And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."Matthew 19:26(NASB)
The gracious words that fell from the lips of the Lord Jesus confound the minds of many today, just as they astonished Christ's disciples when they were first uttered. It was after Jesus addressed a wealthy young man on the issue of his riches being the obstacle he faced if he wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven, that the disciples asked, "who then can be saved?"
Jesus had challenged the young man to sell all he had, and give the proceeds to the poor. His love of money caused him to go away with a sorrowful heart, for he had many great possessions. It was then that the Lord Jesus turned to His disciples, "and looking at them, intently, He said to them, 'With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" With man, it is impossible to be saved, but with God all things are possible, including the salvation of sinners.
Jesus was teaching that good works aren't sufficient to gain salvation and riches can't buy salvation. Nothing we can do can earn salvation and nothing we can give can purchase salvation. Salvation is a free gift of God's grace to guilty sinners through faith in Christ. Period. Jesus had taken the time to listen to the question of the rich young ruler, who dearly desired to enter the kingdom. Only saved people can enter, but the young ruler thought his good works and keeping the Law should be sufficient, and asked if there was anything else he must do - but nothing man does can achieve perfect goodness.
Jesus used the man's own words to show him that God alone is good. He used the moral law, given to Moses, to show the young man, that there are elements of evil in the heart of everyone, including the young ruler. Even if we are morally upright, generous, kind to others and an example to all we meet, there is always something lacking in the heart of fallen man, for there is no one that is completely good, not even one.
The Law was a schoolmaster God used to point His people to Christ, and Jesus used the Law to show this young man that no one can enter heaven on their own merit. Israel as a nation and this young man as an individual, were to discover that they could not keep all 613 requirements of the Law, "for if a person keeps the Law, but fails in one point, he is guilty of breaking ALL of it." i.e. he is a sinner, and falls short of the righteous requirement of the Law. He is a sinner who cannot enter the kingdom except by faith in Christ's sacrificial work. And the young man loved his riches more than God.
The rich young ruler was zealous in keeping the commandments and he was righteous in all his ways, as man counts goodness. "All these commands I have kept." he said, "What am I still lacking?" he asked. He may not have murdered or stolen anything. He may have honoured his parents and shown great generosity. But he loved his wealth more than he loved the Lord. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the great and foremost commandment, which the young man broke, excluding him from the kingdom.
We enter the kingdom by FAITH not by what we DO. Neither the multiplied wealth of humanity nor the proliferation of man's exemplary actions are sufficient payment to gain eternal life, for the heart of humanity is incapable of ridding itself of fleshly desires and love of the world. Salvation is a supernatural act of the omnipotent God, given to those who are saved by faith. The rich young man like all of humanity, had ONE way to enter the kingdom. Forgiveness of sin and life in the Kingdom is granted through FAITH in Christ alone. His question should not have been what must I DO, but in Whom must I BELIEVE?
Salvation is impossible with man, but praise God that it is possible with Him. This is a biblical principle that the best and worst of human-kind must accept if they are to be saved. Eternal life and inheriting the kingdom is a human impossibility, but with God, it is not only possible, but a free gift of God's grace, which is generously bestowed on all who believe in Christ's finished work on Calvary's cross. "Those who believe are not condemed but those who do not are condemned already - because they have not believed on the only begotten Son of God."
How careful the wealthy man should be, that he relies on God as Saviour, and not on his accumulated riches. How important that the good man does not rely on his philanthropic works, but trusts in Christ. How careful the poor man should be, that he does not develop an envious attitude towards his wealthy neighbour, but trusts in God to provide for both his temporal and eternal needs. How important that we ALL recognise our spiritual poverty and that riches that are found through faith in Christ.
The impossible task of our eternal salvation was made possible by God. So too, the impossible task of living a godly life in our own strength, is only possible when a man or woman looks to Him and relies on Him alone.
Father, I thank You that what is impossible for me is possible for You. Please help me to trust You in all things, and not have confidence in my own abilities and resources. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.