Jesus Our Security
Presenter: Larry Kirkpatrick
Location: Mentone Seventh-day Adventist Church, CA, USA
Delivery: 2008-09-20 21:14Z
Publication: GreatControversy.org 2008-09-20 21:14Z
On a cool October day, seventy-nine years ago, the stock market crashed. There had been a period of high stock prices and many had invested by borrowing large sums of money to buy stocks. When the market declined precipitously, their wealth was erased, their speculations were shown to be misguided. Vast fortunes were wiped away in a matter of days. It took a quarter of a century for stock prices to return just to pre-1929 levels.
Today we are in another period of economic upheaval. The terms used by media and the state are intended to be disarming. “Conservatorship,” “bail-out,” “state-loan,” “cash-injection,” etc. Every time a failing financial institution is “rescued” by the infusion of the state’s money (money removed from you or your children or grandchildren’s pockets), it is, in literal terms, being nationalized. When the state intervenes and owns businesses like this, there is another word for it too: socialism. You and I are, theoretically, now the owners of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. That is, their 5.4 trillion in debt is now our 5.4 trillion debt. Late on Friday almost every week now, another bank or banks are closed and on Monday open again under different management and a different name. The automakers in Detroit are in a perilous situation, and our own state, California, has a budget shortfall of some 15 billion dollars.
As for the United State (not states), earlier this year, Richard W. Fisher, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas offered the following:
Fast forward 70 or so years and ask this question: What is the mathematical predicament of Social Security today? Answer: The amount of money the Social Security system would need today to cover all unfunded liabilities from now on—what fiscal economists call the ‘infinite horizon discounted value’ of what has already been promised recipients but has nofunding mechanism currently in place—is $13.6 trillion, an amount slightly less than the annual gross domestic product of the United States.
He mentioned Medicare entitlements too:
As you may know, the program comes in three parts: Medicare Part A, which covers hospital stays; Medicare B, which covers doctor visits; and Medicare D, the drug benefit that went into effect just 29 months ago. The infinite-horizon present discounted value of the unfunded liability for Medicare A is $34.4 trillion. The unfunded liability of Medicare B is an additional $34 trillion. The shortfall for Medicare D adds another $17.2 trillion. The total? If you wanted to cover the unfunded liability of all three programs today, you would be stuck with an $85.6 trillion bill. That is more than six times as large as the bill for Social Security. It is more than six times the annual output of the entire U.S. economy. Add together the unfunded liabilities from Medicare and Social Security, and it comes to $99.2 trillion over the infinite horizon.
In the distance, I see a frightful storm brewing in the form of untethered government debt. I choose the words—“frightful storm”—deliberately to avoid hyperbole.
Hyperbole, I think you know, means “exaggeration.” David Walker, until very recently the comptroller general of the United State, essentially the chief accountant of the nation, has been saying almost the very same thing, although his numbers are a few trillion dollars lower.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” some 48 hours ago that “we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications, here at home and globally.” Just yesterday, an extraordinarily costly plan was announced that is intended to address just the current crisis. Stock markets around the world soared. But in a couple of days all of that could go away again.
This is the world that we live in. This is the world that our children are growing up in. This is the world that our grandchildren are growing up in. All we see now is the opening act. (As an aside, the only folks I know of who have consistently predicted exactly what is happening are the Austrian economists. You can learn more about their views here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_School.)
On that cheerful note, you have seen the title of this message, but let’s make sure we all have the same meaning in mind. By “Jesus Our Security,” I mean that in a time of rapidly increasing gloom and trouble, when problems come in train, each seemingly larger than the one before, when the largest institutions and corporations known to our society are faltering on an almost daily basis, and even the state seems incapable of effecting solutions, then who or what will we trust in? In this kind of a setting, where does our security come from? The answer? Jesus must be our security.
There are at least three ways that Jesus is our security.
Financial Principles From Inspiration
Let’s start with the third item. What are some of these godly principles that can help us?
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
The text compares the position of rich and poor. The wealthy have many options and they get to exercise these options, choosing very largely what they will in life. The poor, in contrast, have fewer options, fewer choices, and their lives are much more constrained by the circumstances that surround them. The rich then rules over the poor in that he is better abler to master life. In the same way, the borrower is servant to the lender. He has reduced options; he is indebted to the lender. The borrower is less free. But God is one who delivers from captivity. He therefore calls us to diligence (Proverbs 10:3-5, 15, 16; 15:19; 19:24; 21:5; 2 Peter 1:5, 10).
There are three things that people commonly feel they must go into debt for: (1) an automobile, (2) an education, (3) purchasing a home. If you feel that you must go into debt to obtain these, then my counsel would be, limit the debt as much as possible. Pay for what you can pay for, for example, try to work while you are also obtaining your education. If you do get a loan, try to get a short one that you can pay off sooner rather than later. If you are buying a home, do not buy something that you will not be able to afford to pay back. Avoid at all cost an adjustable rate mortgage.
