Too Much to Gain to Lose
Sunday, January 10, 2009
By Pastor James May
Last year the career of one of the great names in gospel music, Dottie Rambo, came to an end. She was very well known in gospel music circles for the many great songs that she had written. Many of those songs are still popular today. But there’s one song that she sang that I really liked for it is exemplifies why I serve the Lord, and why I choose to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The title of that song was “There’s Just too Much to Gain to Lose.”
Over the years there have been many who have come into the doors of the church and have confessed a belief in Jesus as the Savior. Some continued to walk with the Lord in faithful service; and sadly many have chosen to pursue a life that has led them further from the Lord than they ever expected.
As a pondered this in my heart and mind, I wondered: Why do people cast aside the great and precious promises of God’s Word and consider them as unnecessary in the fulfillment of their dreams and goals? Is there anything of this world that is worth the risk of losing what I consider to be the most important thing of all; and that is the hope of the resurrection and eternal life in a place that Jesus told us that He would prepare for those who would serve him?
Now, as you can see from the picture, perhaps my little “pea sized brain” is incapable of coming up with the answer for such deep questions. Even so, there are at least two obvious answers that come to my mind concerning these questions.
1)Those that reject or ignore the reality of the promises that Jesus makes are not convinced that they are true. This idea can easily be seen in the words of those who say that the Bible is just a Fairy Tale or a great work of literature, but do not believe that it is the infallible Words of a Living God, and a blueprint for living a life that is pleasing to God. Many of these folks have even come to the conclusion, though their use of logic and acceptance of the teachings of non-believers that God doesn’t exist anyway, so why worry about serving Him.
2)The second answer to explain why some cast aside their faith is that they have been blinded to the truth and have lost their vision of Christ; having that vision of eternal things replaced with a vision that concerns itself only with the temporal things of the world. It’s not that they do not believe in eternal life, or in the existence of an eternal God who reigns over the whole of Creation. It’s simply that they are consumed in the cares of life and have no time for God.
It seems that the best way for me to bring the message to you this morning is to use what the Word of God has to say. After all, I believe that God’s Word is a Living Word, and it is capable of saying what it has to say without any help from me.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Since the words written on the pages of the Bible carry the power within themselves to accomplish in the hearts of men what God wants to accomplish, then it is best to allow them to do their work without the interference of men.
Isaiah 55:8, 9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As I searched the Word of God to find an answer to these questions, I was drawn to what the Apostle Paul wrote as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to address the church that was at Philippi. One of Paul’s concerns was that those who were in Philippi might fall prey to the idea that they were right in their own eyes. He voices this concern by saying that if any man could say that he was good enough in his own mind to be accepted by God, then Paul was better than most, yet he considered himself as unworthy to face God with only his own deeds and accomplishments as proof of his worthiness.
Philippians 3:4-6, "Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."
What kind of qualifications do we think that we may have that are good enough to earn us a place in God’s Kingdom forever? What work of the flesh is acceptable? What accomplishments are great enough to count toward the cleansing of our sin? What position could we hold in this world that would impress God enough for Him to say, “You earned the right to be a part of Heaven. Just come on in as you are”?
Paul had all of the qualifications that the Law of Moses required. This was the Law that God himself had given to Moses on the top of Mt. Sinai; the same Law that the people of Israel had depended upon for generations; believing that obedience to the Law would be all that God required to enter into their eternal reward.
1)He had fulfilled the requirement of the Law to be circumcised at the age of eight days. His family were lawful citizens and people who feared God and they wanted their son to be in full compliance that he might be pleasing to God.
2)He was a descendant of David, the King of Israel, and a pure blooded member of the nation that God had chosen as His own people to be God’s messengers in the earth. Paul gives his ancestral roots to prove his point that no one could be more qualified to be called a Son of David than he was.
3)Paul was also a Pharisee, which was the strictest religious sect in all of Israel. If anyone would enter Heaven’s Gates because of adherence to the Law it would be a Pharisee; and Paul was chief among the Pharisees. He not only obeyed the Law to the letter; but he taught others to do the same.
4)No one could have been more zealous to pleasing God through fulfilling the requirements of the Law. Paul persecuted those who refused to obey God’s Law.
5)If any man could be considered blameless before God because of the life that he lived; it was Paul
But Paul’s point in saying all of this was that obedience to the Law of Moses; fulfilling every point of it in full had nothing whatsoever to do with whether he was ready to meet God or not. In fact, as we all know, Paul had to come to the point in his life where he knew that he would never be good enough within his own power; that no accomplishments in his life were good enough to earn him the right to Heaven; and that his faith and trust must be placed in something far better than his own abilities and his own self-righteousness.
In reaching this conclusion Paul discovered that there was a better way; an easier way to inherit eternal life and to be pleasing to God. It was a simple matter of surrendering his will to God’s will; and then answering the call of God upon his life to do what God wanted him to rather than what Paul wanted to do.
Paul suddenly discovered that everything else in life meant nothing if it didn’t bring him to the point where he knew that all was right between him and God. He could have no real peace within; he could have no joy in his life; he could never feel a true sense of accomplishment; and he could never make his life truly count for anything unless he gave it all to Jesus and let the Lord be the master of his destiny.
