What is the meaning of life? How can purpose,
fulfillment, and satisfaction in life be found? How can something of lasting significance be achieved? So many people have
never stopped to consider these important questions. Driven from childhood to find an economic means of self satisfaction,
having found it, most often ends if one is unfortunate, in emptiness and spiritual bankruptcy.
Saint Paul, once a Pharisee of Pharisees (celebrated ones), after
he was saved, concluded: "To live is Christ ".
Contrary to the claims of atheists and agnostics through
the centuries, man cannot truly live without God. Man has a mortal existence without acknowledging God, but not
without the fact of God and belief can life have it's God given substantive meanings.
As the Creator, God originated
human life. We owe our being to God in whose image we are made (Genesis 1:27). Our existence itself depends on God.
God confers life (Psalm 104:10-32). He is life (John 14:6), and all creation is held together by the power of Christ (Colossians 1:17). According to His word, those who reject God receive their sustenance
from Him: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous
and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
As our Savior, God gives eternal life to those who believe.
In Christ is life, which is the light of men (John 1:4). Jesus came that we may have life “and
have it to the full” (John 10:10). All who place their trust in Him are promised eternity with Him (John 3:15-16). For man to live—experience
true "life"—he must know Christ (John 17:3).
Without God, man has physical life only. God warned Adam and Eve that
on the day they rejected Him they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17). As we know, they disobeyed, but they did not die physically that day; rather,
they died spiritually. Something inside them died—the spiritual
life they had known, the communion with God, the freedom to enjoy Him, the innocence and purity of their soul—it was all gone. MAN WAS ALIENATED FROM GOD.
Adam, who had been created to live and fellowship with God, was cursed with a completely
carnal existence. What God had created to go from dust to glory now was to go from dust
to dust. Just like Adam, man without God today still functions in an spiritually dead
The Bible says there is a certain measure of carnal delight to be had in the sin nature(Hebrews 11:25). The problem is that it is temporary; life in this world is short (Psalm 90:3-12). Sooner or later, the hedonist, like the prodigal son in the parable, finds
that worldly pleasure is unsustainable (Luke 15:13-15). The son went back to his faith, praise God. The hedonist remains dead
in sins and eventually physically wasted in action. Dust to Dust!
There are many unsaved people who live disciplined,
sober lives—seemingly happy and, according to devilish dogma, fulfilled lives. The Bible, merely used as a "book"
of sorts, presents certain moral principles which will benefit anyone in this world—fidelity, honesty, self-control,
etc. Nations such as the United States have culled from it laws and language forming the fabric of governance and peoples
rights. But, again, without true belief in God man has only this world and nations come and go as men. See the parable
of the rich farmer in Luke 12:16-21 and Jesus’ exchange with the rich (but very moral) young man in Matthew 19:16-23. Things end, they disappear, and tarnish. Only God gives life forever.
"Blessed is the nation whose God is The Lord" (Psalm
Without God, man is unfulfilled, even in his mortal life. Man is not at peace with
his fellow man because he is not at peace with himself. Man is restless with himself because he has no peace with God. The
pursuit of pleasure for pleasure’s sake is a sign of inner turmoil. Pleasure seekers throughout history have found over
and over that the temporary diversions of life give way to a deeper despair. The nagging feeling that “something is
wrong” is hard to shake off.
King Solomon, the wisest and richest man of his time, gave
himself to a pursuit of all this world had to offer, and he recorded his findings in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Solomon testified that pleasure and wealth are futile (2:1-11):
" 1 I said in my
heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity.
2 I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does
it accomplish?” 3 I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with
wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons
of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.
4 I made my works
great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens
and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made myself
water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. 7 I acquired male
and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were
in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special
treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical
instruments of all kinds.
9 So I became great
and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I
did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And
on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping
for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.
man's wisdom and labor is vain folly (2:12-23):
"12 Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness
and folly; For what can the man do who succeeds the king?— Only
what he has already done. 13 Then I saw
that wisdom excels folly As light excels darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, But
the fool walks in darkness. Yet I myself perceived That
the same event happens to them all. 15
So I said in my heart,
“ As it happens to the fool, It
also happens to me, And why was I then more wise?” Then
I said in my heart,
“ This also is vanity.” 16 For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever,
Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And
how does a wise man die? As the fool!
17 Therefore I hated life because
the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
18 Then I hated all my labor
in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19
And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have
shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 Therefore I turned
my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. 21
For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has
not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what has
man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? 23
For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity."
and riches fleeting, the grave, a waiting burial (chapter 6).
"1 There is an
evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man
to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not
give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.
