Truth or Dare (Intro)

Cup 1 In this study, called Truth or Dare, we have been examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. We have explored seven of the more poisonous libations found in the world’s chalices, and compared them to the life giving liquid that exists in the cup of Christ.

The first three chalices were filled with three very similar toxicants:

Physical Wealth

Physical Power

Physical Pleasure

These three particular vices, we discovered, are very closely linked because any one of them will aid us in acquiring any one, or all, of the others listed.

In other words, if I were to suddenly become a billionaire, and had access to more physical wealth than any one person could spend in a lifetime, then I could use my money to acquire positions of power over others and enjoy any physical pleasure my mind could conceive. Also, if I managed to gain a position of power first, then I could begin to use my influence to gain the monetary wealth I desired and consume the pleasures of my worldly heart. Then again, if one intently chased after the numerous pleasures that this world has to offer, that overwhelming desire to find satisfaction in such things could goad one along until they were wealthy enough or powerful enough to access them.

Physical wealth, power, and pleasure — all three available to humanity. All three are a part of our human condition, but all three can be very toxic and deadly if consumed from Satan’s chalice. As each of these three articles showed, it’s only when we quench our thirst for physical wealth, power, and pleasure from the “cup of Christ” that we can really be satisfied and escape their harmful side effects. Poison 3 Why? Well, just like with any hard drink if you don’t regulate how much you consume (either by drinking very little of it or by “watering” it down) the potency of that beverage will eventually overtake you. In Christ’s cup, all of our natural, physical desires become mixed with spiritual living water — God’s divine “fruit of the vine” — the holy, blameless blood of Jesus Christ. Consuming this recipe ensures us of life; life filled with an abundance of real joy.

In the three articles that followed physical wealth, power, and pleasure, we discovered that there were other dangerous drinks awaiting our consumption. The three additional toxicants examined were:




Within these three special vices we saw traces of the first three toxins, but also examined some very dangerous ideologies specific to each of these issues.

For example, from within religion, philosophy, and knowledge you can find traces of our desire for physical power. Humanity’s lust for control will drive mankind to abuse their search for spiritual guidance, mental peace, and understanding of all things spiritual and physical. Thus the resulting concoctions reveal a variety of poisonous drinks, as false or legalistic religions appear, worldly ideologies that promote self-centeredness become our focus, and empty teachings that lack the wisdom of God ultimately destroy our lives.

Then our final article disclosed the main ingredient, the base substance, mixed into each drink served up in the chalice of Satan. What’s this staple element of potency? Selfishness. No matter what drink Satan chooses to tempt you with, it will always be heavily lined with a huge portion of selfishness.

Selfishness is the one ingredient certain to remove our gaze from God and His statutes, and place them inward towards our own desires and wants. As long as we continue to over indulge in the libation of selfishness, then Satan knows we will never successfully surrender our lives over to God (Proverbs 18:1; Romans 2:8; James 3:16). Yahweh will never be respected as our sovereign Creator, Jesus will never truly be our Lord, and the Holy Spirit will never really be our guide.

Humanity, as we stated in our introductory article, has a choice. We can embrace the dares that Satan dictates to us, and then experience eternal death, or we can choose to embrace God’s truth, and live forever.

Drunkeness 1 By drinking from Satan’s chalice, our spiritual senses become dulled, forcing us to look death in the face and act as if nothing is wrong; as if all is right and normal. Those that make this choice act on the lie that truth is relevant to their own wants and desires. They accept Satan’s lie that says absolute truth is really the biggest falsehood of the ages. The one really big problem with that — you can’t make the truth go away, and escape it’s consequences, by simply choosing to not believe in it. Famed American science-fiction author Philip K. Dick acknowledged this when he said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Merriam-Webster defines the chalice as a: (noun) a drinking cup — goblet. Wikipedia says a chalice is “a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general . . . it is intended for drinking during a ceremony.” Most chalices are formed from a precious metal or made of crystal, then they are lined with precious stones and jewels. The reason is they are meant to “wow” and impress people. These aren’t cups for every day use. These are special vessels meant to be used for special occasions.

