The Ultimate Goal of Christianity

streets of goldIn my early years of life and even in my early years as a young Christian, I thought that the ultimate goal of Christianity was to get to Heaven! I grew up with a theology that advocated there was nothing really good in this world and that Christians should never have any real involvement with this present age because, after all, we are just pilgrims passing through this unfriendly world! In my youth and in my early Christian years, I thought that the ultimate goal of Christianity was to get to the Pearly Gates and the Streets of Gold!

goldMuch of what I am hearing in Christian circles today is almost the exact opposite! It seems that much of the modern preaching and teaching in Christian circles advocate the ultimate goal of Christianity is to be prosperous in this present world. Many advocate that it is God’s ultimate goal that we “prosper and be in good health.” Many other scriptures are used to advocate that the ultimate goal of Christianity is gold; to be rich, healthy, and wealthy in this present age in this present world!

But what does the Bible really say about the ultimate goal of Christianity? Well, since I have come to some understanding of what Jesus meant about the Kingdom of God (Heaven), things that were once complicated are all so simple to me now! The ultimate goal of Christianity is NOT HEAVEN when we die NEITHER IS IT PROSPERITY IN THIS LIFE! The ultimate goal of Christianity is pronounced in Romans 8:28-29: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (KJV) For the Christian, God works everything together for the good and the “good” in verse 28 is defined in verse 29. The good is that we be conformed to the image of his Son! In other words, if you are a Christian, then God works all things together so that you might BE LIKE JESUS! A Christian, by definition is a follower of Christ and I read somewhere that the term “Christian” can also be defined as: “little Christ.”

Now this fits in perfectly with God’s original plan in the beginning! In Genesis 1:26-28 we read: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (KJV) God’s original intent for humanity was that humanity might administrate the Kingdom of God on earth on HIS behalf. Therefore, humanity was created in the image and likeness of God. In Colossian 1:12-15, Paul wrote: “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (NKJ) Do you see that? Paul described Jesus as being “the image of the invisible God.” In Romans, he said that it was God’s predestined plan that we be conformed to the image of HIS SON! Now, if HIS SON is the image of the invisible God and that same invisible God created man in his image and likeness, then the mission of Jesus was really to provide a way for us to be restored back to our original state: Created in the image and likeness of God!

man on mountainTherefore, the ultimate goal of Christianity is really to restore what was lost in Eden! Adam didn’t lose Heaven in the Garden; he lost dominion! The ultimate goal of Christianity is to take us back to what we were made for! We were not made to occupy Heaven eternally in a spiritual state, nor were we made to be materially prosperous in this world for the sake of prosperity! We were made in the image and likeness of God to have dominion (to administrate the Kingdom of God) over the earth! Therefore, the ultimate goal of Christianity is to put us back where God created us to be! In a place of dominion and authority; not as owners, but as stewards of the Kingdom of God over the earth!

The Sign: Turning Water into Wine

water into wineDid you know that according to the Gospel of John, the first miracle Jesus performed was that of turning water into wine? That’s really amazing to me! I mean, think about it! You would think that the first miracle would have been something like giving sight to the blind or making a lame man walk. But according to John, the first miracle was turning water into wine!

What is that telling us? Well, I did some reading in my Greek New Testament and I discovered that the Greek word that is translated into the English word: “miracle” in the Gospel of John in the King James Version of the Bible is more accurately translated as the word: “sign.” In fact, everywhere the King James Version has the words “miracle” or “miracles” in the Gospel of John, a more accurate translation would be the words: “sign” or “signs!” In John’s gospel, the miracles of Jesus were signs that pointed to the greater reality of the deity of Jesus!

But, aside from pointing to the greater reality that Jesus was and is indeed the Son of God, what was the “sign” of turning water into wine? Well, I believe there were couple of things Jesus was doing by turning water into wine (beside the immediate context of supplying the need of the wedding feast, thereby sparing the host of potential social embarrassment)! First of all, I think Jesus was trying to tell us that his presence provides the potential for turning the ordinary (water) into the extraordinary (wine)! If you read the story in John 2, you will discover that the host was amazed because it wasn’t just wine, but it was extraordinary good wine! There really is no such thing as an ordinary Christian life because the presence of Jesus via the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer makes life extraordinary and exciting!

