The Conclusion of the Matter
Stop Chasing the WindPastor Jerry Gillis - November 18, 2018
Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- The whole book of Ecclesiastes has been about the pursuit of finding meaning in life. Now interact with this statement: meaning is found in loving obedience to God. What does this mean? Why must we add the word “loving” to that statement? In other words, why shouldn’t “obedience” just stand on its own in that statement?
- Read 1 John 4:16-17. What gives us confidence for the eventual day of judgment? Is this dependent on what we can do for God or what God has done for us in Jesus? Explain your answer.
- As we have now tracked through the entire book of Ecclesiastes, what is one thing from this sermon series that will stick with you?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday’s message?
So growing up in my house with two boys, Edie and I parenting two sons, we're boy parents, right? We know. People say to me, I'm trying to figure out what to do with my girl. I'm like, ask someone else, I don't know. I'm a boy, dad, and I can't help you there. I'm kidding. Maybe some things principally, but ultimately we had some stuff growing up with them where we would do what we call the family night once a week and we would carve out an evening and we would teach our kids certain things about the scripture and we would dress up. I would have to dress up as goofy things all the time. The kids get to pick different stuff. It was a ton of fun. But as they got older, particularly when they got into their later high school years, I ended up doing something very specific with each of them, kind of a, a dad and a son thing.
And so with my older son who's 21 now, this would have been about four or five years ago. And then with my younger son who's 18, this would have been about a year ago that we did this. We would go off individually with them. So Trace, when that time came around and we went and uh, and spent some time in a big city, a different from ours and we hung out, we were going to go see stuff and we're going to have fun and go eat. Maybe hit some fun places and all of that. But the point of the trip, the point of the trip was for some intentional discipleship in the lives of my sons where I would sit with them in a hotel room for hours with an open Bible. They had some work that they had to do before that time and they had some work that they had to do while we were in that time. But we sat together with the word of God and talked about what it looked like to love and follow Jesus.
And so with my younger guy about a year ago, we spent time in the hotel room and we talked about what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. We primarily were spending time in what the great commission teaches us and kind of that idea of what a disciple does and how a disciple lives. And the choices a disciple of Jesus makes and we spent about three and a half to four hours just doing that. And then we had fun and we goofed around and all that stuff and we talked the whole time. So we did that, but when I took my older son, this would have been about four or five years ago and we went off to another city and did our thing and, and I spent the time with him three, four hours in Proverbs chapter number three.
And the reason that I spent my time in there is because it had a broad swath of things about life. Just wisdom for life in general. Everything from having a relationship with God to how you handle your money, to how you walk in humility, to all of these things that are covered in Proverbs chapter three. But the primary reason I chose Proverbs chapter three for him was because of the way it was framed. And here's how it was framed. It was framed from a father to a son. That's how. That's how Proverbs chapter three is framed. He's talking to a son about what he should be and what he should do and what wisdom looks like.
You see, part of the reason that I did that is because I was starting to get tired in the culture that I was living in, I was starting to get tired as a parent of always having to play defense. Any parents or grandparents know what I'm talking about? You're always playing defense, right? It's always about like, oh, I got to keep them from this. Oh, I got to keep him from this, or I got to make sure that they don't do this. That's what life feels like and by the way, that's a part of what we have to do as parents or as grandparents or siblings helping one another out. We have to do that. That is a part of our call is to play defense. But I got tired of only playing defense. I wanted to play offense. I wanted to say no, no. Instead of saying, here's what all we can do, I don't want you to do this. This is what I want to give You a vision of, of what it looks like to live for Jesus, in this world, what it looks like to actually live for him, to make choices in that direction and to start playing offense.
Now, the world that we live in looks at us with a side eye when we we take our sons and, and we go off and we spend hours with an open Bible in a hotel room talking about what it means to follow after Jesus Christ. They kind of look at us maybe with a side eye like I don't really think that's a good idea. I don't really like the fact that you're teaching your kids to pray and to serve Jesus and to walk with Jesus because here's what they'll say, because they should be able to make up their... own minds.
