"What Do I Lack Yet?"

Bible students will recognize the title of this lesson immediately as relating to a man whom we know from taking the total we are told about him in Scripture as "The Rich Young Ruler" who came to Jesus showing an interest in his own soul's salvation (Mark 10:17-25; Luke 18:18-25). Let us read Mark's account as revealed by divine inspiration:

“...one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him,”Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life.” So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God." You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witnesses,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor our father and your mother.'" And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth." Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”But he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, 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 (one who trust in riches ket) to enter the kingdom of God.”

I wish to make several observations of this event. First of all this young man indicated his desire to inherit eternal life one day V-17. However, his interest in eternal life was not as great as his interest in his material possessions evidently, from his reaction to the Lord's requirement in his particular case. You see being God the Son and knowing what was in man (John 2:24), Jesus knew he was covetous. The apostle Paul writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls covetousness idolatry in Colossians 3:5-6, and says it is among those sins that will bar folks from heaven at last. This is why Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for such folks to enter the kingdom (the church) or to enter the eternal kingdom in heaven at last. You see wealth is neutral as to good or evil. It is only the “love of money” that Paul calls “the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:6-10). God showed His approval of many of His Old Testament worthies by giving them much wealth. Did God contribute to their downfall? Absolutely not! One may be covetous who doesn't have two dimes to rub together. Folks who “trust in riches” and who see “success” in this life only in how many dollars or how much physical prosperity they accumulate need to heed the lesson taught concerning this “rich young ruler.” Anyone can “make a living,” but what is really important is that we “make a life” (Matthew 16:26).

Many folks today react to the instructions as given by our Lord as the terms of entrance into His church/kingdom just as did this young man. It may be for a different reason than his but when many folks today are told how to enter the kingdom which is the church of our Lord they balk just as did this young man. Oh they desire to enter the kingdom they want to be saved but only if it can be on their own terms and not in the strict compliance to the instructions of Jesus as given in His “Great Commission” to His apostles found in (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15- 20; Luke 24:44-49). Cases of conversion in the Acts of the Apostles each followed the instructions given by Jesus. Jesus knew this would not be popular and forewarned men in His “sermon on the mount.” Entering the kingdom which is another word describing the spiritual relationship we know as the church, requires folks to adhere to Christ's will or they will never be known by Him as His own.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets,(those who tell you a different way to enter Christ's church or kingdom ket) who come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves....Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord,' have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you (notice they will never have been Christians and therefore never a member of Christ's church or citizens of His kingdom ket) depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:13-23). When we tell alien sinners they must “obey the gospel” they often do as the “rich young ruler,” they “go away sorrowful,” for that isn't what the Protestant preachers tell folks. We need to look at the first inspired sermon following the giving of His commission to His apostles and see what Peter, to whom Christ gave the “keys to His kingdom,” told his audience of whom his sermon made believers on the first Jewish Pentecost following Christ ascension and coronation on David's throne at God's right hand as recorded in (Acts 2:22-38,40-41,47). Jesus told His apostles that they were to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high and that repentance and remission of sins would be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-49). Is this what Peter taught on the birthday of Christ's church? Absolutely! Why then do so many "go away sorrowful" when told as believers to “repent and be baptized....for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)? The sad fact remains that people who “obey not the gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction” according to (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). In Mark's account of the "Great Commission" the language cannot be misunderstood for Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).

If folks go away sorrowful because the Bible answer isn't in keeping with the denominational creeds and human traditions, they will go away still in their sins just as Naaman who rejected what the Prophet of God said he must do to be cleansed of his leprosy in (2 Kings 5). What was he told to do? “Go wash (dip) seven times in Jordan” (2 Kings 5:10). Just as the young ruler Naaman went away in a rage thinking surely the prophet would “..come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper” (V-10). His own thoughts as to how he may be healed and God's means were different you see. The same if often true of folks today who maintain that God (Christ) should save them by “faith alone” or surely they can just “pray the sinner's prayer” and be forgiven. Sadly, they too will go away retaining their alien sins and without citizenship in Christ's kingdom (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5)!

An interesting point to me is that even those folks who advocate “salvation by faith alone” as how one becomes a Christian, a point that contradicts the plain teaching of the New Testament also agree that in addition to Faith, repentance and confession of faith are also enjoined on those who would be saved. Too, with hardly any exceptions those denominations whose creed says we are “saved by faith alone” also demand something they call baptism before folks are considered as full fledged members. It is only when we say that baptism is the final act of the New Birth and that just like faith repentance, and confession of faith saves one, so too does water baptism, a fact I shall show abundantly clearly before I conclude this lesson. I once asked a Protestant the following question: “If I can show you a passage or passages which teach that water baptism is essential to salvation from alien sins, will you accept it?” To which he responded, “Yes, I would.” I then proceeded to read from 1 Peter 3:20-21 in which Peter likens our salvation by baptism to that of Noah's in building the ark to be saved from the waters of the flood. In fact the passages clearly says, “...baptism doth also now save us...” The gentleman almost ripped my New Testament from my hand as he ask me, “which translation is that?” I replied “it is the King James version.” He turned and stumbled as he read the passage: "Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Silence followed. I invited him to the gospel meeting in which I was doing the preaching that week in his community. He never showed up. He too, “went away sorrowful” because that was not what “his church” nor “his folks” had taught him about salvation from alien sins.

My brethren and I do not put any more emphasis on water baptism than we do any of the other commandments in the gospel plan of salvation. We wouldn't teach on it nearly as much as we do perhaps if it wasn't for the fact that others discount its importance to the salvation of man's souls. You can read for yourself some of the things that are attributed to water baptism when kept in its proper perspective in the overall plan to save. Scripture says of water baptism:

  1. It is "for the remission of sins.." (Acts 2:38).
  2. It is "to be saved" (Mark 16:16).
  3. It is "into Christ" (Romans 6:3).
  4. It is to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:36-27)
  5. It is "into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13).
  6. It "saves us" (1 Peter 3:21).
  7. It is the "washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26).
  8. It "washes away sins" (Acts 22:16).
  9. It is "into the death" of Christ (Romans 6:5).
  10. It is having one's body "washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:22).
  11. It is the final act of the "new birth of water and Spirit" (John 3:5)

12. It is how God saves us by "the washing of regeneration.." (Titus 3:5).

13. It is to "save ones self from this crooked generation (Acts 2:40-41).

14. It is "into the name of Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 1 Corinthians 3:1-6) .

Jesus Shed His precious blood “...for the remission of sins..” (Matthew 26:28. We are to be immersed for the same reason (Acts 2:38). If one may be saved apart from water baptism, one could be saved apart from the blood of Jesus Christ. Yet it is by the shedding of His blood that we are purchased and added to His blood bought body, His church (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28).

My friends what will you do now? Will you go away like the “rich young ruler” or will you come to the Lord on His terms? You alone can make the decision. For more study look at the following:

  1. (Acts 2:22-38,40-41,47).
  2. (Acts 8:12-13).
  3. (Acts 8:26-39).
  4. (Acts 9:1-6; 22:16).
  5. (Acts 10:47-48; 11:14).
  6. (Acts 16:14-15).
  7. (Acts 16:29-33).

Another important point to realize is that when folks heard, believed, repented, confessed faith in Jesus as the Christ and were baptized into Him they became simply and only Christians (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:1-6). This same “new birth” placed them in Christ's kingdom, His blood bought church where reconciliation to God is found by the cross (blood) of Jesus (Acts 2:41,47; Colossians 1:13- 14; Ephesians 2:13-16).

Will you also go away or will you not come to the Lord Jesus Christ on His terms?

By Kenneth E. Thomas

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