The term “poisoned chalice” exists, because somewhere in human history someone figured out that the glitz and the glamour of these goblets, used during a celebration or feast, is so distracting that no one would ever consider questioning the liquid being served in it. Today this term is applied to a thing or a situation which appears to be good, at first, but when it is received or experienced it becomes, or is eventually found to be, dangerous. This is why I refer to the lies humanity receives from Satan as a “chalice filled with poison.”

Scripture also compares the truth of God and the lies of Satan as drinks to be consumed by us. Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.” (1 Corinthians 10:21a) Real truth can only be consumed from the “cup of Christ.” Why? First, because Jesus spoke of Himself as being real truth (John 1:17, 14:6, 18:37) and second, because Christ calls us to consume His truth from His cup (John 4:1-26, 6:53, 7:37-38; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

People cannot find the way to experiencing everlasting life by partaking of any old drink from within any old vessel. Not even if the world decorates their vessels with precious metals, stones, and jewels. No matter how much gold and silver is shaped and formed; no matter how many fine and rare stones or jewels adorn the chalice, it won’t make the poison in it any safer for our consumption.

Cup 9 Christ’s cup appears simple. It’s not adorned with fancy jewels and other distractions. The “cup of Christ” is plain, understated, and accessible to all. Christ’s cup is absent of fancy decor, because it’s not the drink of selfish, pious, and pompous people. Christ’s cup is to be consumed by the selfless, sincere, and humble human. Men and women capable of surrendering their lives to God, in exchange for the substance that grants them eternal life — the blood of Christ. It’s only by drinking in the sufferings of Jesus — now, in this physical world — that we can be allowed access to the wondrous inheritance of God’s Son.

I’ll close with this thought concerning mankind’s endless search for truth and eternal life. It will require us to return to the chamber of the Holy Grail, that we spoke of in our introductory article. As we all stand there, contemplating the various chalices we could drink from, remember this phrase — low probability verses high impact.

No matter how many religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies perk your interests and pleasure your spirit, consider the probability of their being true verses God’s Word being true. Consider the impact these religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies will have on your eternal soul verses the impact that God will have on your soul. If you believe there is at least a one percent probability that, when you die, you will be judged by this holy God spoken of in the Holy Bible, and in this series, then you had better seriously consider the cup of Christ. It only requires that you look past the glitz and the glamour of all the other chalices in the chamber, and (as the guardian said) choosing your cup wisely.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, an Italian author from Florence, has been told in many different ways since it was first printed in book form in 1883. Though the story began, in 1881, as a series of children’s stories being printed for a newspaper in Rome, it has since been translated into several languages, and has become a play, television show, musical, and movie. Pleasure 3 Of these variations, none have been as well received world wide as the 1940 motion picture, animated feature, from Walt Disney Studios.

Released to theaters by RKO Radio Pictures, this children’s story, now simply known as Pinocchio, became Walt Disney’s second full length animated film to receive an Academy Award. In fact, Pinocchio received two Oscar’s and was only Disney’s second attempt at a full length animation. It will be Disney’s version of this popular story that I will use to illustrate why it is important to consider the “cup of Christ” before giving into the “chalice” of hedonistic pleasure.

Pinocchio was a wooden marionette carved by a poor, lonely wood carver named Geppetto, and brought to life by a compassionate, blue fairy. The blue fairy, upon bringing Pinocchio to life, tells the puppet that he can become a real boy if he proves to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish.”

To help Pinocchio along in his quest, the blue fairy appoints a cricket to be the puppet’s official conscience. The cricket, named Jiminy, is eager to oblige, but it doesn’t take long before Pinocchio is ignoring his friendly conscience and following a whole host of unsavory characters right into trouble. Two of the most dangerous, and reoccurring, tempters in Pinocchio’s life were the fox and the cat.

Honest John (the fox) and Gideon (the cat) weren’t the most dangerous because they were the most evil and vengeful — No. The fox and the cat were most dangerous because, unlike the other characters, they had convinced Pinocchio that they were trust worthy friends. Strong confidants. Friends that only wanted to give Pinocchio the best advice and counsel that any one could give, and they were so good at their con that they were able to get the little marionette to ignore his appointed conscience, Jiminy.

