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A Christian Manifesto (Part 3 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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January 22, 2022 3:00 am

A Christian Manifesto (Part 3 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 22, 2022 3:00 am

Our culture places high value on wealth, abundance, happiness, and popularity. But Jesus has a different perspective: He contends that what the world seeks to gain is really their loss. Learn more when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Alistair Begg

Music playing. Our culture places a high value on things like being rich, well-fed, being happy or popular. But Jesus sees all of this from a different perspective. And as he describes it, what the world seeks to gain is really their loss. Today on Truth for Life Weekend, Alistair explains why. Our study in the Gospel of Luke chapter 6 continues.

Music playing. Notice he says in verse 22, there is a blessing that attends you, there is a happiness that will follow you, there is a bliss that will be known of you when men hate you. Which is, of course, the exact opposite of what we grow up to believe. And so it is a striking statement on the part of Jesus. Happy are you when men hate you, when instead of welcoming you to their gatherings, they exclude you from the gatherings. And instead of speaking well of you in your absence, they actually demean you and insult you, and when news of the gathering finally leaks out to you, you discover that you have been regarded as a byword and as totally irrelevant. They will reject your name as evil, and the key phrase in this verse is, you will note, because of the Son of Man. In other words, it is because of our relationship with Jesus that this condemnation comes. There is a rightful sense of condemnation when we are obnoxious individuals, and everyone has the right to say, you know, he is rather obnoxious.

When we are always picking faults, when we are bitter and they say, you know, I have no time for her, she's such a bitter person. It is not this to which Jesus is referring. He is referring rather of the lot which will be the experience of the true disciple, who instead of finding that everybody thinks he or she is a wonderful person, discovers that when they really hold the line for Jesus, there will be a point at which it becomes clear that they are hated and despised. The Christian disciple should regard it as a cause for joy, jump for joy, says Phillips.

Don't you like that phrase? When he or she finds that they're on the receiving end of hatred and persecution on account of their faithfulness to the Son of Man. It's striking, is it not, that Jesus promises his followers that they would be absurdly happy, and yet that they would never be out of trouble?

And when we, by seeking always to establish a policy of appeasement, want everyone to like us all of the time, we will find ourselves on the wrong side of this equation. And as I've said before, and as I think we've concurred with one another, the pluralistic context in which we presently live, where people are very open concerning spiritual things, where they're happy for you to explain a little about Jesus and why you would attend worship and why you've been reading your Bible and so on, they will be able to tolerate that up until the point where you are prepared to declare with Peter, as it's recorded in Acts 4, there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved, and at that point, be ready for the persecution. Be ready at that point for the hatred. Be ready at that point for the spleen, and the people will then say, who in the world do you think you are, and how could you be so obnoxious and so arrogant as to believe that Jesus Christ is the only way at all?

Pluralists will ultimately only accept pluralists. And beware of the people who tell you that they really like the Sermon on the Mount, and they want us to know how much they do, but they regard Jesus as someone other than divine. And they think that it is possible for them to believe in Jesus, who is not divine, and yet at the same time to embrace his message. No, the Jesus who spoke these words is the Son of the Father, the eternal Son, and one part of the Trinity of God. Now let's then go in verses 24 to 26, because I think there is an obvious shift here. In 20, he looks at his disciples and he says, and in 24, it would seem likely to me, although one cannot be absolutely certain of this, that he probably lifts his gaze from his immediate discipleship group and looks out on the crowd and now addresses them in a more general way, turning from the poor to the rich. He certainly wasn't addressing his disciples because his disciples weren't rich.

So he is not speaking to the same group the second time. You who are poor, he says, and know your own poverty and your poverty of spirit, yours is the kingdom of God, but you who are rich, you've already received your comfort. Now, the word which is used here, which Phillips paraphrases how miserable, the word which is here as woe, or maybe translated by the English word alas, or by the phrase how terrible, is really a quite striking word.

