Life and Death

Stop Chasing the Wind

Pastor Jerry Gillis - November 11, 2018

Community Group Study Notes

  • Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
  • Share a time when you were frustrated by the apparent random-ness of life. What frustrated you about that experience? What did it teach you?
  • Why do we get so uncomfortable thinking about our own mortality? How would a right and proper understanding of the certainty of death change the way we live?
  • Read Psalm 90:12. Does this change anything about your answers to the previous question? How can you apply the truth of this verse in your life?
  • In what ways is your daily living different because of the confidence you have in Jesus for your eternity? How does the resurrection of the dead in Christ change your perspective on the way you live in this life?
  • What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday’s message?


Sermon Transcript

I have played chess, but I don't play chess, if you know what I mean. If you talk to people who are serious about chess, those people are serious. Then, you got people like me who have played on occasion but who haven't played a ton. Now, one of the things about chess, if you can see the chessboard up here, one of the things about chess is that it's one of these games that we love because it looks so orderly from the outset. It's super orderly. Everything's got its place. Everything knows where it's supposed to be. Everything's assigned a value right from the outset. It's all orderly until you make a move. That's when all the chaos starts. I mean chaos in a good way. Here's what I mean. There's a guy who's named Claude Shannon. He came up with this thing called the Shannon number, and what it was is he was calculating a conservative number of potential games that could happen based on the moves that you make.

When you make that first move and then the other person makes their first move, after one move, there are 400 potential games that could occur based after one move, but after each opponent has moved two times on each side, that number goes to 197,000 possible games within the game. When both sides have moved five times, there are 70 trillion games within the game as possibilities. 10 to the 120th power is what they call Shannon's number that is a conservative estimate of the number of games held within a game of chess. It's extraordinary to think about, really, because there are all these variables and all these possibilities that could happen just after making some moves in what we view as a super orderly game. It's really orderly.

Now, some people when they look at a game like this realize that the order of this game is not so much like life because this game is a meritocracy. The best player wins. If you've got a chess master playing against me, they're going to win 100 times out of 100. They're going to win 1000 times out of 1000. Here's why. They're good at chess. I'm an idiot at chess. This is not random. You don't draw a wildcard and put it down and go, "Oh. It wipes out half your chess pieces." This is a game of strategy. This is a game where one person is strategizing against another person. The player who makes the best moves ends up winning. We like the game because we view the game as fair. A lot of people have liked the game of chess because it seems to be fair. It's not random. It's not gambling. It's not a wildcard. You're not drawing anything. It's a fair game, but that's also the problem because for many of us, we see this game, and we're like, "Yeah, that's a fair game, which is nothing like life."

There was a guy just a couple years ago named Zach Gage who developed an online game that he calls Really Bad Chess. Let me tell you what the premise of this game is, Really Bad Chess. You basically get assigned random pieces for your side. It could be that on your side, you've got mostly pawns, a couple of knights, and a rook, and on the other side, he's got like four queens and all kinds of other stuff. You're like, "This is completely unfair." Yep. Live with it. That's basically what Really Bad Chess is, the game design. Then, you have to figure out how do you do what you do when everything is so unfair in its starting out. Well, that's how life is, isn't it? Everything here has an assignment. It has a particular way in which its supposed to act and do. Some of them are more powerful. Some of them are less powerful.

If you're a pawn, you don't really have much to do except go die. That's kind of what you do in chess. I don't play chess a lot, but that's pretty much what you do. I'm sending you out there. Get killed. That's kind of what a pawn does. Then, you've got rooks and you've got knights and you've got bishops. They all have varying levels of power, in terms of status and what they can do. Then, you've got the queen. The king just kind of stands there like, "Please, nobody take me." Then, the queen is doing all the work. Some of you ladies are going ... I'm not saying anything. Here's the interesting thing. This is so reminiscent of life, isn't it, because it's like when you see someone who's pregnant, it's very orderly and everything's good. It's not necessarily comfortable for the woman, but everything's orderly and good until she gives birth. Then, the chaos starts, which is very much what happens in this. Everything's orderly and good until you make a move. Then, the chaos starts.

