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Monday, May 22, 2017

Jesus Christ said: "If You Want to be Perfect"


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We all know the story. A rich, young ruler went to Jesus to ask how to have eternal life. Jesus didn't tell the young man to receive him as Savior but told him to obey the commandments.

Neither did Jesus say, "you must be born again" as he did Nicodemus. Queer. Didn't Paul tell us no one could be justified by the works of the law? Yet Jesus said eternal life is through obeying the commandments. And James said the perfect law leads to freedom [1.25].

So, which is which?

Jesus told us no one has the right to delete the importance of the law because he did't come to abolish it but to fulfill it. In fact, your standing in God's Kingdom depends on your attitude about the law.
Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5.19]
We're not under the law but under grace, but we must uphold it in our lives.
Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. [Romans 3.31]
And don't forget, Jesus said our Kingdom standing and eternal life depend in a certain measure on our obedience to the law.

Here's how the law and the Word work together to produce the radical Jesus LIFE in you. Click here.

But here's what's shocking!

But watch this. The rich, young ruler said he had been obeying the few commandments Jesus had enumerated as examples, all dealing on our human relationships. Still, the young man felt inadequate for eternal life. According to Mark, Jesus told the young man how he lacked one thing. While Matthew said, Jesus told the young man, "If you want to be perfect."

If we combine them, this is what we get---the law was intended to bring LIFE [Romans 7.10] but man is imperfect to keep up with it. In fact, it only produces death in him. So what's really needed, according to Jesus, is to "be perfect" in Christ to be able to fulfill the commandments in you. To make this clearer, here's the passage in Romans 7.10:
I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
And here's the passage about what Jesus told the rich young ruler:
If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. [Matthew 19.21]
Notice how the young man didn't say, "Umm, I don't want to be perfect. Nobody's perfect, anyway. I think keeping the commandments is enough for me." He couldn't say that because, as shown, he already felt inadequate just obeying the commandments. He felt he needed something more. He also didn't bargain by asking Jesus, "Can I have eternal life without being perfect? I just want to be a saved imperfect sinner." He knew in himself it was useless asking about it. He didn't dare ask Jesus. 

Just keeping the law or the commandments would make you feel inadequate for eternal life, and your daily life will prove it. You'd find yourself just breaking the law repeatedly. But if in spite of this you still want eternal life, Jesus would tell you, "If you want to be perfect..." and then tell you to give up something dear in your life. In the case of the rich, young ruler, it was his riches.

God wants you to give up anything not from Him (or anything that serves as a stronghold in you) if you want eternal life.

You need Christ's perfection to have eternal life. That's Kingdom truth very few understand. Jesus himself taught it. And perfection in Christ doesn't mean never being in any error or always getting high grades in school or always looking your best. It means giving up for good anything God tells you to give up. Anyway, God gives you powerful, enabling grace to do it, plus the power of the Holy Spirit. How can you fail and how can you go wrong?

The phrase, "If you want to be perfect" is the same as "if you're really serious about it." We badly need this emphasis and challenge today when we share the Gospel. A lot of evangelism is just aimed at grabbing more people to church to increase church income and membership. So they make everything easy. You get the best of both worlds without giving up anything. And they just share the positives and keep the negatives aside. They never tell the sinner what he needs to give up, and that there's no compromise when giving up what God wants you to give up.

Truth is, you have to lose something on earth to gain something in the Kingdom. I know salvation is for free, but you have to lose your life in order to gain it, said Jesus.

Cost of following Jesus revealed right at the start

They say you need to keep the hardest thing about following Jesus a secret first so your prospect doesn't get discouraged. If you reveal the cost of following Jesus to him right away and he rejects the Gospel, they say you'd be accountable for it. They add that the cost of following Jesus should be shared "after" the prospect has received Jesus. In other words, if it's sales and marketing, you tell him the "side effects" of the products after he buys. After he's trapped.

I believe prospects have the right to know what they're getting into. The dear cost of following Jesus is not really "side effects" but confirmation that you are no longer of this world but of the Kingdom. The cost is actually a blessing, and if so, you should share about it right at the start. Don't hide anything. Jesus didn't. He told the rich young, ruler right away about the cost of having eternal life and following him. He told the Samaritan woman to first "go call your husband" before she could drink the water of life. 

Salvation is FREE but you get nothing in the Kingdom without cost.

Discouraging a potential church member

I LOVE how Jesus never ran after people. Imagine discouraging a potential church member---young and idealistic, founded in the Word of God, been obeying the Word since childhood, a ruler with great influence (although the Gospel doesn't explain how he was a ruler), and most of all, RICH.

Any pastor today would surely run after this guy. Pastors would love to have him as church member and probably make him a board member or elder immediately. They'd make sure this guy never gets out of their hands, especially when the fact is, he's RICH! Pastors love to have givers and tithers into their churches. 

Not Jesus. He has a preferential love for the poor. He loves everybody, but he declared how the rich will find it hard to enter God's Kingdom (does any pastor today tell this to the rich?). Yet in Luke, he said, "Blessed are the poor."

What do you do when a rich and influential (smart) guy (who even loves the bible) comes to your church and calls you "good teacher"? Wouldn't that make your ears clap for yourself? Wouldn't that do wonders for your ego? Wouldn't you love to keep this guy in your church and probably lure him to be your supporter? Wouldn't you give him position and influence in church pronto (that's what a lot of pastors do to keep their "ideal" members for good, not knowing it's a trap for them). 

Jesus NEVER did these things. To him, no one was indispensable. All were welcome but he never gave special treatments to anyone, especially not to the rich. To him, only one thing mattered in a person. "If you want to be perfect..."

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