You see? Here's the problem with that. There's something inherently I understand about that idea, let them make up their own minds. You know, I get it. We don't want to manipulate. We don't want to force, right? Nobody's trying to do that. We don't want them to have a non genuine faith, right? I'm not looking for my sons to have just a borrowed faith from me and from my wife. I want them to own their faith. I want them to learn to walk with God. I want them to make decisions consistent with the will of God and to own it for themselves. But let's not pretend that when we say you just let your kids, you know even when they're little, you've got to just let them make up their own minds for what they want to do. Really, are you serious? Because at the end of the day, what you're saying is this. You're saying that the truth of who God is in Jesus Christ is maybe your truth, but that their truth could be something different than that. That really whatever religion they chose or whatever direction they wanted to go, it doesn't really matter.
You're basically saying that everything's equal. Just do what you want to do. That is a really weird vision of reality. That's a really weird vision of reality and meaning. You don't let your kids do that. You don't even inherently let your kids do that. Your kid who small goes under the kitchen sink and wants to drink Clorox. You're going to not just go let them make up their mind, do what they want, right? We don't just let them decide to run into oncoming traffic. You know why we don't let them do those things is because we have a really clear vision of what reality is and what the costs of some of those realities are.
You see, when we get to a place where we are defining in our kids' lives, we are basically defining what we believe reality and truth and meaning are. This is why we're called to make disciples, right? Jesus didn't say hey, just let everybody make up their own minds. I'm not talking about force, but he's saying, make disciples. In other words, tell people the truth about reality. Tell people the truth about who I am. Tell people the truth about what life is really like in Christ because this is true reality. Jesus either is or is not the way, the truth and the life he is or he isn't. This is either the truest of true realities or it's nothing. He was nuts. It was crazy, right?That's what we have to start to decide. Because this whole kind of idea helps us to realize that, that what we, what we say to our kids and what we say to our grandchildren, it actually gives away what we believe ultimate reality and ultimate meaning are.
So in other words, I've heard this said many, many times over by, by parents and by grandparents. All I want for my kids, all I want for my kids is just for them to be happy. Come on. That's all you want? That's all you want is for them to be happy? As if you've just given away that you think that true reality, ultimate reality is defined by being happy. That's not what ultimate reality is. By the way, I'd rather be happy than unhappy. I'm not suggesting that, but it depends on what you find yourself happy in. Are they temporary things that will not lead to ultimate meaning and ultimate reality because your happiness is going to be short lived. Or maybe I've heard this from parents and grandparents. All I want is for my kids to follow their dreams, okay? I mean, you do know that dreams are nightmares, right? You do know that, right? What happens if their dream is a self absorbed, self absorbed, godless dream? Is all you want that for them? Is that what you want?
But see when we tell them these things, we're giving away what we believe is ultimate reality. We're giving away what we believe to be ultimate meaning. You see what we've got to get to a place where we start matching up what we say to our kids and our grandkids and what we actually believe about ultimate meaning and reality. See, this is the challenge of Ecclesiastes. This is why we've been studying this book is because this book is actually asking the question, where do we find meaning? What is true reality? And the teacher in this book that we've been studying, and we'll finish up today, he's tried to find it in so many different things. He's trying to find it in being super smart and knowledgeable more than anybody, right? He's tried to find it in relationships. Maybe he can just be involved sexually and he can find like lasting meaning there.
He's tried to find it in pleasures, whether whatever that might be, what he could lay his eyes on, what he could put in his body and it didn't land in any of those places. He's tried to find it in work. He's trying to find it in the seasons and times of the year. He's tried to find it in life overall. He's tried to find it in death. He's tried to find it in riches. He's trying to find it in all of these things and he keeps coming back to the same place. He says, it's like chasing the wind. It's like chasing the wind. And so I keep saying it's meaningless like I can't find, I can't understand it. I can't make sense of it. All. I can't really put all of this together. That's where the teacher keeps coming back and then when we get to the end of Ecclesiastes in chapter 11 and chapter 12, he actually adds one more into that, with knowledge and with pleasures and with success and with work and with all of those things, right? He adds one more, age.
