Sabbath 1st Service

Ron Carlson, Kansas-Nebraska Conference president, shares an inspiring and uplifting message titled “The Wrong Question”.

 That Psalm means so much to every believer. It's one that is just absolutely encouraging to go to. It's a common one. It's one of the favorite it rates right up there with, for God so loved the world that he gave his only son that who ever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

You know, as you read your scriptures, I and I do the same. You know, you go through and you go, thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. This is just, this helps me go, this keeps me moving. This gives me faith. But I don't know if you've stumbled upon a few places in the Bible where you go, I don't know what to do with that.

There's some really tough stories in scripture that there's ones that you don't often hear even preached about. Because when you read them, you go, I'm not even sure why that's there. That is disgusting. That's horrible. That's, I don't even know what the answer to it is. It's, it's, it's like the rape of Dina.

What, how do you, how do you deal with the rape of Dina when, oh, how that, how do you deal with the suffering of job? You know, sometimes we know the end of the story and it, it sort of tweaks how we read the story and we forget. What it must have been like to feel like God has literally turned his back on you and everything is gone.

What's going on? Does God really do that sort of stuff?

J Beth and his daughter? If you don't know about that one, you just as well, not probably. It's, it's in judges chapter 11, but it's, it's a horrible story. And when you read what happened there with Japheth and his daughter and what went on, you go, well, I don't know what to do with that. It doesn't rate up there with the Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not want

there. There's one that I came across recently in the New Testament that I've read so many times, and every time I do, I just sort of gasp. Because I don't know what to do with it either. It's, it's the story of the rich young ruler. Now you're familiar with that one. And we, and we like to read it and we somehow can get past it because the guy is rich.

And usually when we read about rich people, even if you are rich, you go, well, I'm not that rich. But, but if you have your Bibles turn there, will you to Matthew 19, because I'd like us to look at this story. Today and just see if it could be that it is actually speaking to us here and now. Matthew 19. It begins with verse 16 and behold one came and said to Jesus, good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life, that I may have eternal life?

So Jesus said to him, why do you call me good? No one is good, but one that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. Verse 18, then the rich young ruler said to Jesus, which ones? And Jesus said, you shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness.

Honor your father and your mother. And love and, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Verse 20, the young man said to Jesus, all these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack? Jesus said to him, if you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

And come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful for, he had great possessions, then Jesus said to his disciples, assuredly I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

When his disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished saying, who then can be saved?

Well, what's going on here? What, what's happening? This guy comes up and he's, he's making a rational, good request of Jesus. He wants to know an answer. And when you read about this guy, he is one good guy. I mean, there's no disagreement from Jesus about how I have kept these from my youth. I have grown up in the church, I have done the commandments.

You didn't make me nervous when you listed these. You shall not commit adultery. I didn't cringe. Don't steal. I didn't go, oh dear. There's none of that. He's going uncomfortable. Jesus, I, I have kept these.

If you've been living right your whole life, if you've been a good person, moral upright, doing your best, you are not out there doing things that you need to be ashamed of. If you're doing things that you can li literally hear God, read the 10 Commandments to you and go, I'm good, I'm good. And yet still say,

what do I lack?

So somehow he knew that there was something missing in his life as a moral, good, righteous person.

I understand when someone lacks things because they're all messed up and they're doing things wrong, but this man had moral wealth. He had financial wealth, he had done everything right. And then typically folks, we kind of do believe that, you know, if you do things right, things work out. I mean, it fits the story.

You know, you've, you've done it right. It's, it's almost, it's almost like the sound of music when, you know, Maria finds out she's gonna marry the wealthy captain and she, they sing that beautiful song somewhere in my youth. Or childhood, I must have done something good. That's, that's kind of how we live life.

It's like, Hey, come on. Do it right, do it right, live right? And, and we go, yes, pastor, it does matter. We want to keep the commandments. We are asked to follow God. And the more you do, the better your life can be. Or, or you have to deal with job who his friend said somewhere in your youth or childhood, you must have been something really bad.

