|"Top Shelf Christianity" -
A handbook to becoming a Christian
"but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Jn.20:31
Means to an End
…………................................................................ by ric justiss
We use phrases like "by all means", or "by no means" or "if by any means" or "by
means of." The key little word here is of special interest. Have you ever stopped to
think what “means” means?
I hope you will pardon the doubling up on the word. We use the word “means” in
those phrases to refer to “that by which something is done.” It is an agency of some
kind. Anything that aids us or helps us, or is that through which we attain something,
is a “means.” A “means” is that by which we get what we want. That is why the word
“means” is another word for money. We sometimes say, “I’d like to buy so & so, but I
don’t have the means right now.” Money is a means. A man who has a lot of money is
sometimes described as a “man of means.” Why? Because he has the means, if he
has the money. He has the means of doing a lot to things. He has that by which he
can do something or that which will help him or aid him in doing or having.
Money can be a means of bad, or it can be a means of good. There is a passage is
Eph. 4:28, " Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his
hands what is good, that he might have to give to him that needeth." I will have to say,
in all honesty, I know very few people who work with their hands, in order to have the
means whereby they will be able to do good for people who need. Most people work
with their hands to have, to have the means all right, but to do some things that Paul
didn’t speak of here.
Means could be money. Means could be people. We use money to do things with, to
get what we want. And we may use people the same way. There is an interesting
statement back in Jer. 5, Jeremiah said, "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed
in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means.
And my people love to have it so." That passage is a little hard to figure out, but it
sounds like the prophets in that day and time were prophesying falsely and the priests
who were ruling were using the prophets, and with the aid of the prophets, were
accomplishing their purposes.
Means can be money, or people, or events and circumstances. Anything that helps us
to achieve our goal, that is the means.
If we have an end in view, something that we want, something we would like to have or
see happen, then we must find out what the means are. What is going to be required
for this to take place? It depends on the situation, you see, as to what the means will
I’m not going to talk here about how the end justifies the means or how the end does
not justify the means. Other than just to mention, it is hard to attain a good end with an
evil means. Basically, with the thoughts we have before us, I would like for us to
consider briefly, the one grand goal that God has for mankind. We all understand what
it is. From the time man sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had one purpose in mind
and that was to reclaim mankind, to rescue men, to redeem men or to deliver or save
men. You can say it in a variety of ways. But regardless of how you say it, it really
means the same thing. Think about all of the verses that speak of what God’s goal
(Gal. 4)" When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman,
born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law." God sent his Son for
the purpose of redeeming men.
(I John 4:14) "We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of
the world." That’s the way the writer put it.
In v.9 of the same chapter, "God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we
might live through Him." It means the same thing.
Or perhaps the famous Jn. 3:16, which says it as well as anywhere else, "God so loved
the world, he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not
perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn
the world, but that the world through Him, might have everlasting life.”
Why did God send Jesus into the world? What was the one objective? It was to save
man, to redeem man, that man might live through Him. Why did Jesus come? He
came for the same reason God sent Him. The same purpose. He did say, didn’t he, in
Jn.6:38, "I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent
me." Why did Jesus come? He said at the house of Zacheaus, "The son of man is
come to seek and save that which is lost." He said, in Jn.10:10, "I have come that they
might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." He also said, Jn.12:47, "I
came not to judge the world but to save the world." He said it a number of different
ways, but again, it all means the same thing. Why did God send Jesus, and why did
Jesus come? The one purpose was to seek and to save, to redeem, and to deliver.
Having said all of that, if that is true, it only follows then that everything Jesus did,
while he lived, was only a means to that end. He had one objective. Everything Jesus
did in his entire life on earth, was done for the purpose of aiding or helping Him to
achieve the goal for which he had entered into the world.
Why did Jesus come and live in the world, and take upon Himself human form? (Heb.
2) "He was made like his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest
in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." The
reason Jesus came in the flesh was so he could be like us, so that as a result of that,
by means of that, he could be what he needed to be, to save men. He could be a
merciful High Priest, a compassionate High Priest, and an understanding High Priest.
By means of his life he could be an example to men who live in the flesh, he left us an
example who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. By means of having
lived in the flesh, he could be an inspiration to us. The Hebrews writer said, "Consider
Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself lest you be weary and
faint in your mind."
Why did Jesus die on the cross? It was only a means to an end. He didn’t die just for
the sake of dying. The Hebrews 9 says, "For this reason He is the mediator of the new
covenant, by means of death…that those who are called may receive the promise of
the external inheritance." Jesus died, because that would be something that would
aid or help him in doing what he came to do. "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw
all men unto me." (Jn. 12:32) There had to be something that would reach men, move
men, and touch men. He did what was necessary as a means of reaching men and
drawing men to Him that they might be saved.