It seems as if everybody is affected the same way. Life has a tendency to be random. Whether you play an orderly game like regular chess or whether you play Really Bad Chess that is already set up against you, which, by the way, we know is true in life sometimes anyway, isn't it? Sometimes in life, it feels like these people have all the queens and we've got all the pawns or maybe we're the privileged ones with all the queens and they've got all the pawns. It's not always just an even playing field. It's never quite like that. Here's what I know about the game. The game actually ends the same exact way every time. When the game is over, every one of the pieces, whether they are powerful or whether they are not powerful, they all end up in a box. Think about that in relation to life. It doesn't really matter whether you are a pawn in life, whether you're a bishop or a knight or a rook or a queen or a king. The outcome is the same. We all end up in a box.

Say, "Jerry, hey. Thanks for the encouraging word. Appreciate that, man. So glad I came today." The reason I'm telling you that is because this is what we're going to discover in our study as we're moving along in the book of Ecclesiastes. It's very thing that we discover. There is a randomness, it seems, to life and that everything kind of ends in everybody dies. This is what we discover. We've got this teacher who's trying to walk through his frustration. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he's walking through his frustration with what he sees in life because for him, he's tried it all. He's tried relationships, and he's tried drinking, and he's tried to let his eyes feast on everything. He's had wealth and all of these things. He said, "None of it ever brought me eternal significance. None of it ever gave me anything other than kind of a temporary satisfaction." He's struggling to figure out what is the meaning of life. The conclusion he comes to is that it's relatively meaningless.

What we have in this book that we call Ecclesiastes, here's what this book is. This is a book that reveals to us what life is like when God doesn't reveal to us what life is like. That's what this book is, this book called Ecclesiastes. We've got this teacher who's really frustrated. Part of his frustration we start to see, not only from the outset in chapter one and following, but as we've walked through this book. Those of you who haven't been here and you haven't been a part of any of this, you can go back to and you can kind of track with us along the line of our teaching in Ecclesiastes. The teacher starts to get frustrated. We see it in chapter seven and chapter eight. You know why? Because he looks around and he sees a bunch of different things that don't make sense to him, that feel upside down to him like, "Hey, there's good things happening to that bad person and there's bad things happening to that good person." He's going, "This doesn't make really good sense to me."

In fact, here's what he said in Ecclesiastes seven. He said, "In this meaningless life of mine, I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness and the wicked living long in their wickedness." He's like, "What's the deal with that?" Then, in Ecclesiastes chapter eight, he says this, "There's something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say is meaningless so I commend the enjoyment of life because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun." The teacher's frustrated, right? There's good things that happen to bad people. There's bad things that happen to good people. I've seen righteous people who die in the midst of their righteousness, and I've seen wicked people who seemingly live forever in their wickedness. What's the deal with this?

The teacher in chapter nine, when we come to chapter nine, which is where we are today, what we'll be studying today. When we come to Ecclesiastes chapter nine, the teacher's trying to think about all of this and to process it and try and make sense of it. Notice what he says in Ecclesiastes nine beginning in verse one. He said, "So I reflected on all of this and I concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them." Could you imagine having that kind of philosophy, the philosophy that says, "I know this is all in God's hands. Okay. That's good. But I don't know whether love or hate awaits them"? That's kind of a difficult place to be because really what he's asking is this question. After looking at all of this stuff, the teacher's really asking this question. Listen to this, "Is God as random as life feels? Is God as random as life actually feels?" This is what the teacher is actually wrestling with, but he comes to some conclusions. I'm going to summarize those conclusions in two little three-word sentences. He comes to some very simple conclusions in Ecclesiastes chapter nine. If you want to jot them down, here they are. Life is random. Death is certain. You're welcome. Life is random. Death is certain.

Now, here's what I want you to do for just a second. I know this isn't the most comfortable thing, and I'm going somewhere today, so stay with me. We won't land in despair and in the place of, "We all should be depressed." We won't land there. Life is random and death is certain. I need you to sit with that and be comfortable with that for just a few moments. Here's why. Some of us have constructed worldviews in our minds that are not based in reality. We have constructed worldviews in our minds and it's the way we think things should be and the way want them to be, and it's this. If I'm a pretty good person and I follow the rules and I do some good things, then everything should go well for me. You know what? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. Then, hey, if somebody is a bad person and they're a rule breaker and they're a rebel, then life shouldn't go good for them. Sometimes it doesn't. In fact, a lot of times it doesn't, but sometimes it seems like it does.