It's not a casual statement, nor is it a statement of condemnation. There is a sense of compassion in this word. How terrible for you, how dreadful it is, how disappointing that you who are rich should already have received your comfort. It is not that poverty is the key to entry into the kingdom, nor are riches in and of themselves the key element in exclusion from the kingdom. If that were the case, of course, a lady like Lydia, who obviously was prosperous in Philippi, would never have had her eyes opened and her heart opened to the truth of God, and she would never have become a believer because she was rich. And if by virtue of being rich she was inevitably excluded from the kingdom, then there would be no possibility of her being saved.

No, in the same way that just because a person is poor, physically poor, is not welcomed into the kingdom simply because he's poor, but only if he understands his poverty of spirit, so a rich person is not immediately excluded from the kingdom just because they're rich, if in point of fact they understand that all that they have is a gift from God, and they come to trust in him and depend upon him and embrace his son as their savior. Now, we're helped by turning on a couple of pages to chapter 12, and the story there concerning the man whom Jesus called a fool. You remember the context in verse 13? Somebody in the crowd pipes up and says, Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.

All the things that must have been shouted at Jesus must have been quite remarkable, you know? He's engaged in a sermon, or he's dealing with something, and all of a sudden a voice in the silence shouts out, Hey, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. And Jesus looks around and fastens his eyes on the person, and he says, Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? In other words, he said, I'm not here—the courts are here for that stuff.

I'm not here to decide who's getting what. And then seizing the moment, he says, Hey, you better look out. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.

A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And he told them this parable. Here is a wonderful illustration, incidentally, of open air preaching, of how to preach in the open air. And we've got to go find somewhere to preach in the open air. I'm itching to preach outside, where people don't want to hear. I want to go find a spot and preach until they move us, and then we'll preach somewhere else.

I don't know why we don't. It's great. It's one of the scariest things you can ever do in your life. And all of you who think you're preachers, you'll be there with me, and you're going up in the first rotation. And we're going to find out whether you are preachers, because you'll find out real quick whether anybody stops and whether anybody stays.

There is nothing quite like it. And one of the things you need to be adept at doing is seizing the moment. And Jesus, in that context, takes a shout from the crowd, turns it into a teaching moment, and then conveys a parable. And it is this parable, of course, of a rich man who produced a good crop and basically said to himself, I've got it made in the shade. I'll tear my barns down and build more. And I'll say to myself, you know, you've got everything stored away.

Your Shearson Lehman account is in fantastic shape, and you have no fear of those commercials that come on during the golf tournaments on Sunday afternoons. You've got plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry. And God said to him, You fool! That's a very striking thing to say, is it not?

Why? This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you've prepared for yourself? And this, says Jesus, making application of the story that is told, is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself. Now, notice there is not a full stop there. If there were a full stop there, then we would all be committed to a vow of poverty.

We would all have to embrace a form of destitution. We would all have to say, Yeah, maybe monasticism is right. It is not, say, this is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself, but who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.

Now go back to chapter 6 and look at what he says. Woe to you who are rich! Woe to you who think that financial success and material prosperity is the key to your life, and you fail to acknowledge your need of God.

Woe to you who are so rich in your own eyes that you refuse to run to God. For you have already received your comfort. We could paraphrase that. You've had it. You've had it. When you took your allowance early, thinking you'd get another one, because your father would have forgotten that he gave it to you early, and you squandered it fast, and you were back for more, and he said to you, You've had it. That is exactly what Jesus is saying here. The rich man will stand on the day that he comes before God, and he will plead his case on the basis of these things, and Jesus will say to him, I hope you enjoyed having all that stuff.

I hope you enjoyed it, because you've had it, and there's no more. I just married a young man who's a stockbroker. I married him to his wife, you'll be pleased to know. He was just a boy. I was staggered to think that he would look after anything for anybody at all, quite honestly. And if I'd been the girl's father, I would have been anxious.

Not because he wasn't a fine kid, but he just seemed like such a boy. There again, I can only imagine what my father-in-law thought. But anyway, that's by the way. But I said to him, have you picked up some good clients? Tell me one thing that's happened to you in the last six months that struck you. He said, Well, I opened my biggest account. A man came in and deposited thirty million dollars with me.

