Survival and Life by Harmonizing with God’s Purpose
“He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not by reason of our works, but by reason of his own purpose and undeserved kindness.”—2 Tim. 1:9.
1. What is now inviting mankind, and how has purpose been given to the lives of those responding to it?
AT FIRST it seems too good to be true, but a grand future arranged by someone fully competent is now invitingly calling mankind. In spite of the din and clamor of all sorts of propaganda, many sharp-eared persons have heard this calling and have responded favorably to it. They are the happier for it. Now they have a worthwhile calling in life. It gives them purpose in life. Yes, real reason for living on and surviving to see bright hope come true. No longer does life seem humdrum, aimless, leading nowhere but to a “dead end.” They live for the approaching righteous new system of things.
2. What kind of calling is this, and why does acceptance of it not lead to disappointment?
2 Many persons think that they have a calling to this or to that. But not so with this calling. It is not just some strong inward impulse driving one to a particular course of action. It is not a mere strong religious impulse accompanied by the conviction of having divine influence connected with it, such as the impulse to take up the ministry of some religion. It is not just an inward urge that one does not know how to describe and that one person has and the others do not have. Instead of being an undefinable, often sentimental thing, this present-day calling or invitation comes in definite terms, and a person knows that it is open for him to accept. It is not the beckoning of a possible future that holds out a golden opportunity. No, but it comes from a person of authority and responsibility. So what one is called to is not imaginary but fully guaranteed. Our responding favorably to this wonderful calling will lead to no disappointment.
3. An invitation is usually an expression of what, and how is this true of the one who extends the present-day calling?
3 What makes this calling or invitation so special? Well, in most cases an invitation is an act of generosity, of goodwill. It has a good purpose behind it. This is the case with the particular invitation that so many persons having fine appreciation of things are gratefully accepting today. The largehearted person whose invitation they have accepted is the One who long ago planted a paradise on earth for mankind to enjoy forever. This was at the beginning of man’s existence on earth. Was that not a well-meaning thing for that One to do? It was just the thing to be expected of that One, for he is no one else but God, the Creator of heaven and earth. He was the One who brought man into being on this earth, with all needed things faultlessly prepared for man. Not only was this an act of undeserved kindness on God’s part to man, but God had a purpose in mind. It was a good purpose.
4, 5. How did Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, show how purpose and undeserved kindness combine together in a calling by God?
4 How purpose and undeserved kindness combine in God’s operations for an excellent end is called to our attention by a news-bringer of good things during the first century of our Common Era. This was Paul, the writer of a couple of letters to his close friend and fellow worker Timothy, these letters of Paul being preserved for us on the later pages of the Sacred Bible. His second letter was written to Timothy shortly after the Roman Empire under Caesar Nero had begun its persecution against Christians. So Paul was a prisoner in Rome for the sake of true Christianity. But he had no fault to find with God for this situation, nor with the Founder of true Christianity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Unashamed of his imprisonment, Paul wrote:
5 “Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord, neither of me a prisoner for his sake, but take your part in suffering evil for the good news according to the power of God. He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not by reason of our works, but by reason of his own purpose and undeserved kindness.”—2 Tim. 1:8, 9.
6, 7. Was the calling of Paul in the form of a strong inward impulse to take a certain course of action or duty, or how?
6 In those words the apostle Paul admits that his being called with a holy calling was not by reason of meritorious works on his own part, but was by reason of the “purpose and undeserved kindness” on the part of God. The same was true in the case of Timothy. The calling in the cases of Paul and Timothy was not in the form of some strong inner impulse toward their particular course of action or duty. Paul was directly called by means of the resurrected Jesus Christ, who appeared to Paul while on the road to Damascus of Syria and who told Paul that in Damascus he would be informed as to what he should do. After Paul got baptized as a Christian at Damascus, he promptly began to do the things that he was called and told to do. (Acts 9:1-30; 22:1-16) So, when testifying before King Herod Agrippa in a Roman court session in Caesarea, Paul said:
7 “Wherefore, King Agrippa, I did not become disobedient to the heavenly sight, but both to those in Damascus first and to those in Jerusalem, and over all the country of Judea, and to the nations I went bringing the message that they should repent and turn to God by doing works that befit repentance.”—Acts 26:12-20.
