Posts Tagged ‘Commandments’

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Eternity © By Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:20-21 – WHAT ELSE MUST I DO TO GET TO HEAVEN? – Part 4

The day was beautiful outside but the hospital ward was dark and crowded as I spoke to June. She told me that she had lived a good life but asked how could she be certain that it would be enough to have eternal life.

In Matthew 19:21 The rich young ruler, like June, comes to discover some answers about eternal life. In his own way of thinking, the young man has kept all the commandments. He says, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments. What else must I do?(Matthew 19:20 NLT).He knows that somehow, despite keeping the commandments, he has fallen short of eternal life.

If I had been a disciple I would have interrupted this young man’s assertion and repeated parts of the Sermon on the Mount, since this rich young man does not see that even his attitudes and thoughts are important (see Matthew 5). He doesn’t understand that no-one can keep the commandments perfectly. But unlike me wanting simply to prove a point, Jesus wants to do everything possible to lead this young man to eternal life.

Mark 10:21 (NLT) says, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”

The young man is confident about his own righteousness but not about eternal life.There is an intuitive awareness that eternal life eludes him which elicited this question in the first place to Jesus.

WHAT USE ARE THE 10 COMMANDMENTS?

Paul the Apostle, also a man of authority in his life before he knew Christ, discovered the truth about the commandments when he said in Romans 7:7-12 NLT, “In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” … the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.”

If keeping the commandments is not enough to guarantee me a place in heaven, what else must I do?

Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

Here’s the chance for this young man to be the 13th Disciple of Jesus!

Why does Jesus say, “If you want to be perfect?”Doesn’t this contradict what He has just told the young man about only God being good? Why does He choose generosity as a means of obtaining eternal life?How is perfection based on selling possessions? Or is it the last part of his direction that is the most important –following Jesus?

1 John 3:16-20 says it well, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?…Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, … “

Was Jesus touching a raw nerve and knew that this rich young man could not follow Him wholeheartedly without divesting himself of that which he worshiped above eternal life – riches?

When confronted, the rich young ruler’s attitude proves to be selfish. Possessions are more important to him than following Christ.

DO I HAVE TO SELL EVERYTHING I HAVE AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?

Is Jesus introducing a new commandment? Is selling everything I have and giving it to the poor now the criteria of eternal life? I don’t think so. Nowhere else in the Bible are we told to sell all we have in order to follow Christ.

For the rich young ruler, riches stood in the way of receiving eternal life because he chose to follow them rather than Christ. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Are you willing to allow riches to be used for My purposes as a servant in your life, rather than allowing them to rule over your life?”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN YOUR LIFE?

The invitation Christ gives us is perhaps best expressed in these questions, “What takes first place in your life? Are you willing to give this up in order to follow Christ wholeheartedly?” The cost of authentic faith for you will be quite different to the cost of authentic faith for me. All of us repent in order to follow Christ. All of us turn away from something in order to turn toward Christ. What does that mean for you? (Continued in Part 5)

Pastor Ross

 

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Eternity © by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Matthew 19:17 – TWO PREREQUISITES FOR HAVING ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS (Part 2)

With a worried look on her face as she sat upright in her hospital bed, June said, “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven. Have I done enough?” How could I know that June would die the next day? June would have loved the answers that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler who came to Him with the same question about good works and eternal life but her response to Christ was so different.

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replies. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).

Surely Jesus is good and therefore should be able to answer his question. Why does Jesus say “Why ask Me about what is good?” Why does Jesus say, “Keep the commandments” and not “Follow Me” or “Believe in Me” first?

Jesus could have quoted the words that would eventually be written in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Jesus could have quoted words which Paul would write in Titus 3:5 (NLT)“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Where is His evangelical zeal? He didn’t go through the 4 spiritual laws or Evangelism Explosion points to cover the gospel and elicit a response of faith. Why did he bring up keeping the law, of all things? Jesus, what are you doing? Where is Your theology?

Then again, perhaps the 4 spiritual laws and our traditional methods are not the only way to share the gospel. What was Jesus trying to get this young man to realize? For that matter…

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW IF I AM TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

As I shared with June I told her that not one of us is good enough to get to heaven by ourselves. Like Jesus, I said in effect that…

  1. NO-ONE IS GOOD BUT GOD. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This young man was quite satisfied that he was a good man. He was arrogant enough to think that a perfect God would accept a flawed human standard of goodness. This is a common misconception.

 

Instead of saying “You are a sinner”, Jesus makes it clear to him that no-one is good but God. It amounts to the same thing.

 

If God alone is good then God alone holds the answers to receiving eternal life. It can’t be earned by us, only received by us and in a way that will not compromise the perfect character of God.

 

  1. WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. WE DON’T EARN IT. Jesus says to him, “…if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”.

