Posts Tagged ‘Warren Buffett’

Sermon 04-08-18: “No Other Gospel”

April 19, 2018

Like a former addict who suffers a dangerous relapse, the Christians to whom the apostle Paul is addressing today’s scripture are themselves facing a kind of relapse—only one that is far more dangerous than a relapse to illicit drugs. Because this “relapse” risks destroying not merely their bodies but their very souls as well… for eternity! And it’s a dangerous threat for us present-day Christians, too! What am I referring to? Listen to the sermon and find out!

As I said last week, my preaching style has changed somewhat. I preached from an outline, not a manuscript—with much ad-libbing. So the following manuscript, which I wrote from memory after the fact, will be different, to some extent, from what I preached.

Sermon Text: Galatians 1:1-10

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Back in 1985, when I was 15, I saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Omni in Atlanta. Do you remember the Omni? It was one of the first concerts I went to, and I became a lifelong Tom Petty fan. So, like many of you, I was deeply saddened when he died late last year. The initial report was that he suffered cardiac arrest. Then about a month later, a medical examiner reported that he died of an opioid overdose. He had broken his hip while on tour last year, and—because the “show must go on,” he was prescribed a powerful narcotic called fentanyl, which is, like, 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Petty confessed in a recent autobiography that he became addicted to heroin in the mid- to late-’90s. But he got clean. So his addiction to this latest opioid represented a tragic relapse.

In a way, this is what Paul is dealing with in Galatia—a relapse of a sort. Except a relapse into opioid addiction would be far less harmful, from Paul’s perspective, because it could only destroy the body. Whereas the relapse that the Galatians are facing could potentially destroy their souls!

So what do I mean when I say “relapse”?

To answer that, we need to ask ourselves: What did Paul preach to the Galatians? What ideas did he build his ministry on? What message was Paul willing to suffer and die for? He tells us in the greeting of letter, verses 3 through 5: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

This is Paul’s gospel in a nutshell! Let’s look at some of the key words and phrases.

“Grace”: The free gift of God. We can do nothing to earn it: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. “Peace”: This is the end result of receiving this gift. Prior to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross—and our faith in it—we were not at peace; we were incapable of achieving peace; there was a state of enmity between us and God. Paul says in Romans 5:10 that we were “enemies… reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” But the end result of Christ’s death is described in Romans 5:1: “[S]ince we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 09-03-17: “Dead Faith Can’t Save Us”

October 3, 2017

My previous sermon was about the classic Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. But that sermon didn’t mention the 800-lb. gorilla in the room: What about good works? Don’t they play a necessary role? In fact, doesn’t the apostle James warn that “a person is justified by works and not faith alone” (v. 24)? Is James contradicting Paul? This sermon answers these questions.

Sermon Text: James 2:14-26

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Yesterday, Sports Illustrated wrote the following: “J.J. Watt might be the best defensive player in the NFL, but literally nothing he has done or will do on the field can ever top what he’s done for the city of Houston in the past week.” Have you heard about what the defensive end for the Houston Texans has done? Last Sunday, he launched a fundraiser to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. His goal was a substantial, but very doable goal for someone of his means and influence: $200,000. That goal was surpassed in less than two hours. Donations continued to pour in, and as they did so, he kept upping the goal and upping the goal and upping the goal. As of yesterday, he’s raised over $17 million.

Seventeen million dollars. And counting. So here’s a question: One day, when Christ returns, and J.J. Watt stands alongside everyone else who’s ever lived, and faces God in Final Judgment, will this generous, selfless act of his count in his favor—toward his salvation?

I’m reminded of something that Warren Buffett, the world’s second richest man, said after he announced a few years ago that he would donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations. When asked to comment on this extreme act of generosity, he said, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”

So… Is Buffett right? Will 85 percent of $44 billion—which is $37.4 billion—and Watt’s $17 million and counting help either of these men get into heaven? Read the rest of this entry »

“Supplying Every Need,” Day 4: Our pockets are always empty before God

October 29, 2015

cover_graphic3I recently created a 14-day devotional booklet for my church called “Supplying Every Need.” We’re using it to prepare for our upcoming Stewardship Commitment Sunday on November 8. I will be posting a devotional each day between now and then. Enjoy!

Warren Buffett is the world’s second-richest man. Several years ago, he announced that he would donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations. When asked to comment on this extreme act of generosity, he said, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”

This statement is wrong on many levels. First, it’s wrong because there’s only one way to get to heaven, as Jesus makes clear in John 14:6 when he says that he’s the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him. And he’s wrong when he says that doing good things like giving away most of your fortune will get you into heaven. We can do nothing to earn God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. Even $44 billion can’t pay for it. It’s all grace.

This is why, I think, Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God belongs to little children, and unless we become like them we’ll never inherit it: Children depend completely on their parents for survival. Everything they receive is a gift, not a “payment for services rendered.”

The Warren Buffetts of the world imagine that they have to pay for everything, and their generosity comes from their own pockets. A child’s pockets, by contrast, are always empty. They know they have nothing in and of themselves. What they do have comes from their parents.

And this is the secret to generosity toward God: We know that whatever we give comes from our heavenly Father. And we give generously, the way the Lord wants us to, because we know that there’s more where that came from.

Think of ways that children trust in their parents. What can children teach you about trusting in our heavenly Father?

Sermon 07-19-15: “Then Who Can Be Saved?”

August 6, 2015
Nicholas Winton risks everything to save the lives of children in Czechoslovakia before the war.

Nicholas Winton risks everything to save the lives of children in Czechoslovakia before the war.

When we read the story of the Rich Young Ruler, aren’t we often tempted to identify with the “hero” of this story, Jesus, and think, “What’s wrong with this young man, that he was unwilling to do what Jesus asked of him?” One purpose of this sermon, however, is to help us identify with the one with whom we have most in common: the Rich Young Ruler. Are we so different from him? Do we often live our lives as if Jesus is more valuable than anything or anyone else? 

Sermon Text: Mark 10:13-27

[No sermon video this week. To listen, click the playhead above or right-click here to download an MP3.]

The following is my original sermon manuscript. It may differ slightly from what I said.

Do you know the name Oskar Schindler? Of course you do. His story was made famous by Steven Spielberg in the movie Schindler’s List. Schindler was a German industrialist who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during World War II. But do you know the name Nicholas Winton?

Probably not—and if he had his way, Sir Nicholas, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2003, would be unknown by everyone outside of family and friends. But he didn’t get his way: and when he died two weeks ago at the ripe old age of 106, obituaries in newspapers around the world honored him and his legacy.

Like Schindler, Sir Nicholas saved Jews from being deported to concentration camps. Specifically, he rescued 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia just before the war started. In December 1938, Winton went to Prague and spearheaded an effort to transport Jewish children to safety in Britain. As the New York Times reported, his rescue effort involved “dangers, bribes, forgery, secret contacts with the Gestapo, nine railroad trains, an avalanche of paperwork, and a lot of money”—much of it his own. Read the rest of this entry »