Sermon – Does Life Have Meaning? (Ecclesiastes 1:1 – 1:11) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Does Life Have Meaning?

Pete Woodcock, Ecclesiastes 1:1 - 1:11, 3 March 2024

Today we start a new series in the book of Ecclesiastes and Pete preaches from Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. In his introduction to the book, the writer begins with a bold and unexpected statement: "Everything is meaningless". How are Christians to understand his statement in the light of the rest of scripture and the mission of Jesus? How can the teachings in this book be applied to how we understand the world around us?


Ecclesiastes 1:1 - 1:11

1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

  Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
  What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
  A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
  The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens to the place where it rises.
  The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
  around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
  All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
  to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
  All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
  the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
  What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10   Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
  It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11   There is no remembrance of former things,
    nor will there be any remembrance
  of later things yet to be
    among those who come after.

(ESV)


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Well, we're gonna, prepare ourselves to hear the word of God.

And so if you have a Bible and, you wanna turn to our reading, it's Ecclesiastes chapter 1. I'm gonna read the first 11 verses. This is the first in a series of sermons in the book of Ecclesiastes that's going to be going on in the morning services for the next few Let's, let's read the word of god then. Ecclesiastes chapter 1 verse 1. The words of the teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem.

Meaningless, meaningless says the teacher utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless. What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north round and round it goes ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full to the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are worrisome. More than 1 can say that I, never has enough of seeing, nor the ear, it's full of hearing, what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which 1 can say, look, this is something new.

It was here already long ago. It was here before our time. No 1 remembers the former generations and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. Let's keep that passage open and let's pray. Father god help us now to hear these very strange words for a Bible passage, but help us to hear them, understand them, and then live in the light of them we pray in Jesus' name, Arm.

Now I know some of you, have done this or are doing this, or will be doing this. But let's imagine we go to an open day at a school. If you're too old for this, just imagine, you know, let's just go go with it. So we go to an open day at a school that you're interested in sending your child to. And part of the open day, obviously, is to go around, the classrooms and meet the teachers in their classrooms.

Mister Harrison, the mass teacher is waiting in his classroom, and he welcomes you and you enter in. Hi. My name is, mister Harrison, he says. I'm the math tutor, maths teacher, head of maths, and I guess your son is interested in maths. I hope so.

Well, we're really good at maths here. We have a very great reputation here at our school. Over 90 percent of those who do maths get a B plus. And, I think looking at your son's resume, I think if he works hard, he'll easily get an a and perhaps even an a plus. But of course, it's all a waste of time and a load of meaningless nonsense in the end.

I mean, what does an a plus mean when he's dead? And you think, woah, gosh. He's got a strange sense of humor, mister Harrison. And so you move out of there sort of rather shocked and move into the English literature and master's, classroom, missus Dobson. Now she says, oh, lovely.

Welcome If now if your child comes here, we have at least 6 hours a week of English literature and a good amount of homework that we can give your child if they if they want that, which is really good because that fills up their meaningless hours of their meaning of its existence. And 1 good thing about literature is it can distract them from the fact that they're gonna die. And you think, oh my god. What is up with this school? So you move out of missus Dobson's, room and you're about to go into the history teachers room, mister Sefton.

And, you notice that he's mumbling to himself and drawing sort of circles on the whiteboard And mumbling to himself history always repeats itself. It has to no 1 ever listens. Round and round it goes, and he's writing on the board round and round. People come people go. My students have come.

My students have go. Teachers have come. Teachers go. And everyone dies, and he underlines the word death. You think I've gotta get out of this school.

There's no way I'm sending my son here or my child here. So you go quickly to the corridor. And as you're going down the corridor, you notice the school crest, and the school crest has a motto on it. Now the motto of this school that we're in is engage, aspire, and excel. Rubish, isn't it?

I mean, what does it mean? Just 3 words picked out. You might have a sausage, beans, and eggs. That would be better. But anyway, in fact, the grammar school over there has a slightly better, motto.

