Ecc 7:20                                            Contrasts                                         11/17/2013  

 

#1.      Total Depravity (Ecc 7:20, Rom 3:23, Job 14:4, Rev 20:14, 21:8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.      Examples of the Works of God (Eph 1:4-5, Rom 9:15-16, Isa 45:5-7, Jam 1:13-16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      Examples of the Works of Man (Jer 17:9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4.      Why Are We Here? (2Cor 5:18, Mat 10:37-38, 2Thes 1:8-9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5.      Playing Church (Judg 17:6)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ecclesiastes, Ecc 7:20 (2X). As you know, I was trained as a scientist. The goal of a scientist is to bring together all the phenomena of a group of experiments under one law, which all these experiments obey. Let us try to apply this discipline to difficult rules in the Bible concerning the sovereignty of God. The Christian religion has some difficult rules, but we can expect that all these different rules hang together in a logical way, because we have a God who is logical and very orderly. Our God is not a God of confusion. Therefore let us start with a very basic principle: “The Total Depravity of Man.” We read in Ecc 7:20,

Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

Let us consider what this really means. In the early years of my reading of the Bible I was instructed by the church I was attending that all the works that I do are contaminated by sin. None of those I could offer to God to please Him, for they are defiled by sin. The Bible says in Rom 3:10-12,

Rom 3:10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Rom 3:11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Rom 3:12  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Four times does God describe the depravity of man, especially before man is saved. But after we have been saved we have become a “New Man”. Since I am seeking after God, has my heart now become righteous? These verses do not tell me of the difference there is if I have become saved.

I thought OK, this means that before I was “born again” all my works were stained by sin, and thus my works were unacceptable to God. But from the time I am “born again” there must be some change of my acceptance before God. And thus from the time I am “born again” my works are no longer stained by sin. Is that true?

No, that is not true! We are not only sinners before the day of our salvation, but we are also sinners after the day we have been saved. The verse we used as our starting point proves it.

Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

And yet God does make a difference. Before we are saved He calls us sinners. After we have been “born again,” which means after we have been saved He calls us “saints.” God did that. These are words which God uses to describe our condition. And this we must understand before we go on.

#1.      Total Depravity (Ecc 7:20, Rom 3:23, Job 14:4, Rev 20:14, 21:8)

Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

Let us consider what this means. The word “Just” in the Bible is the same word as “Righteous”, and the word Righteous really means to be in total agreement with God all the time. Righteousness is a property of God. When it is applied to a living person on earth it does not really mean righteous like God, but it means “Not guilty of any sin.” This does not mean really that this person has never sinned, but it means that God declares that this person is “Not Guilty.” God the Judge has declared this person “Not Guilty” for all his sins have been paid in full. When someone has been judged for a crime and goes to jail, and comes out of jail, he is no longer guilty of the crime that he has committed. The penalty for that crime has been paid. Such a person is in view in Ecc 7:20. We know that we are sinners from the day we were born. And we know that from the day we have been “born again” in our soul all our sins have been forgiven through the blood of Christ, it means we are no longer guilty in the eyes of God. We have been transformed from sinners into saints. We have been declared “Not Guilty,” the penalty has been paid. This is the language of the Bible. But after the day that we have been “born again” are we still committing sins? Are the saints still committing sins? The answer is “Yes indeed.” We are not righteous through and through, but we have only been declared “Not Guilty.” In our soul we have become a new creature, but we still live in a body which is drawn to sin. And then the Bible declares the true condition of our soul,

Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

In other words, “Even a good man, a man who is a child of God, a man in the most favorable condition he can be, a just man in the act of doing good, a man who has been forgiven for all his past sins, such a man still commits new sins in his heart all the time.” This is a very humbling declaration. It means we are never free from committing sin, even under the best condition we can be. People who strive to be free from sin are fighting a lost battle. We all need a Savior who can deliver us from this sinful body, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). No one can claim that the only sin clinging to his soul is the original sin of Adam, for even under the best condition possible we are still voluntarily committing sins, all the time. Yes, sins are committed voluntarily.

