VALLEY REFORMED CHURCH
Savoring God through literacy in His literal Word
Your Best Life Now
uke 12:13-21 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
This is a sobering story, because we can relate to it. It fits the lives of many people we know and even if we aren’t financially rich, we spend most of our time on earth accumulating all we can to make our lives better and to reach what we have determined as being a level of success.
PURPOSE OF A PARABLE
Jesus used parables often, to illustrate important truths. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. A parable is Divine truth made simple and relatable. Matthew Henry says parables make the things of God “more plain and easy” to those willing to be taught, and “at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who [are] willfully ignorant.” While a parable is a story where the characters of the story may or may not be real, the principle and application of the parable is real, is truth, and must be considered in view of spiritual life.
Every parable has a PRINCIPLE and an APPLICATION. A Biblical principle is a truth that applies to all men in all of life, regardless of status and regardless of material accumulation. Notice the principle in this parable: “for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth”. This statement tells us, first of all, that “life” is not what we think it is.
What we describe as life, is for most, nothing more than existence. We define life as experiencing good health, having the things we want, being with the people we want, and doing at least some of the things we want, but Jesus said, in this sweeping statement, that this is not life, because a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.
Life is not what we are now living, even though it looks like life and the only reason it looks like life, is because we don’t know what real life looks like. What is the abundance of the things we possess? As I mentioned earlier, it is not limited to money and material goods, although it was for the man in our parable. We all consider a variety of things to be things we possess, but our good works are the things we put the most value on when we consider being accepted or rejected by others, and sometimes, by God. We believe our kindness toward other people and even animals, is one of our strongest characteristics. We believe the good works we do help to increase the value of our possessions and we believe that good works demands acceptance by others and by God. Some, like the man in our parable, believe that material possessions determine life and the quality of it. If material possessions add a quality dimension to our existence, then why do very rich people commit suicide with such frequency? The answer is found in the statement Jesus made in this parable: a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.
When the rich man evaluated all that he had, he concluded that his existence comprised all there is to life. He concluded, that there was nothing beyond his existence on this earth. He effectively denied a time after death, which is evident in his conclusion: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry”.
It is likely that you have taken this same position and I can guarantee you that you have taken this same position if you have rejected Christ, because if you have rejected Christ, you are not living now; you are merely existing, although your existence may be filled with material goods and good works. You have not considered the after-death question and don’t believe that you need to. You are like the rich man in the parable, because you believe that this is all there is.
The apostle Paul said that if there is no after-life, then living in the now for all its worth, is all we can do. In fact, Paul said that if there is no “real or true” life, then let us live it up now.
1 Corinthians 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.
IF OUR EXISTENCE HERE ISN’T LIFE, WHAT IS?
Jesus, the One who created us, spent His entire earthly ministry talking about true life. True life, Jesus said, is not about here, it is about eternity; after death. What happens here is temporary and what we experience and accumulate here is of no eternal value. Jesus in speaking of His arch enemy, Satan, called him a thief, because his purpose is to convince people that they can have their best life now on this earth. Satan’s purpose is to steal thoughts of true life.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Not only did Jesus say that He came to bring true life, but His teaching emphasized that not only are we born into existence without life, we are spiritually dead. And this provides the clue to what true life is all about; it is a spiritual life with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son. Because we were all born into sin, we spend our whole existence in sin and unless we accept Christ’s remedy for life, we pay the wages of an existence lived in sin, with sin as our master.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
You may look at your existence or what you consider to be your life and not see anything so bad or worthy of spiritual death. The problem is that you are already spiritually dead, because you were born spiritually dead, as was I and every person who has ever been born. It isn’t that you were born spiritually alive and you died spiritually by sinning; it is that you have never been spiritually alive and you never can be, by virtue of your own goodness or your own good works. You can’t even experience a spiritual birth by getting baptized or going to Church or even by giving everything you own to the poor. You can’t experience a spiritual birth by the sum total of all your goodness and hard work, but Jesus said that the spiritual birth is so important that in order to spend eternity in heaven, you must be born again. Jesus told us about this very conversation with a good man, a teacher in fact, who knew the Old Testament and attended synagogue every week.
