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THE TRUTH ABOUR RICHES, REDEMPTION AND REWARDS
Intro: This passage is clearly linked with the one we studied last week. Imagine the scene. In verses 17-22 a very wealthy man has just turned his back on the Lord Jesus and is walking away. In v. 21, Jesus told this man how he could be saved. He was to sell everything he possessed and he was to give everything away to the poor. This act would give him real treasure in Heaven. By giving away all he had this man would be accomplishing three things.
1. He would be getting rid of his real god, his wealth.
2. He would be helping those around him who were in great financial need.
3. He would be storing up true wealth in Heaven, where it would never be lost, stolen or ruined, Matt. 6:19-20.
Then, Jesus told the man to take up his cross and follow Him. This is a call for this young man to make a public, once for all commitment to die to self and to live for Jesus.
When this young man hears the words of the Lord Jesus, he turns around and walks away. He chose his wealth over salvation. He chose his way over God’s way. He chose eternal death over everlasting life. He chose the world over the Kingdom of God. He chose Hell over Heaven.
The disciples were probably excited about the prospect of that fellow joining their number. They imagined all that he could do with his wealth, power and position.
A lot of folks in our churches are like that too. When a wealthy, powerful individual comes in, they will be courted because of what they can contribute financially to the ministry. James warns against that mentality in the church, James 2:1-10.
Jesus had a somewhat different approach! Jesus was not impressed by the young man’s portfolio, by his position in the synagogue, or by his prominence in the community. Jesus saw the man as he really was. He saw him as a poor, lost sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus offered the man everlasting life, but the man chose eternal damnation and walked away from Jesus.
When he leaves, Jesus uses the moment to teach His disciples about the danger of riches in this world. He teaches them a few truths that all generations would do well to take to heart.
Today, I want to look into these verses and talk about the truths revealed here. I want you to see The Truth About Riches; The Truth About Redemption; and The Truth About Rewards. Notice these truths with me as we try to grasp everything the Lord is saying here.
I. v. 23-25 THE TRUTH
A. v. 23 An Announcement As the Rich Young Ruler walks away, Jesus looks around at His men and makes an astonishing statement. He says that people who possess the riches of this world will have great difficulty entering into Gods kingdom.
The problem is not with a person having money. The problem is when money has the person. The Rich Young Ruler was wealthy, but he did not possess his riches, his riches possessed him. This is always a recipe for spiritual disaster, 1 Tim. 6:10. We will discuss this further in a moment.
B. v. 24a An Amazement The word astonished has the idea of amazement, or fright. What these men heard blew them out of the water!
These men were from a culture that saw financial prosperity as the blessing of God on a life. The Jews had God’s promise of prosperity and health, Deut. 28:11-14. The Jews were taught that riches and prosperity were from the Lord, 1 Chron. 29:12. Most Jews believed, and still do believe, that health, wealth, and prosperity were the blessing of the Lord on a life, Job 15:20-32; 4:7. These men had the example of rich Abraham, David, Job and Solomon. All of their religious heroes had been very wealthy men! It’s no wonder they are amazed!
Some of the old reformers equated wealth with the blessing of the Lord. Many in our day hold the same mindset. Consider the claims of the “Health and Wealth Movement. Those preachers tell us that when we are right with God, we will have plenty of money and perfect health. Anything less than that standard proves that you are no right with the Lord.
Some people in this room think the same way. When you have plenty, you say, “The Lord sure has blessed me! When you go through a difficult time, you say, I wonder what I did to make the Lord chasten me? When you think about what Jesus said, it really is an astonishing statement.
C. v. 24b-25 An Analogy Jesus senses their amazement and clarifies what He means. Notice how He says the same thing in a very tender and clear manner. First, He calls His man, Children. That is a term of endearment. Then, He tells them that people who trust in riches will find salvation impossible. It would be like trying to stuff a camel through the eye of a sewing needle.
