In John 15:1-10, the Lord taught His disciples the importance of being fruit bearing (obedient) children of God. In bearing fruit, the Lord says that they/we would glorify God (John 15:8). In John 15:2 we read, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…” There are volumes of information that can be written about this portion of God’s Holy Word, but Jesus makes one thing abundantly clear; Just because a person is a born-again child of God, does not guarantee that they will bear fruit (be obedient in their experiential lives).
In Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; and Luke 18:18-30 we read about a man who came to Jesus (I would encourage the reader to examine all three accounts of this event). This man is often referred to as the Rich Young Ruler. This man, who showed forth evidence that he was a born-again child of grace, walked away from the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, In this effort it is our hope to give a few comments about this event that took place 2000 years ago. I will not be able to declare all the wisdom in these precious verses of scripture, but I hope, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to comfort and enlighten the mind of the reader.
The Ruler’s Condition
Mark 10:17-31, “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
- The man who came to the Lord, by the evidence of scripture, was already a born-again child of grace. Please notice:
- He was a seeker of the Lord and eternal life! In Romans 3:11 we learn that a wicked unregenerate (not born-again) does not seek God. Romans 3:12; Psalms 14:3; Psalms 53:3; and Ecclesiastes 7:20 declare unto us that a wicked unregenerate cannot and does not do good. If this man’s seeking the Lord was a good thing (I will argue it was) it manifests that he was already born again.
- According to Matthew 19:22, when the man didn’t receive the response he expected, “he went away sorrowful.” The only person who feels sorrow concerning their own shortcomings is a born-again child of God (Ps 73:5).
- In Mark 10:21 we read, “Then Jesus Beholding him loved him.” According to Romans 9:11-13, God loves His children, but not the non-elect.
The Ruler’s Request
- In order to understand this man’s coming to Jesus with his request, we may need to examine Mark 10:13-16, “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
- When the mothers brought the children near to the Lord, the disciples rebuked them, as though to say, “He doesn’t have time for such things as this.” The Lord was not pleased with their actions and reminded them that the children being brought to Him were His children the same way the older disciples were. The children present had received the kingdom of God and would enter into heaven the same way every child of grace does, by the grace of God, and His grace alone (for more information concerning these verses, I would encourage the reader to examine the C. H. Cayce Primitive Baptist Editorials volume 5 page 201 “Infant Salvation”, and volume 3 page 310 “The Infant Question”).
- When hearing these words, the young ruler, who apparently believed that he was required to do something to go to heaven one day, asked, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life” (Mark 10:17)? His response is a relatively common one of those who first hear the Message of Salvation by Grace and Grace Alone.
The Lord’s Response to the Ruler
Matthew 19:18-21, “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? 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.”
The Lord’s response to the ruler’s question was twofold. First, the Lord revealed to him what would be required of him to work his way into eternal life (if salvation were by his good works), and secondly, Jesus called on him to cease to trust in his works and possessions, so he would be able to enjoy the blessings of God found in a life of discipleship.
- Notice the Lord said in Matthew 19:21, “If thou wilt be perfect,…” For anyone to work their way into eternal life, it will require perfection. Not just one action (believe, repent, confess, be baptized, as many worldly teachers would say), but a perfect life, being completely aligned with God’s law. Which is impossible for sinful man, for there will always be something we “lack” (Matt 19:20; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). Galatians 3:11, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident:..” Romans 2:11-13, “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”
- In Luke 18:26-27 the disciples, after hearing this, asked, “Who then can be saved?” If this man, who was born a Jew; gained much riches; and has labored to keep the law service cannot work his way into heaven, who can? Jesus answered them by saying in Luke 18:27, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Also notice in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” The only possible way for depraved sinners to live in heaven one great and glorious day is by the work of one who specializes in the impossible, God. So, Jesus told them that men cannot get it done, but God’s grace can/does/will/shall get it done.
- In Luke 18:25 we read, “For 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.” Or, It would be easier for a large beast to go through the small hole in a threading needle than for a man to work his way into heaven (meaning it is impossible for someone to work their way into being a born again child of grace). Brothers and sisters, that sounds clear to me, but how many times do you hear about someone believing enough; accepting the Lord; being baptized; or confessing sin to become a born-again child of grace. I guess the camel finally made it through according to those people.
- The Lord called on him to sell all his riches, give up what he trusted in, and he (who was already a born-again child of God) would experience the blessings associated with following the Lord. (Before we expound on this thought, it may be beneficial to look at the conversation Jesus had with the disciples after the young ruler departed).
After the Ruler Departed
Mark 10:28-30, “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
Peter, after hearing what the Lord said to and about the young ruler said and asked, look what we have done, isn’t there something to gain by this (my words)? Jesus reminds His disciples of the rich blessings found in following the Lord in obedience. By comparing verses 28 and 29 of Mark 10 we understand that no person has ever given up more to faithfully serve the Lord than what they would/could spiritually receive. The Primitive Baptist refer to such blessings as Time Salvation, or Blessings for and in Obedience (1 Timothy 4:16). Jesus, Himself, said “now in this time” in Mark 10:30. The Lord’s comments to Peter should be understood as Him saying, Peter, your sacrifices will not and cannot make you a born-again child of grace, but you will enjoy the rich blessings of God by doing what it takes to walk in obedience to My commands.
What the Ruler Lost
Matthew 19:22,”But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
The rich young ruler did not lose his eternal salvation, anymore than he gained it that day he talked with Jesus. He was a born-again child of grace when he began to speak to Jesus and he was the same when he walked away. The Bible is clear, the children of God are preserved in Christ and kept by His power (Jude vs 3; John 10:27-30; Romans 8:35-39). What he did lose were the temporal blessings a child of God can enjoy by his/her fellowship with their Father in heaven; which is the same that Peter gained. The man went away “sorrowful” and there is much sorrow and heartbreak for a child of God who walks away from the Lord to embrace the things offered by the world. Peter and the rich young ruler both are in heaven today, but Peter enjoyed many more temporal blessings than the ruler (Mark 10:30, rich blessings “now in this time”, with “eternal life” we have by grace and grace alone).
Mark 10:30, “with persecutions…”
No person who puts God first in their lives should expect the world to understand. 1 John 3:1, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” When a child of God puts forth the effort to serve God faithfully, they should expect opposition from the carnal minds of this world. But every child of grace should be encouraged in knowing about the happiness they can experience. I don’t think this portion of scripture about this rich young ruler is calling on all of us to sell everything we have and follow the Lord, but I do think it’s saying that we should be willing to rid ourselves of anything that hinders us from following Him. I love the old hymn. O How Happy Are They Who Their Savior Obey. The words of the hymn are this:
O how happy are they who the Savior obey, And whose treasures are laid up above. Tongue can never express the sweet comfort and peace Of a soul in it’s earliest love.
That sweet comfort was when the favor divine I first found in the blood of the Lamb; When the truth I believed, and what joy I received, What a Heaven in Jesus’ name!
‘Twas a Heaven below my redeemer to know, And the angels can do nothing more Than to fall at his feet and the story repeat, And the lover of sinners adore.
Jesus, all the day long, Was my joy and my song, O that all His salvation might see! “He hath loved me” I cried, “He hath suffered and died, All to purchase redemption for me”
O the rapturous height of that holy delight, Which was shed thru the life-giving blood! Of my Savior possessed, I was perfectly blest, As if filled with the Heaven of God.
Now my remnant of days would I spend to His praise, Who has died my poor soul to redeem, Whether many or few. All my years are His due, May they all be devoted to Him. Amen!