Recently a woman asked this question. Because of an abusive husband, she was frightened of men and never went outside at night. All her hopes and dreams had vanished. She was alone and couldn’t see any possibility of her situation improving. Also, I learnt that an elderly man had completed suicide. He chose death rather than life. He had no reason to live any longer.
The wisest person who ever lived, Solomon, found that a life which is not related to God is meaningless (Eccl. 1:2; 1:14; 12:8). It is like “chasing after the wind.” True fulfillment and lasting satisfaction are elusive. The things we do apart from God are hollow and futile because they can be destroyed and come to nothing. Hopes and dreams for this life can be shattered and wiped away. This was the case for these people.
According to the Bible, there are two main purposes of life: to know God, and to serve Him. Paul, a pioneer of the Christian faith, wrote: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things … I want to know Christ” (Phil. 3:8,10 NIV). He also wrote: “ For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). He gave up Judaism and all his personal achievements when he trusted Christ as Savior. He wanted to know the Lord personally and live for Him.
The Bible tells us that people are “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). They have no lasting hope, no hope beyond death. This is because they don’t know the only true God, who was revealed by Jesus Christ. But if we truly know God, we have a lasting hope that looks beyond death. Paul said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can look forward to the resurrection of our bodies, life forever with the Lord and God’s kingdom being established on earth.
People put their time and effort into the things that they think are important. Near the end of his life Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). He was a devoted servant of God who put all his energy into serving Him and doing His will. He had protected the Christian doctrine which had been committed to him, and he faithfully passed it on to others. God wants us to be faithful in His sight; not merely successful in people’s sight.
Paul was motivated by the fact that his service would be reviewed in heaven: “We make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:9-10). Fancy being able to please God when we are “away from” the body after death! This is when believers stand before the Lord as He reviews their service. The only thing we can take with us beyond death is our reward for faithfulness to Him.
Can all our hopes, dreams, visions and goals be taken away? If the answer is yes, they are flimsy and not robust. That’s why people give up, get depressed, and think there is no purpose to life. Instead let’s be like Paul and make our most important priority knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and serving Him while we can.
Published, April 2012
A dream is a series of images, events or ideas that are present within the mind of a person while they are asleep. Sometimes God used dreams to reveal His will to people in Old Testament times (Num. 12:6). The fact that God also communicated to pagans through dreams means that dreams are not necessarily a measure of one’s spirituality (Gen. 20:3; 31:24; 40:8-19; Dan. 2:1-45; 4:5-33). Also, prophecies from dreams that are fulfilled are not necessarily from God (Deut. 13:1-5).
Two Greek words in the New Testament have been translated as “dream”. Firstly, “onar”, which means “a vision in sleep” (Vine) was used for a message from God either by an angel (Mt. 1:20; 2:13,19) or in some cases the messenger was not mentioned (Mt. 2:12,22; 27:19). Secondly, “enupnion”, which means “what appears in sleep” (Vine) was used to describe the dreams of old men (Acts 2:17). It was also used metaphorically in Jude 8 to describe the mind of apostates in the church—it may indicate that their thoughts were evil or out of touch with reality.
Dreams will accompany the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Jewish people in their last days as a nation (Joel 2:28-29). This was quoted on the day of Pentecost, which was a partial fulfilment of this prophecy—the Holy Spirit indwelt the believers from this time (Acts 2:17-18). However, there is no other mention in scripture of dreams with respect to the New Testament church. So, there is no biblical precedent to use dreams to indicate a person’s spirituality today.
The bible often links the words “dreams” and “visions” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17). The Greek word for “vision”, “horama”, means “an appearance or vision” (Vine). The following New Testament characters saw visions: Ananias (Acts 9:10); Paul (Acts 9:12; 16:9; 18:9); Cornelius (Acts 10:3-5) and Peter (Acts 10:17,19). These instances, which all involved the work of apostles in establishing the church, may have been the visions referred to in Acts 2:17.
Dreams occur in our subconscious mind, which is an unreliable measure of one’s spirituality. Today, God prefers to communicate to our conscious mind through the Bible (Heb. 12:1-2). Unless a dream or vision agrees completely with the Bible, it is not from God (Is. 8:19-20). So, God does not need to use dreams today as He can use the written Bible and the indwelling Holy Spirit to communicate His will to us.
We shouldn’t be obsessed with our dreams, as they may be related to the pressures of daily life (Eccl. 5:3). After all, surely our conscious thoughts and behavior are better indicators of our spirituality than our unconscious thoughts!
Written, April 2005