Tuesday, September 30, 2014
What Can I Make the Bible Say? Works Salvation Part 2
#2: “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,” Matthew 19:17.
This passage has likewise been utilized to teach that works are necessary for salvation, since it comes from the lips of our Lord. The one who approached Him was a wealthy young man, who seemed to have invested interest in the prosperity gospel; that is, the richer one is the more God is blessing him. Christ’s answer contained numerous points worth considering but the main thrust of the message devastated the rich young man. His riches were a hindrance that prevented him from entering God’s kingdom. Why? “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,” 1st Timothy 6:17-18.
The rich young man was both haughty (being presumptuous that he had kept the law in its entirety since his youth) and trusted in uncertain riches, for when the Lord commanded him to give up his wealth and share with those who truly needed it, the shot told. Rather than heeding Christ and following Him he turned away. The finale consisted of two simple words: follow Me, Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21. The shift needed to be made from the rich young man trusting in himself, that he was righteous, to trusting in the righteousness that Jesus alone offers, see Luke 18:9-14.
This is the practical application of our Lord’s teaching that a man cannot serve two masters, both wealth and God, Luke 16:13. Such greed is tantamount to idolatry, Colossians 3:5. James writes that in an effort to ingratiate ourselves so with the world we have become adulterers and enemies of God, James 4:4. The object of our faith shifts from the living God to affluence. The rich tend to establish treasures on earth rather than treasures “in Heaven,” Matthew 19:21. The rich heap up treasures, according to James, but not for their spiritual good, James 5:3. Their life on earth tends to be portrayed as one of pleasure and indulgence, James 5:5. Jesus desired to shift the young man’s perspective to his true need: a righteousness that law keeping could not purchase. Listen to one former law keeper’s testimony.
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If anyone anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith,” Philippians 3:4-9.
The rich young man fell victim to the deceit of legalism and its inherent works-related salvation. “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes,” Romans 10:2-4. Jesus our Lord was attempting to point out his error by bringing him to the one place where he sees his own sin: in his love for earthly things which constitutes idolatry. A two way choice was given; the Lord commanded him to give up his fleeting riches to follow Him.
It was Christ or the world, and the soul that throws itself on Christ has acknowledged that they need Him, for they realize that nothing in them can save them. The Psalmist writes: “Salvation belongs to the Lord,” Psalm 3:8. Yahweh Himself agrees when He declares “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior,” Isaiah 43:11. Jesus alone is our Lord and Savior, forcing every person alive to make this critical choice: do we trust in Christ to save us? Or do we trust in our own effort? Learn the lesson of the rich young man and his great disappointment; we either follow Christ or we fall far short of the salvation we yearn for, but are unwilling to receive as a gift of God’s grace, Romans 5:15.