************ Sermon on Luke 9:25 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 31, 2009
"Take the World, but Give me Jesus"
Old Year's Service 2009
The December 28 issue of TIME has all sorts of top ten lists for 2009. Top 10 news stories: 1. The Economy; 2. Pakistan; 3. Afghanistan; 4. Health Care; 5. Somalia; 6. Iran; 7. Sri Lanka; 8. H1N1; 9. Fort Hood Massacre; 10. Mexico. Top 10 Scandals: 1. Governor Mark Sanford's hike; 2. British lawmaker's expenses; 3. David Letterman's on-air sex confession; 4. Octomom's parenting skills; 5. Senator John Ensign's affair with a staffer; 6. Balloon Boy; 7. Tiger Woods; 8. Pilots forget to land plane; 9. ACORN falls for a pimp and prostitute sting; 10. Chris Brown assaults Rihanna.
TIME also listed the year 2009 purely in numbers. I won't list all the figures but here are some of them:
-10 members of Congress resigned
-9 states failed to balance their budget
-3.5 million words of legislation
-8,696 bills introduced in Congress (112 were signed into law)
-41 White House press conferences
-378 speeches by the President
-13 states where medical marijuana is legal
-4 states passed and 2 states defeated gay-marriage proposals
-200 million people joined facebook
-13,505 average number of E-Mails received per person
-7.5 million mortgages past due or in foreclosure
-900 McDonald's Restaurants opened and 350 closed
-139 newspapers folded
-1,671 World Series pitches thrown
Now, let's put all of this in perspective. And, let's do this by asking 6 simple questions. I will pause after each question so you can think of the answers:
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Contest.
4. Name five people who have won a Nobel Prize.
5. Name the last five people who won an Academy Award for best actor and best actress.
6. Name the last five teams to win the Super Bowl.
Was anyone able to answer all of the questions? Was anyone able to answer any of the questions? The point is, none of us remember those who made the headlines and gained the world. You see, the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Yesterday's achievements are forgotten. Statues and certificates and prizes are buried with their owners.
So, what counts in 2009? What do we remember? What does God look for? You already know where I am going with this.
(Lk 9:25) What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?Did your soul gain in 2009? Or, was 2009 a year in which you gained the world and lost your soul? After this message, a women's quartet is going to sing, "Give Me Jesus." The first line reads, "Take the world, but give me Jesus." Was that your cry throughout the year? What it comes down to is this: did you live the year 2009 as a disciple of Jesus?
I Jesus and Satan
A Jesus Himself shows us the way of discipleship. Go back to His temptation by Satan (Luke 4). Remember the second temptation?
(Lk 4:5-7) The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. (6) And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. (7) So if you worship me, it will all be yours."To use the words of our text, Jesus had an opportunity to "gain the whole world." All He had to do was bow down before Satan. But at what price? Jesus would have broken the Law and therefore be unfit to be our Savior and Mediator. Jesus would have gained a kingdom without going the way of the cross and the grave. Jesus would have blown apart God's eternal plan for our salvation. Jesus would have shown Himself to be unworthy for God's Kingdom.
Don't forget the setting of our text. Jesus has just announced His death (Lk 9:21). A few verses later, we see Jesus starting the journey to Jerusalem where He will suffer and die (Lk 9:51). Along the way, Jesus has constant opportunity to gain the world and lose the soul. Think of the noisy crowds on Palm Sunday; if Jesus wished, He could have been acclaimed King then and there (Lk 19:28-40). Think of Gethsemane; Jesus was tempted, again, to gain the world without going the way of the cross.
What did Jesus do? He said "NO" to Satan. He refused to gain the world at the cost of His soul and His mission. He is faithful and true!
B Do you know Satan's sin, the sin that got him hurled out of heaven? Satan tried to take God's place as King of the universe. Satan tried to gain a kingdom for himself. Remember how Isaiah describes this pathetic attempt?
(Is 14:12-15) How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (13) You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. (14) I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." (15) But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.Satan tried to gain the world but, in the process, lost his soul.
I want you to look at Christ's second temptation in the wilderness again. What was Satan doing when he invited Jesus to bow before him? Satan tried to gain the world and now he was trying to get Jesus to fall for the same temptation.
Go back to the Garden of Eden. Don't we see the same thing there? Satan tempted Adam and Eve to take over from God. He urged Adam and Eve to go ahead and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
(Gen 3:5) "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."So, Adam and Eve gained the world but lost their souls.
Do you know Satan's favorite refrain? "Gain the world." Do you know his least favorite refrain? "Take the world, but give me Jesus." Satan wants you and me to gain the world and lose our soul. Satan wants you and me to do anything but follow Jesus. Satan wants you and me to do the exact same thing he did.
Do you hear what this comes down to? During the year 2009 we had a choice: to be like Satan or to be like Jesus.
II Others Who Gained the World, Lost Their Soul
A As I was thinking about this text it occurred to me that Satan is successful far too often. Far too often, Satan lures people into seeking the world and losing their soul.
Think of the Tower of Babel. Remember what the people said to each other?
