of every week, all year long, all life long — you need to live the way God calls you to live.
Your only hope, God’s only promise of a satisfying existence here on earth and beyond, is found when you do what you were created and redeemed to do … glorify God and enjoy him forever.
(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)