I think it says work well and be happy. Well, that's better, isn't it? I mean, anyway, we are hiring this place, and so we better be careful. But the school you're in, and you're visiting, you notice that the crest is a black hole. And around the edge of a black hole is the motto meaningless meaningless meaningless.

Now would you send your son to that school or your daughter to that school? Sounds ridiculous, but listen to the beginning of the book that we're starting and it's in the Bible. Verse 1, the words of the teacher. Son of David, King of Jerusalem. Meaningless.

Meaningless says the teacher utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless. I mean, how does he emphasize it any more than that? They're the words of the teacher. Now, some people translate that word teacher philosopher or lecture lecturer or even preacher.

It's a strange word, but it actually is a word to means that you assemble people together and you speak to them. You instruct them. This is what I'm doing now. I'm the teacher, which makes it even worse if you think about beginning illustration. Welcome to Cornerstone.

Welcome to our AM service. We're about to do a lot of meaningless nonsense. We're gonna sing meaningless songs. We're gonna hear a meaningless reading, we're gonna hear meaningless things about people that are going off, somewhere else. It's all meaningless.

And then after the service, perhaps you start talking to me the teacher. Hi, Pete. You know, we're finally going on our honeymoon tomorrow. Oh, we'll have a meaningless time. Or, actually, do you know, to be honest, I'm, someone says, I'm, Pete, I'm having heart surgery tomorrow.

Well, what a waste of time that is? It will just give you a few more minutes in this world, and then you'll die anyway. So that's a waste of time. Oh, our babies do soon. Oh, not another meaningless human being in a meaningless universe that we've gotta try and entertain and pretend that we're all happy.

That's what's going on here. Verse 1, the words of the teacher, son of David, King in Jerusalem. Now it doesn't actually say I am Solomon, but the best fit is solomon. I know there's arguments and if you know those arguments, we can argue about them later. It doesn't really matter, but the best fitted solomon as far as I can see And next week, I think we'll see more clearly, although I think it's Tom, I hope Tom's hearing, we'll see more clearly that, ecclesiastes, I think, is is like a very personal journey, journal of Solomon, like his diary, I would call it the diary of a desperate man trying to find out what the meaning of life is.

Now what we've got here this morning is just the first introduction. This is like a second introduction to his personal journey next next week. So he doesn't go into everything. This is the teacher starting off his program to to his class and saying this is what we're gonna be doing this term. Meaningless.

We're gonna discover what meaningless means if it means anything. And so this this is this first sort of introduction if you like is much more general. Look at verse 3. What do people He goes on in chapter 2 to talk about I tried. I experimented.

I went for. So this is much more general. What do people from all their labors, get gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Now that phrase under the sun is the key to understanding Ecclesiastes. He uses it 29 times in this this 12 chapter book under the sun.

And what he's talking about is what is life like without connection to anything greater than this world. What is life like with no revelation from anything above the sun? God, How do I work out what life is like? And that's the journey he's gonna go on. I'm only looking at the here and now.

The teacher's talking about the experience that we all have every human being around the world from a purely earthly perspective from no 1 above the sun, no revelation. Nothing from god. Now it's not that Solomon doesn't believe in god. Course he believes in god. But he's trying to make sense of the world without a revelation from god.

In fact, in chapter 5, He'll try and make sense of god under the sun. So he believes in god, but how do we work this when we haven't got a revelation from god. The words of the teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem. You've come to my class, Well, here's what we're gonna do this term. Meaningless, meaningless says the teacher utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless.

Now that word meaningless in the Hebrew is hevel. It's spelled with a b, but it's the b is a v. Heather, and it's 36 times in this book. He uses it. It's a word that's linked funny enough to able in the old testament, Cain and Abel.

And I think it's linked because Abel's life was cut short by his murder the murderous actions of his of of his brother, Cain. So in other words, Kaye Abel never lived his potential. Life was cut short. That's where the word comes from. It can be translated, breath, or smoke And, it has this idea of here today gone tomorrow.

Here today gone tomorrow. In other words, life is utterly short lived. It's here today. It's gone tomorrow. We have this today.

