Finding Meaning in Life: A Pessimistic, Humanistic, and Atheistic Look Through the Book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 1

Published on Sep 4, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 2, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

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Ecclesiastes 2-3

Published on Sep 19, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 16, 2012 | Derek Neider

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I have written on the Book of Ecclesiastes and the subject of the meaning of our lives on several occasions on this blog. In this series on Ecclesiastes I hope to show how secular humanist man can not hope to find a lasting meaning to his life in a closed system without bringing God back into the picture. This is the same exact case with Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Three thousand years ago, Solomon took a look at life “under the sun” in his book of Ecclesiastes. Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.”

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun.”

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1)
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).

You can only find a lasting meaning to your life by looking above the sun and bring God back into the picture.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finding Meaning in Life: A Pessimistic, Humanistic, and Atheistic Look Through the Book of Ecclesiastes

Finding Meaning in Life: A Pessimistic, Humanistic, and Atheistic Look Through the Book of EcclesiastesFinding Meaning in Life Through Experiences
Eccles. 1:8 “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content”.Finding Meaning in Life Through Pursuing Knowledge and Wisdom
Eccles. 1:18 “The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow”.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Pursuing Pleasure
Eccles. 2:1 “I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things in life’.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Hard Work
Eccles. 2:10b-11 “I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless- like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere”.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Money
Eccles. 5:15-17 “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their work is for nothing-like working for the wind. Throughout their lives they live under a cloud-frustrated, discouraged, and angry”.

Finding Meaning in Life Only Comes Through Relationship With God
Eccles. 2: 24-26a “So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him.”

Finding Meaning in Life Comes Through Understanding God’s Timing
Eccles. 3:9-11 “What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

Part 2: Application

Finding Meaning in Life Through Experiences
Many times it is easy to want to spend life seeking experiences that are exciting. It’s not that having a curiosity of the world is wrong, but at times it can become a distraction from spending time and resources on more important things in life. These experiences are valuable for personal development, but only when done with God in mind. It is God who gives meaning to life and experiences. Without God, experiences are nothing. It’s easy to expect experiences in life to fulfill our desires. So we keep seeking for what gives meaning. But it is only God who can fully satisfy us.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Pursuing Knowledge and Wisdom
The knowledge and wisdom we pursue needs to be rooted in the wisdom and knowledge that comes from God. The bible talks about how people who philosophize are empty and deceitful. Solomon spent his life pursuing what he saw as wise in his own eyes- money, hard work, laughter, women, a beautiful home. And in the end he realized that all of it was vain, empty, toilsome, and a chasing after the wind. When we pursue God, the knowledge and wisdom we receive brings life to us.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Pursuing Pleasure
It’s easy to spend life being a pleasure seeker, gluttonous, shallow, and simple minded. When we are in pursuit of God, the pleasure that we seek gives life to ourselves, others, and our relationship with God. The pleasure isn’t selfish and sinful; instead it is intended to bring us joy. God gives gifts, and many of these are pleasuring, which is why it’s important to keep God in mind when we are enjoying something he has given us.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Hard Work
Hard work is valuable. God gives us tasks he wants us to accomplish and he wants us to do them with perseverance and joy. When we work hard without God in mind, it’s easy to find our identity in what we accomplish. Unfortunately, life isn’t predictable and it’s easy to loose everything that we’ve worked hard to accomplish. At the end of life, if we put our identity in everything we’ve worked for, we may end up becoming bitter. We may realize that we didn’t do what we thought we should have, or we didn’t do what we wanted to do as well as we wanted to. When we work for God and find meaning in the tasks he gives us to accomplish, we understand that our work goes beyond the results that we see. Only in heaven will we have the opportunity to fully understand how God used what we accomplished for him.

Finding Meaning in Life Through Money
Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 that it is good to have money and wisdom because they help you make it through life and can get you almost anything. But he also says that only wisdom can save your life. And at the end of life, money can’t go with you. Instead of making decisions in life with a career because it leads to a larger pay-check, instead make a decision for a career that leads to life. Something that you are passionate about, and then find a way that you can most benefit from it financially. Your career will have eternal rewards that go beyond a paycheck.
Finding Meaning in Life Only Comes Through Relationship With God

Finding meaning in life through experiences, wisdom and knowledge, pleasure, hard work, and money are not in and of themselves bad. It is only wrong to pursue meaning in these things when God is not at the foundation of all of it. God uses all these ways to teach us, strengthen us, and make us more like him.

Finding Meaning in Life Comes Through Understanding God’s Timing
When we have God’s understanding of time and eternity, we are able to see life in perspective. We are able to understand the value of experiences, wisdom and knowledge, hard work, and money. We are also able to see the value of having a relationship with God. Since it is true that God has placed eternity on the hearts of man, everything we do should be seen through the reality of eternity. As we are living our lives pursuing meaning, it is difficult at times to understand how God is using that journey. But God’s purposes and plans exist regardless.

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