8. What part did the apostle Paul have in connection with the calling of Timothy?
8 In Timothy’s case, also, it was not a calling or inviting of him in the form of a mere inward urge accompanied by the conviction of divine influence. There was nothing sentimental about it, but Timothy heard the apostle Paul preach to the congregation in Lystra and he accepted the Kingdom message and got baptized as a Christian. (Acts 14:6-23) The apostle Paul confirmed the Christian calling of Timothy by laying his hands upon him and imparting a spiritual gift to him. Consequently, in his last letter to Timothy, he said to him: “For this very cause I remind you to stir up like a fire the gift of God which is in you through the laying of my hands upon you.” (2 Tim. 1:6) Because of responding to the call as a baptized Christian, the way was opened for Timothy to become a trusted close associate of the apostle Paul in his missionary work. By receiving God’s spirit with its manifestation, both Paul and Timothy knew that they had been called by God by reason of God’s purpose and undeserved kindness.
9, 10. (a) What did Paul’s knowing that he had a calling put into his life? (b) Hence, on what did Paul keep his eyes fixed, like a contestant in what games?
9 A person’s knowing definitely that he has a calling or invitation puts purpose in his life. Paul called attention to this fact when, in the course of his second letter, he said to Timothy: “You have closely followed my teaching, my course of life, my purpose, my faith, my long-suffering, my love, my endurance.” (2 Tim. 3:10) Because Paul had a purpose he endured with long-suffering and stuck to a certain course of life. He kept his eye on his God-given purpose. He had an “eye goal” or “eye target,” as the Japanese and Korean words for “purpose” mean. (Japanese, moku teki; Korean, mok jok) He likened himself to a contestant in a footrace with his eyes undeviatingly fixed on the goal where the prize was to be conferred upon the winner. So he wrote these words about himself:
10 “I am pursuing to see if I may also lay hold on that for which I have also been laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on it; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:12-14.
11. (a) So, with what did Paul harmonize his life course? (b) What value did Paul place upon the prize set before him?
11 According to those words of the apostle Paul, God was the One who did the calling by means of Christ Jesus, and this calling was for a purpose. In appreciation of this undeserved kindness on God’s part toward him, Paul harmonized his life course with God’s purpose. Paul saw clearly which way to go, for God had set a goal before him. If he successfully reached that goal, he would receive a prize at God’s hands. Paul did not disdain that prize, for to do so would mean for him to spurn God’s undeserved kindness. It was a marvelous prize, and it represented an extraordinary generosity, largeheartedness, on God’s part. It was in fact the highest, the greatest, prize that God could give creatures, namely, joint heirship with the glorified Son of God, Jesus Christ, in his heavenly kingdom. (Phil. 3:7-11; 2:9-11) No wonder that Paul considered as a lot of refuse all earthly advantages that meant selfish gain for him! He kept his eyes fixed on the prize.
GOD’S PURPOSE WITH WHICH TO HARMONIZE NOW
12, 13. (a) During the past nineteen centuries, with what have men like Paul been harmonizing their life course? (b) Recently, what have hundreds of thousands been making their goal according to God’s purpose?
12 For the past nineteen centuries men like the apostle Paul and Timothy have been harmonizing their lives with God’s call to a heavenly hope, to a share with the highly exalted Jesus Christ in a heavenly kingdom that will shower down blessings upon mankind. They have followed Paul’s exhortation and encouragement, “to the end that you should go on walking worthily of God who is calling you to his kingdom and glory.”—1 Thess. 2:11, 12.
