Something More

(The following is an edited transcript of a sermon preached at the 2004 West Virginia camp meeting.    Editor)Sunrise in a wheatfield

Jesus gave us a beautiful promise in Luke 18:29, 30. Here He said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

Jesus said that those who have forsaken anything for God’s sake will receive manifold more in this time and in the kingdom of heaven life everlasting. When we look in the Bible do we see that everybody who has forsaken things for Christ, receives more than they have forsaken in this present time, in this life? Often times it appears that people didn’t receive more. They forsook everything and they didn’t get it back. Sometimes in our lives we ask ourselves, “what’s in it for me? What can I get out of this?”

I remember thinking about this before I became a Christian, when I was still in the world. I only had one friend who was a Christian, one person who took me to church. I remember looking around at some of the other people and thinking about Christianity, that it didn’t appeal to me. Do you know why? Because what I considered was that there was too much that I had to give up. I kind of put it on a balance and I thought that I have to give all these things up and what do I get in return? I get nothing! That was kind of the way I thought about it. I thought that Christianity was a whole bunch of “Thou shall nots,” and that I wouldn’t get anything out of it. Christianity didn’t seem appealing to me, and I think that’s probably true for a lot of people. They think that to be a Christian you have to give too many things up, and you don’t get anything in return. Is that right? Have you thought that way before?

But, is that true? Jesus said if we forsake these things, if we forsake things for His sake we will get manifold more in this time, right now. We will get much more than what we have given up, even right now, before we die, before we enter heaven.

A lot of times it’s hard for people of the world, and even Christians sometimes, to think about the world to come, because they can’t see it. It’s something ahead of us, it’s something we look forward to, and we read about it, but it’s something we can’t see. You have heard the saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In other words, what you can see right now, what you can have right now, is worth more than what you may get later.

This reminds me of the prodigal son who did not want to wait for his inheritance. He said, “I don’t want to wait until my dad dies; I want to get it now.” That’s the way a lot of people think; they want to get something now. But look what Jesus said, “There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time.” (Luke 18:30) You can receive more right now!

My idea about Christianity was that I had to give everything up, and I wasn’t going to get anything in return. I found out that I was dead wrong, because I can distinctly remember what happened to me and what I was experiencing and feeling when I gave my life to the Lord. I felt like I was walking on air. I was just so high, spiritually and mentally. I felt free, I felt like the sun was shining every moment of every day. I remember just being so excited that I was finally free.

When I gave my life to the Lord I was happier than I had ever been. I had much more than I had before, and I had peace and joy along with it. I had everything that I didn’t have before. So, I thought that I was giving everything up and I was not getting anything in return, but I found out that I was completely wrong. Everything that I was giving up was bad and everything I was getting was good. So, in this life, I had more. I wasn’t rich, I didn’t have a Mercedes Benz in the driveway, but I had much more, I had something better. It was in this lifetime, and it is still there. It is still much better than the time I had before.

Biblical examples

Let’s just think about a few examples in the Bible. Jesus said if we forsake everything then we will get much more in this lifetime. If we think about it literally, in the Bible we find a lot of examples both ways. Like Abraham, he was asked to leave his father’s house, to leave his kindred, his country, and to just go out to a place, not knowing where he was going. The Lord told him that He would show him where to go. He was told to just forsake everything and go, and that’s what he did. Did God bless him? Yes, He blessed him abundantly! Abraham became very rich. So, there is an example of somebody who did receive many literal things in this life. There are also other examples, like Job. Job was very rich, and he lost everything, his children, his possessions, and his health. But the Bible says that the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. We may think of Joseph also. Joseph remained true to God no matter what happened. He was put in prison but, in the end, he  became a powerful and rich man. He was greater than all his brethren, even richer than his father.

Daniel is another example. He purposed in his heart to stay true to God no matter what, and he was blessed with a very exalted position in the kingdom and anything that this life could offer. But then there are other examples in the Bible, people who didn’t get these things.

