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Is there a purpose for mankind beyond this brief life?

By Herbert W. Armstrong

HAVE YOU ever been 41,000 feet above the earth in a plane, as I have? At night, from this height, the whole vast universe above seems to burst forth like a stupendous exploding skyrocket.

How did this world come to be here? Did the universe evolve? Were the myriads of uncountable suns that we call stars created? Was there purpose?

What about the planets in our own solar system? Do they sustain life? Or is this earth the sole body of matter in the endless universe that is inhabited?

Astronomers may hazard some guesses. The unmanned spacecrafts designed at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) sent photographs back to earth from vantage points close to some of these planets. They do not give any evidence whatsoever of conditions that would sustain life.

Science customarily rejects revelation as a source of such knowledge, but, while science can tell us little about the possibility of life on any of these astral bodies, revelation does give us some insight into their existence, their purpose and their future.

Most certainly this is not generally realized or understood. Yet it ties in directly with the existence and presence on earth of man - the meaning and purpose of human life - and actually involves tremendous significance to human life and destiny.

King David of ancient Israel was a thoughtful man, fascinated by the study of the stars in the heavens. He was outstanding as one of the writers used in the recording of revealed knowledge. Speaking as if to the Creator God, this king wrote: "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained," so vast in comparison to a human being, he asked, by comparison, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"

Yes, why should the great God, who created, as David declared, the entire universe, be concerned with insignificant man?

He continued, "For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet."

David had just written that the whole vast starry heavens were the work of the Creatorís hands. But now, suddenly, he hastens in his next words to limit human jurisdiction: "All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea... O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth" (Psalms 8:3-9).

This same passage is quoted by the apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews, with much, much more added. Speaking of a future "world to come, whereof we speak," he continues, "but one in a certain place [quoted above] testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Thou madest him a little lower than [marginal translation is better: a little while inferior to] the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him [man], he [God] left nothing that is not put under him" (Hebrews 2:5-8).

The same "all things" appears also in chapter 1:2-3, and is there translated "the universe" in the Moffatt translation. That is the obvious intended meaning.

Speaking of Christ, the Moffatt translation has: ...a Son whom he [God] has appointed heir of the universe, as it was by him [Christ] that he [God] created the world. He, reflecting Godís bright glory and stamped with Godís own character, sustains the universe with his word of power" (Hebrews 1:2-3).

In both places Moffatt uses the translation "universe" where the Authorized (King James) Version translates "all things." Thus, in the second chapter, the meaning is that God has put the entire universe in subjection under manís feet.

That, of course, is a statement so overpoweringly colossal as to sound incredible. Yet it is the actual statement of what is regarded by believers as the very word of God. It simply has not been believed. It is one of the statements of revelation that has been overlooked or misunderstood or disbelieved or else flatly rejected.

But go further with this revealed statement.

The very next words in the second chapter of the book of Hebrews are: "But now we see not yet all things [the whole universe] put under him [man]."

That is for the future. In this context the writer is speaking of things in "the world to come" (verse 5). The "world to come" will not be put in subjection to the angels. Then he proceeds to reveal that the entire universe will, then, be put in subjection under man. But the scriptural revelation is that man will then be changed from mortal to immortal - from flesh and blood material composition to spirit composition - then immortal.

Continue, now, in Hebrews 2.

We see not yet the universe put under man: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour... For it became him, for whom are all things [all the universe], and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory [in a state of immortality], to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren" (verses 9-1 1).

Those who are to gain salvation - eternal life in the Kingdom of God - are called sons of God, even as Christ is called the Son of God. He is said to be "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). He is thus portrayed as the captain of their salvation - the pioneer - who has gone on ahead, by a resurrection from the dead, and now, as heir of the universe, He sustains the entire universe by the word of His power.

What a stupendous, mind expanding, seemingly incredible heritage for man! Yet the scriptures call those who have received the Holy Spirit of God heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17).

Now, more specifically, what is the connection with the questions regarding the planets of outer space, and whether they are inhabited?

This same eighth chapter of Romans throws considerable light on that matter. These particular verses are not made clear by the King James translation from the original Greek. The word creature should have been translated "creation." The Revised Standard translation (RSV) clears it up, as does the Moffatt.

Continuing right on from the verse quoted, in the RSV, showing man, through salvation, the heir of God, and therefore of the universe:

"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us [in us, Authorized Version]. For the creation [universe] waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay [as planets now are - even as our moon] and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

This last sentence, more correctly translated by Moffatt: "...but even we ourselves, who have the Spirit as a foretaste of the future, even we sigh deeply to ourselves as we wait for the redemption of the body that means our full sonship" (verse 23). It is not becoming an adopted son - but a fully born son of God. Why not request our free booklet, Just What Do You Mean Born Again? What is here revealed, or strongly implied, is that the planets of the entire universe are like our moon, unable to sustain life, virtually waste and empty, subjected to futility as of now, in decay, but so subjected by God in hope. For, when Godís purpose in having put humanity on this earth is completed, untold millions of humans shall have become fully born sons of the living God - then composed of spirit - then divine as God is divine - born into the very Family of God, which, ruling the universe, will be the Kingdom of God.

God, first of all, is Creator. Those who receive that salvation will become creators. Planets will be turned into beautiful, productive planets, sustaining life. New life will be created.

Second to being Creator, God is Ruler. God sustains and preserves what He creates by His government. God is the author of beauty, of light, of peace, of happiness and joy.

The government of God once ruled this earth. There was peace, beauty, happiness. But rebellious angels rejected that government. This truth leads into the very cause of all the evils in this world - and the cause that will produce, as Godís doing - not manís - world peace and everything glorious and beautiful.

God sent a glorious message to mankind some 1,900 years ago by His son Jesus Christ. That message was the only true Gospel of Christ. It included what I have written here - and much more! It explains what science has been unable to discover - what religion has overlooked - and what education has never taught - the real cause of the worldís evils, the way to world peace, the purpose of human life on the earth.

This good news was rejected, and another and different false "gospel" was put out to a deceived world. The true Gospel was not proclaimed publicly to the world after the first century. The world did not hear it for 18Ĺ centuries until it was announced again in the World Tomorrow broadcast.