C. S. Lewis identified four kinds of love in his book, “Four Loves.” They are affection, friendship, passionate intimacy, and divine love. I will first examine affection as it relates to C. S. Lewis’s book and a biblical understanding of affection.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
Deep down we all need to be loved by others. Lewis described this kind of need as a Need-love. One begins to desire affection early in life, and it is found in the animal kingdom, both in mankind and beasts. A mother who nurses her offspring is showing simple affection by giving nutrients and life. Puppies and kittens are in a position of needing milk from their mother. Does a mother and a father also have a Need-love when they are giving love? Lewis found a paradox in this image when we realize the mother and father also have a need to give care to their young ones. Lewis distinguished a giving love as a Gift-love, but a Gift-love can also very well be a Need-love. Emperor penguins take care of their young by having the male and female take turns keeping the egg and chick warm. A chick needs love, and the parents are also engaging in a love they need to give.
Lewis called two aspects of affection as Need-love and Gift-love. Any two human beings can unite when one person simply expresses brotherly kindness to the other. Relatives, neighbors, and strangers can all show affection. A person who does not give love might not have many friends, but he or she can become the object of anyone’s affection. Human affection can be given to anyone regardless of age, sex, class, or education. Affection is the humblest of the four loves. It is the most modest and can be taken for granted.
Affection begins to grow when two people seem to grow fond of each other over time. In that way, affection is an appreciative love. At first, a person might begin to appreciate things he or she has in common with someone else. Ultimately, mature affection is discovered when one learns to appreciate individual human life without basing it on one’s preferences. Lewis described mature affection as “teaching us first to notice, then to endure, then to smile at, then to enjoy, and finally to appreciate the people who happen to be there.” He went on to examine several problems related to affection. Lewis agreed with psychology that says affection can produce happiness. The caveat, determined by Lewis, is that one needs reason, justice, and a higher sort of divine love for maximal happiness. If one tries to live by affection alone, “affection will go bad on us.”
Join me for a 1-hour #HealthyFaith chat on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, where you have an opportunity to discuss the topic of “Affection” in more detail. You can read chapter 3 “Affection” ahead of time, but it is not necessary. I will spend four Tuesdays going through “Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis from Tuesday, April 27-May 18. I hope you can participate!
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Lewis, C.S. Signature Classics. New York, NY: Harper One, 1960.
(An excerpt from Schuldt’s summaries of Chapters 7 & 10 in “Defending Your Faith” by R.C. Sproul)
Reliability of Sense Perception
When taking a look at the Reliability of Sense Perception (Chapter 7), we must admit that it is possible to be deceived by our senses and that our senses are limited. Nevertheless, our senses absolutely do help us understand true propositions. We can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell in order to declare a truthful statement.One lesson from Hume’s work is to understand that if we see wet grass, it is fine to say, “I do not know (perhaps right now) what caused the grass to get wet – because my senses did not see what happened,” but it is not okay to say, “nothing caused the grass to get wet.” Another lesson is to admit that our sense perceptions can be somewhat limited if we only see the effect. In addition, and even more importantly, we can be certain that an effect must have been caused by something other than itself – even though we did not see the event take place. For example, since the universe had a beginning, we can be certain that something other than the universe must have caused it to begin. Furthermore, we can rightly understand that God did not create Himself nor was He caused by something else.
Even though we cannot use our senses to see some invisible forces with our human eyesight such as gravity or microlevel organisms, we can be certain that unseen forces are in operation. Then how do human beings move? What is causing us to move? Paul gives us some insight. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). For example, while a person’s arm is the cause of waving his hand hello, God’s providence is the cause who makes it possible for us to wave. Hume focused on saying we cannot rely on our senses, which ultimately leads to the problem of skepticism. Hume’s teaching spun philosophy into an absurd tailspin of unreliable senses which in turn made science unreliable as well as theism. Then along came Immanuel Kant (AD 1724-1804), noticing the problem of total skepticism in Hume’s skeptical perspective of science. Kant attempted to revive causal relationships by noticing that all knowledge would be unattainable if causal relationships were reduced to Hume’s skepticism. However, Kant made skepticism even worse (see Chapter 10).
