The Possible Impossibility
In Matthew 19:16 – 26, we are told of an impossible situation. This passage begins with an encounter between a wealthy young man and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The question this young man poses is this:
“Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
In making this statement, this young man mentions the first impossibility in this passage which is the:
Impossibility of working to obtain eternal life.
This above question is universally asked by the world and carries with it an impossibility. The idea that man can work to obtain eternal life is displayed in all religions of the world except biblical Christianity. No man can work their way to Heaven. Man, in his fallen state has been “working” to try to obtain eternal life since the fall in Genesis 3. This is clearly demonstrated in the account of Adam and Eve. Notice what Genesis 3 verse 7 states, speaking of Adam and Eve, after they partook of the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden, thereby committing sin:
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
Here we see Adam and Eve sewing fig leaves together trying to fix the problem of sin by performing a ‘work’. Just one chapter later we find the next generation trying to accomplish the same end. In this subsequent passage Cain and Abel are found bringing an offering unto the Lord.
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
Why was Cain’s offering not respected by God? Surely Cain brought the best of his crops. No doubt Cain had given an abundant offering, yet the works of his hands were not good enough. Looking forward to our day, man is still trying to do the same thing. Man contrives that good deeds will earn him eternal life. Man insists on religious exercises to earn himself the right to Heaven. Man’s attempt at working his way to Heaven comes in many forms. Some are religious exercises (baptism, church attendance, giving, church membership, sacraments etc…) while others may be secular (performing charitable acts, good deeds etc…) but the Bible says that man cannot work enough to merit eternal life.
The second impossibility mentioned in this passage is by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which is the:
Impossibility of keeping the whole law.
In verses 17-20, our Lord reveals this truth to the young man.
"And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 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?"
Deep in the heart of man our pride lies in wait to deceive us. We are willing to justify ourselves even in the face of the Just One. Here this young man answers piously, “I have no sin!” Ironically, he was breaking the commandment he had just affirmed he had kept, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” Though he may have kept the letter of the law there can be no doubt that he had transgressed the spirit of the law; that is in his heart. You see, man attempts to keep the law but, in the end, finds it an impossibility. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) One simple infraction of God’s law results in complete failure. The route of self-righteousness is forever barred from man as a means of obtaining eternal life. Paul’s comment on the law in Romans 7:10-11 tells us this, “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”
The Lord immediately points this out to the young man in verses 21 and 22. In the end the Bible states that the young man, “…went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” This young man, much like men today, was unwilling to give himself to Jesus. The truth is, he was willing to make concessions for eternal life, but to give his heart to God was asking too much. In John chapter 3:19-20 we find this statement concerning our unwillingness to turn from our sin to our Savior. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
As we continue down through this passage we come to the final impossibility. After this young man leaves, the Lord makes an astounding statement. “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It 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.” This statement shocks the disciples as they perhaps reexamine this young man’s status in life in their minds. Here was a man that was successful in the world. Here was a man that was successful in religious matters, but yet the Lord had uttered these words, “how hardly…” Jesus’ disciples exclaim the last impossibility:
“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?”
And so, we have the:
Impossibility of Salvation.
Man is hopelessly lost. All that man can muster falls short of the impassable gulf that is affixed between us and God due to our sin. The solution is beyond the reach of man in of himself. Man cannot work his way to eternal life. God’s law cannot be kept by man and therefore is not an option to earning eternal life. So, who then can be saved? The answer is given by and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He states, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” What a wonderful truth; the possible impossibility! Left to our own devices salvation is impossible, but through faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace man can be saved. Had this rich young man turned from his sinfulness to Jesus Christ the passage would be vastly different.
You see the young man failed to:
1. Understand he was a sinner. (The thrust of his whole conversation was “How can I” earn my way to Heaven. At the same time, he denied he was a sinner.)
2. Understand Jesus is the Savior. (He did not recognize that Jesus was the God-man, otherwise perhaps he would have sold everything and followed Him.)
3. Understand he needed to give his heart to the Savior. (This man was unwilling to give up the riches of this world [his idol] and give himself to the Lord.)