13 However, God has not only a purpose with regard to that Kingdom class but also a purpose with regard to mankind who will live in happiness under that heavenly kingdom. Is it not good to know that God has not left mankind in general out of his purposes? That which God has set before mankind, and to which he is now calling special attention, is something grand for mankind to attain to under the kingdom of God’s dear Son Jesus Christ. It has become a goal that hundreds of thousands of appreciative persons are now striving to reach, with God’s help. To them it is like a prize that beckons them onward, a gracious thing that invites them to come and partake.
14. (a) How is the hospitable tone of this invitation expressed in Revelation 22:17? (b) What is the life for mankind that this invitation has in view?
14 The hospitable tone of the invitation is expressed in the inspired words found in Revelation 22:17: “And the spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” The life here meant is not the distasteful sort of life that we are obliged to live at present due to world conditions and to our natural inheritance by birth. It is a life on earth that no human governments till now have been able to give to mankind, but that only God’s kingdom by means of his Son Jesus Christ will be able to impart to mankind as its subjects. It is the life that God the Creator purposed for earth’s inhabitants to have when he put the first man and woman on earth amid the glories and beauties of that paradise called the Garden of Eden.
15, 16. (a) Why did the earthly Paradise prove to be a temporary home for Adam and Eve? (b) In stating his purpose for them, did God say anything about a heavenly home for them, or what?
15 When the loving Creator produced the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden, he did not mean for that Paradise to be just a temporary home for them, or a little “love nest” for them to be alone in for a while without having children around. The reason why that Paradise on earth turned out to be a temporary home for them was that they stopped harmonizing their course of action with God’s loving purpose.
16 God’s purpose had never been that of taking them to heaven after a period of testing and proving here on earth. They did not need heaven to become perfectly happy and satisfied. Nor did God need them up there in heaven with him for him to be perfectly happy and contented. Hence, when God stated his purpose for them, he said nothing about a heavenly home but did say: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”—Gen. 1:28.
17. (a) How much time did God assign for this privilege of service to be accomplished? (b) Earth’s conditions at the end of six thousand years of human history are due to what cause?
17 According to the Holy Bible, God assigned a period of seven thousand years for this privilege of service to be accomplished. Today we are just about six thousand years along in human history, and this earth is no global paradise. The earth has now a population of almost four thousand million inhabitants, but the untold number of graveyards around the globe testify that the vast majority of those who have descended from Adam and Eve have died and that all mankind today is also under the condemnation of death. The birds of the heavens, the land animals and the fish of the sea have been held in subjection to mankind till now, but their numbers have been dangerously reduced, in some cases near to the point of extinction. The ground under our feet has been polluted, not merely by the waste products of cities and industrialized communities, but, most seriously of all, by the spilling of blood through murders on a private scale and on a mass scale in wars, religious, racial, commercial and political. Why all this? Evidently because mankind has not acted harmoniously with God’s purpose.
18. What seems to be the state of God’s original purpose, and what question forces itself upon us?
18 The success of God’s original purpose for man and his earthly home seems blocked or, at least, threatened critically. In view of the allowance of time that is left the question forces itself upon us, Will God’s original loving purpose for mankind fail or has it been abandoned as a hopeless case?
19. At Isaiah 55:10, 11, what did God say as to whether his stated purpose will be allowed to fail?
19 For Almighty God no project is unrealizable. The passage of long periods of time does not make any difference with regard to his purposes. He does not forget his stated purposes. He never proves untrue to his given word. In the Garden of Eden he gave his word in blessing upon his perfect human creatures, Adam and Eve, and nearly three thousand three hundred years later he said, by the mouth of his prophet Isaiah: “Just as the pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater, so my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isa. 55:10, 11.
20, 21. (a) When did Jesus specifically hold out hope of the restoration of Paradise to earth? (b) After his resurrection, to what work did he look forward?
20 Also, more than seven centuries after that divine declaration, or on Passover day of the year 33 of our Common Era, Jesus Christ the Son of God held out the hope of the restoration of Paradise to mankind. On that day, when the kingdom of God seemed to be a lost cause as Jesus hung nailed to a torture stake by Roman soldiers, a condemned evildoer hanging alongside expressed faith in the resurrection of the dead and in God’s Messianic kingdom.