Beautiful Reality Contrasts With
Kant’s Skeptical Problem of an Unknown World
Several lines of reasoning for the existence of God surfaced in antiquity and still thrive today: the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the moral argument (Chapter 17). The ontological argument was referred to by Saint Anselm (1093-1109), stating that God must exist because “no greater being can be conceived.” The traditional cosmological argument says that the world is an effect, and the necessary first cause was caused by an eternal God. The teleological argument states that many different kinds of designs in the world were designed by an intelligent designer called God. The moral law states that moral laws come from a moral lawgiver called God.
Five hundred years after Aquinas, the existence of God was seldom disputed until Immanuel Kant began to separate grace from nature in his colossal work, the “Critique of Pure Reason” in 1781. In Kant’s philosophy, we can never know the world as it really is because he said all our knowledge comes from a combination of experience and reason working together, but that kind of knowledge is filtered through our own limited understanding. Kant thought our knowledge is purely mental and only subjective. In his attempt to separate an appearance of cause and effect, he ended up distorting reality. A cause only seems to us as the cause, Kant says, because the real cause is unknowable, hiding in an unknown world. For example, if a person sinks an eight ball into a pocket, suggested Kant, it only appears as if the person caused the ball to sink into the pocket. Kant suggested that we cannot know if the person was really the cause who sunk the ball into the pocket. Kant wanted to replace reality with subjective appearance, and he wanted to replace an imaginary unknown with reality. In Kant’s way of seeing the world, he called the “world as it really is” a noumenal world. He referred to the “world as it appears” as a phenomenal world. Kant thought we can only know an illusionary phenomenal world. I will add that this exaltation to doubting paved the way for Richard Dawkins’ absurd atheistic delusional perspectives.
According to Kant, the skepticism of Hume left everyone doubting sense perception and science altogether. Kant challenged Hume by saying our sense perception can give us reliable information, but it only gives us information as it appears to us in this phenomenal world. Kant attempted to bring credit back to science by saying the phenomenal world can be known to us by any of our five senses. He went on to say that scientific (empirical) observations in the phenomenal world cannot give any information about a real noumenal world.
Kantian philosophy leads into the worst denial of all, saying we cannot know anything about the existence of God. It is helpful to use shorter propositions when describing what Kant did. He turned reality upside down. His skepticism is denial at its worst. Kantian philosophy places faith into the category of fideism. In Kant’s mind, we cannot know the “real” noumenal world. Kant used an illustration of comparing a dollar bill in his mind to a dollar bill in his pocket. One bill is there and one is imaginary. Misusing this analogy, he pointed out that if one thinks that God exists, it does not mean that God really exists. However, we would need to ask Kant in jest, “Then according to your philosophy, your real dollar bill in your pocket isn’t really real. The dollar bill in your pocket is only a phenomenon.” Kant’s philosophy is a mixture of self-refutation and skepticism. It is a mixture of contradictions and flat out denial. Kant replaced the real world with subjective appearance. He began to deny reality and realism. He left reality as an illusion. He replaced reality with that which is unknown. He threw away truth. This leads us to the next five chapters. We will examine four possible explanations for reality: 1.) An illusion (Chapter 11) such as a Kantian phenomenon world. 2.) Self-created a.k.a. chance (Chapter 12). 3.) Self-existent (Chapter 13). 4.) Divinely created (Chapters 14 and 15).
In his book “Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide” 3rd edition, psychologist Dr. Gary Collins described depression as one of the five prominent issues in counseling. Depression can vary from a milder form of common sadness that we all experience on a smaller scale to a more severe condition with feelings of despair, fear, exhaustion, immobilizing apathy, hopelessness, inner desperation, or even thoughts of suicide. Symptoms of depression can affect individuals of all ages and can vary in one’s feelings, thinking, behavior, and physical health.
Collins described the following ten types of depression: reactive, endogenous, primary, secondary, dysthemic disorders, seasonal affective disorders, bipolar disorders, postpartum disorders, major depressive disorders, and other mood disorders. First, reactive depression can be in response to either real or imaginary trauma. Second, endogenous depression involves intense despair from within the person, sometimes accompanied by self-destructive tendencies, often called psychotic depression. Primary depression occurs by itself while secondary depression is more of a side effect of an influence, diet, medication, or illness.
