Easter Sermon:  What is Your Greatest Fear?

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

“If you’re not healthy, you’re not wealthy.”

R. E. McMaster (“Maxims of Wall Street,” p. 143)

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Surveys show that some of our greatest fears are public speaking, an IRS audit and spiders. But the greatest fear for most people is death, especially if you are a person who doesn’t believe in an afterlife.

Fear of a painful death was the chief motivation behind the desperate actions by government officials to require social distancing, the wearing of masks and lockdowns during the 2020-21 COVID-19 scare.  Some countries, like China and Australia, went way overboard and denied their citizens basic rights.

What is that almost every person wishes?

He or she hopes to cheat death and maybe even live forever. Books with titles like “Life Extension” and “How to Live to Be 120” are bestsellers, and magazines are full of tips on how to live longer through exercise and dieting.

The Unfulfilled Promise — to Live Forever

Scientists have long searched for a magic elixir that can create a superman who never gets old.  It’s called “The Methuselah Project,” and it is named after the oldest man in the Bible (who lived to be 969 years). Singularity University, a futuristic educational institution in California, is devoted to finding the “singular” scientific breakthrough of eternal life on earth.

Futurist engineer Jose Cordeiro speaks every year at FreedomFest and gives us an update on advances in life extension. He has even written a book called “The Death of Death.” According to Jose, a breakthrough is forthcoming in 20 years or so.

Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, is skeptical that Cordeiro’s dream will ever be fulfilled. As they say in many movies, “Nobody gets out of here alive.”

Christianity Promises the ‘Good News,’ Becoming the World’s Largest Religion

But there is one exception.

Only Christianity boasts that its prophet and Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the first and only man who came back to life, never to die again, as a physical human being and then promised that everyone would enjoy the same blessing. It is the ultimate and most desired universal miracle.  As St. Paul promised, “Even as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22)

This is the “good news” that the Christian missionaries offered to the world, and why they became so successful — that Christ had risen from the dead. No prophet — not Adam, Moses or Muhammad — had or would escape death before Christ.  He was the “first fruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:21-23).  St. Paul extolled the virtues of the resurrection when he exclaimed, “O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Victory over death is what has attracted so many millions to the Christian faith over the centuries. Christianity is now the largest religion in the world.

And thus, the Christian disciples fulfilled Christ’s promise to have “life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

This week, the Christian world celebrates Easter: the death and resurrection of their Lord.

The Christian Bible recounts the story of Jesus being tried, convicted and killed by the Romans.

The fledgling Christian religion was in dire straits when Christ died on the cross. The disciples disbanded and everyone fled. Peter denied him three times. If Christ had not come back to earth, the faithful most likely would not be preaching the Gospel here or anywhere else. But when Christ came back to life, Christianity was resurrected with him.

As C. S. Lewis writes, “To preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection…The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in Acts.”

This is true whether it was done by Peter on the Day of Pentecost or by Paul to the Gentiles.

Why did St. Paul Attract Large Crowds?

Paul the Evangelist was the great preacher who carried the “good news” to the Gentile world. When he spoke on Mars Hill in Athens on the “Unknown God,” he referred specifically the power of the resurrection, which encouraged the Greeks to want to know more (Acts 17:32). He raised the subject when he appeared before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23).

Later, when Paul was taken to Caesarea to face charges of treason, King Agrippa and his wife Bernice came to Caesarea. King Agrippa was fascinated with Paul and the strange “superstition” of the Christian religion, and he wanted to meet Paul and know more. He demanded that Paul appear before him. The next year, Paul addressed the king, all the chief captains and the principal men of the city.

What was it that attracted King Agrippa to Paul’s message?  Was it the crucifixion?  No, thousands had died on the cross. Was it the atonement, the idea that Christ had died for our sins? Such an idea was completely foreign to the Romans and the Greeks. They would have regarded  this notion as a mystery.

But life after death? Now that’s something King Agrippa — the son of King Herod who had killed the Apostle James — and the citizens of Caesarea could comprehend and even desire.

