God or Mammon?

God or Mammon?

Scripture: Philippians 2:9-11, Psalms 33:6-9, Hebrews 2:14-15
Date: 01/20/2018  Lesson: 3
"Whether we are rich or poor, how can we make sure we keep the right relationship to the things of this world?"

Thieves in The Church (PB) by Joe Crews

Thieves in The Church (PB) by Joe Crews
NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate. Please be civil to one another.


Good morning, friends, welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church. I'd like to welcome our online members and also those who are joining us across the country and around the world - our study group - thank you for tuning in today. Also I'd like to welcome the members and the visitors right here at the Granite Bay church. It's always good to see you Sabbath morning coming to study God's Word together. Now if you were hear last week you know that we started a new lesson quarterly dealing with the subject of stewardship.

It's actually entitled stewardship: motives of the heart. And for a friends who are joining us if you don't have a copy of this lesson you can go to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.org - you can download lesson #3 is our study for today. It's entitled God or mammon. And by the end of our study you will understand what mammon is. Sometimes people ask for what exactly is that? Well hopefully we will have that explained to us during our time of study.

We have a free offer that goes along with our study today entitled the flesh and the Spirit. This is our free offer. For those in North America, just give us a call on our resource for online that's 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #792. Again that number is 866-788-3966. Ask for offer #792 - a book entitled the flesh and the Spirit.

We’ll be happy to send this to anybody in North America that calls and asks. If you’re outside of North America, you can also read the book by just going to the Amazing Facts web site. That web address once again is amazingfacts.org. Well before we get to our study this morning we usually set - take some time to sing some songs together but we have a special treat for you today. Instead of having our general congregational singing at this time we got a special quartet from Sacramento central who are going to be bringing us a special musical item.

The group is called african style and all of those singing in the group are originally from angola. So we want to welcome them here this morning. So we’re gonna – The Song we are about to sing, it is - it talks about the place that Jesus is preparing for us, and he say very soon I will come and I will take you with me. And he said that place is very beautiful and we're going to be singing in bundu, that's one of the dialects spoken south of angola. And they say ‘im bolu aposoka yulu’ - that means the place that Jesus is prepared for us is very beautiful.

(A capela – in bundu) amen. Amen. Beautiful. I’d like to invite you to bow your heads as we open with a word of prayer Dear Father in Heaven, once again, we are grateful that we can gather together and open up Your Word and study this important theme of setting our priorities on the things of heaven, not on the things of earth. Pray Lord that you got our minds our hearts as we study together today for we ask this in Jesus’ name.

Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by our family life pastor here at Granite Bay, Pastor Shawn brummond. Thank you shawn. Good morning everyone. Good morning. It's good to see you all here this morning.

And always good to be able to join with the Sabbath School Study Hour it's always a privilege to be able to stand up here and be able to share with you some of the exciting and life-changing and - sometimes life change - saving things that God has revealed in His Word that he wants to teach us in some of us so study the lessons study already over the week and some of us are just playing catch up as we come together and as we look at this – perhaps, for you, for the very first time on this topic. I want to also thank everybody that's joining us online and our online church members, as well, as they come to be able to study with us here this morning so welcome to you as well. Speaker: m3 well you know I better start with you know I was set up by our host pastor jëan ross here this morning and he said you know hopefully today study will explain a very mysterious word that at least was mysterious for me. And I know it's mysterious for many people when they first read a statement and we're going to look at that statement that Jesus had shared during the sermon on the mount. When he talked about God and mammon.

And, when I first read that statement, now so I have to confess that I went straight to my closest dictionary and I pulled that dictionary off the shelf. I quickly looked under ‘m’ and I looked up ‘mammon’ - what in the world is that word? Because we just don't use it in our normal everyday language – not at least in our day and age today. So mammon itself just simply means riches. It means wealth, money, that type of thing. So the title hopefully will make a little bit more sense to you as we look at lesson #3.

Lesson #3 is indeed entitled God or mammon? With a question Mark and we're going to expand and unpack that. What does that mean and why is the title of this week's study entitled God or mammon? - Question Mark - now I have to confess that when I went through this particular study - lesson study for this week and, as I was looking at it and studied it and preparing for a study here today, I realized that this is one of the best weekly lesson studies I've studied. Not only that, but it was packed full with all kinds of rich and priceless counsel and truth that we can find there. And one of the things I also quickly discovered is that we are not going to be able to cover everything that we find in this particular lesson study with the time limit that we have here today. And so one of the first things I want to do is recommend that if you haven't read through the lesson study yourself before today that you'll make an effort.

And I just want to highly recommend that you take the lesson study and you make your way through it afterwards. Perhaps if you're here alive in person on Sabbath afternoon you can make that part of your Sabbath afternoon activities and just spend some extra time filling in the blanks in different ways and places that we just don't have time to look at here today. It's good to be able to look at this subject and I want to start by inviting everyone to open their Bibles or open their apps on their phones if that's what you're getting your Scripture from. And we're going to go to the book of Matthew, the 19th chapter so, again, that's the book of Matthew, the 19th chapter. And we're going to look at a meeting that took place that was a spontaneous meaning.