Fifth, a dysthemic disorder is a chronic daily condition lasting more than two years, but the person can still function usually with low energy, little enthusiasm, or not much ability to enjoy life. This type of depression can be treated medically and with effective counseling. Sixth, seasonal disorders are periods of withdrawl, often during the winter months. Evidence of light therapy is proven to be helpful as well as counseling. Seventh, bipolar disorder used to be called manic-depressive disorder because behavior consists of cycles of boundless manic uncontrolled behavior interspersed with depressed mood swings. It can be controlled with medication, but talk therapy helps a great deal with the individual as well as their family.
Eighth, postpartum disorder lasts longer than just a few days of the baby-blues after giving birth. It can be treated with counseling and medication. Ninth, major depressive disorder is the most severe and complex, often seen in episodes that disrupt everyone. The causes can be psychological and/or physical. More severe cases do not respond well to regular talk therapy, and they require antidepressant medication from a specialist. Tenth, mood disorders is an emotional state that can include depression as well as other emotions, found in all the nine types of depression mentioned above.
Counselors should take the bio-psycho-social approach to examine three possible causes of depression, including biological-genetic, psychological-cognitive, and social-environmental. It is important to distinguish between genetic and possible environmental causes. Genetic causes include anything from a lack of sleep, insufficient exercise, side effects of drugs, physical illness, improper diet, or PMS, to other more serious causes such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, neurochemical malfunctioning, or a brain tumor. Environmental causes can include things like caring for a family member, divorce, political climates, social suppression influences, or an unreasonable boss. Psychological-cognitive causes include a wide range of influences. It affects an estimated 10% of the population. These influences include background issues, stress from losing a loved one, feeling helpless, a negative view of the world, a negative view of self, a negative view of the future, feeling angry, or feeling guilty from a wrong action. Solutions vary from finding areas in life where one can control a portion of their environment, talk therapy, finding a true sense of worth, and relying on God for protection and guidance.
Collins offered the following ways to approach depression in counseling and soften the severity of depression: teach the real facts about depression, encourage support, urge people to reach out, deal with physiology, stimulate physical fitness, deal with possible causes, identify negative thinking patterns and deal with thought patterns, deal with inactivity, deal with the environment, deal with potential self-harm, and as King David said, “I will put my hope in God!” (Psalm 43:5). In part two of Collins’ book, he gave helpful insight into the following five prominent issues in counseling: depression, anxiety, anger, guilt and forgiveness, and loneliness.
Over the past six days, we have discovered a lot about the meaning of life from a Biblical perspective. Jesus explained that the purpose of his existence is to help other people experience abundant life. He offers not only eternal life but also being able to live life more abundantly. A Christian philosopher named Aquinas determined that the goal for all human beings in life is perfect happiness. He presented several ways in which many people waste their time going about trying to achieve perfect happiness such as striving for wealth, fame, or power, but they’ll always end up missing the ultimate achievement of perfect happiness. He agreed with Jesus that many people are on the road to destruction. The ultimate way to find perfect happiness, according to Aquinas, is in knowing and delighting in the divine essence of our Heavenly Father’s presence. Delighting in His presence means that we value His nature and His character, and we gladly participate in His work. In order to participate in His work, we need to know His divine plan.
Yesterday, we found out that the meaning of life directly relates to learning and experiencing the divine plan that has already been set for us. His divine plan includes His hidden will, revealed will, sovereign will, and the work He does in human beings, which is called His preceptive will.
Today we will find out more about the will of God for all people everywhere.
Q7/7: What is the divine plan for His work in individuals? Is His divine plan for individuals good? Is it good for everyone? Can everyone participate in the divine plan?