I said, Yes. What struck you? He said, Well, when he went to the restroom, his wife confided in me that their marriage was a shambles, that the money was a total nuisance to them, that they were purposeless in their existence, that they were held together by the money, and that their biggest concern was the arguments of their children over who was going to get what. When all that a man has is worldly wealth, he is poor indeed. What a tragedy. Woe to you who are rich.

You've already had it. Young person, you want to be rich? I mean rich rich. I mean money rich.

I mean stuff in the bank. Beware. Not everyone can handle it. Woe to you who are well fed. Woe to you who are laboring under the delusion that you have no need of God.

Well, one day you're going to go hungry. Here's the individual who is able to go, as I said this morning, to restaurants around town. They call him by his name. He walks in. They never give him a bill. It's all taken care of behind the scenes. His friends are never embarrassed with the thought that the check might be given to them, because it never ever appears. His car is always parked. It's always ready for him when he leaves. It's always a good morning, sir, and a good evening, sir. And he seems to have it all together.

If that's all he has, he's about to become incredibly hungry. You see, our society is driven by these things. If we miss that, we're missing the point dreadfully. And self-satisfied individuals often remain satisfied through their lives.

Let's not miss that. Yes, it may well be that the foundations will cave for some such individuals, but it may never be. Better that it did cave for them, because then they may discover their need. But if they're able to go through this way, always well fed, always prosperous, always living with the illusion that somehow or another they have no need of anyone to supply anything to them, then the hunger that hits them will be an insatiable hunger that will last for all of eternity. Can you imagine wanting a drink of water forever? Can you imagine being hungry with a hunger that never stopped?

Being lonely with a loneliness that could never be assuaged? This is Jesus speaking here. He is speaking about the ultimate realities of life. He is making it clear in the fledgling elements of his ministry that the real issues of life actually hinge upon the great question of eternity, and that our ability to enjoy life now has to do with the fact that we've been able to settle the issue of what life will mean then. In other words, that the way to learn how to live is to settle the issue of how to die. And once we've dealt with the death question, then we can come back and have another go at life. But until we deal with the death issue, we'll never be able to make sense of life. And we'll be inclined to believe what the world cries out.

Get rich, get fed. Or thirdly, get funny. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Now, this isn't all the Bible says about laughter. Laughter is good.

In fact, it doeth good like a medicine, says the Old Testament. And often, laughter can be therapeutic. When we particularly laugh at ourselves, it's important to be able to laugh at ourselves. When we share laughter with somebody else, when we recognize that in circumstances there is a way of viewing things that just is absurd and creates joy within us.

But what Jesus is referring to is ultimately the laughter of fools, where when everything's funny, nothing's worth laughing about. Where the people are sitting there singing over and over to themselves, send in the clowns. Where are the clowns?

Bring on the clowns. Can somebody do something funny here? Because everything seems so dreadfully depressing and dull, and I haven't had a good laugh for ages.

You know what? Comedy is not as good a thing to go and see as a play as tragedy. It never will be. Because all laughter is eventually flat. Even good laughter. But tragedy is cathartic. Tragedy can stir your stall and change you, leave you thinking about it hours after the play has ended, long into the next week and even the next month and the next year. That's why when the wise man in Ecclesiastes describes the circumstances, he says, it is better to go to a house of mourning than to join the laughter of fools. Because in tragedy, there is a greater opportunity for us to face the reality of life.

And the last thing is popularity. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep, and woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. You know, it's virtually impossible to have everybody speak well of us unless we speak out of both sides of our mouths.

