It’s All Meaningless 10? What Is The Gospel? (Ecclesiastes 7:29 & 8:14)
Let’s dig into a couple of verses from Ecclesiastes 7 and 8
and see what they teach us about the Gospel,
the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ…
Ecclesiastes 7:29: This only have I found: God created mankind upright,
but they have gone in search of many schemes.”
What a fantastic summary of the sinfulness of all humanity:
going in search of many schemes…
especially if you feel good about not having committed certain “really bad” sins,
this sums up our sinfulness: doing things our own way, living life as if it is ours,
as if we are god and in charge. Many schemes…
Judges 17:6: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
[what was right in their own eyes]
Isaiah 53: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Iniquity/sin that Jesus had to die for: not just murder, but all of us going our own way.
Zechariah 10:2: The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.
What we call “freedom”—being in charge of our lives
& doing what we think is best—
the Bible calls oppression, bondage, slavery.
Wow. That’s 1st half of the Gospel—
we are rebels needing to surrender,
we arent just misinformed needing to be educated…
Ecclesiastes 8:14: There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth:
the righteous who get what the wicked deserve,
and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve.
This too, I say, is meaningless.
Now this is not Solomon’s context in this verse,
but his words remind me of the 2nd half of the Gospel:
The righteous—Jesus—gets what the wicked—us—deserve,
& the wicked—us—get what the righteous—Jesus—deserves.
So let’s invest our time this post looking at the Gospel in detail:
what is the Gospel?
What happens when a person is saved by the Lord Jesus Christ?
What does it mean to become a Christian—
what happens to that person?
We must never forget!
Romans 4:20-25: Yet [Abraham] did not waver through unbelief
regarding the promise of God,
but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,
24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—
for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
The perfect righteousness needed to enter heaven,
needed to be restored to intimate relationship with the LORD,
that perfect righteousness is a gift to be received,
not a scholarship to be earned…
2 Corinthians 5:21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him
we might become the righteousness of God.
By surrendering to the Lord Jesus Christ,
by admitting our sinful guilt
and receiving Him as our Savior & King &
trusting in His finished work through the cross and empty tomb,
we receive His righteousness to cover our unrighteousness. Oh the Gospel!!!
Ephesians 1:3-14: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ,
in accordance with his pleasure and will—
6 to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.
With all wisdom and understanding,
9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure,
which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—
to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen…
Oh my. So much gold here regarding the Gospel,
regarding the perfect character of God!
Let’s simply focus on a couple of points:
He chose us to be forgiven & restored & remade & adopted. Wow.
Not chosen like on the school playground,
like reluctantly & frustratingly choosing the last kid for your team at recess–
the kid who was picked last because he/she doesn’t have skill.
But God enthusiastically choosing us to be on His team & in His family
even though right now, in our sinfulness without Christ,
we DON’T have any skills, any righteousness of our own!
(But oh how He transforms us with His righteousness
once we are in His family & on His team!)
Oh dear Christians how can we not be amazed,
knowing the sinfulness of our souls,
that the LORD would enthusiastically choose us
because of His great compassion & tenderness for us!
He chose us in accordance with His pleasure & will!
He was PLEASED to choose us! Oh the Gospel!
Don’t be ashamed of this Truth, don’t brush it off:
enjoy what we can understand of this mystery,
& rest in what we can’t understand of it:
God chose us even before we chose Him!!!
A child can enjoy the taste of the meal
without a complete understanding of the digestive process!
Enjoy this beautiful Truth of the Gospel…
& seek the LORD in the Bible to understand the Gospel
& enjoy all of its ingredients more and more—
stare at/study the many facets of the diamond of the Gospel & be amazed!
…having been predestined according to the plan of him
who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ,
might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ
when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.
When you believed,
you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
What does it mean to believe in Christ?
It means we put our hope in Him (verse 12)—and nothing else—
because God has shown us the mystery of the Gospel:
that without Christ we are hopeless,
the fact that we can only be hopeful
by trusting in what He has accomplished
through the manger, the cross & the empty tomb, through His blood.
I can believe in the fact
that state governors have the power to grant clemency to prisoners,
to set them free though the prisoner is guilty.
But even with that belief,
I am not necessarily personally appealing to the governor for MY clemency,
for my release from death row.