Simply put, the divine plan for His work in individuals is redemption and restoration. I read a book over twenty years ago on knowing the will of God, according to the Bible. It said that the will of God includes salvation, sanctification, surrendering to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to authority, suffering for doing what is right and good, giving thanks, and using our gifts and talents for the kingdom. I couldn’t agree more.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, we see time and time again that people need to repent from disobeying the divine moral law. All throughout history, we see divine intervention where the Lord God Almighty has provided what is good for the people in that culture. After Adam and Eve ate the Forbidden Fruit, in hindsight, we see divine intervention where a four-fold act of divine redemption had been given. 1.) God placed Adam Even in the Garden of Eden, gave them good things to do, and loved them very much. 2.) Adam and Eve experienced a divine confrontation, “Adam and Eve, have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 3.) Adam, Eve, and Satan all received consequences for what they had done. 4.) A divine covering was made to cover Adam and Eve, and then they had to leave the Garden of Eden. The divine plan for Adam and Eve was for them to be perfectly happy as complete human beings in the Garden of Eden. However, after eating the forbidden fruit, they felt naked and ashamed. Their state of perfect happiness was broken. Since Adam and Eve had the free will to either eat the forbidden fruit or not eat it – and they disobeyed by eating it when they were not supposed to eat it – God took action to reconcile them back to Him through His loving act of redemption.
Today, everyone can also personally experience divine redemption. It has been the same message of salvation for the past 2,000 years, and we can continue to pass the message along. Many people still do not know the message of salvation nor have they cherished it in their heart. The message of salvation is as follows: 1.) Omni-benevolence: In His kindness, God gives us the divine moral law to help us live a good life. 2.) Confrontation: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 3.) Consequences: The wages of sin is death. 4.) Divine Covering: The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We call the gift of Jesus Christ the New Covenant; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived to tell us about the kingdom on earth. He willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sin. Three days later, He conquered death and rose from the dead.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
With his heart a man believes, and with his mouth a confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Salvation is the divine plan for everyone. Let us take a look at an analogy for whether the divine plan is for everyone, whether the divine plan is good, and whether everyone participates in that divine plan. An engineer hydrologist plans the operation of providing clean water for all the people. The engineer can see to it that clean water is available to all people. If a person continues to go to a dirty well to get his water, then that person is not participating in the engineer’s plan. The person who continues to go to the dirty well will even receive consequences for it. It is the same with the plan of salvation. The divine plan has already been given and carried out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If a person continues to avoid this salvation, deny it, or think little of it, then he or she will miss out on the gift of eternal life and living life more abundantly.
Psalm 90:15-16 says, Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him. I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.
After a person is saved by grace through faith in the divine work of Jesus Christ, that born-again believer can share in fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. After salvation, the purpose of man is to be transformed by allowing him or her to take in more of the divine goodness. After receiving Christ as Savior, we are to be “transformed” daily by the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is even called the Bread of Life because it nourishes our individual lives.
The second aspect of the divine will for each human being is called sanctification. Sanctification means to be set apart, to be made holy. It is the process of being purified. It is a life long process where we are walking in step with the Holy Spirit.
Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
1 Thess. 4:3-4, Paul said, It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.
During the process of sanctification, a person can discover other aspects of the divine will in his or her personal life. These include surrendering to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to authority, suffering for doing what is right and good, giving thanks, and using our individual gifts and talents for the kingdom on earth.
Thank you for your time! I hope you enjoyed reading about the meaning of life.
Have you ever heard a Christian say, “God has a wonderful plan for your life”? What does this mean? What plan does He have? What is His plan? According to the Four Spiritual Laws, the first law states that God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. If you lost a loved one, you might think that plan is terrible. If things are not going well, is that His plan? If we see cancer and disease in the world, is that His plan? If your child died in an automobile accident, is that His plan? Today, we will find out that cancer and disease and car accidents are not in His sovereign plan. If you had a miscarriage or lost a loved one, it is a tragedy, but it is not His sovereign plan. I actually went on a mission trip one time where they train people to avoid talking about the very important fact that God has a good plan for your life. They were afraid of the topic. They were afraid that the topic might confuse someone. As Christians, we need to get a better understanding of what we mean by God has a good plan for you, plans not to harm you. The first spiritual law is true. God really does have a wonderful plan for you. He wants you to have a biblical understanding of his plan.
Q6/7: What are three characteristics about the divine plan as they are described in the Bible? What are the three different aspects of the will of God? Is the divine plan good for all people or just some people?
