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In reading the wonderful parable of the Rich Young Man, Matthew 19:16-17 says "And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing must I do that I may obtain eternal life?" Note: The young man didn't say what must I believe?; or how can I obtain the faith necessary to get eternal life"? The young man said "what ... must I do?"... and Jesus said to him "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." My sense is that One refers to God, life refers to eternal life, and commandments refers to the 10 Commandments.

This is a very direct instruction by Jesus telling us to act in accordance with the commandments. Doesn't this requirement conflict somewhat with the notion that we are justified by faith alone (i.e. saved by God's grace through the faith He gives us)? Uh oh. Here we are again with the faith versus works questions.

I guess what I'm thinking now is that the "justified by faith" that Paul uses in Romans 3:28 & Galatians 2:16 seems insufficient. Paul's saying in Ephesians 2:8-9 that "we are saved by God's grace through faith" seems more complete and more truthful but still seems to fall slightly short of the mark. Personally, I feel more comfortable saying "we are saved by God's grace through our active faith." "Active" conveys the idea that if you have faith, we can't help but respond in service to God and in trying to lead a more righteous life (we won't suddenly become perfect and without sin, but we'll have the grace to keep on trying)."

And thankfully we don't need to strive to be perfect. In verses 25-26 later in the same parable, Jesus' disciples asked "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." There's God's grace!!

Your comments please.

God's Grace to you,
Jeff

The story of the rich young man provides a poignant contrast between God’s grace and self-reliance to satisfy the requirements of God’s perfect law.

As Jeff highlighted above, this man asked “What good things must _I_ do to get eternal life?” Not “How can I be saved?”, let alone “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” The young man had a watered down understanding of God’s expectations, and had deluded himself into believing that he was actually meeting the law’s demands.

If we insist that our actions be judged objectively on the basis of the law apart from God’s grace, the law crushes with requirements that we cannot meet.

Conversely, when we recognize the full weight of the law and see how there is no way we can measure up, we fall before God pleading for mercy. “Lord, there is no way I can meet your requirements. Cover me with Christ’s righteousness.” And when with humility and repentance we ask Him to save us, he freely does so.

I see an important lesson of the story being that salvation does indeed require perfectly keeping the law—but that “there is only One who is good” (vs. 17). Left to ourselves, salvation is impossible, but “with God all things are possible” (vs. 26). It is Christ’s goodness which satisfies the demands of the law, and not our attempts to be good.

Interestingly, wealth has the tendency to encourage self-reliance—which is always at odds with the kind of relationship God desires with us. (Hence the reason it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven in vs. 23.) It was for a specific reason that God gave the Israelites manna for only one day at a time (Ex.13:19). He wants our explicit trust in all things, including our salvation, rather than proud self-reliance.

John

Thank you for your response yesterday. It definitely did shed some light on those passages I had questions about :-)

GOD Bless!

Mike,

I love Psalm 24 and Chris Tomlin's song "Give Us Clean Hands" Is this the one you are thinking of?...

"We bow our hearts
we bend our knees
O Spirit make us humble
We turn our eyes
from evil things
O Lord we cast down our idols...

So give us clean hands,
Give us pure hearts,
Let us not lift our souls to another.

O God let us be a generation who seeks Your face, O God of Jacob."

These lyrics are very close to the psalm:

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
-Psalm 24:3-6

What a beautiful psalm--I love the way Tomlin turns it into a plea, a prayer for clean hands and a pure heart.

We are adept at making things complicated--we make our lives complicated, make our walk with the Lord complicated, we even make Christianity complicated. So I love the simplicity of this prayer...

Give us clean hands
Give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our soul to another
Let us be a generation who seeks Your face...

This certainly boils it down for me.

