RS: Next week, I’m pretty certain we’re going to start a series on prayer and how to have a more effective prayer life; so, I hope you’ll be here for that. It will be here, five times, as normal, so, that’s the game plan. This morning, before we start, I want to share something that I kind of bumped into last weekend reading in the book of Mark, and, if you’ll remember two weeks ago, when we last met, we were studying those two parables, the parable of the man who encounters the treasure on that piece of land, and the pearl merchant, who is out seeking fine pearls. And, if you will recall, in both parables, the one similarity of both parables is that each of them sold everything they had to get this treasure, to get this pearl of great value. And, what we said is, metaphorically speaking, this idea of selling everything you had was referring to surrendering yourself, surrendering your heart to Christ. And, I made the comment that based on everything that I’ve seen over the years, I saw this in a guy’s life yesterday, that the Christian faith, when it gets right down to it, when people are confronted with it, it really boils down primarily to one thing, and that is the battle for a man’s heart. Remember we read Romans 2:5? This is our problem; we have stubborn and unrepentant hearts. And you know, I think everybody wants eternal life. Everybody wants God to bless them, but when it comes to truly surrendering and living under His authority, a lot of people say, you know, I’m not sure I want to do that, and we were talking about this two weeks ago Friday, three weeks ago today in our lunch group, and Reid Manley, I don’t know how many of you know Reid, Reid is an attorney down at Burr Forman, asked the question, well, don’t you still think that people do have intellectual doubts, and it’s not just the heart? And I told him, yeah, no doubt about it, but, when it gets right down to it, as time goes by, I see more and more that I think it is more resistant than the heart, and the intellectual issues often are just smokescreens. Not always, but often. And then, the next day, I started reading in the book of Mark, chapter 2, let’s turn to this and look at a couple of verses, Mark 2, and before we read the verses that I want to read, let me share this with you, in Matthew 9:4, Jesus asked the Pharisees, why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Isn’t that interesting, thinking in your heart? And then, in Luke 6:8, it says, He knew what they were thinking in their hearts. And then, here we come in Mark 2, and Jesus encounters this paralytic that He healed, in verse 5, and then in verse 6, and, it’s interesting, but the NIV and the NAV have two different words, and then the Amplified kind of clarifies it. But look at verse 6, in the NIV it says, some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves. If you have the NIV, this is what it says. Let me read from the NAS, this is what I was reading from two Saturdays ago. It says, but some of the Scribes were sitting there, and they were reasoning in their hearts. Reasoning in their hearts. And in the Amplified, it says, holding a dialogue with themselves as they questioned in their hearts, and they reasoned in their hearts. Now, that’s an interesting phrase, the thought of reasoning in their hearts. You would think that you reason in your mind. And I’m sure you do, but that just shows you that there is an unbelievable link between the mind and the heart, and so, when you have people resisting God, and it’s because of intellectual reasons, sometimes you have to wonder what that’s really all about, what’s really going on in their lives, because, in John 3:19, remember Jesus says this, he says, the true light has come into the world, but men love the darkness instead of the light. Loving the darkness. What do you love with? Do you love with your mind or do you love with your heart? You think love is something from the heart, but if you love the darkness, that’s a heart issue. Here’s what C.S. Lewis says, he was so attracted to atheism, he said not because it was true, but because as an atheist, it enabled him to live any way he desired. God didn’t get in the way, and that’s why he was attracted to it. That’s more of a heart issue than a head issue. That’s the will. Lee Strobel said the same thing. Mortimer Adler becomes a Christian at the age of 82, one of the great philosophers of the last century. He became a Christian at the age of 82, and he lived to be like 96, and he got to be in his 90s, and he described himself as, prior to becoming a Christian, as a pagan. He says, “I was as pagan as you can get.” He says, “but, looking back, I realized that I rejected Christianity for one primary reason, I didn’t want to live the Christian life.” He says, “because of that, I was an atheist.” So, it’s interesting as we look at a person, and the way they respond to God, the way they respond to Christ, is, you have to wonder, is it a head issue, or is it a heart issue. Particularly if you reason in your heart. Comments or questions? That’s just kind of getting us started here. I thought that was interesting.