Here is one from Ellen White:
Avoid it [debt] as you would the smallpox (Adventist Home, p. 393).
Although smallpox was virtually eradicated by 30 years ago, it is estimated that during the 20th century it was responsible for 300–500 million deaths. As recently as 1967 it is estimated that two million people died from it in that year. Hence, Ellen White uses a very fatal disease in her comparison. Avoid debt as you would avoid a fatal disease.
Here again we should be careful. We need to differentiate between needs and wants. Food is a need; a nice cell phone is a want.
Young people: get your education before you get married. It might seem impossible, but marriage can wait. You want to be in possession of a means of supporting your family before you have a family.
Young people are sent to school by their parents to obtain an education, not to flirt with the opposite sex. The good of society, as well as the highest interest of the students, demands that they shall not attempt to select a life partner while their own character is yet undeveloped, their judgment immature, and while they are at the same time deprived of parental care and guidance (Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 62).
Another principle is to return a faithful tithe and give an appropriate offering. Consider Malachi 3:7-12:
Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:7-12).
God considers unfaithfulness in this area to be no less than robbery. Robbery is theft. The Ten Commandments, which as we all know offer an outline of God’s character, say what? Thou shalt not steal. The tithe is never something we give to God or pay to God; the tithe is His to begin with. Failure to return it is theft, a positive violation of the Ten Commandments. When we return His tithe, we are acknowledging His ownership of 100% of what we have. In returning to Him 10% of the total, we are reminding both Him and ourselves that He owns all and that He lets us manage the other 90%.
You know I almost never discuss this in my preaching. The reason why is that it is one of the most absolutely basic points in Christianity. God made extraordinary sacrifice for us in Jesus and for the Christian sacrificial giving should be among our most basic practices.
We return the tithe to God which is His, and then out of the remaining 90% we are asked to give offering according as the Lord has blessed us (Deuteronomy 16:10, 17; 2 Corinthians 9:7). If economic times are hard for you, they are also hard for the work of God. Keeping God’s house respectable has priority over keeping our own houses respectable (Haggai 1:1-15). (In this text it is the central sanctuary, but in application we may rightly apply this too to the local church.)
One more principle: Store your wealth with care. As Haggai said, we are prone to put our money into a bag with holes in it. While we are not to trust in our wealth, we should be wise about it. Were you a farmer in an agrarian society, it might be unwise to put all your labor into growing Zucchini. When you went to sell it, you might find that the product of your labor was in superabundance and you would not be able to sell it for a profit. The more Zucchini there is on the market, the lower the price obtained by the seller. This is basic economics. And it is the same for us today when it comes to the fiat dollar.
The dollars that we have are fiat money—paper money. In years past they were notes interchangeable with gold. You could turn your dollars in and receive their printed value back in gold. But by 1973 there were far more US dollars in circulation than there was gold in the treasury to back them up, so at that time the United State went off the gold standard. Now our dollar is backed by—nothing. It is only valuable because we all agree to accept it as legal tender.
But let me finish the illustration. The United State produces as many of these as it wants. This past week it produced billions of them! Now the more dollars there are in circulation, the less valuable each dollar is. Like zucchini. Every nation in history that has gone to fiat money—like our dollar—has finally emptied that money of all of its value. There are no exceptions historically. What am I saying? Be careful about how much of your personal wealth is stored in dollars. Store what you can in tangibles, that is, in that which is unambiguously valuable, e.g. various forms of property. Tangibles would include a farm, a car that is paid for, a panel that can produce solar energy, etc.
Security in the Covenant With Jesus
We said that Jesus is our security in that as those who live in covenant relationship to God, His help and protection is guaranteed to us in all that befalls us. Whether food costs are up or down, whether taxes are up or down, or the stock market is up or down, if we are in covenant relation to God He will look after us.
Hear the promise from Jeremiah as Paul gives it in Hebrews 8:10:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people (Hebrews 8:10).
The house of Israel, of course, when the book of Hebrews was written, was already spiritual Israel, the church. The New Covenant is God’s promise to write His law in our heart and mind, enabling us to obey. God will put His laws in, but on our part there must be cooperation. God will not force anyone to belong. It forever remains our choice whether we will or will not.
As His adopted children, we are part of His family. His promises are explicitly for us. Then think about it. Here is what He says:
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:24-34 ESV).
No one can serve two masters. No one can find security in two sources that are at odds with each other. It is not that money, i.e. property, is bad, but that trusting in property is bad. There is no security to be found in that. God clothes the grass which is His own with beauty, even though it is so perishable and does not bear His image. But God our heavenly Father knows we need some food and clothing. All these things are tangential, and God will provide them freely. As members of His royal family though, it is our business to go beyond these basic things. We are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. All these things will be added to us. Security? In the covenant, we have it.
