What is Man’s Ultimate Purpose? – Genesis 1:26-31

As I was thinking about a possible message from I Cor.15, I wondered if perhaps some background might be in order. And then my mind wandered back to a chapter in the book I am currently reading – “The Essential Tozer Collection.” A.W. Tozer was a minister of the “Christian and Missionary Alliance” denomination – a denomination which no longer exists and many of you have never known. Tozer died in 1963. Over the years I have appreciated many of the things he has written. But as a Protestant, he was far from doctrinal perfection. And he loved to impress people by quoting men, whose names I hesitate to even mention. So he doesn’t have my energetic endorsement. But you will read some of his more accurate, pithy and thought-provoking statements in the bulletin from time to time. In one chapter of his book he talks about God’s purpose in creating our first grandparents. Why am I bringing this up? My reason is honesty. I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism – of which there is very little chance.

Let’s begin this evening with a question: “What is Man’s Ultimate Purpose?” What was God’s purpose in creating Adam? Tozer says that God always has a purpose for everything He has ever done, and I agree. Jehovah is not like the little kid, who when his mother asks why he did such and such, he just shrugs and says, “I duh know.” God had a huge purpose – an eternal purpose in creating Adam and Eve.

For centuries, preachers have been saying things like: “Man was created to worship, serve and glorify God.” Spurgeon, for example, prepared a catechism to be used in his church. The first question of that catechism was: “What is the chief end of man?” And his answer? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy Him forever (Ps. 73:25-26).” That is pretty much the standard reply to that question, by all kinds of preachers and theologians. And in that regard Tozer wrote: “God’s purpose in creating Adam and Eve is summed up in what THEY could for God that nothing else in the whole world could do.” A tree, a flower, a song bird and a brightly colored bee can all bring glory to God, but they don’t do it wilfully; they do it naturally; and it can’t be said that they “enjoy” their Creator. Yes, it is guaranteed that mankind will bring glory to the Creator in either salvation or judgment. But as human beings, despite the limits of our depravity, WE can choose to glorify and enjoy the Lord.

After five days of creating, preparing the world for the pinnacle of His work, Elohim took some of the dust of the ground and fashioned what we now know to be a human body. There wasn’t the slightest bit of development and evolution involved; He just did it. Into that body the Lord created 213 bones, 78 organs & 11 systems – the nervous & digestive systems, etc. The complexity of the body makes the fanciest automobile look like a child’s toy. And included in God’s design was a mind and a will. When the body was ready the Lord “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” – Genesis 2:7. There was the creation of man. Adam was made up of a body, soul and spirit. There was a body through which he enjoyed the rest of God’s creation, while serving the Lord. There was a soul through which he could understand himself. And there was spirit through which he could worship and enjoy the Lord.

“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Most likely at that point the Lord began to daily walk with the man – sometimes in the cool of day. “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

And for what purpose did God make that man and his wife?

This first point in my outline will be short, because I’ve already summarized it. But I ask you to picture Adam and the Son of God walking together in the garden. About what did they talk? Did they talk about the weather as so many of us do? These days on the supper-time news there are only two items – Covid updates and the weather. Since the weather was always perfect in Eden, when he talked with the Lord, do you think that Adam ever compared that day’s weather with that of the day before? Did Adam tell God that he predicted the next day’s weather would be as beautiful as today’s? Or did Adam ask the Lord who He thought would win the upcoming football game? How often does someone’s health come up in conversation between friends – or even acquaintances? Health was not a conversation piece between God and the first man. There was no Covid threat. Adam never had a headache; he felt no arthritis; his eyes worked perfectly and he never once coughed. Did Adam ever tell the Lord that he was lonely? I don’t think he knew what that he was. Did Adam remind God about what his pets, the animals in the garden, had done that day? The Lord and Adam couldn’t talk about what the kids had been doing; there weren’t any kids. And by the way, it wasn’t Adam who brought up the subject of girls – a wife. That was from God, and they didn’t talk about it. The Lord just graciously gave the man a beautiful wife. So much of the stuff we talk about in our world, would have been totally out of place in Eden with the Lord. About what would you talk if your conversation partner was the omniscient, infinite God?

If their topics weren’t earthly or gardenly, about what did their conversation consist? I picture Adam talking with the Son of God – about the Son of God. Did Adam see the face of God? Did he talk with the Lord about mutual appearances? He may have pointed to a beautiful rose and praised God for its splendor and its magnificent perfume. Adam may have referred to the many other perfections of the garden. And then there were the animals – hundreds of them. He probably thanked the Lord for permitting him to dwell there; even thanking God for his creation. Did they laugh together? What is it, as the theologians say, “to enjoy the Lord forever?” I think that most likely, time and time again, the conversation turned to the Lord Himself. Putting yourself into Adam’s bare feet wouldn’t you be supremely curious about your Creator? And within that sinless curiosity and awe, wouldn’t there have been worship and joy? Man was created to worship God. Adam did, and that should continue to be our purpose.