So, so this guy is fitting in that mold of the righteous, the religious hess, the kind that we would like to see in our churches, right? I mean, cooperative, willing, coming to Jesus. But not only that, folks, he's humble. How, how many religious people are willing to say, I'm still missing something. You know, I'm doing it all right.

You, there's, there's something in here that's missing. I'm talking honesty here, where we're talking about integrity. We're talking about a vulnerability that takes off the masks in front of Jesus and goes, Lord, I'm a bit confused because. I'm doing it right, but I'm something isn't right.

So Jesus answers his question. Now, I'm gonna tell you in a few minutes, the guy asked the wrong question, but Jesus answered it. What do I have to do to have eternal life? Jesus. But what do I have to do? I, I, I really want to know, this is not like the lawyers who came to Jesus with trick questions. This was an honest seeker.

What do I need to do to have eternal life? What's it like when something's missing? If you had those moments in life where you just go, I'm not sure what it is, but something's not right here right now. Something it's, you know, my wife is an amazing cook, and every once in a while she'll taste something and go, there's something missing here.

It's not right. Something's not right. Not sure what it is. Too much this, or not enough of this. I'm not sure, but there's just something missing. Can you believe it? That religious, righteous, good people. But what does Jesus do? He goes to him and says, okay, you've kept the law. God bless you, but let me tell you how you, what you really need to do to have eternal life for as it actually records in scripture and confirmed in the book, patriarchs and Prophets.

Heaven. Eternal life is now just as it's always been, requires perfect obedience to the law, perfect obedience to the law, perfect obedience to the law. So Jesus says, lemme give you a quiz. You've kept the commandments, my friend. You've done 'em all. So let's start with the first one. First one. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Now, if you notice in this passage, this man actually believes Jesus is God. For when Jesus says, why do you call me good? There's only one who is good and that is God. The man doesn't push back at all. So you're talking about someone here who's coming to Jesus knowing he's God. I keep the commandments, and Jesus says, okay, let's just see how you do.

I am God. You believe I'm God first commandment is God shall have no other gods before me. So all I need you to do, cause I'm just wanting to confirm that you keep the law, like you say you do just go sell everything you have. Give it to the poor. Now, I don't know if you've read that and just kept on reading or if you've stopped and said, wait a minute,

this is the only place in scripture where this request is ever made. There's no else that the Bible where, where God comes to someone and says, sell everything you have. Not 80%, not 70, not 50, not even 90. I want you to sell everything, everything and give it all away.

Perfect obedience to the law. But I'll tell you, it is so easy for righteous people to depend upon our good works because they are good. It's not that it's hypocrites. He said, most everyone in this room, I have no reason to question. Our good people are good people, but somehow we struggle with the reality as good people to recognize that we can have any right to heaven even because of our good works.

It doesn't matter how much you've gone to Sabbath school, how often you study your lesson, how faithful you are in your tithe, how carefully you keep the Sabbath, it doesn't matter any of those things. You don't want to have Jesus test your obedience, do you?

You know, you know. What do you do with it? Well, what do you do with it when Jesus seems to have more trouble in the New Testament, convincing people to follow him who are religious,

they're the ones always pushing back. In fact, he's criticized because the people who do come after him. It is because they recognize they're sinners. But the problem is, so does everyone else recognize their sinners? Of course, that person's coming to Jesus. She's a prostitute. He's a crook. But the religious people just sort of sit there and go, you know, this whole idea of repentance and confession and dependence on a savior, you know, I know a lot of people need it, and God bless all you sinners out there,

but it's so easy to hang on to our own righteousness, our own righteousness. And so Jesus actually does answer his question. He never had to get to the second commandment or the third or the fourth.

The, the sad thing is that the man walks away sorrowful.

It, it seems like it would've been a perfect opportunity for Jesus to stop and say, Hey, hey. Come on, Mr. Come on back. I was just testing you. Come on back. You, you, you know, you're okay. You're okay. I, you don't have to sell everything you had. It was just a test. And, and, and the guy would go, whoa. Well, I thought you were serious.

