...for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isaiah 46:9,10)
So, what is God's pleasure? What does God want? What is the "end" God has declared from the beginning? There are answers to these questions. God has a plan in place. When complete, His plan will achieve all that He wants. As we study the plan we will see that God allows the world to be the way it is now - with evil, war and suffering - for good reason; there is a purpose for allowing evil to continue for a while. And we will see that there is, in fact, a very special meaning and purpose for our lives.
Let's begin with the "big picture": with a look at where we end up when all is said and done, when God's plan is fulfilled. Near the end of the last book of the Bible the apostle John paints the picture with these words:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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. (Revelation 21:1-4)
Out in the future, there will be a new heaven and earth, replacing the heaven and earth we have now. "Heaven" here means everything - everywhere - in the physical universe above the surface of the earth. There are Bible verses, for example, about "the fowls of heaven" (vultures, hawks, eagles in the air), "the clouds of heaven" and "the stars of heaven." Although the word heaven does occasionally refer to the "place" where we like to think God lives, it often refers only to the physical realm above the earth.
God's goal, as revealed above, is to "dwell with" us and "be with" us forever. His plan, when it is complete, is to live with us. What God wants - and is looking for - is men and women He can live with forever! God, as we will see, is doing more than looking for men and women He can live with; actually, He is creating them. Creation is not finished: the most important part of creation is in process, now! God, through Jesus, is creating family that He can live with forever. Part of the gospel, the good news Jesus brought, is that each of us can be redeemed to God and then take part in this creation process... if we are willing.
Forever is permanent; it has no end. God - who knows our heart even better than we do - will very carefully choose those to whom He will grant eternal life, to dwell with Him forever. It has been said we can choose our friends, but not our relatives... but God can - and will - choose His relatives, His sons and daughters. A few verses later John wrote:
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7,8)
As you can see, there will be some - perhaps a great many - that will not be accepted as God's sons and daughters. They will perish forever in "the second death" - a permanent death without hope of return to life.
The verses above mentioned overcoming. This ties right back to the creation process: overcoming is required for change, for the creation of the special sort of men and women God wants. Each of us changes only when we are willing. To repent is to recognize that changes are needed and to be willing, with God's help, to make those changes. We must be resolved to change, to overcome.
Overcoming is not easy, but we are each called to it: it is the "narrow way, which leadeth unto life":
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Jesus, in Matthew 7:13,14)
Jesus said "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3 and 5). Outside of repentance and the creation process there is neither hope nor future for us. We will not be part of God's family. We can not be part of God's plan.
If we are willing to change, God is ready to lead us. He will dwell in us and guide us, bringing to mind the ways we need to change, much as a good parent will guide a child. The apostle Paul quoted God's promise:
I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)
Through a right relationship with God can we overcome and grow in godly character. The apostle Paul urged the Ephesians to "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). God is creating character based on love and on a right relationship with Him. By knowing, obeying and abiding in Him we gain insight into His character: His perfect humility, love and righteousness. He promised to "manifest" or reveal himself to them that obey Him (John 14:21). With that insight we see how to proceed on the "narrow way, which leadeth unto life."
Now you can see why Jesus, when He summarized the commandments, stressed loving God; it is the only way we can fit into God's plan!
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 and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
Many have been taught that God just wants us to love our fellow man. God does want us to love each other, but Jesus showed that loving each other comes second to knowing and loving God. The only way we can fit into God's plan is through a right relationship with Him; that relationship, producing life-long growth through overcoming, creates the character God is looking for. God is looking for - creating - people He can live with forever.
Good works are not the purpose of a Christian life: they are the result of it. Through a right relationship with God, He leads us to build loving, righteous character; then we will automatically produce good works.
I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (Jesus, in John 15:5)
What does God want? God wants us as family. What does God want for us? Jesus said "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). What does God want from us? God wants us to be repentant: willing to change and overcome and grow in godly character through a right relationship with Him. Without that relationship we will be excluded from eternal life with God; we will be lost.
So, how can we learn to love God, as Jesus taught? How do you "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and become a part of God's plan, living with Him for eternity? We learn to love God and develop a right relationship with Him through a spiritual process: salvation. Some use the word conversion, but to many that means nothing more than an intellectual acceptance of doctrine. Salvation goes far beyond this, and beyond changing the way we act. It is about changing the way we relate to God and it is about changing what we are: becoming the "new man" Paul wrote about, "created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
|home:||What God Wants...|
|next:||What is Salvation?|
|The Kingdom of God|
|God has a Plan|
|other topics, in no particular order:|
|Are you "saved"? Understanding redemption and salvation|
|Are the unsaved tormented in hell forever?|
|The Ten Commandments, attitude and obedience|
|Did Elijah go to heaven?|
|Did the apostle Paul expect to go to heaven when he died?|
|An historian writes about the Kingdom of God|
|Three days and three nights?|
|Jesus, paradise and the thief|
|Lazarus and the rich man|
|The Garden of Eden|
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