Gone tomorrow. We get this excitement over a new toy today. It's gone tomorrow. It has that sense of. So meaningless here has a meaning.

Meaningless means no substance, all puff, and then it's gone. It's a vapor. It's like a balloon. Looks like there's substance there, but it's just a skin and 1 prick and it's blown. It's just a puff.

It's a it's a it's a it's a it's a bit like you know, soap bubbles that kids love to blow, and they're lovely, and they look gorgeous, and they've got all the colors all around them, and they take us up and then pink, they're gone. That's that's the word popping. It's gone. In other words, there's nothing to hold on to. It it it it only disappears quickly.

And Solomon links it with another phrase that he likes and that he uses a lot chasing after the wind. Chasing after the wind. And what if if you chase after the wind, you never catch it, it's it's it's that you feel the wind You feel you see the effects of trees are going. You try to catch the wind and there's no substance there. It's not really there.

It's just And that's what he's saying. Life is transitory. Life is elusive. It's hard to get hold of. It makes no sense.

It seems pointless. It seems futile. You try to try to grab hold of something 1 minute and it feels good and then it's suddenly gone. The British atheist Richard Dorkings said in his book, River Out of Eden, He said the universe, listen to him, the universe we observe has no design no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. Now you think about that's that's what he's this is what the the teacher saying.

No purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, because there's no god, pityless indifference. Get rid of god in your thinking or exclude god from your life, and you're trapped under the sun, and everything is meaningless. Really? Even good and bad. Now he'll go on and ask that question in a deeper way as we go through ecclesiastes.

What's the difference between good and bad? I know good is good, and I know good is better than bad, but I don't know why. He he'll go on. It's fantastic this book. Patiently helping your child with their homework, according to Richard Dorkings and this philosophy, is no better than drowning your neighbor's cat.

In fact, drowning your neighbor's cat may be a bit better. Thinking of all the poor it does in my garden. Giving to charity is no better than stealing from an old lady's purse. It's just actions. It's twitchings of the brain.

There's no substance in this empty universe of good and bad. To deny the reality of god, who writes the plotline of the universe, means there's no author. There's no designer. There's no artist. There's no judge of right and wrong.

There's no author with a storyline. There's no creation. There's only accident. There's only explosion and at best you have a fortuitous occurrence of atoms and there's no meaning and all the futurist is death. Entropy.

It's gonna die. Now, you know, we can play with this. And we can laugh at it as I was trying to do at the beginning with the teachers, but he's actually extremely serious. 1 mother wrote this in the Guardian about her 13 year old daughter, recently. My daughter is 13, and while she seems like a normal happy teenager, much of the time, She has frequent breakdowns about her future.

This is what her daughter says. 13. What's the point? When we're all gonna die anyway. All we do is wake up and it's the same thing again and again until we die.

And in that article where that mother's quoted and that child is quoted, the the the writer goes on and says, many psychologists are worried that kids today are falling through the cracks at our school. Unmotivated to learn or bored with their class or both. Many are simply going through the motions or dropping out of school altogether. Some suffer from the debilitating depression and anxiety or act out their frustrations in unhealthy ways. Like using drugs or alcohol or turning to criminal behavior.

Why? Well, maybe those kids, this young generation are thinking correctly. If there is no god, thanks to docking, if there is no, above the sun experience, if there's nothing bigger than down under this earth, then maybe they're honest and saying, well, if all we get is death at the end, what is the point? So let's have a look at some points of life under the sun. Let's have a look at it.

Don't leave before I finish. However, depressing this is gonna get, and it's going to. Here's my first point. Under the sun, without God, what do we gain? Without god, under the sun in this world, what do we gain?

Look at verse 3, what do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun. Now the word gain there is a financial word. It's a profit word. What is a profit at the end of the day? You know, Have we made a profit, a loss, or if we just broke it even?

But what is the profit? So all the toil and all the labor and all the hard work put into life And perhaps the young people are seeing this. You put all the labor, all the hardworking. You want me as a 13 year old. You parents are telling me to work hard to work card.

