In this issue of "Consider" we want to examine some great questions which people have posed and pondered for years. The Bible will be the source book into which we will look for our answers. And for this writer those answers will resolve any issues since the Bible is the authoritative word of God.
"WHERE DID I COME FROM?"
With the advent of Charles Darwin's works concerning the origins of life forms strange answers began to be given to our first question. Of course, the idea of some evolutionary process as the origin of mankind did not begin with Darwin. But His work certainly gave rise to modern evolutionary ideas, and his investigations and writings have popularised this "fantastic" answer to our question, "Where did 1 come from?"
Although there are numerous ideas on evolution as the process by which man came to be, the general idea assumes some spark of life (source unknown) many millions of years ago, the first single living cell, development from that single living cell into higher and diverse forms of life ... and, finally, man as the crowning accomplishment of the evolutionary process.
What most textbooks, teachers and evolutionists do not tell us is that far from being a proven fact, evolution as the answer for man's origin is filled with serious problems and unanswered questions. It is only a theory which cannot answer questions such as (1) whence came the original spark of life? (2) where are all of the missing links between well established families of life forms? (3) should not there be as many fossil remains of transitional forms as of the recognised forms of life? (4) are not mutations (often suggested as the mechanism for evolution) usually harmful and detrimental---even fatal? The truth is that the evolutionary theory is but a faith by which some choose to live.
But the Bible answers our question by explaining that the loving and omnipotent God "created man in his own image" (Genesis 1:27). It further explains that "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" (Genesis 2:7).
According to the Bible, then, man is the special creation of an intelligent God. We came from the creative genius of Jehovah. It is He who "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things- (Acts 17:25).
"WHY AM I HERE?"
Our second question has become a burning issue for many people. Sociologists, psychologists and others who deal with human problems are more than ever confronted with the confused, troubled, dissatisfied because those sad folks find no answer for, 'What is my purpose for being here?" The result of this purposelessness has been the aimless (sometimes disruptive) lifestyle of beatniks, hippies, yippies and such on the one hand and on the other the rise of the mind control cults.
It is true that atheistic evolution leads to a pure materialism which does not satisfy the noble needs and idealism of humankind. Yet, the materialistic society is what the young see from their earliest days. No wonder that they feel so adrift!
Ah, but if we turn to the Bible we see that there are some well defined purposes which do satisfy our -higher needs" and aspirations.
Although a number of ideas could be advanced just here, it seems that there are two very specific matters which are identified in both Testaments of the Bible.
Look, for example, at Matthew 22:37-39. Having been asked, 'Master, which is the great commandment of the law?", Jesus answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself " Then, Jesus added,---On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40). These two commandments
are quotations from Old Testament passages in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Significantly, reference is made to these commandments in Romans 119, Galatians 5:1 and James 2:8.
Why, then, are we here? Firstly, to respond in kind to the love God has demonstrated for us. 'We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Secondly, to be practically concerned about the. needs of others is in part the demonstration of the first purpose.' Reaching out to God and reaching out to fellowmen gives us all of the purpose we need. This purpose for life can and does consume our energy, our emotion and our time!
"WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?"
In honesty, our third question may - not be one which is as often asked as our first two. However, in the sequence of our questions and answers this question fits perfectly and properly. Seeking God with the whole heart brings us squarely to this third question.
The New Testament book of Acts virtually opens with the question, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). And that splendid book of the early history of the church shows disciples of the Lord Jesus going throughout the world answering that question which is really so vital to us.
By carefully reading through the book of Acts we can identify the necessary elements in answering the question, 'What must 1 do to be saved?"
(1) There is necessary the instruction of God's word. Our being saved is not a subjective experience but a certainly based on the knowledge of God's word. (2) Faith in the person and work of Christ is obviously essential. The declaration that Jesus is ---Lord and Christ- (Acts 2:36) is foundational to our salvation! (3) Perhaps the "pivotal point" is the requirement of repentance. One cannot go on living as he has...he must turn from sin and self will to a resolve to change his life (with Christ at its centre). Believers were thus commanded to 'Repent- (Acts 2:38). (4) In Acts 8:37 we note a man's confessing, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. " (5) As one reads through the book of Acts, it becomes readily apparent that baptism by immersion was understood to be the "point of pardon", the place at which actual remission of sins occurs ... the time when we are numbered among the saved. Thus, we read, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins... " (Acts 2:38). Each point is essential in its turn to a whole answer to our third question.
Of course, we must then live in Christ faithfully until death separates us from earthly affairs.
"WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME WHEN I DIE?"
Aside from any discussion of the clinical aspects of death, the answer to our fourth question depends entirely on what we have done about question three! The Bible reveals an "eternal life" wherein our immortal souls must abide for that eternity. But it also reveals the facts of eternal reward or eternal punishment. As He concludes a vivid word picture of the universal judgement, Jesus says, 'And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:46).
The ultimate answer to "what will happen to me when I die" is very much in our own hands.
Do not be deceived by ideas that this life is all there is to you. Atheism and materialism are certainly touting that idea. But the dependable word of God disputes this erroneous claim. To have sincerely believed a lie will not change the facts of eternity for you.
Go back to question three. Think carefully through it. Consider honestly what God's book says you must do to secure eternal life!
Cecil A. Hutson