This is the conclusion of the second week of the series on the Meaning of Life. In order to follow this week's discussion, I suggest reading the previous two posts. Scroll down or go to the beginning by clicking here.
Here is my official answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post: How does the Bible end? (What is the Meaning of Life?)
“The Meaning of Life is "church and marriage". The Bible says the Meaning of Life is God providing a Bride for His Son. The Bride is the church and eternity is marriage. The church acts in community as the Bride in order to give a value to Her Husband in the marriage. The church is the new Jerusalem which is also called the Tabernacle of God which is also called God’s House. Jesus is the Jewish Bridegroom that goes away to prepare a house for His Bride (us) and comes back once His Father says it is time. Only His Father knows when the Bridegroom can come back to consummate the covenant. God’s method for generating enough value to bring about His Will (church and marriage) is the same as God’s Ultimate Will (church and marriage).”
Again, if this seems too extreme, please read the previous two posts...
This Meaning of Life is actually presented throughout the Bible if you understand doctrine #1: Marriage. The most interesting reference:
“looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, ASV)
What joy was set before Him? Heaven?
He was already in Heaven! He came down from Heaven! The joy that was set before Him has to be MORE than Heaven! We now know that Jesus is the groom and that the joy that is set before Him is a wedding supper…it is a bride!
Marriage OUGHT to be paradise...it OUGHT to continually get better. However, "Christian" authors and pastors want us to settle for something less. They want to us to believe marriage will be intense for the first few years and settle to a deeper, less intense love. They tell us that all of the benefits of marriage are early and we need to pay for and put up with the rest of the marriage. Is Heaven going to be intense for the first few years and then settle to a less intense, deeper time? Are the best years of Heaven going to be the first few years?
The author of "Sacred Marriage" (Gary Thomas) believes that God intended marriage to run down on earth because we are fallen people...and it is a platform for evangelism to just stay married.
This is a massive misunderstanding of the Gospel and salvation. We aren't saved by lack of sin...we are saved by God's Righteousness.
Likewise, if the definition of paradise is "lack of sin/problems", then we will lack sin when we get to Heaven...and years later we won't be any different than when we first arrived in Heaven. Again, this is the wrong metric and it undercuts our understanding when it comes to salvation.
However, if paradise is defined as experiencing the greatest joy you've ever known, the only way to do this continually is for the joy to increase. Heaven is about MORE...not an end. The only way for Heaven to continually be more is for the focus to be on the ARE (church and marriage). (Notice, every moment in the lake of fire will be the worst moment in that person's existence because it will continue to get worse and they can't repair...they don't have life.)
God is always about MORE in the Long Term...the enemy is about getting the benefit in the short term and paying in the Long Term.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (John 14:12, ASV)
We can do greater works than Jesus...because God is about MORE. Look at Jesus' first miracle. In John 2, Jesus is at a wedding and they run out of wine. Jesus provides wine and intentionally tells them to take the wine to the governor of the feast so we can learn something:
"And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." (John 2:8-10, ASV)
Man puts the good wine first and lets it slowly run down. God constantly gives MORE and BETTER.
The Bible consistently states that the only source of joy we can expect is from our ARE (church and marriage), not our HAVE (possessions) and our DO (activities).
Expecting your HAVE and DO to bring you joy will only result in sorrow. A HAVE has an end...once you get it, you HAVE it. A DO has an end...there is nothing you want to DO continually forever...eventually you will be begging for it to end.
Buddhists know this, however, their assumption is that people are incapable of avoiding looking to their HAVE to bring them joy...so the solution is to HAVE no possessions.
The Bible says we can have possessions and activities...we shouldn't look to them to bring us joy because they never will. In fact, the Bible states the source of our pain will be HAVE and DO...and the source of our joy and ability to continually grow is ARE (church and marriage).
"Relationship" means "to give and take". HAVE and DO is focused on give and take. The word "relationship" is not in the Bible!
"Fellowship" means "to share (give)". ARE is focused on giving. Love is focused on giving. God speaks about Fellowship because He is focused on MORE and BETTER...He is focused on the ARE.
