Tag Archives: Gospel

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Your problem begins 4 words into your scriptures.

You refuse to humiliate yourselves by admitting that God transcends our universe, which logically means that He transcends your “free will.”

You refuse to confess that God is Sovereign over every sub-atomic particle in His Created universe, even though your Bible is all about that.

Though you ought to know better, you refuse to give Him full honor and full glory, worthy of His Holy Name…

… and so the coming judgment will be worse for you than it will be for the pagan, unless you repent, if the Lord wills it.

Ecclesiastes 2

In chapter 2, the teacher gives an autobiography of his attempts to escape vanity: first, by pleasure; and second, by wisdom. He explains how he learned that these two paths both lead to despair and hatred of life. Because of his prosperity and wisdom, he is in the best position of anyone to escape the vanity of life by pleasure or wisdom—yet even he cannot.

If we pursue God’s Creation, whether sinfully or not, we may be rewarded with pleasure. The fruits of our labor are a gift from God, and it’s best to enjoy the fruits of our labor. However, our labors also bring grief and restlessness. Either way, our labor and it’s consequences are futile, because we will ultimately die, and these things will be rendered meaningless. If we understand this as deeply as this wise man did, then we might despair and hate life.

Similarly, if we possess wisdom instead of folly, we are metaphorically walking in the light, which is a benefit. However, this is also futile, because we will ultimately die, and our wisdom and it’s outcomes will be rendered meaningless. If we understand this as deeply as the teacher did, then we might despair and hate life.

This despair over the futility (or “vanity”) of pleasure and wisdom is even intuitive to many unbelievers. We can even find this understanding in the gutters of modern hip hop music. The Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid complain in one of their songs:

Momma say I failed in life
I don’t care I failed in life
Daddy says I drink too much
I don’t care I drink too much
People say I’m headed nowhere
And I don’t f***in’ care
Jimmy Johnson’s gonna die
Sarah Suzie’s gonna die
Everybody dyin’ slow1

In this song, the Clowns conclude that it makes no difference whether you shoot them in the head, and that the only thing they’re looking forward to is the “next phase where flesh and bodies [are] consumed.” This warped conclusion from comprehending Nietzschean meaninglessness, outside of Christ, is a believable outcome.

Nietzsche himself taught that nothing has any inherent importance and that life lacks purpose, and later he went insane.

The philosophy of unbelievers exposes the wall between human wisdom and godly wisdom. Human wisdom cannot bridge the impasse of the dilemma of meaninglessness; any human conclusions based on awareness of vanity are necessarily foolish.

* * *

But what about the conclusions of the teacher here in this scripture? It is ironic, at the very least, if not contradictory, that he should call pleasure and wisdom “good,” but also call them “futile” at the same time.

However, he does not intend to perplex the reader with an apparent contradiction; therefore, we may resolve this.

In the first place, the teacher is only at the thesis part of the his essay, so he is intentionally presenting an apparent contradiction that he will resolve throughout the remainder of the book, especially in chapters 5, 7, and 12. [3:14, 5:1-7, 7:16-18, and 12:9-14]. We may also find the answer to this apparent contradiction elsewhere in scripture, such as in Psalm 49 and in 2 Corinthians 5. [Verses 1-11]. The biblical answer to this dilemma is that the wise are redeemed from the Pit by God. Death is rendered incapable of making their lives vain or pointless.

Secondly, the author’s abundant use of the word “vanity” is intended as hyperbole. He would not call something “vanity of vanities” while also finding goodness in the same thing, unless he intended it as hyperbole. Neither absolute is true. Pleasure and wisdom are good, but they are not ultimate antidotes to our vanity under the sun. The Creation is tainted by the Fall into sin, so we experience frustration alongside pleasure. In this way, the author’s advice to enjoy life can be seen more as a balance against futility, rather than as a contradiction.

Finally, we ought not read this Wisdom book as if it is a direct vertical communication from the LORD, as with the Prophets. Though inspired by the Holy Spirit, this scripture is a “divine record of human observations,”2 as opposed to a set of authoritative declarations from the LORD. The teacher is guiding us through his autobiography, wherein he applied his wisdom to search for meaning in his labors. In contrast, the prophets wrote truths that were expressed directly by God, rather than via the progression of a man’s learning.

* * *

In summary, this chapter is about the reality of fallen Creation, and ultimately the devastating void left by death. In the meantime, we will remember that every good gift is from God and is to be enjoyed, and that our resurrection in Christ brings purpose and meaning to every labor we undertake.

Footnotes:

1. Insane Clown Posse, “I Don’t Care,” 2001.

2. The Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Holman Bible Publishers, 2009. P. 671.

Romans 3

Paul goes on to teach us about the Justice and Faithfulness of God.  “What good is it to be a Jew? “ he asks.  The Jewish nation were God’s chosen people, and even though many denied Christ and so failed to inherit the salvation which was freely offered, they remained privileged in that they had received the Word of God which led them to the salvation of Jesus Christ.  They received the offer of salvation, but like the gentiles if they do not receive it in faith it is futile and they will die with the rest of the unbelievers.  But some say, that if we sin than God’s righteousness is shown ever in greater amount.  This of course the apostle opposes and points out that the condemnation of unbelievers is just and therefore sin is not to be encouraged.

Paul goes on to describe the nature of man.  Quoting from various passages in the Old Testament, he lets everyone know that Man is totally depraved.  There is no good to be found in man.  This is a hard truth for man to accept.

Many today would have you believe that Man still has some good in him.  That he is able to choose a good thing.  That man can in fact participate in his own salvation by “choosing” Christ.   Paul here unequivocally describes Man’s sinful nature as totally depraved.  Paul demonstrates this in verse 12:

“All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good not even one”

Therefore no matter what we do, we will daily increase our debt towards God.  So by trying to keep the law, we cannot be saved.

The solution, Paul says, is to receive righteousness through Jesus Christ.  Jesus took upon himself the punishment of all sins and paid the debt that God’s justice demanded.   This righteousness comes solely from God.  It does not involve the work of mankind.  Christ died to pay for our sins, and also for the sins of those who passed away in Old Testament times, for God had delayed punishment of those sins until Christ’s time had come.   We see here God’s mercy at work, suffering the sins of his people over all those ages, in order that they may still be saved by the sacrifice of Christ.  Remember that here we also learn that sins are not just wiped away, as if they did not matter.  No they were paid for by the blood and suffering of Christ.

So there is no reason to boast.   We have done nothing to earn our salvation.  It was God’s grace.   We simply have to accept the Gospel message by faith.  And that will lead us to change the way we live.  More and more we will live in accordance to God’s Law, and Will.  And this is a process that will last a life time until we finally reach Heaven and live with Christ in perfection.

THIS IS THE GOSPEL that convinced Luther to question the Roman Catholic theology of being saved by Christ but also by doing penance.  This gospel sets us free from the confines of Man’s limitations to do good, and allows us to look solely to Jesus Christ for our salvation.   It is a gift from God merely out of Grace.  Because He loved us.

THAT IS THE GOOD NEWS OF THE BIBLE.  Available to all who believe.