When such a man, who is defiled by dirty rotten sins all the time, does something in this life, can his actions be actually pure? Can the products he makes be actually pure and perfect? Absolutely not! You can be certain that the products he makes and the decisions he makes and all the actions he commits are not pure and perfect in our sight, or in God’s sight. They are defiled by sin cleaving to anything he does and to anything he makes and to anything he thinks or plans. This is what we can solidly declare just based on what we read in Ecc 7:20 and in Job 14:4.

Job 14:4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.”

Now we can understand “total depravity”. The entire human race is totally depraved, meaning the entire human race is totally wicked. Only a few persons here and there are declared not totally wicked, because their sins have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. And how will God deal with those who are totally wicked, totally depraved? God says in Rom 3:23a,

Rom 3:23a, “For the wages of sin is death,” and the death that God has in view is eternal death, it is the death of the soul and body in the lake of fire, a slow death that takes an eternity to finish, and that God calls “the second death” (Rev 20:14, 21:8.) And so, the whole human race is destined for Hell, and if God wants to save some, it will only be possible through the grace and mercy of God.

Those whom God saves are receiving this infinite inheritance by the grace of God as a free gift. Since the inheritance is infinitely greater than any reward for good works by man, the only way God can distribute this gift is as a free gift, not dependent in any way on man’s works. On the other hand, those who are receiving the second death as a penalty for sin have demonstrated that their sin is also of infinite magnitude, and so the second death is also of infinite magnitude, for God is a righteous Judge. A righteous Judge will not assign a penalty that is far greater than the crime committed, but will assign a penalty that is fitting the crime. And thus, since God is a righteous Judge we must believe that an eternity in Hell is a fitting penalty for the crime of insulting Almighty God. Therefore this righteous Judge will only send people to an eternal Hell who deserve it by their own works done on this earth. Let us now consider the question: Who is doing What?

#2.      Examples of the Works of God (Eph 1:4-5, Rom 9:15-16, Isa 45:5-7, Jam 1:13-16)

Before God designed His perfect plan of salvation, before God created the first speck of dust, He first appointed a certain number of people to become saved and to become the Bride of Christ. Remember, God will distribute His eternal inheritance totally free of any good works done by man, and so this eternal inheritance cannot be distributed based on man pleading for salvation. There is no one who is pleading for salvation, for man is totally depraved, and thus God must decide who He is giving this eternal inheritance to. How should we understand this? It is like the Father chose a Bride for His Son. What is so bad about that? And the names of this group of people the Father engraved it in the mind of God the Son. And thus when we consider the beginning of the creation of mankind, we should not seek it in Gen 1 or Gen 2, but in Eph 1 and in Eph 2.

Eph 1:4, According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5,  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

It is here where God not only laid down His blueprint for the creation of man, but also where He laid down His blueprint for the salvation and reprobation of mankind. And thus God’s blueprint for the salvation of man is stated in Rom 9:15-16,

Rom 9:15 “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

16, So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

In other words, it is not by man’s will that we become saved but only by God’s will, and by the operation of His Holy Spirit according to the counsel of His will. These are not my words, but God’s words, without any ambiguity. But God does not like to work with uncertainties which might interfere with His plans. And thus the work of God’s Holy Spirit is to work out what God has determined in His counsel before the foundation of the world. Therefore God says in Isa 45:5-7,

Isa 45:5 ¶  I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

Isa 45:6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

Isa 45:7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

What evil is God creating? Please turn to the Epistle of James, Jam 1:13 (2X). Here we need to harmonize all the Scriptures we find so that we can understand what evil God is creating. There are mainly two evils in the Bible: Moral and physical evil. God is not the creator of moral evil, which is sinful evil. Moral evil, or sin, is any lack of conformity to the moral law of God. According to the Bible it is the cause of the existence of physical or natural evil in this world. We read in Jam 1:13-15

Jam 1:13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

Jam 1:14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Jam 1:15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

After Adam and Eve sinned God cursed the ground. It was only then that physical or natural evil came into this world as a reminder that this universe was not designed for the production of happiness among men, but for the manifestation of the manifold perfections of God. This physical or natural evil is a work of God. A tornado is a natural evil. A tornado is not a sinful evil. The fact that God is omniscient does not make Him the author of sin. God knows us inside out. He knows what we are going to do under certain circumstances. He is omniscient in this aspect of our nature.

