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Bible contains several aspects. The best among them for humans is the guidance for conduct. It also instructs a way to live with honesty.

I'm confused about the ultimate goal of living a life according to the Bible. Is it reaching heaven or reaching God or unifying with god? I'm interested to know whether the Bible explicitly says anyone among the three (I mentioned) as ultimate.

Else if the Bible explicitly mentions any other one as the ultimate goal, please mention it.

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  • Hello and welcome to the site. We don't allow questions that ask "What does the Bible say about ...?" here because there are always too many interpretations. I think this is probably just too broad a question, but maybe someone could write an overview of the major denominations' views on the meaning/purpose of life? – curiousdannii Oct 19 '20 at 5:35
  • @curiousdannii I narrowed down the question. Please consider it now... – hanugm Oct 19 '20 at 5:38
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    The first question to ask is 'What is the purpose of God who made me ?' Only then will I discover what is the purpose of my own humanity. – Nigel J Oct 20 '20 at 4:37
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One of the most famous answers to this question comes in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 1:

Q1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

If you look there, they highlight 1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 11:36, and Psalm 73:25-28.

I believe this is a typical answer to the question from a Reformed perspective.

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  • True, that is the purpose of all creation. We can restate this to express who God is, Psalm 19, – Perry Webb Oct 19 '20 at 9:09
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    I am sure that even Catholic Catechisms would have similar wording! Good answer, Phill. – Ken Graham Oct 19 '20 at 15:32
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    From a slightly different angle, note that Jesus states that the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:36-40). Commandments aren't quite the same thing as a "goal" but would be related, and it's consistent with this good answer. – ojchase Oct 19 '20 at 15:51
  • We are created to be image bearers. Good answer! – Mike Borden Oct 19 '20 at 22:33
  • @ojchase Yes - we glorify God when we love him and others. You could say a lot more about all of these things for sure. – Phill Sacre Oct 20 '20 at 10:04
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In Jesus's great intercessory prayer in John chapter 17, he summed it up pretty clearly:

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

-- John 17:1-3

The ultimate goal is to come to know God the Father and Jesus Christ and thereby gain eternal life.

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    This is the means we have been given by which we may glorify God and enjoy him forever. It is the means to the goal, not the goal itself. – Mike Borden Oct 19 '20 at 22:31
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The Bible doesn't explicitly state a single "ultimate goal [of living a life]," but it gives plenty of suggestions on how to live, as the question states. It seems reasonable to infer that the guidance in scripture reflects the view of the God who (according to the scripture) inspired it.

When Christ was asked which was the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:35-40), he drew his response from the Jewish scriptures:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

John's gospel (John 10:10) quotes Christ as saying:

I am come that they [the people] might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly

...so perhaps to love God, love your fellow humans, and live life to the full.

John's gospel (John 3:16) also quotes Christ as saying,

For God so loved the world [kosmos], that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"

...pointing to an eternal dimension to this life.

This is supported by Luke's gospel's account of Christ, telling a thief who was being executed alongside him, "today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43).

The New Testament letter to the Hebrews additionally speaks of death followed by judgment: "people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." (Hebrews 9:27). There are a number of views as to exactly how we are judged. Christ, in Matthew's gospel (Matthew 7:21-23), says:

Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?" Then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers."

It seems clear that heaven, or paradise, is a state to be desired in an afterlife. Less happy states are available - "being in torment" and "lake of fire" are mentioned, though not "devils with pitchforks" interestingly enough.

The Jewish prophets also had plenty to say about what God wants from us (it being always assumed that our purpose includes doing what God wants).

An example: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) - which includes action, inner attitude, and relation to God.

In addition to living well, we are called to praise God: for example "Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth!" (Isaiah 42:10).

In general the prophets seemed more concerned with how we live now, and how we relate to God, than with exactly what happens after we die.

"Unifying with god," in the sense of becoming part of or merging with God is "not a thing" in scripture, although likeness to or imitation of Christ (or God), presence and fellowship with God, and following his will and law, are themes, as is glorifying and worshiping him.

As to what is heaven - we don't have a lot of detail, and anything we do know (finite as we are) must be more like a metaphor than a prospectus.

But Jewish and Christian scriptures speak of "a new heaven and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1), and of resurrection - the Apostle Paul says, "I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." (Acts 24:15). The Christian Church broadly understands this as a bodily resurrection - as the Nicene creed puts it, "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."

Thus the end state is seen as a continuation of individual existence, and a worshipping relationship with the Divine, rather than a merging into some sort of divine essence or an end to the burden of experience.

One summary I quite liked is that our purpose here on Earth (as individuals and as a community of believers) is to show God's glory to the world. Simeon, when Christ was brought as a baby to the temple to be circumcised, said "mine eyes have seen thy salvation... a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke 2:30,32). Christ said, "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

The Presbyterian formulation of "to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever" is fine, as far as it goes, as a summary of the eternal state, but for me it concentrates too much on "what's in it for us" and not enough on the journey - and the gospels and the Jewish scriptures are very much about the journey.

