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Life’s BIG Questions Week 7 Session 2 Session 5.2 1.

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1 Life’s BIG Questions Week 7 Session 2 Session 5.2 1

2 What is the Meaning of Life?
Part 1 So this is the second of the BIG questions we are dealing with tonight. What is the meaning of Life? Session 5.2 2 2

3 Life’s BIG Questions Why are we here?
What is the point of our existence? Is there a meaning to our lives? It’s not just one of life’s BIG questions, but arguably the biggest of them all – why are we here? Is life a random experience determined by chance, or is there a creator with a plan and purpose that can involve us? Session 5.2 3 3

4 Some say there is no meaning
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Macbeth There are many who hold the view that looking for meaning in life is an illusion, that ultimately our lives signify nothing. The view of Macbeth in Shakespeare's play view is typical of that school of thought. READ Quote. Session 5.2 4 4

5 Some say there is no meaning
My days are in the yellow leaf; The flowers and fruits of love are gone; The worm, the canker, and the grief Are mine alone! Byron Or as Byron put it in his poem on his 36th birthday…… READ quote Less than a month later he was dead In the quotes from Shakespeare and Byron I sense a real disappointment with the conclusions they have reached about life, a sadness that when all has been said and done, their lives amount to very little Session 5.2 5 5

6 Other philosophers claim to know life’s meaning
Maslow Using our creative powers Fromm Living productively May Being able to love Buddha Achieving inner peace Kant Acting in line with universal laws So what do the world’s finest minds believe to be the meaning in life? Want to show you 10 views from the greatest philosophers who have ever lived. Clearly boiling down their philosophical approach to a few words is a little unfair, but it helps us understand the range of views that exist. Session 5.2 6 6

7 Other philosophers claim to know life’s meaning
Freud Loving and working Heschel Living in wonder Frankyl Hoping in an ultimate meaning Tillich Being yourself Aristotle Living virtuously Some of them like Maslow, Buddha, Freud and Aristotle will be known to us, and we may even understand a little of their writings. Others we may well not have come across, unless we have an interest in philosophy Session 5.2 7 7

8 A Straw Poll People claim to find meaning to life in: Education Wealth
Partners Career Recreation I am no philosopher, but in talking to friends and neighbours there appear to be 5 common themes which provide meaning to their lives. For some it is all about education. Achieving the very best education for themselves, or perhaps even more so for their children, becomes the most important aspect of life. For others it is all about wealth accumulation. Achieving the very biggest house, the fastest car, the widest selection of exotic holidays. I suspect if we are being honest, we all like a bit of that. And then there are partners. I think for many this really means sex. Fulfilling their natural desires is the top of some people’s list. The other elements mentioned are career and recreation. For some their job is everything, it defines them to such an extent that losing it becomes a barrier they never get over. Others find life’s meaning in their hobbies and recreation. So what are we to conclude? Session 5.2 8 8

9 Problem with philosophers
10 philosophers referenced 10 different opinions Who is right and who is wrong? How are we supposed to make up our mind? So is the meaning of life to be found in loving and working, achieving inner peace or being yourself? If the 10 finest human minds have reached 10 different conclusions, how on earth are we supposed to find the answer. We have quoted this before in this seminar series, but “the best of men are only men at best.” So even if there was some common theme running through man’s philosophical thinking, it would be man’s conclusion – and is man capable of figuring out the answer? The best of men are only men at best Session 5.2 9 9

10 Unless they are directed by God
Solomon was a uniquely wise man At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered….. “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong?" The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself….. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be” 1 Kings 3 v 5-13 The best of men are indeed only men at best…..unless they are directed by God. God transforms the debate. If there is a creator who has a plan and purpose, and if he has revealed the meaning of life, then there is the possibility that we may get to know it. Solomon was not listed amongst our 10 human philosophers we considered earlier because his wisdom and insight was different, it was unique, because Solomon’s wisdom was given to him by God. This is what the Bible says about how Solomon got his wisdom. READ quote Session 5.2 10 10