Let’s turn to Matthew 19, verse 27. Look what the disciples said here, “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” Here is the attitude, “What’s in it for me, what are we going to get out of this? We have forsaken everything for you, now what do we get?” Notice how Jesus answered them. He replied, “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:28, 29)

Jesus didn’t say, “You are going to have a new horse, a big farm, many cattle, etc.” He said they were going to have a very good position in the kingdom of heaven. He didn’t point them to this life; he didn’t say in this life you’re going to have many good things. Did the disciples have many earthly possessions in this earth? No, they weren’t rich! In fact when there was a man begging for money. Peter and John went by and said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee” (Acts 3:6), and they gave what they had. Did they have something? They had something better, far exceeding riches and gold, they had Jesus Christ in their lives and in their hearts. They had a relationship with God that surpassed everything else.

Did you know that many of the rich people in this world are depressed? They live a really miserably life because they are so concerned about the things that they have. It takes up their time and they have a lot of problems because of it. But the most content, happy people are those who have Jesus Christ in their lives. Isn’t that true? They are the most content people in this world.

Paul was a man who had a fairly good position in the Jewish church. But he gave that all up in exchange for a life of hardship and toil. Let’s look at what Paul said about this. He said, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” (2 Corinthians 11:24) Thirty-nine stripes, that’s a pretty severe beating from what I understand. He said that He was beaten like this five times, and “thrice [he was] beaten with rods.” (v. 25) He said, “Once was I stoned…” (v. 25) This experience was recorded in the book of Acts. The Bible says, “And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.” (Acts 14:19) They stoned him so severely that they thought they had killed him. Paul recalls, “Thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:25-28)

Did Paul have an easy life? In this lifetime it seems like he had a pretty difficult life, but Jesus said if we forsake all for Him He’s going to give us manifold more in this present time. Did Paul have manifold more? He surely did! He had something more, he had manifold more in this time. So, when Jesus tells us that we are going to get manifold more in this time, He’s not necessarily talking about earthly riches, but He is talking about something that is much more valuable than riches. It is something within.

Manifold more

Jesus promised that His disciples would have “manifold more in this present time.” On the day of Pentecost the Spirit came down in power on the disciples and then they went out and preached. Did they meet resistance from the Jewish people? Certainly! In Acts chapter five it says that Peter and the other disciples were commanded not to preach any more in Christ’s name. But they did, and then they were brought before a council, and Gamaliel got up and said be careful what you do to these people. Then in verse 40, it says, “When they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.” Look what happened next. The Bible says, “They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” (v. 41) Were they sad and despondent? No! They were rejoicing that they were allowed to suffer shame for His name’s sake.

What a transformation! Just a short time before Peter said “I don’t know this man, I don’t know Jesus.” Three times he denied the Son of God, but there was a change that took place in Peter’s life. There was a change that took place in all of the disciples. They went out and spoke boldly for Jesus. And it didn’t matter to them what the Jews did to them. Look at what it says in verse 42: “Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” They were commanded not to do it, they were beaten and sent out and told not to do this again, but they ceased not to go and preach about Jesus Christ. Why did they do it? What was different about them? They had something inside of them, didn’t they?

We can have something inside too, can’t we? We can have something inside that no matter what is going on outwardly, we can have peace and joy, we can have manifold more than the rest of the people around us who do not have Christ.

When I was in the world the Christian life was not appealing to me. I just thought that Christianity was a “do good” religion, that you had to give everything up that was fun. That was the kind of attitude I had. Why would I want to do that? It wasn’t appealing to me; I didn’t see that it would be fulfilling or that I would enjoy such a thing. But one thing I found out since I’ve become a Christian, and I’ve given my life to the Lord, is that I was sadly mistaken. I thought that the Christian life was dull and boring and there was nothing in it for me. I had the selfish attitude, “What is in it for me?” What I found out, though, was that when I gave my life to the Lord, when I asked Him to forgive me of my sins, there was a joy, there was a peace in my life that I had never known before.

In the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character, Christian, started to read a book and pretty soon he noticed there was a huge weight on his back. He became doubled over with this weight, barely able to walk because he had this burden that he hadn’t known was there before. That is what happened to me. When the Lord opened my eyes I could see that I was weighted down, that I always had this burden. But when I was in the world I didn’t know it was there, even though it was there all along. And then, when I finally asked God to forgive me of my sins, it was like a huge weight just rolled off my back. Because for the first time I had peace, I had joy. I remember I felt like I was on top of the world, on cloud nine. I remember singing, “I’m free, I’m free.” I was just so excited to be free from my sins and that burden had really just rolled off my back, just like it did in the Pilgrim’s Progress story when Christian came to the foot of the cross and the burden rolled away.