I enjoyed listening to this song over at Youtube this morning...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onGbkeWkA64

Jeff
This is how I looked at it.
Laws are as important as having faith. Laws show us what we need to do to live a life that is pleasing to GOD or in short how to live a righteous life. It helps humans differentiate what is right and what is wrong or what is pleasing to GOD and what is not pleasing to GOD. If laws were not there we would have started making our own laws  and said this is how we need to live. Who are we to say what is right and what is wrong? What is right to someone might be wrong to the other person.
But just because we have the laws to follow does not mean we can be saved either. We can only be saved or put right again with GOD, only if we are born again in CHRIST (Last Adam) and washed off the sin we inherited from the first Adam.
Ref: http://www.abetterhope.com/whois/adam.html

That promise of salvation was in the scriptures long time ago. It was told in the Old Testament time and time again that a messiah would come to save us. Therefore, those who ‘Believe’ in this ONE PROMISE and hold onto their faith (very important!), be it people from the past (people before CHRIST) or present (All the people after CHRIST, including us) or those who are to be born in the future will definitely be saved by the grace of GOD.
CHRIST knew where the rich man’s heart was, He knew he did not fully believe in the promise or have faith in the truth and that he blindly followed the laws to a righteous living. Hence the second question to the rich man about leaving his wealth. It was only a test I think. The story of the rich man I guess is to show us or help us measure our faith. Is our faith in CHRIST strong enough to let go of our worldly possessions. We just don’t realize all that we have Is from GOD 
Just a quote I thought I’d share also:
“For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17”

Jeff and Arielle,

Arielle - Great comments and spot on. One thing to add about your comments on OT, present and future believers. At the point that the person's heart was right AND they believed righteousness is imputed on them (saved).

In Hebrews Abraham was a believer when he left Ur (Mesopatamia). His faith was still childlike (like a "baby (new) Christian", and it wavered (Egypt experiance), but Abraham never lost his imputed righteousness. God will bring a believer along and there will be stumbles, but he will never forsake us or leave us once we make the original commitment to believe. We are his sheep and He knows us - even if our faith wavers or we go off the path. God will lovingly bring us back, or perhaps chastise us into returning, but we can never be separated from the Father after a true conversion. (Rom 8:38)

This will be reinforced all through the Bible and I will try to remember to keep pointing out God's unwavering commitment to believers.
======================================================
Jeff

Let's look at the conversation.

You are correct the man asked what he had to do to get eternal life.

IMPORTANT: Jesus was not teaching how to obtain eternal life. Jesus was answering the question given the parameters the rich young man laid out. What can someone do to obtain eternal life (heaven). Obey the Law (commandments).

That is true. The Problem is NO ONE can do it. The Law was never meant to save, but point out God's standards for perfection. Everyone has sinned (even the young rich man) -

"There is none righteous,not even one" (Romans 9:10, Psalms 14:3, 53:3)

Only one did not sin
(break the Law) and that is Christ.

The Law is meant to show how inadequate we are, and make us ask the question - 'there must be another way' - enter the gospel and believing and receiving Christ.

There is no way the rich young man loved each and every fellow man as himself. This is an internal command that takes the kind of heart we do not have before becoming a believer. Even then God has to keep working in us to bring us to the point where we can follow that commandment.

Christ knew the young man's heart. Arielle is correct - this is a test. Christ is saying - OK you say you love your neighbor as yourself - go and sell all you have and give it to him what is yours.

IMPORTANT: Christ says "If you want to be perfect...Note: Man is not now perfect, but if he wants to be, then there are two conditions for him. Give up your riches (the most important thing in his heart) AND COME FOLLOW ME. This would be the belief part as Arielle referred to in her post. The first prioritizes the man's heart and puts God first, the second takess an act of faith and belief. If the man did those two things he would be perfect (righteous) in God's eyes.