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
HIDDEN WILL & REVEALED WILL – God’s plan is from eternity. It is from Him. No one advises Him. We can learn some of the divine plan – not all of the divine plan. Deut. 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” It would be accurate to say that some of God’s plan is hidden. The hidden will of God is not for us to know at this time, but the revealed will of God can be known. We have been given prophecy to know some things about the future, and at this time in history, we have been given a lot of amazing history where we can see the fingerprint of divine work. We have telescopes for us to see amazing photos of His creation. We can learn plenty of the revealed will/plan/work to live an abundant life. We exist for His glory/fame. He does not exist for our glory/fame. He is not the genie in the bottle who we command. We exist for His sake and for his good pleasure. He takes no pleasure in evil, wrongdoing, or tragedy. The wonderful story of redemption is His revealed plan, and it is currently operating and functioning worldwide.
SOVEREIGN WILL – No one can stop His plan. What He has planned will come to pass. This can be called the Efficacious Will; efficacious means to be successful in producing an end result. It can also be called a De-cre(ee)-tive Will. The most common term is called the Sovereign Will. This plan is active and good. There is never a time when the sovereign will is not good. The sovereign will is good all the time no matter what. It involves creating, preserving, sustaining, directing, and redeeming. Our Father in Heaven is guiding history according to His goal. He is directing His plan. While this will is active, it also allows for the problem of evil, pain, and suffering. Some types of suffering are in His sovereign will, but not all suffering. Jesus suffered a painful death, according to the divine sovereign will. Other times, a painful death is not according to the divine will. It is evil. For example, inducing abortion is not the sovereign will of God. Taking the life of an innocent unborn baby is not in the sovereign plan. Aquinas defines evil as something that is lacking good. The Sovereign Will is only good all the time. It includes things like Creation, the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, the Gospel message, end time events, Judgement Seat, Great White Throne Judgement, and eternal life.
PRECEPTIVE WILL – The divine plan also relates to His work in individuals. This aspect of His will can be resisted or it can be welcomed. It is called the Pre-(ee)cep-tive Will, and it directly relates to His Word, His commandments, and His Law. The Preceptive Will has been revealed to us. Tomorrow, we will be looking at several key items that will help us know for sure God’s plan for our life – for all people, everywhere. The Preceptive Will includes a responsibility on our part. It includes prayer, evangelism, apologetics, and using our gifts and talents to bless one another in the kingdom on earth.
The Divine Will includes the 1.) Hidden will 2.) Sovereign Will and 3.) Preceptive Will.
Aquinas explained that the purpose of man is for man “to rest in the knowledge of God alone.” This is why I believe the study of the Trinity is so important. Studying the attributes of God is incredibly significant. Studying the character, nature, and works of God should be a top priority.
Over the past six days, we have discovered what God wants from us. He wants us to have perfect happiness in the way that He has intended for us to have it. We can find this perfect happiness in knowing and delighting in the divine essence of His presence. He wants us to know Him, His nature, and His work. His work includes his hidden work, His sovereign work, and His work in human beings. Tomorrow, we will examine His divine will in us.
I will be exploring the meaning of life from a biblical perspective. So far, we have discovered that many people are trying to create their own way of achieving perfect happiness – such as wealth, fame, or authority – but according to Aquinas, perfect happiness can only come from knowing and delighting in the divine essence of our Heavenly Father’s presence. Jesus explained that we cannot serve two masters. For example, we cannot serve both God and money. Our brain is not wired to operate that way. We also discovered that when some people say that happiness comes and goes, what they are really saying is that pleasures come and go. Happiness is meant to stay, and deep down inside, we will continue to search for perfect happiness until we find it. Today, we will discover more about what it means to find perfect happiness. It has to do with learning and experiencing the divine plan.
Q5/7: What is the key to understanding a biblical meaning to life? What do we mean by the divine plan and will of God?
The key to understanding a biblical meaning of life is to experience the divine plan. Learning the divine plan can also be called learning the will of God as it has been revealed to us. For example, a person can learn all he wants about roller coasters, but if he wants to experience what it is like to ride on a roller coaster, then he ought to get in, buckle up, and see for himself. Aquinas explained that the final end for us in life is perfect happiness, but many people go about it the wrong way. Jesus said that many people are on the road to destruction while other people find the small gate and narrow path that leads to life. Aquinas and Jesus agree. They both determined that all good things come from heaven above, but these good things are not material things. When we want to learn how to live an abundant life, it can help a great deal if we begin with learning the divine plan.