(Ill. This is a hyperbole. It is an exaggeration used to emphasize a truth. Jesus is referring to a literal camel and a literal needle.
Some people have tried to soften the Lord’s words by making them refer to a small opening in the wall of the city that was about four feet high by three feet wide. After the gates of the city had been closed for the night, this tiny door was the only was in or out of Jerusalem until morning. For a camel to enter this gate, it would have to have all of its burdens removed. It would have to bow and it would have to wiggle its way through this gate. There is no evidence of such a gate!
Jesus said exactly what He meant! If a person trusts in their riches, they will not go to Heaven!)
That was the Rich Young Ruler’s problem. His wealth was his god. His wealth was the focus of his faith. His wealth was his reason for living and he refused to let it go.
In our world, riches are viewed as blessing. From God’s perspective, riches are a handicap. Why? Often, those who possess much of this world’s wealth come to trust in that wealth. They come to believe that their money can buy them anything. They surround themselves with people who will not tell them no, (Ill. Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, etc.)
Often, they come to believe that their money can shield them from any problem, save them from any danger and provide them with peace, joy and happiness.
What they fail to see is their money becomes an object of worship. Every waking moment is spent thinking about their wealth. How will I spend it? How will I protect it? How will I increase it? What can this money do for me?
People who seek salvation in their own resources will be disappointed at the end of life’s way. They will find that their money, their fame, their power and their position cannot provide them with the one thing they need above all other things: salvation for their souls.
(Note: No one who trusts in money, fame, position or power will be saved. The only people who will ever leave this world saved and ready for Heaven are those who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him alone. He is the only path to salvation, Acts 4:12; 16:31 and He is the path to the Father, John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5. The key word here is “trust. There is nothing wrong with having money, possessions and power. It is when these things become the object of our desire and worship that they become our god. It is when we trust things instead of Jesus that we condemn our souls to Hell. Where is your trust today?)
(Note: This passage ought to speak to our hearts today. We look around today and say, “Why, preacher, there are no rich people here. There may be a few who are affluent, but most as just getting by. What does this passage have to do with us?
It has everything to do with us! I realize that we don’t have many millionaires in our congregation. In fact, we probably don’t have very many thousandaires either. But, I submit to you, we are all rich.
We are rich and here’s why I say that. Fifty-six percent of the world’s population, or 3.4 billion people, live in extreme poverty. They survive on an income of less than $730.00 per year or $2.00 per day. Half of that number lives, or 1.7 billion people, live on less than $1.00 per day. At minimum wage, the average American worker earns over fifty times more than that. We are rich!
The average American spends $0.20 per day on cosmetics, perfume, and skin and hair products; over $0.50 on jewelry; nearly $3.00 on furniture and household goods; over $3.00 per day on clothing; over $6.00 per day gambling; $7.00 per day on automobiles; and over $9.00 per day on food. We are rich!
Over three billion people got up this morning not knowing where their next meal was coming from. Many do not have adequate clothing and shelter. Yet, most of us got up today with a good home, plenty of clothing, some money and enough food to keep us alive for many days. We are rich!
If you compare yourself to some people you know, you might not think you are rich, but the fact is, you are. Our financial problems like our debts and our payments would be welcomed luxuries by most of the world’s population.
One of the major problems with wealth is that wealth can cause us to trust the wrong things in life. Here is the problem with riches.
· Riches can become an idol in your life. Anything you ascribe “worth-ship to, which is the meaning of the word worship, is your god. Your god is anything you give your worship to.
· Riches can tempt people to hoard up what they have. There can be a strong temptation to think what you have been given is to be used to gain even more.
· Riches can bring false trust. You might think your money can buy you anything, even salvation. It can can’t!
· Riches can bind us too tightly to earth. Having too much of this world’s wealth can cause all of our attention and affections to be focused in this world, to the exclusion of Heaven, Matt. 6:19; Col. 3:1-2.