For example, if I leave open the side gate of our backyard I know that my dog will chase the cat next door, but that is not my sin; that is my dog’s sin, and he will get a whopping for that.

And so, God rules this universe from beginning to end. Even the food that we eat was made by God.

#3.      Examples of the Works of Man (Jer 17:9)

But man does not like a God who is in charge of everything. And so, what has man done? In their mind they have created another god who is not in charge of everything. Instead of believing the God of the Bible who is a proactive God like the Bible declares, they have created a god who is a responsive god. It is a god who waits for the input of man before he responds with his actions, but this is not the God of the Bible. This is one of the greatest insults of man against the laws of God. God created man in His image, and man returned the favor by creating a god in man’s image. We need to remember what God says is in the heart of every man. It is the middle verse of the Bible, Jer 17:9,

Jer 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

It is amazing to me how people can bow down and worship this god which came out of the minds of sinful men. But look out into the world and we see that almost all the Christian congregations have come to worship this idol which came out of the minds of sinful men. Is this not the sign that the end of time is near? O Yes, wickedness in the church is at an all-time high, because the sovereignty of God is at an all-time low. Let us cut short this list of the works of man. Instead we should ask:

#4.      Why Are We Here? (2Cor 5:18, Mat 10:37-38, 2Thes 1:8-9)

Why have we not been raptured up to be with God forever? The answer is that we are here to do the work that is necessary for God’s Kingdom to come: Evangelism. It is true that God does not need us. God could have chosen someone else. But consider this: God bestowed on us the honor of being His ambassadors, to proclaim His message of salvation to all the world. We read in 2Cor 5:18,

2Cor 5:18, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”

And now we need to be grateful that we have received this assignment to be His ambassadors. About two weeks ago the question came up in our Sunday morning Bible Study, What are our needs? And why are we not preaching to help the congregation in their needs such as marriage and divorce. These questions always amaze me. Have I been preaching for so many years and people still do not know the difference between our needs here on earth and our needs for the life hereafter? What is our outlook in life? What are the goals that we have set? Do we look for a more comfortable life in this present world? Do I love this life so much that I am praying to God every day for more comfort in this life in the flesh? Let me tell you again that the Lord Jesus said that we must love Him above all and above everything in this world. He said in Mat 10:37-38,

Mat 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Mat 10:38,  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

And so, where is our focus? What does the Lord tell us here in this passage? Let me take the gloves off and tell it to you very plainly: If your daily focus is on the comforts of this life you are not saved, and you have never been saved. If your daily focus is on your loved ones here on this earth instead of on the Lord Jesus Christ, you are not saved and you have never been saved. If you are not deliriously happy about being appointed to be the Lord’s ambassador, you are not saved and you have never been saved. Think about this now people. Your life on this earth is short, very short. It is our testing period. If we do not appreciate the Lord’s presence now, we also will not appreciate His presence later. If our life now is preoccupied with self, then we have never been saved. And so, what are the symptoms of a selfish attitude in this life? If you are selfish you do not recognize that there are people dying out there. You do not recognize that they need you to bring the Gospel to them. Yes, God does not need you, but people need you, even though they do not express it this way. God does not need you; He can take someone else who will be more grateful in this assignment of jobs. But people need us because we have a Gospel message that they need to hear. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Faith unto salvation comes upon hearing the message of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners, and upon believing that an infinite inheritance is waiting for those who have been appointed to hear and believe this Gospel message.

