Why are we here? The Western civilization hasn’t really stopped to answer this question. Ecclesiastes is a book of courage, a book that dares to look at how life would be if God is out of the picture. We need to see the problem of vanity and empty pursuits. (Ecclesiastes 1:12-15; Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller, Pastor Steve Andrulonis
6:30 PM on 9/6/2020
P. Steve Andrulonis –
If we can open our Bibles to build on something that was said this morning. I’m not advertising my class,
Thursday night at 7:00! I’m in stiff competition since I have P. Love teaching Homiletics opposite
me! P. Schaller was speaking this morning about 1 Corinthians and the cloud that followed the
nation of Israel as they were released from Egypt, and the rock that followed them. I thought
about things that were stirred up in my heart and mind about just how very present is God and
do we realize just how very present he is. If you go to the book of Ecclesiastes, there’s a verse
there in the ESV it reads this way, Ecclesiastes 3:12 “he has made everything beautiful in it’s time also he
has put eternity into man’s heart yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the
beginning to the end.” I thought how very present is God.
Psalm 19 was also referenced in the message how God makes himself known in all that he has made and reveals the power of his Word. I was reading Daniel today and I’m thinking just how God can come in and make himself
known in secret. The secret things belong to God. You know that God can penetrate into
someone. He has put eternity into man’s heart and when does that manifest itself? Sometimes
it manifests itself in the sleep of people. If you read the Bible you know that Pharaoh had a
dream and that dream talked about a famine that was coming. Pharaoh didn’t know what the
skinny cows or the fat ears meant. He didn’t know anything about that. He knew he had seen
these things. He knew something had penetrated from his unconscious and subconscious mind
in his sleep, but God was there, and he knew it not.
He didn’t know what to make of these things. Who did God bring into the picture? Joseph, who had been sold by his brothers into slavery, who had been wrongly accused of sexual assault. He was living in a prison and brought
to the place where he could interpret the dream. God is very present, but God is looking for
people to be in the place where they can interpret the things he is saying to the world. The
spirit of this age is crazy. We know it. We think this is the craziest age ever. I’m an historian. I
read lots of history. Trust me. This is crazy, but it’s been crazy all along. God has always found a
way to penetrate into someone’s place of thinking and tell them the truth. It happened in
Daniel. Daniel is in exile. He and the three Hebrew boys are there. Nebuchadnezzar has this
dream, and the dream is so overwhelming he lost it.
He lost the dream. I got wise guys. I got a stable full of astrologers. They can look to the stars and find my dream in the stars. He asked his wise guys. Tell me my dream and the interpretation. Well, you tell us the dream and we’ll tell
you what it means. No, I lost the dream. You have to tell me both/and, not either/or. You have
to tell me both the dream that I had and where it went and then you have to tell me what it
means. Impossible! You are an impossible king. Okay, you’re dead to me. All of you die. All of
you wise guys gone! But Daniel and the three Hebrew boys prayed, and God found the dream
and gave Daniel the interpretation and he gave it to the king. That’s amazing. How many
dreams are people having now and how many interpreters are there? How many pastors, how
many laborers, how many ministers, how many workers are there that can tell people what
they are dreaming about?
We know that the world waxes worse and worse and gets a little better and then waxes worse. God speaks in dreams but sometimes maybe it also might be Daniel 5 time for the writing on the wall. There’s a lot of writing on the wall right now all over the place. Lots of cities have writing on the wall. Who knows how to interpret that? There was writing on the wall in Daniel 5, a king who knew the power of the God of heaven mocked him
anyway, drank out of the holy vessels, brought them into his wild party. The finger of God came
into the room. That’s a horror story. The finger of God came into the room and wrote a
message on the wall. No one could interpret it. No one knew what those words meant. Only a
man with the Spirt of God could come into the picture and say, this is what it means, you are
numbered, and you have been found wanting and you’re gone. By that evening, by the end of
that evening, Belteshazzar was gone.
Daniel, a man, knew how to interpret the writing on the wall. These are the things that God is asking us to do. There are two places in the Bible, Ezekiel 2 and Revelation 5 and there’s this interesting phrase, “I saw a scroll that was written both on the front and the back. If you know what scrolls look like, you can go to the museum of the
Bible and see them. They don’t get written on both sides. It just doesn’t work that way. It didn’t
work that way with the ink and penmanship they were using back in those days and the animal
skins. But having a scroll written on both sides is a picture. It’s speaking to us. The thing that
men read, the writing on the wall, the writing on the scroll, there’s a back story to it. There is
the kingdom side of things. We are the people who are taught from this book, from this pulpit,
in our classes, in our rap sessions, in many Bible studies that happen in many homes all the
time. We are taught the other side.
