WHERE YOUR HEART IS PART 1
by Pastor Mike Fortune
January 24, 2009
Introduction: Souper Bowl of Caring
God gives us a heart transplant...
- When we reach out to Jesus [Mark 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17]
- When we receive His perfect life [Mark 10:18-21; Jeremiah 29:13]
- When we respond the right way to riches [Mark 10:27; Matthew 10:37-38; Ephesians 5:1-2]
On February 1, 2009 it will have been 20 years since one youth group started feeding the need. The Souper Bowl of Caring began with the line of a prayer offered by Brad Smith in 1988. "Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those without a bowl of soup to eat." Since that time, the Souper Bowl of Caring has become a national movement of which we are participating.
So this week and next following the church service, members of our youth group Youth Operate, will be standing by the doors with soup bowls and pots. If you can, please plan on giving some money to help them buy more soup. If you can't give money, whether you like football or not, please plan on joining us at church on Sunday evening February 1st @ 6pm. Invite your friends and bring cans of soup that we'll be collecting and distributing later to those in need.
Because the Super Bowl is not just a game. It's an ordinary outreach opportunity to show your friends and family that being a Christian means making His will done on earth as it is in heaven. So please don't watch the Super Bowl or anything else on TV at your house that night. I know watching TV at church is a little more inconvenient than watching TV at home. You won't have your comfy lazy boy chair, you won't be able to change the channel with your remote, and you probably won't be wearing the pajamas you woke up with. But come on people, I'm not asking you to go on a three year mission trip or knock on doors of complete strangers. You guys were all going to be watching TV anyway that night tell the truth. So all your pastor is asking is that you come watch TV here instead.
When? Sunday February 1st @ 6pm. We need you here when we have Finance Classes for the community. Whether you have questions about finances or not. Whether you like sports or not. Whether you like classic Disney movies or not. Whether you enjoy international food or not. Why? Because ordinary outreach and shouting the Gospel with our lives is not about the class or the game or the movie or the food and never has been. It's about the invitation. From one transplanted heart to another whose heart may still be wandering. Because after we become a follower of Christ, we're supposed to look at ordinary things in a different way! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view."
And because a bunch of kids twenty years ago started doing that, one of the most commercialized consumer events in the history of American entertainment, Super Bowl weekend, is slowly being transformed one can of soup at a time into the nation's largest youth-led weekend of giving and serving. How cool is that? All of which reminds me of point number one that our Scripture passage in Mark 10 illustrates: God gives us a heart transplant when we reach out to Him.
One thing you lack
So let's turn in our Bibles to read Mark 10:17-23. "17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered, "18Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'" 20"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." 21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
The man in our passage today is usually called the "rich young ruler" since Matthew 19:20 calls him "young" and Luke 18:18,23 describes him as a "ruler." Which means he occupied a position of responsibility and was probably a member of the local sanhedrin in which he lived or the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. In Matthew's account, Pharisees come tempting and testing Jesus in Matthew 19:3. But the rich young ruler on the other hand not only runs after Jesus, he sincerely bows before Jesus and worships him. Obviously displaying altruistic not sinister motives.
He had probably been watching Jesus for some time. He had seen Jesus dedicate the little children and had heard him say to the disciples, "Suffer not the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God." And obviously he wanted to be in that kingdom. But the wording of his question betrays his misunderstanding of how you get in. In verse 18 he says, "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
But what was even more weird about that question is not that it was periodically asked of Jesus since Luke 10:25 describes "a certain lawyer" on a previous occasion who also asked Jesus the same thing. What was weird is that he prefaced the question by calling Jesus good. Which just wasn't done to rabbis because only God is good according to Exodus 34:7 and Psalm 27:16. Even 200 years later, when the Mishnah was compiled, which is a collection of oral laws compiled about 200 AD, the rabbis were still specifically saying instead that only "God is good and bestows good" [SDABC 457].
God gives heart transplants to those who are willing to receive
So this sincere rich young ruler is reaching out. Point number one. He's on the right track. He's running to Jesus which is always a good thing. Because God only gives heart transplants to those who want them. And this young man wanted one. But the problem is, he wanted to deserve one not receive one. And this is point number two. God only gives heart transplants to those willing to receive them. So Jesus sets up the invitation for him to receive a new heart in Mark 10:18-21 by asking him "18Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother..."
