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The End of Anxiety

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 27, 2022 12:01 am

The End of Anxiety

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 27, 2022 12:01 am

If we are burdened with fears, it is time to consider where we're placing our confidence and our priorities. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of the gospel of Luke by addressing words that Jesus spoke to quiet troubled hearts.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Luke for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2103/luke-commentary

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Today on Renewing Your Mind, do you worry? Worry all you want, you won't add an hour to your life. Worry all you want, you won't add an inch to your heights.

Those things are beyond our control. Did you know that the modern medical establishment categorizes worry as a mental health issue called anxiety disorder? Whether or not that's accurate, according to a recent study, more than 40 million adults experience it. Hello and welcome to Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb. Now whether or not I fall into that category, I don't know, but I do know that I tend to worry way too much. So I need to hear today's sermon by R.C.

Sproul as much, if not more, than anyone. He makes the case that the solution is probably simpler than many of us think. This morning we're going to continue with our study of the gospel according to Saint Luke. We're in chapter 12, and I will be reading from verse 22 through verse 32. Then He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow.

They neither toil nor spin. And yet I say to you, even Solomon, in all of his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind, for all these things the nations of the world seek after. And your Father knows that you need these things, but seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Sell what you have, give alms, provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Again, what a privilege it is this morning to hear from Jesus, to hear His teaching, to listen to His admonition. As His followers, we delight in hearing His Word, which you in this moment have just received. Please receive it with the full measure of Jesus' authority that stands behind it. Let us pray. Our Father and our God, as we consider this teaching from the lips of our Lord, help us to be able to put our trust in Him to such a degree that fear and anxiety will be banished from our hearts, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. Before I look at the text itself, there are a couple of things I'd like to ask you to do. First of all, in your own mind, I would like you to answer this question. What are you afraid of? And what do you worry about on a daily basis? I want you to think about those two questions, not only this morning, but during this whole week, over and over, each night before you go to bed. Ask yourself, what am I afraid of?

What do I worry about? Now, I want you to think about that this morning, but I want you to fixate on it during the sermon, because I want you to be able to hear the sermon too as we're going on. But in this passage that we've just read, Jesus is addressing the problem of anxiety, and that word anxiety is often confused in our culture with the word eager. Children will say, I'm anxious for Christmas to get here, when what they mean is, I'm eager. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm excited about it. Anxiety or anxiousness is not a matter of being eager. Rather, the dictionary defines anxiety as uneasiness of mind or a fearful concern, so that eagerness is related to joy and anxiety is related to fear. Now, there are all kinds of anxieties that abound, and we must distinguish in the first instance between what I call specific anxiety and then non-specific anxiety.

Specific anxiety are those fears that we have common to our life, fears of illness, fears of the loss of our money or our job and our security and that sort of thing. I'm reminded of the story of two men in a foxhole during a battle in World War II. One was a Calvinist, the other was an Arminian, and the Calvinist was exceedingly calm in the midst of the battle where the Arminian was trembling in terror in the foxhole. And he said to the Calvinist, how can you be so calm in the midst of this battle? And the Calvinist said, I look at it this way. There's a bullet out there with my name on it, and in the providence of God, that bullet is either going to get me or it's not going to get me, and my worrying about it isn't going to change anything.

And the Arminian said, well, I'm not so much worried about the bullet out there with my name on it as I am with all these bullets flying around that have written on them, to whom it may concern. The negative prohibition that Jesus gave more often than any other was not, don't steal, don't kill, don't commit adultery. But the negative prohibition He gave more frequently than any other was fear not, don't be afraid, because He knew us in our human condition. He knew that all of us in our fallenness go through life on the edge of anxiety. A study was made a few years ago concerning married men in America, and the study revealed this startling conclusion, that the number one thing that married men in America worry about, more than anything else, is money, specifically with respect to their ability to care for and to provide for their families.

Before they went to the altar and said, I do, they felt responsible to take care of themselves, but once they entered into the marriage contract, they felt the weight and the burden of providing not only for themselves, but for their wives and their children. And the other startling thing about this survey was this, that when men gather and talk with each other, they talk about all kinds of things, politics, women, sports, business, and all the rest, but the one thing they never talk about with each other is their insecurities about their ability to provide for their families. That's an anxiety, a fear that's specific but is hidden. But in addition to these specific fears or anxieties that we encounter in this world is what we have already described as non-specific forms of anxiety. In the nineteenth century, a new philosophy was born called existentialism, and I get that question all the time from people. What is existentialism? And I give them the brief and brilliant answer. It's the philosophy of existence. And they say, oh, thanks a lot.