Audience member: unintelligible comments (7:28 through 7:42)
RS: I’m not sure, Allen, I know that there are certain churches, local churches, I’ve talked to people, they’re shrinking, but there are certain churches, that are booming. That are exploding, so, we could have a pretty interesting conversation on why that is. I think historically, when you have a church that kind of preaches more of a social gospel, over time, they shrink, and those who truly preach The Gospel, in a powerful way, they grow and they explode, but that’s being kind of in general. That makes for an interesting conversation. Anybody else.
Audience member: unintelligible comments (8:25 through 8:43)
RS: In fact, what you just said leads into what I want to talk about today. Let’s go ahead and press on, because I want to get through this, and it will require the whole time. Just a quick review some of you weren’t here two weeks ago. We focused on the parable of the Pearl of Great Value, the parable of the merchant who finds the Peal of Great Value, and he sells everything to get it, and I asked this question, I said is there anything out there that you would sell your home, your cars, any investments you have, your retirement accounts, liquidate everything to get that one thing, and I used this illustration to kind of put t into perspective. I said imagine your wife, imagine one of your children contracts a disease, and its terminal, but then, at the same time, you find out from the doctor that there is someone, some institution, in Switzerland that has a cure, 100% cure, guaranteed, but it’s incredibly expensive and because it’s in Switzerland, your insurance doesn’t cover it. And so you have to liquidate all that you have to buy that. Now, would you do it? You see, what you discover is that this cure is so precious to you that everything you own is not near as important as you thought it was and it brings a whole new perspective and attitude towards everything you own. Now, what you see take place, the transformation takes place in the way that you view your material possessions, that were always of such great value to you. You know what you realize? You realize that they are expendable. And they become expendable once you see the great value of this cure because it changes your attitude towards everything else. When it comes to our spiritual life, this is what I recognize, even in my own life, people, I don’t think are truly aware of the great treasure that Christ offers us. I think people out in the world have no idea that in one sense Christ is the medicine, the cure that makes everything else in life expendable. It strikes me that if anybody does not know or anybody does not see, Jesus as that pearl of great value or that pearl of great treasure, then they really don’t know who He is, and they really don’t know what He’s done for us and they don’t realize the great treasure that He offers. And that’s what I want to talk about today. It’s a great topic. It strikes me that people ought to be able to see the difference Christ makes in our lives. I’m meeting with a guy right now, we’ve met twice now, we meet every Wednesday at lunch, and this guy, really good guy, I really have enjoyed meeting with him, he’s done real well in his life, done real well financially, I’ll put it that way, yet he’s told me twice now how empty his life is, and he said one of the reasons I’m here is because there is a guy in one of your Bible studies that I’ve watched God do great things in, and I’m amazed. It’s almost like he’s saying, that’s really why I want to check this out, and see if this is for real, because I haven’t found it in the things of this world. That’s the challenge we have guys, is people see what a real difference Christ makes in our lives, but I also would say as we think through this, shouldn’t we be telling them about this great treasure that’s available to them, particularly if Jesus, in one sense, Jesus is the medicine and the cure for the disease that everybody is dying of. I mean, shouldn’t we at least be telling them? That’s part of our responsibility as believers. Today what I want to do is I want to focus on the breadth of this great treasure that He offers humanity, this great treasure that’s worth selling everything for, or surrendering to, because of what you receive in the process. You know what the Bible calls it, wealth, He uses these terms, the great wealth that we have in our relationship with Christ. He talks about it as a treasure. He talks about it as great riches. In fact, let’s take a look at a couple of the verses to kind of give us as idea. Everybody, if you would, turn to Ephesians 1. Anybody have any comments or questions? Yes, Bill?
