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Living a Good Life: Bearing the Image of God, Part 3

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
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February 8, 2024 10:00 am

Living a Good Life: Bearing the Image of God, Part 3

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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February 8, 2024 10:00 am

As image bearers of our great God, we are hardwired for justice, yet injustice often seems to reign all around us.  It is not surprising to read Solomon’s frustration in Ecclesiastes 3  over the abundance of injustice.  He also grieves that men have no more power to avoid death than the beasts in the wild.  Life under the sun without the self-disclosure from our good Father would leave our hearts to despair over the pain and injustice of this life.  But God gives us Himself and the beautiful truths from His word change everything.  Let’s listen in.

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Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. As image bearers of our great God, we are hardwired for justice. Yet injustice often seems to reign all around us. It's not surprising to read Solomon's frustration in Ecclesiastes three over the abundance of injustice. He also grieves that men have no more power to avoid death than the beasts in the wild. Life under the sun without the self-disclosure from our good father would leave our hearts to despair over the pain and injustice of this life. But God gives us Himself, and the beautiful truths from His Word change everything.

Let's listen in. This is the third part of the message on Ecclesiastes 3, 16 through 22. It's part of a series on Ecclesiastes called Living a Good Life, Making Sense of the Journey.

It was originally preached on April 8, 2018 at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. There are things that God does through wickedness as He tests man and purges out. There are things that God does through wickedness. He is not the author of wickedness, but there are things that He does through wickedness because He is testing man. I said in my heart, God will judge.

I said in my heart, God is testing mankind. Four things that God does through wickedness. Number one, He humbles.

He humbles. He causes us to see our desperate brokenness. He causes us to recognize the delusion of self-sufficiency. God is testing. The second thing He does is He leads people to seek truth. God does that through wickedness. He leads people to seek truth.

Mary Lee Ma, she said this, she wrote this in World Magazine. To many people, entering Cornell's doctorate program with a full scholarship would be the height of one's self-fulfillment. But during that time, I experienced an existential crisis as I was disillusioned by the lack of integrity and the hypocrisy of academia. I realized academia could be as corrupt as politics or business, so I started to doubt the meaning of life and academic pursuit. But then a few Christian friends reached out to me, including Paul Lee, who is now the chair of business and economics at Wheaton College. He molded for me someone who can lament evil and remain sympathetic to individuals, something I struggled with. Paul had a moral and intellectual integrity that intrigued me.

I started to wonder what he had that I didn't. And so we started talking more about the Christian faith. He's an academic, but to me, he's a true missionary because his moral example is consistent with the gospel. And through the adversity, through the wickedness that Mary experienced, God led her to seek truth.

And he did so by leading her to an encounter with some of his people. Here's a third thing that God does through wickedness. He leads us to a longing for him, a longing for him when we realize the vacancy and the brokenness of the human experience. And that we cannot look to ourselves for our own salvation. We cannot bring in our own utopias. All the conflicts of the 20th century were about bringing in some sort of utopia.

And the 20th century was the bloodiest century on record. Through wickedness, God leads us to a longing for him. One of our missionaries that we support, Tony, he teaches on the radio and then he invites people to come to discipleship training in Armenia. And he reaches into Iran. I remember having breakfast with him. In 1979, there was a revolution under the Ayatollah Khomeini. And he says, Rich, do you know who the best church planter in Iran was?

The Ayatollah. Because when he brought in the brutal regime, the brutal Islamic regime with Sharia law, people recognized the vacancy of it, the brutality of it, the gracelessness of it. And more churches have started as a result of his revolution. Through wickedness, God leads people to a longing for him. And lastly, through wickedness, God is molding and shaping us and crafting something good in us. God is testing.

God is purging out. And that's why he says in verses 21 and 22, And so I saw that there is nothing better that a man should rejoice in his work for that is his lot who can bring him to see what will be after him. I saw living with satisfaction.

I saw living with wickedness. I said in my heart, God will judge. I said in my heart with regard to the children of men, God is testing. God is purging out.

There are things that God does through wickedness. And lastly, he said, I saw living with satisfaction. You see, the truth is this. If we are left to ourselves, if there is nothing more than what we have under the sun, if we are left to ourselves, then we are left with the same intellectual framework as unreasoning beasts that we live only for our self-indulgence. And we live in our darkness. And in our darkness, we make demands. And as we make those demands, we seek and use devices to meet those demands. And those devices might even be things like a lucrative career, a lucrative career in the business or in the arts. And yet when all of that fades away and our devices have been found wanting, then it leads us to despair. And that's all there is under the sun. That is if we are left to ourselves.

But I want you to notice something here. Verse 21 and 22, at the very beginning of verse 21 and at the very end of verse 22, there are questions that are asked. Beginning of verse 21, who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?

Who knows? And at the end of verse 22, who can bring him to see what will be after him? Who knows and who can bring him to see?

There is something that this voice points out very definitely and it is this. Man needs revelation. Apart from revelation, man is left to himself. Man desperately needs God's self-disclosure. The self-disclosure from one who transcends our limits of time and space. Because without that revelation, without that light shining in our darkness, you are left only with the questions and no answers. Man needs revelation desperately.

And the fact, the very fact that the questions are even asked, manifests that there is more than life under the sun. And so let's talk about self-talk. He said two times, I said to myself, God will judge. I said to myself concerning the children of man, God is testing, God is purging out. Self-talk is what you say in your heart.

And every one of us lives with pain and some degree of wickedness externally and internally. I said in my heart, so here now self-talk, what is your self-talk? What do you say to yourself? What do you say in your heart? Let me give you two very clear precepts from this passage today. Number one, God will bring wholeness and justice.

Loved ones, listen to me. Speak that in your heart, because we all live in the context of wickedness. God will bring wholeness and justice. All will be made right. The wholeness comes in Jesus Christ. If you are not in Christ, then you will encounter God's justice.

God will judge. The second thing to say in your heart, God is forming good in me. Whatever the pain you are enduring, whatever the wickedness you're having to live with, be it at work, at home, wherever, God is forming good in me. Speak these two truths in your heart. And he says in verse 22, there is nothing better than a man should rejoice in his work for this is his lot.

To rejoice in his work, it's two understandings. Number one, understand and live in your boundaries as a created being. There is a time for every matter and God will judge and you seek justice and you want justice now, but you may not get justice right now.

In fact, you're not going to get an answer right now. You may not. You have to entrust yourself to a faithful creator. You have to live, understand and live in your boundaries as a created being, because you are not God. You don't get to be God, but that is your purpose.

That is your lot and you are headed in a definite direction. And then secondly, as we said at the beginning, the seasons of life are orchestrated by a wise and good creator and redeemer. So be a steward of what has been entrusted to you. Verse 17, he says there is a time for every matter and for every work and it all comes down to this. It all comes down to this. It all works into God's big picture and you don't have the why right now, but you can know this.

It all works into God's big picture. Paul affirmed, this is affirmed in the New Testament in Acts chapter 17 verse 31. He has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. This is Jesus Christ.

He is the standard. His person, God in person among us. All of it relates to him, Ephesians 1.10 points that out very, very clearly. All of it relates to him and his perfect life is the criteria for our lives.

We desperately need his righteousness and all of it will be judged in the end and he is certified this by raising Jesus from the dead. So what is your self-talk? 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 / 2024-02-08 12:08:34 / 2024-02-08 12:13:09 / 5

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