That really helps. But existentialism reached its acme in the West after World War II with the atheistic form of existential philosophy made popular by men like the Frenchmen Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. But one of the most important voices of that movement came out of Germany through the writings of a man by the name of Martin Heidegger. And Heidegger said that one of the root problems that every human being encounters is the sensation of dread, but that this dread, this care, this bezorgen that he spoke of is undefined, amorphous, vague, something that just constantly eats away at us, and yet we can't define why it is. We may go see the counselor and say, I'm anxious, I'm fearful, and he may say to us, what are you afraid of? And the answer may be, I don't know.

I'm just scared. And Heidegger painted a very grim picture of this. He said that every human being in this world experiences what he calls a sense of geworfenheit, or a sense of having been hurled or thrown chaotically into life with no sense of purpose or of destiny. And that sense of being cast in a meaningless way into life just eats away and gnaws at the soul day in and day out. The children go to school, and their teacher tells them that the universe and human life came into being through macroevolution. And they are told that they are cosmic accidents.

They're grown-up germs sitting on a wheel of a vast cosmic machine that is destined for annihilation. They're told they come from nothingness, and their future is nothingness, and that eats away at their own sense of significance. And that's this vague anxiety that Jesus addresses in this discourse, specific fears, specific anxieties that we encounter when He said, Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life.

I doubt if there's any commandment of God I've broken more frequently in my life than this one. I'm not happy unless I have something to worry about. And if there is such a thing as a worry wart, then that best describes me. And that, of course, is a judgment on my confidence and faith in God. You know, Jesus says, Fear not because I'm with you. And if I knew with full assurance every second of my life that Jesus was right next to me with me, what would I be afraid of? Why would I be afraid of anything? How could you be afraid of anything if you knew the Lord was standing right beside you? The psalmist said, Yea, though I walk to the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

And what's the reason He gives? Because I'm not afraid of death? No. Because I'm happy in the shadows?

No. I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

That's why to live the Christian life means to so focus on the Word of God that we become more and more conscious, more and more aware of the presence of Christ with us. Lo, we said, I'm with you always. I'm with you on the battlefield. I'm with you in the hospital. I'm with you in the ambulance. I'm with you at the cemetery.

I'm with you when the bank notice comes, a foreclosure. Lo, I'm with you always, even to the ends of the earth. So therefore, don't worry about your life, what you will eat, what you will eat, or about the body, what you will put on, because life's more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

I have to confess something to you this morning. I have a hard time preaching on this text personally, because this was my father's favorite text in the whole Bible. And I watched him die over a period of three years with four strokes. The fourth one killed him, but for most of that time he was confined to a chair with a magnifying glass that he used to read his Bible. And he had much to be anxious about. He wasn't earning any money. He wasn't able to care for his family. He didn't know whether his kids were going to go to college. He didn't know if he was going to survive another week. But he would murmur to me with gnarled speech with a sagging jaw, be anxious for nothing, what you should eat, what you should drink, what you should put on.

And I would hear him say that, and I would just be amazed because he wasn't anxious, and I was. But he clung to this text to the very end of his life. Jesus said, consider the ravens. They neither sow nor reap. Have you ever seen a raven go into a field with a plow, or using his beak to furrow the fields, and then watch him the next day with a mouthful of seed, dropping it here and there in the furrows, and when he was done covering it up with his wings and then flying up to the nearest tree to wait for the rain to come and the seed to germinate to provide food for himself, and then come afterwards and reap the harvest and take the fruit of that harvest to a barn and fill up the barn for future contingencies?

Of course not. Jesus says, think about the raven. He doesn't sow. He doesn't reap. He doesn't have a storehouse or a barn. But God feeds him.

How much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Worry all you want, you won't add an hour to your life. Worry all you want, you won't add an inch to your heights. Those things are beyond our control.

If you're not able to do these things that are the least, why would you be anxious for the rest? Or think about the lilies, He said, how they grow. They don't toil.