Bill: Unintelligible comments 14:48 – 15:06
RS: This came up yesterday. One of the great things I feel like you can, in fact, what we’re talking about today, can kind of be foundationally what you would share with somebody and I tell people, if nothing else, what you can say, and this is really effective, is to say, I can’t tell you how much of a difference Christ has made in my life. Then they might want to know how so, and then you can tell them, and as we go through some of the things this morning, I think you’ll see, in fact, that’s the question I’m going to ask you in a minute, we’ll throw it open for comment, is, if someone who is not a Christian came and asked you what difference does it make in your life as a Christian, what has it really done for you, how would you respond? Think about that for a minute, we’re going to come back to that. Everybody at Ephesians 1? We’re going to read verses 7 and 8. John Williams, you want to read those? Ephesians 1:7-8.
[In him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.]
RS: Very good. Notice what he says, we have redemption through His blood, forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the, here’s that word, the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. I love that word, lavished. Then go to Ephesians 3. Everybody there, Ephesians 3, Robert, you want to read that for us, 3:8.
[Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.]
RS: The unsearchable riches of Christ, as the NIV puts it. The NAS says the unfathomable riches of Christ. It doesn’t’ just say the riches of Christ, they’re unfathomable, indescribable, unsearchable. Flip on over to Philippians, sorry about that, Colossians 2:2. Charlie Haynes, you want to read that for us?
[My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.]
RS: The riches, other translations say, the wealth that comes from the full assurance and understanding, resulting in the true knowledge of God, the mystery that is Christ Himself. In II Timothy 1:14, Paul tells Timothy, guard this great treasure, the Gospel, guard it, this treasure. Remember in Philippians 3:8, Paul says I lost everything because of the incredible value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. And probably, maybe the most significant scripture, some of you know this verse, and that’s II Corinthians 8:9. And that said, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. You know, before we proceed, I want to talk for a minute about this idea of riches, treasure and wealth, in fact, why is it, and this is not a trick question, why is it that people are so enamored with money? Really, when it gets right down to it, what is money? Go back to your basic Econ 101, what is money? Tender, it’s a medium of exchange. Think about it, you take this little piece of paper, and you give it to somebody, and you get all these benefits. It’s a medium of exchange, and the more you have, the more benefits you can bring into your life. Now I am reminded of Psalms 103:2 that says, Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget none of His benefits. So if in fact, the Gospel, if in fact, Christ is a great treasure, if in fact, He brings great riches to the table, and great riches provide us all these benefits, what are the benefits? What are the great benefits we receive in the great riches that Christ offers? This is what the world needs to know and this is what the world doesn’t know. So many people look at Christianity as nothing but a bunch of restrictions that you place on your life so it seems to me that we need to know what these riches are. Let me stop here. Comments, questions?
Audience member: unintelligible comments 21:01 – 21:28
RS: That’s why, when we get through this, I think you’ll see, Jim, and people need to understand it, you want me to give up my life, what am I getting, what’s coming to me, what are the benefits? Charlie?
