The question which forms our title we presented to the graduates of our South Holland, Illinois, Protestant Reformed Christian School. And we did so because their class text was Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, where we read, “Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
We asked this question, “Why are ye here?” because the answer to that question will also enable us to give the answer to the question as to what our whole duty, our calling before God is. And we did so as well because Solomon does not write that fearing God and keeping His commandments is the whole duty of man. That word duty does not appear in his writing. Rather does he speak of the “whole man.” Or, if you want it literally, of “the whole Adam.” That is the word which he uses. The first man was called Adam, but the word Adam is used at least fifteen times in the first three chapters of Genesis, and is translated as man. Thus Solomon by speaking of the whole man rather than the whole duty of man is thinking of more than man’s duty. The whole purpose, the reason for man’s existence and his creation is that he keep God’s commandments and fear Him.
For many years we have been here on this earth. Some of us have been here longer than others. Some have enjoyed good health and are still physically strong. Others have spent a life of misery, of suffering and pain with frail bodies and much sorrow. But there is one reason for the existence of all. There is another reason why this question ought to be asked and why it is a very important question for us and for our children. Solomon declares that God will judge every work, whether it be good or evil. That is true of what we did in the past. That is true of the years that still lie ahead of us. The question we are to ask ourselves now is, “Why am I here?” The question that will be asked us when God shall judge our works is, “What did you do?” Did you serve the purpose for which I created you and for which I gave you life and food and drink, and shelter and clothing?”
Thousands and thousands of graduates have been told again this year that their whole purpose on this earth is to serve mankind. The schools of the world have ruled God out of His creation. They have no room for Him in their thinking. And therefore they are quite willing to accept any theory and teaching that exalts man above God, and makes him the supreme being in the universe. They are so willing to do this that they will accept a theory that makes them descendants of the ape—rather that than to acknowledge a God Who must be served and glorified! And therefore all must be for man. The youth are urged to get all the education that they can, in order to improve man’s lot here below. Youth are urged to prepare themselves for making this a better world in which to live. The whole goal, the whole challenge—and no higher challenge is known or admitted—is to get out and raise the standards of our living even higher, and for all mankind. The challenge is given to go out and find cures for our diseases by science and medicine, our social evils and problems by studies, research and bold programs.
And, sad to say, in many Christian schools nothing different is heard, except that this humanistic approach is garbed in deceptive language that makes it sound Christian and spiritual. The youth are urged to go and get all the education they can and then get into science and politics, into the fields of education and of the arts, to let their Christian influence be felt and so cause the kingdom of Christ to come. This we say, gives a spiritual sound, apparently, and a Christian slant. But it is all wrong, and so deceptive! It is not based on the Word of God, and it is not according to the example or teaching of Christ.
One of the basic principles of truth of the Word of God which this philosophy denies is that undeniable teaching of Scripture that man is spiritually dead by nature. God told Adam that the day—not nine hundred and thirty years after—he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would die. God did not say that the process of physical death would begin in him that day. He would die that day! And he did die spiritually that very hour of that day. All his behavior from that moment onward shows that he did. David cries of being conceived and born in sin. Psalm 51:5. Paul writes of man being dead in trespasses and sins before God quickens him. Ephesians 2:1. Jesus declares that a man cannot see the kingdom before he is born again. John 3:3. And yet there are those in the church who dare to maintain that those who have not been born again can still do something that God will call righteous in the sphere of civil matters. And they will tell their youth to go ahead and seek to exert their Christian influence upon these that have not been born again, and according to God’s word are conceived and born in sin, and are spiritually dead. Go, once, to the cemetery nearest your place of residence. Stand before the graves and see how much physical, spiritual or psychical influence you can exert upon them. That is just exactly how much spiritual influence the Christian can exert upon those who have not been born again and have no spiritual life of the kingdom in them. Yea, be on your guard with such a philosophy, because you still have your old nature, and the outcome of it all will very likely be that they exert an evil spiritual influence upon you to cause you to claim that you are doing all this for Christ’s sake and in His name.
Then, too, we present a challenge to all of our readers to present one text from Holy Writ that tells us that it is our duty to cause that kingdom of Christ to come and that we are able to do so. We are told to seek that kingdom. We are taught to pray to God to cause that kingdom to come. We are exhorted to walk worthy of that kingdom. But it is called the kingdom of God and of Christ, exactly because it is the kingdom that God in Christ causes to come to pass and to come into being. It comes not by our “influence” (Whatever is meant by that word), but by the Spirit of Christ IN THE HEART! We do not bring it to the world, or influence them to accept it and enter it. It has to ENTER THEM before they can even see or believe that there is such a kingdom and can see any good in it.