We are taught the kingdom side of the scroll. People can read the front side and they are confused. They don’t know what it means. You got to come on the other side and let the Spirit of God show you how he is seeing things. God is very present. The science is not settled on how God speaks in dreams, but we know he speaks in dreams. We
know there is writing on the wall that the end is near, November 4 th . That’s a joke for those that
are watching online! It’s a joke! It’s a joke! We’re just jesting. We got to be careful with that.
The scroll is written on both sides. There is a kingdom side to things, and we are the people
who have been invited in to see the back side of the scroll, to see things from the kingdom
view. How many places will God put us. How many times will God allow us to be interpreters
for something for someone who needs it.
We are the salt. We are the light. We have been called to flavor the place where we are. We have been called to preserve the place where we are. We have been called to shine where we are. We have been called to expose the things that have been pushed off into the shadows. That’s because we have the other side in view. We
know that God is very present, so present, always present everywhere present, always moving
in our hearts, always giving us the Spirit to interpret and see things in a way if we let him. Let’s
be people like that.
P. Schaller –
Every once in a while, I get a little philosophical in my heart and I’m like that now,
yesterday and today, and so I’m going to preach that way and I hope you will enjoy it and it will
help you. P. Steve, we texted today, and he said he had a message. I said, sure. You can share it
tonight. He just did and after the service this morning I didn’t go home. I stayed in my office and
read about Ecclesiastes, the book, and just started reading through it and meditating on it. It’s
amazing that he said what I have been thinking about today. He said it. He said it really good. So
the service is over! I mean he did. He did a great job. I’m going to repeat it largely and share it
with you. Why? Because one anthropologist said was it out of 21 civilizations that he studied, only the Western civilization did not answer the question, why are we here? Why are we here?
What is the meaning of life? We are living in a world where we don’t know where we are going,
and we don’t know why we are really here. But and I believe it was C.S. Lewis that said – wait a
C.S. Lewis talked about our existence this way. It’s like a fleet of ships. There
are three things that the ships, there are three different things. 1) they don’t run into each
other. This is like our society. We learn not to run into each other. 2) The second thing we learn
in our civilized life is how to maintain our ship, how to keep the bilge pump running, engine
running, the radios, electronics, and everything. We know this. We learned this. 3) The third
thing about the fleet of ships is not being spoken about in our world. That is why is the fleet of
ships in the sea and where is the fleet of ships going. We only know don’t run into each other
and stay floating, but why? The book of Ecclesiastes is a unique book in the Bible because it is
the anti-Bible in a way. It’s a book in the Bible that doesn’t speak about God. It speaks about life
without God or life looking for God, or life looking for meaning.
But as we live this life and we look for it, we can’t find it. We hope it is there, but we are not sure. We eat and drink because tomorrow we die or we eat and work hard, work hard, work hard, – that sounds like maybe my
dad. Work hard. You can do something. You can achieve something. Work hard. But dad, why?
Why should I work hard? Ecclesiastes says because the sleep of a laboring man is sweet. Okay. I
work hard so I can sleep well, right? Right. That’s the best I can do. When I look at this world, I
can’t find anything deeper. I don’t really know. That’s why the book is so awesome. It’s the
book where we are living in America. We go to Target, we get our jobs, we live our lives, we
raise our families, and when our kids say, why? Fortunately, we have an answer. I want to share
that with you. Let’s go to the text. Revelation 1:11. This is Christ appearing to John in heaven. Christ
says, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.”
I want to speak about those words “Alpha and Omega just as a preliminary thought to our message tonight. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last. We would say from A to Z. I am from A to Z Jesus said.
I am everything. I am the whole enchilada. I am the whole purpose. I am God. I made it and it
works with me. Without me you will be wandering and questioning and wondering. Ecclesiastes 1. This
means a lot to me this kind of teaching because as a young man, this is a bit where I was living.
When I found Christ, it meant so much to me. I haven’t fallen away from Christ. Halleluiah! I
haven’t fallen away. I’m not perfect and I have my times of falling away in a sense like all of us.