Maybe I can find meaning in age or in youth. Man, is this really, really, really relevant for us today? Because everybody feels like age is such a bad thing because everything is geared at those who are younger. Life is for the younger. Everything that you do it from a marketing perspective, except for all those people that are selling all that medication, everything from a marketing perspective is all about you got to look younger. You got to act younger. You know, you got to feel younger, you got to do all that stuff, right. I mean, our kids are bombarded every second of their life on social media, on the Internet, on television, at the movies. They're the ones that are being sold to, right? Because youth is everything, right? You want to be a pop star. Can't be an old one, right? It just doesn't work good. No matter what Cher will tell you, it just doesn't work good, right? When you're in your 70s, stop doing that. Stop it. Oh somebody tell Cher. She's not listening to me. I can promise you that, right? She can be like, hey, keep your opinions to yourself and I'll be like, you're probably right, but stop it anyway,
So notice what he says about age. Ecclesiastes chapter 11, verse number seven and following. He says, light is sweet and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all, but let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. You who are young, be happy while you're young. Let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things, God will bring you into judgment, so then banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, I find no pleasure in them. You see, here's what the teacher says. The teachers basically saying, hey, getting old, he calls them the days of trouble. Some of you right now in your hearts are going, Amen. Preach the truth. I hear you loud and clear. Right? Some of you are realizing, and it doesn't matter where you are in that spectrum because sometimes in your 30s, you get out of bed and you're like, I do not feel like I felt when I was 25, I cannot do the same things. You know, some of you who are now 70 are going shut up. Shut your face. I don't want to hear your little my back hurts a little bit. I don't want to hear it right. It's all kind of relative to us, isn't it?
And so he starts basically saying, enjoy all you can while you're young. Now, you got to remember that you're going to be judged for that, but to enjoy all you can while you're young because the only time you're gonna be able to enjoy it. He even talks about enjoy God while you're young because when the days of trouble come, it's not going to be so good. And then he starts in chapter 12, he starts unpacking this with a series of different kinds of metaphors or personification. It's kind of unique how they do this in ancient literature. So I'm going to give you a kind of a running commentary of what's being said here because when you read it initially, you might go, I'm not sure exactly what he's saying, but once you start to see it, then you see it, right? He starts giving you these pictures.
Notice what he says, talking about old age, he says, you got to do all these things before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark. In other words, he's talking about age as being something that there is a dimming effect on your life. And he says, or or when the clouds return after the rain, can you think about this? Because what happens sometimes as we age, as we get older and as we experience being old, it feels like a storm has come and we're like, oh, the storms come and now the storm is gone and now there's more clouds. Here comes another one. Do you know how difficult that is psychologically? Because you keep dealing with the same reality over and over that this is, these are days of trouble. This is like a storm.
Then he goes on to talk about a house now in different picture when the keepers of the house tremble and the strong men stoop and when the grinders cease, because there are few, leave it right here. When the keepers of the house tremble, he's actually now giving us pictures of what happens in old age and he's talking about keepers of the house and strong men and grinders and he's talking about, you know what happens when we get older. Sometimes we start to shake and the strong men stoop. What happens? Our backs start to slump. And the grinders cease because they are few. Just by the way, dentistry, not a big thing back in these days, right? You got old, you lost your teeth, your grinders become few, right? That's what happens.
And then what he goes on to say, and those looking through the windows, grow dim. In other words, he was talking now about who would be what they would call the mistress of the house, kind of the owner of the house and she's looking through the windows, but it's growing dim. In other words, her eyesight is starting to be diminished. See, this was the picture. It didn't matter whether you were the owner of the house or whether you're a worker in the field. Everybody has to experience old age. You don't get a pass just because you're wealthy or smart or educated or anything. Everybody has to experience it.
Then he says, he changes it to outside of the house. When the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades. Now he's talking about being diminished in hearing. When people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint. You know, this restlessness and sleep is also something that happens to the aged, right? The sound of a bird like you're up, right? How'd you sleep last night? Two hours. How'd you sleep? Better than that, right? That's what happens a lot. And then it says, "When people are afraid of heights and of danger's in the streets", this is just physical diminishment, right? When you get old, you don't climb mountains as much anymore. You don't take those kinds of chances anymore. Because you don't have the same physical skills. You are physically diminished. Then it says, "when the almond tree blossoms", do you know what color the almond trees are when they blossom? White, like gray hair. Like gray hair, like this gray hair right here, right? When the almond tree blossoms, talking about gray hair to the age. "When the grasshopper drags itself along", what are grasshoppers known for? Spring in their step. Now when you're old, you don't have any. That's what he's saying.