3 If a man begets a hundred children
and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has
no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he— 4
for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5
Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, 6
even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place? 7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, And
yet the soul is not satisfied. 8 For what
more has the wise man than the fool? What does the poor man have, Who
knows how to walk before the living? 9
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire. This also is
vanity and grasping for the wind. 10 Whatever
one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he is man; And
he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he. 11
Since there are many things that increase vanity, How is man the better?
12 For who knows what is
good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after
him under the sun?"
Solomon concludes that life is God’s gift and the only wise way to
live is to fear God: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with
every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
other words, there is more to life than the physical dimension. Jesus stresses this point when He says, “Man
does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Not bread (the physical) but God’s Word (the spiritual) keeps us alive.
It is useless for us to search within ourselves for the cure to all our miseries. Man can only find life and fulfillment when
he acknowledges God.
Without God, man’s destiny is hell. The man without God is spiritually dead; when his physical
life is over, he faces eternal separation from God. In Jesus’ narrative of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man lives a pleasurable life of ease without a thought of God, while Lazarus
suffers through his life but knows God. It is after their deaths that both men truly comprehend the gravity of the choices
they made in life. The rich man realized, too late, that there is more to life than the pursuit of wealth. Meanwhile, Lazarus
is comforted in paradise. For both men, the short duration of their earthly existence paled in comparison to the permanent
state of their souls.
Man is a unique creation. God has set a sense of eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and that sense of timeless destiny can only find its fulfillment in God Himself:
People have testified that while they achieved their
material goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasures, there was still a deep void inside, a feeling of emptiness that
nothing seemed to fill.
The author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes describes this feeling when he says:
“ Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
King Solomon had wealth beyond measure, wisdom
beyond any man of his time or ours, hundreds of women, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and
wine, and every form of entertainment available. He said at one point that anything
his heart wanted, he pursued.
Solomon said “life under the sun”—life lived as though all there
is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why
is there such a void? Because God created us for something beyond what we can experience in the here-and-now, and concluded:Ecclesiastes 3:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, ..."
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). This means that we are more like God than we are like anything else (any other life
form). We also find that before mankind fell into sin and the curse of sin came upon the earth, the following things were
What is the significance of these things? God intended for
each of these to add to our fulfillment in life, but all of these (especially man's fellowship with God) were adversely affected
by man's fall into sin and the resulting curse upon the earth (Genesis 3).
In Revelation, the last book of the Bible,
God reveals that He will remake this present earth and heavens and usher in the eternal state by creating a new heaven
and a new earth. At that time, He will restore full fellowship with redeemed mankind, while the unredeemed will have been
judged unworthy and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The curse of sin will be done away with; there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness,
death, or pain (Revelation 21:4). God will dwell with them, and they shall be His sons (Revelation 21:7). Thus, we come full circle:
God created us to have fellowship with Him, man
sinned, breaking that fellowship, God restores that fellowship fully in the eternal state.
To go through life achieving everything only to die separated from
God for eternity would be worse than futile! But God has made a way to not only make eternal bliss possible (Luke 23:43) but also life on earth satisfying and meaningful. How is this eternal bliss
and “heaven on earth” obtained?
Meaning of life restored through
Real meaning in life, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of the relationship
with God that was lost with Adam and Eve's fall into sin. That relationship with God is only possible through His Son, Jesus
Christ (Acts 4:12; John 1:12; 14:6). Eternal life is gained when we repent of our sin (no longer want to continue
in it) and Christ changes us, making of us new creations, and we rely on Jesus Christ as Savior.
Real meaning in life
is not found only in accepting Jesus as Savior, as wonderful as that is. Rather, real meaning in
life is when one begins to follow Christ as His disciple, learning of Him, spending time with Him in His Word, communing with
Him in prayer, and in walking with Him in obedience to His commands. If you are not a Christian
(or perhaps a new believer), you might be saying to yourself, “That does not sound very exciting or fulfilling to me!”
But Jesus made the following statements:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to
the full” (John 10:10b).
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will
find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
“Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
What does it mean to abide in Christ?
“abide” is to live, continue, or remain; so, to abide in Christ is to live in Him or remain in Him. When a person
is saved, he or she is described as being “in Christ” (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17), held secure in a permanent relationship (John 10:28-29). Therefore, abiding in Christ is not a special level of Christian experience, available
only to a few; rather, it is the position of all true believers. The difference between those abiding in Christ and those
not abiding in Christ is the difference between the saved and the unsaved.
Abiding in Christ is taught in 1 John 2:5-6, where it is synonymous with “knowing” Christ (verses 2 and 3). Later
in the same chapter, John equates “remaining” in the Father and the Son with having the promise of eternal life
(verses 24 and 25).