Thus we read Paul’s own words, the conclusion that he had reached in Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…”
Having thus reached this point of decision to cast aside everything in life that would hinder him from serving the Lord, Paul then says that life is a long battle and one that must be won and can only be won in serving the Lord. The highest calling a man or woman can have is the call of God upon their lives to do a work for the Lord, wherever and whatever that work may be.
That’s why Paul then said in Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Now, in my own life I have discovered this same great Truth that Paul discovered. Nothing in life is so important; no job too great; no relationship worth keeping; no dreams worth accomplishing; if the price of gaining those things means leaving the call of God to live and work for Him. There is no greater life than living for Jesus. It is the only life that will end with no regrets; nothing to apologize for; and no reason to wish you had done something different with your life.
That’s not to say that life doesn’t carry disappointments and failures if you serve the Lord. What it does mean is that regardless of the disappointments and the failures, you will still come to the end of your days with a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, knowing that in spite of all that has gone wrong – your life will count for something greater than it could have in any other way.
No matter what your chosen field of occupation; what you can accomplish with the Lord leading you is far greater than what you can do on your own. If you are going to try to change the world to be a better place to live, then why not partner yourself with the Giver of Life and the Infinite Intelligence, Omniscient knowledge; Ever-present and Omnipotent God that can help you every step of the way? Doesn’t it just make sense to do that?
There are those who would ask, “Why do you continue to believe in God when most of the world denies his existence? Why do you keep preaching his Word when so few are willing to listen? Why do you place your faith in that which you cannot see, feel, hear or touch?
My answer to those questions is simply this, “In addition to be absolutely convinced that God does exist because I feel Him in my heart, I have nothing to lose by continuing to serve the Lord. The life that I have lived for Jesus is better than any life that I could have chosen on my own. I have seen His hand guiding me at every turn, and I am convinced that God has brought me to this place; at this hour, to do what I am doing. To that I have no doubt, and I know that my life has counted for something far greater than what I can see or imagine. Only God knows what the life of a Christian accomplishes in this world. I believe that we will see what our life has truly meant, but it will only be after we get on the other side.
What if I am wrong? What if the Bible is only a Fairy Tale? What if God doesn’t exist? What if the whole world was right and it’s all a lie?
Well, in the first place I don’t believe I am wrong. I’m convinced that Word of God is the Truth and that God does exist, and that someday I will inherit eternal life. But what if all that is a life, what then?
My answer is – “Is eternity without God worth the risk of not believing?” If I’m wrong, then I will still be happy with my life and I believe that I’ll live forever in a place of wonder, beauty and peace called Heaven. If I’m wrong then I’ll simply cease to exist, but my life will have been spent in the best way that I could hope for.
What if the world is wrong? What if there really is a God; that Heaven is real, and that a place of eternal punishment for those who don’t believe God is real? What if they have spent their lives doing their own will, leaving the things of God out completely, and then come to the end of their days without God? Is the cost of eternity in hell worth the risk?
As I come to the close of this message I want to bring your attention to a few of the lyrics of the song that I mentioned in the beginning. I think you will see why I believe that those who live for Christ truly have “Too Much to Gain to Lose”.
I’ve lived for God since I was a small child, and I’ve been in church all my life. I know that the hand of God has led me through all of the trials I have faced.
In high school, it was God that led me to go up onto the football stadium every day and witness to friends about Jesus rather than sit with crowd and talk about the parties they had been to and the things they had done.
In college, it was God that was directing my path to find the woman who would be my lifelong friend and partner; someone who would stand by me for nearly 42 years now. That is a rare find in today’s world, and one that I wouldn’t trade for a thousand others. So what if I didn’t get my engineering degree? I’ve found that college is great, but life itself is a powerful teacher and with God’s help, you can really get an education through everything you face.
In Vietnam, and my military experience, it was the Hand of God alone that kept me from harm and brought me safely home so that I could do the work of the Lord. Many did not have it so good, and those few short years of war have had a profound effect upon every day that they have lived since. Many have not come to peace within themselves over it all, but God gave me that peace a long time ago at an altar of prayer.
Through the raising of my children, God has been there too. He healed them when they were sick; protected them when they were doing some things that they shouldn’t have; and I can see the Hand of God working to bring them to where God wants them to be and in time it will come to pass.
Through the building of this church, God’s hand has been there. Without Him there would be no church.
I suppose that what I’m saying is this:
There’s too many miles behind me
Too many trails are through
Too many tears help me remember
There's to much to gain to lose.
Too many sunsets lie behind the mountain
Too many rivers my feet have walked through
Too many treasures are waiting over yonder
There's too much to gain to lose.
There’s too many treasures are waiting over yonder
Too many friends and family are standing and waiting
Too many days have gone forever; less to go than have gone on before.
There's just simply too much to gain to lose!
What do you have to lose this morning by serving the Lord? What could you lose if you don’t. I simply want to ask, “Do you know Jesus? Are you serving Him? Will your life really count in the end? Where will you spend eternity, because I can asssure you that it’s all true.”
I believe that you have too much to gain, to lose it all by rejecting Christ.” It’s a foolish man who will gamble with something that is priceless and that’s what we do if we gamble with our eternal soul. Don’t be a foolish gambler. Give your life to Jesus and serve Him. He wants to give you a greater life than you ever thought possible, and eternal life when this life is over.