Welcome to Church. All of you who are older are going, "Thank you for the encouraging word. This is such a blessing to me." I'm just teaching you the truth here, right? Then he says, "and desire no longer is stirred." Why don't you ponder that, take a quick sip of water. You know what that means. If you don't, phone a friend. Then it says, "then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the street." So he gives this incredible description about what the aged look like, right? He talks about the youth and then he talks about the aged in this and then notice what he says in verse number six.
"Remember Him, before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken." Now here's what you have to understand, in the ancient world, oftentimes what they would have is they would have a cord that was holding up a bowl that had in it a light. Candle, oil, but if that cord was severed, then that bowl breaks and so what happens when the cord is severed and the bowl breaks? No light. That's the picture of age. No light. Then he talks about this, "Also before the picture is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well." Heres the pitcher, right, that you've got this pulley system for the well where you would get water, but you sever the pulley and then what happens to the pitcher? It falls and it shatters. So no water. Now he's basically describing two elements of life. Light and Water, and he's saying this is what old age is and what it leads to ultimately in death.
Then in verse seven he says, "and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it." Now he's basically calling to our attention what we read about in Genesis chapter two, right? Where it says, "The Lord, God, formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." So what he's now talking about is that what old age is like, it's like a reversal of creation. It's like a reversal of creation, now to the dust you go, ultimately. Then kind of as the teacher would say it, he kind of thinks, "Well, that's it."
So, that's the description in those first seven verses about what aging is like, and he's trying to find out if there's any meaning in that. Is there significantly more meaning and is there more life and is there more everything in youth as opposed to age or age as opposed to youth, and he's trying to figure all of this out, and I bet you can guess what his conclusion is. It's the same as it is for everything else. In fact, when we get to verse number eight, there's a change that happens in this book. Because in verse number eight, the narrator, who we haven't seen since the opening of the book, he shows back up. Notice what you see in verse number eight. "Meaningless, Meaningless, says the teacher." In other words the teacher is not writing first person any longer. Now the narrator is telling you "Meaningless, meaningless says the teacher. Everything is meaningless."
Now the reason that's there is because what this does, is it signifies the end of when the teacher was gonna start talking for himself about what he was searching out and trying to find. Scholars would call the beginning of Ecclesiastes and the end of Ecclesiastes, an inclusio. Here's how we would say it, a bookend. So what we have in verse number eight, where he says, "meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless, says the teacher." Is the same thing we found in verse number two of chapter one. Meaningless, meaningless, says the teacher. Utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless. That's from the first chapter. So from the very first to the very end, he's captioning this and saying let me bookend it for you. The teacher's conclusion on life, after trying everything he can try, is that it's meaningless. He cannot find the meaning in it, it is enigmatic. He cannot figure it out.
So, the narrator goes on to now comment on the teacher. Notice what the narrator says in verse number nine and ten, "Not only was the teacher wise", by the way when you see that, "not only was the teacher wise", he's talking about what he does for a living. He is a wisdom teacher. "Not only was the teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered, and searched out, and set in order, many proverbs. The teacher searched to find just the right words and what he wrote was upright and true." Here's the bottom line. The narrator is now commenting on the teacher and he shows him his just respect, he says he's a wisdom teacher, that's what he does. That's kind of his job, but he's a searcher. What he does is he searches, and in that searching, here's what I can report. I can say that he honestly reported and he honestly observed and he did that in a true fashion. He's not saying that his conclusions are all true. He's saying that he actually did what he did in a true fashion. He tried all of this. He observed all of this. He documented all of this. And what was his conclusion? That it was all meaningless.
So then what does he go on to say in verse eleven and twelve? Here's where we get to the core of it. He says, "The words of the wise are like goads. They're collected sayings like firmly embedded nails." This is a complex statement that I don't really fully know the meaning of, but here's what I do know. That goads and nails, when they're applied, they both sting. The picture here is that wisdom teaching actually is intended to sting us a bit. It puts us face to face with all of the things that make us have to deal with life and reality, right? He says "they're given by one shepherd." I don't think that that's actually talking about God in there. That's why it's not capitalized here. It is in some of your translations, but I think that's talking about the wisdom writer, or teacher, predominantly.
