Tag Archives: eternal life

FAITHFUL AND FAIR

FAITHFUL AND FAIR

“God will repay each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism.” Romans 2:6-11.

Isn’t it amazing? God is so fair that He allows us to choose the outcome of our lives! But, unlike the devil, He tells us all the options and doesn’t hide the small print. He lays it all out for us and then allows us to make an informed choice.

So why do so many people ignore His warnings, reject His offer of a new start on the right way, and end up where they didn’t want to go? There are some very powerful forces at work to keep us from believing God and being the beneficiaries of His mercy and grace.

The first is the same deception that led the first pair to defy God. Satan suggested that God is unreliable and unfair. He sowed doubt into their minds about His integrity. According to the devil, God either did not say what He meant or He did not mean what He said. In spite of all the warnings in Scripture, many people still refuse to believe that God means what He says. In their foolishness, they brush Him aside with the age-old argument, “It won’t happen to me.”

Long ago, God said through Asaph, the psalmist, “You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you…When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you.” Psalm 50:17; 21. People are still like that today. They think that, because nothing bad has happened to them, God either does not see or does not care about what they are doing. But they have forgotten that there is a day of reckoning coming.

The second force at work to keep us from God’s grace is the evil nature within us. Not only do we not believe Him; we don’t want to believe Him because we enjoy our sin too much. Satan does not have to do much deceiving and much persuading because we are willing allies to his deception. It suits us to believe him because we have no inclination towards God and His ways.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear their deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19, 20.

However, in contrast to the dark side, there is a bright side. Paul said that there is a reward coming for those who persevere in doing good. Perseverance is the key. In the same way as punishment doesn’t come immediately, so rewards are being kept for the day when Jesus returns. It would be easy to lose heart and give up if we were not convinced that God is faithful and fair. We can count on the fact that He means exactly what He says.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

This is what the Bible calls “the fear of the Lord”. To fear God is to revere and honour Him, and to act on what He has said because He is utterly faithful; firm and immovable on what He has spoken. We can depend on His reliability because He can never contradict Himself.

It costs discipline and stickablilty to keep on doing the right thing, like the salmon swimming against the current to get to their spawning ground. Like them, we have a reward coming at the end of the journey and it is worth the trouble to keep the end in view. Those who live for the moment have their reward – the momentary “pleasure” which will turn around and bite them in the end. Those who live for the end result, glory, honour and peace, will have to wait for it, but the outcome will be forever and is fully assured.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

25 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF OUR INHERITANCE

25 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF OUR INHERITANCE

As God’s Son, Jesus is the heir to the Father’s entire estate, the universe and everything in it.

“And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.” Hebrews 1:2 NLT

JESUS IS GOD’S SON

“For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. ” God also said, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” Hebrews 1:5 NLT

  1. Made like us

“Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17 NLT

“So, now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:11 NLT

  1. Confirmed to be God’s Son by His resurrection

“The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:3-4 NLT

  1. Heir of the Father

“In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Hebrews 1:2 NIV

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THIS INHERITANCE?

There are three privileges that children in a family enjoy that orphans, slaves and servants do not experience.

  1. Children have a name.

A child born into a family takes the father’s name which gives him/her an identity and access to all the benefits of that family. Since we are “in Christ”, we have access to everything that Jesus owns “in His name”.

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!…” John 14:13-14 NLT

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32 NLT

  1. Children have a home

As part of the family, every child has a right to live in the father’s home.

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3 NLT

  1. Children have an inheritance

In Hebrew culture, children were heirs of their father’s estate. Jesus told a story about two sons, the younger of whom demanded his inheritance before his father’s death.

“The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.” Luke 15:12 NLT

HOW DO WE QUALIFY FOR AN INHERITANCE WITH JESUS?

We are God’s children…

  1. By faith in Jesus

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:12-13 NLT

  1. Called brothers and sisters

After the resurrection, Jesus called His disciples  “brothers”.

“The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” Matthew 28:8-10 NLT

“So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:11 NLT

  1. We have the witness of the Spirit

“So, you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16 NLT

  1. The discipline of the Father

“As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.” Hebrews 12:7-8 NLT

  1. The new nature in us

“Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous…. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” 1 John 3:7, 9 NLT

“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

  1. The promise of an inheritance

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17 NLT

WHAT IS OUR INHERITANCE?

We are co-heirs with Jesus of an inheritance that is both for the present and the future.

THE PRESENT

The “present” part of  inheritance is the “divine nature” with which Adam was created, but was marred at the Fall. As we have learned over many weeks, God has provided the means and the power, in the New Covenant, to restore His nature in us as His children to prepare us for our eternal life with Him in His family.

God uses different means to work in us, to train us to overcome the old nature by nurturing our new nature. He uses the disciplines of hardship and suffering, as we have already studied, to put to death, through the Spirit, our sinful flesh and to strengthen our confidence in His love.

In the context of our inheritance, He has given us powerful tools in His Word to enable us to “grow in grace”.

“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

By engaging this “power” of the kingdom, we embrace every promise God has given us, endorsed by Jesus, by a hearty “Amen!” We  speak our “Yes” to the words that empower us through the Spirit to think and act like God and not like the world.