But what I have said of Jesus is also true of us. Everything that Jesus did, everything
on the divine side of the story of the Bible, was simply a means to attain an end, the
salvation of man’s soul.
But at the same time, everything that God told us to do, everything that is a part of the
human side of the same transaction, is just a means to the same end. The Bible has
been given to us. Why do you suppose the story that is here was recorded? " …but
these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that
believing you may have life in Him name." (Jn. 20:30,31) The story was written and
preserved as a means whereby people could believe in Jesus, and that by believing
they might have eternal life. And I assume it is read for the same reason. Since it was
written for a specific purpose, it aught to be read for the same purpose. So, we have
all the verses in the Bible that we could cite and argue from, that teach us we are
supposed to search the scriptures, study the Bible, give attendance to reading…but
why are we to do these things?
That we might come to believe, and that by believing we might have life through His
The same thing is true of all the religious spiritual exercises that have been appointed
for us. The point here is this; I am afraid many have become confused a little bit, and
have mixed up the ends and the means. Some seem to think the means is the end.
As an illustration, we have all known people to set out to make a lot of money, and
originally they set out to make money as a means whereby they could do things and
have things. But somewhere along the way, the means became the end.
After they reached a certain point, they were no longer making money to be able to
have things or do things, but the purpose changed, and they worked to have money
just so they would have more money. It was not a means to anything anymore. The
means became the end.
Another example, would be going to school. Little children start to school, and in the
beginning, going to school is an end within itself. They didn’t understand that there is
anything beyond school. You go to school just to go to school. That is all there is to
it. They are not thinking of anything beyond that. But somewhere along the way, as
they get older, they go to school, attend classes, listen to the lectures, study for the
exams, all for a new purpose. They do it all so that they might be able to do or to be
something. They do it to attain the knowledge, the skills or the credentials to allow
them to be or become something later on.
But I have heard of professional students, haven’t you? Somewhere along the way,
they forgot that school was supposed to be a means to an end. But some seem to be
going to school just to be going to school. They like school. They like to study and
learn. But they don’t have any ambitions or plans on using what they are learning.
But what about being a Christian? How many Christians go to church, and so far as
they are concerned, that is the end. They go to church, read their bible, sing the
songs, pray the prayers, so that when it is over, they can say, “I’ve done it.”
We need to realize that all that we do is only a means to an end. We read the bible to
learn, so that once we learn, we will be able to do, so that once we have done, one day
God will say to us, “well done thou good and faithful servant.” That is the end, the
goal and the objective.
We sing, not just to sing, but because there is something about singing that is
supposed to make us stronger. Maybe that depends somewhat on how musically
inclined we are. We don’t pray just so we can say, “I said my prayers.” We are told,
“let us come boldly before the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find
grace to help in time of need.” We pray as a means to an end. We have needs and we
can approach the Lord about our needs.
And we could go into every activity we are called upon to engage in as Christians and
would find that it is all only a means to an end. It all goes together to help us to be
what God wants us to be, to be saved.
Our time in which we live in this world, is time allotted us to become fit to be partakers
of heaven. We have time to grow, time to develop, time to mature, to “grow in grace
and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet. 3:18. Once you
have been a Christian for a number of years, you will be able to look back and say “I
am a better person than I used to be.” You won’t be perfect, or have overcome all of
your faults, or eliminated all of your selfishness, but you will be able to see where you
have made progress. And the more progress we make, the better suited we are for
heaven. If I understand the scriptures correctly, the gospel, the faith, all inclusive, is
designed to make us better and better and better, more like Christ, more like people
who are fit candidates for a better world than this one. The gospel is designed to
change people. In the beginning of our conversion, we are like little children, babes in
Christ. We have to grow and develop. And it is an ongoing process. It is a slow
process. But it is a process, that when followed, will make us everything we should be
or want to be. Some day we will be enough in the likeness of the Son of God, that God
will be pleased with us.
“…thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet ( fit or qualified) to be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us from the power of
darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have
redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
“…and you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works,
yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy
and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Colossians 1
Chapter 1 - Once we understand the grandeur of heaven, nothing will be more important to us
than being sure we have a home in heaven awaiting us at the end of this life.
Chapter 2 - If we want to go to heaven, we will have to change. We have to change, or convert,
from living one way to living another way.
Chapter 3 - Once we do change, we will find out that we are much happier.
Chapter 4 - The Christian life is more than a set of rules that must be followed, but rather is a
process of slowly building and developing certain attitudes and character qualities which
prepare you and mold you into a person pleasing in the eyes of God.