It was a meeting that we might be tempted to think Jesus didn't know was coming because there was no appointment that was made with him but, of course, we're talking about Jesus aren’t we? And so even though there was an appointment made there was no early contact at least as far as the Bible record goes in concern to Jesus’ meeting with this particular individual. Jesus knows the beginning from the end and so the meeting was no surprise for him. When he got up in the morning, he knew that that was going to be part of his day because, again, we're talking about Jesus here, aren’t we? So we’re picking it up with verse 16 and we're just going to look at a very interesting and intriguing but also a very revealing meeting that took place between Jesus and a young man he was a very wealthy man as we will soon discover the Scriptures reveal. The Bible evidence also seems to reveal that he was a young man and that he was also a leader in Israel and so he was no small individual in the picture of Israel during the time of Jesus. In verse 16 it says, “now behold one came and said to him ‘good teacher what good thing shall I do that I may inherit’” - or have – “’eternal life?’” Now that's an important question isn't it? You know what is it that I need to look at? What is involved when it comes to my eternal life? Now one of the interesting things about this particular meeting is that God not only inspired the [apostle] Matthew to record this particular meeting but he also had inspired Mark to record it as well in his Gospel record.

And when we go to his Gospel record in chapter 10 in verse 17 there it records the same words that we read in verse 16, except that he adds that the young man had approached Jesus here on the roadside and as Jesus and his disciples were journeying from town to town and the young man knelt down before Jesus. Now the reason that I'm pointing that out is because I think that adds a very important element for us in understanding where this young man was at. It reveals that this young man was not your typical Israelite that we read so often in the other parts of the Gospels. In some of the other parts of the Gospels we find there that most of the time when an Israelite, a scribe, a priest, a levite and so on, is in the crowd and - or if they meet with Jesus, typically when they're asking Jesus as a question they're trying to trip Jesus up, they're trying to discredit him, they're trying to embarrass him. Their motives are ulterior.

But with this particular young man the very fact that he came up to Jesus and he knelt down before him, reveals that he was under some very deep conviction and it reveals to us his motives were very pure when he came to Jesus. So here we have this rich young ruler - a leader in Israel - he kneels down before Jesus. Now the response that Jesus gives to the young man's question reveals that he didn't fully come to comprehend everything that Jesus was. Jesus knew who he was. We know who Jesus is.

The Bible makes it very clear that Christ was the almighty one; he was equal with The Father; he is God himself - The Son of God on earth. But this man didn't quite understand that but, yet, it's interesting that when he approached Jesus, he approached him with an attitude of – submission of worship or submission as somebody had also pointed out here. Yes, thank you juliana. So here we have this young man. He kneels down before Jesus in submission in a - in an attitude of worship.

Now, of course, in other parts of the Scriptures where even an angel finds himself - with John the revelator falling down before the angel - the angel quickly, you know, brings him back to his feet and says ‘no, no no, no, no, you don't want to do that. Worship God alone.’ Of course, Jesus is God and so Jesus doesn't tell him not to. And so the man is very close - is very close to fully comprehending everything that Jesus is. He's under deep conviction and he understands that this man really has the keys of the Kingdom. This is the man that really has the answers in regards to eternal life.

And so when he approaches him on his knees he says ‘good teacher what good thing shall I do that I can have eternal life?’ Then we go to verse 17. In verse 17 it goes on and says, “so he said to him, ‘why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is God. But if you want to enter into life keep the commandments.’” And so here we have Jesus as any kind of references the young man's reference to Jesus calling him good teacher. Now he says there only one who good and that’s God. Now was Jesus God? Yes.

Did the young man fully understand that? Well, apparently not, because Jesus is plain on that. He understands that the man doesn't fully understand that Jesus is God at this point and so he says ‘why do you call me God? There is no one good but God.’ But then he goes on and he says ‘if you want to have eternal life, don't forget to keep the commandments.’ Alright? Now, of course, keeping the commandments is and of themselves doesn't save us, does it? We just spent a whole quarter looking at the Gospel book of Romans that made that very clear for us. That it is through Christ and our faith in him - we are justified by faith alone - that we have our eternal life. But in the same light we also stated very clearly that Jesus and the apostle Paul taught that if we are not willing to give our full surrender and our full willing obedience to Jesus, then we don't meet the condition that is necessary to receive that gift that Jesus gives to us. So Jesus is talking about the importance of giving a willing obedience to the commandments of God.

Verse 18 he goes on and he said to him, ‘which ones?’ And this is, of course, the response of the young man: ‘which ones?’ Jesus says ‘you shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother.