Now, do you remember Bro. Austin’s message from last Wednesday? It was a consideration of the subject of “charity” – agape love. And he chose to focus on those words from I Corinthians 13 which pointed to the negative. I believe his title was – “What charity is NOT.”

I considered calling this message, “God’s purpose for man was NOT….”

There is now so much in our world and in our lives, which are secondary to God’s purpose in creating us. We can see the beginning of some of them even in the garden, but even then they were secondary/tertiary. But today – there are many things done which are SO rooted in our sinful natures, that even to mention them seems out of place.

But perhaps that is the place to start – we were not created in order to sin. Don’t get all theological at this point and say that the omniscient God knew that Adam would sin, and in His sovereignty He had already chosen a specific number of Adam’s descendants to save. While that is true, I firmly assert that “Man was created to worship, to serve and to glorify God.” Once man’s first sin was committed, in punishment, he and his wife were expelled from the garden. Sin was not God’s purpose in creating man.

And it wasn’t to work either. Don’t men often measure other men by what they do for a living? I have seen it time and time again – when a visitor comes in to our service, after the initial “Do you live here in town,” comes the “what sort of work do you do?” Some people have the idea that our chief purpose is to work – to earn a living – to feed our family. Remember that Adam had a job to do in the garden. “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden… and the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Why don’t we have more details about that dressing and garden-keeping? Perhaps because it was not nearly as important as his fellowship with the Lord in the cool of day.

Adam’s purpose in life was not rooted in his education. Our first little baby comes into our world, and we think to ourselves how important it is that we raise this child properly. We might surround him in classical music – even before he is born. We sing to him as he falls asleep. We begin reading to him before he knows what it is we’re doing, and we make sure the books from which we read have interesting childish pictures. We start his classical education before he is 3-years-old, hoping he’ll be able to read by 5. That child gets his elementary education, then his secondary education, then college classes and perhaps even a post graduate education. But what good is that piece of paper in the sight of God?

Adam had an opportunity to have a great garden-school education – equivalent to three PhD’s. He was not only well-versed in botany and zoology, but he was somewhat expert in every area of biology. By the time of his death 900 years later, he was most likely the smartest man in the world. But that was not the reason for his creation or his residency in Eden. I am not against education and there is no premium for ignorance, but knowledge and secular wisdom is not as important as many people today think it is. “Man was created to worship, to serve and to glorify God.” The man who worships the Lord and meditates on His word has more understanding than all his teachers.

Judging from the way people live today, some might think that God created us for our own enjoyment. Even when sin is not involved, some people think that if there isn’t a smile on the face and laughter in the heart, life is being mis-spent. Some adults have more toys than their children. Epicurus, the father of the Epicureans – some of the people with whom Paul argued in Athens – taught that pleasure is the chief end of man. That sounds like a terrible thing – like the advocation of three-week binges with alcohol, dope and sex. But many Epicureans often took their pleasure in the beauty of literature, poetry, good music and art. They rejoiced in good friends and quiet evenings together. Adam could have become an Epicurean with little more than his wife, good food and lots of leisure time. But God didn’t create Adam – or any of us – for our pleasure.

And by the way, Adam’s marriage was secondary to His primary purpose. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with work – the Bible magnifies the importance of labor. There is nothing wrong with learning and enjoying God’s creation – the right kind of education. And there is certainly nothing wrong with marriage – a relationship created by God Himself. Furthermore, children are gifts from the Lord – a family is a wonderful thing. But Adam was created to serve, worship and enjoy the Lord – before Eve became a part of his life. Ideally, together they should have gone into the little brush arbor at the edge of the garden to listen to the voice of the Lord. Just as together they were to bring children into the world for the glory of the Lord, together they should have been better able to worship the Lord. A duet of great voices, can make more beautiful music than a single great voice.

Man was not created for his own enjoyment, AND he was not created to experience everything. Were there psychedelic mushrooms, poppy flowers and marijuana plants in that garden? Probably not, but if there were Adam had the ability to avoid them – to just say no. From where did this idea come that kids need to try all that the world has to offer so that they can make a rational choice to reject them later on? The fact is – many of them will not be able to reject them. God did not create our bodies so that we could abuse them. And God did not create our bodies so that we might worship them – building them into Dianas and Adonises. We were created, body and soul “to worship, to serve and to glorify God.” As Tozer said: “God’s purpose in creating Adam and Eve is summed up in what they could for God that nothing else in the whole world could do.”

The tree, a flower, a song bird and bee to which I referred earlier still bring glory to God. But the creature which God created to be His highest means of glory – man – has fallen and failed. Not only must we be born again and enabled to return to our original purpose, but once we have been regenerated, we need to recognize our duty and determine to do it. Perhaps scriptural motto to keep us pointed in the right direction should be I Corinthians 10:31. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Can I lawfully paraphrase that to say, “Whether we are rich, healthy, strong and sane, or sick, poor and mentally challenged, we should strive to live our lives to the glory of God.”

I will close with this: Of the thousand things you have done today, how many of them were done for the glory of God?