Sermon by Rev. Gerald P. VanSmeerdijk of Dunnville , Ontario
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 1 that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of God. He is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his being. We know that our faith in him is the correct faith that leads to salvation because when everything that is known and can be known about God, when everything is gathered from the four corners of the world, from the prophets and angels and the very creation itself, when all of this is finally gathered into one place, there we see Jesus Christ standing in the flesh. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
This is a very clear and powerful word from God. It is given to quiet our fears and silence our doubts. It answers the question: How do we know what faith is the correct faith that leads to salvation? It answers the question: Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning Saviour? It tells us why we ought to trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, and no one else. But it also makes us consider whether our actions agree with our faith.
We sometimes find things in Scripture that aren’t very clear to us at first. That’s especially true about the things Jesus says about the kingdom of God . There are several instances when even the disciples pulled Jesus aside and said, “Lord, what are you talking about?”
Why is that? Why is the kingdom of God so hard for us to understand? To put it into a picture, the gracious answer goes something like this: When we come out of a dark room and enter another that is all lit up, at first we can see nothing. Because our eyes were used to the darkness, we are blinded by the light, and it takes time for our eyes to adjust.
But there is another reason why our understanding of the kingdom of God is hard to understand at first. It has to do with the darkness of our hearts, rather than the dimness of our eyes.
As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are born into the kingdom of darkness and we grow up feeling afraid and worried. We are used to trusting no one. We also do not trust in God because we are inclined to hate God. That is the natural way of sinful hearts. The problem is that without love for God we can’t trust him and we remain full of doubts and fears.
Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love always trusts. John teaches us in 1 John 4 that there is no fear in love. Love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears does not understand love.
To those of us who may have been believers for many years, it may now be natural, even second nature to put our trust in Jesus Christ. And so the idea of failing to trust God may seem strange to you. But a person who is thinking about putting their faith in Jesus for the first time may see more clearly what a radical request God has made of us. He is asking us to cross a line from which there is no return. And that’s scary for anyone to do. Until we cross that line, it remains an issue, even if we’ve been a Christian for fifty years.
The wisdom of this world says: “Never put all your eggs in one basket.” That would be an enormous risk. If you drop the basket, you lose it all. And nobody wants to take that risk.
So we have learned to be masters of diversity. Farmers rotate their crops. People with extra money make a variety of investments. The best colleges offer a broad education. The best tradesmen also develop proficiency in several aspects of their trade, rather than just one. Corporations own several businesses, each with their own piece of the market. Cars have spare tires and planes have reserve fuel tanks and space shuttles have all kinds of backup computer systems so that if one part fails, the machine can keep going.
So it’s not unusual for people who truly understand the call of the gospel to be reluctant in crossing the line. It’s usually those who don’t understand who are quick to believe (and quick to fall away). Like seed sown on rocky places, they hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
But those who understand the Bible’s message of salvation know that Jesus Christ isn’t into diversification. With God, it’s all or nothing. With him, it’s “put all your eggs in one basket.” He says: “I am the Lord your God and you will have no other gods before me.”
Recognizing the struggle that unbelievers have in obeying Christ’s command to cross the line should also help us understand something of our own struggle with faith. As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are expected to put our entire security in Christ alone - but in this world, it’s normal for us to depend on several sources of security. We may recognize then that there are at least two important reasons why we must trust in Jesus Christ.
The first one is very simple. It is God’s command that we have faith in Christ alone. The catechism, Lord’s Day 11, reminds us that Scripture’s testimony is that “Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.” Why is searching for salvation anywhere else a waste of our time? Because there is no one else who can save us. Many false saviours have appeared throughout history and continue to appear today. But Jesus is the only one whom the Father sent for our salvation.
When everything that God has revealed about himself and can be known about him, when everything is gathered from the four corners of the world, from the prophets, angels, and the very creation itself, when all of this is finally gathered into one place, there we see Jesus Christ standing in the flesh. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. If we reject him, we have rejected the Father also because he sent Jesus.
But there is another reason why Jesus has to be our only source of security. He says in Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” In other words, “the source of your security determines the direction of your life.”
It may be that you say, “Well, Jesus is the source of my security.” If that is true, then your faith will be seen in your actions. If Jesus is your only security in life, you will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, trusting that God will provide all your needs.
It is good to make the words of the Catechism, Lord’s Day 9 our confession. It says: I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.
What we choose as our source of security determines the direction of our life. It may be that you say, “Jesus is the source of my security.” If that is true, then your faith will be seen in your actions. You will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, trusting that God will provide all your needs. You will trust him so much that you will be able to give your money and your possessions to the poor. If you trust in God, the poor will not go hungry. If you don’t trust in God, the poor will go away empty-handed. The way we treat the poor is a litmus test of our trust in God.
What we choose as our source of security determines the direction of our life. Jesus says in Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” But if the kingdom of God is not the source of your security, you will lay hold of something else for your security.