I thought you really meant it. And, and thank you. I'm gonna, I'm gonna be like, Z is, I'll do like Zacchaeus, man. He gave half to his I'll. I'll do it now. I'll do it. But Jesus doesn't call him back. He does not call him back because the sad and horribly fearful thing about this story is my friends, if we are unwilling to accept the fact that we are sinners, there is nothing Jesus can do, no matter how good we are, no matter how right we are, no matter how good we've been our entire life.

Because somehow we've related this idea of sinner to being horrible actions, and yet the scripture says that sinners have only shown through by actions, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. In fact, if you look at it in the original, it says, all have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God.

He says, I came to call sinners to repentance. I came to call sick people to the doctor. Healthy people don't need 'em. I'll tell you, it's a dangerous thing, my friends, to be healthy. It's a dangerous thing to be religious. It's a dangerous thing to be faithful because the natural human heart will grab onto that faithfulness when compare it to others, and not even in a horrible way, but say.

Thank you, Lord, that I'm not like others. Thank you, Lord, that I do love you. I, I wanna serve you and I,

but we have a hard time saying, God, be, God, be merciful to me. Be a sinner. Somehow that just sort of doesn't ring true. We don't, we, we don't want to be in that class. But God goes, that is the safest place to be. There is no safer person in this world than a sinner in the presence of God. That is the best place.

Whenever you find in the New Testament, a sinner in the presence of God, they are refreshed, they are safe, they're forgiven. They go away rejoicing, but they still go away A sinner. And the moment we start to lose that

God knows it's a battle. Even for the Apostle Paul, as he began to feel that he was pretty important and Come on folks, you gonna find fault with Paul. But God looks down and goes, man, Paul, I'm gonna give you a thorn in the flesh. I'm gonna give you a thorn in the flesh and I'm not taking it away because I have got to keep you dependent on me.

Because if I don't, you're gonna start feeling just like this man that goes, Lord, there I, I'm okay. And Paul pled, take it away. Take it away. God says, I can't. I can't because, because if I do, you're gonna start feeling pretty good about the Apostle Paul, and then we're gonna be in trouble. And all of a sudden you're gonna feel that you lack something, that you lack something.

Uh, you, you may not know, but, but just about seven years ago, I lost a kidney to cancer and it was a scary time in life for all of our family and came out of the blue and, and I'm still having to do follow up and everything else in about every six months or so. I visit my oncologist, they take pictures.

There's a always a chance with kid, there's always actually a good chance with kidney cancer that will come back. So they wanna keep an eye on it.

I know where I'm going. I stop and walk into the hospital and I, and I go to the li to the room called oncology, and I walk in that room. And here's sit all these people. And quite honestly, my first thought is I'm not one of them.

I don't like the idea of having cancer and all these people do. And I, I'm, God bless you, God bless you, and God bless you, and, and you see some little old guy over there that's all. Got the color that happens when you have a lot of treatments and, and you see this weak one over here, and you say, I'm so sorry.

I'm, I'm not comfortable being here at all. This is not where I want to be. I wanna be outside. I wanna be where the healthy people are. But there I go because I know that I need the doctor. Amen. That in within me is the high probability that I could get very sick again. And so I go with the sick and after a little while I look around and go, I'm one of you.

I'm with the rest of you. We're all on a journey and we all need help. And we all have cancer and we're all hoping it gets better, but we're where we should be in the presence of the doctor in the ward with all the other cancer patients. You, you know, if you read, if you read the story of Jesus and about how he hung out with sinners.

And prostitutes. And criminals, and you read those stories and you, and you get this from that story, you go, you know what, that's amazing. Listen, Lord, I too need to hang out with criminals and prostitutes and sinners. You hung out with the bad people. I'm gonna hang out with them. Two more. I'm gonna get, let me just tell you, you're missing where you are in the story.

You are not in that story. You are the part of the story of who Jesus hangs out with. You're one of the sinners that he relates to. He's one of the sinners that he pulls in and goes, you are welcome in my care. But if we hold onto our own righteousness, if we hold onto the say, Lord, what must I do? I don't care how good you are.

But if you're asking God, what do I do to have eternal life? God will tell you and you're gonna go, I'm coming up short. Coming up short.

