Some Experiences I have had since a sermon I heard by Adrian Rogers in 1976 on Ecclesiastes!!!

Adrian Rogers (1931-2005), was pastor of Bellevue Baptist in Memphis where I grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

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I have been interested in studying the Book of Ecclesiastes since I heard a message by Adrian Rogers on it in 1976 at my Junior High Chapel Service at school. Today I will review some of the experiences I have had that came from my study of the book since that day in 1976.

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Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Published on Oct 14, 2012

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On May 15, 1984 Francis Schaeffer passed away. I had read his books and seen his films all through the 1970’s and 1980’s and they had impacted my life in a big way and give me what he would have called a Christian Worldview. Both Schaeffer and my former pastor, Adrian Rogers were fond of discussing the works of skeptics such as Carl Sagan and Nobel Prize winner George Wald. I took a lead from them and started reading books by skeptics and then writing them to discuss their works. In those letters I would use stories and quotes from Francis Schaeffer. Also I would include a cassette tape of a Rogers’ sermon on Evolution, Creationism and Romans 1, and one by my pastor at the time, Bill Elliff on Romans 1 and Charles Darwin. However, I started the cassette tape off with the 3 minute song DUST IN THE WIND by the group KANSAS because it was my view that if this life is all we have then we are all “DUST IN THE WIND.”

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(George Wald above and Carl Sagan below)

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(Bill Elliff of Summit Church North Little Rock, Arkansas seen below)

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Adrian Rogers: Evolution Fact or Fiction (#1914)

On May 15, 1994 (the 10th anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s passing), I  sent out hundreds of these letters that I have described to leading skeptics on the subjects of Evolution, Ecclesiastes, and the ultimate meaning of our lives without God in the picture.
I got a lot of responses back dated the first week of June of 1994. Professor John Hospers (1918-2011), former close friend of the novelist Ayn Rand,  wrote me back on June 2, 1994 after listening to the audio cassette tape “Dust, Darwin and Disbelief.” The late Dr. Hospers thought the idea that there is no  lasting meaning to our lives as the song DUST IN THE WIND was fine with him, and he did not see how adding God into the equation would add any additional meaning to our lives:

Our lives can have profound meaning thru various activities and relationships; why do they have to be eternal? Why is it so uncomfortable for you to realize that all things pass?  They are none the less real and noble because they are temporary. In another couple of thousand years. the earth will undergo another ice age; in another 6 billion years the sun will be extinguished and life on earth no longer possible. 

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These facts inspired the author of the song DUST IN THE WIND. Kerry Livgren of KANSAS, who wrote the song noted, “I happened to be reading a book of American Indian poetry and somewhere in it I came across the line, ‘We’re just dust in the wind.’ I remembered in the BOOK of ECCLESIASTES  where it said, ‘All is vanity,’ ” Livgren said of the passage that it reminds man he came from dust and will return to dust.

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I remember a visit in 1976 that Adrian Rogers made to our Junior High Chapel service at EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL, and it was that day that I personally began a lifelong interest in King Solomon’s life, and his search for satisfaction as pictured in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

(Kerry Livgren, Dave Hope in back)

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Solomon was searching for meaning and satisfaction in life in what Rogers called the 6 big L words in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He looked into Learning (1:16-18), Laughter, Ladies, Luxuries, and Liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and Labor (2:4-6, 18-20).

Ecclesiastes 2:8-10The Message (MSG)

I piled up silver and gold,
loot from kings and kingdoms.
I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song,
and—most exquisite of all pleasures—
voluptuous maidens for my bed.

9-10 Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What’s more, I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day’s work!

(Edward John Poynter Painting  below of Solomon)

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Francis Schaeffer observed concerning Solomon, “You can not know woman by knowing 1000 women.”

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King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:11 sums up his search for meaning with these words, “…behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

After hearing the sermon by Adrian Rogers in 1976, I took a special interest in the Book of Ecclesiastes and then the next year I bought the album POINT OF KNOW RETURN by the group rock group KANSAS. On that album was the song “Dust in the Wind”  and it rose to #6 on the charts in 1978. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of KANSAS become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more. I was hoping the members of KANSAS would keep looking for something more than just material pursuits UNDER THE SUN.

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player DAVE HOPE of KANSAS became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and DAVE HOPE had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. DAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

Those who reject God must accept three realities of their life UNDER THE SUN. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life. FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. In contrast, Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren believe death is not the end and the Christian can face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “UNDER the sun.” Notice this phrase UNDER THE SUN since it appears about 30 times in Ecclesiastes. Francis Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.”

The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias 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.”

Even though this  phrase is used over and over in Ecclesiastes, Solomon omits the phrase in the 12th and final chapter of Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 12 he looks ABOVE the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

(Adrian Rogers below)

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Kerry Livgren/Dave Hope: 700 Club Interview (Kansas) Part 1

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Kerry Livgren/Dave Hope: 700 Club Interview (Kansas) Part 2

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