People have different ideas about the universe. What does the Bible say about why it exists? If God created everything for a purpose, what’s the purpose of creation?
Since the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 25, 2021, humans have been seeing into space with greater clarity than ever before. But the amazing images we are seeing are evoking a variety of responses.
For some who have accepted the unproven theory that the universe came into existence on its own without God, there is an almost giddy excitement that we may now be on the brink of discovering life on other planets. If life on earth came about as a cosmic accident, then surely there must also be life on other planets, they reason.
For those who believe that God created the heavens and the earth, as noted in the first sentence in the Bible (Genesis 1:1), photos from space evoke deep respect for the majesty and power of the Creator. These people concur with King David, who stated: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, English Standard Version).
They also agree with Paul, who wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).
In other words, to these people, the invisible God’s existence is revealed by the visible things we see. His fingerprints are all over His creation.
Is the creation meaningless?
There is also a big difference in beliefs as to the purpose of the physical world around us.
Those who reject God as the Creator and believe that the universe and life came about by accident conclude that the universe has no special meaning. Other than the survival of the fittest and adaptation to the environment, the universe is meaningless, they say.
As evolutionist Richard Dawkins put it, “Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind” (The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, 1996, p. 9).
The ramifications of this thinking include the belief that humans have no special distinction from other forms of life.
This perspective leads to the conclusion that values are subjective and that humans might as well live however they choose, because this is the only life there is. The “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” philosophy has been around for a long time and is even mentioned in the Bible (Isaiah 22:13; Luke 12:19; 1 Corinthians 15:32).
What does the Bible say about creation’s purpose?
Romans 8:19 provides a succinct statement about why the material world exists: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
According to this passage, the development of human beings into mature children of God is the purpose of the material world. God created the universe and the planet we live on as part of His plan to produce members of His family.
Proponents of the scientific theory of intelligent design have shown the earth to be precisely designed and placed within the universe in order to sustain human life. For example, our planet has the perfect amount of gravity and is located in the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy, which provides safety. Read more about this in our article “Intelligent Design: Can Science Answer, Does God Exist?”
The indications of intelligent design in creation harmonize with the Bible’s explanation of its purpose. In short, the evidence points toward our planet being perfectly created and finely tuned for the support of life.
Made in God’s image
An additional biblical explanation of the purpose of the creation is found in the earliest pages of the Bible. Here we find that God created man in His own image.
To fulfill the destiny God desires for each of us, we must respond to God through His Son Jesus Christ.“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26).
Unpacking the meaning of this verse, we find that man, unlike any other form of life on our planet, was made in God’s image. Furthermore, man was given dominion—the responsibility of ruling—over all the earth. Simply put, man has a privileged rank on this uniquely designed planet.
Pondering the amazing position and desired destiny God has for humans, King David noted: “You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5-6; compare Hebrews 2:5-8).
However, the opportunity to eventually be crowned with glory and honor, living in the same state of existence as God, is not just automatically given to every human. To fulfill the destiny God desires for each of us, we must respond to God through His Son Jesus Christ.
As John explained, “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
Similarly, Peter taught, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Called, chosen and faithful
An angel, giving a vision to John, described those who will be with Jesus when He returns as “called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).
These three words—called, chosen, faithful—describe steps or stages we must go through in order to fulfill God’s purpose for creating us.
The word translated “called” in this passage is the Greek word kletos, meaning “called, invited, in [the New Testament] called to privileges or function” (BillMounce.com Greek Dictionary). In the book of Romans, Paul used this word to describe God’s invitation to the people in Rome to be saints—those set apart as true Christians (Romans 1:6-7).
Later in the same book, Paul wrote of those who love God as ones “who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
This calling or invitation to be a saint of God is the beginning of a process that leads to becoming a spirit being in God’s eternal family. This invitation is offered via the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14), and it is being offered to many. As Jesus explained, “many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16; 22:14).
The word chosen in Revelation 17:14 comes from the Greek word eklektos, meaning “chosen out, selected; in NT chosen as a recipient of special privilege, elect” (BillMounce.com Greek Dictionary). The Greek word for church—ekklesia—is closely related to this word and comprises the people who are chosen.
This second stage of the “called, chosen, and faithful” process involves people choosing as well as God choosing. After hearing God’s call via the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, people choose whether they will respond.
Christ’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13 describes the varied responses people have to hearing the gospel of the Kingdom. In the parable, some seed doesn’t germinate. Other seed germinates, but doesn’t endure because it was planted in poor soil. Other seed germinates and grows, but is unfruitful because it is entangled in thorns. And, finally, there is seed planted in good ground that thrives and produces much fruit.
Based upon the responses people have to hearing the gospel, God chooses those to whom He will give His Spirit. Acts 5:32 explains that God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. One of the biblical instructions we must obey in order to receive this gift from God is the instruction to repent of our sins and be baptized (Acts 2:38).
The third step in this process is the spiritual maturation that occurs as we prove ourselves faithful to God. Jesus said that His followers—the ones who choose to respond to the gospel and who are chosen by God to receive His Holy Spirit—would face adversity. “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
Hebrews 11 documents many trials and difficulties men and women of God faithfully endured. They are examples for us to do likewise as we face the challenges of living as Christians in an evil world (Hebrews 12:1; Galatians 1:4).
A new creation
When we couple this concept with the earnest expectation of the creation waiting for the revealing of the sons of God in Romans 8:19, we come to an amazing realization: The creation of the physical world was brought into existence by God as a place for the spiritual development of humans.
That is the purpose of creation!
For further study, see “Called and Chosen.”