Thursday, July 26, 2007

The rich, young, delusional ruler (part 2)

The rich young ruler has a second delusion- a delusion about how one “inherits” eternal life.
The opening verse certainly sets the stage for how Jesus will approach this delusional religious man. He shows his misconception of what is good, but in the same breath shows his misconception about how one is granted eternal life. Verse 18 is short, but it tells us a lot. Notice what question the man poses to Jesus in verse 18 once more-

“Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

I sense a misapprehension of the gospel. Consider just three words in verse 18- GOOD, DO, & INHERIT. Do you see how closely the man links being good and doing things with earning salvation? This simple sentence reveals a whole misconstruction of our relationship with God. This verse sets the stage for how Jesus will proceed with this man. The man thinks that you must do something, follow a set of rules, complete a check list, in order to gain favor with God. It is clear in the way he words his question. The irony is that he does use the correct wording concerning how we receive salvation or eternal life. It is indeed an inheritance. This is for sure.

How is an inheritance received? Someone else earns money or obtains a precious item and wills it to you. An inheritance, strictly speaking, is not earned. It is a gracious bestowment to a person who is related to the giver. The man makes a common mistake: He assumes that inheritance of eternal life is connected to our righteousness. In essence, we do something that requires God to reward us. We behave righteously, so God must give us something for our behavior. The man believes his righteous works merit favor from God. In essence, he asks Jesus, "what must I do to require God to accept me in to his Kingdom". There could hardly be a more serious error in understanding.


Frontier Forest said...

O the arrogance of mankind, thinking any of us can make God do something we want or need. Like Tony said, “Following a set of rules, complete a check list, in order to gain favor with God.” All wood, hey and stubble, surrounded by and filled with “fried-pride!”
Pastor Tony, exposing the nerve of the delusional, rich young ruler, reminds me some “pew-jumpers” I used to fellowship with. Those who would dare to force our Sovereign God in a box, then haughtily command the “I AM” to perform or do something for them. Probably many have heard this kind of “flesh-reaping” dialog. “God, Your Word said it and Your Word is truth! Therefore, in the Name of Jesus, I loose the power of the Holy Spirit to bring what I want, need, or expect about! I will confess and agree with Your Word, that MY desires are met!”
This statement contains truth, partial truth, but there is “serious error in understanding.” “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Proverbs 16:18

Anonymous said...

I wonder where he learned this? He probably did not have a copy of the scriptures which would mean his local Scribe or Pharisees told him this. If he was "rich" then maybe the synagogue leader told him whatever he wanted to hear so that he would keep giving his 10%.

rgmann said...

Of course, the rich young ruler was only partially wrong. He was correct in his theology that eternal life is the merited reward for good works. In Matthew’s account, Jesus replied to his question by saying: “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). Paul wrote that “the righteousness which is of the law” consists in obeying the commandments: “the man who does those things shall live by them” (Rom. 10:5). Scripture makes it clear that “the doers of the law will be justified” (Rom. 2:13). Indeed, that’s precisely how Jesus earned eternal life for His elect people -- by His “obedience” to the law (Rom. 5:19) and “completing the work” assigned to Him by the Father (John 17:4).

The rich young ruler’s problem was that he didn’t recognize his own (and all mankind’s) depravity. He was a sinner who had “fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23; 5:15-19) and had earned the “wages of sin,” which is death (Rom. 6:23), rather than the reward for obedience, which is life (Rom. 4:4; Gal. 3:12). Until he came to that realization, he would never ask the correct question: “What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30) from the condemnation I so richly deserve?