The uncertainty of autonomous man's striving for salvation leads to hopelessness. Only on the basis of a personal God in covenantal relationship with man is there any hope for mankind.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
- Ecclesiastes is remarkably real; it is sobering, but not depressing. The book confronts us with the human condition, reaching depths that modern existentialists cannot.
- The book challenges the very presumptuous assertions of autonomous man, confronting the futility of sinners in their life-goals under the sun.
- King Solomon exercised covenant headship of God’s people, and, as a type of Christ, he points to the higher wisdom of God Himself.
- The wisdom of Solomon was special, climactic, unprecedented; it was a comprehensive wisdom which had a redemptive aspect (1 Kings 4:29-34).
- The wisdom of Solomon was a precursor to Christ’s wisdom which presents a way of life for the whole world.
- Ecclesiastes gives us God’s explanation of man’s experience under the sun as it now is after the Fall.
- God intended that by study and reflection man would grow in wisdom to carry out his task in the world. Culture is what we make of creation, and requires wisdom, planning and work.
- Solomon does not rely on his own wisdom; he relies on God’s wisdom as the foundation of his reflections.
- All of life from birth to death has an integrated meaning and purpose in terms of God’s planning for all things.
- But because of sin, man’s thinking became disintegrated, and collapses into meaninglessness.
- Dualistic thinking has pervaded our culture and churches, and the church has abandoned many areas of life as “unspiritual.” Theologians erroneously speak of the realm of nature and the realm of grace.
- Godless man faces disintegration and striving after the wind. He wants solutions but is afraid of God’s diagnosis.
- The problem with man is his alienated relationship with God. True wisdom is to reconcile with God.
- In Eden wisdom was given to man to serve God and to build God’s culture. After the Fall man’s wisdom must be cultivated in reliance on God’s Word and Spirit.
- In the West we believe that man’s problem is metaphysical, not ethical. So we hope politics can save us.
- Jesus taught about the human condition that man must be ethically restored to a transcendent God.
- Other religions seek to make man participate in the divine. The uncertainty of autonomous man’s striving for salvation leads to hopelessness.
- Only on the basis of a personal God in covenantal relationship with man is there any hope for mankind.
- Greek philosophy borrowed its foundations from other pagan cultures but claimed that man’s mind was ultimate.
- All western philosophy is footnotes to Plato. Chance, fate, and impersonal nature are the ultimate order.
- Only power counts in a world governed by competing human “divinities” and thus disillusionment is the condition of man without God.
- Humanistic wisdom is powerless to deliver on the ideals it pontificates about.
- Jesus Christ is the only deliverer from vexation and meaninglessness (1 Cor. 1:20; John 16:33).
- What was the nature of Solomon’s wisdom?
- Compare Solomon’s wisdom to Christ’s.
- What is the condition of man without God? Why?
- Identify man-made salvation schemes from history.
- Why do man’s attempts at self-salvation fail?