Why? Why? Why? I'm gonna die. What's the profit?

Monte Python, you know, sort of sixties, seventies, humor group. They put in their song, always look on the bright side of life slightly more positively. They they said, and it's all about death. I mean, what have you what have you got to lose? This is at death?

You know, you come from nothing. You're going back to nothing. So what have you lost? Nothing. That's what they say.

That's the more positive side. All the investment we tell young people to put into life. All of the blood, sweat, tears, under the sun. Who's successful on death day? From dust we come and from dust we return.

What have we gained? What's the gain? What's the profit? All that toil for what? Shakespeare says, life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

1 of the amazing sentence. Life is top by an idiot, and there's loads of noise, and there's loads I must gain a new car, a new, you know, a new house, more trinkets, so you know, and then you watch, I was watching who wants to be a millionaire. I think it was an old 1 where, you know, the Broker 1 something like 250000 pounds but there's 1 question to get a million and he's prepared to put the 250000 pounds for 1 question so he can get the million. You're thinking, why would you do that man? Why would you do that?

Because we want gain. We wanna gain something in our world. You know, why are there so many people gambling? People that know the statistics of gambling, gambling. In the city, businessmen, because we want to gain, we want to gain, but what does death bring with all of the sound and the fury In the end, it signifies nothing.

Look at verse 4, generations come, generations go, but the earth remains forever. They come. They go. Don't think that you're worth something. Just remember that 200 years ago there was dust sitting not far from this place, thinking that it was worth something, but now that dust is dust and you're treading it in the ground.

No gain. You leave everything behind. Did you realize that? As they say, there's no pockets in shrouds. When they make your grave clothes, they don't put pockets in because you can't take anything with you.

You go and see the pyramids in Egypt. They were built those magnificent triangular things in the desert so that the the the the rich men could put their possessions in and take them with them to the afterlife And where are they? They're in the British Museum. You can go and see them. They can't.

What do you gain? That's the first point. Second, without god, The world is 1 big, wearisome hamster wheel. Look at look at verses 5 to 8. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south and turns to the north round and round. It goes ever returning On its course, all streams flow into the sea. And yet the sea's never full to the place the stream comes from. There they return again. He picks on 4 aspects of the natural world.

The earth, the sun, the wind, the sea, and he says it's all wearisome. They're just going round and round endlessly round the earth, the sun, the wind, the the the water. And you are a little flash quick flash in that cycle that seems to come come round again and again. You come and go within that cycle. Now those of us that know god Know that he's the creator and the sustainer of the natural order.

And so we find that that uniform coming round and the seasons, part of his beauty and his faithfulness. And we find the delicate balance of the whole ecosystem and part of the beauty that god is in the world. And we can understand that There's meaning to nature, but not meaning in nature. The meaning to nature is is that God. This isn't a closed system, that there's a god who runs this for our benefit.

But if there is no god, what is this? It's just this hamster running. You've seen the little hamsters, haven't you? Don't you feel sorry for them? They think they're on a journey.

They're going round and round. If you talk to the hamster, just to interview the hamster, Hello, Amsterdam. Yes. I can't talk too much because I'm a bit puffed out. Where are you going?

I'm going on a journey. We're just getting getting out of this place. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. I'm gonna get out of this place. I'm running running running, running, but you haven't moved. You've not moved position. Oh, no.

No. I keep going. It's extraordinary, isn't it? You see people running down the portsmouth road, some that really should never be running most of them as far as I can see. Or you go to the gym and they're running on the the thing.

And it's endlessly. What are you doing when I'm trying to get fit? Yeah. But, I mean, what are you at? You you know, your heart only has a certain amount of heartbeats, and so you're you're running them out as far as I can see.

And so, you know, run run run run run. You know, it's not it make you a bit fitter. It might make you last longer, but you'll die in the end. Meaningless repetition of events verse 8, all things are weary, so more than 1 can say. The eye, never has enough of seeing nor the ear.

