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Living a Good Life: What Gives Purpose to Life, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
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January 29, 2024 10:00 am

Living a Good Life: What Gives Purpose to Life, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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January 29, 2024 10:00 am

King Solomon found his ambition, efforts, and accomplishments to be grasping at wind.  Even the noble call of pursuing wisdom came up short when he realized that, for all his efforts, he would die just like the fool who shunned instruction.

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. King Solomon found his ambition, efforts, and accomplishments to be grasping at wind. Even the noble call of pursuing wisdom came up short when he realized that for all his efforts, he would die just like the fool who shunned instruction.

There would be no difference. What then makes life purposeful? And how do we pursue meaning in this life that will carry us through eternity? In this episode of Delight in Grace, Pastor Rich addresses these questions from Ecclesiastes 2, 12 through 26.

Let's listen in. Live a good life making sense of the journey. It is impossible to make sense of the journey unless you know the destination.

The problem with far too many today is that they have no clue of the destination, or if they do have a clue of the destination, they have chosen to ignore it. It is from that perspective often that we read from this book of Ecclesiastes. It is written by Solomon, and if we look at the last verse of the last paragraph that we considered, Ecclesiastes 2, 11, Solomon says this, Then I considered all that my hands had done, and the toil I had expended in doing it. And behold, all was vanity and striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

It's not very encouraging, is it? You come to church for an encouraging word from the Lord, and there can be found an encouraging word from the Lord. We need to remember that this is from the perspective of a man, and this perspective is from under the sun. So what is his conclusion? Look what he says in verse 12. So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly, for what can the man do who comes after the king?

Only what has already been done. Let me give you the Rich Powell paraphrase here. I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly, both ends of the spectrum. What difference does it make?

There's a lot of people that ask that question, you know? It's the whatever attitude, the disposition. What difference does it make? Why then, and this is the question that he asked, why then, in verse 15, why then have I been so very wise? He put so much effort into life, into experiencing all that life has to offer. And he says, why then have I been so very wise? He says, I went to consider wisdom, and he says, and he admits in here, there is more gain in wisdom. He says the person of wisdom has his eyes in his head. So what he's talking about is that a person who lives a life of worldly wisdom, what is that? That's discipline, that's living according to reason, it's having a sense of perception about the realities of life.

That person will generally live a better kind of life. But he says, I also considered madness and folly. Madness and folly, he says, they walk in darkness.

A person who walks in darkness, how do they walk? Their feeling. So a person who walks in darkness, madness and folly, they are simply living according to their feelings. It's a very American way to live.

We know what that's all about. It's irrational living. It's irrational existence. It is a living only for sensual fulfillment. And that kind of person is generally a bit more undisciplined and will generally live a more unhappy life, says Horace Walpole of the 18th century.

He was an Earl of Orford, England. He said, this world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel. That's kind of the sense that Solomon is giving us here, isn't it? What difference does it make? Either you're going to die laughing or crying, one or the other.

What on earth difference does it make? There's two reasons why he says this. First reason is the wise dies just like the fool. The wise person dies just like the fool, whether you live a life of discipline and skill or you live a life of undisciplined sensual fulfillment. They both die. The same event happens to both of them. That's what it says in verse 14. This is what he concludes.

The same event happens to both of them. Many people try to deny that. There's no sense to it. Larry King, former talk show King, it's reported that he takes four human growth hormone pills every day. And he claims he's feeling great. But in case of death, King has arranged to have his body frozen and then thawed out when researchers discover a cure for whatever killed him. The so-called cryonics approach. King said later that the people behind the cryonics are quote, all nuts, end quote.

He said that, not me. But at least if he knows he will be frozen, he will die with a shred of hope. Quote, other people have no hope, end quote.

Larry King. That's his shred of hope. That's it.

They're going to freeze my body and sometime later they're going to thaw it and they will have a cure for whatever killed me. That's hope. That's credulity. That's not hope. That's credulity.

That's all that is. But the whole point is the wise dies just like the fool. Both are going to be forgotten. No one will really care what sort of life you lived. It's true isn't it?

Here's the truth of the matter. Hugh Hefner and Bill Gates given enough time will both be equally forgotten. One lived for nothing but sensuality. The other lived with reason and discipline. And even benefited many people.

But both given enough time will be equally forgotten. And that's why Solomon says in verse 18, verse 17, I'm sorry, so I hated life. So I hated life. What is he referring to?

All this stuff that is done under the sun. What difference does it make if you're wise or a fool? If it makes no difference that you're one or the other, he says, I hated life. It's all vanity. There's nothing that endures. There's no gain in it for me.

So his reason for saying this and for asking the question, what difference does it make? The second reason is I must leave everything. I've got to leave everything that I worked for. I've got to leave it behind. And then he asked the question, since I have to leave it behind, who gets my stuff? Who benefits from all the stuff that I leave? All the work that I put into it. And I have no idea if this person is going to be a wise person or a fool. A fool is going to squander at a wise person will put it to good use.

And I have no idea who gets my stuff. Now he did. Solomon had a son. His name was Rehoboam. It turned out Rehoboam was a fool.

How do we know that? He split the kingdom. Because he was very self-centered. That's a fool.

And he split the kingdom of Israel. And this is why in considering this, Solomon said, I gave my heart to despair. What difference does it make? And that's the attitude, isn't it? At the foundation of despair. That's the attitude.

What difference does it make? New research reveals that depression is now the most common serious medical and mental health disorder in the United States. And according to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. There's a lot of despair going on.

There's a lot of people with the attitude, what difference does it make? It's unfulfilling. Life is unfulfilling.

This is what Solomon is communicating. In other words, he feels like he was living on a treadmill. He's putting so much work into this life. And at the end of it, he's gone nowhere. What difference does it make? The wise dies just like the fool, and I don't get to take anything with me.

There's nothing lasting. As Paul says to Timothy, I brought nothing into this world, and you can be sure that you take nothing out. 1 Timothy 6, 7. And so, this is why Solomon says what he does in verse 21, that this is vanity and a great evil. It is all vanity and a great evil. And that word evil can be translated a huge unpleasantness. Because that which is evil is correlated with that which is harmful and unpleasant to humanity. Now this perspective leads us, leads me anyway, to ask a question. Because what he's dealing with is the vanity of life under the sun. If that's the perspective you have under the sun, not any consideration of what's beyond the sun.

Here's a question that needs to be asked. Does life stop at death? Does life stop at death?

You know, on the surface one would say, well duh, but does it? What is death? What is life? If your perspective is merely under the sun, and then you believe that everything is only material, which by the way is an extremely difficult thing for anyone to believe, and very few actually believe that.

Only because they've worked so hard at suppressing the very idea of God. You have to consider that there is more than one kind of life and one kind of death. Beneath the sun is the phrase that he uses in this chapter in verse 22.

Life beneath the sun. Does life stop at death? This is what calls us again to the revelation that God gives us.

And Solomon does acknowledge God in this book. That's why he draws the conclusion that he does at the end of the book. But it takes us a long time to get there. And so it does for us. We can live in a very practical way of thinking that life stops at death.

And if that's what you're thinking practically, then yes, death is a horrible tragedy. That's the kind of perspective that he's giving us. We're so glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, www.delightingrace.com. You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, Seven Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's word the very purpose for which you were designed. Seven Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-19 13:05:18 / 2024-02-19 13:09:51 / 5

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