11 As an old man he wrote Ecclesiastes
At the end of his life Solomon reflected on all his experiences. As an old man he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He had sought the meaning of life in all the routes we discussed in our straw poll. As an old man he wrote Ecclesiastes He had tried all the routes to meaning in life mentioned in our straw poll Education Wealth Partners Career Recreation Session 5.2 11 11

12 Education I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven…. I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me. I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge Ecclesiastes 1:13 and 16 This is what he said about education. Read quote Sounds like he was pretty educated! Session 5.2 12

13 Wealth I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces Ecclesiastes 2:7-8 This is what he said about wealth. READ quote. We learn from elsewhere in the Bible that Solomon was fabulously rich Solomon was fabulously rich Session 5.2 13

14 Partners “I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man” Ecclesiastes 2:8 This is what he said about relationships. Read quote. Elsewhere in the Bible we find Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines! So I guess he certainly had plenty of experience in fulfilling and satisfying human desire. Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines! Session 5.2 14

15 Career “I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem”
Ecclesiastes 1:12 Regarding his career Solomon was king over a very rich and prosperous nation. Is there a more important career than a king? Is there a more important career than king? Session 5.2 15

16 Recreation No doubt Solomon found enjoyable things to do
I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees….. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired, I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 & 10 And this is what Solomon said about recreation. READ quote. So there is no doubt Solomon spent time busying himself and finding enjoyable things to do. So what were Solomon’s conclusions? No doubt Solomon found enjoyable things to do Session 5.2 16

17 Solomon’s Conclusions
I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven….. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind….. I said in my heart, "I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I applied my heart to know wisdom…… I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 1v12-17 So with his God given wisdom, and having experienced all that life has to offer, Solomon drew 4 conclusions. Read quote. So the first of Solomon’s conclusions is that The accumulation of wisdom and knowledge is also just a striving after the wind. It is ultimately futile. 1. Man’s wisdom & knowledge is ultimately futile Session 5.2 17 17

18 Solomon’s Conclusions
Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 What was the second of Solomon’s conclusions? Read quote. So his conclusion was Life is oppressive. Living in the UK in the 21st century life may not feel oppressive to you. But for 2 thirds of the world’s population, each day is a struggle for survival. 2. Life is oppressive Session 5.2 18 18

19 Solomon’s Conclusions
For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 What was Solomon’s third conclusion? READ quote. It was Benjamin Franklin who wrote that life’s 2 certainties were death and taxes. I am not sure what fiscal policies Solomon applied, but with his God given wisdom he was certain that at the end of our three score years and ten, we will return to the ground and our bodies decompose, just like the animals. So conclusion number 3 is Only death is certain. 3. Only death is certain Session 5.2 19 19

20 Solomon’s Conclusions
Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man Ecclesiastes 12v13 At the very end of his writings Solomon pulled together all his wisdom and distilled it into 14 words….. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. When the Bible speaks of fearing God it is not just in the sense of being frightened by him, it means to have a sense of reverence and awe when considering God, because of his greatness and goodness. Fearing God, and keeping his commandments, is the whole duty of man, says Solomon. The good news is just how simple it is – only 2 things to focus on, fearing God and keeping his commandments. The bad news is just how difficult we find it to put it into practice! 4. Life without God is pointless Session 5.2 20 20

21 Solomon’s Conclusions
Wisdom and knowledge is ultimately futile Life is oppressive 3. Only death is certain 4. Life without God is pointless Solomon takes us a fair way on our path to understand the meaning of life. Read list. And if we share his conclusions we will be in a good position. But the Bible makes it clear that although Solomon was uniquely wise, there is one greater than Solomon…..Jesus. But there is one greater than Solomon . . . Session 5.2 21 21

22 The view of the son of God
Jesus uses analogy of the shepherd (Jesus) and his sheep (followers) to explain the meaning of life . . Session 5.2 22 22

23 Teaching of Jesus “I am the gate; (of the sheepfold) whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. … I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10 v Session 5.2 23