’ Now is this a whole exhaustive list of all the commandments of God? No it isn’t, is it? This is a sapling that Jesus is obviously giving here. Now he lists five of the original Ten Commandments that God had actually carved with his own finger in the tablets of stone that he’d given to Moses. And the reason I'm stopping here and addressing this little bit is because there are some that are looking for any kind of loophole they can possibly find to be able to avoid the fact that Jesus calls us, when we come to put our faith in him, to give our full willing obedience to him. And so we're looking for any kind of loophole that might be able to release us from as much obedience as we possibly can find. Now this kind of attitude is very questionable and we need to ask our hearts, ‘do we really love Jesus?’ Because if we love him we will keep his commandments, Jesus says, and so it's really an acid test for our love.

Very obviously Jesus here is not talking about these are the only commandments there are applicable now for the Christian and for a believer. He left out some very key ones that we - you and I - I don't think I have to think very far or very long to understand that he still wants to keep them. The ones that are missing are? What’s the tenth one. Covet. You shall not covet.

Alright, covetousness is a big part of the subject we’re looking at here in this quarterly. Last week, we looked at covetousness in some great and important detail. Does God say it's okay to covet now, just covet away? No, that's not what Jesus was implicating. What about the first commandment, ‘you shall have no other Gods before you’? Now is God saying- is Jesus saying, ‘hey, listen, just worship a whole plethora of Gods. You know it's all open season now’? No, of course not.

Does he say - does he mean that you shouldn't use his name in vain now - or you can use his name in vain? Well, of course not. And so this is not an exhaustive list but Jesus is very obviously here giving a sampling of some of the key commandments that we are to live by when we put our faith and heart in Jesus. And it's no coincidence, I believe, that he also follows up with the last commandment in verse 19 which, he, by the way, in another part of the Scriptures, tell us is the second most important and greatest commandment in all of the Scriptures, and that is you shall love your neighbor as yourself. And so Jesus, here, is giving this second great commandment. Which, by the way, happens to be a very fitting summary for the previous four that he had just shared or the previous five from the Ten Commandments.

All of the five that he had chosen that particular day is in regards to our love and our relationship with one another as human beings. And so he says ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ All right then we go to verse 20. It says “the young man said to him, ‘all these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?’” Now this is revealing two things to us that are key in understanding this meeting between Jesus and this young man. And that he is that this young man reveals himself to be an honest man.

Just before he made that statement, ‘I've kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus says, ‘you shall not bear false witness.’ And so we find that this young man was an honest business man. Was he successful? Yes he was. Did he do very well? Yes he did. Did he do it with dishonest gain? Well, apparently, the evidence tells us that no, he was one that valued the moral of being honest in his business dealings. And so when a customer was dealing with this particular Israelite, they knew that they were getting a good deal; they weren’t getting a raw deal.

Sometimes we do with others that aren't so honest in their business dealings with us nor in the time of his and Jesus' day. So here we have a very honest business man. This was a business man that didn't steal from his customers or from his business partners and so if somebody was to go into partnership with this particular young man in Israel, why they knew that they could trust him - he was honest - but that he also wouldn't try to swindle, you know, a little bit extra for his pocket at the expense of his business partners efforts. And so here we find that he was an honest man and he valued the property of others that belonged to them. And so he was a faithful good business man to go into partnership with.

But in spite of all of these morals that Jesus had laid before him and - perhaps that's why Jesus had chosen those particular commandments because, of course, when Jesus met with this man not only did he know the appointment before it came to pass even though it was spontaneous for the young man as he heard that the rabbi Jesus was in the neighborhood and he went out to follow him and find him and be able to plead with him and ask these important questions, we find here that Jesus is in in conversation with him. And yet Jesus knows his heart, doesn't he? You see, one of the things - and the things that always fascinates me about every encounter that we read in the Scriptures concerning Jesus, is that when Jesus went into a conversation with you not only could he see what you look like on the outside. But he could look right through you couldn't he? Amen. And so you didn’t have to tell him where you were born. You don't have to tell em about your life and how school went as you were growing up.

You didn’t have to tell ‘em about your marriage, and so on –like the woman at the well - you know, he says ‘yes, you’re right. You don't have a husband. In fact, you've been married several times and the one that you're living with now isn’t even married to you.’ And then she began to – most likely she began to tremble because, all of a sudden, she realized ‘this man can look right through me. He knows everything about me.’ Well, later on she was excited about it, wasn't she? She said, ‘this man told me everything that I ever did.’ - Once she realized that he wasn't going to reject her over that but rather he wanted to save her from it and to give her a better victorious life. Well, the same thing with this rich young ruler: here we have this rich young ruler that, when Jesus threw out those particular commandments he probably knew – well, he did know, but the reason that he chose those was because he knew this young man was faithful in these areas.