Jesus Our Security as Substitute and Example
Jesus is our security because He has come and demonstrated that overcoming is possible in our humanity. He lived without sinning in our kind of humanity and took it all the way to the cross. On Calvary His life was given for us and the Father accepted the sacrifice. Jesus’ perfect character is accepted by the Father and when we accept Jesus, His character is both counted in place of our own and also actually imparted to us.
One might ask how this helps us in times of economic turmoil. How does a life lived two millennia ago offer me security now when I am at risk of losing my home? The first thing to remember is that there are material values and there are spiritual ones. Material security matters little if the process of obtaining security dehumanizes. The state might provide a roof over your head by permitting you to live in a jail cell. Would you move your family in? For life to have meaning we need to rightly order our values.
Economic difficulties are tools that God uses in His providence to help us better order our priorities. What should we do? How should we live our lives? Should one’s life be focused on the material without reference to anything transcendent? Jesus came and demonstrated that it was possible to live in a manner that was ethically satisfying with or without possessing a home. After embarking on His ministry, He was one who had no possession to call His home (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). He left the throne in heaven and entered humiliation. He became a human being as physically impacted as are, needing to sweat, eliminate, and deal with the clammers of an enemy flesh. For the God of all purity that is a part of His humiliation.
There was nothing fake or imagined or acted in Christ’s life; He took our liabilities and endured them. He even went further, growing up in relative poverty in humble, rough and tumble, despised, hard Nazareth. He took the hard pathways and prevailed. He left behind no arguments or excuses for us.
He gave the promises and then came and lived by the promises He had given. He instructed and then he demonstrated. The promises were His security and they are ours.
When God says,
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:6, 7 ESV).
It is clear that God can be found, God is near, the wicked may indeed forsake his way, the unrighteous his thoughts, and he can return. There is security—a promise that remains as long as there are people who have not made final commitment to rebellion. When at last probation closes it will be no arbitrary moment. The situation at that time will be that by individuals choice, no person remains who is not irrevocably committed to righteousness, or irrevocably committed to evil.
There is nothing false or counted or imputed about one who forsakes his evil thoughts, just as there is nothing false or counted or imputed about Jesus who forsook His throne in heaven to seek and save that which was lost. Here is security. God does not enter into seeking and saving without an extraordinary determination. His Word will not return to Him empty. There are many who will insist on being lost, but there are many who will cooperate with God and be willing to be changed.
Jesus’ sinless life was accepted by the Father. The blood of His sacrifice stands for the sinlessness of His character. What the Father accepted in Heaven was not the symbol but the true; the character of Christ makes atonement. Jesus’ character was accepted by the Father. This character demonstrated active submission to the father’s will, or, again perhaps more precisely, it represented active seeking of righteousness. Jesus never sinned, whereas we have sinned. Jesus had no sin on His record but we have sinned.
Jesus became sin for us , He took the punishment that was due us. Hear 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV):
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Father strengthened Jesus on His journey to the cross. When His human will trembled at the prospect, the Father offered no way out. There was no other way out; there was no way around the cross; there was no way around becoming sin for doomed man. And Jesus replied, even so, not My will but Your will be done.
The other portion of this is that in Jesus we become the righteousness of God. Jesus becomes our sin, we become His righteousness. He was truly punished for our sins, and we are truly blessed for His righteousness.
Ellen White describes thus:
Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed.’ (The Desire of Ages, p. 25).
Do notice that with His stripes we are healed. Not just forgiven, awesome as forgiveness is, but healed. I am so glad that the doctor can not only forgive but can heal. Jesus is the Chief Physician. Was Jesus only kidding when He said, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (Matthew 10:25), or again, “Every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40). If we follow Jesus, if we persist in being His disciples, then we will forsake our wicked thoughts, we will be healed, we will become like Jesus our Master, we will leave behind the image of Satan and have restored to us the image of God.
Jesus is our security. He is our only door to forgiveness, healing, change, righteousness. He is the beauty of holiness enfleshed and as His Spirit indwells us we become the beauty of holiness enfleshed. Even so, our hope is not, is never, in ourselves. We are broken beggars, experienced rebels, starving in the streets of Sodom. We bring nothing to Jesus to recommend ourselves. We come heavy laden. Jesus knows. And His call is, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). In Him we put off our burdens. In Him we find rest, and security. And all the stock market up and downs, the depredations of the state and the selfishness of our neighbors, the failure of all the idols which we have invested with power, is seen with new eyes. GCO
© 2008 by GreatControversy.org. GCO grants permission to individuals, wholeheartedly encouraging them to copy and reproduce documents and files appearing on this site, in an unaltered state, and for non-commercial use, unless otherwise noted. All other rights reserved. Other groups or entities wishing to reproduce these materials are encouraged to contact us with reproduction requests.