But I haven’t left him because there is nobody like Him. I used to like – we could draw the
diagram, study psychology, sociology, science, and any other science that I could study about
dogs or children and then also religion.
These had relationships with each other in some limited way. Sociology and psychology and science and government and so on, and we have a world like this kind of compartmentalized. We do this compartments in every day life too. I take a vacation. I have my job. I do my responsibilities. And life is lived this way normally by nature.
We balance things. Maybe have hobbies or different things, go through phases. I was a
Christian for a while. That worked out great but I’m not there now anymore, and those kinds of
ideas. These people have religion like this. This circle could be religion and it’s just something
that’s plugged along, and I believe in and I practice. This picture is not the Alpha/Omega picture. That picture would look more like this. All these different disciplines and experiences in
life and everything I look at and how I experience life and then I believe in Jesus.
He is the all-encompassing reality. He is behind everything I learn, everything I study, everything I look at.
He is the Alpha and Omega. There is no reality without him. If I have him as my God and my
Savior, then it’s not religion in that sense. I package religion. No, this is 24/7 reality of God. This
is the Holy Spirit as our teacher. This is the meaning of life. This is what he could not find in
Ecclesiastes. The writer and this is probably Solomon who wrote it. I’d like you to start from
chapter 1 and go to verse 12. Are you with me? I think you need a little break. Talk to your
neighbor and tell them everything I just said. You have a minute or two. Tell them what we are
talking about. I asked P. Love over here on my right, and he said the only thing I can remember
is the word “enchilada!”
Ecclesiastes is like we live a Spirit-filled Christian life and we find meaning because we are taught this and experience it when we are Spirit filled. When we are doctrinally minded, we realize that everything we do, we learn that even bringing a glass of water to somebody in the name of a disciple has value. We learn I can just kneel down in my living room and just kneel and wait upon God by faith and worship God and I know, and I
believe it has value. Listening to God. This is beautiful. We assemble together to hear the Word
of God because we believe it’s instructed to us; we are instructed and learn, and it has a
benefit. We have found this reality in different degrees. But Ecclesiastes is more this book
without God only by the light of the sun. It says under the sun. Under the sun. If you look at life
by the sun, that means you observe the plants, people, life through the natural light of the sun.
Well, with the sun, you have shadows.
I’m observing life but in a way it’s not a complete power of observation or knowledge. It is limited. I can only see life in the sunshine and by my eyes and human reason and observation and it’s very limited. But I study it. This is what he did. As he looked at life many ways and many different scenarios, he came to a conclusion. It would be
something like playing music on the top deck of the Titanic. As the Titanic is sinking, this is
literally, historically what happened. The band was playing but the ship is sinking. That could
illustrate Ecclesiastes. When I observe life under the sun, I’m always reaching for something. I
can’t find the satisfaction. P. Steve mentioned it beautifully. In the king’s heart is a hole for
eternity, and in the king’s heart, Ecclesiastes 3:11, in the heart of man is a capacity for eternity. God
made man for eternity. So he is looking for eternity. The king got a dream that couldn’t be
answered. It’s a picture of how we are made.
There is enough of like God’s calling to say who can interpret the dream. I got the dream, but I don’t have the other side. I got one side of life but who can tell me what is the whole thing? I got a pay check but who can tell me why? I’m alive for 70 years but who can tell me why? I need someone to tell this to me. In the search,
Chapter 1:12, we have a number of things that he is searching for. They are in this order:
wisdom. He looks for wisdom. This is not wisdom fully satisfying to you. He is looking, we would
say, for knowledge or information. Or he is looking for reasonings. He is trying to find Socrates.
He might be a good example. One philosopher said I would rather be Socrates who is asking the
big questions and not be satisfied than be a pig that is satisfied. Pigs can be satisfied. They can
eat like a pig and that’s the way they live.
Unfortunately, that’s how man can live but it’s beneath his dignity. He’s made more like a philosopher, someone to ask the question what is really going on. If we read Ecclesiastes and find the search, it’s exactly what the university
campus student is asking and looking for. It’s exactly what the guy in the barroom is asking. It’s
exactly what the man who has been married a couple times and troubled in his relationship. It’s
exactly what a religious person is saying who goes through the mechanism and disciplines of
religion but not finding and knowing God. This book is the anti-Bible book. It is. It’s the Bible
book but it’s perfect. There are two ways to draw a picture. You can draw a picture, here is the
frame, and I can draw a picture of a box like this. There is another way to draw it and it’s to
draw a box by just doing the anti-box. This is another way to draw a picture of a box. You see
what I mean? I draw a box.