And then he gave the young man an opportunity to really dig into Jesus and ask him why he really had approached him. It reveals to us that the young man understood that even though he was faithful in the commandments that Jesus had shared, there was still a very serious breach in his relationship with Jesus. What was the very heart and the root of the breach of his relationship with Jesus? Now he revealed it - the young man revealed that he understood it because he said ‘what good thing do I still – lack. Lack?’ Now. He wouldn’t ask that unless he understood that there was something seriously wrong with his relationship with his God.

Now Jesus, when he looked at him, of course, understood very clearly what had happened. He understood that it was most likely that this young man grew up in the synagogue, he had some, perhaps, some faithful parents and would pray with him in the morning and pray with him in the evening and that little boy's heart, as most boy’s hearts do, open up wide to God and want to pray and pray sincerely and innocently as Jesus had even said, ‘you know unless you come to God and into the Kingdom as a little child.’ And so here we have this young man that most likely had a very sincere relationship in his boyhood. Then, when he reached manhood, he began to realize, as he started to delve into the business world, that he had a real good knack for it. He was good at it. And not only that, he became probably successful very quickly.

And if he didn',t he was very persistent and very determined and so he learned some hard lessons. Perhaps he didn't have a knack at it, but whatever the pathway was the Bible tells us that he eventually found success. But what happened was he had allowed this mountain to grow in his life. That totally eclipsed his relationship with God that he knew - probably knew - in his childhood. And he knew that there was something seriously wrong.

There was this mountain that had emerged that totally eclipsed or blocked his connection with the God of his childhood. Now the chances are, as we look at the context here, that this particular young ruler understood what he lacked. Perhaps he was coming to Jesus that Jesus might confirm that to him and help him to be able to make that decision. Perhaps it was that he was hopeful that this - that this particular man, knowing that he was much more than the average rabbi - much more than the average prophet, even, and such that he might be able to show him a pathway that would allow him to keep the mountain still, but that he would still be able to have eternal life, somehow, as well. Perhaps if you could just find a root the jews could teach him where he could kind of go around the mountain but still keep the mountain.

Now what was the mountain? Money. Okay, money, wealth, possessions – yes. Okay, this young man - now last week has you- Pastor Doug –we had talked more extensively about ‘is it wrong to be rich? Okay. Is it wrong to be wealthy. Okay it's not immoral or against the principles of God to have wealth or to accumulate wealth, as long as we're in the right mindset, of course.

Alright, so how you look at that wealth, how you deal with wealth, is what makes the world of difference. With this particular young man, he had made the mistake of starting to invest his heart into the wealth. And once we started to invest our heart and our affections into the wealth, that's when we find ourselves getting in trouble, don't we? Okay? There's only one way - only one place that we can put our affections and our first affections and the first place that we are to set our heart, which is in God. And so, because this man made the mistake of investing his heart into building a personal kingdom here on earth, through his riches, wealth, and he's also a ruler, so that wealth then led to having positions of influence and power which almost always comes hand in hand with great wealth. We find here that he's also a ruler - a leader in Israel.

Now that can be a very fun place to be. I haven't talked to anybody yet or heard an interview with anybody yet that is extremely wealthy that has found this real power and influence that comes with it and say ‘i just hate it.’ No, most of the time people say ‘wow’ - you know, in fact, I've heard some very wealthy billionaires tell me that you know the money is nothing. Once you get the power and the influence that’s way better than the money. And so, most likely, this man was starting to enjoy the influence and the power that came with the wealth in the Kingdom that he had made the mistake of giving his heart to first. Jesus knew that he had fallen into a trap of building his kingdom here and was investing in this world first.

And , Jesus makes an invitation - I don't think we read it yet, have we? Verse 21. In verse 21 it says “Jesus said to him, ‘if you want to be perfect go and sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come follow me.” Now, I just to recap a little bit from last week and that is in regards to – and that in regards to the council that Jesus gave because, really, there's two things that Jesus had brought before the young man in response to his question, ‘what do I still lack?’ - And that is #1, he said, ‘listen, go and sell all that you have.’ Now notice that - you know, this is one thing I like about Jesus and the conversations that he had, he just gets right to the point. Have you ever noticed that? You know, nicodemus comes in the night and he says, ’you know, listen, I know who you are. We know who you are’ - and he says, ‘listen, you need to be born again.’ You know, nicodemus is looking around and saying, ‘where did that come from? You know, I have to be born again.’ You know, Jesus just looked right through nicodemus; he knew exactly what he was lacking, and he said ‘this is what you need.’ And so he just gets right to the point and we see that - we see that - we find that with Jesus as well. Jesus doesn't give this kind of big discourse on, you know, God and mammon and so on, he says ‘listen this is what you needed to go and so everything.

