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Things or Christ
by Clifford Tate 
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Matthew 19:22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions. (Quick Amplified Bible)

Written about, discussed in many bible studies, and preached from the pulpit by highly anointed men of God is the encounter of Christ and the rich young ruler. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit of God I hope and pray that He will enlighten me with something that can still benefit anyone who chooses to take his or her time to read this message.

First, we clearly see from verses 16 – 22 (of Matthew 19) that it seemed that the young man was in earnest desiring to follow Christ. He did appear self-deceived about his own sinful condition, but there is not a person reading these words or any person who has ever lived or ever will live that is not in some form of self-denial about their sinful conditions, some more than others perhaps are, but all of us have this problem before we come to Christ.

Romans 3:11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. (Quick Amplified Bible)

Guess what this means even you and me my friend. We were never seeking Christ, on the contrary He was seeking us and but for His long-suffering none of us would be praising Him and giving Him glory today. This young man's problem was far deeper. This condition plagues all of us. His problem was a problem of worship.

You remember in the Gospel of John when the Lord Jesus Christ told the woman at the well that a time was coming and that time had already come when people would be able to worship God as He God wanted worship. Well, you know when somebody is telling you something of great importance but they are talking and it is long arduous and you simply say to them get to the bottom line.

Well, here is the bottom line of the gospel and the bottom line of why Christ came to earth and that is true worship. The Lord Jesus told Pontus Pilate that for this cause did He come into the world and the cause was to testify or bear witness to the truth and that everyone who is of the truth will here His voice and when they here His voice what will they do; they will fall on their faces and worship Him.

There are scattered and recorded all over this book (the Bible) of individual and groups of people, who encountered Christ, immediately fell on their faces, and worshiped Him. The disciples when Christ walked on the water to them, the Siro-Phonecian woman, all the woman and disciples after His resurrection, the one healed of leprosy, the blind man from birth, and throughout the Book of Revelation, all worship Him. This whole gospel is all about worship.

Lost human beings worship everyday many different things, systems, people, etc. without even knowing it. When a soul is ready to give up things or anybody to worship the Lord Jesus Christ then that soul has been broken and made completely poor in spirit. I truly believe that the Lord Jesus at the cross has made a way for every soul that lives to come to such a state and condition by all sorts of means and resources at His omnipotent disposal, but He does not go over the line to coercion but only wooing and drawing.

The cross is like a supernatural magnet for every soul that lives now has ever lived, and that will ever live drawing them to Christ. This constitutes election but free will plays out by each soul responding to the wooing and drawing. The supernatural drawing magnet of the cross of Christ never ever will step over the line of free will. This is because the Father is seeking and desiring such true willful worship. True worship can only come by a combination of free will and election acting in unisons with one another producing a heart that was drawn and wooed but that freely cried out YES I would have you Lord Jesus.

Matthew 19:22 not only says that the young man went away but that He went away sorrowful. This bears witness of his love for his things and the agony it brought to his soul when he confronted with the thought of having to live without them. He was not aware (in his own heart) of how important these things were to him and how much he worshiped and adored them until he was confronted with what to him something he never even dreamed or thought of and that was to relinquish them to others.

He thought he wanted to follow the Lord Jesus Christ but when Christ showed him the cost to follow Him he balked and turned away. The true desire of his heart was lain open bare and naked before him and before all to see. He had an inordinate desire for these things that unconsciously consumed him. We can worship things and hold them dear to our hearts without even realizing that we do.

What if the Lord Jesus Christ would ask one of us (who have met Him and love Him) to give up something that He allowed us to obtain? This is not as the question presented to the rich young ruler, but a change in the course of our service for Him. I think confusion would be our first response and then followed by denial. Denying to ourselves that it is the Lord Jesus asking us to give up this thing, which is not a bad thing but He wants us to give it up. This is not an easy thing to resolve in our hearts because we can become attached and dependent on some particular thing.