21 Taking seriously the charge that was laid against Jesus of being the “king of the Jews,” this dying evildoer said respectfully to him: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” Jesus also had full faith in the resurrection and in the then far distant kingdom of God, and so he replied to the evildoer: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43) On the third day from that, Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead as a glorious spirit being, and he looked forward to the time when God would bestow Messianic kingdom power upon him and he could restore Paradise to earth for the benefit of this sympathetic evildoer and the rest of redeemed mankind.—Heb. 10:12, 13.
22. (a) How does Hebrews 13:8 ensure the successful carrying out of God’s purpose toward mankind? (b) With what now is this fulfillment tied up?
22 Thus we have Jesus Christ corroborating the original purpose of his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, concerning mankind and their earthly home. Concerning Jesus, it is written down under divine inspiration: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) So he will never break his word given, even though the receiver of the promise was a condemned evildoer. This ensures the successful carrying out of God’s original purpose toward the descendants of Adam and Eve. But it ties up the fulfillment of that divine purpose with the Messianic kingdom of God in the hands of his Son Jesus Christ. In this way God’s original purpose concerning mankind is blended in with His purpose concerning the Messianic kingdom.
23. Who has inherited the “inhabited earth to come,” and what does he feel obligated to do about it?
23 Jesus Christ the Son of God was the meekest man ever on earth, meeker even than the prophet Moses. (Num. 12:3) In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said to his disciples: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5; Ps. 37:11) In harmony with this inspired statement, Jesus Christ as the most mild-tempered or meek man on earth came into the inheritance of the earth. In agreement with this, it is stated in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter two, verses five through nine: “It is not to angels that he has subjected the inhabited earth to come, about which we are speaking. . . . but we behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man.” As the inheritor of the earth, the glorified Jesus Christ feels his obligation to bring the earth as a whole to the state that God purposed it to have, that of a Paradise, a Garden of Eden, for mankind’s everlasting happy home. He will put his inheritance in perfect repair.
SOMETHING WORTH WHILE FOR WHICH TO SURVIVE
24. The survival of whom on earth is now put in question, and why?
24 Is that not something for which appreciative men and women would want to survive? Today almost everybody is preoccupied with selfish efforts to survive so as to live just a little longer under this unsatisfying system of things. (Jas. 4:13, 14) Under the worsening conditions in the world, human survival is becoming more and more difficult. Bad though conditions may be now world wide, far-visioned men are predicting worse things to come, what with world famine looming up on the horizon! Survival of even the whole human race indefinitely is now put in question, nuclear warfare with intercontinental ballistic missiles being a terrifying possibility, with the stockpile of mass-killing weapons on hand now being more than are needed to exterminate the entire human family, not to speak of animal life.
25, 26. (a) Does the present situation on earth bring any credit to the Creator, and what is it reasonable to expect on His part? (b) Why is the reason for Him to take action more justifiable now than thousands of years ago?
25 Certainly, when pronouncing his blessing upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of human existence in its perfection, God did not purpose for mankind to bring themselves to such a state of affairs as exists today. The earth in such a sorry state brings no credit to Him as the Creator. Should he not be expected to do something about it? Should not the one whom God made the inheritor of the earth also want to do something for the improvement of his property? When God and Jesus Christ are both measured by what they did in the past, it is only reasonable for us to expect them to take things in hand and do something about the situation. Long ago, not in prehistoric times but in historic times, God took a hand under a situation similar to that of today but not as bad as ours now. The situation back there was only 1,656 years after man’s creation, whereas today it is just short of six thousands of years from man’s creation and downfall.
26 Due to the steady decline in human behavior, the depraved immoral selfish state of mankind ought to be far worse now than four thousand three hundred years ago. This fact poses more justifiable reason for God the Creator to take due action now than existed so long ago. The time has come for Him to do so for the purpose of vindicating himself.
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God’s purpose for the first man and woman was for them and their offspring to extend their Edenic garden earth wide and to enjoy Paradise forever