’ He’s like, ‘what?’ ‘Go and sell everything just get rid of the whole mountain.’ And he says what? No, no, no! I was hopin’ I could get some kind of, you know, route around the mountain.’ He goes, ‘no, you’ve got to just chop the mountain right down - right at the very foundation. Go and get rid of it all and give it all to the poor and then hit the road with me and my disciples.’ Now that’s pretty radica,l isn't it? Radical. Okay. Jesus calls us sometimes to make radical changes in our life if he knows that it has been a serious breach or a threat to our relationship with Jesus. And so he gets right to the point.

And then he replaces it and he says ‘now listen’ – and he doesn’t say this but he says it by his prescription – isn’t it? Basically, he doesn't say ‘this is what you lack,’ he just says ‘this is a prescription for the problem.’ He says, ‘go, get rid of the mountain just lop it off. Get rid of it all’ - he says – ‘and then start to invest your heart your heart in to the treasure in heaven. And so he didn't choose the word treasure by mistake or just coincidentally, he offers him the treasures in heaven because Jesus knew that he had put his heart into the treasures of earth by mistake. That was his big mistake wasn’t it? And so Jesus says ‘get rid of the mistake and replace it with treasures in heaven. Come and follow me and you can join my entourage of other disciples that are traveling from village to village and ministering the Gospel.

And you can have the peace and the power and the gift that is found in the Gospel that I am preaching and bringing to you and to Israel.’ So again recapping on last week; does that mean the Jesus here is prescribing that everyone that comes to Christ and follows him should sell everything and follow him and hit the road? No. No, of course not. Okay? So we need to be able to take this in context in relationship to the rest of the Bible. And as we recap again – this is a recap from last week, but last week we talked about the fact that the Bible has a whole long list of some of the most faithful men in the world that were very wealthy. We have Abraham, we have job, we have nicodemus.

There is a number of very faith - some of the most faithful men in all of history, God had also blessed with great prosperity. Not all of them. You know, the apostles were not one of those and of course we have others as well, in the Bible, that weren't wealthy. And so, wealth isn’t equivalent to being faithful to God, but you can be wealthy and faithful to God at the same time, as long as you are seen and able to handle that wealth in a healthy way. I once had a friend, years ago, and he said, ‘you know, one of the reasons I think that I've never really succeeded in being super prosperous in this world is because I probably can’t handle it.

’ And you know there's a good chance that he may be right. You know, not all of us can handle wealth in a healthy way and God doesn't want us to end up in the same place as the rich young ruler. So Jesus gives him a prescription and he says this is what you need to do. You need to just dig deep you need to just cut it out of your life altogether. Reminds me of John the baptist once, when in - you know, some of the apostles - not the apostles, I should say, but some of the pharisees and scribes and so on, they came to Jesus as he was baptizing and so – no, John the baptist as he’s baptizing, and John the baptist says, ‘you need to - you need to chop – chop - you know, I've come in with Jesus in the Spirit to be able to chop things right down at the root.

’ And so we need to be able to do that in our lives sometimes as well just like this rich young ruler. Another place in which Jesus was speaking and he was sharing some counsel that's in direct relation to the prescription here, and that is when he use some very exaggerated language that english grammar teachers tell me is called in hyperbole anyone know what hyperbole is? Okay. It's hyper – okay? It starts with the word ‘hyper’ because it means – it’s exaggerated. It's hyped up, as we might say. And so Jesus use some hyperbole to be able to get across, as strong as he possibly could, a very needful counsel that sometimes we need.

He says, ‘if your right eye causes you to sin’ - what should you do with it? – ‘Pluck it out.’ Some of you know the council. He says, ‘if your right hand is causing you to sin’ - what should you do? – Cut it off. Okay, lop it off. Now, is Jesus telling us, when he used that language that he was encouraging self-mutilation and amputation? No. No, of course not.

Even the fact that he said just choose your right eye tells us that he wanted us to know, ‘listen, I'm not talking in literal sense, here, I'm using hyperbole. And I want you to know that because I don't want you to actually literally plucking out any eyes.’ You know, if your right eye is causing you to sin and you're looking at and gazing upon things that you know you shouldn’t, and - so you pluck your right eye out, your left eye can do a really good job of making up for your right eye. And so, it's really not going to solve the problem fully is it? In fact, it’s not going to solve it at all, it just means that your left has to work a little bit harder, that’s all. And so, Jesus – and same with the hands. So Jesus, I think, wanted to make it clear to us that he isn't literally talking about self-amputation.

But he's using the most exaggerated language that he possibly could to be able to communicate to us that sometimes there are things in our life that are so seriously either jeopardizing, or already have breached our relationship with God, that the only prescription or solution that he has for us is to chop it off. I was visiting with the young man years ago and we are doing an evangelism or prophecy series. This young man was under deep conviction that God was calling him to be able to repent of some sins in his life. Some very serious ones and one of them was he got wrapped up in drugs - narcotics - and so he said, ‘listen, you know, I was baptized several years ago and - in this city - my home city - and I was very sincere – I wanted to follow the Lord. I gave my heart to him and so on.

