August 4, 2016

How to inherit eternal life

A rich young man came to Jesus asking what he should do to inherit eternal life. The typical answer is “nothing” for eternal life is a gift of God by grace through faith. We cannot earn eternal life.

However, Jesus told this man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He knew the man’s heart; he was not willing to do this so walked away. Jesus told His disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” He was not willing for a radical change.

Those who heard it wondered who could be saved, but Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And they did . . .

“And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.’” (Luke 18:31–33)

Verse 34 says they didn’t understand, but they went with Him anyway. This is the faith given by grace. It is not a foolish bravado, nor an ignorant loyalty. They had been with Jesus; they knew that He was worth any sacrifice He asked of them.

Sometimes Christians evaluate a person by their abilities and say that person would make a good Christian. This is not what God does. As long as I think there is something in me that makes me valuable to God, I am not of any value. God cannot use my virtues, as if I had any. He is interested in only one thing:

“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4)
“All these things (heaven and earth) my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

Chambers says, “The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God.”

Faith in Christ means that my faith is not in myself. Faith understands who He is (God in human flesh), and by Him, understanding who I am (a sinner) and who I am not (a hotshot).

Yesterday’s post stuck with me all day. People tell me I am smart, etc. etc. I earned good marks in the educational system and can do this thing and that, but just as the disciples didn’t understand without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, anything I know of God and spiritual truth is a gift. It has nothing to do with IQ. In fact, that and other human qualities can get in the way of both knowledge and humility.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

Knowing God through Jesus Christ is both the key to eternal life and to wisdom . . .

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:27–31)

The rich young man did not want to be poor. The ‘wise’ do not want to be foolish, not the strong weak, just as the proud do not want to be humble or boast in someone else. Yet even coming off my perch does not save me nor grant me eternal life. I have it because Jesus chose me and brought me into a saving relationship with Himself.

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