When I was young, I'm glad we grow as a church. When I was young, I, I remember, I remember the illustration very clearly in junior department, the teacher put on the board this diagonal line. And he said, this is your life. And you need to know that wherever, when you get to the end of time, if, if, if, and this is what they said, if, if, if you are missing anything, Jesus will make up for it.

He'll make up. So, oh, good news, good news. C, could I suggest that Jesus isn't gonna make up for anything? He's gotta be the only thing because none of my works value anything when it comes to salvation. None of them, not even one. Anyone that's gonna be in heaven is going to be there because the entire need of salvation was done by Jesus.

Absolutely. He is the author and the finisher of my faith. Amen. Nothing in my hands. I bring simply to thy cross. I cling. And it's that where we need to be, but it's so hard for us religious people to be there. It's so hard for us to not believe that we can pass the test.

Probably wouldn't be a good idea to do this, but you know, we oftentimes refer to ourself as commandment, keeping people. And actually it does tell us in the Bible that God's people should keep his commandments. But I wonder sometimes as you look at what really the law means, that maybe we should be saying, you know what, I'm a, I'm a commandment breaking person.

I'm a commandment breaking one because I, I, I'm doing my best. But I'll tell you, I, I don't even, I don't even come close. To where it should be. You know? That's what Jesus did with the whole law on the Sermon on the Mount. He simply blew it out of the water because everybody was feeling so good. Hey, don't commit adultery.

I'm okay with that. I've been faithful. I'm not, no issue. Oh, by the way, I'm telling you this. Don't even think a lustful thought. Okay, I think dinner is ready. Yes. Not even one. Not even one lustful thought. Ever, ever, ever, ever. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Just leave it with thou shalt not commit adultery. I can handle that one.

But when you go there, I go, oh. Oh, don't murder. Come on. How many pe? I met a man not too long ago in one of our churches who had been joined the church, and he came up to me and he told me, he says, pastor, I'm so grateful. For what I, what God has done for me. I killed a man. Now, I don't know, I, I have met people, but I'm not sure I've ever stood face to face to Neil with a guy who literally tells me I killed a man.

Whoa. It's like, God bless you. I can't say that. And there's probably almost, maybe no one in this room. Jesus goes, oh, but hang on here a minute. If you're feeling good with a commandment that says, I haven't killed anyone, um, you shouldn't really be angry with anybody, and you shouldn't even think evil of anyone, including your enemies.

And we're like, whoa. Hang on, Jesus, hang on. This is way too much because now I'm lacking something. Now that this, I can't, I can't do that. And I'll tell you, the best thing that God can ever hear from us is I can't do that. What God needs to hear daily as we come to him is, God, take me through this day because I can't do it.

God be with my thoughts cuz I can't do it. Watch over me cuz I can't do it. And Lord I can't do it even when I try. And that's why your perfect righteousness stands in my place. You know, sometimes we forget a Seventh Day Adventist that we are not only saved by his death, we are saved by his life. Jesus lived an absolutely perfect life, and he did it for one reason, and it wasn't to show us that we could do it.

Oh, I've heard that. He's your great example. He did it. Now you do it. Come on folks. That's like me going out on the court with Michael Jordan putting on my sneakers and handing me a basketball and watching him go down there and dunk that ball there. And he goes, now run. I did it. You do it, and you'd all laugh.

You can't even jump an inch off the floor. The good news of Jesus is not that he kept the law to show you that you could. The good news about Jesus is that he kept the law perfectly so that you could hear this kind of a question and go, I'm okay with it. Not because of me, but because I have a savior.

And he took his perfect life, absolutely perfect life, and he credited to me and all of a sudden, I lack nothing. Nothing. I am secure, not because I keep the commandments well, not because I've done 'em my whole life. I am secure because I have a savior. He is the savior of the world. He doesn't need any help.

You are not an assistant savior. You are not an associate savior. That's right. We are called to be co-laborers with him when it comes to winning the lost and sharing our gospels, sharing the light. We're called to work with him, but I'll tell you, there is no place in the Bible that God says, I need your help to save you, because he does not.

He needs your belief in him. Your belief in him.

