Do you consider yourself a “churchgoer”? Please answer the following question honestly:
Since you joined a church as a “believer,” has your life been radically, dramatically, eternally changed?
If you can’t honestly answer “yes,” we need to talk.
Many people attend church but are never radically changed. They’re baptized pagans who have been vaccinated with a mild form of Christianity but have never met God. They look good outwardly but have never been converted.
Jesus was confronted by such a young man. Matthew described him as a “rich young ruler.” (See Matthew 19:16-21.) Jesus didn’t seek him out; he sought out Jesus. Mark says he literally came running, kneeling at Jesus’ feet, asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
All his life he’d made the right choices, kept Old Testament law, was devout in his faith. So far, things are going well. In fact, Mark records that Jesus loved this young man.
But the encounter doesn’t have the happy ending we expect. Where was his heart? Jesus was about to uncover that.
“One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10:21).
The young man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God’” (Mark 10:22-23)! The whole scene shocked Jesus’ disciples. (See Mark 10:24.)
We can learn four important truths from this encounter.
Truth #1. Proud men at their best are sinners at their worst.
Outwardly, the young man did have much to admire. But Jesus, who knew people’s hearts, looked straight at him and responded, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18).
Not me, not even you. No one is saved until he sees he’s lost, a sinner before a holy God. (See Romans 3:10-12.) God is merciful; He forgives. But He will “by no means clear the guilty.” (See Exodus 34:6-7.)
Jesus said prostitutes and crooked tax collectors were going to Heaven before the Pharisees, because the Pharisees banked on their self-righteousness instead of God’s mercy.
Truth #2. God’s perfect law condemns man’s pride.
This young man had a superficial knowledge of the law, but Jesus, like a skilled surgeon, is about to take a scalpel and lance an infection: the young man loved money more than God and his neighbor. Jesus exposed the sin in his heart, and the futility of trying to “behave himself” into Heaven.
Truth #3. No man can serve two masters, but he must serve one.
One god is enough for anybody. Many people miss salvation, wanting to go to Heaven holding onto their gods. But no repentance, no redemption.
Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of life. Get the picture: I’m going one way, having this idol in my life. I repent, forsake that idol, turn from it, and start heading in the opposite direction, following Christ.
You cannot hold your idol with one hand and God with the other. If you’re not trusting Jesus, you won’t make it to Heaven.
Truth #4. Whatever master a man chooses will master him.
Jesus isn’t talking about losing everything but finding everything—having treasure in Heaven. Jesus gave him the same choice He gives us. Your eternal destiny depends on this.
Forsake (by repentance) your old master; follow (by faith) your new Master. Repentance and faith are linked. Turn from sin; turn to Jesus. Faith is enthroning Jesus.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Mark 10:22. Jesus had struck a nerve. The young man said no. Jesus let him go. And He’ll let you go, also.
Whatever master you choose will master you. When you give your heart to Jesus, He becomes your Master.
Everyone has three opportunities to go to Heaven:
1. Die before the age of accountability. If you die as a baby or young child, you go straight to Heaven. If you can understand what I’m saying, you’re past that point. Strike one for you.
2. Keep the commandments perfectly. Never sin anytime in thought or deed. No one but Jesus has ever done that. No one ever will. Strike two.
3. Come follow Christ, who died for you. If you choose not to, it’s strike three and you’re out.
The rich young ruler struck out. He couldn’t keep the commandments and he failed to give his heart to Christ.
Receive Jesus Christ as Lord. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9). He will save you and keep you saved.
Please join us in prayer and support so that God’s messages will continue to penetrate the hearts of young and old … and near and far!