What Is God?

Index of Lessons in the Westminster Shorter Catechism

What Is God?

Video presentation of this lesson

(Westminster Shorter Catechism Q:4)
by Bob Burridge ©2014

Atheism is not the greatest enemy of God’s Kingdom or of the church. It never was. It has never been promoted by more than a few, and hasn’t confused many people.

The greatest threat has always come from those who believe in imitations of God. It was devotedly religious people who attacked the Patriarchs, held the Israelites as captives, and tried to eliminate the early church. Even the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Emperors of Rome were firm believers in their gods. Some of them even promoted themselves as god’s, and came to believe their own claims.

Satan is very smart in his attacks. God is so obviously there, that the only effective way to deceive people about him is to offer substitutes that fit what fallen hearts want to believe and do. Today Millions of people are taken in by religions that promote ideas directly against what the Bible says.

According to current CIA world statistics, only about 2.01% of the world considers itself to be Atheist. That’s down from 2.32% from the previous report. 33.39% say they are Christians. 22.74% are Muslims. 13.8% are Hindus. 6.77% are Buddhists. There are many religions which represent less than 1% of the world’s population. They include 0.35% who are Sikhs, 0.22% are Jews, 0.11% are Baha’is. Other even smaller religions make up 10.95%. There are 9.66% who say they have no religion.

Ancient Israel was surrounded by nations which believed in some kind of god. The deity to which those nations were devoted, was not the God of Scripture.

The apostles and early Christians faced this same confusion in the Roman world. When Paul started to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles, and when he stood in Athens on Mars Hill, he had to go back to the basics about what God is. The god most believed in was not the true God.

Today, we also live in a world where belief in some kind of god is rampant. Belief in the True God of Scripture is an offense to many. Those who believe the Bible to be infallibly true are dismissed as ignorant, or even as dangerous. Bible believing Christans are often openly ridiculed, hated, and in some cases brutally persecuted.

Of the 33.39% who call themselves “Christian”, there are about 16.85% Roman Catholics, 6.15% Protestants, 3.96% Orthodox, and 1.26% Anglican.

These all claim to base their beliefs on the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Sadly, they don’t all accept some of the most basic statements and teachings of the Bible. There is a wide range of beliefs among them about the nature of God.

In both the Old and New Testaments the greatest threat to God’s people came from groups that claimed to believe the Inspired Scriptures, but who clearly did not. They had very unbiblical beliefs about God, his nature, and plan.

God sent Prophets from the time of Moses through to the time of John the Baptist to challenge and warn God’s people. They came to correct misunderstandings about what the Bible said. The ones who kept challenging Jesus the most were the Rabis and Jewish Elders. It was the popular but inaccurate beliefs about Jesus and the Bible that kept the Apostles busy writing and teaching. Those wrong beliefs about God led to immoral and irresponsible living.

It is not surprising that today there are many popular groups that claim to be Christian, while they imagine God to be very different than what he tells us about himself in his word. Some shrug it off as unimportant. As long as their beliefs make them happy and they get what they want, they don’t see why they should be concerned.

There are well-funded movements today which are actively trying to unify religions upon some imagined common ground. This Ecumenism has been a primary tool used to water down God’s truth for decades.

God isn’t just a general idea that fits many definitions. This is at the core of what we Christians need to deal with today: We’re not called to be champions of belief in just some kind of god. We are morally obligated to promote belief in the One True God who reveals himself in the Bible.

The God of the Bible is a certain kind of God.

He has very particular attributes that characterize him.

In 1647 the best Bible scholars of the English speaking world finished writing the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Their goal was to summarize in chatechal form what the Bible primarily taught. The Assembly was humbled when they started to work on the answer to question #4 which asks, “What is God?“.

The delegates were all brilliant Bible scholars, but they asked the youngest of them to lead in prayer. It was George Gillespie of Scotland. His prayer started with these words, “O God, Thou art a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in Thy being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth …”

His opening sentence amazed them all with it’s accuracy and completeness. It was written down and adopted as the answer to that important question. That answer, as it still stands in the Catechism today is this,

“God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable,
in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”

God is eternally what we know as spirit.
He created the material universe, therefore he can’t be part of it. His essence is not physical. Before there was anything physical, God fully existed. Though he sometimes appeared in forms men could see, those forms were not his nature.

Even the birth of Jesus into human flesh did not change his nature as God. It added to the Second Person of the Trinity a second nature, a set of human attributes. He never stopped being eternally Spirit after being mysteriously united with a human nature.

The attributes of God summarized in the 4th Catechism answer fall into two categories.
First: some of his attributes are incommunicable.
God alone is “infinite, eternal and unchangeable.” These characteristics cannot be communicated to, or shared with, anything created. They are unique to the Creator.