He went away sorrowful. If, if you were noticing the verses as I read at the beginning, I, I hope, I hope you were, I hope you thought, pastor, you missed a verse. You missed one. Cuz I did. They've gone through here. I've kept the commandments. Well, oh, you have? Congratulations. Let's give you a test. Okay? I didn't do a real good job, did I?

I am not gonna sell everything. I can't do it. There's absolutely no way. And I go away sorrowful. And the disciples say, listen, if this good man, and remember, this was a good man. This was a good man, respected religious. He was a, he was someone that everybody respected and the disciples literally said, if this man can't be saved as good as he is, then there isn't hope for one of us.

And I'm here to tell you that is absolutely true. If we are looking for anything within ourselves to commend us to God. The disciples are right. If this man can't make it, we don't have a prayer. Absolutely no hope, but the story doesn't end there for, Jesus looked at them and he said, with men, This is impossible.

Now he's talking about your salvation folks. He's talking about your eternal life. He's talking about the question, what can I do to eternal, have eternal life? How do I get to heaven, Lord? And Jesus says, listen, I just want you to know with men impossible. If you wanna go down the path of the rich young ruler, you also are gonna walk away sorrowful.

You also are gonna find that you lack, but oh, thank God. But with God, all things are possible. My salvation, my eternal life is not only possible, it's promised. Yes, because of Jesus. Full stop period. It's it for by grace. You have been saved through faith and that not of yourself. It is a gift of God, not of works.

Even those best works. I don't care how God says, thank you for doing them. Keep the commandments, love your neighbor. But I'll tell you, when it comes down to seeing the qualities of God and the perfect obedience, I'll tell you this. There is not one person in this place, not one person in this place who loves the Lord their God, with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their mind time.

We admit that, and thank Jesus for his mercy. There is not one person within the hearing of my voice today who honestly loves every neighbor like themselves. No, let's just admit it. God be merciful to me, a sinner. And as I press forward and you read the next verse in row in Ephesians, it's when we finally grasp grace, it's finally when we say this is a total gift, nothing to do with anything I do, it's then that we become his workmanship.

God can work with sinners. God can take sinners and change the world. God can bring other people to him who will accept the fact that they're in absolute need of a savior. God can change this church when it is full of sinners, full of sinners who admit that they struggle with loving God, that they struggle with loving their neighbor.

That they're not living that perfect life that we sometimes pretend to. And God goes, now we can get somewhere. Now. We can get somewhere. Please don't ever walk away. Sorrowful, thank you for being good people. As we travel around this conference, we see it. I'll tell you, we just overwhelmed with the good people in this conference.

Who love Jesus, who love his message, who will give literally whatever they can.

But if they don't have Jesus as their absolute and 100% righteous savior, Jesus says, you're gonna walk away sorrowful cuz you're gonna find out you're missing something. I've stood at the bedside of dying people who are some of the best Adventists I've ever met, and I'm sure every pastor here has done the same.

And they're scared cuz they start saying things like, I don't think I've done enough. I'm not sure I've done the way I should. And you try to affirm them, my friend, it's all Jesus. All of us fall short. None of us are gonna reach our deathbed and go, it's all right. I'm great. It's like, no. I could have done better.

I shouldn't have done that. I should have done this. And God goes, you're fine. You are fine. Rest, rest. Because it is not by the works of righteousness, which you have done, but by his great mercy that he saves you. May we embrace today the label of sinner. It's not a real, pretty term. It's not something you wanna just jump at, but God goes, I am so merciful to sinners.

God be merciful and as you follow him, as you trust him, my friends, you will lack nothing, nothing. Father in heaven.

As we take those quiet moments in our own heart, we realize that we do fall short and we thank you for your amazing forgiveness and mercy. But Lord, somehow we want to turn our eyes so much upon you that we can know that it is not by our works, as good as they might be as faithful as they might be, because in that way, we're still going to fall short.

And so, Lord, take us and draw us to you. May we know that we have in you a, the, the most secure place in all the universe that you will take us and you will declare us sons and daughters, you will declare us perfect in the eyes of heaven. You'll let us know that you have done everything for us.

Everything, everything. Thank you, Lord. Thank you Lord. Please be merciful to us as sinners. In Jesus name, amen. Amen.