Bible Catechism: The Doctrine of Man

Question Why did God create man?

Answer God created man by His will, according to His pleasure, and for His glory. He made all people to glorify Him by knowing, trusting, obeying, and enjoying Him forever.

Scripture 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Explanation | We’ve already looked at who man is and how God made him. But, why did God make humans? This is both an understandable question and a significant question. It’s understandable because, as humans who aren’t God yet are made in His image, we often wonder why He does what He does. But, it’s also significant because, as those who have been given life by Him who also have the ability to think and act, we also wonder what our purpose is. While God hasn’t answered all of our whys, He has told us some of the reasons why He does what He does. And, why He has made man is one of them. So, why did God create us?

God created man… I’m going to complete this statement with three phrases, three phrases that summarize what the Bible says about why God made man. Together, they provide the right perspective in thinking about this question. You see, we tend to have the wrong perspective when we start thinking about all sorts of things, but especially when we think about why God does what He does. What I mean is that we tend to see and think of everything in relation to ourselves—with ourselves at the center. The Bible, however, presents the truth about what really is—that God is at the center. And what is the truth about His reason for creating us? First, God created man (humans) by His will.1 By will, I mean both what God desires and decrees—what He wants to see happen and what He makes happen. God, as we’ve seen, is a personal being with the ability and activity of determining. To put this in terms we might understand, for example, God has wants, He makes plans for how to bring about those wants, and He ensures that those plans are accomplished.2 Additionally, though, this also means that He wills apart from any outside pressure. He didn’t have to make man. And, no one compelled Him to make man. Second, God created man according to His pleasure.3 That is, making humans pleases God. Though we can’t fully understand feelings in relation to God, the Bible is clear that His work of creating humans pleases Him. Further, He created us so that we might please Him by the way that we live and work.4 As it relates to you, for example, think about how you’ve felt after successfully building something, completing a project, or accomplishing a particular goal. Now, think even more about why you felt the way you did. Was it because of the thing itself, or more because of what you accomplished? I’m guessing it was more the latter, than the former. In a similar way, God is pleased—and rightly so—in Himself by making man. Third, God created man for His glory.5 Look at the word for. We were made for Him and we exist for Him. He wasn’t made, and He doesn’t exist for us.6 More specifically, God made humans for His glory. Glory is a word that helps us understand for, further. By glory, I mean something like, ‘the display and recognition of all that He is.’ I know that’s a mouthful, but glory is a mouthful-sort of word! It describes the full and true measure of something (its ‘weight’) and the accurate and fitting response to the display of its full and true measure (its due ‘praise’). To put it simply, God made us to make much of Him—to live in such a way that His much-ness is seen and supported.7

God made all people to glorify Him… This is His purpose for us. He made us—and all people—to glorify Him. Our verse above states very clearly that we are to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). That is, everything we do is to be done in such a way that glorifies God. And, thisincludes everyday activities, like eating and drinking. But, what does it mean to glorify God? How do we glorify Him? Or, using the description above, how do we respond accurately and fittingly to the full and true measure of who He is as God? While the Bible has a lot to say about this topic, I’m going to summarize what it says about glorifying God by using four phrases to complete the statement above. How do we glorify God? First, we glorify God by knowing Him. God has made Himself known through His creation and through His word. Why? So that we might know Him. Knowing God certainly includes knowing about Him, and knowing the right things about Him. But, the sort of knowing that God desires for us is more than simply learning information about Him. Rather, it’s more about developing a relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him as our Father.8 Second, we glorify God by trusting Him. Simply knowing about God is not the same thing as trusting Him. Trusting God helps us understand what it means to relate to Him in a way that demonstrates we know Him as He really is. To trust God is to take Him at His word. It means to believe that He is who He says He is, and everything He says is true. But, it also means to fully rely on Him in everything.9 Third, we glorify God by obeying Him. This one helps us understand even more the sort of knowing and trusting relationship we should have with God. In other words, what does it look like to trust God, to take God at His word? It looks like obedience—doing what God has told us to do. Truly knowing and trusting God as He desires and commands—yes, and also as He is worthy of—means that we will obey Him.10 Fourth, we glorify God by enjoying Him. Does this one surprise you—that God wants us to enjoy Him? It’s true, and it’s possible. God has designed us—and everything else He’s made—so that we might find our greatest joy in Him. And, in finding our greatest joy in Him, we will be satisfied no matter what we go through in life.11 Now, did you notice the last word in the answer above? We were made by God to glorify Him forever. Putting this together with our verse (1 Corinthians 10:31), God made us to make much of Him, every day and for all eternity. This is why He created man. This is why He made you and me.

This is what the Bible teaches about humans.

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1 Psalm 148Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. 6 And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. (See also, Revelation 4:11)

2 Isaiah 46“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” (See also, Job 42:2; Proverbs 19:21; Daniel 4:35; Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11)

Psalm 149For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. (See also, Psalm 115:3; Ecclesiastes 8:3)

4 Philippians 212 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (See also, Psalm 147:10-11; 1 Chronicles 29:17)

5 Revelation 513 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

6 Psalm 115Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! (See also, Romans 11:36)

7 2 Peter 318 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (See also, Ephesians 3:21)

8 John 17And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (See also, Jeremiah 31:34; John 10:14; Hebrews 8:11; 1 John 5:20)

9 Proverbs 35 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (See also, Isaiah 26:4; John 6:29; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 3:23)

10 1 John 23 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (See also, Deuteronomy 12:28; 1 Samuel 15:22; Acts 6:7; Hebrews 11:8)

11 Psalm 1611 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (See also, John 15:1; Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8; Jude 1:24)