It's full of hearing. It's re wearisome. If there is no god, there is no meaning. And in the end, if you really look at it, it's wearisome. You might like and enjoy a few seasons but in the end as the body decays, then you're not enjoying it so much.

Hamps to go in nowhere, but to death. Thirdly, without god, there's nothing new. It's the same old, same old. Verse 8. All of things are wearisome, more than 1 can say.

The eye never has enough of seeing nor the year it's full of hearing. What has been will be again? What has been done will be done again. There's nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which 1 can say, look, this is something new?

It's already it it was here already long ago. It is it was here before our time. This ceaseless activity that he's projecting here Generations, sun, wind, stream, is mirrored in in this human hamster running. All this activity, all this sound and fury, all this seeing and speaking and hearing In the end, it absolutely means nothing. Even our eyes, even our ears, they're never satisfied.

They're always wanting more, but in the end, there's an emptiness. And all it is is eat, sleep, work, drink, fun, round and round we go until death day. There are superficial changes. We can split an atom and we might be able to land a probe on Mars, But in the end, people are not this not no different. There's happiness, there's misery, there's love, there's wars, there's friendships, there's hatred, there's leisure, and there's death.

And those of us that have got less in front of us and more behind us, We say, where did it all go? How did how did I get here? How how did I get here? I I remember saying to my mates, I wonder what it's like being old. I'm here.

For of health, of course. What's the point? History repeats itself There's nothing new. 4 thing, you've depressed yet. Yeah?

Really? Wanna get you down a bit more if you're laughing. Without god, you will soon be forgotten. Don't worry about yourself, no 1 will remember you in the end. Verse 11.

No 1 remembers the former generations. And the and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow, not only will you not be remembered, You won't remember. You're not remembered because if there's nothing after life but death, you won't remember anything. So what's the point? May have a wonderful pleasure now, but you won't remember it.

You might even make a name for yourself enough to have a blue plaque on a wall. We don't worry. No 1 will ever look at it. But you won't remember it anyway because you're dead. I don't know whether you've seen I have seen this, Samuel Beckett's plays.

Everybody wanna see it. It's a 1 minute play. I mean, it's quite a lot to pay for and queue up for, but it's a 1 minute play, but it half make its point. You know, you don't have to waste any time there. It's a 1 minute play that the curtains open up and they reveal a stage of total darkness.

Then you hear the sound of a man breathing, and that breathing turns into a sort of death rattle. Then the lights come up, and there's a pile of rubbish, on the stage, and then the lights go off, and that's it. That's a minute. It's called breathe, breath. And he's saying that's life.

So if reality is confined to under the sun, If reality is confined to this world, the natural order, if reality is confined to our material existence on this earth without any ultimate reference from above the sun with anything to do with god meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless is stamped on our lives. And if reality is confined to time only, to this brief human lifespan beginning at birth ending at death, we die just like a dog dies, just like a cat dies. And again, everything is meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless, and that's stamped on our lives. And if reality is confined to space and time, with nothing beyond space and time, then nothing makes any sense and everything is meaningless, because it will all die. Right.

That's it. That's done that passage. Should we sing? What are we gonna sing? Always look on the bright side of life.

What are we gonna do with this? Well, we're seeing next week and the following weeks that Solomon tries to fill in those gaps. Because I know there's people sitting here saying, hold it. I don't see life like that and I'm an atheist yet, but you're not thinking properly. That's why.

Because death destroys everything. And so let's what do we say to our young people? So what do we say to our young people? What do we say to that 13 year old? Well, you need to, you know, cheer up a bit Listen to some music, go out, you know, and make some friends.

Let's try and get you a good education. Let's try and get you some good food and good clothes. And a good career. Let's try and divert your mind from the truth that actually you're going to die and everything you do is meaningless. That's 1 way of doing it.

That's what the world does. Yeah? Let's give you accolades. Let's talk about fame. I mean, the girl who won the the what was it?

The music prize yesterday. I don't know whether you heard her. Ray, her name was. I mean, it's she she would say, I don't life is meaningless. I've just made a record and I've won all the awards.

