As we struggle with the challenges of life and death, the most challenging question of all is this: What does God want of us in this life? God answers that question in the Bible. He has made it clear from the beginning until now that He wants our love, trust, and obedience.
Adam and Eve were commanded to care for the Garden of Eden, to enjoy its fruit, but not to eat “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”--a tree which drew the boundary between good and evil. When they ate of that tree, they were driven in shame from the Garden and suffered the ravages of death (Genesis 2-3). Later, God commended Abraham as one who “will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19). That is what God wants of all men.
The Bible is full of passages summarizing what God wants of us. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Our love, trust, and respect for God are shown by obeying His Word. Though God commands formal worship, He also teaches us to translate our worship into daily action. At all times and in all situations, we are to “hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate....let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:15, 24).
When God taught the Jews to bring animal sacrifices for sin, He made it clear that “thousands of rams” were no substitute for sincere, daily submission to His will. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:6-8). Life is brief and uncertain, filled with “labor and sorrow.” Knowing our time is short, our prayer should be, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:10-12). We find God’s wisdom in God’s Word.
Jesus summed it all up in these words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). All the commandments of God teach us the true meaning of love for God and for our fellowmen. To violate God’s Word is to violate that love.
Knowing we have sinned and yet wanting us to be saved, God desires all men to hear, believe, and obey the gospel of Christ. Christ died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. On the basis of that faith, we must repent of all sin, confess Christ as God's Son, and be immersed in water to receive pardon through his atoning blood. Truly, God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:38; 8:37-38).
When we obey these first steps of the gospel, God adds us to the church of Christ and then teaches us how to worship Him and how to live for Him each day. Thus, He redeems us from the destiny of hell and leads us to an eternal home in heaven. Ultimately, that is what God wants--for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven!
Written by: Ron Halbrook