But, you know, the problem is that my friends that I was hanging out with kept drawing me back to the narcotics and then i’d get hooked again. And here I am back in another prophecy series and I want to leave this behind me but I have failed once already and I'm afraid that if I get baptized, i’m going to fail again. Well, the very first counsel that came to my mind was the hyperbole that Jesus had shared during his public ministry, in which he says sometimes there’s things in your life that you just need to cut off completely. And so, for this young man the very best thing that he could do, at minimum, is cut off those relationships with those particular friends. I said, ‘listen, you know, ‘do not be deceived.

Bad company corrupts good habits’ the apostle Paul said, didn't he?’ So he said that, you know, you need to just cut that off. If you need to move to another city and that's the only way that you can escape these - these friends’ - because they would follow him and hound him and show up at his door and such, as well – ‘is move to another city.’ Does that sound radical? Yes. Sure, it is pretty radical. I said, ‘pick up - uproot yourself from your home city and move to another city. Move to another city - maybe another state - whatever it takes to be able to separate yourself from that so that you can find yourself able to find yourself in an environment that will allow you to have a successful relationship with Jesus Christ.

And that's what we find here as Jesus is talking to the rich young ruler. All right, so then verse 22 - we finish up the meeting, it says, “but when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions.” Did he decide to follow Jesus? No. No. What did he do instead? He walked, didn't he? Okay? He walked away. Now the Bible says that he walked away sad.

The Bible says that he walked away sad. The young man was brought face to face with the choice and of course that choice was a critical choice that he made that day because this was a choice that was going to determine his eternal destiny. And Jesus, here, was working as hard as he possibly could to be able to reach this young man and help him to make the right choice. Now the choice that he made that day revealed that his heart was so sold on the treasures of this world that it was next to impossible to break free. In fact, when I came to the end of this I thought to myself, ‘wow, you know, here's a young man and, in the end, you know, he had everything as far as what this world could offer.

But he was missing the most important thing and maybe his heart was so sold, by that point, on the wealth and the riches and the power and the influence that came with that, that he was beyond reaching. Maybe he was unreachable by the time Jesus was talking with him.’ But then I thought to myself, ‘now, wait a minute. If that's true then why did Jesus spend so much time with him on the road laboring with him working with him, inviting him to be able to come into a saving relationship?’ If Jesus knows the heart he would know he's already too far gone, he's committed the unpardonable sin - his conscience is so seared and he’s so sold in the riches of this world that there's no hope for him. But Jesus saw that there was hope - there was still room for a choice. In fact, the following verses explain that for us and answered my question.

Have you ever found that so often when you're going along in the Bible and then you have a couple of big question Marks that come up, you know, and you're thinking ‘what does that mean? What's all that about?’ You know, and then you're saying ‘i wonder if there's a Bible answer.’ 90 Percent of the time I find that if I just read the next one, two, three or four or five verses, that the answer is right there in the Bible and the Bible will answer questions for us. In verse 23 it says, “then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘assuredly I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle for - than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.’” And, of course, that verse in that statement has opened up various interpretation. As Pastor Doug shared it, you know, there’s this – you know, they called the eye of the needle perhaps where the sheep were a kind of funneled one by one into the pen as the shepherds were counting their sheep, and perhaps that is - that a camel can go through it but has to go on its knees. And that's very well possible.

The other possibility is that this was a hyperbole again. Just like when he said, you know, if your right hand is sinning, you know, chop it off. Perhaps Jesus is saying here, ‘listen, you know, it's next to impossible for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven even as it literally – well, you know, you can try all day but you'll never get a camel through the eye of a - of a sewing needle, will you? “When his disciples heard it they were greatly astonished and then said, ‘well, who can be saved then?’” And then Jesus gives that very important hopeful answer. He looked at them and said, “with men this is impossible but with God” – all. ”All things are possible.

” So was there a possibility with the rich young ruler? Yes. Sure there was. That's why Jesus had labored so passionately for this young man, because he knew that there was still hope. He knew that if he had just opened the door to his heart and allowed Jesus in, that Jesus would have given them the courage and the trust to be able to know that, ‘hey, as much as you are enjoined and leaning upon these riches in your life, if you just cut it out of your life and get rid of it all, and replace it with me, you're going to be much better off.’ And it's possible for you to be able to do that. That was the best prescription for this particular young man.

And so it's possible. So that's the good news. Jesus can achieve the impossible. Now, coming back to the man walking away sad, he wasn't sad because he was losing his possessions. Was he? Okay.

In fact the choice that he made that day determined that he would keep his possessions so we know he's not sad because he was losing all of his possessions and his wealth. No. But most likely the reason that he was sad and he walked away sorrowful, was because Jesus confirmed something that he probably kind of knew in the bottom of his heart - in his heart of hearts - that if he continues to put his affections and continues down the road of building his personal kingdom here on earth, he's going to lose out in the Kingdom of heaven. He was sad because he realized that you can't serve God and serve riches at the same time. And he was hoping somehow that Jesus was being able to give him a solution that would allow him to have both.

