by Jon Quinn
“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and stars which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?” (Psalm 8:3,4).
Good question! The psalmist pondered man’s nature. Of what value is a human being to God? When you compare a human being with the vastness and grandeur of the universe it seems that man is somewhat insignificant. Why are we here? Where are we headed?
People have been pondering such questions for centuries. Many skeptics have tried in vain to find purpose in life apart from God and have always come up with little or nothing. Tolstoy asked, “What is life for? To die?” Woody Allen, with his characteristic wit, said, “Its not that I am afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens….”
Apart from answers that God gives us in His word, life seems futile. One man wrote about his experience in trying to find fulfillment and peace apart from God. Riches, pleasure and wisdom had brought him only shallow happiness that was much too brief and unsatisfactory.”So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after the wind.” This is from the pen of Solomon, one of the wealthiest, highly educated and pampered men of history!
(Ecclesiastes 1:2) Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 1:14) I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 1:17) And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-2) I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. 2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?
(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11) And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:17) Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE
Man was the last of earth’s creatures that God made. The Bible says that God created man and woman “IN HIS IMAGE.” This means that something in man was patterned after God. It was not his physical body for God is spirit and has no physical form (compare John 4:24 with Luke 24:39).
(Luke 24:39) Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
(John 4:24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Rather, “image” refers to man’s inner self; his spirit. God created man’s body from the dust of the earth and placed within the body a spirit which bears His own image.
(Genesis 2:7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
(Zechariah 12:1) The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
(Acts 17:29) Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
(Hebrews 12:9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Therefore, man is like God in some respects. Man is capable of rational thought. He has free will and is accountable for his actions. He is emotional and moral. And like God, he enjoys making things that are good.
This also means that we cannot be truly complete apart from God. Though many people estranged from God would claim to be happy and content, such claims ignore the question “Why am I here?” and leave one abandoned in the hopeless situation of: “You live and then you die.” This certainly is not the best philosophy of life available, is it?
(Psalms 52:1-7) Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. 2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. 3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. 4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. 5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah. 6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: 7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
(Psalms 42:1-5) As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. 5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
Why do we exist? To lose sight of our reason for being leads to despair. Are we really born only to die? The answer is NO!
God created man to fulfill a high and noble purpose. There can be no greater dignity than to fulfill this purpose; to give God glory.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
(Micah 6:8) He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
This purpose can be properly met only in God’s Son. He promises to make our lives abundant and successful, not in material wealth and possessions, but in spirit and truth. Your God has a place for you in this life and in eternity!
(John 10:10) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
(Ephesians 1:3-6) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
(Ephesians 1:14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Children of God find confidence by…
(Romans 4:20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
(Romans 1:21-23) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
(Romans 15:5-7) Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
(Matthew 5:16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(1 Corinthians 10:30-31) For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
This confidence brings strong assurances because the disciple of Christ knows nothing can defeat him as long as he trusts and obeys Christ. Even death loses its victory as far as the man or woman of God is concerned.
(1 Corinthians 15:55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
SIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
Sin is transgression of God’s law.
(1 John 3:4) Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
It destroys one’s relationship with God. This is why true contentment cannot be found by one entrapped by sin. God refers to those who would deny the reality or consequences of sin as deceivers and warns that one who makes a habit of sin is not of God.
(1 John 3:7-10) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
The consequences of sin are tragic and include both physical and spiritual harm. By continuing in sin God says that one hurts himself.
(Proverbs 8:36) But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
If one continues in sin he will ultimately lose everything in death.
(Proverbs 11:7) When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
Sin brings about eternal death which simply means eternal separation from God, hope and all that is good.
(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin keeps one out of God’s kingdom as he reaps what he has sown.
(Galatians 5:19-21) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 6:7-8) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
GOD STILL LOVES THE SINNER
God hates sin! But He also loves the sinner, even those so wicked that you and I might find it difficult to love. Jesus said that God’s love is perfect, or complete. It is this love that is the basis of our hope. We are important to God because we are His offspring. We must understand that while our God is a God of love, He is also completely righteous. Therefore, He cannot simply ignore our sins, but instead has acted in our behalf to deal with them. That is why the message of the gospel is referred to as “GOOD NEWS.”
(John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We will deal with redemption more fully in future lessons. For now, recognize that God has dealt with us in a compassionate manner and invites us to choose, of our own free will, to come to Him. This offer has been extended for our own well-being and has cost Him dearly. No higher price has ever been paid than that which was paid for our sins so that we might be saved. But again, it is our choice to either accept God’s gift or reject it. Let none who reject it say that the reason that they are lost is that God does not love us enough. God, by His merciful action, has already laid that lie to rest!
(John 15:13) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
(Acts 20:28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
(1 Corinthians 6:20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
We have been placed here for a purpose. Life’s biggest tragedy is to fail in that purpose because to do so is to fail both God and ourselves. On the other hand, there can be no better victory than that which faith brings to its possessor.
(Revelation 21:3-5) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
LESSON #4 is entitled “FOCUSING ON JESUS.” We will consider how Jesus fulfilled centuries old prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, and some of the amazing claims which He made concerning Himself. We will see that He deserves our trust.