Well let's turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 18...Luke chapter 18 and we return to the encounter between the rich young ruler and the Lord Jesus Christ. This will be our third look at this very, very fascinating and important encounter, an instructive one as well. And I suppose if we were to title this we might title it, "How to Obtain Eternal Life," or we might title it, "The Impossibility of Salvation." Either title would work very well.
Just by way of introduction, it is widely believed today in contemporary evangelicalism, that leading people to salvation, leading people into God's Kingdom, leading people into eternal life is fairly easy if you develop the right approach....if you develop the right strategy, if you come up with the right method. And that means getting savvy about the culture. That means being good at understanding people's felt needs. That means being adept at grasping the hot buttons that trigger people's responses. And so in order to get people to accept the gospel, we want to make sure we understand what their felt needs are, what their aspirations are, what their longings and desires are. And we sort of move in in that direction.
Now you add to that the message has to promise them that all of their felt needs can be met, all of their dissatisfactions can become satisfactions, all their unfulfilled dreams can become fulfilled, all their failures can become success. And with those kinds of promises, they'll sign up so fast you won't know what to do with them all. Throw in a rock band and some cool music, just kind of make it seem like it's really part of the world and it's not a big step anyway and it should be pretty easy to get people to respond to the gospel. Speak only then of God's love and of the frustration of God if people won't accept His love and come to Him and how bad He feels when people don't do that. Make them even feel a little guilty for hurting God by not coming and put it all together, mix it up and should add hundreds, if not thousands to your congregation.
Oh by the way, keep the environment casual, non-threatening and fun and the message simple with a lot of stories.
Is it too obvious to suggest that Jesus wouldn't buy into that? In fact, what we have here in this encounter is the absolute opposite of all of that kind of thinking. What Jesus says in the text before us is that it is impossible for people to be saved no matter what strategy you might concoct to move them or manipulate them. No matter what approach, no matter what method, He says it is impossible for people to be saved by moving them in any human way. Let me read this text again. Look at verse 18. "And a certain ruler questioned Him saying, 'Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments. Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.' And he said, 'All these things I've kept from my youth.' And when Jesus heard this, He said to him, 'One thing you still lack. Sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven and come follow Me.' But when he had heard these things, he became very sad for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, 'How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God for it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.' And they who heard it said, 'Then who can be saved?' But He said, "The things impossible with men are possible with God.' And Peter said, 'Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.' And He said to them, 'Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come eternal life.'"...