To the rich young ruler, Jesus said, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” [Matthew 19:17] Hmm… does that sound like we do not need to do anything?
What was the question?
In Matthew “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” [Matthew 19:16]. And in Mark “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” [Mark 10:17] and in Luke “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [Luke 18:18]
“But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack? [Matthew 19:17-20]
19Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. [Mark 10:19-20]
20Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. [Luke 18:20-21]
WOW! Don’t miss the most amazing statement here: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.“ That was Jesus speaking!
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21]
21Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. [Mark 10:21]
22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. [Luke 18:22]
In Matthew 10:21 the word “perfect” more accurately means “complete“. Jesus required him to be complete BEFORE following Him. It was not a process, it was a command to do something very specific. Remember that this is Jesus’ response to “What must I do to be saved?”
Matthew: If you want to be complete…
Mark: Jesus loved him… one thing you lack…
Luke: You lack one thing…
The tense of the verbs in Mark render a more accurate meaning without time, “And Jesus gazing at him intently, loves him with godly love and says to him…” How beautiful! In this great timeless godly love Jesus offers him life through filling up what is lacking in him, by directing him what to do for this completion.
All three accounts tell that Jesus said that giving to the poor would establish treasure in heaven for the man.
- Jesus did not correct the young man by telling him it was unnecessary to follow the law.
- Jesus did not tell him that he did not have to do anything to be saved.
- Jesus did not tell this young man that all he had to do was believe in Him.
- Jesus told the man what he MUST DO TO BE SAVED, not just believing.
So was Jesus lying to him?
If Jesus was not lying to this young man, then we have gotten the Gospel all wrong!
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. [Matthew 19:22]
22And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. [Mark 10:22]
23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. [Luke 18:23]
At this point, anyone preaching the gospel of Calvin would have called the man back and told him to relax, that his sins are forgiven. The apostle of Calvin would declare to the man that he does not have to do anything to be saved and call him back, but to a gospel of disobedience. I hope you can now see the chasm between the gospel of Calvin and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
23And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25It 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. 26And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. [Mark 10]
24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? 27And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. [Luke 18]