Now, because of the meeting with Jesus took place in Matthew chapter 19, and because Jesus talks about God and mammon in Matthew chapter 6, which is quite a bit further before Jesus is having this meeting, you know there's a real chance that Jesus actually - we're going to go to Matthew 6 if you want to get ahead and move there - Matthew 6:24 - there's a good chance that this particular rich young ruler just happened to be in that crowd. Perhaps God had providentially made sure that he was in the area when Jesus was near the sea of Galilee where the sermon on the mount - and of course the mount when you get to Israel, really is not a mountain in regards to what we think of here in America and so on but - but a mount - mountain back then is what we call hill, by the way. But a mountain – the mount that he was on was actually just where the plane of jezreel of - in Galilee kind of dropped down several hundred feet to the sea of Galilee - to the shore of Galilee. And so, when he was on the top of the mount, of course, then it was kind of like an amphitheater but, in reverse, we find that all the audience was kind of down the hill. So they all had a view as they looked up at the - at the Messiah, Jesus.

And, so this young man may have heard that counsel and had this seed germinating in his mind, for the last several months or even a couple of years, since he heard that sermon on the mount. And that's why he was under such deep conviction. Matthew 6 verse 24 Jesus says, “no one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” You cannot serve God and mammon. And, of course, we've already defined what mammon is.

And so you can only serve God or the riches and build your kingdom here on this earth. You cannot give your affections out to both. There is no fence sitting and there is no holding hands with both. There is only one or the other in Jesus wanted to make that crystal clear for them as well as for us, of course, as well. You know many years ago I was contemplating this particular truth in regards to where my heart was and when my memory goes back to the time when it's most likely that God gave me this kind of self-test – this kind of a way of keeping my heart in check - was during my college years when I was studying for the ministry.

And when I was at college, you know, I didn't own a whole lot and my wife and I were living on a shoestring budget, but nevertheless, regardless of all the money that we're pouring into tuition that it cost to go to a private Christian college and so on, you know, God still gave us enough and prospered us enough that we were able to still accumulate some things that we had never owned before. You know, a home stereo or some furniture and so on. So when you're just 20, 22, 23 years or like we were at that time, those are big things you know you've never owned those for the first time in your life. So I started thinking, you know, ‘am I starting to get attached to all these, you know, these possessions that I've never owned before?’ And it's like the Holy Spirit said, ‘shawn, you know, if some government authorities came’ – you know, it was at night when I was going through these experiences - and he said, you know, ‘shaw,n if some government authorities came in and they had the fire power and the authority to be able to come in’ - obviously in a different context and time that we live in - and they came in unannounced, unexpected and they said ‘shawn, tonight you need to make a choice. Either renounce your faith in Christ - you'll leave behind your commitment to Christ - or we just take everything.

’ Everything. ‘What would your choice be?’ And it really forced me and helped me to do some soul searching and say ‘would I be willing to let everything go tonight if I had that choice – if I was forced and compelled into that choice. And so, every once in a while I come back to that choice and say ’shawn, you know, if that scenario were to happen today – unannounced - at any time would you be willing to let it go?’ And I find that very helpful as a kind of a way to keep my heart in check and make sure that, even though God has blessed me to be able to accumulate different additional possessions over the years, that my heart's in the right place - that my affections are not in those things and that I can let them go tomorrow if I need to. I came into this world with nothing and I leave this world with nothing and I need to make sure that my heart is being set into the treasures of heaven. Well this week's lesson suggests that the best way to ensure that we keep choosing Jesus before money and riches is focus on who God is and what he has done for us.

Now that particular topic, of course, could take up the whole quarterly, couldn't it? We could easily fill a whole three-month’s study just on that topic alone. Who is God and what has he done for us that we might make good choices for him including choosing him over riches? But Sunday looks at Jesus as creator. So let's look at that quickly and see if I can just look at something interesting there. Let's go to Genesis quickly - chapter 1. We’re going to the first four verses of the Bible and we'll look at the first four verses.

Genesis 1 verse 1 says, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now that's no small verse, is it? That’s a very important verse. We live in a day and age when it's more important and needful than ever – “the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters and then God said ‘let there be light and there was - there was light.” And then God something - did something with the light and the darkness –“God saw the light that it was good. He divided the light from the darkness.” Jesus said something interesting when he was on the earth. He says, ‘i am the light of the world.’ Come with me now to John chapter 1 - the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John chapter 1 and starting with verse 1.

And lo and behold we find that God had inspired John in a very powerful, very poetic way to be able to reflect that which we have just read in the first verses of the Bible. Lo and behold it starts with “in the” – beginning. ”In the beginning.” What does the Bible start with? In the – “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Now the word there in most translations starts with a capital w and that's because the translators knew that verse 14 revealed, in the same chapter, very clearly that John was talking about Jesus and he was using ‘word’ as a title for Jesus.