One of Honest John’s, and Gideon’s, most fiendish lies came about from a deal they had struck with a sinister Coachman, in a local tavern. The Coachman tells the fox, and the cat, about a side business of his. You see, the Coachman went about “collecting stupid little boys” and taking them to a place called Pleasure Island. The Coachman then offers Honest John, and Gideon, a cash reward for every boy they bring to him. Well, it’s not long before they set their target on Pinocchio, and trick him into a trip to Pleasure Island.

So, what is so very bad about a place called Pleasure Island? Nothing at first. Pleasure Island was simply a place where little boys could enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere. It was a place where there were no adults to supervise, or discipline. A place where little boys were encouraged to enjoy all the pleasures that their little hearts could contend with. Even if it was something like gambling, smoking, getting drunk, fighting, or wanton destruction. What ever they wished to do, they could do. Sounds pretty incredible. Do what you wish — no “strings” attached. Well, no strings that they were able to see.

It seems that once on the island, and once these little boys had partaken in their wanton hedonism, these little boys, including Pinocchio, would partake in a dastardly transformation. A transformation that would begin from within and continue until it had over taken them completely. You see, as these little boys began to behave like little proverbial “jackasses,” they actually — magically — transformed into real jackasses. Yes! Long ears, wiry, fur-covered skin, buckteeth, hooves — the works — and once transformed, they were sold either to work in the salt mines or as exhibits in the side shows, with the circus.

How many of us can relate to this puppet’s plight? We want to do right by our Creator, but we constantly choose to listen to the Devil’s lies, rather than the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice of truth. We choose to allow our desire to be happy today — now — this instant to rule our every thought. We so want to be gratified, mentally and physically, that we forget about the needs of the spirit. We sacrifice the eternal for the temporal, and then awaken one day as slaves in Satan’s “salt mines” or “circus side shows.” We cry for help, but our plight is only heard by the physical world as nothing more than the brays of a jackass.

Pleasure, in and of itself, is not the real issue. Pleasure, alone, didn’t trap Pinocchio and the other little boys. No, the real issue for us, Pinocchio, and the little boys in the story, is our lust for self gratification. Self gratification says, “You’ve worked hard for this money, and they didn’t pay you what you deserve. Go ahead and steal the money — you’ve earned it.” Self gratification will tell someone, “This person’s been flirting with you long enough. You know they like you, so go ahead and do with them what you wish. They’ll appreciate your having made the decision for them.” The gratification of one’s self always — ALWAYS, mind you — comes with a consequence to both others and yourself. Those consequences can never be avoided.

When we live to please ourselves, without thought of others or the ramifications that will transpire, then we leave ourselves open to the sweet, yet dangerous, enticements of hedonistic pleasure. We like pleasure. We want to trust that pleasure is our friend, that it only wants what is best for our well being. But it’s only when pleasure is contained in the eternal truths of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, that it can be to our benefit. Pleasure, achieved by way of self gratification, is simply going to cause hurt, pain, and possibly even death. Sure, it may be sweet ambrosia at it’s climax, but you will come down from that peak and step into a valley of disappointment or even fall into a chasm of destruction.

The dangers of pleasing one’s self is a lot like how Eskimos supposedly rid themselves of wolves. It’s said that Eskimos will create a “pop-cycle,” from frozen animal’s blood, and a large, sharp hunting knife. Once the blood has been frozen onto the knife’s blade, the handle of the knife is frozen into the ground. This leaves the savory, yet dangerous, treat exposed above the icy turf.

Wolf 1 Wolves, passing by, will smell the blood and begin to lick at the sumptuous goodie, never realizing the danger at it’s center. By the time a wolf’s tongue meets the sharp blade of the knife, its too numb to know that it is no longer licking the blood of some other animal — no — the blood it is now feverishly enjoying is the very blood from its own sliced and mangled mouth. The more the blood streams onto the blade the more excited the wolf gets until nothing remains but a severely maimed mouth and a very dead wolf.