Listen to this, "Be warned, my" what? "Be warned, my" what? Now we know who the narrator was actually trying to teach. He was actually setting out to teach his son, whether that was his biological son or whether that was his disciple, so to speak, it could have been either one. He's actually setting out to teach his son, but what he says is, "Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them." In other words, heres what he's saying. You better be careful about the conclusions that the teacher came to in saying that everything is meaningless after he sought it out. I'm warning you. You see, for the narrator of this, who is teaching his son what truth is all about, there is nothing in his mind about, "Hey buddy, make up your own mind." He's not even remotely coming close to that.
He's basically saying, I want you to see all of this. Look at this guy who had everything at his disposal. He had time, he had money, he had resources, he had women, he had all of this stuff at his disposal, and he tried everything he could try and here's where he came up. Nothing. Nothing. He says I want to warn you of that, because of making many books, there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now before those of you who are in high school and college are going "Amen. Keep preaching.", what he's talking about here is this. Everybody's got a take on what life is all about. Everybody's got a take on what meaning is all about. Go to Barnes and Noble. Get on Amazon and just go see how many people are commenting on what life is all about and how you can go find it. Heres what he's warning his son about. Stop wasting all of your energy. Stop exhausting yourself in places that are never going to lead to ultimate reality and ultimate truth.
It's a good word for us today. Because sometimes we spin ourselves up in a bunch of things that will end up leading us to the wrong place. So what does the narrator do? Well, he summarizes what he wants his son to believe. Heres what he says in verse 13, "Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of that matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind." Here's what he says, now that we've heard it all, now that you've seen somebody who's tried everything that there is to try, and they've come up empty. Let me summarize it for you son. Fear God, keep His commandments. Fear God, keep His commandments. You see, I wonder how many people can look at our lives as followers of Jesus, as followers of God, and actually believe that we fear God. By that I mean a reverential awe for who God is. Because for many of us, it depends. We come to church. Listen, we'll come to gather and to worship this God that we say we fear, only if we don't have something else competing for that allegiance or loyalty, that we like better.
I don't know how many people will look at that and go, "Hmm, man they really reverence God. They really fear God. They really desire to worship God." Maybe they don't look at us that way. Maybe we're all talk when it comes to that, but when people look at our lives, they don't really see people who actually fear God. The proverb writer says that the fear of God is actually the beginning of wisdom. Like if you wanna even start, if you wanna just get started in the realm of wisdom, do you know how it's gonna have to start? That we fear God. That we reverence God. That God is everything to us. That's how we even start down the pathway of wisdom. I wonder if that's what the world sees in our hearts, sees in our lives? Or if it's just for mostly what they see is they just see somebody who can talk a good game, but they don't really get serious about what it means to worship God and to serve God and to obey God. I don't know. I'm just asking.
Fear God, he says, and you say that's kind of an Old Testament statement. I'm not sure that that applies now. Really? Because when everything is getting finalized and the consummation of history is happening as we see in the book of Revelations, I wanna show you something that one of the angels does in Revelation chapter 14. I saw an angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth, to every nation, tribe, language and people. Here's what he said, in a loud voice, "Fear God and give Him glory. Because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water." You see, it's just as important at the end as it is at the beginning. That we are to be a people who fear God. But see, when the narrator is talking about fearing God, he's not just leaving it alone there. He's talking about having a reverential awe of God that leads to obedience. It leads to us being a people who actually do what God says. That's why he says, "Fear God and keep His commandments."
Do you remember how Jesus said it? He said it this way in John chapter 14, Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me, will" what? Stay with me, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and We will come to them and make Our home with them. Anyone who doesn't love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who send me." Heres the thing, ladies and gentlemen, that I want you not to miss. That when we fear God, what comes of that, when we are standing in awe of who God is, we obey him. Why? Because we believe He defines ultimate reality. We believe He defines ultimate meaning, that He really is, in Jesus Christ, demonstrating to us the way, the truth, and the life. This is why. This is why. We choose to obey Him, and when we choose not to obey Him, then we're demonstrating that we don't actually love Him. We don't actually fear Him.