The man did not, bit he may have later as a lot of commentators think this man was Mark (Gospel writer). We will pick that up in later gospels.
======================================================

NOTE: The thing I had to give up in my in my heart was my incredible Pride. I believed intellectually and prayed to God for salvation and Christ intellectually - But I was not saved. It was not until the point where I got down on my hands and knees, sobbing, and screamed out "I Can't do it, you win, please God take over my life and do with me as you will, I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior". It was AT THAT extremely humble and submissive moment that I KNOW I was saved, and the things that happened in that room that night in 2004 only God and I know about - but it was real, palpable, and accompanied with a great feeling of peace, joy and happiness.

I was blessed. Not everyone gets such a real and dramatic conversion. What happened that night allows me to never entertain the thought of doubt about salvation. I have strayed,been angry at God, disobeyed, and distanced myself from the Father, but I have never doubted His existance, His Promise, and my role as His sheep.


Matthew 19:30

30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Want to see my pride rear its ugly head. I used to think this meant that if you were a late in life convert you could rank high in heaven, and if you came to Christ at an early age and screwed around with Christianity you would be in the back of the ranks.

Conveniant for me. I was a late in life convert. This is a dangerous example of looking at a verse in isolation, and seeing it through your eyes and perspective. HOWEVER I WAS DEAD WRONG.
======================================================
Verse in context.

Good Rule to follow: Always look at verses in context of what God is saying or responding to in His Word. THEN make an application.

Peter asks - 'Hey we gave up everything for you - what is our reward?'

Jesus replies - you will get this, others will get a lot to, and all will have eternal life.

Then verse 30 and an unfortunate chapter break as the next parable explains everything a lot clearer.

30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

So what is Jesus saying? Well, if you are in a race there is a winner, second, third, etc. But Jesus says that many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. Huh? How can this be.

THE ANSWER: When there is a tie. Everyone wins, Salvation is given equally. No Christian is better than another in heaven. Everyone is perfect. Will someone be more or less perfect than another? No. Everyone gets eternal life and lots of perks.

Some will have different jobs or blessings, but the idea here is no one is better than another.

Remember, Peter seemed to be angling for some goodies based on their original commitment. He will get the goodies, and others will get their goodies. But it is not because Peter is better than any other Christian in heaven, but because of God's sovereign choice and His abundant grace to us.

John,

Thanks for your comments on the above passage. The more we share our thoughts the better understanding we get of GOD's word. So keep it coming :-)

I like hearing experiences of how people come to faith. Is it something you are willing to share with the group, John?

Only if you want to. Just thought I'd ask.

Matthew 19:30

30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Want to see my pride rear its ugly head. I used to think this meant that if you were a late in life convert you could rank high in heaven, and if you came to Christ at an early age and screwed around with Christianity you would be in the back of the ranks.

Conveniant for me. I was a late in life convert. This is a dangerous example of looking at a verse in isolation, and seeing it through your eyes and perspective. HOWEVER I WAS DEAD WRONG.
======================================================
Verse in context.

Good Rule: Look at verse in context of what God is saying or responding to in His Word. THEN make an application.

Peter asks - 'Hey we gave up everything for you - what is our reward?'

Jesus replies - you will get this, others will get a lot to, and all will have eternal life.

Then verse 30 and an unfortunate chapter break as the next parable explains everything a lot clearer.

30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

So what is Jesus saying? Well, if you are in a race there is a winner, second, third, etc. But Jesus says that many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. Huh? How can this be.

THE ANSWER: When there is a tie. Everyone wins, Salvation is given equally. No Christian is better than another in heaven. Everyone is perfect. Will someone be more or less perfect than another? No. Everyone gets eternal life and lots of perks.

Some will have different jobs or blessings, but the idea here is no one is better than another.

Remember, Peter seemed to be angling for some goodies based on their original commitment. He will get the goodies, and others will get their goodies. But it is not because Peter is better than any other Christian in heaven, but because of God's sovereign choice and His abundant grace to us.

Arielle,

I have no problem sharing my testimony. However, the blog is for comments about the days reading and helping others with interpretation struggles. My testimony is not really in the context of the board's ministry.