Satan uses physical pleasure much in this way. Each of us are hunted by him (1 Peter 5:8). The Devil watches us and learns of our enjoyments. Then Satan sets up a customized “pop-cycle” of deadly pleasures, just for us. We smell it, and look it over, but if we pursue the consumption of it, before listening to the council of God, we will certainly bear the pain of it. We may even die while trying to enjoy it.

Pinocchio learned his lesson the hard way, but through a selfless act, and the kindness of the blue fairy, he was able to receive redemption and became the real boy he was purposed to be. You and I can’t sacrifice enough to receive redemption (Romans 6:23a), nor do we have a kind, blue fairy waiting to help us, but we do have a benevolent Creator, one Who became as one of us (John 1:1-18). Our Creator over came the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). God, in human form, endured pain and suffering for us. God suffered and sacrificed Himself for our redemption (John 3:16-17). All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and we too can become the true worshipers of God, we were purposed to be.

In part two, of our study, we will look at several types of pleasure. We will discuss both the good and the bad that revolves around sexual pleasure, in particular, and we will reveal what King Solomon discovered after he drank heavily from the chalice of pleasure.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Pinocchio © 1940, 2009 Buena Vista and Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article II, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 2)

In Article II, part one, we began looking into the choice we have in life to embrace the chalice of power or the cup of Christ. In this introductory article we saw how power, apart from God’s intent, is raw, roguish, and destructive; very much like a cancer cell is to a healthy cell. Grace 1 We also ended the article by naming the cure for this cancerous force, and that cure is God’s grace. But, what is grace, really?

The word “grace” holds a variety of meanings. Sometimes grace is an attitude of refinement, politeness, and other times it’s a reference to ones apparent flawless muscular coordination. From a financial perspective it’s a time in which a delinquent payment can be paid without penalties being accrued; politically it can become a title. From a perspective of spirituality the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace as both a noun and a verb:

(noun) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings//a divinely given talent or blessing: the graces of the Holy Spirit//the condition or fact of being favored by someone: he fell from grace because of drug use at the Olympics.

(verb) do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one’s presence: she bowed out from the sport she has graced for two decades.

In the book entitled Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, by Max Lucado, the word “grace” get’s this description:

Grace is simply another word for God’s reservoir of strength and protection. Not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We barely regain our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another!”

Grace, real godly grace, is strength. God’s grace is power! That is why grace is both a noun (person, place, or thing) and a verb (being and doing). Grace is free, and can only be acquired from God. Grace is a divine blessing from God and mankind can honor Him, and others, with godly grace just as He has honored us with it. Grace truly is God’s chemotherapy for Satan’s cancerous perversion of power.

I have discovered that humanity will meet with three types of power, while living here on earth. These three types of power are very closely connected, and are as follows:

– Physical: anything involving the human body, its senses, and its sexuality.
– Mental: anything involving the human mind.
– Spiritual: anything involving the human spirit/soul; things of a religious nature.

Physical power can be manifested in several ways, but these three particular forms are most prevalent. First, it can appear to us as political power (governmental affairs of a given country), second is monetary power (financial affairs involving currency), and third is emotional or sexual power (affairs relating to the most basic of human instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact).

Mental power is exhibited when someone manages to gain influence or control over someone else’s thought processes. Advertisers use mental influences to sell products. Politicians use aspects of mental control to gain your support. Men and women, alike, use this type of sway to connect with one another and mate. Psychologists utilize this type of power to help heal their patients. Hypnotherapists do the same, all be it in a more invasive way.

Spiritual power, just as these other two-forms of power, are used for the soul purpose of controlling the unseen. Satan attempts to stay in power over mankind by influencing our spirits to rebel against following God’s statutes. Religious leaders make use of this power to attract people to their churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues, and to promote their belief systems. God uses His powers over the unseen to restore humanity to Himself, through the gift of His divine grace, and to make us the true worshipers that He originally created us to be.

Power, both perverse and pure, exists all around us. No one form of power is ever initiated without the use of the other forms. Though we see ourselves as physical beings we still use mental and spiritual powers, either for good or for bad. Though we conceive ourselves as mentally superior, we still tap into the body and soul to achieve virtue or malice. Whether you believe in the power of the spirit of mankind, or not, the mind and body play a part in the power of the righteous spirit or the evil spirit. Power is everywhere, but apart from God’s purpose it becomes rogue — out of control — cancerous.