Paul said that it was “the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers.”

The ancient writer Job talked about that hope, when he said, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14)

He answered in the affirmative: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:25-26).

Paul’s message was so powerful that King Agrippa famously responded, “Almost you persuade me to be a Christian!” (Acts 26:28)

The message is clear: No amount of wealth, power or secular philosophy can compare to the conviction that man can triumph over death and live forever in the next life as a resurrected being.

Benjamin Franklin said it best in his epitaph:

“The Body of B. Franklin, Printer;

Like the Cover of an old Book,

Its Contents torn out,

And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,

Lies here, Food for Worms.

But the Work shall not be wholly lost;

For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,

In a new & more perfect Edition,

Corrected and amended By the Author.”

Ben Franklin:  A Great Investor!

In addition, I hope you got a chance to watch Ken Burns’ excellent four-hour-long documentary “Benjamin Franklin” last week. You can watch it at any time by going to www.pbs.com.

Burns considers Franklin the greatest American ever. I should add that he was also a great investor, having managed to become one of the richest Americans in colonial times through being a successful printer, an investor in real estate (rental properties) and bank stocks.  He made little money from his inventions, since he chose not to take out any patents. And he became rich at a time of great upheaval — war, inflation and economic depression.

Paul Dykewicz and Mark Skousen aka Ben Franklin, holding a copy of “The Maxims of Wall Street.”

In “The Maxims of Wall Street,” I quote him 17 times, more than anyone else except Warren Buffett and Jesse Livermore.  Some of my favorites are:

“A fool and his money are so parted.”

“Let every man know thee, but let no man know thee thoroughly.”

“An investment is knowledge pays the best interest.”

“Nothing but money is sweeter than honey.”

Franklin was also a bargain hunter, so I’m sure he would be happy with the price of “Maxims” — only $20 for the first copy, and all additional copies are $10. To order your copy, go to www.skousenbooks.com. I autograph all copies and mail them for free within the United States.

Upcoming Appearance:

Las Vegas MoneyShow, May 9-11, Bally’s:  I look forward to speaking on “Bears Make Headlines, Bulls Make Money: My Top Investment Recommendations” and “The Madness of Crowds or the Wisdom of Crowds? Puzzles & Paradoxes on Wall Street.” I’ll also be moderating a panel on “Why the Next Five Years Should Be Great for Precious Metals.”  Other speakers include  Mark Mobius, Ed Yardeni, Jake Bernstein and John Dobosz. To register, go here.

Good Friday, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

You Nailed It!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game! How to See the Highlights of Your Favorite Baseball Team in Less than 10 Minutes

Steve Forbes and me at a Yankees game

I’ve always been a big fan of baseball, and I have been to many games around the country over my lifetime. Occasionally, Steve Forbes has invited me to join him at Yankee Stadium; we are both big Yankee fans. We were together for Derek Jeter’s last game and his walk off single. It was a great way to end his miraculous career.

Baseball games can be long affairs, which I don’t mind when I’m sitting next to someone like Steve Forbes. The long games give us a chance to discuss all kinds of topics.

But watching baseball on TV can be pretty taxing.

Major League Baseball games now last upwards of three hours, and even longer in extra innings, largely thanks to pitcher and batter delays, longer commercials between innings and umpire reviews.

Technology has come to the rescue!  There’s a great new way to see ALL the highlights.

It is not through watching clips on Sports Center, which may last only one minute. Rather, one can go to YouTube and watch the official highlights of almost every inning. Most highlight reviews take only 10 minutes or less to watch.

After each game is over, you can watch the highlights of each MLB game by going to YouTube and typing in the two teams. They usually appear within 15 minutes of the end of the game.

Last week, I saw the Yankee-Red Sox opening game at Yankee stadium on YouTube here.

The announcer was Bob Costas, one of my favorites. I just wish that Howard Cosell was still around as the color commentator.

Enjoy!

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