We will explore the nature of the divine plan, but if we really want to get to know the divine plan for us, then we will need to learn and experience it. Learning and experiencing the divine plan is for everyone. For example, if we want to learn the game of baseball, it would help if we could learn the rules of the game. If we really want to experience baseball, then we would need to get in the game. One big difference between experiencing baseball and experiencing the divine plan is that not everyone can perform baseball skills at a high level, but everyone can participate in the divine plan.
So if we want to learn the meaning of life, it would help if we can learn the structure and guidelines that have already been set. If we really want to experience a better quality of life, then we would need to start following the guidelines that have already been given to us. A few things need to be said about attempting to know the “divine plan.” What do we mean by the terms, divine plan and will of God?
This divine plan relates to divine action in our world and divine decisions that have already been made, not arbitrary or haphazard decisions, but intelligent decisions. As an analogy, even though this analogy is insufficient (analogies are difficult for some people as apologist RC Sproul pointed out in his book “Defending Your Faith”) here’s an analogy that might help us understand what we mean by divine plan. The divine plan is like an architect’s plan. The architect has a plan in mind and then he draws them on paper according to intention and design. Then the plan is carried out in an actual structure. Another example would be a watchmaker. He has a plan in mind for what he wants to make. He uses materials to make the watch. Then the watch begins to move its second hand, minute hand, and hour hand. The big difference between a watch and a human being, though, is that the human being is a rational creature who has free will. The watch does not have free will. By definition, an analogy compares two things for the purpose of explanation or clarification. One thing is usually something familiar to us, and the other thing is usually less familiar. The thing that is less familiar is what we are trying to bring into light, getting a better understanding. In an analogy, two things will share something in common, but there will be something about those two things that differ.
When we refer to divine decisions that have been made with respect to any matters within the realm of cosmic history, we will use the term “foreordain.” In the Bible, we find a rich set of teachings regarding to the divine plan that has been foreordained.
Over the next five days, we will take a good look at three main aspects of the divine will and the specifics of the divine will for each individual. The divine will is the best adventure anyone could ever experience, and it is for all people. Once we realize how wonderful it is to set aside our own will and do the will of our Heavenly Father, it becomes easier to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).
For the past three days, I have been writing about the meaning of life. Today, I will be taking a look at question number 4. I hope you find this topic, Meaning of Life, as important as I do. Thank you for taking the time to consider these kind of questions.
Q4/7: Where should we begin in order to understand the meaning of life from a biblical perspective? If the goal in life is to have perfect happiness, where does one begin? In order to know and delight in the Lord our God, how does one begin that process? Is it ever too late to begin?
It might seem obvious to a Christian where one would begin in order to understand the meaning of life from a biblical perspective. We need to refer to the Bible in order to gain an understanding from a biblical perspective. Let me point out that the Bible is not just a historical document consisting of numerous books. It has been written over a thousand years, written by over forty authors, and preserved so accurately, that the copies we have today match the earliest copies that exist. For example, the Dead Sea Scroll discovery proves that the Old Testament we have today matches exactly as to what was written before the life of Christ. By carefully using textual criticism, we can be certain the New Testament we have today also matches the earliest Greek manuscripts. Our Bible today is not corrupt. It has not been changed over time. The authors were holy men of God who wrote the Scriptures as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The theme of redemption runs throughout the entire book, a love story where God demonstrated his love and grace from the beginning of time. Holy men of God preserved and protected the scrolls decade after decade. Copies were carefully made, word for word, in a publishing process so foreign to us in this day and age. When we refer to the Bible to get a biblical perspective, we are looking to verses and passages that have been given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we look to the Author of Life for the meaning of life, we will begin with knowing the divine plan. This is also called knowing God’s will.
Over the past three days, we have discovered that the ultimate goal in life is to have perfect happiness. Many people go about it the wrong way, though. Even though some people think that happiness is only something that comes and goes, it was Aquinas who clarified the misconception by explaining out that pleasures come and go, but perfect happiness can be here to stay. Psalm 146:5 says, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God.”Aquinas goes on to describe the nature of perfect happiness. He stated that perfect happiness is in knowing and delighting in the divine essence of His presence. In order to do begin that process, we need to begin knowing the divine essence. The study of how we know what we know is called epistemology. In Proverbs 3:13, it says, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.”
