This sermon was preached Sunday, June 12th, 2011.
Bless God part 2
The chief end of man.
This is the second sermon in the series, “Bless God: God, hell, heaven, and the chief end of man.”
Our world has always had questions concerning God, religion, heaven, hell, as well as a host of others. That should be expected. But sadly these questions have crept into the church. The problem with these questions being within in the church is not so much the questions, after all, I think we should ask them; the problem is the answers many are arriving toward. Many will look to other things; or a worldly, secular philosophy in order to misinterpret passages.
We also live in a day where doubt has become a virtue within the church. There is even a blog on the internet with the title, “To believe is human, to doubt is divine.”
The problem is many are using these questions to actually deconstruct the biblical beliefs of Christianity, and therefore construct in it’s place a new kind of Christianity, that places the importance of the crucifixion and resurrection as a moral story over the actual event; the creation story in the book of Genesis as a poem; and the Bible as a living document, as opposed to a constitution.
Well, there was a time that questions were asked to children, new converts, and adult disciples of Christ. Not for the purpose of deconstructing fundamental beliefs in God’s Word; but to establish and reaffirm those beliefs. Many of these questions were written down in what are called, “catechisms.”
What is a catechism? Well according to Dictionary.com it is, “an elementary book containing a summary of the principles of the Christian religion, especially as maintained by a particular church, in the form of questions and answers.”[i]
Today, we are going to be looking at one of those catechisms: The Westminster Shorter Catechism. The Westminster Shorter Catechism was written in the 1640’s to educate lay persons in matters of doctrine and belief.[ii]
The first three questions are what we are going to deal with this morning. They explain part of the basis for this sermon series, as well as showing us how to properly ask and answer questions.
We will also look at some text from Scripture in each of these as well.
Question 1: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Man’s chief end is not too be some type of free moral agent who can take or leave God and His Word.
But we were created for His glory, to glorify Him and enjoy Him. Let’s look at some passages of Scripture that reveal this truth.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
Psalm 73:25-28 – 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire nothing on this earth. 26 My body and mind may fail, but God is my strength and my portion forever. 27 Those far from you will perish, you will destroy those who are unfaithful to you. 28 As for me, how good for me it is that God is near! I have made the Lord God my refuge so I can tell about all your deeds.
John 17:22-24 – 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, just as we are one. 23 I am in them, and you are in me. May they be completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you have loved them as you loved me. 24 Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
As we summarize this question, and these passages of Scripture. You notice how the WSC (Westminster Shorter Catechism) asked the question, gave the answer, and then pointed to the Scriptures to support their answer. This is teaching and reaffirming Bible truth.
Here in these passages we see that in all we are to do we are to glorify God; He is to be our portion and it is good for us to be near to Him; and then Jesus great prayer that He has given His disciples the glory the Father gave Him. The reason that the Lord saved us is that we might enjoy Him as we glorify Him.
Let’s go on to the next question the WSC asks.
Question 2: What rule has God given to direct us in how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
Answer: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us in how we may glorify and enjoy Him.
The Bible is not just one of many rules to govern our worship, but it is the only one. Let’s look at what the Scriptures say.
Galatians 1:8-9 – 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that person be condemned! 9 What we have told you in the past I am now telling you again: If anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that person be condemned!
There are not many gospels, but one gospel; Paul’s prayer is rather strong here: all those who preach a gospel different than what Paul and the Apostle’s preached, are under a curse of condemnation.
Isaiah 8:20 NIV 2011 – Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.
We don’t search out the answers to our questions from man and his opinions, but we consult God’s instructions and testimonies. Those who do not speak God’s Word have no light in them.
Luke 16:29-31 – 29 “Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. They should listen to them!’ 30 But the rich man replied, ‘No, father Abraham! But if someone from the dead went to them, they would repent.’ 31 Then Abraham told him, ‘If your brothers do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even if someone were to rise from the dead.’”
This portion is taken from Jesus parable on the rich man and Lazarus. To summarize His statements, if people do not listen and consult the Scriptures for the answers, they will not be convinced by some supernatural event either.
Many people look at Spiritual gifts and the supernatural for answers. And while I do believe in the gifts of the Spirit and their modern day usage, they are not the answer to our questions – only Scripture can provide that.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 – 15 From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to give you the wisdom you need for salvation through faith in the Messiah Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action.
Timothy was trained in the Scriptures from infancy. Notice that Paul says, “…are able to give you the wisdom you need for salvation…” So wisdom does not come from human reasoning, but from the Scriptures. And this wisdom is one that leads to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul also declares where Scripture comes from, “God-breathed,” and what it is useful for.
Let’s not look at the final question.
Question 3: What do the Scriptures principally teach?
Answer: The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
Micah 6:8 – He has made it clear to you, mortal man, what is good and what the Lord is requiring from you – to act with justice, to treasure the Lord’s gracious love (love mercy), and to walk humbly in the company of your God.
What is God’s demand here of all of us? “To act with justice, to treasure the Lord’s gracious love (love mercy), and to walk humbly in the company of your God.”
John 20:31 – But these have been recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that through believing you may have life in his name.
The Scriptures were written to point us to Jesus, so that we might believe in Him and have life in His name.
John 3:16 – For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who believes in him might not be lost but have eternal life.
God proved His love for us by sending Jesus, so that those who believe will not perish but live.
We were created not to question God, his ways, or His Word; but to glorify Him and to enjoy Him. Hopefully you see the importance of the Scriptures in finding the answers to questions. Don’t use questions to deconstruct biblical beliefs and set up ones that are more palatable. But use questions to reaffirm biblical truth.