HOWEVER, if you would like to know my story email mike at [email protected] and he will forward it to me and I will send you an email with my testimony.

OR

MIKE if you say it is OK then I will post my testimony on this blog some day when I can get ahead in the readings.

Arielle,

Two ways I can fulfill your request for my "story"/testimony.

1) MIKE - if you say it is OK then I will post my testimony some day when I am ahead in the readings. [Board ministry is for thoughts on daily readings or helping others with interpretation difficulties - thus the need for Mike's permission.]

2) Email [email protected] and he will forward it to me and I will send my testimony to you in an email.

I'm sorry Mike and John ,
I am fairly new to this site and didn't know what is allowed and what is not allowed on the site.

Exodus 8 and 9
Sorry there seems to be a problem with double posting??????

Plagues (cont)

I believe Mike is posting a chart tomorrow that will list each of the gods of Egypt that each plague was directed at in Egypt. If not - I will post a link.
======================================================
Hardened Heart

Yesterday I posted that there were three Hebrew Words used for english harden - "qashah, chazaq, and Kabed".

Today's readings:
Frogs - Pharaoh's heart was kabed (unresponsive/hard). This was his nature. He is playing games with God promising to let people go if frogs elimianted. He was lying. He got away with it - no reason to be responsive.

lice - Pharaoh's heart was hardened (chazaq). It grew hard from its predisposed position. Why? magicians told Pharaoh this was the finger of God (Elohim - powerful creator) of Israel, and Pharoah considering himself a god was not going to bow down to this testimony. Out of pride his heart was allowed to harden. God letting Pharaoh be Pharaoh.

Flies - Pharaoh's heart was hard/unresponsive (kabed). Why? He had agreed to let Israelites go and worship, lied and got away with it. No reason to be responsive as he figured he had gotten over on God AGAIN.

Cattle died - Pharaoh's heart was unresponsive (kabed). Maybe because this plague did not affect Egyptian's directly???? Not sure. But Pharaoh's heart did not respond.

Boils - This is the first time that it says the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart. Different tense and connotation. Why? Pharaoh had been playing a con game with God. His heart was still full of self. I believe the Pharaoh experianced boils also - this seems to be the first time that Pharaoh was directly affected by a plague. God hardened his heart because he was not going to allow Pharaoh to submit under fear. Submission is accepted when one turns back to the Lord with a repentant heart. Ex 9:17 states that Pharaoh exalts himself before God's people and God and will not let them go. This was to be a thorough lesson to the world (Egypt), Satan (pharaoh symbolically), and the Israelites that no one stands up to God and wins. No one who rejects God and stands on their own rank and power wins, no one plays con games with God and wins. God would not allow Pharaoh to submit out of human emotion.

Hail - Pharaoh does an amazing thing. Pharaoh admits he sinned, he and his people are wicked, and God is righteous. Pharaoh seeing the light? Nah, it is just more of the game playing. Pharaoh has stepped up the ante saying whatever he believes it will take to get relief from hail. His heart???? Unresponsive and growing yet again hard due to his predisposed position of self and pride. He lies, gets away with it, and HE SINNED AGAIN. Pharaoh missed the mark, chose not to go down the right path. He was unresponsive because he got away with it, and hardened because that is God allowing Pharaoh to be Pharaoh.

Arielle,

It is not a problem. You would just be surprised at how some readers get upset about things that they do not think appropriate. I decided a few years back to stick to the format unless Mike gives me permission to do otherwise.

You are a child of God, our sister in Christ, you obviously love God's Word and your posts are a blessing to all of us. No reason to apologize :)

Hi John & Arielle - thank you for all the great posts! John, you are very welcome to post up your testimony in the comments section of the blog. Thanks for checking in on this!
Mike

This is a great OYB blog. It is so needed. I have also begun a commentary on OYB so if you want to include another perspective, visit the url: http://www.julieferwerda.com/OYB+Blog.htm.

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