THE PURPOSE OF ALL THINGS
At some level, all human beings seek meaning. They ask questions like “Why do I exist?” or “What is the purpose of my life?” or, if they’re brave enough, “What is the purpose of all things?” These are not simple or safe questions because if asked sincerely, they shape the entire worldview of the person who asks them. We at Risen Hope believe that these questions have been answered unequivocally in the pages of Scripture. Romans 11:36, when speaking about God, says that “from him and through him and to him are all things.”
This means that all things come from God, all things are sustained by God, and all things find their meaning in God. In other words, we exist for the glory of God, which is why Paul finishes the above verse with a statement of praise: “To him be glory forever.” Given this reality-defining truth, we’ve fashioned this pursuit as our church’s purpose: to joyfully know this great God and to show him to the world. And we believe this is no small matter, but rather the highest purpose to which anyone can commit himself.
ETERNITY IN THE HEART OF MAN
We also recognize the undeniable fact that every human being desires to be happy. They desire to have full and lasting joy. Scripture depicts that this profound hunger is part of God’s design. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has “put eternity into man’s heart”—an unconscious recognition of our very limited existence against the backdrop of his limitless existence. This is expressed in our unquenchable desire for full and lasting joy.
Acts 14:17 says that God “did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” This gladness was never intended to focus exclusively on created things, but rather, it was designed to point back to the Creator who made them, “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:27). The human soul was made by God himself to experience pleasure and joy, and our desire for these things was to be the very instrument by which we would come to know and enjoy God as the source of all good things. We were made to enjoy God, who is himself the highest of all joys because all other joys come from his hand.
THE GREATEST TRAGEDY
Despite this exceedingly great privilege, from the very beginning humanity has refused to acknowledge and embrace the Creator, desiring rather to enjoy anything in creation above him (Romans 1:18-25). This natural disposition inherited from our first parents has poisoned every human being ever born. Without question, this is the greatest tragedy in the history of the cosmos: those made in the very image of God explicitly for the purpose of enjoying God have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.”
Furthermore, this disposition of the human soul has led to every evil pursuit and action ever committed by mankind, and the catastrophic trauma it has caused cannot be overstated. Forsaking the fountain of living water—which is God himself—mankind has abandoned its only hope for full and ultimate satisfaction and instead pursued a far dimmer and fleeting delight in other things. These lesser joys—in comparison to the living God—are likened by Scripture to “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL
Despite this tragic response from humanity, God was not finished with his creation. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4), and “for our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We know this Son to be none other than Jesus Christ. Although this Son was righteous and without sin, he stood in the place of sinners, bore their just punishment, and fully secured their reconciliation to God with his own blood. This is called the gospel, or “good news,” because it means that our tragic rejection of the glory of God wasn’t the final word in the matter. God wasn’t finished with us yet.
Anyone who receives this gospel, and trusts in what Christ has accomplished through it, immediately becomes reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 4:6 says that the same Creator “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face Jesus Christ.” We can now see and embrace the glory of God—as we were created to—through the person of Jesus Christ. In this great act of redemption, not only did God remove the offense of our pursuit of other things and graciously begin to heal the poisonous inclination that drives it, but God reconciled us fully to himself, guiding us back to the fountain of living water, the only place where the human heart can be fully satisfied (John 4:10).
FULLNESS OF JOY AND PLEASURES FOREVERMORE
The ultimate purpose of the gospel was not just forgiveness of sins or the radical change of our own heart’s desires or even the reversal of what would have been certain and eternal condemnation for the offense of our actions, but ultimately it was that we might be able to enjoy God forever, as we had always been intended to do. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). In the gospel, Jesus brings us to his Father, our relationship now fully restored by Christ’s precious blood, so that we can once again enjoy our Creator in the fullness of his glory.
At Risen Hope, we recognize that our joy and God’s glory are synonymous for the same experience in reality. They are not different in any way because we find our highest joy in God himself. And through the gospel, God has done everything necessary to ensure “that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). The reason this is possible is that in his presence alone there is fullness of joy, and at his right hand alone there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). This fact has committed Risen Hope to the life-long pursuit of God’s glory through joyfully knowing him and faithfully showing him to the world.