When the Soul Goes Bankrupt

When the Soul Goes Bankrupt

March 30th, 1983 @ 12:00 PM

Luke 12:15-21

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
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WHEN THE SOUL GOES BANKRUPT

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 12:15-21

3-30-83    12:00 p.m.

 

And today: When the Soul Goes Bankrupt.  Reading from the twelfth chapter of the Book of Luke beginning at verse 16 – Luke chapter 12, beginning at verse 16, and then adding to it Mark chapter 8, verses 36 and 37.  When the Soul Goes Bankrupt

 

And Jesus spake a parable unto them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. 

And he thought within himself, saying, "What shall I do?  I have no room to bestow my fruits."

Then he said, "This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater, there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 

And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease; eat, drink and be merry.’"

But God said unto him, "Thou foolish one!"

– Thou unthinking one! –

"This night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?" 

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

[Luke 12:16-21]

 

God’s business world. 

Now Mark 8:36-37.  Mark 8:36-37: "For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

You would think that our Lord were living today when He tells a parable like this.  Our modern world is engrossed with unbridled, illimitable devotion to material success – the acquisition of material things.  We worship not Jehovah God of heaven, but god of materialism and secularism.  We worship mammon.  The theme and the thesis of modern life is productivity, progress, advancement, achievement, and it is undeniable.  It has been crowned with illimitable and unmeasurable success. 

Travel in the days of Abraham was by foot or by riding a donkey.  Even my great grandfather came to Texas in a covered wagon.  Three times I have flown all the way around the world in an airplane.  What my great grandfather achieved in a summer’s covered wagon trek, I can make today in a few minutes. 

In communication, in the days of Abraham, a letter might be written on a piece of soft clay and baked in the sun; or take a potsherd, a piece of broken jar, and scribble on it a hieroglyphic and send it by a runner.  Think today of our progress in communication: I can sit before a television set and watch the war in El Salvador or in Iraq.  Radio is universal.  It’s a marvel the success and the achievement of modern materialistic devotion. 

Think of building.  The Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Great Wall of China were built by hundreds of thousands of slaves.  Today, in our city of Dallas, these great buildings go up with machines, hoists, levers, crews, and, in some cities, rise to 1,600 feet into the air. 

Think of the luxuries we enjoy today.  When the ancient Roman joined in a Bacchanalia, the festival in behalf of Bacchus, the god of wine, runners brought snow hundreds of miles away down from the Alps in order that the wine might be cooled.  Today each home will have a refrigerator and walk just a few feet for all of the ice that you need.  It’s a remarkable achievement the advancement made in the materialistic luxuries of modern life. 

Samuel Butler, a militant atheist who believed in automatic and inevitable progress said, and I quote, "Give the world time, an infinite number of epochs, and according to its past and present system, like a coming tide each epoch will advance on the other . . . man’s body becoming finer to bear his finer mind, till man becomes not only an angel but an archangel" [The Earnest Atheist: A Study of Samuel Butler, by Malcolm Muggeridge, 1936, page 92].

Progress.  It is wonderful.  It is amazing.  It is spectacular.  It is almost miraculous, but what they forget is this: there is progress also in aerial warfare.  There is progress also in atomic fission – the development of the hydrogen and the [neutron] bomb.  There’s also progress in germ and chemical warfare.  There is also progress in the use of radio and television to disseminate political lies and the subversion of a whole nation.  Progress is an illusion. 

Tell me, after all of these centuries of advancement, are we producing better men today than Abraham or Isaac or Jacob?  Tell me, do you see any evidence that good is triumphing over evil?  We can go, but are we going better places?  We can see, but are we seeing better things?  We can hear, but are we hearing nobler words?  As that big black man said in Ray Crawford’s missionary volume Thinking Black, "To be better off is not to be better."

So the parable of our blessed Lord: "Look at the goods that I have, but what shall I do?  I have not a place to store them, and this shall I do: I’ll build me bigger barns . . . and I’ll say to my soul, ‘ . . . Eat and drink and be merry.’  But God said, ‘Foolish one!  This night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall be all these possessions you’ve stored up for yourself?’" [Luke 12:17-20].  The bankruptcy of the soul.

There are two things that characterize the teachings of our Lord.  Number one is this: the worth, the infinite, heavenly, eternal worth of the soul; and the second one: the transitory, temporal, ephemeral, ultimate worthlessness of everything else. 

In the parable, this man says, "What shall I do?"  There’s not a human being that ever lived that doesn’t ask himself that question:  "What shall I do?" And the everlasting, eternal reply of our Lord is this: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" [Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25].

If I gain the military world, what am I profited?  Alexander the Great conquered the civilized earth and died in Babylon at the age of thirty‑three in a drunken debauchery.  Caesar was assassinated at the foot of the statue of Pompey, his enemy.  Napoleon died in indescribable loneliness and sorrow on the little British island in the South Atlantic, Saint Helena.  I stood at the bunker in East Berlin where Hitler committed suicide. 

I think of that philosopher who was speaking to a young warrior in the long ago day of the Greek; and the young Greek was saying to the philosopher, "I’m going to conquer the world."

And the philosopher said, "How?"

He said, "I’m going to conquer Attica." 

And the philosopher said, "And what then?"

"Then I shall conquer the Peloponnesus." 

And the philosopher said, "And then what?"