The world received yet another horrible display of this rogue power, all too recently, in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. For what ever reason, a deranged young man decided to go on a killing spree and attempt to destroy countless lives. Newton-CT 1 This wasn’t just physical brutality on display, or mental issues too long undealt with. This was a cold reminder of what can happen when God’s power is removed from the spirit of humanity.

All too often, when a tragedy like the Sandy Hook massacre occurs, people want to analyze the symptoms they think are at the core of the incident without really diagnosing the problem. They want to attack the tools used during the offense, and help promote some political agenda, while yet again avoiding to understand the real issue involved. It’s only when we open ourselves up to understanding why power has become so corrupt that we can hope to overcome such tragedies as this one in Connecticut, USA.

Mankind has to embrace an understanding of its fallen nature, and in turn give its corrupt nature to its Creator to correct. Only through God’s grace can we ever hope in a brighter tomorrow. Without embracing God’s grace in our lives, we can never overcome Satan and his demonic power. Only by returning our lives to God’s holy influence can humanity escape being nothing more than puppets in the hand of an evil puppet master.

Even Jesus, the very begotten Son of God, had to overcome the powers of Satan before He could become our pure and holy sacrifice. Look with me at Matthew, chapter 4, verses 1-11: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’ Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’’ Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’’ Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.”

Did you pay attention to the process that Satan followed to draw God the Son away from God the Father? The Devil first attacks Jesus’ humanity. This is an attempt to split the flesh away from the spirit. Mental power is being used by Satan to get Jesus to focus on the fleshly things (namely Christ’s physical need for nourishment) in order to remove His focus from His purpose. Christ quotes a Scripture verse (Deuteronomy 8:3) and Satan loses this first attempt to dethrone the Prince of heaven.

The next temptation confronts Christ’s spirituality. Satan couldn’t get Jesus to focus on the flesh, so he tries to use Christ’s deity against Himself, even quoting Scripture (Psalm 91:11-12) to the incarnate Word of God. In doing this, the devil is wanting Jesus to use His godly powers for His own personal gain. After all, Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, and the Father would never let anything bad happen to His own child. This attack didn’t work either, and after Jesus completes another Scripture quote (Deuteronomy 6:16), Satan has to attempt a third attack.

The final temptation, was a last ditch effort to lure Christ from His Father’s purpose. Satan offers Jesus all of creation. Yes — all of creation! The Devil couldn’t get Jesus to focus on His physical needs. Satan couldn’t get Jesus to abuse His spiritual powers, so now he offers Christ the only thing he had left to bargain with — the very thing he stole from humanity — the rule of creation.

Oh, the audacity of this demon king. Satan lost out on being God’s most cherished cherub just because he thought he could rule over God and the heavens. Losing at that, the silly serpent then steals the dominion of earth from mankind and turns around and offers it up to Jesus, but only if Christ will bow down and worship him. Satan was willing to give up his last chance at ruling something God created for the chance at having God’s own Son worship him — it was all about the power he longed for from the beginning. If Satan couldn’t be over the entire triune God, then at least he could rule over the second of the three — Immanuel.

You see, Lucifer couldn’t defeat the triune God, all at once, for the rule of the heavens. Maybe though, Satan could defeat God the Son, alone, and get Him to worship him. Are you following this? Satan was still sulking over his loss of station and power. Sure he was ruler here, but he knew (and knows) that rule was (and still is) temporal, and only because the triune God had allowed it. Satan also knew he was offering up stolen goods to the very one who created it and who technically still owned it, and yet that did not detour him from trying. “Oh to have at the very least, Jesus — the Son of God — worship me,” the Devil must have thought. Satan thought wrong, for with a final quote of Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:13) the battle was lost, and upon Christ’s final rejection of the Devil, Satan left Him and angels came to attend to His needs. Righteous power will always win over the forces of unrighteousness.

