Luke’s account of Christ’s ministry in this week’s reading has been narrowing down further and further. Chapter 7 concerned the overall acceptance/rejection of Christ’s authority followed by Christ’s authority over all realms in chapter 8. The focus narrowed in chapters 9 and 10 to three viewpoints of Christ Himself and then more specifically of His message; and became more focused in chapter 11 contrasting the characteristics of the believer vs. the hypocrite. The issues were more “global” dealing with large groups, narrowing down to smaller groups and ultimately to individuals. Chapter 12 is Christ’s gospel focused completely on the individual. It is comprised of 12 individual teachings – each valuable in and of themselves – that are interweaved into the single most important message every person on earth must accept or reject. The entire plan for our lives in this present world and the one to come is plainly revealed in 4 groups of 3 teachings each.
Read verses 1-3
Q: How does this teaching fit with the previous chapter’s topic?
A: Chapter 11 contrasted the believer with the hypocrite. Hypocrisy – as well as true faith – will one day be plainly and clearly exposed.
Q: What should our viewpoint be of our life if we believe this to be true?
A: We should live knowing that every thought, choice and action will one day be exposed as either being for Christ or for ourselves.
Read verses 4-7
Q: How does verse 4 fit in with the teaching in verses 1-3?
A: Since everything will be exposed, the REAL issue is not THIS life but the NEXT.
Q: What is the message to us personally about the sparrows in verses 6 and 7?
A: We are personally valuable to God. He is providing for our good in THIS life which will translate to even GREATER good in the next.
Read verses 8-12
Q: What do verses 8 and 9 have in common?
A: Actions on earth before men and their result before angels in Heaven.
Q: What is significant about the word “confess”? Isn’t “know” or “acknowledge” or even “believe” enough?
A: We know from Scripture that Satan and his demons all “believe”, “know” and even “acknowledge” Jesus Christ but they have not confessed Him as their Savior nor seek redemption through Him.
Q: What is the test for BOTH this life and the one to come?
A: Public confession of Christ our Savior.
Q: What are the two kinds of persecution being described in verse 4 compared to verses 11-12?
A: Verse 4 is physical persecution, verses 11-12 convey spiritual persecution. Because our eyes are transfixed on the assurance of our eternal life with Christ, there is nothing in this world that can actually invoke irreparable harm.
Summary #1: This life is an extension/precursor of the next, REAL life.
Do we truly act like every thought, decision and action will one day be revealed in the light of God’s truth?
Do we live like it’s more important to publicly confess Christ as Savior than just “live like a Christian should live”?
Do we understand that God values us and has good things for us; that temporary “setbacks” or “deficiencies” may be leading to a greater good in the life to come?
Read verses 13-21
Q: In this example, if Jesus had decided the issue of property rights for the man, what kind of “reward” would the man get?
A: Just an earthly reward. There would not have been any lasting effect for the next life where it matters most.
Q: According to verses 19 and 20, what is the specific thing that’s at stake? Both man and God make it the focus.
A: The soul. At stake is something far greater than personal wealth or possessions. It’s a false belief to associate earthly wealth and comfort with eternal security for one’s soul, the only possession you “take” with you from this life.
Q: Reverse verse 21 and state it as a principle for how we should live.
A: Store not treasure for yourself so that you’ll be rich toward God.
Read verses 22-32
Q: Why shouldn’t we worry about the needs of this life?
A: God more than amply provides.
Q: In verse 30 the distinction is made between what WE seek and what “the nations of the world eagerly seek.” Aren’t we members of one of the nations?
A: Not if, as stated in verse 31, we seek His kingdom. We become part of a new “nation”, a new kingdom that is rooted in eternity, not in this temporary earth.
Q: Is it hard to find the kingdom of God, to measure up to attaining it?
A: No. According to verse 32, He has already given it to us.
Read verses 33-34
Q: If our eternal soul’s health lies in heaven, and God has chosen to make us part of His new kingdom, where does our treasure lie?
A: Where we have set our hearts: Jesus and our eternal life with Him.
Summary #2: Set your heart on the things of the next life.
Are we making decisions for the eternal well-being of our soul?
Do we live as citizens of God’s kingdom or as members of an earthly kingdom?
Is our heart aligned with our future?
Read verses 35-38
Q: Within the context of the teachings so far, what does it mean to be “dressed in readiness”?
A: That we live, knowing that this life will come to an end without notice and we will live with our treasure.
Read verses 39-40
Q: Is this really a warning just about the Second Coming? Why not fear the end of our lives by natural death?
A: Both are the same. Whether through the Second Coming or through death, we will “meet” the Son of Man and will bear the consequences or rewards for where we have set our hearts and treasure.
Read verses 41-48
Q: How has the focus changed in this teaching?
A: Whereas previous discussions focused on things we need or want, here we’re discussing a thing that God has given or entrusted.
Q: On a practical level for each of us, what is the “thing” God has given or entrusted to us?
A: Many answers: Spiritual gifts, physical gifts, talents, abilities, opportunities, etc. They have a common tie in that ALL are to be used to attain heavenly treasure, not earthly.
Summary #3: We will be held accountable.
Are you “dressed in readiness”?
Are you ready to meet the Son of Man tomorrow? Tonight?
Are you ready to make an account of that which He has entrusted you with?
Read verses 49-53
Q: Why is there no peace concerning Christ during this, His First Coming? Why division?
A: Luke 11:23, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” There is no middle ground concerning Christ – you’ve either confessed Him as your Savior or rejected Him.
Read verses 54-56
Q: Based on your interpretation of the signs of this present time that we live in, what is the best choice – to focus on the needs of this life or the next?
A: [Hopefully this is a rhetorical question.]
Read verses 57-59
Q: Is this really just a teaching about lawsuits and personal reconciliation?
A: In the context of these teachings Christ is stating that time will run out. Make the right choice while you still have the opportunity.
Summary #4: The outcome is completely up to our personal choice.
Are we 100% committed to Christ? Do understand that 99% committed is viewed by Him as rejection?
Are we interpreting the signs of our time correctly, motivating a deeper commitment to Him?
Are we taking advantage of the opportunity still before us to choose Him over everything else?
This sequence of teachings covers the personal gospel Christ came to convey to each of us:
THIS life is a precursor to the next, REAL life.
Set your heart not on the things of this life but on the things of the next life.
Regardless of where you set your heart, you will be held accountable.