John 3:1-15 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Like Nicodemus, we all must experience a new birth in order to have real life; real life here and real life for eternity. Jesus taught much more about this abundant life and the apostle Paul expanded on it and showed us that receiving this new abundant life requires a death. Even though we were born spiritually dead, we must die to ourselves and to our own goodness or attempts at goodness, in order to receive the abundant life that Christ offers.
Paul spoke of this death to ourselves as having been crucified with Christ. He explains it like this:
Romans 6:2-11 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul further reminds those who have accepted Christ’s offer of abundant life, of their previous existence.
Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
The word “quickened” means to make alive. In Christ, genuine believers are made alive so that they can now experience more than mere existence; they experience true life. Paul goes on to describe the actual new life experience:
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
ABUNDANT LIFE IS LIFE NOW AND THROUGH ETERNITY. When the Holy Spirit of God regenerates your heart, He leads you to faith and repentance, giving you abundant life. This abundant life in Christ renders you as if you had never sinned. None of your unrighteousness will ever be counted against you, because Christ has covered you with the righteousness of His blood and only now can you experience abundant life.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR REFUSAL TO COME TO CHRIST?
“Doesn’t God still love me”?, you ask. The answer is “NO”, God hates sin and hates those who practice sin. He hates those who reject His Son, because life is in His Son and death and judgment await all who reject God’s provision for life.
YOUR EXISTENCE WITHOUT CHRIST IS DEATH AND WILL CONTINUE THROUGH ETERNITY, BUT WORSE THAN THAT, YOU WILL FACE THE WRATH OF GOD AT JUDGMENT AND SPEND ETERNITY IN HELL.
God’s love is extended only to those who come to Christ for life. He hates sinners, because He hates sin and sinners defy His Son and are an assault to God’s holiness.
Psalms 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
Exodus 22:21-24 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
Ezekiel 7:19-27 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity. As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it. Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none. Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients. The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Joel Osteen, a popular television preacher, tells people that they can have their best life now, in his book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. His book has sold over 4 million copies, because people are looking for a way to avoid Christ and abundant life, but still have their best life now, here on earth. Osteen helps these folks by offering a variety of good works and human effort in order to achieve their best life, spiritually dead best life now. The chapter headings in the book include: Enlarge Your Vision, Develop a Healthy Self-Image, Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words, Let Go of the Past, Find Strength Through Adversity, Live to Give, and Choose to Be Happy. While these all sound noble, they are works of the flesh and none of them, even if achieved and perfected, will produce abundant life. A dead man might enjoy a better existence on earth by adding these things to his life, but he will not enjoy abundant life apart from Christ. These works of the flesh, of self-effort, do not include coming to Christ for His righteousness.
Interestingly, I am sure the rich man in our story could have considered himself to have achieved some of these efforts. He considered himself to have it all and to be set for eternity, but he wasn’t and neither are you without Christ. Let’s look at the text:
Luke 12:19-21 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Notice how God addressed this man, this man who achieved great things, this man who achieved great wealth, this man who thought he had his best life at the time; “Thou fool”. This is the way God will address you at judgment if you consider your existence without Christ as sufficient for life. In fact, this is the way God addresses you now!
The problem is not that life isn’t available, it is that life is available through Christ, but men reject that life and are condemned.
John 3:19-21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
You can exist in what you consider to be your best life now, but know that as a fool, God’s love is not extended to you and His judgment awaits you. This should be a sobering thought!
Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Questions for Reflection:
1. At what point in his life does a man become the person God addresses as a fool?
2. What should you work hard at now, if there is no life after death?
3. What riches do people accumulate for themselves while here on earth?
4. What is a parable?
5. Why do you think Joel Osteen’s book has sold over 4 million copies?
6. To whom is God’s love extended?
7. Who is the thief mentioned in the New Testament and what does he try to steal?
8. What must happen to your best life now in order to receive abundant life?
9. What kind of death are those who reject Christ, now experiencing?
10. “I am with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by , who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
You are welcome to copy this message in its entirety with no changes or deletions. Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: Valley Reformed Church, Bob Martin, Copyright 2015.
By Bob Martin | Jan 11, 2015 | Luke 12:13-21 |