You know John, who wrote that that we just read a moment ago, he got old. Which was maybe more, he got older in fact than most of the other apostles, because most of the other apostles ended up dying a martyr's death. John is one of the very few of the apostles of Jesus who actually lived, way, way, way, way, way, way into his older years. He got excommunicated and kind of cast off to the Isle of Patmos and all those things. So it wasn't super easy for him, but he lived. Do you know, when he got older, he didn't get despairing and depressed and say, "Man, being old stinks. These are the days of trouble and darkness." He didn't love Jesus less. He loved Him more. Do you know what he wrote? He saw things more clearly even as an older person. Notice what he said about the idea of obedience in 1 John 2, he said, "Whoever says I know Him", talking about knowing God, "but doesn't do what He commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them." This is how we know we are in Him.
Whoever claims to live in Him, must live as Jesus did. Now you're going, "Wait a minute. We're supposed to live as Jesus did, how did Jesus live?" Obediently. That's what Philippians 2 tells us, right? Listen to what Paul wrote, "And Jesus, being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross." Ultimately here's how Jesus lived His life. In full obedience to the Father and why? Because He knew what ultimate reality was. That's why. Because the Father can be trusted. Because in the Father comes all of our meaning. In the Father becomes all of our purpose. In the Father becomes ultimately all of reality. It's focused in there and Jesus was obedient even to death on the cross. That's why the narrator says to his son, here's the whole thing. I'm gonna sum up life for ya. Fear God, obey His commandments. Fear God, do what He says. This is a summary of what life is actually supposed to look like.
Now why does he say that? Because of what he puts in the last verse. "For God will bring every deed into judgment. Including every hidden thing. Whether it is good or evil." You see that's an idea sometimes that we pass off as kind of passe, we're like, "Oh we're talking about the judgment and all that stuff and those Old Testament ..." No, no, no. Jesus made it very clear in the Gospel of Matthew. He said, "The queen of the south will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it. For she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom and now something greater than Solomon is here." You see, Jesus was helping people to understand that, in their rejection of Him, they were rejecting the one who ultimately was going to judge everyone. Then notice what the book of Romans tells us in chapter two. This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets, through Jesus Christ. Isn't that what the narrator said? Every hidden thing? He'll judge their secrets through Jesus Christ and then 1 Corinthians, chapter five, Paul says, "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." Since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord. We try to persuade others.
See, Paul's not having it. He's not having, just let all these kids, let them make up their minds. Let them just choose what they want. Because to say that is to say that all truth is the same. Your truth, hey who am I to say that your truth is not true? This is the world that we live in. Everybody even uses these terms. It's about my truth. You don't own the truth. The truth is bigger than you! The truth exists outside of you. You don't define it, it defines you. When did we become the people who define what truth is? Truth is, whether you affirm it or deny it, truth is truth. God is God. This is reality. Well who are you to say that, Jerry? I'm nobody to say it, God did! So we have to come to a place where we begin to understand this whole make up your mind about stuff is granting equality to all things, and that's simply not true. Either Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father through him or not. It's either true or it's not true. Notice what we also see about judgment in 1st John 4 and so we know and rely on the love God has for us, John says. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them, and this is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment. In this world we are like Jesus. You see when we surrender ourselves to Jesus it's his life now living in us and do you know ... listen to this, do you know what the impulse of the life of Jesus in us is? Obedience to the Father. That's what he did, he obeyed the Father. And so the impulse of the life of Jesus in us is to obey the Father at every turn, for everything, at every course this is what we're doing.
So I can I summarize Ecclesiastes for us, the whole book in one short simple sentence? Here it is. Meaning in life is found in loving obedience to God. There you have Ecclesiastes. Meaning in life is found in loving obedience to God. Now the narrator does it in an interesting way, he basically lets this teacher talk all of this talk for the whole book about how many places he's searched, what he's tried to find and how he's come up empty. And then he ends the book by going, hey son, don't do that. Hey daughter, don't do that. Don't exhaust yourself in all the places that will never, never give you lasting satisfaction don't do it. You see God can be trusted that's what we learn.
