Know Your O.P.D.
If there’s one thing the vast majority of Christians would readily admit they struggle with most, it is witnessing. Going to church services, reading one’s Bible, praying before meals, and serving some way practically within the church are not challenging practices for most believers. However, the one thing we seem to commonly fail at is consistently sharing the gospel with spiritually lost people. We just can’t seem to get the words out of our mouths.
Now I honestly do not think this is intentional, nor is it rooted in a lack of true desire. We want to tell others about how to gain eternal life but how can we effectively jumpstart the conversation to take that path? What can truly help us share the “good news” with others? Is there something we can turn to that can enable us to more confidently and freely speak with people about the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, I truly believe there is! It all centres around the three greatest questions of life. Where did everything come from? What am I here? What is my ultimate and final destiny?
These are the questions of origin, purpose and destiny. The truth is every single person has an O.P.D. Now, it is also true most people journey through life giving little, conscious consideration to their O.P.D. Usually, it’s only when unexpected tragic events invade people’s lives that these ultimate questions of life scream out for answers. When adversity strikes, it is much harder to simply bury life’s most significant questions under relentless busyness and self-satisfying pleasure.
The point is, everyone, at some point in their life journey will give these questions conscious thought, even if for only a few brief moments. The wonderful thing is that we can ask people these questions at any time. This is because the questions of past origin, present purpose and ultimate destiny always have relevance, no matter if a person’s life may be going along great or not so fantastically.
Let’s look more closely now at life’s three most important questions. Getting a good handle on how to biblically answer each one will give us a strong foundation and in turn, enable us to more effectively and naturally communicate the gospel.
THE QUESTION OF ORIGIN
“Where did I come from?”
The most commonly held view regarding the origin of all that exists is atheistic evolution. This view claims that the universe came into existence many billions of years ago, either through a cosmic “big bang” or by some other entirely chance, spontaneous beginning. After ions of time had elapsed, our present solar system and planet earth eventually emerged out of the evolving universe. Then, without rhyme or reason, life itself spontaneously appeared in the primordial chemical soup within the oceans of our planet. Incredibly, this primeval, simple celled organism innately knew how to evolve into a more and complex organisms. Eventually, it grew larger and sprouted legs so that it could crawl up onto dry ground.
After this, it evolved over millions and millions of years into multitudinous types of life-forms, one of which was an ape-like creature who eventually learned to walk upright. However, this ape-like creature was not very intelligent. He could only grunt and hunt. Yet somehow throughout millions of years, this same creature incrementally gained more and more intelligence. Now this human creature stands today seemingly at the utmost pinnacle of the evolutionary process. This is how most people alive today would answer the question of origin.
Let’s consider now another alternative point of view from the Bible – the Word of God. What does it have to say about the origin of the universe, planet earth and its present inhabitants?
The Bible begins with this succinct yet exceptionally significant statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1). What can we conclude from this first verse of Scripture? First, it presupposes there was and is an eternal, infinitely powerful Creator God who pre-existed the universe itself. Second, it points to Him as being the sole reason, the first and primary cause of everything that exists within our known universe. Therefore, anything and everything only exists because God exists.
The first chapter of Genesis goes on to outline how God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh. Within that creative process, Adam and Eve were formed instantaneously as fully mature adults. Genesis 1:27,28 references this: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
So what are some of the most significant implications that accompany believing the Creator God made this universe, including us too?
1. There is an awesome, infinite God who knew we would exist from eternity past.
2. This same God purposefully made us.
3. Therefore we are not freak accidents of an unexplainable, prehistoric cosmic explosion that provides us with no cogent reason for our present existence.
4. The fact God made everything and us inherently gives us great value and purpose.
Therefore, if we believe what the Bible teaches regarding “origins,” this immediately brings meaning and significance to our lives. When we look at the incredible intricacies of nature and the amazing complexities of the human body itself, it just makes sense to believe only an infinitely powerful God could come up with the blueprint for all living things and have the capability to speak them into existence.
Furthermore, what possible consolation and hope can come from believing in atheistic evolution? None! If this system is true, then we only live out on the stage of life momentarily and inevitably die to become worm food. Conversely, what amazing comfort and peace results from believing in an infinitely, awesome, loving Creator God who intentionally made us! We are not ultimately just an inconsequential, fleeting blip on the radar screen of life. Rather, every one of us has eternal significance and value beyond all human calculation.
If God is the only reason why we exist, then why did He make us? This takes us to the question of purpose.
THE QUESTION OF PURPOSE
“Why am I here?”
What do most people think life is all about? After all is said and done, what is the real purpose to human existence? I’m sure if these questions were to be asked on the street, the following answers would be among the most popular responses: To love others; to make a good living and retire comfortably; to contribute something meaningful to society and its advancement; to only have a great time and simply enjoy life or to gain wealth, popularity and status.
I’m also sure if the question was asked as to why we exist on this spinning planet, most people would be hard pressed to come up with most of the above answers quickly. The fact is very few people give any serious thought to why they are even here.
But what about the above answers regarding life’s purpose? Are they good answers? Not really. They would be great answers if life itself came with absolute guarantees such as no one will ever experience loss, failure, illness, accidents, or injustice throughout their entire lives, not to mention final mortality.