You and I both know. We've seen people who love the Lord, who walk with God, who really have a passion for Jesus, who are making the right choices and the right decisions, and loving God and loving people, and they have had to face all kinds of heartbreak and difficulty in their worlds. You don't have to live very long to figure out that that happens. You've seen those who they don't care anything about God. They don't give God a second thought. In fact, they might even outright mock God. It seems like they're living in the lap of luxury, carefree. We've seen both of those happen, haven't we? You know some of those people in your own world and in your own life. Listen, we have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that life is a formula.

We've got to get over the fact that there's no simple formula, that A plus B always equals C in the way that I determine it's going to happen. It doesn't always go like that, which is also why you need to stop listening to the words of so-called preachers who are feeding you what is essentially animal dung when they tell you that if you just give them a bunch of money that you'll be healthy and you'll be prosperous and you'll be successful and you'll be all that stuff, like it's a formula. They would have a great deal of difficulty preaching that message to Joseph, to Jesus, to Job, to Jerry. I'll just keep it all Js. I don't know why. They would have difficulty doing that because it doesn't make any sense. It's a ploy. It's a scam. It's a scheme. Do yourself a favor. Turn them off. You see, life is not a formula, and we quickly figure out that life is random and death is certain, but let me break those apart for a second and just treat them individually for a moment.

First one, life is random. In fact, I want you to see what the teacher actually says about that in verses 11 and 12 of chapter nine. He says, "I have seen something else under the sun. The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned, but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come. As fish are caught in a cruel net or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them." Now, the teacher obviously is frustrated, but he is spouting some wisdom at this point. He's helping us to understand that sometimes life doesn't go exactly as we think it's supposed to go.

Sometimes the fastest woman hurdler in the world in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics named Lolo Jones, sometimes the fastest woman hurdler in the world trips over a hurdle and comes in seventh instead of first even though she's faster than everyone. Sometimes, on occasion, the ten and six wildcard New York Giants beat the undefeated New England Patriots in the Superbowl. All God's people said amen. All the New England fans are like, "I knew something was wrong with you. I just didn't know what it was. Now I've put my finger on it." Sometimes Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson. Sometimes the most likely to succeed in your senior class in high school, when you go back to the reunion some 15 or 20 years later, maybe most likely to succeed is now homeless. Sometimes the woman with just the GED education started and leads a company, and the woman with a PhD is unemployed. Sometimes hurricanes destroy the homes of the poor and the rich. Sometimes tragedies effect the educated and the uneducated. Sometimes people in California are in a place where they are country line dancing, and a man comes in and sprays it with bullets and kills them. It's tragic.

But as the Teacher says, "As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly on them." No one is immune, because time and chance can happen to everyone, whether you're a pawn, or a rook, or a bishop, or a knight, or a queen. Life is random.

That's what the Teacher helps us to understand, but He also helps us to understand this, that death is certain. Not only is life random, but death is certain. Look at what the Teacher writes beginning in verse number two of chapter nine. "All share a common destiny. The righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices, and those who do not. As it is with the good, so it is with the sinful. As it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun. The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil, and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion." Let me pause you there for a second.

Dogs in the ancient world were not looked on fondly. Now we talk about dogs, and everybody's like, "Oh, that dog, the dog." Right? Not then. Dogs were like ... it was like they're grungy, they're representative of everything you don't want to be. When they would call you a dog, and that actually happened sometimes in the context of the Old Testament. Still true today, by the way. Don't call people dogs. But right? It wasn't a compliment.

A lion was revered. A lion was thought of as something regal, and incredible, and all of those kinds of things, and you can see the irony here, because the Teacher says, "It's better, actually, to be a live dog than a dead lion." Why? "Because for the living know that they will die." Do you see the irony in that? Because the dead know nothing.

