Sermon Notes and Video
Sermon Title: The Single-Minded Christian: Pursue what Matters Jesus and what God values
Text: Matthew 6:19-24
Speaker: Dr. Joseph
Date: Sunday, March 3, 2019
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Introduction: In this passage, Jesus warns his disciples not to value possessions and in particular he warns them not to value wealth to the degree that they should be obsessed about acquiring it. He contrasts two visions of realities: two sources of storing treasures, two states of the body or human soul, and two masters. The ultimate message from Jesus is for his followers to develop a single-mindedness focusing on what God values and that they should accentuate the priority of God’s kingdom and its agenda in their life.
Jesus wants his disciples to reach for a single goal in life, to develop a single vision in life, and to cling to one single master, who is God. The passage contrasts storing wealth in heaven and storing wealth on earth. Jesus argues that our security or safety should not be on our possessions, but on God the only one who can provide true security and durable safety. For Jesus, earthly possessions are essentially worthless and meaningless if they are not used to advance the kingdom of God on earth. For Jesus, those who prioritize mammon/money/wealth above Him and the causes of the kingdom of God will have no place in God’s heaven. Jesus does not want his followers to be attached to material possessions of this world nor should he want them to be possessed by wealth. Their priority should be God and his interests only. The underlying message this morning I want to communicate to you is this: Jesus wants you to value what he delights in and call you to a singleness in purpose or goal.
The Bible and Wealth/Possession
The Bible does not condemn the possession of wealth, but the obsessive attitude to acquire wealth just for the sake of it and to use to help the needy and advance the kingdom of God. Are you investing in God’s kingdom?
- Genesis 13:2: Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
- Genesis 26:12-13, 12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy.
- Genesis 30:43, Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
- 1 Kings 10:23, Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.
- Ruth 2:1, Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz
- Job 1:3, He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
- 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
The Warning Against the obsession of wealth: the idolatry of possession
- Malachi 3:8, Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.
- Proverbs 28:8, Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit
gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
- Job 31:24-28, “If I have made gold my trust
or called fine gold my confidence,
25 if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant
or because my hand had found much,
26 if I have looked at the sun[a] when it shone,
or the moon moving in splendor,
27 and my heart has been secretly enticed,
and my mouth has kissed my hand,
28 this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,
for I would have been false to God above
- Psalm 15:5, who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
- Mark 4:19, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
- 1 John 3:17, 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Textual exposition: A Single Goal, A Single Master, A Single Vision, A Single Treasure
A Single Goal/ A Single Treasure: the warning
- , 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- “If you want to avoid the sins that accompany the love of money, Jesus prescribes a single-minded attitude toward wealth and possessions. And in Matthew chapter 6 He commands us to store up a single treasure, maintain a single vision, serve a single master, and seek a single goal.”—John MacArthur
“What is the prosperity gospel?
The prosperity gospel (also known as the “health and wealth gospel” or by its most popular brand, the “Word of Faith” movement) is a perversion of the gospel of Jesus that claims that God rewards increases in faith with increases in health and/or wealth. As Stephen Hunt explains,
In the forefront is the doctrine of the assurance of “divine” physical health and prosperity through faith. In short, this means that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty.
What makes the prosperity gospel a false gospel?
David W. Jones outlines five errors of prosperity gospel teaching:
- The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement.
- Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.
- Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God.
- Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity.
- Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity.
“In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed,” Jones says. “At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction.”
A Single Vision
- 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
- The point Jesus is making here is that we need to develop a single vision that focuses on God’s interests and what he values. The sin is this when our eyes are not single. Therefore, he wants us to avoid the idolatry of double vision and fragmented sight.
- “The eye here is an illustration of the heart—it is the lamp, or lens, through which all light comes to you. The eye is like a window which, when clear, allows light to shine through, but, when dirty, or bad, prevents light from entering. If your eye is bad, if it is diseased or damaged, no light can enter and the whole body will be full of darkness.
- The heart is the eye of the soul, through which the illumination of every spiritual experience shines. It is through your heart that God’s truth, love, peace, and every other spiritual blessing comes to you. When your heart—your spiritual vision—is clear, then your whole body will be full of light. But if your heart is diseased and damaged, being encumbered with an affection for stuff, it becomes “blind” and insensitive to spiritual things.” —John MacArthur
- “A defective eye is a picture of a selfishly indulgent heart—the master of every unbeliever, the tempter of every believer. If you are materialistic and greedy, you may be spiritually blind and not a Christian at all. The eye you trust to discern true light may be, in reality, fooling you—you think you have light, but you don’t. What you interpret as light is really darkness, and because of the self-deception, how great is that darkness! —John MacArthur
A Single Master
- “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
- Jesus does not say not to store up treasures. The point he is making is the appropriate location wherein one should store up his or her treasures. The Bible does not put a ban on possessions nor does it forbid private property. Jesus is not saying not to make providison for the future or is he warning Christians not to enjoy God’s good and gracious gifts on earth. The underlying issue is the ultimate goal and motivation of storing treatures. What Jesus forbids is the “selfish accumulation” of earthly goods, wealth, assets, etc. materialism taints every human heart, even that of the Christian.
