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Finding Meaning in a Sin-Cursed World

By Joe Boot/ January 10, 2016

Series  Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Apologetics

Scripture  Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Ecclesiastes provides life wisdom and apologetics guidance for the believer facing the circumstances of the world.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Sermon Notes:

  1. As we enter a new year, the world faces security, economic and social problems; in the face of uncertainty and insecurity, man offers solutions based on his own wisdom.
  2. Ecclesiastes provides life wisdom and apologetics guidance for God’s people as they face the circumstances of the world.
  3. We enter a new year with faith and hope, but the world is not safe; we live in a fallen and broken world filled with vanity, meaninglessness.
  4. History is the theatre of our testing, our proving as we seek a building whose maker is God.
  5. God’s wisdom is transforming us in the totality of our lives; the effects of the curse are being undone.
  6. The last Adam, Jesus Christ, is defeating sin and death progressively as His people live renewed lives.
  7. As we observe a sin-sick world, we must learn to identify God’s programmatic kingdom prescriptions.
  8. It was probably King Solomon who authored Ecclesiastes.
  9. The book strikes us as being cynical and skeptical. This is a device used by the Teacher to instruct his students.
  10. The text is not immediately appealing to many readers; it doesn’t seem positive or uplifting.  But it comes to us as God’s Word.
  11. The words of the wise are like goads; they prick us and make us uncomfortable.
  12. The teacher exposes the world as it is under the sun, without sanitizing or glossing over the messy parts.
  13. We cannot be positive and constructive until after we have been negative and diagnosed the true condition of the world and ourselves.
  14. Ecclesiastes doesn’t take the perspective of ancient cynics or modern skeptics, but it recognizes their problem.
  15. Paul likewise takes the worldview of the skeptic as a starting point for his apologetics, infusing it with biblical truth and meaning (Acts 17:16-34).
  16. The pathos of Ecclesiastes helps man to identify his lot under the sun.
  17. The only route to recovery of a sin-filled world is in God and His abiding covenant Word.
  18. Fallen man is imprisoned in darkness and ignorance. Pascal said man doesn’t know the place he should occupy; he searches in the face of darkness.
  19. In a world that has violated the everlasting covenant, the preacher seeks to impress upon us the centrality of God.
  20. The author of Ecclesiastes is a Hebrew who assumes that all of creation needs redemption and renewal by God.  This is the context when he says life is transitory, passing, futile.
  21. Ecclesiastes is an assault on all the wisdom and ideals of man. The problem of futility cannot be solved by man’s resources. 
  22. Man’s present condition under the curse of God is abnormal, something to be thrown off.  But man cannot reverse the curse by his own resources.  
  23. Despite all man’s labours for the good society, we cannot rescue ourselves; we are confronted with our need and the burden of sin upon our lives.
  24. God alone is the One in whom we can put our trust. The only source of meaning is found in the covenant of grace.
  25. The themes of Ecclesiastes are humbling but we can face life and its challenges in the power of God.

Application Questions:

  1. What is the author’s purpose in Ecclesiastes?
  2. How should we understand the negative, cynical tone in Ecclesiastes?
  3. What is the Christian response to the “messy” aspects of the world?
  4. How does studying Ecclesiastes impact our attitudes and piety?