Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
September 30, 2012
 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!”  And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!  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.”  And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”  Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”  Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,  who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
-- Mark 10:23-31, ESV
In this world, money matters.
Elections turn on it. Republicans make promises to lower taxes and cut spending, thus putting more money in certain people’s pockets. Democrats make promises to raise taxes and increase government spending, thus putting more money in certain people’s pockets. People vote with their pocketbooks, because it’s all about the money.
Sports turn on it. Every year some major sport is disrupted by a strike or lockout. In this week’s headlines, all NFL referees went back to work while all NHL players are out of work. What is all the strife about? It’s all about the money.
Marriages turn on it. Divorce has ravaged the American family for more than a generation now, and pastors and counselors have conducted many autopsies on the fatalities. It may surprise you to learn that at the root of every evil broken family tree is an unholy lust, usually not for sex, but for money. It’s all about the money.
And yes, churches turn on it. Mission work goes unfunded, budget needs are not met, and most churches today are in the red. Funds that should be set apart as tithes and offerings are spent instead on credit card bills, extra bells and whistles, and living beyond our means. The church suffers while the money goes to the things we love the most. Once again, it’s all about the money.
Wouldn’t you like to live in a world where money doesn’t matter? There is such a place, and you can live there now, and forever. It is the kingdom of God. Two thousand years ago, the King gave a speech that still stands true today. Enter a world where money doesn’t matter, in Mark 10:23-31.
Money doesn’t matter as the sign of God’s blessing.
This text turns on the hinges of the one before it, Christ’s encounter with the rich young ruler (ref. Mark 10:17-22). It was the shocking story of a man who would have been the envy of any synagogue or church being turned away by the Keeper of the keys. Ancient Jewish sensibilities gave preference to the rich, for they believed riches were a sign of God’s blessing.
Modern Christianity embraces the same false view. That’s why the fastest growing churches in every continent are those that promise health and wealth for all who choose to have enough faith in the things that money can buy. The great evangelical idiot Pat Robertson, an early spokesman for this broken branch of the church, has said verbatim that money is a sign of God’s blessing and poverty is sure proof of God’s displeasure.
Riches and poverty are ultimately in the hands of a sovereign God (ref. 1 Samuel 2:7). It is also true that a cursory reading of the Proverbs and a small dose of common sense tells us that hard word and integrity generally pays more than sloth and dishonesty. But nowhere in the Bible does it ever say that the ultimate sign of God’s blessing can be measured in gold, silver, dollars, or cents.
God’s kingdom is filled with many who enjoyed great riches during their pilgrimage on earth, like Abraham, David, Solomon, Zaccheus, and Joseph of Arimathea. Along the way there were even more poor, like Moses, Elijah, the widow with only two mites, the Apostles, and of course the King Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sakes became poor (ref. 2 Corinthians 8:9). Money doesn’t matter as the sign of God’s blessing.
Money doesn’t matter as the way of God’s salvation.
Warren Buffet is one of the world’s richest men. Not too long ago, he gave away billions of dollars to charity (while also retaining billions of dollars). When asked about his generous gifts to charity, he said, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way” (Associate Press, 06/27/06). Either Warren Buffet or Jesus Christ is wrong.
Jesus said money doesn’t matter as then means of salvation. As a matter of fact, He said, it can be a great impediment. Camels can walk through the eye of a needle quicker than a rich person can walk through the pearly gates, according to Jesus. What does that really mean?
Through the years a tradition has developed that in Jerusalem, there was a certain gate to the city called the camel’s gate. Camels, loaded with cargo, had to stoop to their knees to squeeze through, thus giving Jesus the insight for this illustration. Actually, this is not true. But it may be truer than true.
Camels carry cargo, or stuff. And there were many gates and passages in Jesus’ day that a camel could not pass through unless you first took down all the stuff. So I think that Jesus was declaring that it is impossible for people to get to heaven when they love their stuff more than God. This was the case with the rich young ruler, this is the case with a lot of rich people today, and this is the case with the whole human race, rich or poor. When we love our stuff more than we love our God, Creator, Redeemer, and King, then it is impossible to be saved.
But with God, anyone can be saved, rich or poor. For salvation is not by money or merit, it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Money doesn’t matter. Faith does. So how do you know if you have faith? You know it when you can say what Simon Peter said.
Money doesn’t matter as the measure of a godly life.
It is not what one has gained in this life that is the measure of a man, it is what one has given away. A true saint and servant of God is not one who has merely given much in this life, but one who has given all. “See, we have left everything and followed you” (ref. vs. 28).
Simon Peter could be impetuous, and some argue he erred in this statement. But I think he could not have been more right, or within his rights. Not only had Simon Peter left his fishing nets and everything else to follow Jesus, he was still following Jesus. In other words, he gave all he could to God, then let God control the rest, namely his life, his godly life.
The rich young ruler had failed this test on both ends. Peter correctly pointed out that he and the other disciples (with the exception of Judas, who clutched too tightly to the money purse) had passed it. They really loved Jesus more than their careers, their boats, their stuff, even their own families and lives. This is the measure of a true disciple, a true servant of the King, a true child of God. When grace melts your heart, it loosens your hands, it lets go of your stuff, it leaves your life in the hands of Almighty God. Money, and anything else save the glory of God and kingdom of Christ, just doesn’t matter that much anymore.
Money doesn’t matter as the source of God’s reward.
Money doesn’t matter than much to a child of God. Sure, we have some, need some, spend some, and give some away. It is a tool, not a treasure. Real treasure is the stuff money cannot buy. God gives it to His children, now and then.
Now, Jesus said, a true believer has riches greater than houses, holdings, and hands to hold. What are these things exactly? Jesus doesn’t say in this text. However, you certainly cannot put a price tag on the love, joy, and peace that salvation and fellowship with other saved people brings.
Now, Jesus said, a true believer has the great privilege of, persecution. Persecution is neither sought nor bought, and rarely is it seen as a treasure. But the platitude of the Beatitudes is the promise of persecution as a sign, seal, and blessing for the true child of God (ref. Matthew 5:10-12).
Then, Jesus said, “in the age to come,” Jesus said, there will be the great gift of “eternal life.” Now that is something no amount of money can buy, can it? And Christians will enjoy every eternal day, every first and last one of them.
Money does seem to rank us in this life. But in the life to come, we will fellowship with fellow believers who were first in line at the bank, last in line, and those who couldn’t even get in line. There will be professional athletes, wealthy businessmen, even heads of state. We will also see janitors, restaurant workers, stay-at-home moms and dads, and even a few Baptist preachers. We will all talk together about how we followed Christ in this life, some with a lot of money at their disposal and some with virtually none.
And while we discuss these money matters, we will all be sitting at Jesus’ feet. That is a place, I promise you, where money won’t matter, anymore.