I also think that Jesus was giving an indication of what life is like with him with this sign! He turned water into wine, not because they had ran out of wine for communion; but rather they ran out of wine for a wedding feast! Too many people think that being solemn and sour is the mark of a Christian. But I think Jesus was saying with this sign of turning water into wine that a dominant characteristic of the Christian’s life is joy! A wedding was and is a joyous occasion and wine makes it even more jubilant! The message is this: Don’t be such a “stuff-shirt!” Life in Christ is meant to be joyous and exciting, not dull and boring!

Well, that’s what I think! So the next time you meet someone who is supposedly a Christian, yet there is no joy in their life, it may be because they didn’t “read” this sign right or it may be their wine has run out! The life of faith is not primarily about following rules and laws (although there are rules and laws we must follow), but more so about a joyful relationship with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit! So loosen up my brother; let your hair down my sister! Enjoy your life (in Christ)! I believe that was the message of the sign of turning water into wine!

Jesus: The “Model” for the Christian

Jesus in a suitBeside the fact that Jesus is the Lord and the Savior, I think many people who claim to be Christian forget that he is also the Model! Let me show you what I’m talking about! How many times (I’ve lost count!) have you heard someone who is supposedly a Christian say something like this: “Nobody’s perfect! The only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus!” They usually say this as an excuse for a failure or a mistake. Or they may something like this: “That was Jesus, but I’m just human!” The point of their excuses is that they don’t think they should be expected to live like Jesus! But isn’t that the whole point of being a Christian; to live like Jesus? By the way, although Jesus was and is the Son of God, he lived his life on earth as the Son of Man! Whatever Jesus did on earth, he did it as a man fully indwelt and controlled by the Holy Spirit. He did not use any of his divine prerogatives! In other words, whatever Jesus did on earth during his earthly ministry, we have the potential to do also! In fact, Jesus said in John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whosoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (ESV) The primary goal of Christianity is not a ticket to Heaven or a pass from Hell; it is to be like Jesus!

Luke wrote an interesting point in his introduction to the Acts of the Apostles. Luke wrote: “In the first book (a reference to the Gospel of Luke), O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. . .” (Acts 1:1 ESV) Do you see that? He didn’t say that his first work was about all that Jesus did and taught, he said it was about all that Jesus “began” to do and teach! The implication is that although the atoning work of Jesus was finished at Calvary and with his resurrection, there are certain aspects of the ministry and work of Jesus that were NOT completed! The work goes on! All that Jesus began to do and teach is to be continued by those who live in his name; by those who wear the name: Christian!

Just as Jesus did not live for himself, but was totally consumed and occupied with the will of his Father, so should the life of the Christian be today! The life of the Christian is a life lived in the name of Jesus! The Apostle Paul put it this way: “To live is Christ!” In the Greek text, there is no verb. Paul literally said: “To live, Christ!” The terms “live” and “Christ” stand in apposition to each other. For Paul and for the true Christian; life equals Christ! Therefore, everything we do and everything we say should be in the name of Jesus. The Christian life is a life in which Jesus lives through the life of the Christian. Just as the Father did His work through Jesus; Jesus does his work through the Christian. Therefore the life of the Christian does not belong to the Christian to do as he or she pleases, but rather to do the will of Christ! That is why the first requirement of following Jesus is that a person deny (that is say “no” to) their self! (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

So, what should the “Christian” be doing today? They should be continuing all the things that Jesus began to do and teach while he was on earth! The life of the Christian is not just about preaching and teaching the Gospel, it also involves getting involved with people to make their lives better!  It is also about providing a physical and practical demonstration of the power of the Gospel! If every person in the United States who claims to be Christian would actually “be Christian,” many of the moral and social evils that are present in our society would be gone in a matter of years, perhaps even months or weeks! The ministry of Jesus was about relieving the suffering of people in addition to helping them establish a relationship with the Heavenly Father. He didn’t do one or the other; he did both! He preached to the multitude AND he fed the multitude! He preached the Kingdom of God AND he demonstrated the power and validity of the kingdom by casting out demons and healing the sick! Jesus was concern about and ministered to the whole person; mind, body and soul! Therefore, if we are to be truly Christian; we are to be models of him! We are to continue to do what he started in his name! We are to be the visible, physical, and practical agents and representatives of the invisible spiritual God!