The Bible is very clear for you and I concerning this possible impossibility. We have the benefit at looking back toward the cross and knowing what has taken place according to God’s Word. You too can be saved if you are willing to admit you are a sinner. “For all haved sinned and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). Secondly, you can be saved if you believe and understand that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, paid the price for your sins when he was crucified on a cruel Roman cross. He gave His life on the cross for your sin, was buried, and rose in victory from the grave three days later. And then lastly, you too can be saved if you would give your heart to the Savior. The Bible describes this several ways:
“…repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21 (turning from your sinfulness, and turning to, by faith Jesus Christ)
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10: 9-10) (the act of crying out to Jesus for salvation by confessing your sinfulness to Jesus, believing the good news about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and asking Him to save you.)
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) (the heart belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only way to be saved from the punishment of Hell and on your way to Heaven)
So how does someone accept this salvation that God is offering to man through His Son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? This gift of salvation can be applied simply by calling upon the name of the Lord. You can call upon the Lord by praying and asking to be saved. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) My friend, experience the wonder and joy of this possible impossibility right now! If you do not know for sure Heaven is your home, bow your head right now and call upon the name of the Lord.
If you made a decision to trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior let us know about it, so we too can rejoice with you in our decision. Call us at 757.838.0340 or contact us at email@example.com
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
God Bless America
Psalm 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His inheritance."
Last week our President held a "Celebration of America" event on the South Lawn of the White House. During that ceremony not only was the National Anthem played but the song, "God Bless America." Oh, how my heart was gladdened when I saw and heard the rendition of Irving Berlin's song made popular by Kate Smith on her radio broadcast November 11, 1938. I couldn't help but think, "Now there is a President who feels the need for God's blessing on our great nation."
In a world that is torn and fractured, where everything good seems to be giving way to evil, people are feeling the need to draw closer to God more than ever before. They want to know that He is standing there in the shadows, He is watching over us, and blessing us, and keeping us till His Son's return.
The history of America has been wrapped around with the blessings of God. I think we can humbly say that God seems to have a peculiar love for this land. From the day of our nation's founding until today, His hand of blessing has been upon America.
1. Many Great Nations Have Risen and Fallen
Pericles built a civilization (Athens) upon culture, and it failed. Caesar built a civilization (Rome) on power, it failed.
The Medo-Persians had a great nation, but they drank themselves to their doom in one drunken orgy after another. That civilization came crashing down and perished from the face of the earth.
Egypt thrived under Joseph. Four hundred years later the people had forgotten Joseph and his God – Egypt went down. Greece under Alexander, conquered the world, but he could not conquer himself. He died in a drunken stupor and Greece came tumbling down.
Rome was the proud ruler of the world, but luxury and lust ate that nation like a cancer, and she perished like Greece.
America must not build on these things. If we do it will be our ruin as well. We must put our roots down deep in God and his Word.
2. America was Founded as a Christian Nation
Our forefathers founded our great nation upon Christian religion, and America will live as long as the Lord is our God.
They left a land where they were persecuted to find a land where they were free to worship God. When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, they knelt upon the shore and thanked God for giving them a new country.
The church of Jesus Christ was at the center of every new settlement in this new land. When the Continental Congress was faced with great problems and difficulties Benjamin Franklin called the members of Congress to fall upon their knees and pray. Can you imagine what would happened today if our legislative bodies in the house and senate prayed more and talked less?
James 5:16b "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
American history repeatedly demonstrates that the nation was founded on Christian principles and its founding fathers wished to acknowledge that fact all over Washington D.C. buildings, in official documents, and historical speeches. Less than a hundred years after its Declaration of Independence, In God We Trust was proclaimed on its coins. America is a free nation, and freedom of religion is still guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment.
President Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time" and asked ‘Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are of God?’"
The Bible says in, Psalms 118:8 "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."
Today we still have on our money those majestic old words, "In God We Trust." Our forefathers knew that they were building on a firm foundation of God and His Word.
Someone once said, "South America was settled my men seeking gold, but North America was settled by men seeking God."
Do you remember the picture of General George Washington at Valley Forge? His small army was almost starving and freezing to death. They were fighting against insurmountable odds – but out in the snow George Washington was down on his knees praying.
