Hello Project Ezra! I pray today finds you well. It has been a very busy, but very blessed, week for my local evangelism team and I. As I mentioned recently, we helped organize a local evangelism conference in Northern California (the area commonly called the Silicon Valley) this last weekend. The speakers were Tony Miano (who founded Project Ezra), Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity, and Jeff Rose of Jeremiah Cry Ministries. Topics included the Holiness of God, the supremacy of Christ in the gospel, the importance of prayer and scripture in evangelism, and many other topics. It was an amazing time of fellowship and teaching, as well as outreach, and I think God did something very special. My thanks to those of you who prayed, and to those who attended. For those of you who couldn’t make it, the conference was videotaped, and we plan to make the audio and video files available in the near future. I think they will be a blessing to all of you too. In the meantime, I hope you’ll forgive all the quotes and announcements that I’ve been posting on the group wall on Facebook.
This week we will be reading from Ecclesiastes chapter 9. As with many chapters there are not direct references to the details of the gospel, but there are still ways to transition into the gospel while being faithful to the original meaning of the text. God’s nature certainly has not changed, and neither has man’s, so all we have to do is look at the text and see how those truths are presented. In this chapter there is an emphasis on man’s mortality, and the fact that life on this earth is short. Never underestimate the impact this truth can have, if presented well. It also mentions man’s evil nature, so we can use that to address the law and sin. Finally, it mentions the hope of the living. It can be very easy (at least for me) to put too much focus on sin and judgment, to the exclusion of the hope of Christ. Even though the truths of sin and justice are sorely neglected in much of modern Christianity, and thus must be emphasized, the hope of grace through faith MUST permeate our message as well. To preach one to the exclusion of the other is to be unfaithful to God’s truth.
I pray this week’s outline is a blessing, and that you have many opportunities to share the message of God’s amazing grace.
All for His glory,
READ ECCLESIASTES 9
This chapter reminds us of our own mortality
The same events happen to the righteous and the wicked, the good one and the sinner
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45 ESV)
Death comes to all men, despite visible goodness or wickedness
The same event happens to all
Death is promised, tomorrow is not
Where will you go when you die?
it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 ESV)
Why do men die? And why will we be judged?
If God made the world perfect, why so much pain and suffering?
The answer to all these questions is the same. It is human sin.
This chapter tells us that the hearts of the children of men are full of evil
Madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead
All men are born in sin, and live in rebellion against God
I don’t need to tell you that you have sinned. Your conscience tells you that.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 ESV)
But it you will look at yourself in the light of God’s law, it will bring that sin into sharper contrast
SIN AND THE LAW
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)
In truth, all of us have sinned and rebelled against God, more times than we can count
But why the talk of judgment and condemnation? Isn’t God a God of love?
Jesus and the prostitute. She came and fell at Jesus’ feet, because she knew her own sin
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47 ESV)
You need to see yourself in truth, what you deserve, and what you need. You need to see the depth of your own sin
What you deserve, what we all deserve, including me, is justice from God
God is angry with the wicked every day, and our hearts are desperately wicked.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11 ESV)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)
We deserve nothing but hell, an eternity of torment in a lake of fire.
Yes, hell is a really real place. Put we don’t talk of it because we like the idea of people going there.
We talk about it because we deserve it, but have been saved by a good God
God, by His nature, is just, and will punish sin
But He is also loving, and patient, and kind, and good
He demonstrated the depths of His love in the cross of Jesus Christ
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (Revelation 1:5 ESV)
Jesus Christ went to the cross, willingly, and took the wrath of God on Himself
He took the punishment we deserve, and paid for the sin of all who come to Him.
If we will repent and trust in Christ alone, then, through His sacrifice, we can be made right with God, washed clean of our sin
The gospel is not a message of judgment, but a message of hope and freedom.
Freedom in not found in ignoring our sins, or denying them, but is found in the forgiveness and mercy of God, in sins paid for by Christ
We are not condemning you. According to God’s word you already stand condemned
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18 ESV)
But by the grace and mercy of God, you can be forgiven and set free, and while you continue to draw breath, there is hope!
He who is joined with the living has hope
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)
It could be that the only reason you are still alive is because God is being patient with you, so that you might repent.
It could be that the only reason I am still alive is so that I can share this message with you.
So please don’t presume on God’s patience
Repent and trust in Christ alone!