“For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No”… and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”2 Corinthians 1:19-20 NLT

THE FUTURE

God is preparing us for our future inheritance by restoring His nature in us in this life, in the midst of the darkness and sin all around us. We need this worldly environment with its hardship and suffering to build character, to strengthen our faith, and to teach us patience, perseverance and endurance because only those who endure to the end will be saved.

All of our life experiences are moving us towards our future inheritance.

  1. Salvation

“Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14 NLT

What does “salvation” imply?

We tend to focus on one aspect when we speak of salvation. To us, it means having our sins forgiven so that we can go to heaven when we die. This is only a minute part of the rich meaning of salvation.

“Salvation” in its fullest meaning, implies “wholeness” – the completeness that Adam was created to be, before he sinned.

“So, God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” Genesis 1:27, 31 NLT

“VERY GOOD” was God’s verdict on all creation including the first two human beings… “perfect and fully functional”, everything meshed together in perfect harmony.

future inheritance, then, implies restoration to the completeness and full functionality that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the beginning.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”… I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light…. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there…. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:4, 22-23, 25, 27 NLT

  1. Eternal Life

“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25 NLT

What is eternal life?

Jesus gave a simple yet profound definition of eternal life…

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3 NIV

There is only one verse in Scripture that gives insight into what it means to “know” God.

“But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 22:15-16 NLT

Knowing God is more than casual acquaintance. Many people glibly say, “I believe in God.” but it means no more than saying,  “I believe in the sun.” To believe in God and to know God implies knowing in the most intimate sense of the word.

If eternal life is to “know God”, it involves a knowing that deeply affects the whole of one’s life.

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12 NLT

Therefore, for us to have this gift, this inheritance of eternal life, not only a life that never ends but also a life that continually grows in personal and intimate knowledge of Jesus, we make it our aim to know Him now.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”2 Peter 3:18 NIV

 John gives us a simple way to know God… we must love one another.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7 NIV

HOW DO WE ACCESS OUR INHERITANCE?

  1. Put off and put on…

“Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:9-10 NLT

We have been given unconditional access to all of God’s promises in the New Covenant which enable us to put on (activate) our new nature which God has given to us through our faith in Jesus.

“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

  1. Say “yes” to every promise that meets our need

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT

  1. Learn faith and endurance by loving others…

“Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” Hebrews 6:11-12 NLT

  1. Through sharing Jesus’ suffering

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17 NLT

I don’t think Paul meant that we must suffer for Jesus in order to share in His inheritance. I think he meant, not THAT we suffer but HOW we suffer. Everyone suffers in one way or another but our attitude to suffering makes all the difference.

Jesus suffered with humility and obedience.

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 NLT

Jesus suffered with submission and faith in the Father.

“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.”1 Peter 2:21-23 NLT

Jesus suffered with a purpose

“God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” Hebrews 2:10 NLT

God’s purpose for our suffering is to be “participants in the divine nature”.

“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord ’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:5-6 NLT

“For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:10 NLT

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:28-29 NLT

Getting to know Jesus, then, includes having the same attitude as He had to His suffering, humbly submitting to the Father’s will, trusting in Him to work for our good, knowing that He is conforming us to the image of His Son.

WHAT ARE THE POWERS OF OUR INHERITANCE?

  1. A powerful motivation to live holy lives

“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3 NLT

  1. A joyful anticipation of future glory

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:3-7 NLT

  1. A great salvation we must not neglect

“So, we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it….  What makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?” Hebrews 2:1, 3 NLT

CONCLUSION

We have an important part to play if we are to share in this glorious inheritance with Jesus.

Salvation, the sum total of our inheritance, is not only a done deal but also a day-by-day participation with the Holy Spirit in becoming who we are… sons and daughters of God.

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13 NLT

“As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvellous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NLT

Salvation is guaranteed to those who endure to the end. Those who turn back show that they were never a part of us anyway.

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” 1 John 2:19 NIV

We learn to overcome the world and to live as God’s sons and daughters as we fully embrace our inheritance both for now through His promises and for eternity through His gift of Jesus who is both salvation and eternal life to us.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

All Scripture quotations in this series

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – GIVING UP IS GAIN

GIVING UP IS GAIN

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:28-31

Tucked away in this exchange with His disciples is another fragment of the love of God. Even though earth is not our permanent experience, God does not ignore, nor is He unfeeling about the sacrifices He calls us to make for His sake. If it is our determined purpose to be a disciple and to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, we will forgo earthly benefits. There is a different focus; our energies will be bent towards a different purpose. Selfless giving will replace selfish acquisitiveness. Time and energy will be spent on serving others rather than on self-absorption.

Jesus assured His disciples that these sacrifices do not go unnoticed. However, not only does the Father reward His children in this life, but He also builds that reward into an environment of kingdom living. The family we acquire and the material benefits we experience come in the context of God’s forever family which cannot be separated by distance or by death because they function in another dimension, the eternal kingdom of which we are already a part.

