Nov 18, 2018 – Heaven and Decision Making

Nov 18, 2018 – Heaven and Decision Making

November 19th, 2018

Rev. Charles Drew
Listen to 1st sermon in series: The Resurrection and Heaven

Ecclesiastes 9:7-12 (ESV)
7 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.

9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

Romans 8:28-39 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sermon Outline
I) God’s bright future: What is it?

A. Everybody has an “end” or “future” story
1. The ‘preacher’ in Ecclesiastes: “Time and chance happen to us all”.
2. “Sentimental naturalists”
3. Pantheists

B. God’s loving end story: Glory.
“And those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30)
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

1. Unimaginably satisfying.
1 Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the mind of man been able to imagine what God has in store for those who love him.

2. Full
“All things in Christ” (v. 32).
i) Our bodies
ii) Nature
iii) Ourselves (Romans 8:29, “He will conform us to the image of his Son.”)
We will “eat our bread with joy and drink our wine with a merry heart…Whatever our hand finds to do we will do it with all our might” (Eccl 9)
iv) Community: “the first-born of many brothers (and sisters) (Romans 8:29).
v) God himself

3. Guaranteed
v. 30 “Those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Romans 8 (v. 32 ff):
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

II) What does this bright future have to do with decision-making?

A. Frees us to make hard decisions
Christ is in us, the hope of glory—Col. 1

B. Frees us to revel in the decisions we actually make—
Eccl 9.7-10: 7 Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love… 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

C. Guides us in the substance of our decision-making
1. Marriage
2. Career choice

Questions for Reflection

1. “Heaven” is not the “end story” for many of our friends, and perhaps not for us. What are one or two alternative end stories?
2. What do you make of the following statement in Ecclesiastes 9:
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
3. Does “heaven” appeal to you as an end story? Why or why not?
4. Reflect on the following texts. What do they tell us, or suggest, about our end story if we belong to Jesus:
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
1 Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the mind of man been able to imagine what God has in store for those who love him.
“Eat our bread with joy and drink our wine with a merry heart…Whatever our hand finds to do we will do it with all our might” (Eccl 9)
5. Reflect on the following statements:

  • We are often paralyzed by decision making because, whatever it is we say we believe, we are functional secularists. We have swallowed the lie that this life is all that there is, that because life “under the sun” is all that we can see, then life “under the sun” must be all that there is: if we don’t get things right in the here and now, our life will be an unmitigated disaster.
  • Enjoy life. Don’t be cynical and self-protective. It is a down-payment.
  • If we choose a career (the work we will spend an enormous amount of our time at) just to make money or just to please our parents or spouses or ourselves, we will be mistaken. It will make functional secularists of us—living as if this is the only life.

Prayer of Confession
Gracious Redeemer, eye has not seen, hear has not heard, nor have our minds been able to imagine what you have prepared for those who love you.  We declare your promises to be true and yet we tend to live as if they were not.  We are impatient, demanding to have it all now.  We resist commitment to people, careers, churches, and communities in the vain search for the next best thing.  We cling selfishly to things, to people, and to memories—fearful that if we lose these things we lose everything.  Behind this behavior are ingratitude and unbelief.  Forgive us for doubting the promise imbedded in the gift of your Son, the promise that, having given him, you will most certainly give all good things as well.  By your Spirit, open the eyes of our hearts to the present and future generosity of your heart.  Amen.

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