The gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are called the gospels because the main message is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. And today, we're going to look at a passage that we began to look at last week, a wonderfully instructive passage about how an individual can gain eternal life.
Luke 18:18-27 Life was going well for this young man on earth, and now he comes up to Jesus, and asks about eternal life, and I believe he meant how to secure a heavenly inheritance.
Jesus tells this man that only God is good; and I believe Jesus' purpose was to help this young man know and believe that He Himself was God. This young ruler needed to understand that this Jesus was God, and that He was accountable to Him. Jesus then mentions five of the Ten Commandments, the ones that have to do with our relationship with people; and Jesus' goal was for this man to be convicted of his sin. But what is amazing is that this man tells Jesus that he had kept all these commandments, which was not true. This young man was deceived, and a liar. 1 John 1:8, 10.
Now Jesus continues to try to help this young man see his sin. And Jesus, by telling him that he needs to sell all his possessions, and give them to the poor, wants to help this man see his sin against God. But this rich man, this extremely rich man, just walks away grieving, and saddened by what Jesus said.
- This young ruler didn't want to do what Jesus, the Son of God had just told him. And this shows his disobedience, his sinful and non-repentant heart, his unwillingness to admit and confess his sin. And therefore he couldn't be forgiven, he couldn't have eternal life; and he couldn't be a follower of Christ.
Now Jesus, by what He was saying, was exposing the sin in this man's heart; and his main sin was that he wasn't loving God, but rather he was loving his money, and his possessions. He loved himself, and was living for himself, but he wasn't loving God, and he wasn't living for God. Matthew 6:19-24. Now Jesus, by what He was saying, wasn't saying that salvation is by works, that this ruler had to do some good works so as to get saved, so as to be forgiven, so as to have eternal life. Salvation is by grace, by trusting in Jesus Christ.
But Jesus, by telling this young man what he should do, was in effect telling him what he wasn't doing, that he was sinning by not selling his possessions, and giving them away - that he was sinning by not loving God and by not living for God. You see, Jesus knows that sin is a heart issue that's seen in how a person lives his life. And so He was telling him what the lifestyle of a true believer, a true follower of Christ would look like. And in doing so, he was pointing out this young man's sin.
And so we can say, an unbeliever's number one sin is that he doesn't love God, and that sin of not loving God is seen in how he lives his life, in what he does with his time and money; and it's also seen in that he doesn't love people, which was what Jesus was trying to communicate to this man when He shared 5 of those 10 commandments. Matthew 19:19
Now understand, Jesus truly loved this young man. He wanted this man to be blessed, and to have the best life possible. He wanted him to have eternal life, and to be in heaven with Him forever and ever. And that is why Jesus was pointing out his sin, for he needed to repent, and admit his sin was wrong, and be willing to give it up before he could be given what was truly life, before he could be given eternal life.
Jesus knows too that eternal life isn't just something you just get in heaven; it isn't just some special inheritance you get after you die; it's a relationship He wants people to have with Himself and with His Father that begins in this life and then lasts forever. John 17:3. And eternal life is a relationship that starts when we recognize our sin of selfishness, of not loving God & living for Him, & then confessing that sin, and then believing that Jesus forgives us of our sin. John 5:24
- But this man didn't like what Jesus said, and he wasn't even willing to admit his sin, and repent of his sins, and turn to Christ and trust in His payment for his sins. This man loved his money and possessions, but he didn't love Christ and he didn't want to love Christ.
I want to make just a few statements about the gospel message as it relates to this passage here.
1. God is the one who grants repentance and faith to an individual. Yes, it is true that man is commanded to repent and believe, but he's commanded to do what only God can give him the ability to do. 2 Timothy 3:25, Ephesians 2:8-9.
2. A person who gets saved is one who believes in his mind and heart the truths about Christ and salvation. Getting saved isn't just mental, it's also heart. And the one who understands and believes in his mind and heart has true faith that results in works that then shows he has true faith in Christ. John 2:23-25, Romans 10:9
3. Those people who repent of their sins and have faith in Christ will perform deeds appropriate to repentance. That is, one who is a true Christian will look and act and talk like a true Christian. Every true Christian then will bear fruit - there will be changes, godly changes in his life. Fruit tree - Galatians 5:19-22, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 7:20
- Some people have actually said that a person can get saved and never spiritually change. That's not true. All true Christians bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Acts 26:19-20
4. True believers are forgiven of their sins, but are also followers of Christ. You see, if you're forgiven, then there's been a dramatic work of God and of the Spirit in your life, and that dramatic work of God and of the Spirit continues on, resulting in, and enabling you to be a follower of Christ. You can't separate being forgiven or your sins and being a follower of Christ, just as you can't separate being a Christian and being a disciple of Christ. Acts 11:26
- And here's this young ruler asking to inherit eternal life, and Jesus talks to him about being a follower, a disciple. And so clearly then, there's this vital connection between having eternal life and being a follower of Christ. Mark 1:14-17, Philippians 1:6, James 2:18-19
5. A true Christian loves God and Jesus Christ; and if a person doesn't truly love God and Christ, then he's not saved. And if a person isn't willing to give up his possessions for God, then he is not saved. And if a person doesn't obey God then he is not saved. 1 John 2:2-3
Luke 18:24-25 This statement Jesus makes is specifically directed at this young ruler, but it was a general statement for all people, about how the rich and wealthy have a hard time entering the Kingdom of God. And I believe Jesus is saying that proportionately speaking, there'll be less rich people in heaven than poor people. But why is that?
