June 16, 2010

"All or Nothing..."

Here is the outline from my sermon this past Saturday (6/12) at our new Contemporary Service. This is the first part of a two part series which concludes this Saturday (6/19). As always, questions or comments are welcome. You can go here for the podcast.

"All or Nothing..."
Luke 18:18-30

The ruler’s question “what must I do” is the same question a lawyer asks in 10:25-28.

Jews were split on the issue of the afterlife. The Pharisees believed in the hope of eternal life/afterlife (Daniel 12:2) while the Sadducees did not.

The ruler called Jesus “good” because he recognized Jesus’ virtue and holiness and that he had the authority and ability to speak to his question.

Jesus redirects the focus to God’s sovereignty and the importance of his covenant with his people. This is not something new but rather an extension and completion of what God has already been doing in human history.

You still lack one thing”…what haunting words. Have you ever gone through some sort of long, involved process, organized all of the paperwork, got to the end and been told you were missing something? It’s like showing up to the BMV and missing that second piece of mail with your address on it.

Is being a Christian an all or nothing sort of thing? Jesus says earlier in Luke 14:25-33

It is important to remember what has taken place right before Jesus has this conversation with the young ruler…the persistent widow, the prayer of the tax collector and the Pharisee, little children brought to Jesus…it’s interesting how we don't see ourselves in these parables…not as the unmerciful judge or the super spiritual Pharisee but more than likely not as the little children either.

Sell…give…come…follow me (vs. 22)

Sell: in the Greek it means to exchange. Exchange anything that gives you security outside of Christ, not simply wealth or stuff (reputation, fame, degrees)

Give: serve others, fight for justice

Come: in the imperative form, which means we must recognize our need now; we come humbly as “little children” confessing our need

Follow: the picture of walking alongside Jesus, which means he is walking alongside us

What emotions well up inside you when you think about giving up everything to follow Christ?

Matthew’s (19:16-30) account tells us that the ruler & Jesus were sad. They both recognize the meaning of his response and that Jesus cannot overcome it. The cost of free will is that God cannot force the free to make the right decisions. The ruler knows the right decision but there is nothing more Jesus can do for him. The response of the ruler reminds us of the seed that is choked by the weeds.

If the powerful ones who have access to resources can’t be saved, who can? The question of “who can be saved” is a question based upon the actions of the individual, not God.

The cost of following Christ can make a difference in your life now, in the present and in the future as the promise of eternal life.

So, is Christianity all or nothing (Rev 3:14-16)? Does it cost us everything? Yes, but we have everything and more to gain.