By Dennis Abernathy
The word “goal” is defined by Webster as “the end to which a design tends; objectives, aim; an object or end that one strives to attain.”
In 2 Corinthians 5:9, we read: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (NIV).
Paul made it a point to give constant effort; it was his leading and constant aim to live so as to please God and be found acceptable to him, whether he was to live or die. This should be the great goal or aim of the Christian!
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul said: “. . . but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
Paul does two things here. (1) He is forgetting the things which are behind. Thus, the Christian must forget all that he has done and remember only that which he has still to do. There is no room for a person or a church which desires to rest upon its laurels or on what it has done in the past. (2) He is reaching forward and pressing toward the goal. It pictures, as it were, a racer going hard for the finish line. He has eyes for nothing but the goal, arms clawing the air, every muscle straining, with his head forward, and his body is bent and angled for the goal. He is going flat out for the finish. Thus, the Christian must forget past achievements and remember only the goal which forever lies ahead!
In 1 Peter 1:9, the apostle Peter says: “For you are receiving the goal (end) of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (NW). Peter is saying that salvation is the goal of faith, and its realization the end or design thereof!
Goals, aims, and objectives are ever so important. What honorable and monumental goals the Christian has! To please the Lord in whatever he does and going flat out to accomplish such, knowing that salvation is the end result, is his goal.
With these things in mind, let us look at some worthy goals that will help us to achieve the things we have just talked about, mainly, the salvation of our souls.
We will first look at some individual goals. These are goals that will help us as individuals to reach our full potential in the Lord’s kingdom. They will help us fulfill our responsibility as Christians and as members of God’s family.
1. First, I will study the Bible more intently. We are to diligently search the Scriptures (Jn. 5:39), for that is where we learn of Christ. This is to be a daily or regular search (Acts 17:11). We are to study and search the Scriptures because they are from God and they are profitable to us in order that we may be complete and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Therefore, we should give attention to reading and study (I Tim. 4:13), because it is the only way we can understand about salvation that is of God and through Christ (Eph. 3:1-6).
Surely, this is a worthy and honorable goal. What kind of Bible study habits do you have? What about your children? What about your young people? What’s more important? Math and science, and English, or the Word of the Lord? (See Jn. 12:48.)
Bible classes are for our benefit, as we gather to study the Bible and learn better how to serve the Lord. How is your class attendance? Is it regular with a desire to learn, or is it spasmodic at best? If many studied and attended classes for school like they do the Bible and Bible classes, illiteracy would abound.
An excellent attitude toward the Bible study is seen in Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel” (NASV). Ezra purposed, planned and determined in his heart that he would study God’s law. After studying and learning he determined that he would practice what it said, and then he put forth the effort to teach that law to others. Pretty good summation of what Bible study is all about, wouldn’t you say?
2. I will attend the church assemblies more regularly. We are not to forsake or give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25). We are to continue stedfastly and devote ourselves to worship of God (see Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7). Our regular assembling together helps us “draw near to God” (Heb. 10:22); helps us “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (10:23); helps us “spur one another on” or “stir up” each other to “love and good deeds” (10:24); and helps us to “encourage one another” (10:25).
What happens when we are sporadic and hit-and-miss in our attendance? We, rather than drawing near to God, find ourselves slipping further away from him. Rather than holding unswervingly to our hope, we find ourselves losing our grip. Rather than spurring each other on to love and good deeds and encouraging one another, we become lax in our service and a discouragement and disappointment to our brethren.
Faithful attendance takes individual commitment and effort. We need encouragement to do it, and we receive it in meeting together, thus it is for our good and benefit. How committed are you to going to heaven? How committed are you to your children’s going to heaven?
Just a word here to young people. You must help your parents in this effort. Do your homework early, help with meals, get ready, get up out of bed. Young people, put the Lord first, for, after all, he put you first, didn’t he?
3.1 will give consistently of my money. The Bible teaches us to “give as we have prospered” (1 Cor. 16:1-2). We are to “cheerfully” give as we “purpose in our hearts” (2 Cor. 9:7). In doing the Lord’s work this should be a matter of “generosity” and not a “grudging obligation” (2 Cor. 9:5). But, having said that, we need to understand that God’s law of sowing and reaping comes into play here. Sparse sowing (meager giving) on our part will reap a “lean harvest” (2 Cor. 9:6). Our giving puts our love to the test. When we give as we should we show our sincere love for our brethren and for our Lord (2 Cor. 8:5,12; 9:13). We may pride ourselves in being “conservative,” but our giving is one area where we need to be “liberal” (2 Cor. 8:2; 9:13).
To put it very simply, I give to God because he gave to me. The Lord left the riches of heaven for my sake that I might through his poverty become rich (2 Cor. 8:9). Why shouldn’t I want to give my money to him? What are my goals? To save a lot of money? To buy a nice house? To drive a nice automobile? To wear fine clothes? To take nice trips? These things are not wrong. But, where does the Lord fit into my budget? Am I so concerned about laying up treasures here on this earth, that I neglect to lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21)? We surely need to examine our hearts. Am I so determined to lay up treasures for myself that I forget to be rich toward God (Lk. 12:15-21)? This is foolishness! Just what is my goal, my aim, my objective with regard to my money?
