Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

IMPOSSIBLE: The Rich Young Ruler, Part 2

Jesus initially responded to the rich young ruler by taking him to the Law of Moses. The young man should have become convicted of sin, and convinced that it is impossible for righteousness to be attained by keeping the Law. But he was not. The riches of a religious life were holding him in blindness. How easy it is for us to become blinded by our own righteousness, to forget that any good in us is God's work, to believe that we ourselves have brought something meritorious to the salvation equation. In the Gospel, God is dying to lead us to a different conclusion. And in the Law, God has engraved our unworthiness and guilt in stone.

It is interesting to note that Jesus did not always refer people to the Law. Nicodemus, for example, was merely given a baffling command to be "born again," something not particularly related to the Law. The woman at the well was told the damning and embarassing facts about her sad life, but not a list of specific transgressions. The disciples heard the simple invitation, "Follow me," rather than a list of rules they had broken. There are those today who would encourage us to preach the Law before we preach the Gospel, or at least to include Law as a key part of the presentation. There is certainly wisdom in this approach, but let us never get ourselves stuck in a system that is unable to flex and respond to each individual God brings our way. There is a time to preach the Law, and there is a time to proclaim free mercy. There is a time to go straight to the cross, and even a time to listen quietly and shed tears. It all depends on the needs of the one with whom we are speaking. Let us be Spirit-led and guided by love, not just committed to a good method.

When the young man responded to the Law by asserting his self-righteousness, our Lord looked at him, and He loved him. This fact is significant, because Jesus is about to ask a wealthy real estate tycoon to give up everything he has. What motivates this demand for complete surrender? Only love.

If this man chooses to leave all and follow Christ, he will be responding to divine love. If he walks away, he will be rejecting it. May this be the case when we share the Gospel with others. Let our hearers be confronted with God's truth as we speak to them, and enveloped in God's love as we look upon them.

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