In other words, it's better to be a live dog than a dead lion. Why? Because the lion doesn't know anything, it's dead. But you know what the live dog knows? It's going to die. That seems ironic, doesn't it? They have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. By the way, they can't even show emotion anymore. Their love, their hate, and their jealousy have long since vanished. Never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. Why? Because death is certain. Life is random, and death is certain.

So what does the Teacher recommend? Does He give us some kind of ... is there some way out of this? Is there something good for us to grab hold of? Well, the Teacher recommends what He's been recommending the whole book. He recommends a same kind of solution in chapter two, in chapter three, in chapter five, and in chapter eight, as He does in chapter nine. Here's His solution, the beginning of verse seven.

"Go. Eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white." Remember it was really hot in the ancient East. "And always anoint your head with oil." Both were signs of being joyful. "Enjoy life with your wife whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun." Pause right there.

Do you think that would be a good Valentine's card? Just a heads up. "Honey, I'm basically just burning out my meaningless days with you." Don't do that. He says, "for all your meaningless days, for this is your lot in life, and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you're going, there's neither working, nor planning, nor knowledge, nor wisdom."

Same formula, same idea that He's been telling us in chapter two, chapter three, chapter five, chapter eight, and now chapter nine. He's basically saying this, "Hey, all you got, eat stuff, drink stuff, enjoy your work, and enjoy your marriage, because that's all you got. So you better squeeze everything you can out of that, because that's it."

Now, I'll suggest this to you. There is a little bit of wisdom in what He is saying, and the little bit of wisdom is this, is that we should enjoy the life that we are in. We should enjoy the relationships that we have. We should enjoy the marriage that we have. We should enjoy at least as best we can the work that we do, because we don't know when it's all going to be gone. Fair enough, right?

But what happens is, is this descends into a kind of philosophy like it's a last meal on death row kind of idea. The last meal on death row is, "I'm going to absorb every bite, and I'm going to get everything I can out of it, and here's why. Because it's all I've got. I'm about to die. This is all I've got."

But you see, when we descend into that, we basically come into the hedonism that is described in this book of Ecclesiastes. That's what we descend into. Basically, our philosophy becomes, "If life is random and death is certain, and we don't know when any of this is going to happen, I'm just going to eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow I might die." That's our philosophy.

By the way, that's a lot of people's philosophy still today. "Eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die." Well, the Teacher helps us to see that maybe that's the conclusion that he's landed on. Maybe that's what he's suggesting. So what are we supposed to do, you and I? What are we supposed to do with the Teacher's conclusion? Are we supposed to embrace that philosophy, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die? This is all we've got, so that's what we're going to do."

Or do we just embrace the philosophy that says, "You know what? I'm just going to be depressed all the time about life, because I can't control it. I thought I was going to do this, and it was going to lead to this, and it didn't. So I'm basically just going to be depressed, because I can't control everything."

Or are you just going to get embittered with life and get embittered with God because you had an idea that if you did X, Y, and Z, then it would mean that God has to do these things, that your life has to go this way, that if you do this with your kids, then this is how they'll have to turn out. You look back on your life and you say, "You know what? That's not how everything's turned out. Everything didn't go according to my plan. I'm not able to control everything, and so as a result, I'm embittered."

You see, that's where people end up in life overall, so how do we deal with this? Do we embrace one of those philosophies? Here's what I would suggest. Maybe we need a little more revelation to shine on it.

You see, we've got more revelation than the Teacher had. The Teacher was living in an Old Testament place and time, and the Teacher wasn't living in a place and time that we're living in, where we have the fullness of the scripture, where we have the revelation of who God is in Jesus Christ, so maybe we need to shine a little more revelation on these truths that life is random, and death is certain.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to show you that truth, and then I'm going to add kind of an extra revelation that we might see into that truth, kind of looking at it from a bigger picture standpoint. So the first one, right, life is random. What would we say to that? Here's what I want to remind us of. Life is random, but God is trustworthy. Life is random, but God is trustworthy.

You see, here's the deal ladies and gentlemen. We are born into a world that is broken. It is a world that has been marred by sin from its outset, so when we come into a world, the world sometimes is stacked against us. Sometimes it feels like everybody else has three queens, and two rooks, and a few bishops, and we're just running around with pawns, and it feels like we've been outmatched, because the world is broken.