Let’s face the facts. Life has its fair share of happy circumstances but it also replete with pain and suffering. Add to this the fact that anyone’s life expectancy doesn’t realistically go much beyond eighty, given all the inevitable and unexpected variables of life that can hasten the end to one’s life journey.
Here’s another way of looking at this. How many people in one hundred could immediately say the names of their paternal and maternal great, great grandparents? Furthermore, how much detail could they give with regard to their great-great grandparent’s lives – their achievements or aspirations? Truthfully, over the past year I can almost guarantee you that you have not even given your great-great grandparents any serious thought whatsoever (other than perhaps looking them up on ancestry.com). I do not think any of us have spent any considerable time feeling just brokenhearted and moved to tears since we miss our great-great grandparents so much. That’s not because we’re callous and heartless. No, it’s simply because the passing of time has made our ancestors’ lives irrelevant to us.
Honestly though, how much does it truly matter to any of us right now if our great-great grandparents made a good living, were wealthy, had high societal status or enjoyed having parties? What is the point I’m trying to make with of all this? There’s got to be a greater purpose to life than just living out one’s life for eighty or more years eating, drinking, working and having fun on this planet, only to fade into oblivion after one dies. There’s just got to be!
Put this into the context of atheistic evolution and it becomes even more despairing. How can anyone measure the value and significance of an eighty year life in the framework of billions and billions of years? What is one’s transitory life on the evolutionary timetable of existence in this universe? Not even the faintest, most minute speck.
Thus, if this universe came into existence utterly through chance, without any possible rational reason to explain its origination, then how, over the billions of years of evolutionary advancement, does a human life have any more significance than that of a common house fly? That’s a very sobering question and one few would want to sincerely answer.
So what are we left with? No credible, reasonable, hope-infusing answer as to life’s purpose? Thankfully not! The Christian world-view, centred within the Bible, provides the answer! We were made by God to live to the honour and glory of God. This is why we exist and it at once gives life true meaning, value, and eternal significance.
In Revelation 4:11, it states: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created." There can be no greater possible purpose than living out one’s life to honor the infinite, loving God who made everything, including you and me!
If I’m honoring God, this means I’m living my entire life to please Him. The apostle Paul challenged the Christians in the ancient city of Corinth to live by this imperative: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
The remarkable thing is that we can live out the primary life purpose for which God made us no matter what circumstances we may be going through – whether adversity or blessing. That is - to bring glory to God. Furthermore, living to glorify God gives us a life purpose from its beginning to end. Honoring God also brings with it the greatest joy and contentment anyone can possibly know in this life.
Moreover, when we live to honour God, He will never forget what we have humbly tried to accomplish for Him on earth. Hebrews 11:6 substantiates this: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Knowing there is an eternal awesome, loving God who intentionally made me and living my life to honour and obey this magnificent, infinite God – what greater and more worthwhile life purpose could there be? None!
So now we come to the last greatest question of life. What is our ultimate and final destiny? What realities, if any, exist beyond the grave? Is this life all we’ve got and nothing more?
THE QUESTION OF DESTINY
“Where am I going?”
People have numerous, diverse views on what happens after death. Some believe you die and that’s it – there’s nothing more. Others think you may come back to life again as something else, perhaps as a mosquito or a porcupine or if you’re lucky, a prince or a multi-millionaire. Still others think if you’re a good enough person, after you die, you will go to heaven; if there's truly such a place.
However, take note! None of these views impart any real hope. There’s no certainty, or a sense of expectant anticipation. The grave remains a mysterious abyss. Life is no more than a journey into ultimate nothingness or perhaps morphing into another life form. And if there really is a place called heaven, there may actually be only the very slimmest of possibilities that one will ultimately arrive there.
The great news is the Bible is very clear about everyone’s ultimate destiny. Matthew 7:13,14 records what the Lord Jesus Christ had to say about humanity’s eternal future: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
So, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, there are only two ultimate destinations for everyone – eternal destruction or eternal life. The apostle John was given a special vision regarding these ultimate destinations, the end of time and final judgment. His words call us to read and then reflect upon them with deep sobriety.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire,” (Revelation 20:11-15).
Thus, the question of ultimate destiny carries with it an extremely weighty sense of significance. How can a person avoid hell and gain heaven? Nothing can be more important than being able to answer this question with absolute certainty.
This is what we need to know if we are going to arrive up in heaven and avoid everlasting punishment - we must have a personal, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We must sincerely repent and acknowledge we are sinners before a holy, righteous God and we must believe Jesus’ death on the cross was the only way any of us could have the debt paid for our sin, so we could be forgiven by God.
Once we have sincerely done this, we have this promise from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ as in John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life,” (NIV). That’s a guarantee nothing can change in time or eternity!
Origin: I was made by God (Genesis 1:1)
Purpose: I was made for God (Revelation 4:11)
Destiny: I was made to be with God (Revelation 21:3)
Now it’s your turn and mine to pray and ask God to give us good opportunities to ask people about their O.P.D. We have the answers from the Word of God to the three biggest questions of life! Let’s commit ourselves to sharing this good news!