What is more, this view denies the whole truth ofRevelation 18 that all of our works in the field of science and politics, all our engineering feats, all our social achievements and advances, and all our art works go up in the smoke of that day when God shall judge all of our works. Nothing man has made will go through that fire. The kingdom of Christ is an entirely different kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, where the music even will be different. Behold all things shall be NEW! And none of it shall be fashioned by man.
Let our youth be told that they are here to serve and glorify God. Let them be told that they are stewards of His goods, his royal priesthood. Let them have it impressed upon their minds that they have been created by God to be the link between God and the earthly creation, so that the plant that receives the rain and sunshine, but cannot thank God or know Him, and the animals and soil, the water and rocks which cannot speak a word of praise to God, will do that through the heart and mind and mouth of those who have been born again. Then we have no vanity of vanities. We have no vicious circle that exists on the plane of this earth. We have a new circle that ascends up t6 God with praise and thanksgiving for gifts received from Him.
And to fulfill this calling we must fear God and keep His commandments. Now, to fear God means to stand in awe before Him. It means that we believe that He is the holy, sovereign, almighty God of Scripture. It means that even as we have a healthy respect for the power of lightning, of electricity, of fire and of the explosive, so we stand in awe and have a profound respect for God in His holiness, sovereignty and .almighty power. It means that we love Him as that holy, sovereign, almighty God, and have no desire to change Him.
This will result in a keeping of His commandments. He who has a healthy respect for the power of lightning, electricity, fire and the explosive will not be careless in their presence. He will walk delicately. And if we fear God, we will be very careful in our walk. We will keep His commandments in that love which we have for Him and in that belief that He is the holy, sovereign and almighty God.
These two, then, are not two separate duties, but one whole duty. The fear of God is the inner spiritual condition of the heart. The keeping of His commandments is the outward activity of the soul with its faculties, and the body with its members, because of that fear of God in the heart. The fear of God always produces the keeping of His commandments. The keeping of His commandments is a manifestation of that inner fear of God in the heart. And it is because there is so little fear of God in the world that there is so much breaking of His commandments. It is not enough to say, “I fear God”; nor to say, “I keep His commandments.” It is exactly a case of saying, “I fear God, and therefore I keep His commandments.”
Doing this we will be serving the purpose for our existence on this earth. You cannot ‘please God with gold and silver. You cannot bring Him some food delicacy. No fleshly thrill interests Him. He is pleased when you say by word and deed, by the beating of your heart and the works of your hands that He is God, holy, sovereign and almighty. We do not fear Him when we deny His absolute holiness. We do not fear Him when we deny that He is the sovereign God, Who not only is able to do as He pleases, but HAS THE RIGHT to do as He pleases. We do not fear Him when we deny His almighty power and present Him as dependent upon the will of man and forced to wait for man to act. And in the measure that we do these, we will not keep His commandments but rebel against Him.
This, we should understand, is God’s answer to the question, “Why are you here?” Solomon gives it after a long and trying experience. But it is God Who moved him to search for this answer and to come up with this conclusion of the whole matter. He guided Solomon infallibly when he drew up this conclusion for all the church.
It is, therefore, God and not Solomon Who says here that we should HEAR the conclusion of the matter. We may not, therefore, just brush it off and aside. This must be heeded and put into practice. It is the only conclusion to that matter that puts an end to that vanity of vanities of going around in earthly circles that never rise up to the God Who made us and upholds us in all of our life.
And once again, if we do not have that fear of God, then we will have that fear of punishment whenever we think of that truth that He will judge all of our works. But having the fear of God, we have no fear of that punishment. For then we stand also in awe of His love in Christ, and we believe that He is the God of our salvation in Christ. We believe that He is great, but we also believe that He is good.
Do your actions declare that you are here for the purpose for which God created man? Does your behavior show that you listened and know why you are here? Your conduct always gives an answer to the question, “Why am I here?” May your answer be, by a walk in His fear, that you are here to serve and glorify your Maker. Then you will also one day hear Him call you into a higher purpose in a more glorious kingdom, and a more wonderful fear before His face.