What I found is that I had manifold more than I had before. I thought I would be exchanging all of these good things for something less. But instead I found out I was exchanging all these terrible evil things for something much, much better, much greater than I had ever imagined. That is what God promises us, in this life. He’s not necessarily saying, “You’re going to be rich, you’re going to live on easy street, and you’re not going to have any troubles.” That’s not what He promises us, but what He does promise is something much better, something manifold more than we had before. That’s what you can have today, that’s what each of us can have right now. We can have manifold more! That’s what I want to emphasize in this study.

Manifold more in the Bible

We can think of people in the Bible who found something better. When we read these stories we think, “This is what I want, I want to have this.” Think of Stephen! The Bible says he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was somebody who loved God with all his heart. He went before the Jews and boldly said, “You’re the ones who crucified the Son of God.” And it says they were so angry that they closed their ears and rushed upon him, and “gnashed on him with their teeth.” (Acts 7:54) Then they took him out and stoned him. But what did Stephen do? “He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Acts 7:60) This is just like what Jesus did when He was being nailed to the cross. He pleaded, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

You see, Stephen had something more. He had something better than those around him, than the people who had the stones in their hands. They didn’t recognize what Stephen had. Stephen had great peace when he went to the grave. He saw heaven opened to him.

I have read some of the stories in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. These people endured all kinds of hardships. One thing that is consistent all the way through, is that they had something special in their lives. They had peace and joy. Most of them were singing when they went to the stake to be burned alive. They were praising and rejoicing, just like the disciples did, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ. If you have something better, if you have something more, then you can endure all things for Christ’s sake.

The blood of martyrs was actually seed for the gospel. When those martyrs were burned at the stake, people around could see that they had something so special that  when they went to their deaths they had smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts, praising God. This caused people looking on to want to have that too. They compared them to the priests and the executioners and they wanted to have what the martyrs had.

That’s what God wants each one of us to have, and when we have it, other people are going to notice. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22) “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19) The whole creation is waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God. They want to see something better. They want to see something that will draw them, something that is going to cause them to want to have what you have. Paul said, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” (2 Corinthians 3:2)

When I was in the world I did not have that desire; I didn’t have a desire to have something more, because I didn’t see it in others. But God wants people of this world to see what we should have as Christians.

The Psalmist wrote, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalms 84:10) In other words, what he is saying is, “I’d rather take the lowest position serving God than take a high position with the wicked. I’d rather be poor and needy and have something better in my life than to live with the wicked and have all the things the world can offer. That is the attitude David had. That is the attitude of all the people we are talking about. This is what they had, they had something better. They knew the value of having a relationship with God; they knew how valuable it was to have that peace and contentment that only God can give.

Paul wrote, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6) Jesus said we are going to have manifold more, and that’s what Paul says we are going to have when we have godliness with contentment. This is something better than all the world can offer.

Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) Do you want perfect peace? That is what I experienced for the very first time when I gave my life to the Lord. It was such a wonderful experience that it cannot be explained. You just have to experience it for yourself. There is nothing better. When we have our minds fixed on God and His love for us then we will have that perfect peace.

Isaiah also wrote, “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22) Isaiah says we are going to have perfect peace if our minds are stayed on the Lord, but if we are wicked it says we are going to have no peace at all. When I was in the world I had no peace. The Bible says, “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.” (Proverbs 14:13) That is the way I was. Mirth is laughter, happiness and partying. Even in that condition, when everybody is smiling and everybody seems happy, inside there is emptiness and loneliness, there is that lack of peace that needs to be filled. There is no peace for the wicked, but with the righteous there is great peace, even perfect peace.

Do not worry about anything

Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

What is the most important thing to find? The kingdom of God and His righteousness. The most important thing is that something better, that manifold more that God promises to us. Let’s find that first and then it does not matter what happens around us. The Psalmist wrote, “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psalms 46:2) If we have that peace with God, if we have that joy and contentment inside then it doesn’t matter what is going on around us, we can still have peace. We will have a trust in God so complete that we will know that He is going to take care of us no matter what. That is why we don’t have to seek and worry about what we are going to eat tomorrow. Don’t you know your Father is watching out for you?

