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 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 andBostonerror. 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 the Superbowl football game, I remembered an event that I saw in a game last year which 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, “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, “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. Mt. 5:16, “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 implies that glorifying God was the primary purpose of the work God gave Him to do. Romans1:21shows 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, “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, give as we have been prospered or do any other thing we know Christ wants of us. What is the center of your life?