Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God's Ultimate Goal: The Key

In the last few posts, I have made a case for my understanding of God's ultimate goal.  What is God doing in the world today?  What has He been doing since creation and what will He continue to do until this world passes away?  Where is everything headed?  I believe it is this:

God's ultimate goal is to have an intimate relationship with a group of people.

This goal has three components, which we find again and again throughout scripture:

"I will be your God."
"You will be My people."
"I will dwell among you."

And yet someone may ask me, "What about Jesus?  Where does He fit into this?  The Bible is clear that Jesus has an important role but you haven't really talked much about Him in the last few posts."  ... So let me remedy that situation now by discussing how Jesus relates to God's ultimate goal, and in the process I hope to elevate Christ to His proper place of honor and glory.

If on the one hand God's ultimate goal is to have an intimate relationship with us and on the other hand we are tarnished by our own sin, then we have a serious problem.  God cannot tolerate sin in His presence and His righteous judgment demands that we are separated from Him eternally.  To use a human analogy, it is hard for a righteous judge to have a close friendship with a convicted criminal.  Unless the conviction is cleared, there will always be a barrier between them.

And that's excatly where Jesus comes in ... He paid the penalty for our sin when He died on the cross.  He endured separtation from the Father while he hung on the cross so that we won't have to.  Christ is the solution to the problem.  How can a righteous and holy God have an intimate relationship with a group of sinners? ... By washing the sin away from the sinners and clothing them in righteousness.  This is exactly what happens to all who believe in Christ.

Jesus is the key to God accomplishing His ultimate goal.  There would be no one except God in the new Jerusalem described in Revelation 21 if it wasn't for Jesus.  Without Him and His substitutionary death on the cross, we would all be eternally separated from God.  We would be stuck forever in hell, paying the penalty for our sins.  But because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, there is a way for God and man to be reconciled.  There is a way for the relationship to be restored.

Not only that, but it is important to note that Jesus is the only way for our relationship with God to be restored.  Jesus once said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, ESV).  There is no Plan B and there is no bypass road.  Faith in Christ is the only way to an intimate relationship with God.

God invites us to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him.  As I've discussed in earlier posts, this relationship is a reciprocal one: God loves you and wants you to love him in return.  God will be faithful to you and asks for you to be faithful to him.  Not only that, but God also wants to dwell with you: in this life, if you believe in His Son then He will place His Holy Spirit within you; and in the life to come, you will worship in His presence and dwell with him after the first heaven and first earth have passed away.

How can you participate in this relationship?  By faith in Christ.  "Faith" is just a fancy way of saying that you believe and trust in someone or something.  The Bible teachess that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life here on earth, then voluntarily died on the cross for the sin of every person who ever lived.  Three days later He was resurrected (He came back to life) to prove that He had conquered sin and death.  Forty days later, He ascended into heaven where He now sits at God's right hand as the ruler over heaven and earth.  If you believe this ... if you trust in Jesus ... if you have faith in Him, then God promises to wash your sins away and restore His relationship with you.

So if you've never believed in Jesus and trusted Him to wash your sins away, I would encourage you to consider these verses: Rom. 5:6-8, Rom. 6:23, Rom. 10:8-13, Eph. 2:1-9.  You can also find more information on the gospel and additional verses here.

If you have trusted in Jesus and are already one of His followers, my encouragement to you is to cultivate your relationship with God.  If God's ultimate goal is to have an intimate relationship with you, then why wait until heaven to grow deeper that relationship?  God wants you to know Him better and to walk in His presence every day.  We can cultivate our relationship with Him by reading the Bible, praying to Him, turning from sin, and striving to obey Him more.  When you do those things day by day, then you will grow closer to your Creator and enjoy the many blessings of walking with Him.