And so we can say ‘in the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God.’ Then in verse 3 he goes on. “All things were made through him and without him nothing that was made was made.” And so here we have John reflecting again and lifting up Jesus as the creator and he's plugging Jesus into the first verses of the Bible, isn’t he? And he's doing that on purpose in a very powerful way. Then a verse 4 he goes, “in him was life and the life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.’ And so here we have God the creator, Jesus. We have all things made through him - heavens and earth - and we have Jesus as the source of all life - in him was life - and then we find that Jesus comes and he shines and separates the light from the from the – darkness. From the darkness.

Isn't that a powerful, beautiful parallel between the first verses of the Bible and the first verses of the Gospel of John? And then, of course, the rest of the Gospel of John is unpacking those verses because John, in a very powerful, poetic way, introduces Jesus this way very clearly, for the Jewish mind would have immediately brought their mind back to the first verses of Genesis. And then he says and this is the evidence and then he unpacks the rest of the Gospel and the main thrust and purpose of the Gospel of John - the Godhead inspired John to write - was to be able to demonstrate that Jesus was God, himself - the same Jesus that created the heavens and the earth in the beginning. And. So very clearly the Bible – and, not only here, but in many other points of the new testament and the old testament, revealed Jesus is one with The Father. He is the one that is just as responsible for creating the heavens and the earth as The Father and the Holy Spirit were, and that's important for us to be able to understand.

I want to come back to verse 4 as we close up today in our last few minutes and that is the first four words in verse 4 - and the first four words of verse 4, it says, “in him was – life. Life. Now those are no small words. That's a powerful, needful statement because it reveals to us that Jesus is the ultimate source of all life. Jesus is the source of life, unborrowed and underived - the only source of life.

Now, this flies straight into the face of a primary premise of the theory of evolution which is called spontaneous generation. Now the irony of this particular premise in accepting and believing in our origins through darwin's theory of evolution that requires you to accept the premise that spontaneous generation is true. Now the irony of this whole thing is that there was a famous french scientist by the name of louis pasteur. And louis pasteur was a french scientist that is famous for a number of different things, but his most famous thing that he did was he was the one that came up with the experiments that debunked the common belief among scientists in his day that there is such thing as spontaneous generation of life - that life can generate in a microscopic level spontaneously and mysteriously on its own without parents. And we find here that, of course, he disproved that through his scientists - through his scientific experiments.

Just want to close with the statement he made. He said, never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment. There is no known circumstance in which it can be confirmed that microscopic beings came into the world without germs and without parents similar to themselves.” And so here we stand 150 years later, dozens of scientists, hundreds of experiments and attempts to be able to replicate spontaneous generation in a laboratory and mr. Pasteur’s statement still holds true. Amen.

Why? Because the Bible tells us, among other places, in verse 4, “in him was life.” In him was life. Well, I hope that helps out and I hope that brings you closer to Jesus as the creator. Not only that but also as the loving creator as we see him in all of creation. Not only should we see him as the creator but, just as importantly, to see his love in all creation and you can find some great quotes in the quarterly as well. And again I wish we had two hours because there is a good two hours’ worth of material here.

So don't rob yourself; make sure you go through the quarterly's study in its fullness, if you haven't already. I want to just remind all those who have been watching the program all the way through, if you haven't taken advantage of the free offer that we have for you to be able to make sure that you call in or go on line and get your digital copy. We want to give this to you – it’s entitled, the flesh and the Spirit: understanding Romans chapter 7 and you just dial 1-866-788-3966 that's 1-866-788-3966 and ask for offer #792 and we'll be happy to send that out to you. And if you're living outside of the United States or its territories you can go on to amazingfacts.org and find a digital copy there. God bless you.

We look forward to studying with you again next week. God is really doing this. The life that he’s given me. This message was so powerful. I’ll follow Christ wherever he goes.

Amazing Facts. More than 45 years of proclaiming God's message around the world and then the logo pops across – Amazing Facts presents - I've listened to a lot of different ministers but here - this was the first time where he's actually saying something that I had to grab my Bible -actually pick it up and I've never heard this before. Let me look through and find this. Then I just couldn't get enough. So I started during Bible studies.

Every single one of these guys started being changed, including myself. My question was ‘why did that happen to me, God?’ the Lord was able to reach out and I actually saw him as a father. I lost everything and that was when I realized that it was God missing in my life. I went to a prophecy seminar which knocked me out. This message was so powerful and so irrefutable.

I just went this is real. This is - this is amazing. Together we have spread the Gospel much farther than ever before. Thank you for your support.

Name:

Email:

Prayer Request:


Share a Prayer Request
Name:

Email:

Bible Question:


Ask a Bible Question

Back To Top