I told June that Eternal Life is a gift, not something we earn, work for or deserve. But what about the rich young ruler?

Jesus gives this young man an impossible task. If it were possible to keep the commandments perfectly as Jesus did, then he could receive the gift of heaven. But no-one can. He has already said “No-one is good but God.” Paul would eventually write, For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.(Romans 3:20 NLT).

Was Jesus helping this young man see that there was nothing he could do to receive eternal life by himself? Was He helping him to place his trust alone in a perfect God rather than his good works? Is this what He was saying to June as I spoke to her that day?

What happens next? (see part 3 for more of the story).

Pastor Ross

PART 1 – MATTHEW 12:1-3 – JESUS BROKE THE LAW! WHY CAN’T I?

Does Jesus Speed?

Not long ago I witnessed an ACCIDENT. A car ahead of me pulled out of it’s lane into a bus lane and collected the car that had been coming up from behind him in that lane. It left a sizeable dent in each car. Each morning as I travel to the Shalom Centre I see many people use Sydney bus lanes ILLEGALLY. It’s so easy and CONVENIENT to do. The temptation to save time and zip into a bus lane obviously overrides the possibility that a policeman will pull them over at the corner. Living on the EDGE! Is it worth the risk of 3 licence demerit points and $253 fine and progressive $50 fines until it is paid? It’s not! And I should know. But doesn’t Jesus break the law when it’s convenient?

In Matthew 12:1-2 isn’t Jesus just IGNORING parts of the law that He doesn’t like? Is He walking to the EDGE of the law to explore where the BOUNDARIES really are? Is He the kind of person who would drive past a policeman just over the SPEED LIMIT or leave it until the last second to get through the AMBER TRAFFIC LIGHT instead of stopping? Or drive in a bus lane?

Matthew 12:1-2 speaks about a time when “…Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were HUNGRY, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, Your disciples are BREAKING THE LAW by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” 

If it was me I would have said something like “What is your problem? Mind your own business! Who made you the Sabbath police?” Besides, the Law of Deuteronomy 23:25 (NLT) says “…when you enter your neighbour’s field of grain, you may pluck the heads of grain with your hand, but you must not harvest it with a sickle.” So they weren’t STEALING.

The problem is that the disciples are plucking grain on a SATURDAY. Saturday is the SABBATH, a rest day. Picking grain is viewed as work by the Pharisees even though technically the law only prohibited harvesting grain for PROFIT on the Sabbath. It’s not as if they were driving a Massey Fergusen tractor with a COMBINE HARVESTER on the back and setting up a CUT PRICE SILO SALE for the grain.

Jesus always seems to confront me with my LEGALISM and calls me to think carefully about my responses to God. There’s a difference between obeying God’s law and legalism.

“Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.” (Matthew 12:3 NLT)

So can I break the law everytime it suits me? What about speeding because I’m late to work? I could try explaining to a policeman “Haven’t you heard that when it didn’t suit David to keep the law, he broke it? I have a genuine need, officer. Learn the meaning of the word ‘mercy'” I don’t think that this will go down well and even though it might be a genuine need, it wouldn’t stop me from getting a ticket and perhaps even a psychiatric evaluation.

So what is Jesus saying here? Where does it stop? What’s the point where I am no longer on the boundary but well and truly OVER THE EDGE? Sometimes we view the law as UNNECESSARY simply because in our sinfulness, we don’t want to obey it. That’s NOT what Jesus is advocating!

I don’t believe Jesus is saying that it is OK to DISOBEY THE LAW if you have a genuine need or if others have a genuine need, but I keep reading commentaries that say that genuine need makes it OK for Jesus to break the law!

An AMBULANCE DRIVER will speed legally in order to get someone to hospital, but he is breaking the law if he does it any other time. Same ambulance. Same driver. Same speed. Different purpose. Obeying the law depends on fulfilling the PURPOSE OF THE LAW.

Jesus is saying “The real PURPOSE or SPIRIT OF THE SABBATH LAW allows for MEETING GENUINE NEEDS without disobedience being an issue. You DISOBEY the Sabbath Law when you merely go through a ritual, perform a ceremony and adhere to a regulation. That is not the PURPOSE or spirit of the Sabbath law.”

Did Jesus break the Sabbath or did He show what keeping the Sabbath law was really all about? Matthew 5:17-20 (NLT) “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to ACCOMPLISH THEIR PURPOSE. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the SMALLEST DETAIL of God’s law will disappear until its PURPOSE is achieved. …”But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”  

1 John 5:3 (NLT) says “Loving God means KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS, and His commandments are NOT BURDENSOME.”   

Jesus didn’t BREAK THE LAW! He invented it! He lived by it, and fulfilled it perfectly. The Pharisees broke it by not understanding the purpose of the law and by applying it wrongly.

God bless you Church as you “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby FULFILL the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NASB95)

Pastor Ross