June 9, 2014
A question, for graduates: “What’s your goal in life?”
Ask that question 10 times, and you’ll get a few serious answers, and numerous frivolous responses. Wait about a decade, and the intensity might rise. The longer one lives, the more you feel the weight of the significant. What’s your goal?
Paul’s reply: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2 Corinthians 5:9) Why did his goal line go so far from the immediacy of his daily life and demands? “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (v 10) The certainty of accountability raised the importance of knowing the ultimate objective!
How in the world can a person know – in the most practical sense – what it takes to please God? Isn’t that like trying to buy a gift for a person who lives on another continent, without knowing much about them? How can people living in the limitations of a fallen world have a clue about pleasing God?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
There’s the catalytic ingredient: if pleasing God is the goal, faith is the crucial factor that must be found in the answer! That’s a generic quality that needs definition to be sure it is the type and style that matches God’s preferences: what brand of faith does He favor?
Two things have to be in the ingredients list for the faith He’ll certify: 1) a belief that He really exists; and, 2) the certainty that He rewards the people who perform above the baseline.
Take a survey; How many people believe in God? In America, 78% say “yes,” and 15% say they’ll buy a “higher power,” without denoting God. Does that mean that eight-out-of-ten Americans meet the “belief” test? Or, is He talking about us believing what He has revealed about Himself in His Word? Does a watered-down belief in a Mr. Potato Head god – constructed from cultural portrayals that have no resemblance to His self-portrait, in the Scriptures – meet the test?
“Must believe that He exists… and that He rewards…”
It’s impossible to please God (v 6) until my beliefs get in alignment with the facts: who He is, and the promise of accountability and restitution that is portrayed in the New Testament teaching on Eternal Rewards. God puts those two primary convictions in a life that will succeed in pleasing Him.
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
The foundation is Jesus Christ: we must believe that He is. The construction – the life we build on that truth – is what He – Jesus Christ – will evaluate when we see Him. Our everyday decisions go back-and-forth between the temporal (wood/hay/straw) and the eternal (gold/silver/costly stones); He will filter the mundane from the marvelous, and… what?
He’ll reward each Christian – the ones with the foundation of Jesus Christ – based on the choices they made in this life. Suffer loss… or, receive a reward. Who determines the outcome? We do…