If you heard, darling, she was so excited. You couldn't hear what she was saying. She was spouting meaningless words. And if she had any sense, she would have heard the meaningless words and realized that her award when she dies is meaningless. What do we say?

Well, here's my fifth point. All things, utterly, completely Absolutely change when Christ comes into the world. Christ our hope. What Solomon has done is to introduce us and to make us stare in the grim face of reality And that's what Ecclesiastes is gonna do. We have in Ecclesiastes a solid dose of reality.

If we look at life from only under the sun, then there is no other conclusion to come to. That human life is fleeting pointless, meaningless, that mankind is the greatest tragedy in the universe you would better off being a slug because a slug doesn't ask the question. What is the point of life? It just choose your lettuce and make slime. The trouble is we find stark reality too hard and even the atheists do.

We find it too hard to bear, but the teacher here is exposing that and he's showing that that all you can do in a world where everything meaningless is try to distract yourself or commit suicide. Sometimes we see it in our lives. It's part of my testimony at a party at 18, the best party that was in the area that I was in Eaton in a school, in Eaton, in a house, phenomenal party. Everything an 18 year old boy wanted. My mates were there.

It was a laugh, I go into the kitchen. No one's in the kitchen. I go to grab another bottle of drink and as if a voice came almost audible but was not audible was Is this it? Is this it? Is this all that life is about?

Is it just eat drink and be merry and tomorrow you die? Is this it? Sometimes the teacher's voice comes in us, and we're we're unaware of it. Other other people like that 13 year old girl have it all the time She can't get it out of her mind. It's the truth of death just ruins everything.

And others need to come here and be taught by the teacher. But why is the teacher doing this? Because he wants you to cry out Is there someone else there? Is there someone above this world bigger than death? Is there any point?

Is there another perspective? There is 1 who has come from above the sun to bring meaning to those under the sun, and his name is Jesus. He brings meaning. He comes, and he explains the world. He explains history.

He explains god's plan. He comes not only to explain and give us words. He comes to reconcile us to none other than above the sun god. He's broken into the world, the above the sun god has come into the under the sun world as a man. Paul writing to the Ephesian, Christians, He says, this is what you were, and then this is what you're like now.

He says, remember that at 1 time you were separated from Christ excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenant of promise, listen without hope This is what you were. You were without hope and without god in the world, but now. But now it's 1 of the great buts of the Bible, but now. But now, but now in Christ Jesus, you who are far away, you who are under the sun, you who are far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. You have hope.

There's a radical new event that's happened in the world where nothing new is under the sun. There is a new 1 broken under the sun from above the sun. 1 new event. Jesus, the son of god enters the world. Listen to what he says in John 8.

He says you are from below. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. It's extraordinary that in the Christian message, and this is why we wanna bang on about it is a word but more than a word, a person, more than an idea a person, a reality from above the sun that has come to bring us into reconciliation with none other than god.

Wonderful, isn't it? Secondly, Jesus makes us new, he says. There's nothing new under the sun until Jesus comes, and then he makes us new. Listen to what he says. If you continue in my word, You are truly my disciples.

Listen. Listen. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free free from the endless round of hamster wheel running that leads to nothing. I'll set you free. He offers us a new birth to be born into the kingdom kingdom of god.

Paul writes this. So if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. Everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new. You become part of a living above the sun, experience, and relationship with god There's 1 that's broken in.

What a spectacular message to a 13 year old girl. That can only see death. There's a beyond death. There's a beyond the sun. There's bigger, more glorious, more wonderful, And when that happens, what happens?

Jesus turns our work into gain, Our toil, our labor. Paul writes this. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast immovable, always excelling in work. In the work of the lord because you know that your work in the lord, your labor is not in vain. It's not in vain.

It's the same word. It's not a a waste of time. It's not meaningless. And suddenly he writes to slaves who are doing menial boring tasks. They now can do it for the lord.

Suddenly a boring task becomes above the sun experience. It's not just wearisome going to work. I'm working for the lord, the lord of who, the lord who died and rose again, the lord who can bring me to above the sun beyond death who turns death into a doorway that leads to life. Death isn't the end. Death is the doorway through which Jesus has gone.

