With Man This is Impossible, With God All Things Are Possible!
Translated by Allan Liang
How greatly does the will of God transcend all understanding! In yesterday’s study of Scripture, we read about children who were not yet at the age of instruction and who were without knowledge. Yet the Lord Jesus lifted them into his embrace, and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” (Mark 10:14a) In the Scriptures we read of today, we see a completely different scene: a man runs up to Jesus and earnestly, with sincerity, asks of the way of eternal life, yet did not find the door to enter. To say that this man was earnest and sincere has biblical evidence. Luke says that he was a ruler (Luke 18:18), and Mathew says that he was a young man with great wealth (Mathew 19: 20, 22), implying that at a young age, he had both money and power. In common terms, he was a rather successful person. Moreover, because of his rigorous observance of laws (10:20), he was praised by all men, and was held in high regard, but because of his dissatisfaction with all the things of the world, for the sake of inheriting eternal life, without concern for his identity, he kneeled before Jesus and presented his request. This scene truly moves many. But it was such a man who earnestly sought for eternal life, that ended up leaving sad and miserable. Where did the problem occur? Did Jesus refuse to answer this question? Precisely not, Jesus gave him the answer in accordance to his question of “what must I do?”. The answer was: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Actually, he was not without a door to enter, but rather, the door was placed in front of him, but he refused to enter. Why? The Scriptures mention, “because he had great wealth.” As a result, Jesus clearly said to his disciples, “How hard it is [for those who trust in riches] to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” (verse 25) The disciples were amazed when they heard this, saying, “Who then can be saved?” Truly this is so, we have always believed that the heavens will not cut off all paths of man, and that he who strives will succeed in all his ways. But these words of Jesus clearly force one to the path of hopelessness, casting to the ground all of man’s confidence in himself, his righteousness and his autonomy. The mystery of eternal life in the Christian faith, and its greatest distinction from all other religions and ideologies lies in Jesus’ following answer, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Yes, unless man truly realizes his total blindness before God, and his total depravity as a sinner, no one can fully submit himself to the guidance of God’s gracious hand. Dear brothers and sisters, today our salvation by the blood of Christ is truly because of God’s great love and great power acting in us, so that we may not become as the young ruler who thought that eternal life was inherited on the basis of good works. This is as the book of Ephesians points out: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) But dear brothers and sisters, we are saved not because of our works, but this is not to say that good works are not important to Christians. The inability of the young ruler to act in accordance to the word of Jesus was due to his reversal of the causal relationships between salvation and good works. Good works are not the cause of someone being saved, rather they are the fruits of life produced after being saved. Jesus continues to say that a person who truly trusts in him will necessarily lay down his home, and his brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, fields to follow him, even persecutions they will accept willingly. That is because, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Please carefully read Scripture and find in the young ruler’s dialogue with Jesus, the number of ways in which the blindness and ignorance of man is manifested in regards to other people, to himself, to God, to the Law, and to eternal life. By doing so, may you give thanks to God for opening your eyes, allowing you to see all this. Meditate and reflect upon your spiritual journey in coming to faith in Christ and the changes in your life after believing the Lord, to what extent does this bear testimony to the truth of the gospel in Jesus’ proclamation: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” With greater reliance upon God’s grace and power, let us walk the path of the cross that leads to eternal life.