- Jesus encourages his disciples to store up treasures in heaven because investment in the work of the Kingdom of God are 1) incorruptible and permanent, 2) life-transforming and God-glorifying, 3) selfless and sacrificial, 4) thieves cannot break in or steal them, 5) whatever the disciple of Christ does on earth, he or she wants to ascertain it has an eternal value or tremendous transformative effect on people’s lives.
- “If a selfish heart of greed is your master, you must abandon it to follow Jesus Christ. He is the Lord who says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny Himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). To obey Him is to enjoy the fellowship of God and true believers, a fellowship of light (1 John 1:5-7).
- If Christ is truly your Master, you may still be tempted toward materialism. “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Prove yourself to be filled with the love of the Father and keep your eyes clear from the love of temporal things. You will maintain clear vision—eyes that truly see—and enjoy God’s gift of light.” —John MacArthur
David Platt and the problem of American Church in Radical
- The “American church culture where success is defined by bigger crowds, bigger budgets, and bigger buildings” (2)
- “I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that are actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe” (3).
- “The Christian life and in the church as a whole enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us” (3).
David Brooks’ Review of the book, “The Gospel of Wealth”
Published: September 6, 2010, The New York Times
- “Americans have built themselves multimillion-dollar worship palaces, he argues. These have become like corporations, competing for market share by offering social centers, child-care programs, first-class entertainment and comfortable, consumer Christianity.
- Jesus, Platt notes, made it hard on his followers. He created a minichurch, not a mega one. Today, however, building budgets dwarf charitable budgets, and Jesus is portrayed as a genial suburban dude. “When we gather in our church building to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead, we may be worshipping ourselves.”
- The tension between good and plenty, God and mammon, became the central tension in American life, propelling ferocious energies and explaining why the U.S. is at once so religious and so materialist. Americans are moral materialists, spiritualists working on matter.
- The material world is too soul-destroying. “The American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the Gospel,” he argues. The American dream emphasizes self-development and personal growth. Our own abilities are our greatest assets.
- But the Gospel rejects the focus on self: “God actually delights in exalting our inability.” The American dream emphasizes upward mobility, but “success in the kingdom of God involves moving down, not up.
- Platt calls on readers to cap their lifestyle. Live as if you made $50,000 a year, he suggests, and give everything else away. Take a year to surrender yourself. Move to Africa or some poverty-stricken part of the world. Evangelize.”
On Inequality of Wealth
- ““The world’s richest 1 percent, those with more than $1 million, own 45 percent of the world’s wealth. Adults with less than $10,000 in wealth make up 64 percent of the world’s population but hold less than 2 percent of global wealth. The world’s wealthiest individuals, those owning over $100,000 in assets, total less than 10 percent of the global population but own 84 percent of global wealth. Credit Suisse defines “wealth” as the value of a household’s financial assets plus real assets (principally housing), minus their debts.”
- “The world’s 10 richest billionaires, according to Forbes, own $745 billion in combined wealth, a sum greater than the total goods and services most nations produce on an annual basis. The globe is home to 2,208 billionaires, according to the 2018 Forbes ranking.”
- “The top 1 percent in the United States holds 42.5 percent of national wealth, a far greater share than in other OECD countries. In no other industrial nation does the richest 1 percent own more than 28 percent of their country’s wealth.”
- The United States dominates the global population of high net worth individuals, with nearly 5.3 million individuals owning at least $1 million in financial assets (not including their primary residence or consumer goods).
- “The United States has more wealth than any other nation. But America’s top-heavy distribution of wealth leaves typical American adults with far less wealth than their counterparts in other industrial nations.”
Fast facts: Global poverty
- “736 million people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 a day.
- More than half of the world’s extreme poor, 413 million people, live in sub-Saharan Africa, an increase of 9 million people from two years earlier.
- In the Middle East and North Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty nearly doubled in two years, from 9.5 million to 18.6 million, mainly due to the crises in Syria and Yemen.
- Two regions, East Asia and the Pacific and Europe and Central Asia, have less than 3 percent of their populations living in extreme poverty, already successfully reaching the 2030 target to eradicate global poverty.
- 3 billion people in 104 developing countries, which accounts for 74 percent of the world’s population, live in multidimensional poverty, according to a 2018 survey by the U.N. Development Program.
- 660 million children are experiencing multidimensional poverty, according to the U.N. Development Program.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has both the highest rate of children living in extreme poverty at 49 percent and the largest share of the world’s extremely poor children at 51 percent.
- By 2030, an estimated 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile contexts.”