Now if you are an honest person, with half a conscience, at this point you would probably throw your hands up and say something like "Keep the commandments? Good Lord, you know how hard I tried. But I just can't! I don't have the strength." That's what the rich young ruler should have said. Because that's what the law is supposed to do for us. Galations 3:24 says "The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." But what's the object of that faith? Our performance? Our obedience? Our ability to keep the law? No! Jesus said in John 7:19 that not one of them was keeping the law in his day. And He died because He knew no one would be later on either! We don't need a system, we need a Savior. We don't need a resume, we need a Redeemer!
Do any of you remember when Dr. Leonard Lee Bailey of the Loma Linda University Medical Center made headlines around the world in 1984 for being the first doctor to transplant a baboon heart into an infant born with a fatal birth defect in the heart known as Baby Fae? So Baby Fae needed a new heart and Dr. Bailey attempted to give her a baboon's. Well, Baby Fae lived through the surgery and the baboon's heart kept beating, but eventually 20 days later, she died. The transplant didn't work. And neither does faith in our performance or obedience. Why? Because we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Good works can't save us
Children accept the reality of this with no resources of their own. No list of achievements and accomplishments to offer. Adults on the other hand, like this rich young ruler, come with all our baggage and obedience. And supposedly good works. And we forget that there is only One who is good and only One who has ever perfectly obeyed both the letter and the spirit of the law. "But teacher", some still say like he did in verse 20, "All these I have kept since I was a boy" and instead of bursting out in laughter, which is what I would've done, Jesus does something infinitely more graceful and compassionate. My Bible says in Mark 10:21, "21Jesus looked at him and loved him." Isn't that awesome? I wish it added the words, "Like crazy" right there but you have to supply those. Obviously, Jesus still loved him!
But I'm not sure I would have. Because I would have been insulted. That anybody would suggest that they're so good at obeying that Christ's sacrifice won't be needed is hypocrisy. Galations 2:21 says, "21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Hebrews 7:11 adds something similar. But the crazy thing is some sincere Adventist people are still saying things like that about their obedience anyway! One guy doing so was Elder M.L. Andreasen in his book The Sanctuary Service published by the Review and Herald in 1948. We had three copies of his book in our church library before I threw them away because there's an entire chapter in there about the kind of sinless perfection to be achieved by works of obedience to the law. Another guy in California, Larry Kirkpatrick, a pastor I didn't know personally but did go to seminary with says similar alarming things on his website LastGenerationTheology.org. So you need to know I'm not making this stuff up. There are people like this rich young ruler in our church today still preaching these things. And while they may be sincere, I believe they are sincerely wrong.
But we don't always realize this right away because all our lives we have been rewarded according to our performance. You get grades according to your studies, you get commendations according to your success, you get money for your work. That's why the rich young ruler thought that heaven was just a payment away. And it's why some Christians today think as soon as a final generation of people obey well enough, Jesus will come again. Wrong!
But because Jesus still loved this rich young ruler, Jesus doesn't yell at him. Instead, the Bible says Jesus looks at him and loves him. And then using what had to have been the kindest most patient voice around, Jesus adds these words in verse 21, "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. 22At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. And then 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
Our attitude is the problem
Please notice: Jesus didn't say it was impossible for rich men to enter the kingdom of God. Just not easy. Why? Because often we have the wrong attitude toward our riches. Jesus told this rich young ruler to sell all his stuff because Jesus knew he loved his stuff more than Him. But Jesus doesn't tell Peter, Andrew, James, and John to do the same thing. They kept their boats and nets and fishing business even though Luke 5:11 says they "Pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." Why? Because apparently, those things did not stand in their way of following Jesus. They didn't love those things more than following Jesus. Same thing with Abraham. According to Genesis 13:2, Abraham was "very rich." But James 2:23 calls him "The friend of God." So it's not being rich that's the problem. It's our attitude toward riches that's the problem. Matthew 10:37-38 says it this way, "37Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
And giving up money for this rich young ruler was the cross he wouldn't carry. Point number one: God wants to give us a heart transplant when we reach each out to Jesus. You know the transplant was successful when you routinely see worldly things as ordinary outreach opportunities to feed the need [Mark 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17]. Point number two: God gives us a heart transplant when we receive Christ's perfect life lived for ours. And this can be done because Jeremiah 29:13 promises, "13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." And point number three: God gives us a heart transplant when we respond the right way to riches. "With man", Mark 10:27 says, "This is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
So in the coming weeks we'll be talking about what else the Bible says about riches in part four of this series. But before we do, we need to cover a couple other treasures even more valuable than silver or gold. So I hope you come back for those. In the meantime, let's decide again to shout the Gospel with our lives by living grace and showing love. Ephesians 5:1-2 concludes, "1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." If that is your heart's desire, would you please stand as we sing the words to our theme song for this series. It's #330 in our hymnals."Take my life and let it be."