Beloved Seeker of Eternal Life
In Luke 18:18-24 as well as Matthew 19:16-30 and Mark 10:17-22 we have three accounts of the story of a rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking how he could attain eternal life. Actually, he was a superficial seeker, full of himself and really not that concerned about God and eternal life. Romans 3:11 teaches us that no one truly seeks after God. In John 6:44 Jesus declared that “no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him. Luke 19:10 declares that “Jesus came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost.” He did not come to save the self righteous.
Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can come to God when you get good and ready. That time will never come. Isaiah 55:6-7 warns us to “Seek Him while He may be found. Call on Him while He is near.” You can only come to Him as God’s Spirit draws you to Christ.
I fear that many go through life rejecting Christ because they want to live their own lives independent of God; however, they plan to get right with God in old age just before they die. The problem is, none of us know when we will die. Proverbs 27:1 warns us, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest no what a day may bring forth.” “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2
The Bible starts out with God seeking sinful man. Genesis 3:9 and concludes in Revelation 22:17 with God’s Spirit and His Bride (that is, we Christians) calling the lost to come to Christ.
Let’s look now, at this supposed seeker after eternal life. Most of us would be thrilled to meet one who asked “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
We would quickly take him to the Romans Road ( Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10) and invite him to pray the sinner’s prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Then we would chalk him up as another convert. Jesus, the Master Soul Winner, did not do that. Of course, the Roman’s Road had not yet been written by the Apostle Paul.
HIS FATAL FLAWS
1. He did not recognize Jesus as God.
Jesus took time to help this man understand some basic truths that he needed to understand before he could be saved. Before one can be saved, He has to have a correct understanding of who Jesus is. The seeker had addressed Him as “Good Master” He recognized Jesus as a Good man and a Good teacher, but He did not yet know Him as God in human flesh.
Jesus wants him to think this through. He asks the seeker, “Why do you call me “Good? There is none good but God.” Until we understand that Jesus is God in human
flesh, we cannot be saved. Not just one of many gods, but the only one God, Creator of the universe. God the creator of the universe come down in human flesh to die for our sins. That’s the Jesus we Christians love and adore.
The rich young ruler saw Jesus only as a good teacher. He was not yet ready to hear and understand the Gospel.
Christian friend, when dealing with an inquirer, make sure he understands who Jesus is before you proceed to explain the Gospel to him.
II John 9 warns us to beware of any teacher who is wrong on the doctrine of Christ. What is the doctrine of Christ?
1. Jesus is the one true God, creator of Heaven and the universe, including earth and all that is on the earth.
2. In order to save us from our sins, He became a man through the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus. He was totally human, though He never ceased to be God.
3. He became a man in order to pay the penalty of sin that we deserved to pay in hell throughout eternity. He, our holy God, bore that penalty on the cross, suffering and dying for our sins.
4. Three days later He arose bodily from the tomb and showed Himself alive in His glorified body to many witnesses, including His disciples and others.
5. Then He ascended from the Mount of Olives back to Heaven in His glorified body, as His disciples watched Him disappear from their sight.
6, Before He left, He promised He would return to this earth to judge sinners and set up His Kingdom on this earth for 1000 years.
7. At the end of the Millennium He will destroy this earth as we know it, judge the lost and cast them with the devil and the anti-christ and his false prophet into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
8. He will make a new Heaven and new earth and we His redeemed saints will enjoy sinless perfection with Him forever.
Though you are not expected to understand all of this in order to be saved, you must understand and accept who Jesus is and that He died on the cross and rose again to pay the full penalty for our sins.
2. He did not recognize that he was a sinner.
Not only did Jesus want the rich young ruler to understand Jesus’ deity; but He also wanted the young ruler to understand that he was a sinner. In order to do so, He confronted him with the ten commandments. The young ruler in self-righteousness declared that he had kept all of God’s Laws from childhood. He did not see himself as a sinner.
Just as no one can be saved until they accept the truth of who Jesus is; so no one can be saved until they accept the fact that they are sinners.
3. He did not accept that salvation is by God’s grace and not by our works.
The young ruler asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer is clear throughout the Bible that it is not by our works of righteousness, but by trusting in and receiving God’s Gift of His grace, His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5-6.
From the days of Adam and Eve, salvation has always been through the sacrifice of innocent blood. The animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament were all pictures of Jesus, the Lamb of God who would be the one, final sacrifice for sin forever. No one, including Abraham and the other Old Testament saints were ever saved by their works, but through faith in Christ’s coming sacrifice. Read and study carefully Galatians 3 and Romans 4 for clear teaching on this.
4. He valued his wealth more than eternal life. Luke 18:23, Mark 10:22
HOW DID JESUS DEAL WITH HIM?
Jesus’ heart ached for him in love, as He did for Jerusalem and for all the world.
He forced him to confront his sin of covetousness before he could comprehend his need of the Gospel
No one ever comes to Jesus for salvation until they understand their sinfulness and understand that they cannot save themselves through their own self efforts.
THE SAD RESULTS
He went away rejecting Christ for he valued his material wealth more than the wealth of knowing Christ as his Saviour from sin. Read Mark 8:34-38 for a grave warning concerning this.
Not only did he go away as a lost sinner, but he went away as an enemy of Christ. One who is not for Christ is against Him, Matthew 12:30 tells us. No one can be neutral about Jesus. We are either His friends or His enemies.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO AN INTERESTING THOUGHT
I do not state this as a fact for it is not clearly taught in the Scriptures, but I wonder whether this rich young ruler who turned his back on Jesus could possibly be Saul of Tarsus who eventually was saved and was renamed Paul the great Apostle.
Let me show you some similarities.
1. He was intense and exuberant. He ran to meet Jesus. Before and after his conversion, whatever Paul did, he did with all his heart.
2. He was certainly self righteous, just as Paul was. Paul writes about his self righteousness before he was saved in Philippians 3.
3. As the sin of covetousness kept the rich young ruler from Christ, so the sin of covetousness was the sin that caused Paul to become convicted as a sinner. He writes about this in Romans 7:7.
As that young ruler turned away from Christ to disappear into the darkness of sin, perhaps he grew angry with Jesus and became His chief enemy.
If that were the case, we can thank God that after Jesus ascension back to Heaven, He continued to pursue after him all the way to the Road to Damascus where Saul of Tarsus was traveling on his way to persecute more Christians. The glorified Christ knocked him down and confronted him with who He was. He was gloriously converted and called of God to be His Apostle to the gentiles. God used Him to write much of the New Testament and give to us the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of His Church in the thirteen Epistles he wrote.
No, I do not strongly believe that the young ruler of Luke 18 became the Apostle Paul. It is only an idea I have considered. Note how Jesus concludes this story in the Mark 10 account. In Mark 10:27 Jesus said as He and His disciples watched that young ruler disappear from sight, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”
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