The teaching known as sola gratia is one of the key doctrines brought into special focus by the Reformation.
sermons | study
These are sermons preached during our Sunday worship services. (Recordings were not always successful, so there are gaps in the postings.)
This dramatic narrative occasions Jesus' affirmation of an important truth regarding human sin, and at the same time shows his endorsement of the doctrine that comes to be known in the Reformation as sola Scriptura.
Despite what could be characterized as a dark realism in Ecclesiastes, a major theme of the book is joy. The Preacher exposes many dead ends in the human search for joy, but he also clearly sets forth the true path to lasting joy.
This passage is a pivotal text for the book of Ecclesiastes, and it shifts our attention to matters that are at the heart of what it means to be God's people. Here the Preacher begins to specifically apply his teaching to our lives.
Ecclesiastes appears to begin a new section with this passage, although the overall theme remains the same: the brevity and seeming futility of human life, contrasting with the sovereignty of God and his purposes.
This passage opens the second main section of the book of Ecclesiastes. It introduces important key concepts related to the theme of the sovereignty of God and its application to biblical living.
Many students of Scripture see the book of Ecclesiastes falling naturally into four sections: 1:1-2:26; 3:1-5:20; 6:1-8:15; and 8:16-12:14. This first section has been a relentless destroying of all claims that lasting joy can be found in the pursuit of what this earthly life can offer us. In these final verses of this section, Ecclesiastes will challenge the value of human wisdom itself and confront us with the terrible reality that undoes every earthly hope. Remarkably, however, the Preacher will end this section with an unexpected message of grace.
I went out there in search of experience / To taste and to touch and to feel as much / As a man can before he repents / I went out searching, looking for one good man / A spirit who would not bend or break / Who could sit at his father's right hand - Johnny Cash, with U2
Pastor Gordon Hugenberger says of Ecclesiastes: “It’s not that the conclusions don’t harmonize with what is taught everywhere else in the Bible. It’s rather that we’re just not used to this much honesty. We much prefer religious platitudes, the kind of feel-good aphorisms that you can stick on your refrigerator and get inspired for the day. But Ecclesiastes won’t have it–his is high octane Christianity, soul searching insights, and convicting observations.” (His excellent sermons on Ecclesiastes can be found on the Park Street Church web site, parkstreet.org.)
The identity of the main speaker in the opening of Ecclesiastes is not explicitly stated, but there are clear clues given to us that invite us to identify him with a specific historical figure. An overview of his life will be a helpful background to our study of the book.
Ecclesiastes reads as if it were written for our own time, which may account for the widespread appeal of its imagery and language. Its message is timeless, of course, but it seems especially relevant to our experiences today.
It will be helpful to begin a study of Ecclesiastes with a passage that introduces us to the author, his method, and his message. Even more important will be for us to think about how we are to receive this book of wisdom as both hearers and doers of the Word.
God's relationship with his people is founded on his covenant with them. Unlike human religions that are dependent upon human intentions and efforts, the covenant of redemption is based upon the promises of God to himself and his people. This transforms the way we approach God in prayer, a fact that is reflected in Psalm 25.
The fourth-century Christian Eusebius of Caesarea wrote of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, and Reformed leaders made frequent use of this structure. The previous two sermons focused on Jesus as Prophet and Priest; his text focuses upon Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Many passages from the Old Testament narratives of the nation Israel seem so foreign to us that they are hard to interpret. Two helpful interpretive tools are to discover the historical and literary setting and to look for images and ideas that point to Christ.
Because God's word of promise is central to the covenants he cuts, it is no surprise that the role of prophet is important in the covenant God makes with Israel. The prophets serve God and his people in history, while also pointing to Jesus Christ, the ultimate prophet
God's eternal purpose to bring into being creatures in his image to share his glory is made a reality in time and space through the promises made and kept by the Trinity. These promises were not casual comments easily carried out, but were carefully thought out commitments kept at immense personal cost. They are covenants made in blood.
In the account of Jesus' temptation, we can discern him as the Second Adam, the One who will conquer temptation as the First Adam did not. Not only does this episode reveal Jesus as righteous redeemer, but it also provides us with a pattern for resisting temptation ourselves.
All the historical covenants instituted by God are progressive manifestations of the eternal covenant of redemption. These historical, or earthly covenants, begin at creation with a covenant made with the human race as a whole, but they narrow in scope as we approach God’s revelation of himself and his redemptive work in Jesus Christ, which is the fullest and final revelation of God’s covenant of redemption. Isaiah 42 provides us with a prophetic view of Christ as the fulfillment of God's covenant promises
In his words to Pilate, Jesus provides us with clear teaching on the nature of his kingdom and the place of human government under the sovereign rule of God. It is important that we understand what it means for Jesus to be king and the implications of his kingship for our thinking about the earthly governments under which we live.