  • Infinite means that God has no limits.
  • Eternal means that God had no beginning and has no end. He always exists.
  • Unchangeable means that God neither changes nor modifies what he is.

The remaining attributes of God are communicable.
We say a disease is communicable if it can be passed on. It is the same with these characteristics of God. God has “being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” These are observable things created into God’s universe to reveal his nature. They are communicated into God’s creation, and specially into us humans. This is why the Bible says humans are made in God’s image.

We share in these characteristics, but in us they are not infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. In humans our being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are finite, temporal, and changeable. In God they are perfections. In us they are imperfect.

To each of the communicable attributes we attach the three incommunicable qualities. For example: God’s being is infinite, eternal and unchangeable.

  • His infinite being has no limits. We call that immensity.
    He fills all space all the time. God is always altogether everywhere.
  • His eternal being has had no beginning and will have no end.
  • His immutable being is never modified or changed in any way.
    He can’t improve since he is always perfect.

Similarly the three incommunicable qualities extend to the other communicable attributes. God is also infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Our being has limits. We have a beginning, and we all change with time.
Also, unlike God, our wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are limited, they had a beginning in time, and change with time. So while we represent God in our nature, we are not exactly like him in any way.

In us, the communicable attributes are like reflections in a mirror. They reveal the Creator and represent him here, but we are always just creatures, imperfect. Yet what we are represents what is true about God. Therefore, we are able to take in God’s truth when he makes it known. In our fallen condition we will not look at it honestly, and we will not, can not, understand it. It comes to us clearly from God. It is sufficiently plain and obvious so that we are held responsible for suppressing and distorting it. That is why Romans 1:20 can say, “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,”

The other teachings of the Bible about God all fit within that very helpful summary definition.

One of the most fundamental distinctives of God
is that he is the Creator of all things.

Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”

God’s creatorship makes him special, distinct from everything else in the universe. If God made all things, and he had a purpose in creating them all, then everything belongs to him, and has true meaning only as it fits into his divine plan.

It is a biblical fact that God is the Creator of everything that exists. John 1:3 says, ” All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Colossians 1:16 says, “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.”

Since God made all things, everything has a divine purpose. Violating his ways is always wrong. Fallen creatures do not like to hear that. It means we are all accountable to the Creator, and guilty for every failure to honor him as we should. Every descendant of Adam stands indicted before God for his rebellion. That’s why fallen man would rather imagine God to be something he isn’t.

Some try to imagine that God is not actually our Creator. They imagine the universe to be its own creator, and that all we see has evolved from the energy and matter that first appeared in our universe. They can measure and describe the universe within the limits of their finite abilities, but they cannot explain all the complexity we see around us, and the reality of human self-awareness. They imagine that it all must have come into being by some spontaneous cosmic event directed by probabilities.

Others imagine that the universe itself is eternal, that it had no real beginning. The rules we see operating in nature make this hard to believe. Even with the help of the emerging principles of chaos theory and quantum physics with all its counter-intuitive predictions of how things behave, the origin of the universe remains an unsolvable problem without a Supernatural Creator.

To restore a true understanding of God
we need information from him.

Our own ideas and theories are deeply infected by our fallen nature. Romans 3:11 quotes the Old Testament when it says, “There is none who understands …” 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “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.”

We need the Bible. God gave it to us as an objective source of truth about himself. As our Creator, God has a purpose for all that’s made, a purpose for us too. The good purpose of all of creation is that everything, every person, is made to promote the truth and glory of the One True God. 1 Peter 4:11 says, “…that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen”

Therefore it is vital to know the truth about the One True God. Only then can a person know that he is really glorifying the one true Creator instead of some idol of his own imagination.

There can be only one Creator and absolute standard of all that is right and true. The creed given in Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear O Israel, Yahveh our God, is one Yahveh” (שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃)

There is no room in the Bible for multiple Gods or for different definitions of Him. There can only be one God, of one divine substance, who is the source of everything else. The Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one true God. The three persons are the same in substance, and eternally equal in power and glory.

Since God is eternal and unchangeable he cannot depend upon anything outside of himself. Your behavior, beliefs, and choices change neither him nor his plan. However, he holds you responsible to trust him and to do what he says is right.

God is absolutely Sovereign over all he made, over us humans too. As Creator and Upholder of all that is, he is Lord over all. Psalm 135:6 says, “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.”

God’s Sovereignty is fundamental to all truly Christian systems of belief. If it is rejected, the entire nature of the God of Scripture is rejected as well.

Sadly, many today try to re-define God
into something less threatening to lost sinners.

When God is redefined, he becomes a weakened deity that fits better with the life-style of the lost, and of immature Christians. The tendency is to bring in humanistic ideas which are blended into strained interpretations of selected Scripture passages. The god emerging from this approach allows for rejecting some of the Bible’s moral principles and gospel realities. That’s exactly what ancient Israel did, and what those who argued with Jesus did.