Man can't explain the Meaning of Life because he looks to HAVE and DO. Basically, we all know that HAVE and DO are flawed. Is man's solution to focus on ARE? No, it is to try and fix HAVE and DO.
(In fact, a recent study says that couples that spend more time together grow closer! Really, we need a study to prove this? On 7/16/08, USAToday ran an article where they shared the following quote: "One of the reasons couples have trouble is that they have different takes on fun and bonding, Parrott says. "Intimacy and friendship for a man is built on shared activity, but for women, shared activity is a backdrop for a great conversation. What she wants on date night is a time of intimacy and friendship. He's disappointed because she'll never go to a game or golfing, and it's during shared activities that his spirit is most likely to open up." As I state in the Sequel, women inherently understand the Meaning of Life: interaction in your ARE...sharing through conversation. Men focus on HAVE (possession) and DO (activity).)
Once we embrace a perspective of HAVE and DO, we don't believe ARE can be perfect on earth...we don't believe church and marriage can continually get better. When someone argues for why it is right that there are no perfect churches or why marriage settles to a "deeper, calmer, less intense love" over time, they are admitting they have embraced HAVE and DO over ARE.
In fact, you hear it in their language when they treat church and marriage like a HAVE and DO.
"You are my wife/girlfriend/husband/boy friend..." (possession)
"I forbid you from doing..." (possession and activity)
"Are we having sex tonight?" (activity)
"Look at how beautiful this church is...don't get the carpet dirty." (possession)
"There aren't good enough children's programs at this church." (activity)
My son went to a "Manly Man" conference at church. The definition of a man was "a provider to the woman". Basically DO and HAVE! The man needs to DO (work) in order to provide (HAVE) for the woman...and this is being taught in church!
The "emergent church" is about ARE...sharing through conversation. "Post-modernism" is about not being able to know or understand higher concepts. I believe God wants the "emergent" church. However, when "post-modernism" is combined with conversation...the sharing hits dead ends. Why aren't people smart enough to see that "post-modernism" is the enemy of the "emergent" church?
The Meaning of Life is set up that we OUGHT to gain energy in groups and spend it alone. There are no cells in the body that function apart from the body. There are no loners in Heaven!
Notice, "reading" is semi-ARE. I sit by myself and write this because my availability is limited. You sit by yourself and read this because your availability is limited. Reading your Bible is semi-ARE for the same reason. However, once we get to Heaven, we won't be reading any more. Why? Because we can talk to everyone...why waste time sitting alone and writing when you could be exchanging information in your ARE's?
The Bible says marriage can continually get BETTER. Remember, OUGHT Marriage is the desire to continually get to know your spouse MORE and BETTER as an effect of getting to know God MORE and BETTER (First Command).
However, man tries to gain energy alone and spend it in church and marriage.
"Let's take the summer off and stop all church classes until the kids get back in school."
"The teens are going to a theme park on their next church outing."
"We need to go on a vacation and put some zing back in our marriage."
There is no HAVE and no DO in Heaven!
There is a bride. There is a Groom. There is God. There is a tree. There is a river. (Garden?) The Bible begins with a groom, bride, God, trees, rivers, and a Garden...it ends the same way for a reason.
I have heard pastors say there will be basketball and/or golf in Heaven. These pastors don't understand the Bible...they are focused on an activity (DO).
I've heard pastors say they will be driving a fancy car in Heaven. These pastors don't understand the Bible...they are focused on a possession (HAVE).
The Meaning of Life is church and marriage.
Every time you see someone look to HAVE and DO as their source of joy, they are proving to you they don't understand the Bible...they don't value the ARE.
Take some time and reread the previous posts and links. Also, take a look at The Sequel to "Modeling God" for more details on these topics...
By the way, I'm leaving this post up all week because I believe this is the culmination of the past two years of posts. For those of you who are new to this blog, here are the five most popular posts according to Google hits:
1. Definition of Masculinity
2. Definition of Leadership
3. Definition of Love
4. One Way Justice
5. Importance of Words
My most controversial posts are:
Understanding vs. Agreement
WHY Jesus is Fully Man and Fully God
HOW to Think
Please feel free to contact me regarding any questions you may have.