· Riches often lead to other sins. Sometimes, people with wealth come to think that there are no boundaries in their lives. They often begin to live in a way that is not pleasing to the Lord. Sins like pride, arrogance, insensitivity, indifference, self-satisfaction and worldliness feed on affluence.
· Riches can destroy the qualities that are necessary for a person to enter Heaven. Childlikeness and teachability can suffer in the face of affluence.
· According to Jesus, the rich are not privileged, they are actually underprivileged!
II. v. 26-27 THE TRUTH
A. v. 26 The Men And Their Anxiety These men heard what Jesus had to say and they understood it perfectly. If you are rich in this worlds goods and put your faith in the things you have you will not be saved and you will not go to Heaven!
When they hear this, they are “astonished out of measure. This means it blew their minds. They hear these words and they just stand there with their mouths hanging open and with their chins lying on their chests. They are dumbfounded by what they have heard Jesus say.
Their response is to ask, “Who then can be saved? They have considered the situation and they realize that, in a sense, we are all rich. We all have possessions of some degree. We all have access to things at some level.
They understand that anybody can become caught up in looking to what they possess rather than relying on the Lord in simple faith. They hear Jesus and it seems to them that He has forever slammed the door of salvation to everyone who possesses anything. Is that what Jesus is saying?
B. v. 27 The Master And His Answer Jesus lets them know that there is hope! He tells them that men may find it impossible to break the hold of their things, but that God, in His power, is well able to set them free.
If that Rich Young Ruler would have obeyed the clear call of the Lord Jesus, God would have given him grace to relinquish his hold on his wealth. The Lord would have saved his soul and blessed him with heavenly and spiritual riches beyond his wildest dreams.
(Note: We have the same promise! There is no way that you and I can turn our attention from this world without the Lord’s help. That help comes with His call to come to Jesus.
When He reaches out to a lost sinner, the Lord calls that person to come to Him, John 6:44. When that person responds, God gives them the faith they need to believe on Jesus alone for their soul’s salvation, Eph. 2:8-9.
God is able to help anyone break the grip of whatever it may be that holds them captive. He can break the grip of riches. He can break the grip of drugs and alcohol. He can break the grip of sex. He can break the grip of physical addiction. If you will come to Jesus, you will find that He has the power to set you free, John 8:36.
God can bring redemption to anyone, regardless of who they are, how they have lived, or what they have done. He is able to do what no man can do for himself: save his soul! Here is how it works.
· The lost person needs to know his condition before God, Rom. 3:10-23. This is impossible, because the lost sinner is dead, Eph. 2:1.
· The Lord comes to the lost sinner, shows him his condition and points him to Jesus as the sole solution to his sin problem, John 6:44.
· The sinner turns to Jesus by faith and God saves them by His grave, John 6:37.
· God is able to accomplish the impossible in any life He touches! Ill. Some of His success stories – Saul of Tarsus; Simon Peter; me; you; etc.)
III. v. 28-31 THE TRUTH
A. v. 28 A Consuming Worry When Peter hears this, he speaks up. He reminds Jesus that they had walked away from everything to follow Him. These men had turned loose of all their earthly responsibilities to follow Jesus. They had given up money, homes, families, businesses, etc, all because Jesus had asked them too. In Matthews account of these events, he tells us that Peter says, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (Matt. 19:27) In other words, Peter is saying, “Lord, You are saying that if a man gives up his money and follows You he can have everlasting life. We have given up everything to follow You. What is our reward? Hes asking, What’s in this for us?
(Note: A lot of people have this same attitude about serving the Lord. They see the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer and they wonder what good it does for a person to follow Jesus. Jesus is about to tell us that those who follow Him have a definite advantage both here and in the hereafter.
You might feel like you have been getting “the short end of the stick. Listen on my friend. The Lord has a word of encouragement for everyone who has ever chosen Jesus over the wealth, trinkets and things of this world.)
