Far. . .
Did Christ commit
a mistake from an
FRIEND, AS AN EVANGELICAL, no doubt you believe in winning souls to
Jesus Christ. Of course, there is no argument that Christ was the master
soul winner, so it is only fitting that we should follow His example.
However, there is a curious encounter Christ had with a certain rich young
man that, from an evangelical standpoint, might be viewed as Christ making
a mistake and preventing a soul from getting saved. Perhaps you are familiar
with the incident. It is worth close examination. We begin in Matthew 19:16,
where the Bible says: "And, behold, one came and said unto him [Christ], Good
Master, what good thing shall l do, that l may have eternal life?"
Imagine how fruitful we would all be if everyone would simply walk up to us
and ask, "What must I do to have eternal life?" Of course, this man wasn't
ready to get saved, because he assumed he could merit his way into Heaven;
he prefixed his question by asking, "WHAT GOOD THlNG SHALL I DO, that I
may have eternal life?"
The Bible clearly teaches that salvation cannot be earned by our good works
(Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Gal. 2:16; Gal. 2:21). So Jesus Christ chose to expose
the man's self-righteousness before leading him in a sinner's prayer: "And he
[Jesus] said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one,
that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Mat.
Jesus pointed out that if the young man could somehow keep the
commandments without breaking them ONCE (see James 2:10; Gal. 3:10), he
would be able to save himself. But, of course, such a feat would be impossible
for him. "For ALL HAVE SlNNED, and COME SHORT of the glory of God"
(Rom. 3:23). His sin nature would always get in the way, "Because the carnal
mind is enmity against God: for IT IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW OF GOD,
NEITHER INDEED CAN BE." Rom. 8:7
However, rather than concede his inability to keep the law, the man arrogantly
asked, "Which?" (Mat. 19:18a); "which law am I supposed to keep?" To which,
Jesus, perhaps smiling to Himself, answered, "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou
shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false
witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself." Mat. 19:18b-19
The man then showed the true depth of his self-righteousness (and
"blindness"): "The young man saith unto him [Christ], ALL THESE THlNGS
HAVE I KEPT FROM MY YOUTH UP: what lack I yet?" Mat. 19:20
The next thing that happened makes one wonder if Christ
perhaps went too far . . .
For in the very next verse . . .
"Jesus said unto him, lf thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when
the young man heard that saying, HE WENT AWAY SORROWFUL: for he had great
possessions." Mat. 19:21-22
Let's look at what Jesus did from an evangelical standpoint. Here we have a willing soul
approaching the Saviour Himself, wanting to be saved. Surely, if Christ would have led
that man in a sinner's prayer right then and there, he'd be in Heaven right now.
Christ could have simply said: "Good news, young man! Don't fret. You don't have to
work your way to Heaven. You couldn't anyway. Remember, 'there is none good but
one, that is, God.' I, however, will die in your place and pay for your sins. All you have
to do is trust me and I'll save you. Will you believe in me?"
No doubt the young man would have said yes, prayed the prayer, and gone home to
celebrate. You can imagine the feast he would have had. He probably would have invited
his friends (most likely wealthy themselves), and told them how simple it was to get to
Heaven. They, recognizing a good deal when they see one, would have prayed the prayer
too, and then chipped in on the celebration party.
But, alas, Christ WENT TOO FAR; He raised the bar too high! He made it virtually
impossible for this willing man to get saved. In fact, Christ went on to tell his disciples
how hard it is for a rich man to enter Heaven, and "When his disciples heard it, they
were exceedingly amazed, saying, WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED?" Mat. 19:25
Good question isn't it? Where would the evangelical movement be if its members acted
like Jesus, demanding such self-denial and total surrender from all who came to be
saved? Few souls would be getting saved. You wouldn't have the millions the movement
claims daily! Christ's demand from an evangelical standpoint makes little sense.
After all, evangelicals assume that God's will for their lives include enjoyment, fun,
and prosperity in health and wealth. Therefore, it made no sense for Christ to demand
the young man forsake all the worldly possessions he so covetously amassed. Surely
there was room in that man's life for God and riches. Right?