"Then I shall conquer Thessaly."

And the philosopher said, "And then what?"

The young warrior said, "Then I shall conquer Macedonia." 

And the philosopher said, "And then what?"

And the young warrior said, "Then I shall conquer Anatolia."

And the philosopher said, "And then what?"

The young fellow, "Then I shall conquer Parthia and Mesopotamia and Syria and Palestine and Egypt."

And the philosopher said, "And then what?"

"Then I shall conquer Cyprus and Crete and Sicily.  I shall conquer the world."

"And then what?" said the philosopher. 

"Then," said the young warrior, "I shall retire to my beautiful villa at Delphi overlooking the Aegean Sea."

And the philosopher said, "Young man, why don’t you do that now and spare the carnage and the bloodshed and the devastation of war?"

Or again, what shall it profit if I become the richest man in this world?  If I gain the whole world, what shall I profit?

A dear wife of one of the richest men ever called for his friend and said, "Jim, come and talk to my husband.  He’s [paranoid].  He’s dying, and he’s obsessed with his hands – with his hands."

And Jim came to visit his old friend, and as they visited, he said, "And your hands, your hands.  I don’t see anything wrong with your hands."

And the dying man said, "Jim, look at them.  They’re so empty!  They’re so empty!"

Gain the world and all that’s in it.  What does it profit?  You young people who listen so intently and reverently, in your history, you’ll read of the first Roman Triumvirate – Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. Crassus.  Crassus was the richest man the world had ever seen.  When the enemies of Pompey, and then of Caesar, were proscribed, Crassus bought their estates for nothing, accumulated them – by far the richest man in the world. 

Somehow there’s something in wealth that never finds satisfaction in itself.  It means more, and it means more, and it means more.  It never ceases: more and more and more.  So Crassus raised a Roman army and turning toward the East, he pillaged the temples of Mesopotamia and of Anatolia and of the temple in Jerusalem of all of their golden wealth, and finally went to war against Parthia, unprovoked, just for the greed of Crassus.  And in that provocation of the Parthians, he was captured and his army was defeated; and the king of the Parthians took Crassus and poured molten gold down his throat, saying, "You want gold?  Here, drink it!"  That’s how Crassus died in Parthia. 

And may I make a little historical aside?  From then on, the eastern flank of the Roman Empire was never secure because of that unprovoked attack against Parthia.  You gain the whole world and all of its wealth, what are you profited? 

What could I say of the social achievements and the glittering life of these who live in another world – from me at least? 

My mother and father are buried in Forest Lawn in the San Fernando Valley overlooking the western sea; and once in a while in these years past, I have walked through that vast mausoleum in Forest Lawn in the San Fernando Valley.  Here is a glittering socialite like Marilyn Monroe.  She committed suicide.  Here is a glittering socialite – died in dissipation like Jean Harlow; and here is a, beyond description in my day, idol of the screen named Rudolph Valentino – died of venereal disease.  What does it profit if you gained the whole social satellite world and lose your own soul? 

My soul is precious to God.  If I were the only soul in this world, Jesus would have died for me if I were the only one.  My soul is precious to God.  Our Lord says that if just one somebody comes to Jesus, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of heaven [Luke 15:7, 10].  My soul is precious to God, and my soul is precious to me.  I live in a house made out of dust, and it will return to the ground from which it came [Genesis 2:7, 3:19]; but the me that lives on the inside shall never die [John 5:24, 10:28, 11:26; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Revelation 20:5-6].  My soul is precious to me. 

 

I am resolved I will not be

The dupe of things I touch and see. 

These figured totals lie to me.

My soul is all that I have. 

 

A builder, I, but not with stone.

The self I am, not flesh or bone. 

My house will ‘dure when stars are gone.

My soul is all that I have. 

 

For me to traffic with my soul,

Would make me brother with the mole. 

The whole world’s wealth is but a dole. 

My soul is all that I have. 

 

O Keeper of the souls of men,

Keep mine for me, from the waste of sin. 

For should it slip my hand, what then?

My soul is all that I have.

["My Soul is All I Have," T. D. Chisholm]

 

And our Lord, help us to be wise: not to store up treasures in this world to be left behind and some day to face God empty-handed; but, Lord, may we be rich toward Thee, growing in the favor and in the love and in the knowledge of our dear Lord.  Bless these great throngs of young people here today that they give themselves to the high calling and purposes of God in Christ Jesus.  Bless this vast throng that when they say in their hearts, "What shall I do?" that they reply, "This shall I do.  I shall serve God first and foremost in my life that my soul might grow toward heaven in all the rich things of our blessed Lord," in whose Name we pray.  Amen.

WHEN THE SOUL GOES BANKRUPT

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 12:15-21, Mark 8:36-37

3-30-83

 

I.          The unbridled emphasis of our modern world on material things

A.  Productivity and progress

      1.  Travel

      2.  Communication

      3.  Building

      4.  Luxuries

B.  Progress of all kinds

C.  Progress is an illusion

 

II.         Two characteristics of the teachings of our Lord

A.  Eternal worth of the soul

B.  Transitory worthlessness of everything else

 

III.        The reply of our Lord

A.   Gain the military world, what profit?

B.   Gain the financial world, what profit

1.  Empty hands

C.  Gain the social world

 

IV.       The soul

A.   Precious to God

B.   Precious to me