We live in a world where truth itself is losing it’s meaning. God is becoming a blurry idea too.

Sadly typical Hollywood movies often use words referring to God more than many sermons. Of course they use those holy words in blasphemous ways. They flood the minds of America with these accepted abuses of our Creator’s name. They make cursing and using the name Jesus and God into a linguistic habit. God is trivialized into a very fallible but lovable and powerful being who needs us to advise him about what he ought to be doing.

Cults snatch gullible people away from reality into a fantasy land designed to make them feel more important and wiser than others. Many political operatives insincerely cashe in on people’s beliefs or unbeliefs about God so they can win elections, get contributions, or pass legislation. Some educators want to either eliminate God from the class room, or bring in some undefined god that offends no one except those who believe the Bible. This imagined god is designed with the hope of fitting together all the world’s religions, and therefore it cannot fit with God as presented to us in his word.

Like King David, Jeremiah, and the Apostle Paul, we need to be aware of what God really is. This understanding needs to be constantly in our thoughts. Our awareness of him will clarify and influence everything we think, do, and perceive around us.

Knowing that God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable
is a great comfort.

God’s nature is what makes his promises certain. They aren’t just possibilities. It helps us deal with cults, recognize errors, and teach us how we should evangelize and live in ways that truly honor God.

Most importantly a true knowledge of God leads us to true worship. It makes the child of God respond with humble awe at everything he sees and experiences. It draws the believer above all the busy schedules and distractions of the world to come together with God’s covenant people on the Sabbath to join in Congregational Worship.

It makes the child of God live confidently and peacefully knowing that he is always in the presence of an infinite, eternal and unchangeable Savior and loving Father.

Revelation 4:11 reminds us, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)

What Does the Bible Mainly Teach Us?

Index of Lessons in the Westminster Shorter Catechism

What Does the Bible Mainly Teach Us?

Video presentation of this lesson
(Westminster Shorter Catechism Q:3)
by Bob Burridge ©2014

On most of our Florida beaches there are signs warning about the stingrays. They tell you to shuffle your feet in the water so you don’t step on one. They’re not aggressive creatures, but they don’t like to be stepped on, and they defend themselves instinctively.

Every summer I see people who ignore the signs go dashing out into the water. I often see them a little later in the day grimacing in pain while sitting with their foot in a bucket of warm soapy water at the life-guard’s station.

Warnings and helpful directions are there for a good reason. Those who choose to ignore them, or who just don’t take the time to read them, are most likely going to suffer the consequences.

God also warns us and gives us vital instructions in life. But like the tourists who just dash out into the surf, people dash out into life without a clue about what it’s really all about.

The Bible is available for us today in many forms. It’s amazing how few are familiar with what it says, or take its warnings seriously. When asked what the Bible mainly teaches, there are some shockingly ignorant answers.

We often hear people say that it simply teaches us to be good to everybody. Others say it teaches that there should be no distinctions among people. They insist that God wants no one to have more money, better homes, better jobs, and so on than anybody else. There are those who say it teaches that Jesus mainly taught us to respect and tolerate the teachings of all religions. There are some who say that the Bible guarantees that we’re all going to heaven when we die. Still others think that the only important message in the Bible is that you have to be “born-again” so you won’t end up in Hell. There are even some who would say that there is no main teaching in the Bible at all. They see the Bible as a collection of vague and often contradictory teachings mixed together from many different cultures and ancient traditions.

Some of these answers are plainly the opposite of what the Bible actually says. They lack any factual support. Others of these ideas have a little glimmer of truth in them, but are hardly sufficient summaries. Not one of them is a good answer. They all fall short of being a good and accurate summary of what God tells us in his word. None of them is in agreement with places where the Bible itself tells what is most important.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism deals with that in Question 3 which asks, “What do the Scriptures principally teach?”

It’s not just an academic question. The Bible isn’t just a book of information, or a collection of inspirational essays. It’s not the opinions of smart people, or the enlightened insights of sensitive humanitarians.

It’s God’s word, and it unravels the complicated issues that you deal with every day. It reveals the boundaries that separate what’s evil from what’s good. It tells what’s worth living for, and warns against the luring deceptions we face all the time. It explains what’s behind everything, and it pulls together things that seem to be disconnected.

It is helpful to organize what the Bible says so we can better remember and understand the details God gives about living in his world as his people.

You can’t really make sense out of life without knowing its main message. When you start with the wrong focus or with wrong expectations, you’ll draw wrong conclusions. Wrong beliefs effect the decisions you make about important choices in life and simple daily preferences. When you see how everything anchors in God’s basic principles you’re guided in a way that’s safe, good, and truly enjoyable.