Charlie: unintelligible comments 21:43 – 22:02
RS: Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it, as we get into this, but, great comment. It seems to me from the verses we just read, there are two components to this great wealth. The first is eternal life in God’s great Kingdom. But the second is the personal relationship that we have with Him in this life and what that leads to, what that provides us. Does that make sense? Two components: eternal life in the Kingdom of God, and the personal relationship that we have with Him in this life. And let me ask this, I don’t know if you noticed this, but as we were reading about the wealth we receive by being forgiven of our sins that leads to eternal life. I don’t know if you noticed about the great riches we received because of the grace that He extends to us, Ephesians 1:7-8 and we have redemption through His blood, forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace. And then the second, II Corinthians 8:9, and you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he became poor so we could be rich. What I’m saying guys, is I don’t think we realize the incredible value of being saved by grace and not by works. Obviously we are saved by grace through faith, that’s what Ephesians says, not as a result of works. How valuable is the fact that you are given assurance of your salvation? You don’t have to carry around this heavy burden of worry if you’ve been good enough to get in. I’m talking to a man who believes we are saved by faith, plus works, and I said, well, you really don’t know whether you’re going to Heaven, do you? He said, nope, I sure hope I’m going to, but I don’t know for sure. We are given assurance, basically, this is a great question, guys, what is it worth to you, when you put your faith in Christ, that you will have eternal life, and as we read a couple of weeks ago, as Jesus said, and you will not come into judgment, and Paul in Romans 4:8 says, you will not have to give account for your sin before God, because Jesus has accounted for them. I mean, what’s that worth to you? The payment for your sins? What’s that worth? We were kind of laughing about this yesterday. Think about it in these terms. Let’s just assume that you sin three times a day. Most people have sinned three times by the time it hits ten o’clock. Let’s just, for argument sake, say you just commit an average of three sins a day. We’ll do the math, 3 x 365, it’s over a thousand, but let’s just round it down to a thousand. Then, multiply a thousand by your age. Well, I’m 62, so, I’m looking at 62,000 sins that need to get paid for. [Laughter] If I’m relying on myself, I’m in big trouble. But, do you see, again, what is that worth, that Christ paid for those, so when you stand before God, it’s as if you never sinned. Because, basically, He has taken those sins upon Himself. He was pierced through for our transgression, He was crushed for our iniquity. That’s why he talks about the riches of God’s grace. What’s it worth to you. Comments, questions? Because of this, because of the grace, because of the assurance of salvation, do you know what that gives us? Hebrews 2:15 kind of nails it. Hebrews 2:15 says that Jesus frees us of the fear of death which we would be subject to as slaves all of our lives, he’s saying the greatest fear of man is the fear of death and we are slave to that fear, and Christ came to set you free from that. Again, what’s that worth? What’s that worth to the person, Jim, when he asked, what’s in this for me, if I truly surrender my life, what’s the great treasure? I mean, that alone, is worth everything. Now, comments?
Audience member: unintelligible 27:38 – 28:04
RS: Amen, thank you. All right, what I really want to focus on is now, as you consider your own relationship with Christ, what are the benefits that flow into your life, what are the benefits you reap as you live this life, as you go through each day, how has it made a difference in your life. As I asked a minute ago, if somebody is not a Christian, or may be searching, or just looking at you to get to know you, if they ask you how Christ has made a difference in your life, what would you tell them? What would you say?
Audience member: unintelligible 28:46-28:50
RS: That’s probably the number one answer I’ve heard from people is the peace that He gives. What else?
Audience member: unintelligible 28:56-29:01
RS: Yeah, He’s the true source of security in life. Remember what Leachman said, what is real security? It’s when you build your life on something that can’t be taken away from you. And Paul says, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing. What else? Charlie? Robert?
Robert: unintelligible 29:27 – 29:35
RS: To take that a step further, it answers all the questions that man has always asked about life, who am I, why am I here, what is my ultimate destiny. That’s the question that philosophy has asked forever, and they don’t have any real good answers, it kind of simplifies things, life makes sense. What else? Charlie?
Charlie: unintelligible 30:07-30:12
RS: You guys are answering all my questions. I think we could just go home. I want to expound on several of these answers, and this was a good exercise to think about, what does this mean to me, why are we here, I mean, why are we here at this Bible study, think through this, I think it will, if nothing else, it will give you a true sense of gratitude of what He has done for you, what He’s provided for you.
Audience member: unintelligible 30:47-30:56
RS: Yeah, that’s a real issue, and that’s the kind of flip side of the coin as a Christian, it is easy to look down on people, that’s something that I pray about in my own life, Lord that you would give me compassion for people, and deliver me from judging others, because it’s so easy to become, as a Christian, to become self-righteous. We don’t want to go there, though. Everybody if you would, turn to Colossians 2.