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  • Please review the edit (mostly for format) and welcome to ChristianitySE. (I really enjoyed reading your answer) – KorvinStarmast Oct 20 '20 at 17:58
  • Thanks for the edit, and your kind comment. I just made one tweak to a quote. – notmyopinion Oct 20 '20 at 22:57
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I believe it to be

  1. Love God with all you have
  2. Love others as yourself

Based on what Jesus said when being asked what the most important commandment is in Mark 12:28-31.

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

That's the short version of an answer to a question that asks about what the entire bible says.

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  • Jesus's is quoting the prayer Shema Yisrael: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (KJV) ¶ The second part is also from Hebrew scripture: Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.Leviticus 19 (KJV) – Ray Butterworth Oct 27 '20 at 19:58
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What is the ultimate goal of a human according to the Bible?

To be transformed into Christlikeness by the power of the Holy Spirit. To be transformed into the "image of God" that God originally intended for us:

2 Cor. 3:18

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Eph. 4:22-24

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Becoming increasingly Christ-like has many aspects:

  1. We find meaning in life when we raise our sights (spiritual sights) towards the highest transcendent goal. There is no higher goal for an individual than to become as Christ-like as possible.

  2. We find meaning when we voluntarily take on as much responsibility as we can manage for the state of the world: ourselves, family, community, world. We "bear our cross" when we take on the responsibility towards the sin of the world.

  3. We voluntarily accept the inherent limitations of being a human being. All of our limitations lead to suffering and ultimately death. We accept our suffering and do not turn bitter towards our creator and the world. We live in this life spiritually-minded instead of focusing on earthly (physical) things.

1 Peter 2:21

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

  1. So much of Jesus stated ministry is to establish the Kingdom of God. Not in the ultimate sense – like heaven one day in the future - but in the sense that God’s reign is available to be established in the present moment

But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also because that is why I was sent."

In this way, as we strive to become increasingly like Christ, we must also adopt his mission – to proclaim that God’s reign is happening right now and that you can begin to live an “eternal” life right now.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, ON EARTH…”

Your job is not to complete the kingdom…but you must seek to build it. That provides a deep sense of meaning in our lives.

The Eastern Orthodox have a concept called Theosis. Theosis is based on 2 Peter 1:4 – wherein you “become partakers of the divine nature.” This is the transformational process, where you increasingly become like Christ. This differs from the Protestant view of “salvation” where it becomes a static line to cross – “did you pray the prayer?” – and more about a lifelong process of spiritual growth.

2 Peter 1:4-9

By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ...

Final point. As you grow spiritually to become more and more like Jesus in “spirit,” you will enjoy more in-depth and more profound communion with the Father – just as Jesus did.

Part of the increased communion comes through “Spiritual Attunement.” We hear with spiritual ears and see through spiritual eyes. Like Adam before the fall enjoyed an uninterrupted relationship with God – Jesus, with no sin to disrupt him – enjoyed FULL relationship with God while he (Jesus) was in his humanity.

1 Cor 15:45-49

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

Every commandment from God points us – often in mysterious ways – towards him and this transformational process. Jesus becomes a model for us – in our humanity – to set up high as a banner to focus on (Isa. 11:10).

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It must surely be the reconciliation of all things in Christ? I would just quote a few biblical texts on this, to show that humanity is to be reconciled to God, in Christ, at the end, when all things are restored. And not only humanity, but all things. The supremacy of Christ is explained in Colossians 1:15-23, and it is that which is the ultimate goal of God, which ought to be the ultimate goal of humanity - created in His image and likeness. This text shows that

"all things were created by [Christ] and for him... so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body, through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusations."

It is to be found in Christ, not with a righteousness of one's self, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith, as Paul said after stating that,

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead... I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:7-14)

The culmination of all things is the goal - when everything in all creation will be reconciled to God because of what Jesus did. The ultimate goal of humanity is stated in Philippians 2:5-11, where our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. The whole section needs to be read to grasp the magnitude of this, but the final outcome is:

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Nothing can surpass that, surely?

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Wise King Solomon put it very succinctly:

"13 The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole obligation of man. 14 For the true God will judge every deed, including every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad."—Eccl. 12:13, 14 (NWT)

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  • I would argue that the conclusion of Ecclesiastes answers a different question. "Fear God and keep his commandments" is not the purpose of life, it is the path that leads to the purpose of life. Look in Proverbs and elsewhere and you find that the fear of the Lord leads to life, prosperity, peace, health, wisdom and every other beneficial outcome. It is not the goal, but the sign pointing to the goal. – Paul Chernoch Oct 20 '20 at 18:49
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    @PaulChernoch If Adam and Eve had obeyed God, would they not have had life, prosperity, peace, health, wisdom, etc.? – agarza Oct 20 '20 at 20:40
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Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

I think the "ultimate goal of a human" can be seen here, and also that the pathway to attaining this is the life of faith:

2 Corintians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

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You can get many answers that aren't necessarily conflicting, even within same denominations. Here are a few answers.

For the Apostle John:

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, ESV)

 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 Jn 3:1-3,ESV)

For the Apostle Paul:

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom. 8:28–30, ESV).

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:8–13)

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  • You're right. It's the 3D Printer site that doesn't like quotes. – Perry Webb Oct 20 '20 at 18:27
  • Okay, thanks for the answer and the edit. 👍 – KorvinStarmast Oct 20 '20 at 18:41

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