What To Expect in 2018
Text: Matthew 19:16- 30
Proposition: Expect to see those that are first, last and the last first.
Introduction: What might we expect to see from our view at ground level in 2018? Let’s consider a passage of Scripture that has the same elements in it that 2018 will have. It’s recorded in Matthew 19:16 to 30.
I. Expect to See a Growing Sense of Inequality Between the Rich and Poor.
This is the story of the rich young ruler, a man of youth, wealth, power and even reverence who comes to Jesus looking for something he doesn’t have. His discontent is no different than ours is when we sense an emptiness in the midst of possessions and power. Forbes magazine in 2010 said there were 691 billionaires in the world. In 2017, there were 2,043 billionaires, 500 of these moved up a class to trillionaires. It’s estimated that the top eight of these own as much combined wealth as "half the human race". The issue of wealth will always provoke the problem of contentment, there is discontent with those that have and there is discontent with those that have not. 1 Tim. 6:17 says, “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.” Expect to see upheaval because of this growing sense of inequality, it triggers mass migrations of people, it creates imbalance globally to the point that wealth creates pain more than it creates hope. Expect to see that discovery in the lives of all kinds of people in the coming year.
II. Expect to See Good Works That Are Both Self Serving and Greater.
Had this young man asked you this question you would likely have stopped him in his tracks and said, ‘Whoa, salvation or eternal life doesn’t come from doing good works, that’s the wrong way to go. You need to hear about grace and the gift of faith.’ This young man wanted to do good things not so much that people’s lives would be better but so that he would benefit spiritually. I suppose the great temptation is that by doing good we believe that we can become good. Good works are what fuels cults, it fuels Islam, it fuels the synthetic faith of the social gospel. So expect to see good that is both self serving and good that glorifies not man but God. If there be any way of testing that good which is really lasting it is this, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (1Jn.4:17) The richness behind what is truly good is that which is done out of love. The love may be for another person at the initial level but the highest degree of love will be that which we do because of our love for Jesus Christ. In that sense the motive behind doing good is more important than the good that is actually done.
III. Expect to See Absolute Truth Confront Relative ‘Truth’.
As you read this passage you’d expect Jesus to confront the young man’s belief that good works lead to salvation, instead Jesus confronts the young man’s use of the word ‘good’. “Why do you call Me good, no one is good but One, that is God.” Jesus was challenging the young man’s view of Him. Was he coming to Jesus as God or as a ‘good teacher’? In recognizing that only one God is good Jesus is implying that there is only One way to eternal life. And in redefining ‘good’ Jesus also defines that in man there exists the presence of that which is ‘not good’, what we would call sin. It is not a matter of how the young man feels or even what good values he holds, absolute truth is higher than our experience. The issue of relative truth, where good is used to describe two opposing things, (ie all religions point to the same truth) will be confronted by the use of absolute truth more and more. Expect to see that in 2018 as the kingdom of God unfolds more and more. Absolute truth will say that there is A way to God, A truth that He reveals and A life that He gives. There are not many paths to God, there is Jesus Christ alone Who has been given on the cross for our sin.
IV. Expect God to Expose Our Unbelief.
So then Jesus tells the rich young ruler to keep the commandments and his reply to Jesus is revealing… “which ones?” It’s an audacious response but Jesus indulges him and points to 5 from the Old Law and one from Himself. It’s this last one that really seals it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man’s response exposes his blindness, he says he’s kept them all since a child. So Jesus exposes the deeper issue of what he really believes in. What is it he depends upon, what is it that empowers him, where is his identity and value found? When Jesus exposes unbelief in God in these areas of our lives it is always meant to invite us to move from idolatry to belief. The issue is not money, Jesus is not against wealth nor against those who possess it. He’s against the power it has over us to succor us to unbelief in God as our heavenly Father who alone is the giver of life. When he says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, did you see the disciples reaction? They are aghast, dumbfounded, astounded. You’d think because they were poor they’d be somewhat joyous about this but they’re not. In fact they say, “Who then can be saved?” The point, we all long to be rich for the very same reasons as the rich young ruler. At the core of our hearts our sin nature longs to make it on our own, to be independent of God. But what does the Scripture say, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.“(Jn 12:25) Expect that in 2018 God will expose our unbelief more and more and at the same time invite us to trust in Him absolutely, always.
The kingdom of God is here and soon to be evident to all. Since Jesus describes the kingdom as a place where the first are last and the last first, then we should re-evaluate the importance of being first. There are many things that will tempt us to seize first place for ourselves in 2018, everything from road rage to lust to loneliness. beware of the tendency of your heart to be first, knowing that it will result in the opposite.
In 2018.trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, absolutely.