A Works Salvation?

August 21, 2021

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17).

This nameless wealthy young religious leader called Jesus ‘good Teacher’. This indicates that he respected Jesus as an authority on Mosiac Law, a teacher of spiritual truth, and an honored Rabbi among the common people. In that sense he was like Nicodemus (John 3:1-2), Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. Neither man believed Jesus to be the Messiah and Son of God.

This young man came to Jesus seeking eternal life. His religion didn’t answer the question of obtaining it, it only stirred up the desire in him to need it. So he came to Jesus with the right desire. Because he came to Jesus, even though he didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah or the Son of God, he came to the right person who could answer his question. He asked Jesus, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life, so he came asking the right question.

Jesus’ answer is quite puzzling - keep the commandments. Was He promoting a works salvation? The Commandments were not given to save anyone, but to reveal one’s need for salvation! What’s the deal here? Why didn’t Jesus tell this man, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6)? Why didn’t He tell him what He told Nicodemus (John 3:16-17), For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved?

Jesus deals with what’s in a person’s heart, not by what they said with their lips. God spoke to Israel through the prophet Isaiah (29:13-14), Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.

This man was looking for yet another, even higher demonstration of his piety in order to earn his place in the Kingdom of God. That’s why he called Jesus ‘good’ (agathos - common, conventional goodness) and asked what ‘good’ thing he must to be saved (agathos - common, conventional goodness). Jesus took him to the commandments for the purpose of revealing his sinfulness, not to justify his piety. Only a truly sincere heart desiring salvation will recognize the difference and repent of his sin rather than ask ‘what else/more do I need to do’.

“Lord Jesus, open our hearts and reveal our motives that we may discover our true standing with You. May we have the same concern for the motives of others when we seek to evangelize them with Your Gospel rather than to settle for their verbal confession. To Your glory I ask, Amen.”


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