24 What Jesus has to say Jesus is talking to his followers about salvation Without Jesus there is no meaning to life “through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” Jesus came that we might have life But more than just having life we can have it “to the full” Ultimately we can have eternal life Because the shepherd gave his life for the sheep Lets just think about what Jesus was talking about. First of all, Jesus is talking to his followers about salvation. It is only through Jesus that we can find true meaning to life. I suppose this isn’t surprising given that God made us. So Jesus allows true meaning to life. This is what he meant when he said, “through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” So Jesus came that we might have life, but more than just having life, he said we can have it “to the full” In other words ultimately we can have eternal life. Because the shepherd gave his life for the sheep. Session 5.2 24 24

25 Jesus’ words Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent John 17v1-3 Just before his death by crucifixion, Jesus explained a little more to his followers about that more abundant life he offered - eternal life. Session 5.2 25 25

26 Jesus’ words to his followers
Eternal life is a gift from God It will be given to all true followers of Jesus The meaning of life is To have a relationship with God (to know him) And to know His son Jesus If we have no relationship with God & Jesus Vacuum in our lives, something missing So Jesus said that eternal life is a gift from God. The Bible message is that it will be given to all true followers of Jesus. Jesus said the meaning to life is to get to Know God and him - to have a relationship with them. To understand their love, their character and bring them into our lives. So if we have no relationship with God and Jesus then there is something missing in our lives. Session 5.2 26 26

27 Purpose of God – making eternal life possible
CREATION Everything made good. Man and God at one MAN SINS God and man separated CREATION Subject to sin and death THE KINGDOM Everything made good again. Man and God at one When Jesus spoke to his followers about making eternal life possible, he was reflecting the overall plan and purpose of his father. There is a marvellously simple symmetry about the Bible. It begins in Genesis with God’s creation, when man and God are at one. It ends in Revelation, with God’s re-creation and ultimate reconciliation with man. Enabling men and women to live forever in a perfected earth is the hope of the Bible. JESUS Returns to the earth JESUS Dies for our sins Session 5.2 27 27

28 The Choice is Ours Matthew 7v13-14
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it Matthew 7v13-14 Ultimately, the Bible claims that whether life has meaning for you and I depends upon the choice we make now in our lives. Jesus described that choice as being between two roads. One is a broad comfortable motorway which speeds to death, a road favoured by the majority. The other is a small, narrow, and difficult road, favoured by comparatively few, that leads to life Session 5.2 28 28

29 Summary Philosophers claim to know life’s meaning
People seek to find meaning in Education, wealth, partners, career or recreation Only way to find ultimate meaning is if the creator revealed it to us This is the Bible’s claim Solomon, uniquely given wisdom by God, concluded that only a life with God has meaning So in answer to part 1 of the question “what is the meaning of life?” We can summarize what we have seen. various philosophers have claimed to know the meaning of life - some even suggesting there is no meaning. We know that men people seek to find meaning to their lives in material things such as education, wealth, partners, career or recreation. However the message in the Bible is the the only way to the ultimate true meaning is if it is revealed to us by our creator. Solomon tried all the things that give meaning to life in a material sense and his conclusion was that Only a life with God has meaning. Session 5.2 29 29

30 Summary Eternal life is only possible through the sinless life and sacrificial death of Jesus Eternal life is to know God and Jesus, and to have a relationship with them Ultimately we must choose between Broad way which leads to destruction Narrow way which leads to eternal life in God’s kingdom The bible message is that Jesus - the one greater than Solomon brought the way to eternal life. That this eternal life is only possible through his sinless life and sacrificial death. He described how eternal life is to get to know God and himself - to have a relationship with them. Ultimately we have to make up our minds- we each have a choice. We must choose between the Broad way and the narrow way which leads to eternal life in God’s kingdom. Session 5.2 30 30

31 Conclusion Thank you for being here this week
Review the notes from this session We look forward to your company next week - God willing Session 5.2 31

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