And that, of course, is a dreadful thing in the business world where you think that you've had a conversation and someone has said something to you and then later on in the morning you meet the person concerning whom they were speaking and it is apparent that they left you, went into another room and said the exact opposite. And if we want everybody to speak well of us, we will endeavor to sacrifice principle left, right and center. And you'll notice, he says, how miserable you are when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated, notice the adjective, the false prophets. And a true prophet is ultimately too uncomfortable to be popular. And the man or the woman, the young person who leads a holy life, who was prepared to speak the Word of God with boldness, will come quicker rather than later into collision with the ungodly and will inevitably fall into disfavor with them. So what you have then, in summary, in these two sections, are the correlatives of each thing. On the one hand, here is blessing for those who are poor. Here is woe to those who are rich. I won't iterate the whole thing.

You can go through and do it for yourself. It's perfectly obvious. The characteristics of Christian discipleship are, from the world's perspective, the marks of losers.

Make no mistake about it. The characteristics described here of true Christian discipleship, from the perspective of the pagan, are the marks of losers. Because what does Jesus say? Poverty, hunger, sadness, and the experience of hatred.

He said there is great blessing that attends these when, in the experience of them both individually and in a unity, they bring us to see our utter inability to depend upon ourselves and the absolute necessity of depending upon God. Curatively, the characteristics of the ungodly are the marks of those who have made it. Rich, fat, happy, popular. The American dream? Is it not?

I don't mean to be unkind. It's the British dream, too. It's the Swiss dream, the German dream, the Dutch dream. It's the dream of the pagan.

I want to be rich, fat, happy, and popular. Where do I sign up? Jesus says you can sign up anywhere.

There are booths all across the city. But understand this. You're signing up for an eternity without me.

There's only one place where you can sign up for poverty, hunger, sadness, and hatred. And that's when you come and bow before my cross. What a wonderful teacher Jesus is.

How incredibly clear we discover this to be. Any circumstance that causes us to see more clearly our need for God is actually a blessing. That's the message today on Truth for Life weekend. We've been listening to Alistair Begg, and Alistair will be back in just a minute to close today's program with prayer. Here at Truth for Life, teaching God's word is at the heart of all we do. Our mission is to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance. We believe God's word is unchanging.

It's without error. It has the power to transform lives. That's why we teach the Bible every day. And it's also why we make Alistair's entire teaching library available free online so that cost never stands in the way for anyone who wants to learn more about Christ. We believe God's word is unchanging, and cost never stands in the way for anyone who wants to learn more about Christ. Each day as this program goes out, our prayer is that you will grow in your faith as a result of Alistair's teaching.

And if you've come to know Christ through Truth for Life, we'd love it if you would share these messages with others. A simple way to do that is by using the Truth for Life app. If you're not listening to this program on the app right now, it's a convenient way for you to the daily program, access daily devotions, and share messages with friends or family members. It also includes a one-year Bible reading plan and the entire ESV Bible, additional blog posts, and more. Plus you'll be able to look for any message in Alistair's teaching library by searching a topic or scripture reference.

The app also makes it easy for you to see and request our featured resources each month. This month we're recommending a book called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. This book is an excellent guide to help you get in great spiritual shape.

So if you'd like to download the app, find out more about the book we're offering, just go to the app store and search Truth for Life, or you can look for the book on our website at Now let's join Alistair in prayer. Lord Jesus Christ, you were rich beyond all splendor, for our sake became poor in order that we, through your poverty, might know the riches of eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, heaven as our home. One of the reasons, Lord Jesus, that it's so difficult for me to teach this, to understand it, to apply it, and for each of us to respond to it, is because, frankly, we are surrounded by so much. And so we ask that you will help us in the midst of the provision that you have made for us and the lot that you have cast for us to navigate our way around the Bible, led by your Spirit, and stirred up to follow hard after you. We thank you that at the end of this day we acknowledge it to be the day that you have made, which we've been able to rejoice and be glad in. And we thank you that throughout the world today we have been able to add our voice to every tribe and tongue and language where Christ has been embraced. And as the day began, so now we bring it to a closure in the presence of Christ, and in his name we pray. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. We hope you can join us next weekend as we continue our series called A Christian Manifesto. Jesus' teaching in the Gospel of Luke is about to get more challenging as he calls his followers to love radically. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-19 13:12:39 / 2023-06-19 13:22:10 / 10

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