Jesus’ words were intended to shift the disciples’ focus from looking back to what they had given up to looking around at what they had gained already and looking forward to what they were yet to gain as fellow-heirs with Jesus. These were all things they had yet to learn, but their first step of response to Jesus put them on a journey with Him that was full of delightful surprises.

The Apostle Paul, under the Spirit’s inspiration, had insights into the promise of this journey. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Although the greatest reward comes at the end of the journey, Jesus assured His disciples that the journey itself would not be pure drudgery. They would enjoy the benefits of God’s provision and the satisfaction of family relationships within the kingdom. Best of all, they would experience the intimate love of the Father who would cushion their every trial with His presence and grace to prepare for an abundant entrance into His eternal kingdom.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – A POOR CHOICE, INDEED

A POOR CHOICE, INDEED 

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:17-22

This incident illustrates the power that stuff, whatever it is – money, things, gifts, talents, abilities, skills, people, habits, and pleasure – exerts on a person and blocks the potential to have fellowship with Jesus. A wealthy young man came to Jesus with an expression of spiritual hunger. He desired the assurance of eternal life. He had obviously seen something in Jesus that drew a response from his own heart. He yearned for a share in the dimension of living that Jesus exhibited.

Jesus firstly challenged his address – good teacher. Did the man recognise His deity or was he only trying to flatter Him? To call Jesus “good” was to attribute to Him deity and all the power and authority that go with deity. What Jesus said in response to the man’s query would alert him to the very nature of the one he was addressing. Fid he realise that he was acknowledging Jesus to be God? God? . To the man, Jesus’ response would eventually be much more than an answer to his question. This would turn out to be a defining moment for him; a choice to make that would determine the direction of his destiny.

His restless soul bore witness to the inadequacy of his own righteousness, and the focus of his life and confidence.– stuff. Keeping the commandments from childhood brought him no nearer to real living. He had too many chains that hindered true freedom. There was something he had missed but he could not identify it. He thought that it was something he had not yet done.

In one sentence, Jesus put his finger on the problem. His treasure was in his heart. As long as his stuff was his master, he was owned by a life-principle that rules in the world system – the yetzer harah, the evil eye of selfishness and greed. . No-one can serve two masters. Unless he chose to repudiate the master that controlled him, he would be a slave to money until he died. His slave-driver won the battle that day. He chose to remain a slave to his possessions rather than let them go for a Master who would give him true freedom. He could not visualise a life linked to a Source far more secure than his money and possessions.

Millions in today’s world are in love with the same master. Better to trust your bank account than a God you cannot see. Really…?

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – WHAT STANDS BETWEEN ME AND HIM?

WHAT STANDS BETWEEN ME AND HIM?

“One day one of the local officials asked Him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?’

“Jesus said, ‘Why are you calling me good? No one is good – only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honour your father and mother.’

“He said, ‘I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.’

“When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘Then there’s only one thing left to do: sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

“This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.” Luke 18:18-23.

Yet another familiar story, so well-known, in fact, that we might easily miss the impact of it!

Firstly, this story shows us how uniquely and individually Jesus applied the good news of the kingdom to people. He neither told this man, ‘You must be born again,’ as He did to Nicodemus, nor did He say, ‘I must come to your house today,’ as He said to Zaccheus. This man had his own issue and Jesus dealt with it with penetrating insight. He had no ‘salvation formula’ which He applied mindlessly to everyone.  The issue was: What was coming between this man and Him that prevented him from entering into an intimate relationship with Him?

Secondly, the man’s question reveals his misunderstanding of God and of what he called ‘eternal life’. His concept pivots on the words ‘deserve’ (The Message) or ‘inherit’ (NIV). He was approaching his eternal destiny from the point of view that he had to ‘do’ just one thing to win God’s approval, and then eternal life would be guaranteed him. He did not understand that God does not grant eternal life on merit, and that eternal life is a journey, not a reward.

Thirdly, he did not understand that eternal life is a commitment to follow Jesus, learn from Him, imitate Him and become joined to His Spirit who comes to take up residence inside and to represent Him on the journey to becoming like Him. This is a journey towards wholeness, breaking with the beliefs and practices which bring destruction to a person’s body and soul, and becoming increasingly like the Master in thought and action.

It may or may not begin with a decisive moment. Sometimes there is an imperceptible transition from independence to dependence, from being my own boss and setting up my own standards to handing over the reins to Jesus and coming under His authority.

Fourthly, he did not understand that there is a difference between living a morally upright life, which is a requirement, but not a qualification, for eternal life, and giving Jesus the right to rule in his life. Zaccheus qualified, not because he kept the commandments (which he didn’t) but because he dumped everything that stood between him and following Jesus.

With surgical precision, Jesus cut through all his misconceptions and got to the heart of his problem – he worshipped an idol – his wealth. Zaccheus dumped his idol; this man refused and, at that moment, made his decision to continue his journey to the rubbish dump of a worthless life and wasted potential. He could have become a true worshipper and experienced the start of a journey that would take him to the Father forever, had he only realised that wealth and possessions cease at death.

This is the heart of every person’s choice – what stands between me and Him? No one can serve two masters and Jesus plays second fiddle to no one.