(Gen 11:4) "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."What were they really trying to do? They were trying to gain the world, but in the process they lost their souls.
Korah and his co-conspirators. Remember them? They tried to take over from Moses. They gained the world, but lost their souls and the earth swallowed them (Num 16).
Think of Achan. Remember what he did? In the plunder of Jericho he saw and took a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels. He gained the world, but he – and his family – lost their souls and were stoned to death (Josh 7).
Think of Absalom and Adonijah, the two sons of King David who tried to take his crown and his kingdom (2 Sam 15 & 1 Ki 1). They gained the world, but lost their souls.
Probably my favorite story to illustrate this is Haman. The king innocently asked Haman what should be done to honor the man the king delights to honor. Haman assumed the man the king wanted to honor was himself. So, he suggested his own dream scenario: a royal robe, a royal horse, a royal prince. Imagine his shock when the king ordered him to do this for Mordecai. Haman sought to gain the world, but lost his soul (Esther 6).
The Teacher of Ecclesiastes lost himself in wisdom, work, power, and riches. He tried earthly pleasures like drunkenness, addiction, and immorality. Remember his conclusion about all of this? "Meaningless! Meaningless!" Why? Because he may have gained the world, but he lost his soul.
B The New Testament is also filled with examples. Let's start with Judas. He betrayed Jesus for thirty silver coins (Mt 26). He gained the world, but lost his soul.
Remember Ananias and Sapphira? They tried to gain a reputation for generosity but, in the process, they stole from the Lord. The Spirit struck them dead (Acts 5). They gained the world, but lost their souls.
Jesus told a parable of the Rich Fool. The land of this rich fool produced a good crop. So, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones. He said to himself,
(Lk 12:19) "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."He gained the world, but lost his soul.
Over and over again, what do we see in Scripture? We see people who gain the world but lose their souls. These people are placed before us as a warning to us – for our instruction, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).
III True Discipleship
A "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self" (Lk 9:25)? I want you to notice that Jesus turns this into a business proposition. Notice the language of business and finance: gain, lose or loss, forfeit. Jesus turns it all into a matter of profit and loss. You can gain the world, but lose your soul. You can gain Jesus, but lose the world. If you are like Satan, you make one kind of gain. If you are like Jesus, you make another kind of gain.
I want you to think of another of Christ's parables: the Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man was dressed in purple and lived in luxury in every way. At his gate laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Remember what happens next? The beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and ended up in hell. The lesson: the rich man gained the world, but lost his soul and ended up in hell; the beggar lost the world, had Christ, and ended up in heaven (Lk 16).
Do you realize what is at stake here? Eternity. Eternity. Your forever destination. When you pursue the world, you get Satan's reward and end up in hell. But when you pursue Jesus, you end up in heaven.
B So, what was it in 2009? Were you like Satan or were you like Jesus? Was your refrain "Gain the World" or "Take the world"? Did you pursue the world or did you pursue Jesus?
During 2009, was it your first priority to gain the world? What were your goals for the year? What were your New Year's Resolutions one year ago?
-pay off your mortgage
-save your farm/business/dairy
-keep your job
-find a job
-star of volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, swim team
-$20,000 (or more) in your bank account
-your first car
-plan your retirement
Were these your goals in 2009? Did you pursue the world? I include myself here, too.
OR – here is the other option – during 2009, was it your first priority to gain Jesus? To answer this, let me ask some questions:
-How faithful were you in worship attendance?
-Did you do devotions every single day?
-Were you involved in Bible Study?
-Did you memorize Scripture verses?
-Did you keep a prayer list?
-What was your giving like and to what did you give?
-Did you repent of your sins – were you sorry for your sin, hate your sin, run from your sin, and try to live for Jesus?
-Did you think often about the height and depth of God's mercy, the length and breadth of God's love?
In other words, did you pursue Jesus? Did you prefer the salvation and happiness of your soul before any secular concern?
I want you to think of the disciples – other than Judas, of course. The disciples all had thriving businesses or lucrative jobs. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. What does Scripture say about them? They "left everything and followed him" (Lk 5:11). I've often wondered what their wives said. I've always wondered what their families did when they found the boats abandoned on the beach. But, do you see what the disciples did? They gave up the world and followed Jesus. And, then, consider what happened earlier in Luke 9. We are told that Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. They were given these instructions: "Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic" (Lk 9). They were to live off the goodwill of the people. What do you think their family and friends thought of this? No doubt, many thought the Twelve had thrown their lives away; maybe, they even thought the Twelve were deranged! Because the Twelve were living like homeless beggars – something like many of our street people.
"Take the world, but give me Jesus." OR, "Gain the world, but lose my soul." It is clear, isn't it, what the disciples decided.
I've been asking about the year 2009. But, that year is now behind us. It is too late to change the record. It becomes a question, instead, for 2010. So, what will it be in 2010?
-Will you be like Jesus or will you be like Satan?
-"Take the world, but give me Jesus" OR "Gain the world, but lose my soul"?
Which will it be for the year 2010?
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