Pentecost 12 August 23, 2020
629, 625, 630, 283
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen. +
How many things did you buy this last week? What all did you purchase so far this year? What are you going to do with all that stuff in your closet or down in your basement? Is it time for another garage sale? Or are you planning on taking it all with you when you leave this world? The truth is that all the material things we acquire in this life aren’t worth anything at all when you consider the big picture. You can’t take them with you, and they’re all going to be burned up with everything else when Christ returns. Good-bye electric drill. So long treasured baseball card collection. Adios beloved electronic gadget.
But what if you could buy truth? Truth that is timeless and eternal. Truth that can give you deep down, real peace of mind. Truth that could save your eternal soul. Truth that unlocks the door to overcoming death. Truth that brings never-ending joy. Truth like that would never, ever lose its value. What if you could buy it? Well apparently you can. In Provers 23:23 we read,
Buy the truth and do not sell it—get wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
Our verse exhorts us to “buy the truth.” Buy the truth? Hmmm. God’s Word is truth. Isn’t God’s Word free? Isn’t what God’s Word offers to all free of charge, such as His love, the forgiveness He won for all through Christ, the heaven that awaits those who believe in Christ? You can’t buy any of these things, can you? Even if you could, who could afford it? No one, not even Bill Gates could afford it. In Psalm 49 the Bible says: “The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—that he should live on forever and not see decay.” (Psalm 49:8)
What does it mean to buy the truth? The apparent mystery is easily solved when you consider first of all that nothing is said here about buying truth with money. What we are called to do here is to buy the truth in the sense of personally acquiring it for ourselves, making truth our own, having a personal connection to it in that it now belongs to you. You buy it, and now it’s yours. You own it. You’ve got it.
Our verse is talking about is Christian education. The way you “acquire” the Word of God is by learning it. When you learn the truth, it’s the Holy Spirit Himself Who gives you that personal connection to it. He makes it your own, so that you know that God is speaking not just to people in general in His Word, but personally and specifically to you.
Imagine all the teachings of God’s Word all lined up on a shelf. Every truth is marked with a sticker that says FREE. God wants you to take that truth, put it in your heart, make it your own, carry it with you wherever you go, and use it every day of your life.
The advertisement industry is built on the lie that you can’t live without this product or that product. And we fall for it, don’t we? Unless we have that gadget or gizmo we begin to think that we can’t possibly survive. But when it comes to the truths and teachings of the Bible, we really can’t live without them. In fact, without them a person will die in his sins, and be lost forever in hell. Praise God that the Holy Spirit, through the Gospel, gave you the faith to reach out and take hold of God’s saving truth in Christ Jesus. You and I agree with Peter, who said: “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the world of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
“Buy the truth and do not sell it.” One of the problems of buying something is that once you own it, it needs to be maintained. Think of your car or your computer or your house. It is never ending isn’t—the amount of upkeep and maintenance required to keep those things working is on-going in order to keep them from falling apart. We all know that once you buy it, you’ve got to do what it takes to keep it working, right?
But are you and I wise enough to know that this same principle applies to our faith? Your faith in Jesus Christ needs up-keep and maintenance. A person who thinks, “I know God forgives my sins and I’m going to heaven because of Jesus so I don’t need to be in worship every Sunday or be at any Bible study,” is like the person who buys a house but never mows the lawn, vacuums the rugs, or changes the furnace filter. Or like a computer owner who never runs virus protection or defrags his computer.
Since your faith is part of you every day and it gets attacked every day by Satan and the world and your own sinful nature, it needs up-keep. Lots of up-keep. You need to be in worship faithfully, you need to be in Bible Study/Sunday School, and have devotions. As we heard Jesus say to Martha in our gospel lesson, “Only one thing is needed,” meaning—the Word of God is the one thing of which you can truly say, “I need that!”
Christian education is all about maintaining your faith through hearing, learning, and studying, followed by more hearing, learning, and studying of the Bible. When we quit hearing, learning, and studying our faith will eventually fall apart.