Did you happen to notice how Satan was so quickly defeated? Scripture. God’s Word really is a mighty two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and even though Satan knows of God’s Word he cannot wield it as a weapon against us, or God, because he doesn’t know God’s Word personally. Only we can, because God’s grace has allowed us to have a personal relationship with His very Word made into flesh. That godly Word, come to life, is Jesus. Jesus is the weapon we can wield against Satan. Jesus is the power of God’s grace, come to life.

I will leave you with a simple lyric about great power. It’s from a simple children’s song, that most of you will know. The words are as follows:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine © 2012 by Max Lucado

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the first edition publication, September 2012.

Published by Thomas Nelson, 501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 — (615) 889-9000;

Jesus Loves Me, words by Anna Bartlett Warner and William Batchelder Bradbury and music by William Batchelder Bradbury, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article I, part 1

Imagine you are young and highly successful in your work. Successful beyond your twenty-something years of living, much like Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and cofounder, Dustin Moskovitz. Now picture your successes, your economic conquests, your prestige, your billions of dollars, and consider what happens to them when you die. You can’t take them with you, but maybe you can use them to ensure yourself a place in heaven.

You wish to be sure this is possible. You want to know all of your efforts are not in vain, so you seek out a very popular preacher or prophet you’ve heard about. This is what happened with a very rich, young man back in Jesus’ day. His story can be found in Matthew 19:16-23:

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Wealth. No matter how great or small, our financial well-being is of great importance to us. So much so that even our soul’s eternal fate can be jeopardized for the physical comforts of today.

Humanity longs for wealth. Why is that, you ask? Mankind lives in a hostile world. Our bodies struggle against earth’s atmospheric temperatures, and disease, to maintain a constant 98.6 °F (37.0 °C). Our bodies crave vitamins, minerals, and moisture for health and wellness. Other creatures, and people, seek to do us harm for a variety of reasons. Wealth helps to ensure our three most natural, and essential, needs are met on a regular basis — clothing, food, and shelter. When these needs are met people tend to thrive, people can be content, people experience happiness.

When these “creature comforts,” as they are sometimes called, are not met regularly, then happiness flees. Stress enters our lives and we lose our contentment. As we cease to thrive, our minds and bodies react in a variety of ways. Sometimes such struggles cause illness and disease to enter into our bodies. As our physical bodies are mortal, we fight to avoid anything that would lead to our untimely demise. Wealth, in many of our minds, is the one thing that can practically prevent such dangers from entering our lives.

Our financial strength also comes close to guaranteeing a few of our other desires, such as companionship, pleasure, and power. People tend to not want to be alone, and all of humanity longs to experience the pleasures of this physical life. Some of our physical pleasure comes from being acknowledged by others; to know that we are somehow special and to ultimately use those special gifts to rule over the others that appear to not be as gifted. Wealth can be a means to acquiring such desires as these, but the one longing that our wealth can never buy us is a place in heaven. Eternal security is not achieved by monetary means. Heaven can only be achieved through a relationship with God’s only begotten Son — Jesus Christ.

That was what Jesus was trying to teach both the wealthy young man, and His disciples. Jesus, by asking the rich young man to sell all that he had, was making the statement that physical wealth really doesn’t matter as much as following the ways of God. If the monetarily blessed young man had done as he was asked, then he would have enjoyed spiritual and possibly even physical riches beyond his wildest expectations, but because his existing physical wealth was really the object of his worship, and not the ways of God, he failed Christ’s test and in the end lost everything — foolishness!

Christ teaches us very plainly that, “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24) This is not to say that monetary wealth is bad, but it is very clearly stating that to serve money, to worship this type of wealth, is wrong — even deadly wrong. Note what the apostle Paul wrote in chapter 6, verse 10, of his letter to Timothy:

For the love [worship] of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

When you love something so much that you abandon your faith in God for it, then you are exchanging the worship of the author and giver of life for the worship of the destroyer and taker of life. Death becomes your true object of affection.

When we meet next, Article 1, part two, will take us further into the dangers we face when we drink from the chalice of wealth, instead of drinking from the cup of Christ. We will read a contemporary story depicting these truths we have just revealed. So please return, and join us, as we continue this study of abundant faith and deadly fiction.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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