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).