Monday, July 16, 2012

What Does God Require For Eternal Life? Matthew 19:16-22

Rich Young Ruler
As I was pondering this I was impressed with the story of the Rich Young Ruler; the reason being, he is the perfect example of an individual who would like to get into heaven on his own merits or by his own determination regardless of the Scripture.

The Bible declares all men under the sovereign authority of God. Heaven is God’s home and a place where purity and holiness dwell.

Scripturally speaking we were created by God to fellowship with Him in holiness. Even today we choose our friends based upon character qualities that we find to be attractive and inductive to good fellowship. We are no different in this respect when it comes to a relationship with our heavenly Father. “We love Him because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. 

He promises eternal life in His presence to all who will come to Him on His terms. 

In the story of the Rich Young Ruler below, the emphasis is on eternal life and what one must do to receive it. Jesus’ answer is simple—one must be perfect or without spot or blemish. 

16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."
18 He said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,'
19 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "
20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

1) The question posed by the young man reveals the omniscience of Jesus. Before anything came out of the his mouth, Jesus already knew his intention. When he asks, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" Jesus responds with a question and a clear truth. The question, "Why do you call Me good?” is Jesus’ way of highlighting the answer to his question concerning eternal life. To get there one must be “Good”. This is emphatic in His statement of truth, “No one is good but One, that is, God.”  Deductive reasoning tells us to be with the Father one must be “good”.

2)  What does "Good” mean? Let’s let the text answer it. Jesus response was then to “keep the commandments.” The Ten Commandments now come into play but not in the sense of stoic adherence and rigid law, because if that were the case the young man may have been the only case ever of one able to inherit eternal life based solely upon his ability to keep every law. Note: Jesus did not refute the fact that he said "These I have kept from my youth." But we certainly know that was not the case. The Scripture is clear defining all of humanity under sin, Rom. 3:9-18, 23. Jesus knew the actual embodiment of the Ten Commandments meant much more than meets the eye.

 Vine's Expository Dictionary defines "Good" as, ἀγαθός, agathos - that which, being "good" in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used (a) of things physical, e.g., a tree, Matt. 7:17; ground, Luke 8:8; (b) in a moral sense, frequently of persons and things. God is essentially, absolutely and consummately "good," Matt. 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19. To certain persons the word is applied in Matt. 20:15; Matt. 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17; Luke 23:50; John 7:12; Acts 11:24; Titus 2:5; in a general application, Matt. 5:45; Matt. 12:35; Luke 6:45; Rom. 5:7; 1 Pet. 2:18.

The Ten Commandments are living laws; meaning they are not exclusively a set of do’s and don’ts but rather a set of do’s and don’ts that require a set of actions in order to be perfectly carried out. 

To illustrate for example, in relation to the civil law, “you must come to a complete stop at all stop signs” to be fully carried out to the letter of the law, I must first be in motion. If I meet that requirement and by my action come to a complete stop at the sign, I fulfilled the requirement of the law. In the same vein the commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself “ cannot be fully carried out to 100% perfection unless I am willing to sell all that I have in accordance with God’s will for my life personally (each person is different), and then give it to the poor. Sure, there are small sacrifices that most will make for their neighbors and these are good in human reasoning but to be truly good means giving all--all the time just like Christ. We cannot do that all the time, but thanks be to God He sent His Son, Jesus, to do it for us!!

If the young man really wanted to be “Good” and “Perfect” then He needed to first hear God’s directive for his life, then obey it accordingly. 

Pure “Perfection” or “Goodness” is only something God possesses.  

The young man's response showed he was beholden to his riches over his love for God and man. Therefore, he went away sad because that sacrifice was one he was not willing to act upon. But the story doesn’t end there.

3)  Keeping the law even by action would still not be enough. Jesus also told him if he was willing to hear God’s directive, that once he completed the selling of all he had, he then needed to “Follow Me.” It is this last directive that underscores what is really needed to inherit eternal life.

Jesus is God in bodily form. Therefore He alone fulfilled the “Good” factor. Up until He breathed His final breath as a human, He was 100% “Good”.

It is by laying our lives at His feet and in full submission to His directive that we will live as He pleases -as He has foreordained (Eph. 2:10) and “Follow” Him that we can obtain the full blessing of eternal life. The Grace of God gets us into heaven through believing in Christ by faith alone, but the following, submitting and living a He pleases proves who our Master is.

 Following Him means that we must agree that His directives and revelations about life, love, morality, holiness and ethic are the only sure source of truth.

**When we see ourselves as a sinner in need of eternal life in heaven then we must realize that it is only holiness that can place us in the ranks of heavenly attendance 2 Cor. 5:21.

**But we all know we are not holy by ourselves and we too are guilty of breaking the Laws of Holiness, the Ten Commandments, (Rom. 3:23).

**So what can we do?

a) The first step is to realize our lost condition in light of God’s holiness. Realize that "all have sinned" includes me!

b) Trust that Jesus' answer to "Being Good" is the only answer. He is the only one to ever live a life that it is sinless (Heb. 4:15, 9:28, 1 Pet. 2:22, 1 John 3:5, John 14:30). Therefore, He is qualified to be the one who can overcome the "sin" factor.

c) The third step is to repent or express the willingness to turn away from the life of sin and to follow Jesus. Rom. 10:9-10 gives us assurance.
Remember: Jesus has defeated death. The Scripture declares that He is our “Passover”. When we take the steps to believe upon Him and accept His life as the substitution for our sinful one then we can be assured we have eternal life.

God Bless!!
Bro. Mike, John. 3:16 All the way!