What is the meaning of the Christian life?
The WestMinster Shorter Catechism states it this way.
What is the chief end of man?
- Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God.
First. The glorifying of God, 1 Peter 4:11(HCSB)11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. “That God in all things may be glorified.” The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions.
1 Corinthians 10:31(HCSB)31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth asserted is that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.
Q. What is it to glorify God?
Glorifying God consists in four things:
1.Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection.
Appreciation. To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and, to have a venerable esteem of him. Psalm 92:8(HCSB)But You, Lord, are exalted forever.
Psalm 97:9(HCSB)For You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted above all the gods, There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prima causa [the first cause], the original and spring-head of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistening beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called “the work of his fingers.” Psalm 8:3(HCSB)When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.
Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psalm 29:2(HCSB)Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness. A divine worship which we give to God as his royal privilege. Nehemiah 8:6 (HCSB)6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, otherwise it is offering strange fire,
Leviticus 10:1-3(HCSB)Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them to do. 2 Then fire came from the Lord and burned them to death before the Lord. 3 So Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when He said: I will show My holiness to those who are near Me, and I will reveal My glory before all the people.” But Aaron remained silent. The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, “according to the pattern.” Exodus 25:40(HCSB)40 Be careful to make them according to the pattern you have been shown on the mountain.. He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here every thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.
3. Affection. This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved. Deuteronomy 6:5(HCSB)5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. There is a twofold love: 1. Amor concupiscentiae, a love of lust, which is self-love; as when we love another because he does us a good deed. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God. 2. Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is of the highest quality; we give God the best of our love. Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.
4. Subjection. This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh. Matthew 2:11. So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we falter at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy.
A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but also brings light. Thus, he who glorifies God has not only his affections heated with love to The Almighty, the Christian also brings forth the light that is in him to a dark and dying world. Matthew 5:13-16 HCSB ““You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.
In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17(HCSB)17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.
The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, Galatians 2:20(HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s
2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.
The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39(HCSB)But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. Hebrews addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end. Ephesians 1:13-14(HCSB)13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. The true believer is one who believes to the end.
So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.