Jesus said that His purpose is to give us life and for us to have life more abundantly (John 10:10). This abundant life is found when a person looks to the Lord for daily guidance. Jesus said that we will have troubles in this world, but He also encouraged us to put our confidence in Him since He overcame the world. He meets us right where we are at and helps us every step of the way (John 6:33). We hear stories every now and then of famous people who feel lonely, drunk people who hit rock bottom, inmates who admit they followed their own way, rich people who feel empty, and high achievers who feel unsatisfied. In order to be perfectly happy, there must be some way to find it. Jesus described it like this. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
Since the Lord our God wants us to know and delight ourselves in Him, it makes sense to make it a priority to know His nature, His character, and His work. Our next step will be to take a closer look at the work of His will. Tomorrow, we will begin to unfold the mystery of knowing God’s will and how it really makes all the difference in knowing the meaning of life.
So far, we have found out that happy are those people whose God is their Lord. We found the verses in the New Testament stating that man cannot serve two masters. He cannot serve both God and money. We have also discovered that some kind of perfect happiness is given by God to His people. Perfect happiness and peace are things that can be given to us. Peace that passes all understanding can guard our heart and mind. This kind of peace is not our own. No one can muster it up. It is a gift given to us. Philippians 4:6-7 says the following:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Aquinas pointed out that imperfect happiness can be found in temporary things such as a career, family, and an education, but perfect happiness is found in a good relationship with God, knowing and delighting in the divine essence of His presence.
Yesterday, we found out that morality and freedom in one’s own country are both at stake if you set aside the Divine Moral Law and ignore the true meaning of life. One reason why the meaning of life matters so much is that it can really make all the difference between morality and immorality in your life and in the lives of the people around you. When a person is really knowing and delighting in the divine essence of His Presence, we come to know that we will be firmly planted on a firm foundation and begin to value the Divine Moral Law that has already been given. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. In Psalm 1, it says the following:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Here is the moral law syllogism to help bring things into focus a bit. 1.) Laws come from a law maker. 2.) Moral laws exist. 3.) Therefore, moral laws come from a moral lawgiver. The question becomes, “Who is the Moral Lawgiver?” Does a society determine what is the moral law? Does an individual determine the moral law? Or has the moral law already been given by the Lord God Almighty?
When you let your light shine, other people around you will see it. They might fuss about it, complain, insult you, or deny that a divine moral law exists. As Schaeffer so boldly pointed out in his book, Christian Manifesto, in a society where people who follow the divine moral law remain silent, it gives room for corrupt leaders to develop their own moral law. Schaeffer gives a bold call for good people to stand up and make a difference. He is calling us to honor the Divine Moral Law, not just in our heart and at home, but at work, at school, and in our neighborhood and city.
Q2/7: What kind of danger is there to creating your own meaning in life?
I will first present seven dangers to creating your own meaning in life as described by Aquinas. Then I will present two main dangers to any society where leaders come up with their own meaning in life and enforce it by law.
We are blessed to look back in history and learn from other people’s mistakes. Some people have tried to create their own meaning in life, but they failed. Other people have focused on a career, a family, a good education, or a big house, and those kind of goals can be meaningful up to a certain extent, but is that all there is to life? As we saw yesterday, Aquinas pointed out several things that people look to for happiness, but they can end up miserable. Wealth, honor, fame, power, and temporary pleasures are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but they can be.
First, wealth can turn sour if a miser becomes hateful and hoards what he has. Wealth can shine when the person makes an effort to give out of the abundance of his heart.
Second, happiness cannot be found in honor because, as Aquinas pointed out, happiness is in the happy while honor is not in the one being honored. Honor is found in the one who is giving the honor. Steadfast, lasting happiness cannot be found in receiving honor.
Third, lying reports among the famous, in order to bring someone honor, that are spread among the people is shameful. Fame is not the highest good for all people. Perfect happiness is not limited to a handful of famous people.
Next, Aquinas stated that power does not relieve the gnawings of care, nor can it avoid the thorny path of anxiety.