I really like the story of Elisha, when there was a whole army that came out after him. The only purpose of that army was to take Elisha captive. A whole army coming out for one man, because Elisha was giving intelligence to the king of Israel, so they wanted to take him out of the way. So this whole army comes out to capture Elisha, and his servant was a little worried, and came to Elisha asking him what to do. Did Elisha seem to be troubled? No. He replied, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:16) Then he asked God to open his servant’s eyes, “And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17) There is something interesting about this story. There is no record that Elisha saw the angels. He prayed for his servant to see the angels, but Elisha didn’t have to see them, because he already knew that God was taking care of them. He didn’t have anything to worry about. He had that perfect peace and contentment, and we can have that same thing.

Elisha had something more, didn’t he? What about Elijah? Do you think he had something more? Elijah went to heaven without seeing death. Remember when he went up to Mt. Carmel, and all the servants of Baal gathered around. All day long the servants of Baal were trying to get their imaginary god to burn up a sacrifice, but it wasn’t working. Then, “Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” (1 Kings 18:27)

Finally Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord; “And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.” (1 Kings 18:33-35) After this He prayed to God, and what did God do? Instantly, fire came down, fire so hot that it burned up the wood, it burned up the sacrifice, and it burned up the rocks, and even lapped up the water at the bottom. God answered very mightily. It took great faith for Elijah to do that, because what would happen if God didn’t answer the prayer? Elijah would have been in trouble. Elijah had something more, just like what Jesus promised, something manifold more. And we can have the same thing at this present time.

Now Elisha, Elijah’s servant, who was watching after him, saw what Elijah had, and he wanted it. Just before Elijah was translated, Elisha followed him and wanted to go with him whereever he went. Elijah asked him, “What do you want of the Lord? If you see me when I depart then you will have it, whatever you ask for.” Did Elisha ask for riches, for gold and silver? No! You know what he asked for? He said, “I like what Elijah has. He has something inside of him that is beautiful, that is valuable, and wonderful.” He said, “I want twice what he has, I want a double portion of what Elijah has.” Did he get it? He surely did! God gave him a double portion. You know, He wants to give that same thing to you, but you must desire it like Elisha did. We need to have a desire for it and seek after it. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) We can have that something more if we seek for it, and ask for it.

Psalm 91 is one of the most valuable chapters in the Bible. It says,

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. (Psalm 91:1-16)

Isn’t that wonderful? He is going to give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways, just like He did for Elisha. Elisha had something more and God sent His angels to protect him. The Bible says that God sends His angels to encamp about those who fear Him. (Psalm 34:7) If you have that something more, you can be sure that God is watching out for you. You can be sure that you are the apple of His eye, and He is going to take care of you.

You can have something more today

We’ve seen a little bit of this manifold more that God wants us to have. Now the question is, Do you have that right now? Do you have what we have been looking at, what we have been reading about? The Bible says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165) Was Stephen offended when men picked up stones to stone him? Was Elisha offended when the army came out to get him? They had something more, didn’t they? They had that perfect peace, because they knew that God loved them. They knew that God was watching out for them and nothing offended them. That’s what we can have today. But, how does it come, how do we get that great peace? Where does it come from? It comes from Christ alone. It is a fruit of Christ taking His abode, making His home, in our hearts.

Paul wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) So, where do these things come from, where does this great peace come from? From the Spirit of God. Where does this joy come from, this love? It comes from the Spirit of God living in our hearts. When we have the Spirit of God living in us we have love, joy, peace, and all of these things. And if we have a little bit of these things then what is that evidence of? If we have a little peace, a little joy, then we have a little of God’s Spirit, don’t we? The more of God’s Spirit we have the more of these things will naturally come, it cannot be avoided. The more of God’s Spirit we have, and God gives His Spirit by portions doesn’t He? Elisha got a double portion of what Elijah had. How much of a portion did Jesus get? The Bible says “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34) You know, that’s what each one of us can have. The Bible says that Christ was filled with “all the fulness of the Godhead” (Colossians 2:9), and it also says that you and I can “be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

God is eager to give you His Spirit without measure. You can have it if you ask for it. Jesus said, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13) Won’t you ask Him just now? He is longing for you to come to Him. You will never regret it if you do. You will have more than you ever thought possible.