The phrase “abiding in Christ” pictures an intimate, close relationship, and not just
a superficial acquaintance. In John 15:4-7, Jesus tells His disciples that having salvation is essential, using the picture of
branches united to a vine. Without that vital union with Christ which salvation provides, there can be no life and no productivity.
Elsewhere, the Bible likens this union to that of a head and a body (Colossians 1:18).
There are proofs that one abides in Christ (i.e., proofs that one is truly
saved and not just pretending). These proofs include obedience to Christ’s commands (John 15:10; 1 John 3:24); following Jesus’ example (1 John 2:6); living free from habitual sin (1 John 3:6); and the awareness of a divine presence within one’s life (1 John 4:13).
In John 10:10, Jesus said: “The thief does not come except
to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”
Unlike a thief, the Lord Jesus does not come for selfish reasons. He comes to give, not to get. He comes
that people may have life in Him that is meaningful, purposeful, joyful, and eternal. We receive this abundant life the moment
we accept Him as our Savior.
This word “abundant” in the Greek is perisson, meaning “exceedingly,
very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect
or anticipate.” In short, Jesus promises us a life far better than we could ever imagine, a concept reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind
has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” The apostle Paul tells us something
that is utterly profound: God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think and He does it by His power,
a power that is at work within us if we belong to Him (Ephesians 3:20).
But, before we begin to have visions of lavish homes, expensive cars, world-wide
cruises, and more money than we know what to do with, we need to pause for a second and think about what Jesus teaches regarding
this abundant life. The Bible tells us that wealth, prestige, position, and power in this world are not exactly heading the
top of God's list of blessings (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). In terms of economic, academic, and social status, most Christians do not come from
the privileged classes. Clearly then, abundant life does not consist of an abundance of material things. If that were the
case, Jesus would have been the wealthiest of men. But just the opposite is true (Matthew 8:20).
Abundant life is eternal life, a life that begins the moment we come
to Christ and receive Him as Savior, and goes on throughout all eternity. The biblical definition of life — specifically
eternal life — is provided by Jesus Himself: “Now this is eternal life: that they may
know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). This definition makes no mention of length of days, health, prosperity, family,
or occupation. As a matter of fact, the only thing it does mention is knowledge of God, which is the key to a truly abundant
So, what then is Jesus telling us about what abundant life truly is? First, abundance is spiritual abundance,
not material. In fact, God is not overly concerned with the physical circumstances of our lives. It is enough that He assures
us that we need not worry about what we will eat or wear (Matthew 6:25-32; Philippians 4:19). Physical blessings may or may not be part of a God-centered life; neither our wealth
nor our poverty is a sure indication of our standing with God. Solomon had all the material blessings available to a man and
yet found it all to be meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:10-15). Paul, on the other hand, was content in whatever physical circumstances he found
himself in (Philippians 4:11-12).
Second, eternal life, the life a Christian is truly concerned with, is not
determined by duration but by a relationship with God. This is why, once we are converted and receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit, we are said to have eternal life already (1 John 5:11-13), though not, of course, in its fullness. Length of life on earth is not synonymous
with abundant life.
Finally, a Christian's life revolves around, “grow[ing] in the
grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). This teaches us that the abundant life is a continual process of learning,
practicing, and maturing, as well as failing, recovering, adjusting, enduring, and overcoming because, in our present state,
“we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). One day we will see God face to face and we will know Him completely as we will
be known completely (1 Corinthians 13:12). We will no longer struggle with sin and doubt. This will be the ultimately fulfilled
Although we are naturally desirous of material things, as Christians our perspective on life must be
revolutionized (Romans 12:2). Just as we become new creations when we come to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), so must our understanding of “abundance” be transformed. True abundant
life consists of an abundance of love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not an abundance of “stuff.” It consists of life that is eternal and,
as such, our interest is in the eternal, not the temporal. Paul admonishes us: “Set your minds on things above, not
on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3).
What all of these verses are saying is that we have a choice.
We can continue to seek to guide our own lives, which results in emptiness, or we can choose to pursue God and His will for
our lives with a whole heart, which will result in living life to the full, having the desires of our hearts met, and finding
contentment and satisfaction. This is so because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us (not necessarily the easiest
life, but the most fulfilling).
The Christian life can be compared to the choice: living IN the Spirit and
direct experience of God or in the flesh, backslid and discontent yet accepting of it. In the Spirit work is firsthand
for whole-hearted disciples of Christ who have truly stopped pursuing their own desires to pursue instead God's purposes.
They have paid the price (complete surrender to Christ and His will); they are experiencing life to its fullest; and they
can face themselves, their fellow man, and their Maker with no regrets. Have you paid the price? Are you willing to? If so,
you will not hunger after meaning or purpose again.