The fifth item that cannot bring about perfect happiness is pleasure. A wedding day can be a day of enjoyment, but all weddings come to an end. Aquinas stated that pleasures end in sadness because they are only temporary. A person can enjoy a good concert, but at the end of the night, it ends. Unless the person can express gratitude for pleasures such as a wedding day and a good concert, he might end up like a man who builds his house on the sand. His good times wash away, leaving him depressed.
Sixth, Aquinas went on to say that man is not to love for his own sake. A person who loves other people for his own sake will not find perfect happiness. Instead, man is to love others for God’s sake.
Seventh, Aquinas finished by noting that God alone satisfied the will of man. Any created good will not bring about perfect happiness.
Evangelical and apologist, Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) pointed out two dangers to creating your own meaning in life. (loss of morality, loss of freedom)
In his book, A Christian Manifesto, published in 1982, Schaeffer warned us about two important things that can crumble from within a society if a society is led by “man creates his own meaning.” Schaeffer pointed out that a society led by leaders who follow Humanism will end up opposing a Divine Moral Law, and they will end up taking away the freedom of the people. Morality and freedom will crumble in a society operated by total Humanism. By Humanism, Shaeffer means that man is the measure of all things.
In Humanism, the reality that we see today exists only as material and energy that has been shaped into its present complex form by pure chance. In Humanism, there is no place for any Divine knowledge. In a government that is guided by a philosophy according to Humanism, leaders can make laws and change laws apart from the Divine Law. In a society where leaders appoint their own moral law, apart from the Divine Moral Law, then they can write laws and change laws, without any adherence to the Divine Moral Law. However, a society that honors the Divine Moral Law will thrive, keep a sense of true morality, and experience life, liberty, and freedom. Aquinas did an excellent job describing what it means to be human. For example, if a person is a complainer, Aquinas would note that the act of complaining is an action that man is capable of acting out. The act of complaining is not human, though. The act of complaining will not give anyone perfect happiness. For a human to achieve perfect happiness, he can find it in knowing and delighting in the divine essence of our eternal Creator.
If the “meaning of life” has already been determined, then it doesn’t make sense to develop some new meaning in life. Has the meaning of life always been the same from generation to generation? Generally speaking, the meaning of life has several different components, but it is for everyone.
Below, we will see what three people observed about the meaning of life. King Solomon described four parts to the meaning of life. Jesus taught us what our good work should motivate others to do. In the thirteenth century, a theologian named Thomas Aquinas called the main goal in life the ‘last end.’
Aquinas stated that some people are in error about the meaning of life. He knew it to be an error when people seek happiness in things such as wealth, honor, reputation, fame, power, or striving to be better than the rest. While striving to do well and working hard to achieve good results are not a negative thing, looking to them to fill our happiness-tank is a useless pursuit. Some people seek happiness in temporary pleasures. Some people seek happiness in loving others to boost one’s own ego (instead of loving others for GOD’S SAKE). Some people seek happiness in creation, food, drugs, or alcohol instead of the Being who made the universe. Aquinas determined that the goal of human life is perfect happiness, not imperfect happiness. He referred to the meaning of life as the “last end.” He determined that lasting happiness is found in a good relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Today, some people think that happiness “comes and goes,” but according to Aquinas, that kind of a temporary status he called pleasure. Pleasures and imperfect happiness come and go, but perfect happiness is permanent. Some people seek temporary thrills, but God offers permanent happiness, permanent peace, permanent redemption, and permanent restoration in a personal relationship with Him.
Before Aquinas, Augustine previously determined that all men agree in desiring the goal which is happiness. Do you agree or disagree with Aquinas and Augustine? Is permanent happiness the main goal in life?
The Lord “satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 102:5).
“Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 143:15).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged us to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good work and “give glory to our Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16). What does it mean to “give glory”? Jesus taught us to let our good work motivate other people to draw near to our Heavenly Father, giving Him glory, which includes noticing a divine work happening in us, and then giving thanks to God for doing a good work in and through us. For example, the apostle Paul gave thanks to God for doing a mighty work in the life of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:15).
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon gave his advice for having a meaningful life. He wanted to spare future generations from the consequences of seeking after idols. Seeking idols leads to foolishness, meaningless, and emptiness. Solomon offered his wisdom by discovering the meaning of life in the following four ways: