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All Things Possible

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 16, 2022 7:00 pm

All Things Possible

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 16, 2022 7:00 pm

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I have your Bibles with you today. Turn with me, if you would, to Mark chapter 10, and we're going to be looking at verses 23 through 31 today. Peter began to say to him, or brothers or sisters, or mother or father, or children or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, brothers and sisters and mothers, and children and lands with persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life.

But many who are first will be last and the last first. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we love you.

We desire to please you. We hunger to know Jesus better, but we confess that money is too often an idol and a distraction. Give us insight into the rich young ruler's heart. He seemed to be, humanly speaking, a good man. He was moral, he was respectful to Jesus, he was kind to others, but when push came to shove, he could not give up his wealth. His heart wanted acceptance from Christ, but his mind and will convinced him that his wealth was more important than Jesus. Father, help us to have a childlike faith. Help us to not put our trust in riches, but that we might love you more than any wealth, person, or anything else. If we are to be persecuted, give us the faith and the courage to stand, even if it means loss of stuff, or friends, or this life. May what I just said not be just words, but be reality. For it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. When the rich young ruler turned his back on Jesus, what was he doing? When he walked away, he was rejecting the pearl of great price, and the reason was because his love for wealth had become an idol to him. In verse 21, we are told this.

It says, Beholding him, Jesus loved him. Now, why would he do that? Because this man was genuine. He was honest. He was a moral man. He showed great respect to Jesus. He came to Jesus and he knelt down before him. And then he called him good teacher before he asked the question, Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus said, keep the commandments and gave him the commandments. And he said, well, I've done that. I've done all that.

I'm good. And then Jesus said, all right, that's one thing you need to do. Go sell everything you've got.

Take that money and distribute it among the poor and then come and follow me. And what did the man do? He turned his back. He walked away from Jesus because his wealth was an idol. Jesus watched this man. He was forlorn.

He was depressed. He was sorrowful and Jesus watched him walk away. And then he turned around to the disciples knowing this was a very powerful teaching moment. And he used this to teach the disciples some very important things about the dangers of material wealth.

I want us to look at verses 23 and 24 again. Jesus said something here that was an absolute shock to the disciples. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, how difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God. And the disciples were amazed at his words.

But Jesus said to them again, children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God. In the King James version, there's a statement that is added. Now, I don't think that it was in the original Greek. I think it was a footnote that probably got copied in by a scribe later on.

But I love the footnote because it's a great clarifying statement. And what did Jesus say in the King James? It says, and the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God. The statement that is not in the ESV, that is in the King James version, that I believe is just a footnote is this, for those who trust in riches will not enter the kingdom of God. In other words, it's possible to have wealth without making wealth an idol. It's possible to have wealth and not trust in wealth.

I look at Abraham and Job and David. These were very wealthy men, but their wealth didn't control them. They loved God more than they loved their wealth. I've got great friends who are wealthy people, and yet they love the Lord with all their heart. When God says, give, there's no question about it.

They give. But this was a huge shock to the disciples because many in Old Testament times looked at the wealthy as being the favored by God and looked at the poor as being the unfavored by God. So as this rich young ruler walked away sadly, Jesus said to his disciples, those who have wealth or those who trust in wealth will have difficulty entering into the kingdom of heaven. The disciples were shocked. They were absolutely perplexed. They were confounded at what Jesus said. And so they say, Jesus, what do you mean by this?

I got four points I want to share with you this morning. Point one is the categories of the poor. Again, verse 23 and 24. And Jesus looked around and he said to his disciples, how difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God. And the disciples were amazed at his word, but Jesus said to them again, children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God.

Before we look at these four categories, let me point out something that I think is easy to overlook here. I want you to notice what Jesus called the disciples. He called them children. You remember in last week's message back in earlier portion of this 10th chapter, the parents were bringing the little children to Jesus. He would take the little children in his arms and he would hold them and put them up on his lap. He would hug them. He put his hand on their head and he would pray a blessing over them, and he would just hug them to it to his heart.

And it was a beautiful thing, but the disciples thought that it was a waste of time. So they started telling the parents, hey move on, move on. Jesus doesn't have time to mess with children. He's got other stuff, important stuff to do.

Now y'all get out of the way. The parents started walking away. The scripture says that Jesus was indignant and he said to the disciples, suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child shall not enter the kingdom of God. Children don't care about riches. They care about relationships. They are dependent on their parents. They are not wealthy and independent. They are dependent, helplessly dependent.

So Jesus reminds the disciples who they are that they are children. All right, I want us to look at these four ways the Bible describes people in poverty, and these are very, very different, so listen to these carefully. Number one is a cause for poverty is laziness.

People who are poor because they won't work or because they're just irresponsible. Paul had a good way to deal with them in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 verse 10 when he said, if you don't work, you don't eat. In the book of Proverbs, there are several places where the scripture refers to this kind of lazy person as a sluggard, and every one of those places where the sluggard is mentioned, it is not positive at all.

It's always very negative. And Proverbs 6 tells us that the sluggard or the lazy person is a procrastinator. He just folds his hands and he says, oh, it can wait till later. In Proverbs chapter 20, we're told that the sluggard is one who will not go out and sow seed in his field, but he'll just wait till harvest time comes and then beg to eat someone else's grain and not someone else's harvest because he hadn't sowed his own seed. He's lazy. Proverbs 18 9 says, whoever is slacking his work is a brother to him who destroys. So laziness produces poverty, and we are not to feel pity or compassion for people who are just lazy.

All right, then there's a second cause. Some are poor because of calamity or illness or natural disaster. Now, these people are poor because of things that are beyond their control.

I think of people that have been in a situation where tornadoes come through and just destroyed their house or a hurricane, and they're not well insured, and so everything they've got is gone and there's nothing they can do about it. I think in the fifth chapter of Mark about the woman who had the issue of blood, she had it for 12 years. She went from one doctor to another to another to another. The doctors couldn't help her, but they took all her money. She had absolutely nothing. Why was she poor?

Not because she was lazy, but because she was sick, and Jesus said, for these kinds of people that we are to care for them, that we're to be compassionate for them, and that we are to help them in their need. And then thirdly, some are poor because of exploitation by the rich and the powerful. I think back in the Old Testament of the Pharaoh of Egypt during Moses' time and of King Ahav during Elijah's time and what they did. They put people under slavery.

They made them work. They kept them from collecting wealth themselves, but they used them to make themselves rich. Jesus told us, and the Scripture tells us explicitly, that we are to take care of those who've been exploited. We are to minister to them.

Give you a couple verses. Proverbs 31, verse 8, open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. I use that verse a lot of times when I'm talking to somebody, a Christian, about how important it is for us to take a stand for women who are... take a stand against women and against people who are standing for abortion.

We are not to allow that. We are to try everything we can to stop it and stand against it. We're also to do that for those who are exploiting people. James, chapter 1, verse 27 says, pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.

All right, number four, some are poor for righteousness sake. They may be kept from making a good living because the government can't stand their faith in Christ. We see this in Communist countries. We see it in Islamic countries.

Countries like Russia or China or Iran or Iraq, Saudi Arabia, those kind of countries. Their governments hate the Christian faith, so they do everything they can to keep the Christian down to keeping poor. And then there's companies that do that, secular companies, that may have low moral ethics, and so they don't want to hire Christians because the Christian has higher standards than they do, and they're afraid that if they let the Christian in, then the Christian might be jumping on them because their standards are so low and they're doing things that are not ethical. Now I said all that because we need to understand people who are poor. Some are poor because of their godliness.

Some are rich because of their ungodliness. So as we look at this passage, let's keep in mind what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 6, verse 19 through 21, do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Alright, point number two is the needle's eye. Look at verse 25. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God. In 1 John chapter 2, verse 15 to 16, we have a great passage that goes along with this eye of the needle passage. John said this, love not the world, neither of things in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, is in the eye of the needle.

And the is not of the Father, but is of the world. Around the 9th century, a legend started about what Jesus meant when he talked about the eye of the needle. And the legend was that the eye of the needle was a gate in this wall that went around Jerusalem. And it was a very narrow gate. It was a very low gate. There were big wide gates around the city wall. The dun gate, the east gate, the west gate. And these gates were so big that you could ride a camel through it, you wouldn't even have to lower your head. They were so wide that two carts driven by horses could go right in at the same time. But the story goes that this eye of the needle gate was very low, and it was very narrow. And so if they wanted to try to get a camel through it, the camel would have to get down on its knees, and the camel owner would have to push himself, push that camel right through. That's a pretty cool story. And it does state that a rich man can only enter the kingdom of heaven on his knees.

And that sounds pretty good. But there's a problem with the story. There's no mention of such a gate in Jerusalem until centuries after Jesus walked the earth.

So the story is iffy at best. I think Jesus is just speaking here in hyperbole. I think Jesus is just trying to get us to understand how impossible it is for people who are very, very wealthy to enter the kingdom of heaven because they don't want to let go of their wealth. I think Jesus is using shock value. The point Jesus is making is this. The majority of the super wealthy are so caught up in their wealth that the idea of denying self, taking up the cross daily, and following Jesus is almost an impossibility. Let me quote R.C.

Sproul. He said, And take stock every now and then of where our hearts are. Like that takes us to point three, and that is the great question. Look at verse 26 and 27. The great question, then who can be saved? The disciples were just reflecting the Jewish belief that the rich were the ones who were favored by God. And they thought if those who are favored by God, then who can be saved? The disciples were just reflecting the Jewish belief that the rich rich were the ones who were favored by God. And they thought if those who are favored by God, if it's hard for them to enter into the kingdom of heaven, then who in the world can be saved? And Jesus said to them, with men it is impossible. Is that not what Paul was telling us in Romans chapter 3? When Paul said there's none righteous, no not one.

There's none who understands. There's none who seeks God. And then he said this, that he said that all who are lost are people that don't know him, don't know Christ. He said, he made this statement, that said who in the world can be saved? Jesus answered with men it is impossible. Said we've all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

How important that is. Paul dealt with this very issue in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 1 through 10. If you're gonna witness, I would really encourage you to use Ephesians chapter 2. It gives you just about everything you need in that in that particular 10 verses.

He starts off by telling us what we're like. He said, before we were saved we were dead in trespasses and sins. There was no hope for us whatsoever. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. And so our only hope was this, to be born again, to be regenerated by the power of God. And then after we were regenerated, the Lord would do a mighty work in our in our heart and give us the ability to express faith so that we are saved by grace through faith plus nothing. Let me read you Ephesians 2 verses 1 through 10. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work and the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind. But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved, and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that's not our own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. So both Jesus and Paul are saying we are hopeless, but God. With God all things are possible. God can bring a camel through the eyes of a sewing needle. Folks, God can save a drunkard, he can save a prostitute, he can save a murderer, he can save an adulterer, he can save a liar.

How do I know that? Because I look at who God saved in the Scripture. Noah drank and got drunk. Rahab was a prostitute. Moses was a murderer.

David was a murderer and an adulterer. Peter was a liar, so God saved Peter. God saved him for all of eternity.

Saved all of these. Now, it may be difficult, but when the Holy Spirit intervenes in the lives of people, God breaks through the hardness of the heart. And so to speak, we see camels going through the eye of a needle. In the Scripture we see examples of men who are wealthy and faithful. Men who trusted God and not their riches. Men who didn't let riches rule over them and be their idol, but used riches for the glory of God. I think of Abraham. Abraham was the wealthiest man in his day, and yet he was the father of faith. I think of Job.

Wealthiest man in his day. Let me read you from Job chapter 1. It says, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job? If there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.

Job was the wealthiest man on earth, and what did Job say? He said, Lord, yea, though you slay me, yet while I trust you. And then he said this, And I know that my Redeemer lives.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and I will see him again in my flesh in the last day. I think of Joseph of Arimathea. Very wealthy man. He was a councilman. He was, he belonged to the Sanhedrin, a member of the Sanhedrin. Joseph is one of the men who climbed up to the cross on the ladder along with Nicodemus, and he climbed up there and he took Jesus down from the cross after he had died, and he brought him back. He donated his own tomb and took Jesus and laid him in his tomb. Isaiah the prophet prophesied that Jesus would be laid with the rich.

He would be buried with the rich, and he was in Joseph of Arimathea's own tomb. I think of Philemon. Philemon was a very wealthy man.

Paul led him to Christ. Philemon had a slave. His name was Onesimus. Onesimus stole money from Philemon, and he took off running and tried to run away. He got caught.

They threw him in prison. It just so happened that the prison he was in was the same prison that Paul was in for preaching the gospel. Paul shared the gospel with Onesimus. Onesimus came to Christ, and he wanted to go back and apologize and ask his boss, Philemon, to forgive him. So Paul sent a letter to Philemon and said, your slave, Onesimus, is coming back to you. He is saved now, and he's a Christian, and he wants to ask your forgiveness. He said, I want you to forgive him and take him back, not just as a slave, but as a brother. Glorious.

Folks, there are many instances in Scripture where God saved wealthy men and women and used them for his glory. Folks, we need to plaster this statement on our wall. We need to plaster it on our mind. We need to plaster it on our hearts. With God, all things are possible. All right, that means this. Don't give up on lost people.

As long as there's breath, there's hope. I think most people that knew Paul would have said about him, he's hopeless. There's no way in the world he'll ever come to Christ.

Paul said that he was the chief of all sinners, and yet God saved him. I witnessed to a man 40 years ago, and that man cursed me. He swore. He told me that if I ever mentioned Jesus to him again, that he'd beat me. And I remember walking home that afternoon just totally discouraged, and I thought, this man is so wicked, he's so evil, he's so rotten that he'll never come to Christ. I think he's probably committed the unforgivable sin. I'm not gonna try to witness to him anymore because he's just absolutely too hard.

About 20 years after that, I got a telephone call from this man. He'd been in a car wreck, and in that car wreck, he was driving drunk. Knocked him out. He was out in a coma for like five weeks. When he came out of that coma, the hospital chaplain was there. He looked into his eyes and he said, you know, the Lord spared your life, but if the Lord had not spared your life, you'd be in hell right now.

You would be in a place of torment, and there would be no hope ever of you getting out of that place. He said, you need Jesus. The man looked back in his eyes and said, yes, I do need Jesus. Tell me about him. The chaplain shared the gospel with him. He came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior.

When that man called me, I was absolutely shocked. I had written him off. I said, there's no hope for this guy, and yet God saved him.

All right, point four, letting goods and kindred go. Verse 28 through 31. Peter began to say to him, see we left everything and followed you, and Jesus said, truly I say to you, there's no one who's left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake in the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the age to come, life eternal. But many who are first will be last, the last will be first.

Peter gets very practical. He says, Lord, what about us? We've left all to follow you.

What about us? Peter owned a large house in Capernaum, had a very successful fishing business. He was able to take care of his family, his mother-in- law, his wife, his children, with no problems whatsoever. This went well for Peter. Peter gave it up. He gave it all up, and he walked away from it, and he walked off to serve Jesus and served him with all of his heart. He says to Jesus, what will we get in return?

And Jesus said, what you'll get in return is a hundredfold, and life eternal, over and above any of that, life eternal, but with persecution. A few months ago, I shared an illustration with you about a man that I met when I was preaching revival services up in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada. He was a converted Muslim. He had a ministry to Muslims, and he was sharing the gospel of Muslims all over Canada, and they were just coming to Christ like crazy.

Well, another guy told me this guy's story. When he was about 20 years old, just a few months away from his 21st birthday, his father told him that he was going to give him almost a billion dollars on his 21st birthday. His father was a wealthy oil sheik, and a missionary had been witnessing to this young Muslim and shared the gospel with him, told him that Christ was his only hope for eternal life. Jesus said, I'm the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. And shared the gospel with him, and that young man broke, and he trusted Christ as his Lord and as a Savior.

He had never been so happy. He went and told his dad. He said, Dad, I've come to know Christ. He's changed my life.

I'm going to heaven when I die. His father was furious, and he said, You will either recant or you will not get one penny from me. And the boy said, Dad, he said, I would rather have Jesus than all the money in this world. And it was just a crazy, horrible situation there for the dad, for he was angry, and he cut him off, and he disowned him right then. And he said, You can't come back. And he said, Not only that, but I'm putting a contract out on your life. And he did.

The young man had to run to another country. For the next year, he lived in a cardboard box. He ate garbage, other people's leftovers for his meals, but every single day he studied and studied the Scripture. After about a year, he started to preach. It was unbelievable the success this man had.

Thousands and thousands of Muslims came to know Christ as a result of his ministry. What did he lose? He lost close to a billion dollars. He lost his father's love.

His mother had nothing to do with him. His brother and sister said, We hate you. Leave us alone.

Don't ever speak to us again. What did he gain? He gained Jesus. He gained heaven. He gained brothers and sisters in Christ here on this earth that loved him, and they will be together forever in heaven worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart. Peter lost friends.

He lost business opportunities. He was beaten by the religious leaders. He was cursed by his enemies. Finally, he was crucified. Roman soldiers took him off. They crucified him upside down. He said, I'm not worthy to be crucified like Jesus.

Before his crucifixion, they made him watch the crucifixion of his own wife. Where is Peter? Peter's in heaven. He's with his wife, surely his children. He's with all his brothers and sisters in Christ, and most of all, he's with Jesus. And he will be there forever and ever and ever. If Peter had a word to say to this congregation today, I think it would probably be this. It was worth it all to serve Jesus. I have great respect and great admiration for R.C.

Sproul. I remember years ago how he took a very strong stance on the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture. It cost him a lot. And in his commentary on the Gospel of Mark, he shared about what it cost him, and I wanted to read that to you in closing. Sproul said, years ago I became involved in a particularly furious theological battle, and it cost me a number of friends.

Friends who were very important to me. I became quite depressed about it, but one night in the midst of that controversy, I thought of one of the lines in Martin Luther's great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God. That line says, Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. This is what Jesus calls us to do.

He said, No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. We are to let all our material goods go in terms of trusting them and never look back. We are to look to him, being willing to forsake all other things in this world for him. Jesus gave Peter a tremendous promise, one that applies to us too. If we are willing to give up all for him, we will receive a hundredfold more in return. Jesus said, You cannot leave these things for me without my taking notice.

What you leave, I will replace a hundredfold. Yes, Jesus acknowledges that following him will bring persecution, but we will have the pearl of great price and eternal life. In the end, there will be surprises in the kingdom. Some who are now first, the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, will be last.

While the lowly in this life, the poor, the weak, the undesirable, will be first. In that kingdom, the only thing that will matter is faithfulness in Christ. To that I say, Amen. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, with you all things are possible. This passage teaches us that the things of this world are temporary and fleeting. The things of God are eternal. Help us to love you so much that we will readily and joyfully let goods and kindreds go. Help us to stay enamored with Jesus and faithful to your will. For it's in Jesus' precious and holy name that I pray, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 18:46:40 / 2022-12-03 18:59:11 / 13

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