WRONG!Friend, when Christ began His ministry as recorded in the Bible, the first words out of
His mouth were: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT YE,
and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Christ expects any sinner who calls upon Him for
salvation, to do so in REPENTANCE as well as FAITH: "For I am not come to call the
righteous [there are none], BUT SINNERS TO REPENTANCE." Mat. 9:13
The rich young man's problem was an unwillingness to repent, and change his mind
about his covetous grip on the things of this God-hating world. He was not willing to
forsake it. Yet, Christ had taught: "No man can serve TWO MASTERS: for either he will
hate the one, and love the other; or else HE WlLL HOLD TO THE ONE, AND DESPlSE
THE OTHER. YE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON [Riches]." Mat. 6:24
Any sinner who comes to Christ must be willing to forsake their known sin, their
idolatrous pursuit of what this world offers, their own self-willed, self- directed lordship,
and SUBMIT to Christ, making Him LORD as well as Saviour: "Then said Jesus unto his
disciples, If any man will come after me, let him DENY HlMSELF, and take up his cross,
and FOLLOW ME" (Mat. 16:24). Taking one's cross means dying to self!
"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that FORSAKETH NOT ALL that he hath, he
cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). Within the evangelical movement, one finds too
much that looks, acts, feels, and sounds like the world: the world's music, the world's
fashion, the world's method of advertising, promotion, and entertainment. Furthermore,
too many evangelicals share the world's covetous desire for prosperity and materialism.
Yet Christ warned, "Take heed, and BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS: for a man's life
CONSISTETH NOT IN THE ABUNDANCE OF THE THlNGS WHICH HE POSSESSETH"
(Luke 12:15). "LAY NOT up for yourselves treasures UPON EARTH....For where your
treasure is, THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO." Mat. 6:19,21
The life motivation of the average evangelical changes very little upon "giving his heart
to Jesus." He still lives for his own prosperity in pursuit of the same worldly aspirations
he had before supposedly getting "saved." Christ is integrated into his covetous, self-
fulfilling lifestyle, rather than Christ's self-denying, holy lifestyle supplanting his. The
Bible says: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATURE: OLD THINGS
ARE PASSED AWAY; behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:17
"Love not the world, NEITHER THE THINGS THAT ARE lN THE WORLD. If any man love
the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). Rather than forsake the
world for Christ's sake, the average evangelical tries to "Christianize" the world.
Whatever happens to be "in fashion" with the sin- mad world is tolerated by the
evangelical gospel. Yet the Bible clearly teaches: "BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS
WORLD" (Rom. 12:2). "Whosoever therefore will be A FRlEND OF THE WORLD IS THE
ENEMY OF GOD" (James 4:4). "WHEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND
BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord." 2 Cor. 6:17
Friend, if you are an evangelical, please "EXAMlNE YOURSELVES whether ye be in the
faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is
in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13:5) Christ didn't go "too far" when dealing
with that young man, nor were the Lord's requirements unreasonable, for, "No man,
having put his hand to the plow, and LOOKlNG BACK, is fit for the kingdom of God"
(Luke 9:62). Now, what about you?
Did you repent, when you called on Christ to save you? What did you forsake at the
time? Anything? Did you change your mind and FORSAKE your known sin and SUBMIT
to Christ, handing over to Him the rule over your life? Did your old life die with Christ?
Are you trying to hold on to the world with one hand and Christ with the other?
Don't misunderstand. We're not talking about a "works" salvation. It takes faith to
get saved. But if you didn't have a repentant attitude when you exercised faith, then you
didn't surrender yourself over to Christ. You didn't allow Him to buy you back from sin.
You never got saved! Jesus warned: "I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE
SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH." Luke 13:3
IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven? The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).
BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you
from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated
between you and your God," Isaiah 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For
all have sinned, and come short
of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23.
SECONDLY, you must realize that there is
NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn
Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God: Not of works, lest any
man should boast." Eph. 2:8-9 Baptism, good
deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are
all examples of good works that cannot save you,
because: "Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he [Christ] saved
us," Titus 3:5.
THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through
Jesus Christ. He said: "I am the way, the
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) THAT'S
WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us." (Rom. 5:8-9)
THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your
mind); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner
and can't save yourself. And call upon Christ, and
Him alone, to save you. "if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and
shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." Romans 10:9
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