The anti-picture of a box, that’s Ecclesiastes. It’s telling us the Gospel by telling us what life is like without God. It’s telling us about reality by telling us what reality is to a human being when he can’t find God. When he can’t find him. He’s hurting. He’s frustrated. He’s empty. What did Solomon do? He was looking for God by wisdom. Wisdom of
his natural ability under the sun. He was looking for God by pleasure. Pleasure. Beautiful music
on the Titanic. Fantastic. Maybe the best performance ever performed. What does it mean a
few minutes later? Maybe it’s gone with the ship. Ecclesiastes would say where is the meaning?
Vanity of vanities. That’s the key word in the book. Vanity. It means aimless. It means without a
goal, without finding. These French philosophers, Sartre, and others, the modern man who is an
existentialist. Kierkegaard also was a pastor who tapped into it. Nietzsche was that way, too.
Maybe you and I have all felt it.
Maybe we cannot speak about it this way, but we know what it is. By the way, our people, our country knows this. Ever run to one event after another and been exhausted and sat down and wondered, why? As a Christian, have you ever gotten under pressure, run to the church, run to an outreach, run to a Bible study, run to a prayer meeting,
and then wonder is it satisfying for me? Have you ever hit the wall and just said it’s not working.
It doesn’t satisfy. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I haven’t seen it. I haven’t smelled it. I
haven’t found it in a long time. Here’s the beautiful thing. Is it there? It is. It’s there. Solomon
looked for it in pleasure, in accomplishments, architecturally, chapter 2, in hard work. He was
looking for it in justice. He was looking for it in personal wealth. He was looking for it even in
children. Not he himself but he said though a man would have a hundred children, a hundred
children and still – Chapter 6:3.
Why would a dead child be better than him? Because he never found the Alpha and the Omega, the whole point. I wrote some things down I felt very happy to say and to think. I wrote this, “In a way, I am highly honored by God because I can be part of a team that labors to bring understanding to people regarding the deepest and most important issues of life, the meaning of life.” Almost you could weep. Have you found the meaning of life?
You could stand and say, yes. I have. No, nobody has. Yeah, but you are deceiving yourself.
There isn’t any. No sir. I have. It’s humbling to say it. I have all the days of my life. I am part of
this relationship with Jesus Christ, the whole meaning of life. No, you are fooling yourself.
You’re just a religious nut. You’re a fanatic. Bible reading insane! Yes, sir, I know that’s what
they said about Paul. They said your much learning has made you mad, Paul. And he said, Oh,
most noble Festus, I am not mad. I speak forth the words of truth.
I wish you were like me and everyone who heard me was like me. Do you feel that way? I do. I wish people would find Jesus. I know that Jesus is there. I know God made this world so we can seek him and find him. I know
it’s there. I know the meaning of life is the Alpha, the Omega, the person of Christ. We are
deeply honored. We are deeply honored in many ways. We labor for this. I don’t think I could
have a greater purpose with you folks. Our lives are lived by God’s gift so we would be the
evidence that it is true. That people would meet us and say, what do you got? How did you find
it? How do you get it? What is it? What have you found? Why are you satisfied? Listen to this:
Why are you an old man getting older and you are shining brightly? Why do you have words of
wisdom in your heart? Why do you have purpose in your footsteps? Why aren’t you burnt out?
Why aren’t you angry about the Bible and about the church and every other thing in life? We
By the way, with existentialism ultimately they say there is no purpose for life so
there is no God. There is no God so there is no purpose. It goes both ways. They fall back
immediately the mode of operation is hedonism, self-pleasure, self-satisfaction. Just play the
song while the Titanic sinks because we are going down. If you want to play the song, go ahead,
but it doesn’t mean anything. But if you enjoy it, do it. If you do it, enjoy it. If you enjoy the sex,
if you enjoy lying, if you enjoy cheating people, if you enjoy stealing, if you enjoy getting money,
if you enjoy power or whatever it is, go ahead. Do it. There is no God. Those people in Isaiah
50:11 lie down in sorrow. Ultimately at the end of their life they perish. They pass into eternity.
God will say, thou fool. It says in Luke 12:20.
