Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (May 16, 2022)

As we have already learned, there are two different types of salvation taught in the word of God. One type is eternal salvation, which is solely and wholly in the hand of God; the other is what I often hear called “time salvation”, which has to do with deliverance from dangers and troubles here and now. I have also heard “time” salvation called “temporal” salvation, or “blessings in obedience”.

In the last two editions of “Monday Minutes”, we have considered instances where the word “saved” or “salvation” is clearly referring to timely salvation, or deliverance from something here and now. Today, I want to look at an encounter that Jesus had with a rich young ruler, which clearly involves the question of eternal salvation.

In Matthew 19:16, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Notice that “eternal life” is indeed under consideration here, and that this young man believed that there was something he must do in order to obtain it. Here at last is a perfect opportunity for Jesus to set forth the steps required, or the works commanded, for someone to obtain eternal life through his own efforts!

So what is Jesus’ answer? Did Jesus say, “If you’ll just accept Me into your heart, you’ll go to heaven?” Did He say, “Let’s kneel down and pray the sinner’s prayer?” Did He command him to be baptized? These are things that we often hear in the religious world as the basis of our eternal salvation, but did Jesus say any of this? No! So what did He say?

First of all, He answered the young man by asking a question. Jesus often did this, especially when someone came to Him with a misunderstanding about Jesus’ person or work. He was indeed the Master Teacher, and even today teachers often educate by using the Socratic method (asking questions in order to get the students to reason things out for themselves). He asked, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” Mat. 19:17. In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you are coming to Me and calling me ‘good’, that must mean that you think I am God.” The young man already saw something different in Jesus, even though he didn’t yet have all the answers!

Secondly, Jesus began to answer the young man according to the way he was thinking. He had come to Jesus thinking that there was some good work he could do in order to obtain eternal life, so Jesus essentially said, “Okay, let’s go down that path a little way and see where it leads us.” I’ve heard it said that, if you’ll reason a heresy out to its logical conclusion, it will die a natural death. That’s what Jesus does here!

So Jesus tells the young man to keep the commandments, and He names most of them. But the rich young ruler has already been keeping all these commandments, at least in his own mind, and yet he was still not satisfied! How do we know this? Well, if he had been satisfied, why would he have come to Jesus in the first place?

My friends, a works-based eternal salvation will NEVER satisfy you! You may coast along for a while, thinking you’re okay, but in your heart of hearts, there will ALWAYS be a seed of doubt: did I do enough good today? Did I do it sincerely enough? I “accepted Jesus,” but did I REALLY mean it? etc. I would be miserable if I thought there was something I had to do in order to obtain eternal life! And I believe that was the problem with this rich young ruler.

We see that Jesus finally got down to the heart of the issue with this young man in Mat. 19:21. He told him to sell all his possessions and give them away, and then come and follow Him. The young man went away sorrowful, demonstrating that the problem of greed, lust, and covetousness was still dominant in his heart.

So I guess the rich young ruler died and went to hell, because He didn’t do enough good works, and he didn’t demonstrate good discipleship by selling everything he had and following Jesus? Absolutely not! In Mark’s account of this episode, he gives us one more little fact that is of paramount importance: “Then Jesus beholding him loved him. . . .” Mark 10:21. Jesus loved this young man, even though he was wrong in his thinking and errant in his actions! We need to understand this important Bible truth, my friends: NOT ONE that Jesus loved will ever be in hell!

Next week, we will conclude our look at this passage, but let’s leave it here today: Jesus loved the rich young ruler, and even though he didn’t lay down his riches and pick up his cross, he was STILL a child of God! Hopefully, at some point in the future, this young man repented and began to live a godly life, but the key to understanding this passage – which we will see more clearly next time – is that Jesus loved him anyway, in spite of his disobedience, and that eternal salvation depends NOT on our works but upon His sovereign grace!

Indeed, my friends, that’s what eternal salvation is all about: He loves us, and He “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Tim. 1:9.

More to come!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer!

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor