Sun. a.m. AGCC 1/23/00

TEXT:      Matt. 19:16-30


Some of the people Jesus ministered to responded favorably and others went away without being changed positively. This is still the situation today! We rejoice over the ones who were changed, but we also can learn from the ones that were not! Those that were changed with their encounter with Jesus were often the poor, the sick, the helpless, the afflicted. Those who were often not changed were the powerful, the rich, and the elite. Some people think preachers shouldn't talk about money, yet it was often this very thing that kept many from Christ! Look at Jesus, so often we think He spent all His time talking about deep spiritual theology, but look what occupied His subject matter the most: ILLUS: Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.-- Howard L. Dayton, Jr., Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 2. Maybe people don't like the preacher to talk about money because it hits too close to home! It is certain that Jesus found the same reaction in His day! PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that material things can blind us to spiritual realities, that we must guard our hearts and keep our eyes on spiritual values.

I. SHORT CUT SALVATION       19:16-22

A. Shallow     19:16-21 1. A young man approaches Jesus and asks a question, the kind of question every pastor loves to hear: "what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" a. The question alone reveals a false notion about salvation, he was asking what "good thing" could he "do" to inherit eternal life. b. Many people in Jesus' day had the notion that a single good act could sometimes qualify someone for heaven … some things never change! c. The false premise is clear … that man can save himself by some great good act … yet the Bible says this is false. 2. The man's hunger for heaven was only as good as doing a single great act. a. He was hoping for some quick single commitment kind of response to guarantee his salvation. b. Like so many today, they don't want to hear about a lifelong commitment to Christ, that is too difficult to accept, they would rather do a good deed here and there to try and earn their way into heaven. 3. Jesus quickly gets to the root of the issue by first asking why the man was looking for something good when only God truly is good. a. What is Jesus doing? If only God is good and this man wants to know what "good thing" he needs to do then he should understand that finding God is the good thing he needs to do first! b. Jesus' statement to this man about obeying the commandments was in essence saying, "first have a relationship with God as proved by your obedience to the commandments and then you will find eternal life." c. It wasn't the "doing" that brought eternal life, it would be the relationship with God that resulted in "doing" that would bring it. 4. Nervously the man asks Jesus which commandments he needed to keep to gain eternal life. a. Again this question reveals his true self … if he had been interested in a real relationship with God it wouldn't matter which ones, he would want to obey all of them. b. He wasn't so much seeking to know which ones he needed to keep, but which ones he has already kept that are good enough to get him in! 5. Jesus responds to his question by listing all but one of the six commandments dealing with man's relationship to man. a. Jesus leaves off the only commandment sure to sink this man, "thou shalt not covet." b. The man, relieved perhaps to hear all but the one he was really guilty of, says "All these I have kept." But still down deep he knew something was missing for he adds, "what do I still lack?" 6. This man loved his wealth, and this is precisely where Jesus directs his need, to get his heart off his earthly treasures and put it on spiritual ones. a. The reaction of this man clearly shows the shallow desire he has. b. Too often people may decide to embrace Christianity without a lifelong commitment, it will not last long if their heart is on earthly treasures! ILLUS:Some say, dedicate the heart and the money will follow; but our Lord put it the other way around. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." If your treasure is dedicated, your heart will be dedicated. If it is not, it simply won't. It is as simple as that. -- G. Timothy Johnson in the Covenant Companion (Sept. 1990). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 15. 7. A deep commitment to the things of this world usually means a shallow commitment to the things of God! B. Sadness     19:22 1. The rich man's reaction to Jesus' advice to go and sell all he had and give to the poor reveals his real heart, he leaves Jesus with sadness! 2. While he was interested in salvation, it was not enough to have it cost him everything. 3. Material things mattered more to him than spiritual things. ILLUS:Prosperity has often been fatal to Christianity, but persecution never. -- An Amish bishop quoted in The Economist (July 22, 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 16. 4. This man's heart was set on getting, not on giving … giving is the true spirit of a follower of Christ. a. "God so loved that He gave…" b. This man wanted spiritual life, but at no cost to himself. 