Audience member: unintelligible 31:41 – 31:59
RS: That should be very sobering, if you can get somebody to think about that, and we should think about that and reflect on that because we realize that’s really not that valuable, because it’s just temporary, when you get right down to it. Okay, everybody at Colossians 2? Butch, you want to read for us? How about reading verses 8, 9, and 10?
Butch: unintelligible 32:29
[See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..]
RS: Butch’s translation in verse 10 nails it. In Him we are made complete. The NIV says in Him we find fullness, and the NAS says complete. I looked the word up in the Greek and it’s the word pléroó (πληρόω), and it means literally to make full and complete and whole and to be what we are meant to be. If this is correct, we are complete in Christ, we are complete as human beings, it means if you are not a believer, you are incomplete. It means you are empty. And you are failing to do what you are meant to do; you are failing to find your purpose in life. Remember why are we here. To live in a growing relationship with God. Remember I Corinthians 8:6? It says we exist for Him. This is why Augustine said God you have made us for Yourself and our hearts will not find rest until they rest in Thee. The first great benefit is we are made complete and we are doing what we were meant to do when God put us here, and that is to connect with Him, live in relationship with Him, and that’s why, again, in Christ, life makes sense. Life is purposeful, life has meaning. The great questions are answered. This is part of the great treasure that offers human beings, and it is of great value, I can assure you. Let me share a second benefit. The second benefit. Let’s look at a couple of verses here. Why don’t we do this? Everybody on this side, from Charlie Haynes over, how about you guys looking up Psalms 18:28, and from Alan over, John 1:9. Everybody got those? Psalm 18:28 and John 1:9. Dennis, how about reading Psalm 18:28?
[You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.]
RS: Turn my darkness into light. You light my lamp. All right, John 1:9, Billy Hiden?
[The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.]
RS: In fact, another translation says the true light has come into the world to enlighten every man. And of course, Jesus Himself says, in John 8:12, listen to this, I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life. You see the Bible tells us very clearly that apart from God, human beings wonder through this life in darkness, they live in darkness. And Proverbs 4:19 says they stumble in the darkness and they know not what they stumble over. You see, the problem with darkness guys is darkness distorts reality. It distorts what is real. It disorients us, not only in the physical world, but in the spiritual world, particularly. One of the guys, yesterday, said he was in a tour, and they went deep into the coal mine, and they said, we’re going to show you what real darkness is, and they turned all the lights off. He said it is the scariest thing you’ll ever see, it starts to disorient you; you don’t know where you area. I’m sure this has happened to all of us, but this has happened to me a couple of times, when my wife and I are traveling and we’re in a hotel, I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and I try not to bother her, I don’t turn the lights on, get in there, turn the light on, go the bathroom turn the light off, head back to my side of the bed, thinking I know where I’m going, and the next thing you know, you’re feeling something and you realize, and you’re in the closet. That ever happen to you? It’s so disorienting, it’s really scary. That’s what life is like for so many people. All you need is a little bit of light to reorient yourself to what is real. You see, darkness distorts reality, it distorts what is true, what is good, what is beautiful. Light, on the other hand, reveals what is true and good. Light, guys, is necessary, in order for you to see, in both the natural world and the supernatural. Think about it. There’s three things you have to have to see. You have to have an object to look at. This cup. You have to have the ability to see. And you have to have light. I mean, think about it. If the lights in this building were off, and it was dark outside, even though I’m standing here holding this cup up, this is real, you couldn’t see it. You have to have light. But that’s true also spiritually. The object you see is spiritual truth. It’s God and spiritual truth. You have to have the ability to see it and perceive it and that’s why you have a mind and a heart. But you have to have light, and the Bible says, Jesus, the true light, came into the world to enlighten us to illuminate so that we can see. And the great thing about light, guys, one final thing, light enables us to see what we otherwise aren’t able to see. Let me give you an example. About 10 years ago, we added a master bedroom on our house and we have two big windows that face the east