The Savior, the resurrected 1, And when I know that, then all of life becomes different. Jesus is the 1 that makes all things new. He says I will make all things new, everything in the new creation. And all creation now is pointing to the fact that there's a new creation coming. And so suddenly, we look around and we see things differently.

Here's an old hymn. We never sing it. I don't know why. It's probably a bad tune, but here's an old hymn. Listen to this.

This is what the writer thought. Love, he says, with an everlasting love, suddenly you realize that this universe is not empty of real loving relationship that god so loved the world that he gave his son into this world. Listen to this hymn, loved with everlasting love, led by grace, the love to know, spirit, breathing from above. Thou has taught me. It is so.

Oh this full and perfect peace Oh, this transport, all divine. In a love which cannot cease, I am his and he is mine. Listen, heaven above, It's softer blue. He's talking about the the sky. Heaven above is softer blue.

Earth around is sweeter green. Something lives in every hue. Crisis eyes have never seen. Birds with gladder songs, overflow, flowers, with deeper beauties shine. Since I know as I am known, I am his and he is mine.

It's a wonderful picture of what Christianity does. You understand what life is about and you start enjoying the flowers, even though it comes in cycles. You start enjoying the birds. Christianity opened my mind up massively to enjoy all kinds of creation. You start seeing god in it.

You see that it isn't meaningless. Meaningful, meaningful. Everything is meaningful from above the sun. And that's why the Bible is full of observe the ant. Look at the birds.

Look at the seasons. Observe the ant. Yeah? Go and look at the end. Yeah?

Why? Because the end will teach me something about god and life and That's what happens. Now, this is the only only the I understand that you could argue with some of this, but this is only the introduction Yeah? This is the first lesson. This is do you wanna join up my class as the teacher?

Yeah. I wonder how many came back. This is the introduction. He goes much deeper into these questions. And so I wanna encourage you to come.

Your start seeing that the answer is always Jesus. But do you understand why in a deeper way and your love for Jesus I hope will grow. So come back, invite people. Why not invite people? If they don't like the singing and stuff, you can say, look, we start the preaching at this time, or lend them the talks.

This Eklesiastes is an unbelievably modern book. And there are young people out there like that 13 year old girl who have never heard it. And it's our job as a church to say, hear, hear the good news You don't have to just get a better education and more trinkets for you to leave behind. You can know god. And if you're there and you don't know Jesus, then your life is a meaningless waste of time.

Are they care who you are or how much money you got, you'll leave it all behind. I'm more likely to have the money than you. Because you're leaving all behind. Do you know Christ? Do you know the 1 from above?

God so loved the world he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life, that is gain. That is gain. Well, let's have a moment quiet. To know Christ and to be known by him, that is gain. Father, we thank you for for what we've heard this morning, and we pray you would help us to to continue to think over to to glory in it for many of us in this room have believed in the 1 who's from above, and we we have found Meaning in life through him.

We thank you for that. We thank you that we follow him. We follow you. And lord, we would we would we wanna ask you to help us to live lives worthy of the calling we've received help us to demonstrate in our lives that that we have found the answer to this meaningless life otherwise. We pray that people would see it and wanna follow it, wanna ask questions about it.

We pray that people would come and hear these sermons over the next few months. And find Christ, find the meaning of life. And lord help us to grow in in love for him. Lord, we we're about to to receive, the lord's supper, celebrate that he came into this world and he he gave his body on the tree so that we could have our sins forgiven. We could know peace with god that all of our rebellion against him can be washed away, and we can be found new.

We can be made new. That we thank you for the bread. We thank you for the cup. We thank you for what these symbols mean. And as we take them, we ask that you would help us to be thankful for the gift of salvation you've given us we help us to be thankful for giving us meaning in life, helping us to find the purpose for which you've made the world.

And so lord, we pray you would, enrich us. You would, grow our grow our faith as we as we take this, this lord's supper together now. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.


Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

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