5. When Christ is in us, the spirit of giving breaks loose! ILLUS:While Eric Hulstrand of Binford, North Dakota, was preaching one Sunday, an elderly woman, Mary, fainted and struck her head on the end of the pew. Immediately, an EMT in the congregation called an ambulance. As they strapped her to a stretcher and got ready to head out the door, Mary regained consciousness. She motioned for her daughter to come near. Everyone thought she was summoning her strength to convey what could be her final words. The daughter leaned over until her ear was at her mother's mouth. "My offering is in my purse," she whispered. -- Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership. 6. The man leaves, he does not wish to have eternal life without his wealth. II. SALVATION COST SELF!     19:23-30 A. Sacrifice     19:23-25 1. Jesus now explains the hook that riches can put into the human soul. a. He explains to His disciples that it is easier for a clumsy camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! b. It is not because the rich can't be saved, it is because of the hook riches have into their soul. c. With wealth comes independence and power, so less sense of need for God. 2. Those who will be saved however must "deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Jesus" Mark 8:34 3. The rich young man could not bring himself to give up the one thing that held him to an earthly kingdom, his wealth … and he leaves without knowing the greater riches of salvation. ILLUS:Several years ago, construction workers were laying a foundation for a building outside the city of Pompeii. They found the corpse of a woman who must have been fleeing from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius but was caught in the rain of hot ashes. The woman's hands clutched jewels, which were preserved in excellent condition. She had the jewels, but death had stolen it all. That's the bottom line in life. Worldly treasure is not a wise investment because you can't take it with you. Jim Elliot, a missionary who was martyred for his faith, understood this reality when he wrote in his journal, "A person is no fool to give up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose." It's not foolish to give up what you cannot keep in order to gain what you cannot lose. -- Heidi Husted, "The Sermon on the Amount," Preaching Today, Tape No. 122. 4. The disciples hearing this were totally confused, like so many in their day (and ours!) they believed that people of wealth were favored by God. a. They assumed that material blessings were a sign of God's blessings! b. So if the rich couldn't be saved, where did that leave them and all the others that lacked this sign of God's blessings!? 5. Like so many rich people today, this rich man left with sorrow in his heart! a. His wealth did not really make him happy, and yet, what would really make him happy he was not willing to pay the price for … so his life continued in a shallow existence. b. His wealth did not bring him the satisfaction he had hoped for, if it had he would never have come to Jesus to ask what he could do to get eternal life. c. While he could say he kept all the commandments that Jesus mentioned, there was one that revealed his dark heart, "thou shalt not covet" and the fact that he leaves Jesus behind rather than give up his wealth indicated that indeed he did still covet! B. Salvation     19:26-30 1. Though it is impossible for man to save himself, it is not impossible for God to save him! a. This was the meaning of Jesus' response to the disciples. b. At this Peter quickly makes reference to the fact that they had left all to follow Jesus … and then he adds, "What then will there be for us." 2. Jesus assures Peter that the loss of today will be the gain of tomorrow! a. Though they have left behind the wealth of this world they will one day sit on twelve thrones and judge the tribes of Israel. b. A place of honor awaits those who do not live for material things. 3. They would find a unique joy both now and in the future with God. 4. True wealth is not what you have, it is what you give away! ILLUS:Oseola McCarty, 87, did one thing all her life: laundry. Now she's famous for it--or at least for what she did with her profits. For decades, Miss McCarty earned 50 cents per load doing laundry for the well-to-do families of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, preferring a washboard over an electric washing machine. Every week, she put a little bit in a savings account. When she finally retired, she asked her banker how much money she had socked away. "$250,000," was his reply. She was in shock. "I had more than I could use in the bank," she explained. "I can't carry anything away from here with me, so I thought it was best to give it to some child to get an education." This shy, never-married laundry woman gave $150,000 to nearby University of Southern Mississippi to help African-American young people attend college. "It's more blessed to give than to receive," she tells reporters. "I've tried it." -- Christian Reader. Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 2. 5. How rich are you … really? a. What price tag is on your soul? b. What brings you the greatest joy in life? c. What would you have answered Jesus if you were the rich young man? 6. Will you leave here sorrowful or full of joy? CONCLUSION:    No greater sadness comes to God than those who will get "saved" for very shallow reasons. Jesus ran into people like the rich young man who wanted eternal life, but based on his terms rather than on God's terms. No such salvation exists outside of a complete surrender to Christ. How deep is your commitment?