That's the spirit that built America. She was founded on God, and if she is to live, we must keep building on that firm foundation.
Surely every American is proud and grateful to be an American! We are "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
May God continue to bless the United States of America.
- Pastor David Carroll, Senior Pastor Sharon Baptist Church
Thou Shall Not Learn
Deuteronomy 18:9 "When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations."
As you come to the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins to wrap up his recount of the law to the nation of Israel. In just a few short chapters (Deuteronomy 28), the blessings and cursings will be announced as Israel has been given this covenant with God. The 1st generation that came out of Egypt were not allowed to enter into the promised land because of their unbelief. Now this new generation needed to have the law repeated to them so they would know what God expected from them as His chosen people. God gives us a wonderful truth in this passage. Though spoken to the children of Israel, this truth has tremendous application for you and I today. The phrase is, “thou shall not learn.”
It is interesting that most of our early adult life is consumed with learning. We spend 12 years in a classroom environment learning about all kinds of things. Many after those twelve years then choose another four years of learning in a specified field of study; whether it is vocational or perhaps a broad area of study. There are even some that will spend another two to three years moving toward advanced training in those areas (this is not even counting the extended study of doctors, lawyers, etc...).
God in this one verse gives us such valuable advice but unfortunately oftentimes we overlook this simple truth. You and I would do well not to learn and “do after the abominations of” this world. The danger that Israel faced was perpetuated by the influence of the world around them. How can you and I guard against not learning the ways of the world? There are several biblical keys to success that we find in God’s Word.
1. Understand that the World’s ways are at enmity with God.
Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
There was a reason that God commanded the children of Israel to clean house when they arrived in the promised land. God knew that the worldly nations would be snares to His chosen people.
Joshua 23:13 shows us the horrible result of Israel’s disobedience in this matter, “Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”
Because the children of Israel failed to recognize that the world’s ways are at enmity with God, they were pulled in the wrong direction.
2. Live in the World but not of the World.
As a child of God, the Bible tells us that we are not of this world, but we are certainly in it. God has not given us the same orders that the children of Israel were given concerning the nations in the promised land. The children of Israel were told to destroy the wicked nations that were inhabiting that land at the time. In our dispensation however, the Lord has not given us the same charge. We have been commanded to be biblically separated from this World.
Notice what our Lord and Savior prayed for His disciples in John 17: 13-15.
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
If the Lord had prayed to take “them” out of the world, where would we be today? It is because of them that we were given the Gospel! Likewise, you and I have been left in this world to give the Gospel to others. In order for us to be effective in our Soul-Winning efforts we will have to be in this world, but not of this world. Look at the biblical admonition that is given to us.
2 Corinthians 6: 14-18 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
3. Love not the things that are in this World.
1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
We start ‘learning’ the ways of the world when our affections move away from God to the world. One of the biggest snares the world offers the Christian today is a desire for temporal things: Materialism. Our eyes become fixed on stuff rather than our Savior. The one snared in materialism never has enough and is always seeking for more. This cycle always leads to temporary joy but then turns into disappointment. Why? Simply because the temporal things of this world will never fill the void of our need for intimacy with God.
John 15:19 “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
4. Guard the gates whereby the World enters in.
We did not learn to be sinners, but rather are sinners by birth and by practice (Romans 5:12). The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) desires to fan the flames of our fallen nature by helping you learn to do more wickedly.
1 John 2: 15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
These gates: the ear-gate, the eye-gate, the touch-gate etc… must be guarded at all times. A wise and discerning Christian will understand that there is an constant assault on these gates by the enemy.
5. Learn the ways of God by renewing your mind daily.
Moses greatest cry to God was that he might learn His ways.
Exodus 33:13 “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.”
Paul gives us this same principle in Romans chapter 12, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
How can we be renewed in our minds so that we might not be conformed to this world? We are renewed in our minds daily by placing into our minds the things of God. Instead allowing our gates to be infiltrated with the things of the world, we place the Word of God before our eyes and we allow the Word of God to enter into our ears. To renew our minds, we spend time communing with God in prayer and surround ourselves with good things, not the things of this world. You see the old saying, “You are what you eat” could be perhaps changed to this: “You will learn what you allow in!”
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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