The Answer the catechism gives is simple but profoundly accurate and helpful:

The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

This is a surprisingly excellent summary of the main purpose of God’s word. In the Bible God tells us what is true about himself, and how we therefore ought to live. These are the main things God communicates to us in his word. Belief and duty need to stay together. They can’t be separated. You have to know what to do, and do what you know.

People often degrade beliefs as if they are not all that important. They don’t realize that what we believe dictates what we do, why we do it, and whether or not we please God in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Without understanding who God is and his moral law, no one can be sure about what is sinful, and what is good.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ ”

Our fallen human nature makes us refuse getting help or instructions about what we should do.

There are those who think it’s noble to avoid asking for directions to get somewhere when they’re lost. They would rather lose time wandering around trying to figure it out on their own. I know some say this is a typical male trait — they might be right. But it’s not smart. It’s as if the adamantly self-reliant would try to navigate a minefield without a map of where the land-mines are.

Then there are some who are just too busy to bother reading about warnings and instructions. They struggle to assemble new things for hours rather than read the directions that come with it.

Some are like those infamous lemmings who follow the crowd wherever it’s going, even over a cliff to their own death.

As it turns out, Lemmings aren’t really that stupid. However, they’ve become a metaphor for those who follow others to their own destruction. Rather than knowing God’s word on their own, some blindly follow trends and fads in worship, missions, and morality. Many popular pastors and writers have hijacked evangelical Christianity and made many segments of it into something that actually offends the God who reveals himself to us in his written word.

There’s a lot of expense put into warnings about storms and freezes here in Florida. Up in places more tothe north there are signs reminding drivers that bridges freeze before the roads do. Those who ignore those warnings are foolish and dangerous.

The same is true about what God warns us in his word. What he says is serious. God is real. He’s not just a figment of our own imaginations. He’s not an undefinable force of the universe that can be understood in contradictory ways. What we believe about him is the foundation of everything we do.

Psalm 19:7-8 explains the great value of the content and teachings of God’s word:

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes”

What God says to us in the Bible can’t be ignored or known only superficially. If we’re to see our souls transformed, if we’re to be truly wise, if our hearts want to truly learn to rejoice, and if we’re to be enlightened in our outlook on life, then we need to know that word very well.

It might be that Paul had that well known Psalm in mind when he wrote to encourage Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:15-17, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This means that the wisdom we find in the Bible, God’s own word, is profitable for us because:

  • It teaches us what is true.
  • It reproves us when we do things that are wrong.
  • It corrects us about what we should believe and practice.
  • It trains us in how to live so that we please the God who made and saved us.

This verse links believing the right things with doing the right things. It’s not enough just to believe certain facts to be true. We need to live by them and see the duty they impose upon us.

Beyond teaching us what we should believe about God, the Bible makes it clear that our responsibilities as God’s people aren’t undefined either. It’s easy to say what you think your duties should be, but it’s quite a different thing to actually perform those duties consistently and seriously. We need to know and to do what God tells us is our duty.

In James 2:19-20 it says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

It’s a dead faith that thinks it can just believe good things, but not be concerned to do them. It’s not a faith that really trusts in God’s warnings and advice. It hypocritically says it does, but obviously there’s really no trust there if it lives in ways that ignore those warnings and instructions for life.

How well do you know your Bible? Do you know what it principally teaches about God, and about our duties here on earth? Do you know the details of what the Bible says and promises about every area of life? It’s your text book and manual for living.

God’s word is not just something comforting to read when you need a lift. It’s what you need to know and understand to live as you should in God’s world. It’s how you learn about the work of the Savior who alone makes you able to understand and to do what God says. Some books are just written to entertain you. Some try to impress you. Some are published to inform you. The Bible will do all that, but it will also change you.

Since it’s God’s word and comes with his power and promises, it can transform your life. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.”

Do you memorize parts of God’s word? Do you think about it throughout the day, and apply it as best you can?

The Scriptures tell what we need to know about God, and how he made things to be. It tells about our duties as we live here on earth as God’s people. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”

Don’t be one of those sad people who thinks he can live without a serious commitment to read and to know personally what God advises. Don’t be so arrogant that you think you can live well by following popular trends and be only generally acquainted with the Scriptures.

Read it and think on it every day. Pray that God will help you to live consistently in the ways it teaches. At the end of each week, ask yourself what have you turned to that has informed you about life the most? Was it the daily news? TV shows? commercials? Movies? popular music? social media? or is it the Bible? Have you read it and thought about it for as long as you spend time with these other sources of influence?

The Bible is where you learn how to glorify God and to enjoy him both now and forever.

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)

Why Did God Make Us?

Index of Lessons in the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Why Did God Make Us?

Watch a Video presentation of this lesson
(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.)