Empty apart from God

The following comes from the Pulpit Magazine and is an excellent article on the hunger for money and other things instead of God and His glory! I have high lighted several things and sure hope you read this.

Today’s post is adapted from Nathan’s new book, Reasons We Believe: Fifty Lines of Evidence that Confirm the Christian Faith. This article comes from part of reason no. 7, regarding the fact that life without God is meaningless.

All of the other pursuits and purposes of this life are empty apart from God. The pursuit of happiness, riches, success, fame, or power (or whatever else one might desire) is, in and of itself, ultimately doomed to disappoint. Consider King Solomon, the wealthiest, most successful, most famous, and most powerful person of his day (1 Kings 10:23–25). Despite his attempts to find happiness in his possessions, positions, and relationships, Solomon realized that life without God is vanity. “Who can have enjoyment without Him?” Solomon asked rhetorically in Ecclesiastes 2:25 (NASB). He would later conclude, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Other wealthy, famous, and powerful individuals throughout history have come to understand what Solomon learned. “Millionaires seldom smile” said Andrew Carnegie.[1] And in another place he wrote, “Wealth lessens rather than increases human happiness. Millionaires who laugh are rare.”[2] William Vanderbilt’s comment was this: “The care of 200 million dollars is too great a load for any brain or back to bear. It is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.”[3] Henry Ford concluded, “I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job,”[4] and John D. Rockefeller admitted, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness. I would barter them all for the days I sat on an office stool in Cleveland and counted myself rich on three dollars a week.”[5]

Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said that: “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of it filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfied one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man; rely upon it: ‘Better a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith.’”[6]

Echoing the words of Franklin, Christian theologian Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., explains what the rich and famous of our world often learn the hard way:

The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time, but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of the world,” as J. R. R. Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is “higher up” and “further back.”[7]

In other words, they point to God. As the famous church father Augustine prayed, “O Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”[8]

God created us for a purpose. When we deny His existence, we simultaneously deny the purpose for which He created us. Thus, to deny God is to embrace despair and hopelessness. On the flip side, to embrace God is to discover the source of hope, satisfaction, purpose, and fulfillment. In the words of philosopher Blaise Pascal: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”[9]

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[1] Andrew Carnegie, cited from Bob Kelly, Worth Repeating: More Than 5000 Classic and Contemporary Quotes (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003), 229.

[2] Andrew Carnegie, cited from “Andrew Carnegie at 80,” The New York Times, November 21, 1915. This article can be accessed online in the archives section of The New York Times website.

[3] William Vanderbilt, cited from Millionaires and Kings of Enterprise by James Burnley (J. B. Lippincott, 1901), 500.

[4] Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, cited from Money, Possessions & Eternity by Randy Alcorn (Tyndale House, 2003), 47.

[5] John D. Rockefeller, cited from The Speakers Quote Book compiled by Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1997), 260.

[6] Benjamin Franklin, cited from Treasury of Wisdom, Wit and Humor, Odd Comparisons and Proverbs, compiled by Adam Wooléver (D. McKay, 1891), 72.

[7] Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Engaging God’s World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 6.

[8] Augustine, Confessions, translated by Henry Chadwick (New York: Oxford, 1992), 145 (8.7.17); 3 (1.1.1). Cited from Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God’s World, 6.

[9] Blaise Pascal, cited from The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations, compiled by Mark Water (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 407.

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