One big word in the consumer world is “upgrade.” We are always looking to upgrade our mobile device or think about upgrading our car to a new and better model. We work hard to upgrade our house to something nicer or bigger.
You know Christ died and paid for your sins so that you have eternal life and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Excellent! But now you have the chance to “upgrade” your knowledge of your Savior. Bible Study and Sunday School for the children are chances to “upgrade” your knowledge of the Word of God. Or maybe you would prefer “upgrading” your knowledge of the Word on your own, at home. If so, borrow one of the books from your church library. Talk to your pastor about other helpful and doctrinally sound materials that will help you upgrade your faith. “Buy the truth and do not sell it.”
“Buy the truth and do not sell it.” We have an expression in English that relates to this. The expression is “being a sell-out.” Sometimes I am tempted to abandon my allegiance to my football team and become a Patriot’s fan. But if I did that my family would call me a sell-out.
Satan tries to get you and me to sell out our faith in God’s Word. How does he do that? How will he attack it? You can be sure he will attack you at your weak points.
What are your weak points? Do you know? Satan knows! Maybe you have a hard time forgiving and forgetting. If so, Satan will tempt you to hold a grudge against someone. Beloved, counting on Christ to forgive you while refusing to forgive others is a faith wrecker.
Maybe you really like being liked. If so, Satan will tempt you to compromise your Christian faith and values so that others will accept you and like you.
Maybe you have a streak of laziness in you. Satan will exploit that by telling you that you can get around to hearing and studying God’s Word next week, and then when next week rolls around he’ll tempt you in the same way all over again.
Maybe you are one that constantly seeks entertainment and recreation. Satan knows how to fill your schedule with all kinds of “fun” things so that you never have time for God and His Word. Or maybe, because he knows you love a thrill, he will attempt to lead you into sinful types of entertainment, such as sexual sins, gambling, or drug or alcohol abuse.
Your weakness could be worry, pride, or greed. Whatever it is, Satan will attack you at your weakest point, with the ultimate goal of trying to get you to sell out your faith in Christ.
“Buy the truth and do not sell it,” our text says. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his own soul.” (Mark 8:36) Jesus says it is a fool’s bargain to sell-out our faith, even if in exchange we were given the whole world with all its riches.
The only way to keep Satan in check is by arming ourselves with Truth, with the Word, which is the same as arming ourselves with Jesus. Jesus has no weak spots. Armed in the strength of His Truth Satan can’t hurt us.
A Chinese woman, named Zhao, while making a connection at the Beijing airport, was told by security that she could not take an expensive bottle of wine in her carry-on. Since it was too late to access her checked-in luggage, it appeared she had no choice but to leave it behind.
But Zhao was determined not to let a $200 dollar bottle of choice wine go to waste, so she drank the entire bottle right then and there! Now she faced a new problem. Too drunk to stand, security—out of concern for her own safety—could not allow her to board. Instead, unable to continue her journey, she was escorted in a wheelchair to a room where she slept until a family member was able to come and pick her up.
The things of this world become so important to us that we have trouble letting them go. But if we hold them too tightly, we may very well undermine our journey HOME. As someone once said: “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
There is, however, one notable exception. You can never cling too long or too hard to ETERNAL TRUTH…TO GOD’S WORD…TO JESUS.
“Buy the truth and do not sell it.” Those are the words of your Savior God, calling you to personally acquire and hold dear His precious words of life and salvation…teaching you to maintain your faith through faithful use of His Word…pleading with you to never sell out your faith in Him for anything. As you think about these words, remember that He bought you with His blood so that you could be His very own. Yes, the priceless treasures He gives you in His Word are free, but it cost Him His life and the punishment of hell to acquire them for you. Now you are His. You belong to Him. You are very, very dear to Him. He wants you to have the best. Get the best for yourself and your family. Don’t settle for anything less. Get the best by reading, learning, studying, His Word here at church and in your home every chance you get. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.