My Purpose? Future Prize
Is the ‘test’ worth the cost?
A problem with the argument that 'life is a training-ground' is that it seems a very unfair one. People that commit evil aren’t always the ones that suffer the pain from it. Some are born into wealth and privilege; others die young of malnutrition in abusive homes. I will attempt to tackle the Problem of Evil in a separate post. For now, I want to briefly describe the Parable that Jesus taught of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
Lazarus was a beggar who lived a life full of suffering; the Rich Man had many luxuries and comforts but never used his resources to help others. When they both died, Lazarus was comforted in the New Creation but the Rich Man was tormented in Hell. The Rich Man cries out about the unfairness of it all and asks Lazarus to be sent across to give him water to aid his burning thirst – this request is refused. The Rich Man showed no regard for Lazarus in his earthly life, now the time had run out and no relief would be shown to him.
I find this parable terrifying. I am more like the Rich Man than Lazarus. I tend to think I have been blessed by God as I am wealthy, healthy and living in comfort – but what if my test is the greater because of that? Maybe I will be held to a higher standard: I had more to share, and greater time to do it (people in my country live to 80 years on average). What will be my excuse that I didn’t spend my life on others? Surely, I can’t be trusted with greater responsibilities in the New Creation because I would probably hoard them there too! The roles of the New Creation will be handed to those who can be trusted to do good. How will we know who can be trusted? Because they proved it in this training-ground called life.
I am not arguing for salvation by works here, as it is by Grace that we have been saved through Jesus’ death on a cross. But your faith has to be proved genuine; your behaviour should “bear the fruits in keeping with repentance”. If I claim to believe in a God of love but cheat on my partner, bully my co-workers, avoid paying tax, give measly amounts to charity while I daily eat fillet steak; how can I claim to have the love of God in me? Maybe that is why Jesus said “blessed are the meek and the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the Earth and the Kingdom of God”. The poor seem to have a rough hand now, but just think what awaited Lazarus in the future glory.
Maybe the rich on earth aren’t actually the blessed ones as they end up having a harder job entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus likened this process to a camel trying to fit through the eye of a needle. A camel is carrying many things, loaded down with its 'stuff', trying to take everything with it through the “narrow door” that Jesus spoke of. Riches cause distractions and make us think we are worthy because we have ‘earned’ all these treasures on Earth. How easy is it for the self-sufficient rich to realise their need for a Saviour?
Is there Purpose in Our Universe?
The Bible reveals a two-Creation model. Our hope does not rest in this creation but in the next. God allows humans to be tested and He ensures the test is as hard as it can be (Eve was tempted by Satan himself). We have the opportunity to be subjected to the most difficult tests in the context of evil. Why is that important?
Dr Hugh Ross gives an analogy from attaining a PHD – the highest accolade in academia. That piece of parchment means you never have to be tested again on your competency in that particular field of study. Specialists subject you to the most rigorous and difficult tests possible and since you’ve been exposed to this, it is pointless to test you ever again. The other half of the analogy is that at the beginning of the course, Professors advise the students that those who achieve highly ask for help! Those that take on board the wisdom and advice of the specialists that went before them, go on to produce the best PHDs.
God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves in this most difficult test:
He is patient with us and holds back His judgment as long as He can before He must act: He desires no one to perish but offers eternal life to all who seek Him.
He encourages us to pray and ask for help; many people report amazing answers to prayer and miracles in their hour of need.
The Holy Spirit is given to sustain us, empower us and aid our transformation.
Jesus conquered evil on the Cross and opened the way to enter this New Creation. This training-ground is not about proving you are good enough to qualify for the next round – it is to acknowledge that you aren’t good enough and you need to rely on the Saviour’s sacrifice to enter.
The Scriptures describe the end prize to give us hope: “No eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things which God has prepared for those who love him”.
This hope can encourage us through the toughest trials of life, to inspire us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”; to “run in such a way as to obtain the prize”. Our troubles will be over in the blink of an eye, but the eternal destiny is forever. Is it worth running the race?
“See I am making everything new” declares God in Revelation 21:5. Biblical clues suggest the New Creation will be incomparably large; with no thermodynamics, and no decay. We will be able to create to our hearts content with no maintenance required! There will be no death, no disease and no grief. There will be light but of a different kind (not electromagnetic light which causes shadows and darkness); everything will glow with light. This also means no aging – no electromagnetism wrinkling your skin! There will be unimaginable joy, peace, reward and splendour. We will have continual fellowship with God and each other forever.
There will be no marriages, no nuclear families – we will be one as the Trinity are one. In our Universe’s linear time, if you want to experience deep intimacy with other beings, you can only achieve this properly with one other person (given the time/space/gravity/bodily limitations we have). That is what marriage is for: saying yes to one person and no to everyone else and being fully known by them. But you won’t have to do that in the New Creation; in hyper-dimensions with geometric time, you could have millions of conversations simultaneously. You will be deeply known by everyone – never lonely again.
Is it worth the cost of living in this constrained, suffering Universe for a short time to receive this new eternal reality, governed by completely different physical laws? If we really understood what is being offered to us, how could we possibly say no?
References & Footnotes  Luke 16:19-31  Romans 3:10, Isa 64:6, Eph 2:8  Matt 3:8, James 2:14-26  Matt 5:3-12  Matt 19:24  Luke 13:22-30  Proverbs 17:3, Psalm 11:5, 1 Thess 2:4, James 1:2-4, Deut 8:2, Psalm 26:2, Jer 17:10, Psa 66:10, Isa 48:10, Jer 12:3, Zech 13:9, 1 Cor 3:13, James 1:3  Genesis 3  2 Peter 3:9, Gen 15:16  1 Tim 2:1, Matt 7:7, James 1:5, 1 Kings 3:5, Jer 29:12, Psa 91:15  Acts 1:8, Isa 11:2, John 14:15-26, Rom 8:26, 8:2-6  John 3:16, 10:7-9  1 Cor 2:9  We are running the race, while angels are in the stands watching according to 1 Cor 6:2-4, 1 Peter 1:12, Hebrews 12:1. We directly experience the Grace of God in this universe during our lives, whereas angels only observe the Grace of God acting upon us. We are thus being trained and equipped for a role that the angels can’t fulfil. We have been made a little lower than the angels in this universe (Hebrews 2:7, Psalms 8:5), in order to qualify for something greater in the New Creation.  Isaiah 65:17-25, Rev 22:1-5, Rev 20:1-15, Romans 8:18-21, John14:2-3, Daniel 7:27  Hebrews 12:1-3  1 Cor 9:4  2 Cor 4:16-18  Isa 60:19-20, Rev 22:5  John 17:21, Rev 21:3, Zech 2:11
 See my post 'If Jesus was God, why did He pray?