|Volume 21 Number 10 October 2019||
T. Pierce Brown
If we were to ask 100 Christians, preachers or elders what is the central purpose or primary task of the church or the individual Christian, we would probably get many different answers. If we asked it of all the speakers in a Personal Evangelism Workshop, most would probably answer, “The primary function of a Christian is to win a soul.”
For about 25 years, I attended every Personal Evangelism Worship in the nation about which I read. In almost all of them, most speakers would make statements like, “The purpose for which Christ came was to save souls. For what purpose did you come?” I have made and applauded similar statements most of my life.
Now, I want to suggest a better approach to it, for I think that slight error in emphasis was the basis of much of the Crossroads and Boston errors.* It is improper to talk about the purpose when there are at least thirty reasons given in the Bible for Christ coming and dying. There is probably only one more important thing in the universe than saving a soul, but it is always improper to substitute the good for the better or the better for the best.
As I watched the first few minutes of a Super Bowl football game, I remembered an event that I saw in a game last year that made me think of the importance of this principle. A man had caught a pass and was prancing along toward the goal line with no one near him. Just before he reached the goal line, he lost control of the ball. It makes no difference if he had thought the five-yard line was the goal line and spiked the ball and made his little victory dance, or whether he simply fumbled. He missed the goal, and the whole game may have been lost as a result of it.
The principle of knowing where the real goal is and properly striving to attain that is absolutely vital to the game of life. Many of our failures are a result of a failure to understand the ultimate end for which we were made. If we do not know our primary purpose, we are like a football player running all over the backfield but never crossing the goal line.
If we focus on the expressions concerning the glory of God, we cannot miss the truth that the ultimate end for which the universe was made, for which man was made, for which Christ came and did His wonderful works, for which the church was established, was to glorify God. Before we look at some of the expressions, let us note the simple reason this is so. If we properly glorify God, that includes all else that matters. We will obey His will, be saved, strive to save others, love our fellowman and do all duties to God and man.
Note some of the passages that refer to the glory of God and the implications of them. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” That probably was the primary purpose for which they were made. Romans 3:23 reads, “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” We suggest that all sin is caused by or results in failing to glorify God properly. Matthew 5:16 declares, “Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This suggests that one of the primary purposes of doing good works is that God may be glorified. Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14 all suggest that God providing for our salvation was in order that He would be glorified. John 11:4 shows that even such events as Lazarus’ sickness, death and resurrection were for the glory of God. In John 17:4, Jesus implied that glorifying God was the primary purpose of the work God gave Him to do. Romans 1:21 shows that failure to glorify God leads to thanklessness, futility of life and all sorts of depravity.
Perhaps no clearer statement of my point can be made than in the language of 1 Corinthians 10:31 where it says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” If all we are to do is to glorify God, then it should be evident that this is the central purpose in life. Those who assume that this means that every act we perform is worship do not properly understand worship. I glorify God when I love my wife and treat her properly, but I do not worship God by saying to her, “I love you.”
There is little doubt that if we constantly had at the center of our lives the desire to glorify God, we could not deliberately sin, teach false doctrine or do any of the thousands of other things that bring reproach on the name of Christ. We would not fail to try to win others to Christ, fail to give as we have been prospered or fail to do any other thing that we know Christ wants of us. What is the center of your life?
*The Crossroads and Boston movements may have begun as reactions to relative inattention by congregations and Christians to commitment and zeal regarding Christianity and evangelism. However, they went beyond what was written (1 Corinthians 4:6) and were given to cultic excesses. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor
…A certain man made a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, “Come for all things are now ready.” But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go test them. I ask you to have me excused.” Still another said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” (Luke 14:16-20)
Excuses! At some time, every one of us has been guilty of making an excuse. It’s human nature. According to the dictionary, an excuse is “a real or pretended reason or explanation given to make one free from blame or punishment; to seek exemption or release for; to overlook or let off with only disapproval, etc.” The list goes on, but we all get the meaning of the word. We want to be freed from whatever commitment we may have made that we don’t want or intend to keep. We wish for that to be done without having to dread any repercussion.
Sometimes we offer excuses when they are not in our own best interest. Alice and I have often mentioned this when thinking of our sister Reba Moore when she was told in the doctor’s office that she had to go immediately to the hospital for heart bypass surgery. She said, “I need to take my car home.” “I need to get some things to take to the hospital.” “I need to make some phone calls.” The doctor didn’t buy any of them! I don’t mean to be “picking” on Reba, but her excuses for trying to evade the doctor’s orders are just a prime example of how sometimes we are not being fair to ourselves when there is an urgency involved that could affect our health, our lives and our souls.
Yet, sometimes, we offer excuses that are just a means by which we hope to make a good explanation of why we didn’t do something that we should have or that was expected of us. Just as the doctor, for her own good, dismissed Reba’s excuses, God sees through our excuses. Our excuses will not avail with God! Above, we started out with the Parable of the Feast. When those invited didn’t come to the feast, the master of the house was angry and responded to the excuses offered. “…‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind’ …I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper” (Luke 14:21-24).
Jesus’ blood covers all sins of all mankind for all time. There is no favoritism in what He has offered to men. Listen as He said in Matthew 7:24-26, “Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken to a wise man who built his house on the rock…But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” Jesus gave mankind a pattern by which to live, and the promise is that He will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
Those who don’t hear and obey the Gospel will pay an eternal price. Excuses will not be accepted. Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our Savior sits in Heaven at the right hand of God, so we can’t do good deeds directly for Him. However, indirectly, we can serve him by doing what He said in Matthew 25:40, “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it unto Me.” We serve the Master by serving others. People will be condemned when excuses are made for any lack of service to the Lord. “…He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). Excuses won’t accomplish a thing.