Jesus trusted him, Jesus trusted the Father and now Jesus' life in us gives us the impulse of trusting the Father. And that's why when we come to a place like this at the end of this I think one of the best things that we can do is to remember and recognize all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ, because in doing so we're reminded that we too can and should obey him. And do you know how we can do that? In a picture, in a living picture that Jesus actually gave to us called communion. And so, I'm going to ask our ushers to go ahead and grab the elements of the Lord's supper and we're going to participate in that as we close our time together. Once you have those elements in hand folks you can come on and take your places and we're going to hand this out in just a moment.
Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. I'm going to ask you once we start to hand them out ... and I'll give instruction to do that in just a minute when these guys all get ready in this room and in the East Worship Center. Once we start handing them out I'm going to ask you to just have them there and to reflect not only on your thankfulness to what God has done in Jesus Christ because he has made a way that even though we were sinners Christ still came and died in our place, shed his blood, died and rose from the dead, so that the judgment that was due us he actually paid on our behalf. That if we now would turn our attention and our faith to what God has done in Jesus we could be set free, made new and be new creations like so many people that are under the sound of my voice right now, like so many people that you've seen go through the waters of baptism, like so many people who have recently come to faith in Jesus Christ in our congregation.
This is what it amounts to. It is by grace we are saved through faith it's not of ourselves it's the gift of God. It's not of works and lest any of us should boast. And so, this is why we want to reflect on this because this is the most important thing to us, because it's in Jesus that life actually has meaning. It's in Jesus that we find true reality because he is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him.
So, as folks are passing these elements out ... go ahead. As these are being passed out here's what I want you to. I want you to hold onto it because we're going to partake of them all in just a moment together, but in just a moment as you take time to just reflect on the goodness of Jesus to you, in just a moment we're going to sing something together as some of the elements get passed out, as kind of an affirmation maybe a response to what we have been hearing and what we have heard. A response of obedience, so we'll do that in just a minute.
I'm going to ask you to take the bread, and I want us to be reminded that in a moment as we receive these elements that we can even be reminded that his sacrifice on our behalf is worthy of our obedience. Sometimes I'm challenged in my own heart as even right now as we were just singing that a moment ago, I don't want to be a liar when I sing. I don't want to be a liar to say I'm willing to surrender all and not. I want to tell the truth even when I sing, and I sometimes am challenged in my own heart to ask this question. Is my obedience a reflection of the worth of his sacrifice? Does my obedience actually demonstrate to the world how much I value what God has done for me in Christ?
Father we want to be truth tellers when we speak and when we sing and even when we fail to do so perfectly, and we all have, we do want our hearts to surrender to you in every way. Because just as you surrendered to the will of the Father, even though it looked difficult and tragic at the moment it was for the world the greatest victory that the world has ever seen or will ever know. So may we always trust you Father, just as Jesus did when he laid himself down for us.
All rights I receive from the Lord what I also passed onto you that the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
If you'd open the cup, Father we're reminded when we see this picture that pictures the blood of the Lord Jesus that without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness of sins. That we saw this example in the Old Testament with animals, but that it is the Passover lamb the Lord Jesus who is able to save us from sin, save us from ourselves, and we thank you for that. We're reminded that your obedience led to death even death on a cross but that your father honored that obedience in raising you from the dead.
So may we be a people of hearts who will passionately pursue obedience to you in every areae of our lives. As parents, as sons or daughters, as employers or employees, as family members or friends, as stewards over what you've entrusted to us that we would lay all of our life on an altar and say whatever you want, however you want it, whenever you want it we're yours because we know that lives of true obedience honor the worth of what you have done on our behalf Lord Jesus. We can never pay you back, we could never do that but we want to honor the worth of what you've done in shedding your blood on our behalf. So in the same way after the super Jesus took the cup and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me, for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
Hey before we leave a couple of quick things. One, if you've never entrusted your life to Jesus we'd love to talk to you about that. If you feel God's tugging on your heart we'd love to speak to you about that. In the atrium and fireside room you can see it clearly marked there's some pastors and some other friends in there who'd love to take a moment and talk to you about that. But secondly, those of us who have been following Jesus maybe for some time would you be willing to take the truth of what's being taught in Ecclesiastes and press it deep in? Does the whole of our life look like this? That we find our meaning in loving obedience to the God we believe who defines reality, who defines truth, who defines meaning. Are we willing to do that in every area of our lives? Father may you help us to do that. For your glory and for the good of the world that we live in we pray in Jesus name, amen.