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  • The Search For Eternity (Discussion Notes)

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    ‘There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life’, this bus advert from 2008 captures well the prevailing message of our culture; and it could have been lifted straight out of Ecclesiastes. I like the first half of the statement because the ‘probably’ encourages debate and conversation; and I think Solomon would have liked that too. In the passage we’re about to look at, Solomon presents to us different trains of thought that he’s been on in his life. His main aim is to encourage conversation and searching, he was all too aware of the human ability to avoid the most important issues in life and death.

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    Ecclesiastes 3:16 - 22
    16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upwards and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

    Just Animals?

    Reflecting on all that he’s seen, Solomon observes that without God in the equation we are little more than just animals in our actions and drive for self-preservation. Continuing on this God-less train of thought, he arrives at the conclusion that the best we can do is just enjoy life whenever and wherever possible. However, he goes on to show the flaws in this way of thinking.

    Chapter 4:1-3
    Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

    What About Poverty And Oppression?

    Considering all the poverty, sickness and oppression in the world is a big obstacle for many to faith in a loving and almighty God. That said, it makes the encouragement to ‘just enjoy life’ sound hollow, irrelevant and even arrogant. Following this the train of thought that enjoyment is all this is to life, Solomon concludes that anyone who is not enjoying life should just die. Ouch.

    In Chapter 9:7-12, he adds to this argument by reminding us that life is short and often unfair; and that death is the only thing that’s guaranteed. Ouch again.

    The hidden message in Solomon’s words of despair is this, ‘Don’t bury your head in the shifting sands of the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. Instead, search for eternity.’

    The Beginning and The End

    Granted, there are a lots of places to start a search for eternity; but we’re going to a place that a lot of people recommend; the Bible. Here’s Jesus talking about eternity with some religious leaders:

    You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. John 5:39

    According to Jesus, we could read the whole Bible and miss the truth completely! He claims that the search for eternal life begins and ends with Him.

    (For the complete article on Sunday’s message please click here)

    Some Questions:

    1) Jesus reveals clearly that God is three persons; Father, Son and Spirit. What impact does this have on your view of God and eternity?

    2) ‘We were made to enjoy the love of the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit’. You were created to enjoy God, what difference does this make to your daily living?

    3) ‘When Jesus rose from the dead, He proved the validity of His claims and also confirmed that every human will all have a physical eternity.’ What do you think of this?

    4) What can you do to explore/enjoy Jesus more?

    5) How can you encourage others to ask the big questions and investigate Jesus?

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