and we have two big curtains that cover them, and there have been times when I opened the curtain on my side of the bed, and the sun is coming up in the east and it’s just shining brightly into the room. This happened the other day, I just opened the curtain and I could look around where the light was coming in and I could see the dust particles in the room because the light was shining so brightly. You know, those same dust particles are in this room, you and I, we can’t see them, we don’t have enough light. The more Christ light you bring into your life, the more you can see and understand life and how it works. You see, this is what wisdom is all about. One of you was talking about that, the wisdom of God. And that’s what we’re talking about gaining, basically, in Christ, one of the great benefits is the wisdom that He gives us. What is wisdom? It’s the ability to see and understand how life works. J.I. Packer said it’s the ability to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goals in life, along with the surest means of attaining it. We have the ability to see guys. All humans have the ability to see, but we need light, and Jesus is that light. That’s why Paul says in Colossians that in Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Remember what Solomon tells us about wisdom? The most valuable thing in life. In Proverbs 3, wisdom is more valuable than silver and gold. And nothing we desire compares with it. What an incredible benefit that Christ brings to us. We said the first one is that we are complete. The second is that He brings light into our lives, and wisdom and understanding is so valuable in making decisions as you live this life. The third benefit, maybe our greatest treasure, and, of course, if you are outside of the faith, this doesn’t make a lot of sense to you necessarily, but it’s the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Holy Spirit residing in us. The Holy Spirit empowering us, transforming us. You know, when I asked what are the benefits, the first thing Dennis said is peace. Well, peace is the fruit of the spirit. Think about the joy. Love, joy and peace, three fruits of the Spirit. That’s what God wants to generate in us. He is the source of it. He makes it available to us. Turn real quickly, as we wrap this us, turn real quickly to Ephesians 3.
Audience member: unintelligible 44:10-44:22
RS: It ain’t pretty. That’s important, too, Jim, as you say that. We need to see ourselves the way we really are. We see the speck in our brother’s eye; we just don’t see the log in our own. We need to see that. Is everybody there? Jeffrey Bell, 3:16.
Jeffrey: unintelligible 44:50-44:58
RS: To be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. Jeffrey, read verse 20, if you would.
Jeffrey: unintelligible 45:08-45:17
RS: The power that works within us. Let me read a verse to you from Romans, this is Romans 15:13. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Think about the three fruits of the Spirit. God says, I want to put my love, not just love, His love. In John 14:27, Jesus says, He doesn’t just say I want to give you peace, He says, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives. And, in John 15:11, those famous words of Jesus, he says these things I’ve spoken to you so that my joy, not just joy, my joy, may be in you and your joy may be made full. How does He give us His joy? Go back, He says, these things I’ve spoken to you, what’s He referring to? The vine and branch relationship. He’s just taught us about it, I am the vine, you are the branches. Basically, the key to living a Christian life is the sap of the vine, the Holy Spirit, flowing into the branches, our lives. He says, when this happens, you will bear much fruit. What is that fruit? Love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, self-control. This is part of the great treasure that Christ offers us. There are more than three. The first is that we are complete; we find our purpose in life. Number two, He gives us light so we have wisdom and understanding to live this life well, and then three, the Holy Spirit, and all the fruits of the Spirit. Now, there’s more, but we just don’t have time. But one final one I was going to mention, and then we’ll wrap this up. In Matthew 7:24-27. He’s talking about the storms of life. Jesus says I’m the rock that you can build your life on. I’m the foundation to help you weather the storms of life. You know what He says? Because the storms are gonna come. He doesn’t say if they come. He says the storms are gonna come into your life and you can either build your life on solid rock, or you can build your life on the sand. So, I guess the fourth thing is Christ is that solid rock, the solid foundation that we can build our lives upon to weather the storms of life. When we think about all these things, guys, you throw in eternal life, you throw in the forgiveness of sins, what’s all this worth? It truly is a great treasure, and it’s worth surrendering your life to get these incredible benefits.