Not So Quick

Have you ever asked yourself, like I have, what was lacking in the rich young ruler’s life that turned him away from following Jesus? Something nagged at him to ask Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. He said he kept the commandments and Jesus didn’t fault him in that. What was missing?

He may have been thinking that there was something he needed to add to the rule list. “Just tell me and I’ll be on it.”

Or he may have been thinking that he was doing alright and wanted Jesus to confirm him in his performance.

But that wasn’t it.  FullSizeRender (4)

Just like this blog is fond of repeating that acceptance with God is by Christ alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, this young ruler had everything, including wealth and possessions, but lacked the one thing that could give him eternal life.

Without faith in Jesus he had nothing.

He was a rebel in God’s world. He was spiritually dead. Notice in today’s culture, he would be described as a seeker, someone who was close to God, and whom God was pleased with. But in truth his heart was of stone. His sins were not forgiven. He was under God’s wrath.

So what does Jesus tell him?

To sell his possessions and give his wealth to the poor.

Why would Jesus say that instead of telling him he needed to have faith in him?

No doubt Jesus saw that he trusted in his considerable wealth and put his finger on it to expose it. The young ruler heard that and walked away sorrowful. He was willing to do anything, but part with his riches. He loved them more than God. While being rich he was poor. He failed to realize that eternal life was more wonderful than all the riches in the world.

We see time and time again that those who feel secure in their performance, Jesus refers them to the law, but to those who are a mess, like the woman caught in adultery, he consoles with the gospel.

If you’re keeping the rules without a corresponding love for God inside, you of all people are not keeping any rule. You must be poor and needy inside, a beggar of God’s love and life and then he will grant it to you.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

faith in Jesus, the one person who could give him what he needed.

And notice how Jesus answered him.

 

 

 

 

Foolish Delusions

Have you ever felt the desire to do something spectacular for God? I have.

That’s my attitude for most everything I do.

Who wants to be a nobody missionary, or a parent raising a family in obscurity, or a computer programmer locked in an anonymous cubicle somewhere?

We have this burning desire to make a splash. To be known. To be admired.

It’s a common feeling each of us has, including some of the great saints. IMG_2571

“Each one of us carries in our heart a horrible religious fanatic. We would all like to do something so spectacular that we could brag and say, ‘See what I’ve done for God.’ This religious fanatic, if not watched, will destroy our faith with foolish delusions of good works. God’s approval does not come to us through good works, but through Christ whose works are perfect. And He did them for us. We own his perfect record. It’s a gift God has given to us, his saints. – Martin Luther

How would our lives change if we really believed all our works were perfect, that we’ve already done the big splash because we’re in Christ? And that God is pleased with us?

For me, it took the weight of the mountains off my shoulders. I was able to breathe and relax. The performance was over. What joy!

Knowing that everything I do in Christ is mediated through him and therefore acceptable to God was revolutionary.

Even my best works require Christ’s mediation.

Can you imagine what my sloppy, lazy works require?

The same.

We don’t do perfect this side of heaven.

Everything we do is mixed in with remaining sin.

That’s why we need a Savior at all times.

That’s why he’s in heaven interceding for us and mediating everything we do.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Talk to me.

 

 

Are You Singing?

A friend of mine has been asking lately what the difference is between a true Christian and a false one.

My answer is simple. A true Christian is someone who believes in Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone.

But my friend continues to ask, “But what about the evidence in his life?”

What of it? grape vine

James says, “Faith without works is dead.” And God says the greatest work is to believe in His Son whom He has sent into the world so all men may be saved.

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” – John 6:28, 29 ESV

So if you believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior who died on the cross to pay the price for your sins, then this is counted as a good work in God’s eyes. In fact it’s the greatest work because without faith it is impossible to please God.

John 15 says, if you are a branch that is united to the vine, then you will show forth good fruit. Have you ever seen a branch huffing and puffing and sweating to produce grapes?

The same is true of you. As a Christian you are doing good works all the time, but most of the time you won’t see them because you’d be tempted to pride. But God sees them and He is pleased with you because you are in Christ. See Romans 6. Ephesians 1 & 2.

And remember, all your works are tainted with sin, even good things like prayer, witnessing, giving to the poor. They all must be mediated by Christ in order for God to accept them.

So I told my friend to stop worrying and start singing.

You do the same.