To do that ALSO requires belief in the governor & the governor’s power to forgive,
but to personally appeal to the governor
to set me free & clean my record
has an added/necessary element:
taking responsibility for my crimes with a full confession.
My dear friends, this is what the Bible means by belief in Jesus—
not the 1st example, but the 2nd.
The Gospel—the Good News—of Jesus Christ,
requires not just intellectual belief but also personal responsibility,
realizing that I myself am on death row
& deserving of being eternally separated from God & joy & peace,
admitting that I’ve committed treason against the LORD Almighty &
appealing to Him for forgiveness & freedom,
not because of my good behavior
but entirely because of His goodness thru the cross & empty tomb.
That is how the righteous–Jesus–gets what the unrighteous–us–deserves:
He gets our punishment…
…and that is how the unrighteous–us–get what the righteous–Jesus–deserves:
We get His righteousness credited to our account,
paying our debt, clothing our spiritual nakedness…Oh the Gospel!!!
Finally, God reveals that His people are the “praise of His glory.”
My goodness. How amazing is that!? What does it mean?
Think about it like this:
An athlete hits a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game.
Making the shot causes people to be amazed at the athlete.
The shot is replayed over & over,
but no one goes & interviews the ball–the athlete gets the attention!
The skill & ability of the athlete are shown in the three-pointer,
and this brings for the athlete a type of praise for his/her glory,
admiration at the athlete’s skill to do something few others could do in that situation—not a focus on the ball, but on the player who handled the ball.
Dear Christians, though this is an imperfect analogy not meant to be stretched too far,
in some ways we are the 3-point shot
that is for the praise of the glory of God,
that causes the angels to be amazed
at the ability of God the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit
- to save even US,
- to set us free from the unbearable chains of sin,
- to make us alive in Christ
when we were formerly dead in our sins
& unable to do anything good to save ourselves.
When the angels look at us…goodness, when WE look at ourselves & each other…
let’s be amazed, humbled & over-joyed
that God has saved/forgiven & adopted & set us free,
all as a gift,
all Christians completely undeserving of such clemency, such pardon, such freedom
THAT is the Gospel, my friends.
There’s no better news you could hear this day or any day…
that angels can look at you & me & be amazed at the glory of God
displayed thru the manger, the cross & the empty tomb…
Now sometimes the equipment used for particularly legendary accomplishments
are put in a museum display case.
Thankfully, the LORD doesnt just put us on a shelf,
He puts us in His family.
The LORD chooses to make us,
not an object that sits in His garage/attic
but to make us,
former criminals on death row, former wearers of orange jumpsuits,
He chooses to make us sons & daughters
with full run of & access to Him in His house forever.
Oh let that sink in, my dear friends, let that sink in deep to your soul. THE GOSPEL!
- From prison to palace,
- from outhouse to penthouse,
- from the orphanage to the kitchen table,
- from under the wrath of God to under the wings of God!
Oh the joy we miss when we don’t notice & think about these details of
- Who God is,
- who we were,
- who we are now in Christ,
- what He’s done for us.
It’s like being at your favorite restaurant, ordering your favorite entrée,
& leaving most of it uneaten on the plate.
The bill has already been paid for—enjoy the meal, don’t leave it on the plate!
Oh we must devour God’s Word to learn to
savor & understand & delight in every ingredient of the Gospel, the Good News,
oh the joy we miss when we don’t study & stare at
every curve and edge and detail of the key
that unlocked our chains and set us free!
Let’s rejoice at Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes 8,
though he meant them in a different way:
the righteous who get what the wicked deserve,
and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve.
One more facet of the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 6:7-11:
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you
means you have been completely defeated already.
Why not rather be wronged?
Why not rather be cheated?
8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong,
and you do this to your brothers and sisters.
9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived:
Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor men who have sex with men 10nor thieves nor the greedy
nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed,
you were sanctified,
you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
THAT is the Gospel, dear friends—what we were…and what we are now in Christ!
The Lord Jesus can forgive any sin,
can cleanse & turn us from any sin!
Are you amazed at what He has done for you!?
Do you believe it by faith alone?
Have you applied it to your soul by grace alone thru faith alone?