What do we see when we look in the mirror? Beauty? Success? Wisdom? This will depend on our age, our circumstances, our personal self-image and probably many other factors
Everything around us in our society is geared towards making us feel good about ourselves. The TV advertisement that always ends ‘because you’re worth it’ is an extreme example. As human beings we are in constant need of reassurance that we are doing well—that we are worth something to someone—that we have not wasted our life. Most of the pressure of our lives stems from our worry that we may be failing in this way.
We have a need to mean something to others—to feel it has all been worthwhile—to have made something of our lives—to show a measure of success by the time our time here is over, and these are all honourable ideals, but, for many people, none extend beyond this life.
The purpose of this magazine is to help those who are willing and open minded to a consideration of God, and to the possibility that He has something to offer mankind, to look at the message that He has left us in His word, the Bible, and consider whether it might have something that can help us find a different approach; something which may give us the greatest feeling of worth and of wealth of a lasting kind, but not by our own human efforts.
Why should we make a statement like this? Surely whatever we achieve must be by effort that we make ourselves? If we leave God out of the equation, then this is true, but once we begin to consider the possibility that God might have something to offer mankind, we are looking at a power so great that our greatest effort pales into nothingness.
We are persuaded by the pride of the human beings that we are, and by our relatively limited experience, that human enterprise is the highest order of effort and intelligence on this planet, and from where we stand this seems to be true. What if it wasn’t? What if there was something or someone that was so great compared with us that we were to them as the smallest insect is to us, or smaller?
This concept would fill us with fear. We know the way we treat the smallest insects and how easily we flick them away or squash them to their end because, compared with us, they are worth little. So we are likely to conclude that such a greater being as I have described would treat us with the same contempt. Indeed, by the despicable way in which we behave, He would have every right to. If we saw a group of tiny insects behaving badly and unsociably toward each other, we would feel fully justified in eradicating them from the earth.
So what is the case with God?
The Bible tells us that right at the beginning things were different. When God first made man and woman they were described as being very good:
Gen. 1:31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
God gave them a test. He told them one thing they were not to do:
Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
In doing that one thing, they failed the test:
Gen 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
So we find that we are descended from those who failed God’s test. The punishment was death—a punishment we have suffered ever since. We find ourselves, however hard we try, to be unable to achieve a state of perfection—a state of sinlessness—that we might avoid death, which is the wages of sin:
Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death;...
As a result of this sad state of affairs we all die, and when we die, by the natural order of things, it is the end of our consciousness:
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.
We may well argue that men have made great achievements, and well we have, but when we consider the power of the great God of Heaven, the creator of the universe, our greatest feats pale into insignificance and we find ourselves greatly humbled.
Even more humbling than this is the very fact that this great God, who created all things, has, in His love, offered us a part in His eternal plan and purpose with this Earth.
Even though we do not live for ever (an average of just over 70 years at the moment), God does. God tells us that His purpose in creating the earth is that it might be filled with His glory:
Hab 2:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.
Initially man was created as part of this - which God saw to be very good at the beginning - but then fell from it. Logically this should be the end of the matter, but God in His great love has offered the chance for mankind to be part of this purpose to fill the earth with His glory, and offers every one of us the hope of being in it with Him for ever, rather than to perish for ever in death.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is … not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Repentance—a recognition that we are in need of God because we are sinners who are otherwise irretrievable—is what God requires, that He might offer us part in His eternal kingdom here on earth. The rest of this magazine will show us this.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.