The world is not fair. The world doesn't seem to feel like it owes us anything, and so as a result, it becomes difficult for us. But here's the reminder, that into that broken world, God invaded in His grace in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came, and lived, and died, and brought with Him new creation, and brought with Him new life, and brought with Him the in breaking of the Kingdom of God among our broken kingdom.

You see, into that world, Jesus was born, and Jesus knew His share of what it looked like to feel the full weight of a random, broken, sinful world. He knew exactly what that looked like, and He felt it in huge degree. Even Jesus Himself was reminding His disciples, and by extension, reminding us that, "Hey, this world is busted."

Do you remember what He said in John, Chapter 16, Verse 33? Jesus said, "I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." You see, Jesus was making it clear to us that in the world that we live in, there is going to be trouble.

But here's the beauty, is that the fullness of the revelation that we have not only teaches us that life is random, but teaches us that God is trustworthy. The reason God is so trustworthy, ladies and gentlemen, is in part because God is sovereign, God is faithful, and God is good. Because of those things, God can be trusted. He's sovereign. That means He's in control of everything. He's faithful, and he's good.

In fact, He showed it to us. God showed us His sovereignty in sending Jesus. Listen to this. The bible says He sent Jesus at exactly the right time. Why? Because it's all in front of God beginning to end. Everything is in front of God. He sees it all, and he knows exactly when He is entering into time and space, even if it's difficult for us to comprehend, and at exactly the right, perfect time, He entered in, because God is sovereign.

But as Jesus lived, born of a virgin, and went to a cross and died to pay for our sins, here's what happened. The faithful God resurrected Jesus from the dead. He resurrected Jesus from the dead. Why? Because He's faithful. Do you know how God has demonstrated His goodness to us?

That through Jesus' faithful death and resurrection, and God's faithfulness to His son, we can now be reconciled to the Father, that even though we were broken, and sinful, and messed up, and God is holy, and perfect, and sovereign, and good, that we can be reconciled to the Father because of what perfect Jesus has done on our part, and that by faith in Him, now we have relationship with God. God is demonstrating His grace and goodness to us.

And oh, by the way. In this life that we lead that is so random, and messed up, and we don't know what's going to happen to us some days to the next day, God will take every one of those experiences and he will utilize them for His glory and for our good.

In fact, that's what Paul The Apostle writes in Romans, Chapter 8. He says, "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." You see, the reason that we can trust God so intimately is because while life is random, God is trustworthy. Do you know what that means about your life? Listen to this. It means your life matters. It means God has, listen, God has imbued your life with meaning, and purpose, and it matters. The choices that you make matter.

This isn't a scenario where you just go, "You know what? I'm just going to eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow I might die, and so it doesn't really matter what you do. It doesn't really no big effect. Why? Because life is random, and death is certain, and whatever." No, your life actually matters. Your choices actually matter, because while life is random, listen to this, God is trustworthy, and when we trust Him, and people see our life choices, it begins to change how they view the world.

I couldn't help, but I know all of our campuses saw the baptism videos that we were looking at here. I couldn't help but see this husband and wife, and she was talking about her confidence in God, and her faith in God, even as she walked through experiencing a medical issue, and how that impacted the husband's life in saying, "I want some of that. I want some of that."

You see, that's why our lives matter. That's why. No matter what happens to us, because listen, godly people can get sick. Godly people can get sick, and the world needs to see how godly people ... The world not only needs to see how godly people live, they need to see how godly people die. They need to see that, as opposed to that crazy theology that says, "If you just have enough faith, you'll never be sick, and you'll never ..." What? That's insanity.

The world needs to see. Listen, the world needs to see godly people and how we live, and the world needs to see godly people and how we suffer, and how we die, because they are going to want some of that. Because they're going to walk down that road someday. See, even when we work, it matters, because our life has been transformed, and it's not just some random thing that where we're doing like it's no meaning.

The Teacher was basically saying this about work in Ecclesiastes 9, Verse number 10. "Whatever your hand finds to do," remember that phrase, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you're going, there's neither working, nor planning, nor knowledge, nor wisdom."

