What is life? Someone once said, "Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans". It is a simple term with which we are all familiar, yet it is difficult to define. In the Bible, we find that the word life can refer to physical life, spiritual life, eternal life, and manner of life. In this lesson we shall look at one of the attributes of God that stems from the fact that He is a spirit - the attribute of life. As we shall see, when we talk of God as being life we are talking about the absolute source and cause for all life.
I. The Source of Life
Many times the Bible refers to God as the living God. As the living God, He is the source of being and activity not only for Himself but for all others as well.
Which one of us could claim that we are not dependent upon anyone or anything for our existence? The best that Paul, perhaps the greatest Christian, could say was "by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul knew that his existence was dependent upon God, but the One who calls Himself Jehovah is self-existent.
Jehovah is the most frequently used name that God employs to identify Himself, occurring 6,823 times. It is usually translated as God or Lord in the King James Bible. The word Jehovah comes from the Hebrew verb "havah" (to be) and means "One who is what He is". Jehovah is the One who possesses essential life and permanent existence within Himself (see also John 5:26).
This idea of self-existence is wonderfully shown in Exodus 3:13-15 when God called Moses to deliver Israel from the Egyptians. Moses asked God what His name was, and God responded saying, " I AM THAT I AM … say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you". God said literally, I exist because I exist. God was not created, He just is! He is the source for His own existence, and, therefore, no one can take life away from Him. This makes God the best choice in which to place our trust for life! Note that Jesus also used the phrase "I am" to describe Himself in John 8:58.
How did the first man acquire life? Genesis 2:7 says that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" and then Adam became "a living soul". It is God that gave life to Adam, and it is God that has given life to every man since Adam. Consider the following testimonies from some Bible characters:
"The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4).
"For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).
"seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25).
The Bible also makes it clear that Jesus is the source of life for man. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." According to John, life is in Jesus (John 1:4) and if you don't have Jesus then you don't have life (1 John 5:12). John also states that we were made by Jesus (John 1:3), to which Paul echoes "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible" (Colossians 1:16). How can both God and Jesus be the source of man's life? This can only be if Jesus is God! In fact the entire Trinity can be seen in the making of man by comparing Job 33:4, Psalm 100:3, and John 1:3.
II. The Sustainer of LifeNot only is God the source of all life, He is also the One that keeps us living - "For in him we live, and move, and have our being "(Acts 17:28). Paul used the present tense here indicating that God is the cause for our present state of life. In his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Jonathan Edwards gave several stirring statements like the following:
There are black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.Man in his pride may think that his life is in his own hands, but the truth is that it is God "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10). It is by the grace of God that we live, and if it were His desire we would cease to exist tomorrow. This brings us to the following applications:
A. Live According to God's Will
No man knows what the next day may bring. Therefore as James says "ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (James 4:15). How often do we make plans for the future without consulting the One on whom our very future depends? Multitudes make decisions about their careers, their jobs, their vacations, and their finances without ever asking God, the sustainer of their lives, what He would want for them.
Why should we be afraid of what man can do to our lives? As the sustainer of all life, it is God who decides whether we live or die. No man has the ability to take away life, only God has that ability! So many live in constant fear for their lives unnecessarily. The next year may come with all sorts of problems, but if we live or die it will be because of the will of God and not because of the will of man.
III. The Significance of Life
The living God is the source and sustainer of our lives, and therefore He ought to be the One for Whom we live. According to Revelation 4:11 the reason we were created to begin with was for the pleasure of God. Colossians 3:1-4 is a great passage on this subject where Paul exhorts us to"set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." He also says that Christ is our life, meaning that Christ ought to be the object of our lives. God is the one who is worth living for - the very purpose of our living.
In an average lifetime, the average American spends 13 years watching TV and 24 years sleeping, spends $89,281 on food, consumes 109,354 pounds of food, Makes 1811 trips to McDonalds, spends $6881 in vending machines, eats 35,138 cookies and 1483 pounds of candy. How much of our lives are wasted on insignificant things when God ought to be the significance of our lives.
ConclusionAs the living God is the source, sustainer, and significance of all life, we ought to consecrate our lives to Him as the hymnist put it:
Consecrated, Lord to thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.