1. Matthew 6:19-23 When people have money, then their money can become a substitute for God, and therefore, they don't think they need God. You see, it's impossible for a person to love both God and money. Loving money leaves no room in a person's heart for loving God. A person can't have both God and money on the throne of his heart at the same time.
2. Luke 12:15 Rich people usually buy many more things than poor people; he can buy cars, houses, pleasures and possessions; and he can then love and worship all these things instead of worshiping God. And he can be deceived and think that all these things are better and more enjoyable than anything that God could give them. But not only that, he can think why do I need God, and what can God do for me, if my money can buy me all these things? Luke 16:19, Psalm 63:3-4
3. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 Loving money leads people into all sorts of temptations, evils, and snares, and that can lead them far, far away from God. The heart of a person who loves money is a hard heart, and it's difficult for that person then to receive the word of God. Now Jesus knows that money is an important subject, and so he talks quite a bit about it, and how the love of it can be very dangerous and deadly to the soul. Luke 12:13-21, 16:14-15
Luke 18:25 Now back in the 1st century the Jews would express the idea of something being impossible by saying that it would be easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle. Now there've been many thoughts as to what this needle was. But the main point is that Jesus used this expression to explicitly say that salvation by human effort was impossible.
Luke 18:26-27 The rabbinical sayings of that time gave the wealthy a clear advantage when it came to salvation. Being rich was to many people proof of God's favor and approval. And so the people, upon hearing what Jesus said to this rich young ruler, and how hard it would be for the rich to get saved, ask Jesus this question: "Then who can be saved?"
- Again, Jesus makes it clear that salvation is impossible for man - there's nothing that man can do to appease or satisfy God's righteous anger and wrath. There is nothing an unrighteous man can do to make himself righteous. No man can ever do or say anything to ever save himself from sin, death and hell. Rotten, rusted soul.
- But what's impossible for man is possible for God. What man could never do, God did. God poured out His wrath upon His Son, punishing Him instead of us, thereby paying the penalty for our sin, and enabling us to be forgiven of our sins and be given eternal life. 1 Peter 3:18
Luke 18:28-30 Peter had just heard what Jesus said to this rich young ruler about how to gain eternal life. And right away, Peter begins to say, "Behold, we've left our homes, and followed you." That is, they had already done what Jesus had told this rich young ruler to do. And these apostles were saved; but their actions weren't what saved them, but were the results of their salvation, and were proof that they had repented of their sins, and had faith in Christ, and that they indeed were saved. But here's Peter, speaking for the apostles, after hearing Jesus talk truthfully and strongly and lovingly to this ruler, wanting assurance of their salvation. And so Jesus gives them assurance and much more.
Jesus tells them that the ones who are true believers, the ones who have left all things will be truly blessed, blessed in both this life and the next.
- He speaks of those who have left their home, their home town, the place where they grew up, their friends and classmates.
- He speaks of those who have left their wives. And maybe the husband got saved, and the wife did not; and she just wasn't willing to live with him, and so he had to leave.
- He speaks of those who leave their brothers, their sisters, those who are willing to leave their physical family for the sake of their spiritual family.
He speaks of those who leave their parents - who are willing to forgo the desires and wishes their parents have for them, or the jobs the parents have left for them, and who are willing to leave what may have been a very good relationship with Mom and Dad, so as to more fully and faithfully love and serve their heavenly Father and follow Christ.
- He speaks of those who leave their children, and I am not talking about leaving little children, but children who are grown up. And these parents, or maybe grandparents are putting Christ first over their children and grandchildren.
And this is all for the sake of the kingdom of God. Matt 6:33. This is what God wants for us, to seek first His kingdom. And the promise is that God will greatly bless us. Mark says 100 times as much in this age and the next. We speak of investing our money and getting 5-10-20% return. Do you know that 100 times is a 10,000% return? That's incredible; that's huge; that's unthinkable in today's world, in today's financial markets.
Indeed it is worth it to invest your life and money for the Lord, to take up your cross, to deny yourself, to lose your life, to sell all your possessions and follow Christ. There's no doubt that God will bless you many, many times over, in this life and the next.
- And yes, as Mark also says, there will be persecutions. Acts 14:22. But the Lord has done so much for us. Indeed, it is a privilege that we can serve Christ, and suffer for Him, and then be blessed in this life and for all eternity. Colossians 1:24, John 15:18-21