He's basically saying this, "Just enjoy whatever you're doing, because when you're dead, you can't work. So you better just enjoy working, because then you're going to die, and you can't work." Most people look at that and go, "Wow, that's hopeful." Right?

But do you know the Apostle Paul actually took the words of the Teacher and helped us to see the deep meaning there? Look at what Paul said in Galatians Chapter 3. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

See, this is bigger now. Your life takes on bigger meaning. It's not just about punching in, punching out, punching in, punching out, and then you die. That's not it. It's bigger than that, because you now serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and you can be an ambassador. You can be a representative of His in the place where you are serving, and where you are working.

Paul said it this way in 1st Corinthians 15. He said, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm, and let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." What is he saying? It matters. What you do has meaning. It has purpose. It matters.

See, life is random, but God is trustworthy. But let me take the second part of what I told you earlier. Death is certain. That's true. But when we shine the light of greater revelation on this here's what we find out, death is certain but it isn't final. Death is certain, but it isn't final. You see, here's the problem. We can sometimes drift into the mindset of, life is random, death is certain, so I'm just gonna eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow I might die. Well, I should remind you that God, through the prophet Isiah, actually warned the Jewish people about that kind of mindset. In fact, about that exact kind of mindset. Because the Jewish people instead of just partying away and doing their thing, they actually should have come to a place of repentance, and left their sin and come and turn to God who wanted to give them life and give them hope. That's not what they were doing.

In fact, listen to what Isiah says in Isiah chapter 22. "The lord, the lord almighty called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and to put on sack cloth." In other words, to repent. "But see, there is joy in revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drink of wine. Let us eat and drink, you say? For tomorrow, we die."

God actually said this is not the kind of way that you are supposed to view life. It is not the way that you view life of, let's eat and drink for tomorrow we die. You see, death is certain but death isn't final. You see, Jesus made sure that we understood that. When one of Jesus's friends, Lazarus, died Jesus immediately went there to Bethany and he talked with Mary and Martha, and they were all beside themselves because Lazarus was dead and Jesus was like, "Hey, it's okay. It's okay. I've got this. Death, I got a little something here." That's actually what the Greek language said, "It was death, I got a little something here," is what it says in the Greek.

Listen to what Jesus said he was talking to Martha. John chapter 11, Jesus said to her, "I'm the resurrection and the light. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die." In other words, never permanently die. Do you believe this? You see, this is the question that we have to understand, is that even though death is certain, death isn't final. That there is more beyond just the life that we see. And while we know that the statistics are still the same, one out of every one dies. There's still ... They've always been the same. One out of every one dies. But death is certain, but it isn't final. Because what Jesus has promised us through his own resurrection, since he is the resurrection and the life, is that even though we might die those of us who have put our faith in him, we will yet live again. We ourselves will be resurrected like Jesus.

Listen to what he said in First Corinthians 15. Paul wrote, "But Christ is indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn, Christ, the first fruits, then when he comes those who belong to him."

You see, the reminder is, is that we all, by faith in Jesus Christ, are not going to finish with death but we are going to be raised, ultimately, to life. But here's the thing, if Jesus hasn't been raised from the dead, do you know what your philosophy should be? Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die. If Jesus hasn't risen from the dead, why not because life is random and death is certain. And if we don't have hope after this life, through what Jesus has done in conquering death, then I think my philosophy would be exactly the same, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Do you know the apostle Paul actually said the very same thing? He understood this perfectly. Listen to what he said in First Corinthians 15. He said, "And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day. Yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus, our lord. If I fought with wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have a gained? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Paul was making the exact same point. But you see, listen, for those of us that have put our faith in Christ, we realize that even though death is certain, it's not final. And we have a different view of how we have a philosophy of life.

I love how James J Adams said it. He said it this way, "The Christian doesn't eat, drink and become merry because tomorrow he dies. He eats, drinks and is merry because tomorrow he lives." You see, this is a very different way of looking at life now, that we can embrace life, that we can embrace work, that we can embrace relationships. Why, because God is using that in our lives and using us as a vessel of transformation in the lives of other people, because our lives actually matter. Death is certain, but it's not final, because there's a sobering truth that I want you to see that the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews chapter nine.

