Monday, July 21, 2014
What Does Being A Christian Cost?
“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.” (Matthew 19:13-15)
The disciples were concerned that the children would distract people from hearing what Jesus had to say, so they told the people no to t bring them. Jesus told them to allow the children to come because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people with childlike faith. A few years ago a number of churches forbade their people to bring babies or small children into the main service because they might create a distraction and quench the Holy Spirit. Apparently the God they serve is not strong enough to overcome a crying baby, or it doesn’t matter that Jesus said not to stop them. Jesus took time for those little children right then.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:16-17)
The young man literally asked what he had to do to be assured of salvation, of eternal life. Jesus challenged him calling him good since only God is good, effectively asking him to commit to whether he believed Jesus was God or not. He then said that whether the young man got eternal life or not depended on whether he kept the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:18-20)
The young man asked which commandments Jesus meant, indicating he didn’t consider them all of equal importance. When Jesus began listing them he said he had kept all those since he was child and asked what else he was missing.
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:21-22)
Jesus said there was one keeping him from having eternal life. He would have to get rid of his belongings and follow Christ. That was more than the man was willing to do, and he walked away. Jesus said all the law could be summed up in loving God with everything we had and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. While he kept the outward appearance of the law, the young man never got to the core of it, loving God more than anything else. His belongings meant more to him than either Christ or salvation. He demonstrated what Luke 14:33 says, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24)
Proverbs 10:15 and 18:11 both state, “The rich man's wealth is his strong city…” Rich people tend to depend on their wealth to keep them safe. It is far harder for most of them to turn loose of their sense of security and trust God than it is for a person who has no sense of security. Very few are ever willing to make the choice.
The walled cities shut their main gates at night to keep out enemies. A smaller, more easily defended gate that would only one person at a time through was left open to allow access by citizens who might need to get in or out after hours. Because it was so small, it was refered to as the eye of the needle. A camel would have to get down on it’s belly and scoot through the gate. It was very difficult to get one through, but Jesus said it was easier than getting a rich person to trust God enough o give up his belongings, and unless they are willing to, they cannot be saved.
“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)
When the disciples realized what Jesus said was required for salvation, they asked who could ever be saved. Clearly more was required than simply being baptized or repeating a special prayer.
Jesus said it was impossible by human power and depended on God’s. In John 6:44, he said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” They can’t get saved unless God gives them the desire. No amount of psychological or emotional pressure can cause them to get saved.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…” Salvation is a gift from God, by his grace. It is obtained through faith, and the faith comes from God rather than our own mental determination. We cannot make ourselves believe enough to save us. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves except accept his gift.
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matthew 19:27-30)
Peter, Andrew, James, and john had given up ownership of fishing ships to follow Christ. Matthew had given up a lucrative career as a public employee, and others had given other careers. It would be hard to go back and start over, and the longer they waited the harder it would get. Peter was asking for reassurance that there would be benefit to them in the long term. Jesus stated that because they followed him, they would each have a throne in heaven and lead the twelve tribes of Israel along with Christ when he assumes his heavenly throne. They are twelve of the twenty four elders described in Revelation 5.
In addition, everyone including themselves would be given far more than they had lost by choosing to serve God, whether they lost their parents, their children, their relatives, or personal property. They would receive a hundred times as much as serving God had cost them. Ultimately they would gain far more than any temporary loss. It was and is the best possible investment.