Worship is preeminent with the Lord Jesus Christ and He will not take a back seat to anything even if it is something that He gave you to accomplish Kingdom work. Before we come to Christ, this issue confronts us (as the rich young ruler) but also after we come to Christ this is still the supreme issue and that is who or what are we going to worship. In the Psalms we here that the earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, which means He made everything even the things that we build with our hands because He has created you and me and gave us the ability to think and construct while we are on the earth.

Things are of no significance to the Lord Jesus because they are temporary or replaceable, but we on the other hand created in His image will live forever. The fact that He desires to hold first place in our hearts is a testimony of how much He truly loves us and wants the very best for us. He knows that things will never satisfy the deep longing that He (Himself) has placed into our hearts.

Things consume our attention everyday as we sojourned on this earth. Today it seems that over half of the channels on satellite television are some sort of shopping channel selling everything from perfume to computers. The devil appears to have this whole world lusting for things almost as much as we take each breath for physical life. The latest gadget or in thing is marketed with millions of dollars to entice consumers to buy. Greed seems to be a word that is out of vogue today replaced by the word eccentric.

I recently was in an automobile dealership and noticed a new 2009 Cadillac Escalade delivered to the lot from the factory and the sticker price on this vehicle fully loaded (hold on to your hats) $79,009.00. This is more than some houses cost and this vehicle may not even last 10 years. God the Holy Spirit warned us through the Apostle Paul that in the last day’s men would be lovers of money, things, and lovers of pleasure and we see that coming into full blossom today. If our Lord and Savior tarries another few hundred years, I shutter to think what those days will be compared to what we are witnessing today. I am certainly glad I will not be here.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs. (Quick Amplified Bible)

This verse of scripture tells us that even those in the church are not immune to these inordinate desires for money and things creeping in and causing hurtful and painful sorrows. If those of us who belong to God through Christ dethrone Him, we can never live in contentment in this life. Now verses 6-8 of this section in Timothy tells us how we are to use money and things in this life.

1 Tim 6:6-8 [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied). (Quick Amplified Bible)

Here is a message that the average church today has totally forgotten or abandoned altogether. Today in every place people are trying to build or lease the most elaborate building, one that has more of the latest equipment more than the one down the street or across town. However, when we examine the early church, we find that the people were always on one accord (that means of the same mind) and they freely gave their goods and wealth that the Apostles might distribute to any who had need.

The Apostle Peter and Paul if they were here today would not be driving Rolls Royce’s and living in four or five different homes. These men would abhor the greedy materialism that has infiltrated itself in the visible church today. Why does this generation think that it is somehow special and better than that of Paul and Peter's days? I tell you today we have the Laodicean church in full dress naked, blind, poor, miserable, and wretched boasting about its finance committees, mission boards, huge buildings, budgets, furniture, sound systems, etc. while the people are starving for real spiritual food.

Daniel told us that in the last days knowledge would increase and it has and so along with it the ability to produce many more things. Christ will not tolerate the covetousness in our hearts for things while we say we love Him. The Apostle Paul asked the question, “How shall we escape if we deny so great a salvation?” The Apostle Paul wrote this to Christians.

The Lord Jesus Christ told us plainly and clearly, that no one could ever serve two masters. This is what caused the rich young ruler to go away sadly and that is that he wanted to serve and worship his things and Christ at the same time until the Lord revealed to him that he could not worship those things and Him at the same time but he had to choose Him or things.

Today we see many professing Christians saying they are serving and worshiping God when in actuality they are worshiping things and have added God as another one of their many activities. The Lord Jesus Christ is not an activity that we add to the many other things on our busy lifestyle schedule but He is Almighty God and He demands preeminence in every heart and life. Therefore, we ask again to believers as well as non-believers who might be reading this message from the Lord and that is Things or Christ. You make the choice. Chose wisely for eternity is sure.

Sincerely in Christ,

Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author, Silent Assassins of the Soul (not yet published; coming soon)

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