There was a man who brought in a great harvest of grain. That harvest was worth so much money that he tore down his old barns so he could make bigger barns to store all his grain. Believing that he had great financial security, he decided to take life easy, eat, drink and be merry. The source of his security determined the direction of his life.
We live in a culture where socializing with friends is more important than meeting God in worship. We get so caught up in the social life that we are too busy to go to worship. We get so caught up in having our kids involved in the right clubs that they are too busy for a Biblical education. And when someone points out this conflict, we joke about him being too serious, and then we do nothing. Why? Because of the source of our security. We always choose to do what we think is most important. Having a choice, we think we have freedom. But the source of our security determines the choices we make.
You may be thinking, “Well, I do have a relationship with Jesus. And I have chosen to follow him.” Good. But we have all kinds of relationships with all kinds of things and all kinds of people and only one of them will be the source of our security. And it is that relationship which determines the course of your life. There is no way around this principle.
The Psalms were written by people who said that the Lord was their only source of security. Psalm 18 declares: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation.” And therefore, there is no surprise when we read, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” in Psalm 42, or in Psalm 122, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD,” or again in Psalm 132, “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.”
Because the Lord was the source of their security, the most precious thing to them was the Lord himself. Because the Lord was their source of security, they were pulled in his direction, like a hungry person is pulled to the dinner table by the smell of food. Because the Lord was their source of security, they were eager to be with the Lord not just in the life to come, but in this life also. When they were called to worship, they were glad and entered the Lord’s house with thanksgiving.
When Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” he was talking about the source of our security and how it determines the course of our life. He was saying, “Wherever your treasure is, wherever the most important thing for you is, wherever that thing is that you believe your satisfaction and success in life depends upon, that’s where you will go, and that’s where you will end up.”
Security is a great treasure. No person can live well without a sense of security. But having security in the wrong thing does not lead to greater well-being. Scripture gives us plenty of examples of trusting in things we shouldn’t, especially the false hope that comes from wanting a lot of money, and the false security that comes from getting it.
When we put our hope in our possessions and our money, all our effort goes to doing whatever it takes to get money, even to the point of pushing aside good things.
For the love of money, some have ruined their marriages. Some have harmed neighbours and friends. Scripture says in 1Timothy 6:10 , “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Money is not the root of all kinds of evil. But the love of money is. As soon as it becomes a source of our security, even if it is only a source of security in addition to our security in Christ, we end up in trouble. In fact, putting our hope in anything or anyone but Jesus Christ is at the root of all our trouble.
Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” Our willpower cannot get us around that one. Just as the law of gravity is a physical law that cannot be avoided, the law of security is a spiritual law that cannot be avoided. Whatever the source of our security may be, it will always determine our actions and the direction we take in life.
“Do not be deceived,” writes Paul in Galatians 6. “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Can we put our security in money and material wealth? Yes we can. Can we keep our money to our self, and use it only for our own pleasures. Yes we can. Can we use money to save our selves from poverty and need? Yes we can. But saving money like that will make us bankrupt, perhaps not in this life, but certainly in the life to come. We cannot afford to put our security in money and material wealth. That is a false security. A deception.
What a relief then, that we may use money for the sake of a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and place it in treasure stores that cannot be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Please understand that Jesus has nothing against money. Neither, when he commands us to sell our possessions and give to the poor, is he against wealth. It is not his intention that we, or anyone else, be poor. He is not telling us to renounce earthly treasures and join a convent or monastery. He is looking for disciples who use their money wisely.
And so, when he warns us not to store up treasures on earth, he is warning us that wealth will definitely be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. Treasures on earth are fragile. The only way to preserve them is to turn them into treasures in heaven. A.W. Tozer said, “Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.”
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 5: “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labour that he can carry in his hand.” You can’t take it with you! When Jesus speaks of thieves and moths taking our earthly treasures, he is saying, “You can’t take it with you.” But he adds, “You can send it on ahead!”
We make choices today that may result in eternal treasures in heaven.
Having said that, it’s important to see that giving up earthly treasures doesn’t guarantee we will receive heavenly treasures. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 13: “If I give up all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Yet the fact remains that God’s kingdom is the only safe place to use our money if we hope for any lasting reward from its use.
By wisely and generously using our earthly resources, we can store up treasures in heaven. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Whatever treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive. Not only God, not only others, but we ourselves are the eternal beneficiaries of all our giving. Have you been making regular deposits into your account in heaven?
It really depends what you see as your greatest security: God’s kingdom or the things of this world.
WORSHIP SERVICE DATE
Call to Worship and Silent Prayer followed by
*Songs God Himself is with Us 244
Father, I Adore You 284
Prayer (Confession of sin and thanksgiving for pardon)
Children’s Song – if applicable Fruit of the Spirit 224
(children ages xxx dismissed for Sunday School)
Scripture Luke 12:32-34; additional text H.C. Lord’s Day 11
Sermon Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is
*Song O Love of God, How Strong and True 463
*Song Let All Things Now Living 453
*God’s Blessing and 3-fold Amen or Worthy is Christ 629