Finding the Purpose for Living
What is it? How does one find it? Why do we need to find it. What man-made barrier hinders an understanding of it?
MOST people fail to find the purpose of living. They go through life without knowing for what purpose they exist. They may go to church and still not find the purpose of living. Clergymen themselves, strangely enough, have confessed ignorance of this purpose, pointing to what startling degree people go through life like a ship sailing without a compass.
A few years ago a writer for a London newspaper interviewed a retired clergyman, a man of considerable note. He was Dr. W. R. Inge, who, for twenty-three years, was dean of St. Paul’s cathedral. He has written more than twenty books, and his articles in the Evening Standard made him one of the most influential figures between the wars. This former high-ranking clergyman told the interviewer something that surprised newspaper readers.
“All my life,” said the former dean, “I have struggled to find the purpose of living. I have tried to answer three problems which always seemed to me to be fundamental: the problem of eternity; the problem of human personality; and the problem of evil. I have failed. I have solved none of them and I know no more now than when I started. And I believe no one ever will solve them.”—Daily Express, July 13, 1953.
If a clergyman who for twenty-three years was dean of one of Christendom’s most celebrated cathedrals has failed to find the purpose of living, what of the average churchgoer? What of the masses who do not go to church or who are not affiliated with any religion? Obviously something is wrong. What is it? What must one do to find the purpose of living?
MAN-MADE DOGMAS BECLOUD PURPOSE
People who are looking for the purpose of living have failed to find it because man has built up for himself a system of religion based on tradition and speculation—human wisdom. These man-made dogmas have beclouded the very purpose of living. John Lord, a noted historian, wrote in his Beacon Lights of History concerning some of these man-contrived doctrines, such as trinity and immortality of the soul: “It may not unreasonably be asked, Has not theology attempted too much? Has it solved the truths for the solution of which it borrowed the aid of reason, and has it not often made a religion which is based on deductions and metaphysical distinctions as imperative as a religion based on simple declarations?”
The result has been to turn men from the simple declarations of the Bible to the complex dogmas of men. This, in turn, has confused so many people that they sail their ship of faith not only without a compass but in a fog. Take, for instance, the former dean of St. Paul’s cathedral, who failed to find the purpose of living. Alluding to the immortality of the soul doctrine, he also told the interviewer: “I know as much about the after-life as you—nothing. I don’t even know there is one—in the sense in which the Church teaches it. I have no vision of ‘Heaven’ or a ‘welcoming God.’ I do not know what I shall find. I must wait and see.”
How many people are in the same boat, as it were, when it comes to one’s ship of faith! They are confused and uncertain. But the Bible states simply and clearly concerning those who are dead: “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” And further: “There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol.”—Eccl. 9:5, 10.
But man has gone ahead and devised for himself the immortality of the soul doctrine despite another simple Bible declaration: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”—Ezek. 18:4, AS.
Where, then, did this mysterious doctrine come from that has confused so many people? As William Ewart Gladstone, an eminent British prime minister of the nineteenth century, once said: “The natural immortality of the soul is a doctrine wholly unknown to the Holy Scriptures and standing on no higher plane than that of an ingeniously sustained, but gravely and formidably contested, philosophical opinion. It crept into the Church by a back door—the back door of Greek philosophy.”
GOING TO GOD’S WORD FOR LIGHT
So no man can find the purpose of living until he gets out of the fog of human speculations, traditions and deductions and comes into the light of God’s Word. Concerning this Word it is written: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Ps. 119:105.
Only in the Bible do we find the explanation, the right one, for why things are as they are in the world. The problems concerning death and a future life are solved. We learn how God created man to live forever amid paradise conditions. Because of Adam’s sin death has come to all men: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
By the Son of God’s coming to earth and his giving up his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice the way was opened for man to regain what Adam lost for us. Thus Christ Jesus said: “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.”—John 10:10.
Though the Bible shows that a “little flock” or a limited number of true Christians will gain everlasting life in heaven with Christ, the hope of most of obedient mankind is the one expressed by the psalmist: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” For many this will be through a resurrection from the dead, as Jesus showed: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” Those who did vile things ignorantly will not be judged by their past deeds but by their future deeds during Christ’s thousand-year reign.—Luke 12:32; Ps. 37:11; John 5:28, 29.
But there is a great crowd of people today who will never die at all, for their hope is to survive the coming war of Armageddon into God’s new world. That hope can be yours. We are living at a time when this whole evil system of things will come to an end. And no wonder! It is evil, living contrary to the commandments of God. It is evil because it is misled by the “god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil. Though the Bible tells us that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” there is no reason for you to suffer the fate of this world.—2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19.
A NEW PERSONALITY AND A NEW WORLD
At Armageddon Christ Jesus leads heaven’s armies in a righteous war. The result of this “war of the great day of God the Almighty” will be the end of the “heavens and the earth that are now.” A new world of a “new heavens and a new earth” comes in; the new world will be absolutely righteous. It will be the same earth as we live on today, but there will be a new system of things on the earth.—Rev. 16:14, 16; 2 Pet. 3:7, 13.
To gain everlasting life in God’s new world can be the hope of all lovers of righteousness. It is a hope made valid by God’s own promise. To make that hope a power in your life you need accurate knowledge. This is the knowledge of God’s Word. It is the kind of knowledge that helps the seeker of truth solve the problem of human personality. Until one knows God’s purposes and harmonizes his life in accordance with God’s commandments, he has what the Bible calls an “old personality.” This must be changed. It can be. Thus we read: “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality which through accurate knowledge is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it.”—Col. 3:9, 10.
One with the “new personality” lives for the new world. His hope is not to live just some seventy years and then die but to live forever in God’s new world. So he begins to live now as he will then. He follows the Bible command: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love.” And “this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—Col. 3:12, 14; 1 John 5:3.
No, it is no burden to keep God’s commands. It is a joy. It makes one happy. It honors God and brings glory to the Creator. God’s Word tells us: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” Only those who bring glory to God, by both their words and their conduct, will gain the right to live forever in the new world. What reason there is, then, to heed the command: “Do not become envious of wicked people. For there will prove to be no future for anyone bad; the very lamp of wicked people will be extinguished.”—Rev. 4:11; Prov. 24:19, 20.
Live for the new world now. Put on the “new personality.” Give your life purpose; give it meaning: live to glorify the Creator. Do that by obeying his righteous commands, for when one lives by His Word, he has found the purpose of living: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear The [true] God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole [obligation] of man.”—Eccl. 12:13.
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