And so, what is wrong with searching for what our needs are? If we have been saved, then all our needs are already taken care of. If Christ has become our Savior, then God is our heavenly Father, and He already knows what our needs are. But the people out there, the pitiful people who have never heard the true Gospel, and who are dying because they have been led astray for many years, those people have urgent needs with which we can help them. We are not alone in this business. If God the Holy Spirit does not open their hearts and minds, then Hell is awaiting them for sure. Why are there so few pastors who preach about Hell? It is because they really do not believe that Hell exists. In their vocabulary you are either saved or you are “lost.” What a horrible substitution. The word “lost” was introduced to make you forget about Hell. It simply means you are lost out there. You have undergone annihilation. Poof, you are gone. But where is the penalty? The righteousness of God must be satisfied. God speaks about this in 2Thes 1:8-9,

2Thes 1:8  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

9  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

It is not those who are living a life of lying, and stealing, and killing, and committing adultery and fornication, that are in view in verse 8. No, it is those that know not God, people who have neglected God. Think about this now. Who are those that neglect God? Unbelievers. And the “everlasting destruction” in verse 9 has also been used to soften the blow of eternal damnation. But really the true penalty for the sin of neglecting God is stated in Rev 21:8, and there we read,

Rev 21:8, But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

And so, why are we here? We are here to be a blessing to those who have never heard the Gospel, and to those who have never heard the penalties for unbelief. We are here to attend to the needs of others whose needs are far greater than our needs. We are here to feed the sheep that Christ has chosen before the foundation of the world. We are here to be pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ who gave us the example of giving our life away for the benefit of others. We are here to show the Lord that we have given our life away to the building of His eternal Kingdom, and that we have denied our selfishness and are extremely grateful for His saving work on the cross. And we could not do any of these things if it was not for the grace of God that stimulated us to express our gratitude.

#5.      Playing Church (Judg 17:6)

Do you realize that there are many people out there who think that they are doing us a favor by showing up on Sunday, or by donating something on the offering plate? We are not playing church here. You have to realize that if we were playing church our penalty would be much greater than anyone else’s, because we would be acting out something that we do not believe in, and that is a much greater offense than anyone else sitting in a pew, or sitting in a chair, without having been saved. God appointed His servants to this church since December 25, 1994, almost 19 years now. We committed ourselves to serve Him without fear and without pay, because this small church does not have the resources to evangelize and pay the Lord’s servants at the same time. And so, the question “why are we here?” strikes me as a question from a stranger who does not know our organization. It also strikes me as a painful question from people who are trying to pry out of the church as much as they can, and then leave. As you know, many churches operate this way, and many people who are attending have this opinion. I do not understand how they can live this way, but they do. Their life is empty, for their only joy is to damage the souls of people.

For example when I preached two weeks ago about “Sheep Stealers” I spoke from personal experience here in this church. And when I spoke about Christadelphian Heretics, I also spoke from personal experience here in this church, and this week I was again confronted with the phenomenon of “Sheep Stealers”. Do people have no fear of God any more? Apparently not, for we see more and more that people are doing what comes up in their own mind. A sentence from the prophecy of Judges comes to my mind. It is a sentence which is repeated over and over again. We read in Judg 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Is there no fear of God any more? Apparently not, for we see that these days people are playing church all the time. This is the prevailing attitude in these days. The present sermon is titled “Contrasts.” Can we see that the works of God and the works of Satan are on display here? And so, when we need to make a judgment on what is right and what is wrong we should ask ourselves, “Is this a work of man, or is this a work of God?” and frequently this gives us the answer we were looking for. For example, God is the Author of salvation by grace alone, and man is the author of salvation by our own free will. It simply is not possible that man is the author of salvation by grace alone for that is a concept too far out for the imagination of man. We need to expand this concept of “contrasts in the Bible” for another time. Right now we can distinguish between the servants of Christ who are willing to give their life in the service of the Lord, and the servants of the devil who are out to destroy the church. We need to have a watchful eye on those kinds of people.

 

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.