B. v. 29-30 A Calming Word Jesus responds by letting Peter know that God sees, records and rewards every sacrifice that is made for Him. He tells them that what they have walked away from might seem like a lot to them, but God has far more in their future than they left behind in their past.
They left one house; God knows how to open a hundred doors. They left one family; God has made them a part of a family that encompasses the world. They may have become separated from and earthly brother, but God has given them more brothers in Christ than they can imagine. Those who willingly turn loose of this world to follow Jesus will discover that God has far more in store for them than the sum total of all they left behind.
When Jesus speaks of “an hundredfold, He simply means that it is more than you can imagine. He is not saying that if you give a dollar, He will give you one hundred in return. He might, but He might give you a thousand! He is simply telling us that He has far more for us than anything we could ever give up to follow Him.
To put it simply, you will never out give God! Now, God doesn’t always pay off on Fridays, but He always pays off and He always pays well. If you serve Jesus, He will see to it that you are blessed beyond your wildest dreams!
He also lets us know that His “hundredfold will come to us with persecutions. There will be a price to pay for following Jesus. Not everyone will be excited to see you serving the Lord. Difficulties and trials will come because of your commitment, 2 Tim. 3:12, but God will bless you in spite of any trials you might face along the way.
Then Jesus ices the cake! He tells us that those who turn loose of this world to follow Him will be blessed in this life, but they will also receive eternal life. So, Jesus tells us not to worry about what this world has to offer. It simply cannot compare to what the Lord has for those who trust Him.
Money can buy a lot of things, but there are some things it cannot buy.
· Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.
· Money can buy books, but not brains.
· Money can food, but not an appetite.
· Money can buy a house, but not a home.
· Money can buy medicine, but not health.
· Money can buy amusement, but not happiness.
· Money can buy finery, but not beauty.
· Money can buy a crucifix, but not a Savior.
Do you have what matters most? Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? In the end, it will not matter how much money you have accumulated, or what you leave behind. All that will matter is Jesus. If you have Him, you are saved and you get to go to Heaven. If you do not have Him, you are lost and you will go to Hell.
C. v. 31 A Clear Warning Those who are first in this worlds accounting will finish last in the race to Heaven. We see the celebrities and the wealthy people and there is a tendency for us to think that they are somebodys. In Gods eyes, it is not riches that make a person somebody special; it is faith in Jesus.
There are billionaires and millionaires who do not even make a blip on God’s radar. But, there are poor, faithful saints of God who have His attention all the time. One day, when we get home, all those who reached for first place here will not even cross the finish line there. At the same time, those who faithfully lived for the Lord here will be rewarded there, Ill. Matt. 25:21.
Ill. I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “He that has the most toys wins! That is not even close to the truth! Here is the truth: He that has Jesus wins and he that does not have Jesus has nothing, even though he may own everything! (1 John 5:12)
Conc: So, what can we take away from this message? There are several things to think about as we close.
1. Are you truly saved? What do you trust to take you to Heaven? Anything but Jesus will ultimately fail. If you are not save, come to Jesus now.
2. What is your attitude toward your money? Do you love it? Do you want to hang onto it? Are you doing all you can to increase what you have and to add more to it? Or, do you see money as a tool to be used in your service of the Lord?
(Ill. That’s what money is for! The Lord gives us what He does so that we might use everything He gives us for His glory. Forget about giving just 10% to the Lord. Instead, ask God what He would have you to do with the 100%.)
(Ill. God’s plan for our wealth is two-fold. 1. Divest Let go of what you have; and 2. Invest Sow into God Kingdom, Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6.)
(Ill. Some people fixate on money. If that is true of you, then money is an idol in your life!)
If your attitude toward money needs work, come to Jesus and let Him straighten it out.
3. What have you given up to follow Jesus? Has your faith ever cost you anything? Do you have any reason to expect that God would have any reason to reward you for your service?
If this message has spoken to you on any level, I invite you to come to Jesus and let Him do in your life what He desires to do.