They don't spin. Did you ever see a lily go to a factory and and punch in his time card? He said, have you ever gone out in the garden and see the lilies working at a loom with the shuttle flying in and out between the yarn in order to produce a beautiful garment with which to be clothed? No, look at the lilies. They don't toil.

They don't spin. But I say to you, even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass which today is in the field, tomorrow is thrown in the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

Don't seek what you should eat, what you should drink, or have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need. And now Jesus is not saying, as the rich fool had said, be at ease. Eat, drink, and be merry.

Tomorrow you must die. Don't worry about being productive. Don't worry or be concerned about providing for your households. Don't be concerned about any of these things.

Just lay back, take it easy, and God will take care of you. Now this is not some giant welfare program that God is offering here through the lips of His Son. Of course we're supposed to work. Of course we're supposed to be productive. But the productivity to which we are called is not to be carried out in the midst of this paralyzing fear and anxiety.

That's the point that He's making. All these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things should be added unto you. At this point Jesus is summarizing some of the things that He teaches elsewhere, including in the Sermon on the Mount, and He's talking about priorities.

And elsewhere He says, seek first, protoss, first in the order of importance, the kingdom of God. Everything else is secondary. I've heard people say cynically, money isn't everything. It's the only thing. I've heard them say money isn't everything, but it's way ahead of whatever's in second place.

No. What's in first place in the value system of God is seeking His kingdom. And dear ones, unbelievers don't seek after God.

They don't seek His kingdom. The seeking of the kingdom of God is the activity of the converted person. When you were converted, it wasn't because you were seeking after God, but because God found you, and God turned your life inside out. And from that moment, the rest of your life should be busily engaged in seeking more and more and more of the things of God. That's what discipleship is.

That's what sanctification is involved in. As Edwards said, and I quoted him recently on this same point, the seeking after the kingdom of God is the main business of the Christian life. And Jesus says here, seek the kingdom of God.

All the rest of this stuff will be added unto you and again. How tenderly does He speak here when He says, Do not fear, little flock. Do not fear, little flock. Do you know who the little flock is?

You and me. We're His lambs. We're His little flocks. He's not yelling at us here. He's not rebuking us here.

He's comforting us here. He says, Don't be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. That's My legacy for you. That's your inheritance. He's not just giving Me the kingdom, Jesus is saying.

But what pleases My Father is to give you the kingdom. So, go sell what you have and give your alms. Now, this is not a universal mandate for everybody to divest themselves of all worldly goods.

That's not the point that He's making here. But He is saying, Give alms with gusto, freely, without anxiety. See where your security is and provide money bags that do not grow old.

What kind of bags are those? They're heavenly bags, the treasure that is stored up in heaven beyond the reach of the thief, beyond the reach of the moth, He says. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Isn't that natural for us to put our hearts where we have most heavily invested in this world? If your number one investment is the kingdom of God, that's where your heart will be. If your number one investment is the accumulation of riches, that's where your heart will be. Put your heart and your treasure with the kingdom of God. When we do that, we'll have nothing to fear.

And there's freedom there, isn't there? Holding the things of this life loosely, trusting in God's perfect providence, being generous with others. I hope you found today's sermon by R.C.

Sproul helpful. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Sunday. I'm Lee Webb, and I'm glad you've joined us. Each Lord's Day, we return to R.C. 's series through the Gospel of Luke, and today we've heard a great challenge from Jesus from Luke chapter 12. Over the coming months, we will finish the entire book, so let me recommend that you take advantage of our resource offer today.

Contact us with a donation of any amount, and we will provide you with a digital download of R.C. 's commentary on this Gospel. You'll find helpful notes and explanation of each verse.

I think it will be a great help to your study of Luke for years to come. To receive it, contact us with your donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. And if you're a new Christian and want to learn more, Ligonier's app is also a great place to begin exploring. You'll find articles, videos, and an archive of past Renewing Your Mind programs.

You can download that app for free by searching for Ligonier in your app store. I hope you have a great week. Renewing Your Mind is the listener- supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Thank you for joining us today, and I hope you'll make plans to be with us again next Sunday. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-27 08:35:30 / 2022-11-27 08:43:56 / 8

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