Sunday, October 21, 2012

Harvest Day Sermon 2012 "Jesus Has An Inheritance For You!" By James Preus

I preached this sermon for Harvest Day on Saturday, October 20th at the CLTS Chapel in St. Catharines, ON.  The text is Luke 12:13-21.

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

People feel that they are entitled to stuff.  One of the first words a child learns is “Mine.”  In fact, babies and small children often operate on the assumption that they own everything.  There is a cute story my mother likes to tell.  When my twin brothers John and Mark were babies, my mom gave each of them a cookie.  Mark stole John’s cookie.  So my mom gave them each two cookies, with the idea that if Mark’s hands were full, he would not be able to snatch John’s cookie.  Mark then put one of the cookies in his mouth, freeing his hand to snatch one of John’s cookies. 
            It can be cute when children do such things, but the reality is, this describes our troubled condition.  We believe that we are entitled to things over which we have no control or even have rightful claim.  Just as the one-year-old Mark did not bake the cookies he was so confident were his, we are not the source for anything that is ours.
            The man who demanded that Jesus make his brother share the inheritance missed the point in two ways.  First, he was coveting.  He was not content with what he had and he desired what was not his. Secondly, the man preoccupied himself with the wrong inheritance.  He wanted an earthly inheritance of money or land or goods and he wanted Jesus to get it for him.  Jesus had an inheritance to share with the man, but it was not his brother’s material inheritance.  Jesus’ inheritance, which was His by virtue of His relationship with His Heavenly Father, was the one for which Jesus wanted the man to ask. 
            Our Heavenly Father happily gives us everything we need.  When we are not content with what we are given by God, we despise His gifts. 
            No matter what we do, we cannot take credit for anything we own or produce.  If we plant something, we cannot make it grow.  Even if we plow the soil, plant the seed, or water the plant, we cannot cause it to grow.  God causes growth.  Paul uses this analogy in 1st Corinthians 3 to explain God’s activity in causing His Church to grow.  Though Paul planted and Apolos watered, they could not cause faith to grow.  God caused the growth.  Both spiritually and physically, God is the source for all things good.  When we boast over what we have we are as foolish as the rich man in this text.  Your money, property, job, spouse, children, even your pets, God provides them all for you.  This is a humbling message, but it also brings great comfort.  Our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need and happily supplies them. 
              It is peculiar that the rich man tells his soul to relax, eat, drink, and be merry, because he has so much food stored up.  A man’s soul does not thrive on succulent meat, luscious fruits straight from the orchard, or delicious bakery-fresh bread, not even on Niagara Region wine!   As Scripture declares, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3)  While the man had no control over the bounty of his crops, he most certainly had no control over the departure of his soul.  When His soul was demanded from him, his food storage was useless. 
            The rich man made his greatest mistake when he thought that his soul could be content with earthly treasures.  Jesus said that his sad predicament is the fact that he stored up treasures for himself, but he was not really rich, because he was not rich toward God.  Jesus says later in this same chapter, “Provide yourselves with…a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.”  (Luke 12:33) 
            But how can you store up treasures in heaven, when you cannot even store up treasures on this earth?  You can’t.  Just as the possessions you enjoy on this earth are given to you by God’s goodness and favor, your treasure in heaven is also stored for you. 
            Your treasure in Heaven is Christ’s inheritance.  Only heirs inherit inheritances.  That was the problem with the man in the beginning of the text.  He was not the heir, his older brother was.  Unless you are a child of God, you cannot have His inheritance in Heaven.  In fact, because of our sinful nature, which shows itself in our discontent and covetousness, we cannot even enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, because you have to be perfect to enter into the Kingdom.  But the God, who provides all our earthly goods to us, wants us to have this inheritance and come into His kingdom.  So He sent His Son Jesus, the undisputed heir to the inheritance, to take our place.  Our covetousness along with every other sin we commit, are not trivial mistakes with little or no repercussions. The cost of our transgressions is eternal death and the punishment of hell. 
            This dreadful situation places us tremendously far from any heavenly inheritance. Abraham in Heaven spoke to the rich man suffering in Hell, “Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” (Luke 16:26)  The sentencing to Hell attached to our sins sets us far away from the heavenly treasures. 
            But even this sentencing did not prevent Jesus from being the perfect replacement for us.  He became man.  He lived in perfect obedience.  God was pleased with Him.  Then Jesus was sentenced to death.  He went to the cross.  He cried out to His heavenly Father and got no answer.  As Jesus hung dying on that curséd tree a great chasm was set up between Him and His Heavenly Father.  Jesus truly took our place.  He suffered Hell on the cross.  He died.  The Father, however, did not forget His Son forever.  He raised Him from the dead and conquered death.  A chasm no longer exists between our heavenly inheritance and us.  That is what our Heavenly Father did to store up our treasures in Heaven.  Indeed this treasure cannot be taken away from us. 
            The man from the crowd asked for a share in the wrong inheritance.  Jesus was not interested in that earthly inheritance and it would have only sustained the man a little while anyway.  What Jesus wanted to share with him, was that inheritance He would earn for him on the cross. 
            We should not be like the rich man, who thought that his soul was content with an abundant harvest.  Nor should we be like the man from the crowd, who grasped at a temporary inheritance.  As we look toward our heavenly inheritance, death cannot take this treasure away from us. 
            You are rich toward God when you give Him your sorrowful spirit and broken heart and you believe that you have an inheritance in Heaven on account of Christ.  God gladly exchanges your broken heart and sin-tarnished spirit with a heart made alive in Christ and a spirit purified by His Holy Spirit.  During this harvest festival, remember that you have treasures secure in Heaven, not because of what you did, but because of what Christ did for you.  And in addition to that God blessed you with the earthly treasures abounding in this harvest.  Just don’t be content with them.  They will pass away and by the way, so will you.  Be content with the treasure Christ has earned for you in Heaven.  This treasure will be yours for eternity.    

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