The man tore down his barns to build bigger barns and all he had was the pleasure to build bigger barns. The increase of his influence and wealth and maybe his power. Then Jesus calls him and says it strongly. Thou fool. Thou fool. Today your soul is required of you. You replaced me with your big barns. You replaced me with your
hundred children. You replaced me with your power and influence. You replaced me with your
wisdom. You replaced me with your phone and technology and way of life. You kept your ship
shipshape. You got your ship in order. You don’t hit anybody else, but you don’t know where
the heck you are going. You are a fool. Get on your knees. Hear him. Believe him. Walk by faith.
Maybe I got a couple other things here. The book of Ecclesiastes is really a courageous book
because it raises deep questions that only deep answers can satisfy. Where are the deep
answers? Jesus. He’s the deep answer.
That’s why it’s in the Bible. We can go to the search and try to find, and I cannot. I cannot find it. I cannot find it. The good question presupposes a good answer. If I was born with a stomach, the minute I’m hungry it’s presupposing there is food. When modern man is living here and he’s asking why, it’s presupposing there is an answer to
the question. And there is. It’s God. Modern man must read this book, Ecclesiastes. He must
read it. He must be told about it. Then he must read the rest of the Bible to get the answer. We
are in Bible college season now. I’m so encouraged because I believe the deep calls unto the
deep. When in our school we hit this, God does this, and he speaks, and you get rooted and
grounded. It is so satisfying. It is sufficient. Jesus said it. But then I want to say this: when
something is crooked, it says this in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes. You know where it says the
crooked cannot be made straight, Ecclesiastes 1:15.
What is crooked cannot be made straight. Is that true? It’s true this way, this picture of the house with the two floors. This is the first floor, the natural life of people. Here the crooked cannot be made straight. It’s another way of saying the broken thing cannot be fixed or the liar cannot change, or death and the grave is powerful, and
you can’t change the grave. We bury people and it’s over. The crooked cannot be made
straight. You have no answer to these big issues. It’s just wrong and they hurt us. Sin hurts us
and so on and it cannot be made straight. John the Baptist said with the coming Messiah that
the crooked shall be made straight. That’s it. We have found it. We have found the answer to
the dream that is in our hearts. We have found the answer to the questions that we have as
people. We have found why we are here.
You know what happened to many of us that were up here on the stage and many of the ladies and the counselors and the wise people that have been in our church for years? Do you know what has happened in our lives? We know both realities. Here it is crooked, and we live in a crooked house with a crooked man who walks with
a crooked stick down a crooked road and we live in a crooked world. While we live here, in the
shipwreck, Acts 27, the broken heart, we live here with a sinful nature and a grave that devours
us. The earth is an all-devouring grave. It devours humanity every day. The earth is just a big
grave, a big graveyard. While we live here we have a song in us, a word. It’s a sure word of
prophesy. We have an answer. We have a risen Christ. We have a message. We have it as we
live by faith and the Holy Spirit is faithful to say to us the crooked will be made straight one day.
I will call out and all those that are in the grave will come up, all those that belong to me.
I will answer prayer. I will turn things around. I will release you out of the lion’s den. I will deliver
Peter out of prison and he will not be executed the next day. And the sinful woman that had
seven demons is delivered and she’s now a saint. The woman at the well with five husbands is
satisfied because she met a man she never met before. He’s different. Wow! I’m so touched by
it. I’m so happy for it. It’s so amazing. It makes so much sense. It’s what we are working for. It’s
what we live for. It’s every day of our life. It’s at the top of the refrigerator. It’s somewhere
there. When you were a kid, your mom put the goodies up there. You’re just short and you try
to get it and you pushed it back when you touched it. Now you can’t get it at all. God made us
and he has an interpretation for the dream.
He has an answer for the heart. He has a solution for the problem. He has a resurrected Christ for our life today while we live in a cursed world. We are people who have found it and we must learn how to give an answer for the hope that we have in 1 Peter 3:15. We must learn how to give answers. We must learn to talk. Would you
talk more? Turn to your neighbor and say, would you talk more? Go ahead. Would you talk
more? P. Love, he can only remember “enchilada!” That’s all he can remember! What does it
mean? Do you know our culture is in trouble and they don’t know, and you do. Do you know by
being kind and sharing love. I talked to someone and I said I think what we all need is love. I
think we need love. You know what I think, ma’am? What do you think about love? Love never
fails. Jesus Christ is love. God loves you. You have a future. You must be born again. God is for
you, not against you. That’s how we live.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.