4. I will teach and invite more compelling and urgently. Early Christians “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). They taught publicly and privately. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). We should desire the salvation of all we come into contact with and therefore we should try to persuade them to obey the truth. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). We must busy ourselves going out into the community urging, compelling and constraining people to come to the Lord (Lk. 14:23). If my attitude and love for the Lord is what it should be, “then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psa. 51:13).
The apostle Paul’s great desire was that Israel (his own people) might be saved and therefore he prayed and he worked to bring such about (see Rom. 10:1-3). We should do likewise.
Brethren, we are not teaching with the urgency we need. We aren’t talking with people about the Lord as we should. It is good to come to the building and study the Bible and learn our duty and learn how to teach, but such is useless if we do not go out and actually teach others! It is certainly true that little will go according to plan if we have no plan. But, it is equally true that too many dream and plan worthy accomplishments and goals, but far too few stay awake and actually do them! Are you praying and making the effort to teach your friends and neighbors and family?
4. I will live a more spiritual live. Our life is to be one of spiritual service and worship (Rom. 12:1-2). (See also 1 Cor. 3:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:1-5, NIV.) This involves living a sacrificial life and not patterning our life after this world. On Romans 12:2, J.B. Phillips translation has: “Do not let the world pour you into its mold.” A spiritual life is one of zeal and spiritual fervor. Romans 12:11, says: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor” (MV). The spiritual life involves growing through implementation of God’s Word and by rising above jealousies and quarrels which are evidence of acting like mere men. In fact, we are to crave the spiritual milk of the Word so that we can grow and be built into God’s spiritual house, offering spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ to God.
Spiritual life is different from “this world” life, even though we live in the world. In other words, we live in this world, but we are not of this world. The spiritual life is a life patterned after the Lord.
Dear reader, are you ready to pattern your life after the Lord; to live for him, sacrificing whatever you must to be pleasing to him? Are you ready to live a life of zeal and spiritual fervor, or do you want to continue along in the muddle of mediocrity? Are you willing to really be different from the world and to give up all friendship with it (Jas. 4:4; 1 Jn. 2:15-17)?
Now to some congregational goals. There are some things that the local church must do together. The church needs goals, aims and objectives in its collective work.
1. Grow in love, closeness and unity. “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). In Romans 12:9-10, Paul said: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (NIV). We should sincerely love our brethren deeply from the heart (1 Pet. 1.22). If this is true of us, then we will give preference to one another. Our brethren will be special to us.
It truly is “good and pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity” (Psa. 133:1). Unity doesn’t happen just because we wish it, but we must “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
Where you have unity, you have agreement. “Can two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3) Thus, brethren must be in agreement, united in mind and thought (1 Cor. 1:10). As the early church was, so must we be. “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul …. (Acts 4:32). “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46, NASV). Paul admonished the Philippians to make his joy complete by “being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (2:2, NASV). Peter says: “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Pet. 3:8, NASV).
Every church’s goal ought to be to grow in love and become closer as it stands united for truth and against all that is evil!
2. Grow in number. Numerical growth is good and to be desired. If we are seeking to save souls we are seeking to grow in number. Brother Hayse Reneau said he was enjoying working with a small church, but the only problem was that he wanted it to get bigger! That sums it up pretty well, I think. The more people that are saved the larger the local church and the more work it can get done. Thus, our desire ought to be that of the “disciples multiplying” in our community. But, of course that will take planning and effort on the part of the local church. The local church can grow spiritually and numerically if we will make up our minds, roll up our sleeves, and get on with the task.
3. Grow financially. The more money the local church has the more work it can do for the Lord. The Lord’s work not only takes everybody working together and praying together, but also giving together! The church can grow financially if the church has the proper goal and the proper motivation and understands the need.
4. Grow in mutual participation. That means every member doing his/her part. In a local church we all have different parts, but we all have a part. Some may have different responsibilities from others, but all have responsibility, due to being a part of a local congregation.
On the job, all must pull their load if there is to be efficiency. We understand that. On a ball team each must fulfill his responsibility as a part of the team or the team will suffer. We understand that. In the local church each member must do his/her part if the church is to function to its potential. Do we understand this? The preacher can do his work, but he can’t do yours. You can do your work, but you can’t do the preachers.
In Ephesians 4:15-16, we read: “grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (NIV). Every part or each member of the body contributes. Each member supplies. None is excused and none is useless. If the church is to grow each member must work efficiently. This calculates into every member exerting himself/herself to the fullest! This is the only way any local church will ever grow to its fullest potential. When members believe the same thing, when they work toward the same goals, and when they love one another, you have ingredients for successful growth in God’s kingdom.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 8 p. 8-10
April 20, 1995