The most expensive church buildings in America
- First Baptist Church Dallas: “ORANGE COUNTY, Calif., Nov. 12, /Christian Newswire/ — First Baptist Church of Dallas recently announced plans to build a $130 million church campus with the intention of transforming the city and setting up a “beacon of truth.” House church leader Ken Eastburn commented saying the building will not be able to accomplish its goal, “I applaud First Baptist Church for desiring to impact their community, but we need to get beyond a consumer mentality when we think about transformation. Expensive church “buildings do not communicate the transforming Truth of the Gospel, they enslave people to the consumerism of our culture.”
- It’s called the Cathedral of Christ The Light, and it’s planned for Oakland, California.
Price tag: a whopping $190 million. That’s $10 million more than Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. And about $60 million more than originally budgeted.
- « Christ the Light’s towering $190 million project is the one of the most expensive churches in U.S. history… (Oakland, Calif., the Cathedral of Christ the Light) source: https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2007/06/04/christ-the-lights-towering-190-million-project-is-the-one-of-the-most-expensive-churches-in-u-s-history/
***As Craig Keener states, “North American Christians can pour nearly a billion dollars a year into new church construction. Church buildings are helpful tools in our culture, but the Bible does not require them—and the Bible does expressly command serving the poor. How many churches pour equivalent resources into church-sponsored homeless shelters and other means of service (and witness) to the needy of our communities? The streets of our most affluent Western cities host hundreds of thousands of homeless people, many of them children. Many young people sell their bodies on those streets to get a place to sleep at night, and mere sermons against prostitution are not going to do anything about it” (Keener, Matthew, p. 152).
Furthermore, he writes:
Church buildings are important in our present culture, but the early church did live without them for its first three centuries, and in a time of persecution we would be obliged to do the same. The early church therefore had funds for other purposes: second-century pagans continually noted Christians’ charity toward both Christian and non-Christian poor. Church buildings are valuable, but when they take precedence over caring for the poor or evangelism, our priorities appear to focus more on our comfort than on the world’s need—as if we desire padded pews more than new brothers and sisters filling the kingdom. Have we altogether forgotten the spiritual passion of the early church and nineteenth-century evangelicalism” (ibid)?
How to Invest in God’s eternal kingdom
1) “An Investment in the Kingdom
John Wesley was an extremely wealthy man. We think of John Wesley as a great man of God, of prayer, and devoted to time in the Word of God. He was up every morning for hours studying in the Greek text. We think of him as a man of some low means, but John Wesley was an extremely wealthy man. He gained his wealth from the hymns he wrote and the books he penned. At one period in his life he gave away forty thousand pounds sterling…a fortune in his time. Yet, when John Wesley died his estate was worth twenty-eight pounds. He didn’t lay up his treasure on earth. When it came in it went right back out into the lives of the people — invested in the kingdom of God.
The issue is that we don’t pile up what we don’t need and don’t plan to use. Some people stockpile under the guise that they are hedging against some coming doom. The problem with that is you don’t live by faith — you don’t believe God will take care of you in the future.
3) An Investment in the Church
One man I know who sets the right example is Dr. Criswell at Dallas. Some people criticized him because he was very wealthy. When he was younger he had made some very good investments. One day, after thirty years as a pastor of the church, he presented a check to the church as a gift. It was written for the amount of every penny they had ever paid him in thirty years, plus interest. Someone asked one of the church staff members if he received a salary. He said, “Yes, but he gives more every year than he receives.”
The issue is not what you have but what you do with what you have. Is it for you or for the kingdom of God and His purposes? Someone has said, “There is no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself.” Colossians 3:5 says that covetousness is idolatry. That is what our Lord has in mind. Money can become your god.
On riches !
- “John Calvin said this, “Where riches hold the dominion of the heart God has lost His authority.” That’s the issue, plain and simple. If I have my choice I want to take the money I have and I want to give it to friends who someday will meet me when I enter the eternal habitation.E. Burns said this, “Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise, Thou my inheritance now and always.” A great thought. Let’s pray together.”
- Luke 9: 23-25, 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
- 1 Timothy 6:17-19, 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
- Mark 10:19-25, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 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!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
- Luke 16:9, 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,[a] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
- Mark 10:21-22, 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
***To put treasure in heaven is to distribute what you possess to the poor and be willing to give to those in need. The greater is the investment the greatest is the reward. Our investment should be to advance Christian causes and to promote the work of the kingdom of God. John Wesley states that “Stewardship means giving to the poor…We give to God not by giving to the church, but by giving to the poor” (Jennings 1990:105; Keener, Matthew, p. 150). “Nineteenth-century evangelist Charles G. warned that God requires us to surrender to him the ownership of everything, so that we never again consider it as our own; we must do it only what he would do. Finney further exhorted that ‘young converts should be taught that they have renounced the ownership of all their possessions, and of themselves, or if they have not done this they are not Christians” (ibid). Jesus calls us to a life of simplicity.
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