Why Are We Here?

Posted at Reformation Scotland:

Many struggle to get a satisfactory answer to such a simple question. Some have concluded that there is no such final answer and the meaning we seek cannot be found. If the ultimate reality is only matter shaped by random blind chance then seeking meaning is a pointless exercise. But an infinite personal God guarantees meaning and a satisfactory answer to this question.

Hugh Binning taught philosophy at Glasgow University as well as being a minister. He was therefore well-qualified to answer this question. The following is an updated extract from one of his lectures. It focuses on the first question of the Shorter Catechism “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”. This is a simple but very profound answer to the question “Why are we here?”

What Is Most Important for Us to Know?

All that we are required to know may be summarised under these two headings: (a) our purpose and (b) how we must attain that purpose. All we are required to do is to achieve that purpose by any means.

This is the first priority in all arts and every business and is especially necessary in Christianity too. It is the first cause of all human actions and the first principle of all deliberate activity. Unless you are going to walk randomly – not knowing where you are going or what you are doing – you must first establish and fix your intention. “What is the great purpose for which I have been created and sent into the world?” If you do not ask this and settle it aright, you will do nothing or else nothing purposefully or that which is even worse, you will do that which will undo you. Establishing this one thing in the wrong way certainly makes most of our activities either completely unprofitable or destructive and harmful.

Since this point has first place in the catechism, it ought to be laid to heart first of all and pondered as the one thing necessary. “One thing is needful” says Christ, (Luke 10:42). If any thing is most necessary of all this is it. O that you would consider it according to its necessity and weight!

What Is Our Chief Purpose?

There are two Scripture verses which deal with the ultimate and chief purpose of man, which is glorifying God by all our actions, words and thoughts (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31). In these we have the following important matters:
  1. God’s glory is the purpose of our being.
  2. God’s glory should be the purpose of our doing.
  3. The basis for both of these. Since both being and doing are from God, they ought therefore to be both for him. He is the first cause of both and therefore he ought to be the ultimate purpose of both. “Of him, and through him…are all things”. All things are for Him and therefore all things should be done to Him.
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