He says, "Just as people are destined," do you remember what the teacher wrote, "There's a common destiny for us all." Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

You see, at the end of the day, we have a choice to make and the choice that we have to make is this, am I going to live my life in such a way that I'm just gonna embrace an eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die kind of mindset? Because you've thought to yourself, "Life is random and death is certain," but here's what you've missed. Life is random, but the one who created it all is going to make all things new, and he has a purpose in the midst of this brokenness that he wants to use people for. And yes, death is certain but death isn't final. Because even though we all die, there's more judgment. That's what the scripture says. It's appointed unto all to die once, and after that, the judgment.

We have to give an account for our lives, and that account is not going to be, "Hey, man, did you vote?" "Hey, did you walk some elderly people across the street?" "Hey, did you pay your taxes most of the time?" "Hey, did you join any social clubs?" It's not gonna be any of that. What did you do with Jesus? Did you trample underfoot the God of ... the blood of God's son and treat it as a common thing? Or, did you respond by realizing that only in Jesus is there a way, truth and life, and that it is the only way that we can come to the father.

Maybe you're here and you're brand new to church and faith, and you came here because you came to see somebody baptized today, maybe for the first time. Or, maybe you came because somebody drug you here. Maybe you came because your parole officer said you had to. Hey, whatever that looks like. I'm just glad that you came, doesn't matter. I'm glad. But listen, if you've been embracing a philosophy that just says, "You know what, I'm just trying to squeeze everything I can out of life so that I can somehow," listen, "So that I can somehow temporarily make myself happy all the days of this meaningless life."

I'm here to let you know that your life actually has greater meaning than you ever thought, and that meaning is actually found in life in Christ, the one who gave it to us, the one who made us for living a different way. Jesus said, "I've come to give life and life to the full." And he himself said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He didn't say I'm a life, and you can choose whatever life you want. He said, "I am the life." In other words, life itself is all tied up in me. Because in my very essence, "I am life. Everything else that you choose outside of me is really just a parody of real life, because I am life itself. I am the resurrection and the life. And by the way, if you choose outside of me, let's see how good you get at conquering death."

You see, this is the hope that you have. But for some of us, maybe we're on the younger side, some of you are middle school, high school, college, young adults and you've just thought, "You know what, I'm just gonna get what I can get while I can get it." Maybe you need to rethink the philosophy that you have. Maybe some of us who've been following Jesus for some time, maybe we need to pause for just a second and ask this question, has the narrative of the world really taken over our mind and our heart? Has the world that has said to us, "Just get everything that you can get, and do everything for yourself," and so, we bought into that.

And so, now we're still good people. We check into church, and we come and do our thing, and we'll give Jesus a tip every now and then in the bucket, and we'll do all that stuff. And, "Hey, I'm here. It's cool. Man, this Jerry. Yeah, that was cool, man. That was great. It's awesome," but you're not conforming your life to Jesus. You're not selling out to say, "I'm willing to follow you in everything." But really, all of your plans for your future have to do with, "Yeah, I'm just trying to work the rest of my time so I can retire and go sip pina coladas on the beach, and do my thing, and that's just all I'm gonna ... I just can't wait to get out of here." And so, everything is really just all about you. And I'm not putting a guilt trip, people move. That happens. That's not ... But it's all about you, instead of all about how God wants to your life for the sake of the kingdom. You're not serving him anywhere. You're not leveraging your life for the sake of his kingdom. It's because, maybe, you've bought into a bad philosophy.

Life is random, but God is trustworthy. Death is certain, but death isn't final. So, what are you gonna do? What choice are you gonna make?

More From This Series


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Sep 30, 2018


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Oct 7, 2018


Pastor Deone Drake Part 3 - Oct 21, 2018

The Frustration of Time

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Oct 28, 2018


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 5 - Nov 4, 2018
Watching Now

Life and Death

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 6 - Nov 11, 2018

The Conclusion of the Matter

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 7 - Nov 18, 2018

Worship Set List




Found In You

Vertical Church Band


Great is Thy Faithfulness (Beginning to End)

One Sonic Society


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