“What Jesus Said About Being Saved”



Hello. Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. One of the most important issues in religious and spiritual discussions revolves around the matter of salvation. People want to know about being saved and inheriting eternal life. Many are interested in how that takes place. Well, some believe they are not worthy of God's salvation. Others hope to earn it through their own efforts or good deeds. Yes, we are curious about what is recorded in the Bible regarding salvation. We are especially interested in what Jesus had to say about being saved. In our lesson today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will look at a story about a man who came to Jesus wanting to secure his eternal life. After their conversation, the man realized his idea was very different than that of Jesus. We too might think we know what it takes to inherit eternal life. We might even be absolutely sure of what it means to be saved. We then hold fast to those beliefs and we pursue them passionately. And yet, it is important to remember, Jesus knows what is best and He has the final word. I invite you to stay with us for the next few minutes, as we work through this story and hopefully gain some important insights. Please open up your heart and your Bible, now, as we study together from God's Word.



In the middle chapters of Luke's Gospel, we find a record of some things that took place during Jesus' ministry. Most of His work was done to the North, in the land of Galilee, but the time had come for Him now to travel South into Judah, where eventually He would be put to death on a cross outside of the city called Jerusalem. And as He traveled, He shared a message that was simple and yet quite challenging. He called for the people to repent and to change their lives and to become more than just a follower. Oh, He invited those people to become His disciple. And in the 18th chapter of Luke, a man approaches Jesus with a very sincere question; and, this gives Jesus the opportunity to challenge him in regards to his discipleship. Let's take a look at the first part of that story found in Luke chapter 18, as we begin reading with verse 18. <A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.> Now in Matthew's account of this same story, this ruler is identified as being a young man. And so the text tells us, this young ruler was a very rich man. He evidently had all kinds of wealth and possessions and money. And with that came a great deal of power. Oh, no doubt, this man was somebody special. And being a young man, he certainly had not made all of this money on his own, but rather he perhaps had inherited his wealthy father's estate. We might say in today's language, here was a multimillionaire. He had everything he needed. He lacked for absolutely nothing. And perhaps he was a ruler of a nearby synagogue, and if that was the case then he was highly recognized among his peers. And so he comes to Jesus with some high praise. He calls Him good teacher or good rabbi. And he does this, perhaps, so that Jesus will recognize his goodness and recognize the fact that he is somebody special. Yes, this young man wants Jesus to return some sort of praise to him, but Jesus does do that. In fact, He gives praise to God: God alone is good. That leads us to that familiar statement, perhaps we've heard today, God is good all the time and all the time, God is good. Well, this man then presents his question to Jesus; and it's a question we've heard before. Maybe we have even asked it ourselves. What must I do to inherit eternal life? Well, it's the same question a lawyer asked Jesus, back in Luke chapter 10, and that led Jesus to tell that story about the Good Samaritan. You know, today we understand eternal life as responding to the work which Jesus did upon the cross. We know that He died upon the cross to remove the guilt and the burden of our sin. He was then buried in a tomb and on the third day He rose victoriously from the grave. That's the Good News Message, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. And we respond to that by dying to the sin in our life, by being buried with Jesus in baptism and then we rise up to begin walking a brand new life with Him. The apostle Paul does a great job of describing all of that in Romans chapter 6. And that's what we think about in regards to inheriting eternal life, responding to what Jesus did. But that is not what this rich young ruler had in mind. He understood eternal life as the completion of God's kingdom. He was thinking about an earthly reign with power, with armies and with soldiers and Jesus’ control over the enemies. He had a different idea. He was approaching eternal life from a different perspective than we might approach it today. And so this rich, young, powerful ruler comes to Jesus and he wants to do something important. He wants to do something significant in that kingdom. He wants to make a big impression, something perhaps Jesus would recognize, appreciate and admire. Maybe he was wanting some kind of role in that kingdom, as he understood it. He tells Jesus he has already kept the commandments since he was a little boy, but he wants to know what else is required; and, Jesus tells him to do something that would not be easy. He tells him sell everything you have, give to the poor, and then you can come follow Me. When this man heard it he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. In Matthew's account, we read this: The man went away because he had great wealth. Here was a rich young ruler wanting to do something, but his wealth got in the way of becoming a true follower and disciple of Jesus Christ. Well, after the rich young ruler leaves, Jesus then says something about him and that situation to the others who were there; and, He talks about what it takes for one to be saved. Let's continue on with the story, here in Luke chapter 18, as we pick up with the reading of verse 24. <Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Peter said to Him, “We have left all we had to follow You!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come.”> In verses 24 and 25, we find a little parable. And it is rather easy to read over that, as we focus on the exchange Jesus is having there with this young ruler and with the other people. But the parable is important, that this rich young ruler cannot, or he will not, part with his wealth. It was too important to him. In fact, it would be as hard for him to part with his wealth as it would be for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Now think about that for just a moment. We think about a camel with those long legs and those humps on its back. Can you imagine trying to be a camel and go through the very small opening at the end of a needle? It's impossible. Perhaps that was a rather humorous little story that Jesus told as He did His teaching here, and the people all laughed when Jesus offered that suggestion. But that was the point Jesus was trying to make. It's almost impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. And so those who remained and who heard that exchange asked the question; who then can be saved? If the wealthy cannot be saved, then who can be saved? You know, the idea in that day and time was that wealth produced privilege. Wealth was a sign that you were special in the eyes of God, and that you had all kinds of blessing and all kinds of privilege that were coming from Him, and eventually you would experience eternal life or salvation. Well, Jesus answered the question with this word, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Now, it's very important to keep Jesus' answer in context. He was not referring to something we might want to happen in our life that seems to be impossible. There are many examples that we could mention. I think about perhaps driving through a parking lot looking for a great parking spot, right near the door you want to enter. You offer a little prayer and say, “God, it seems to be impossible. Won't You do the impossible and open up a parking spot.” Well, that may or may not happen. Or, think about a financial situation in which you find yourself, and there seems to be no way out. You've over committed and you're looking for some kind of miraculous solution, and so you pray, “God do the impossible.” Well, there's other examples we could mention, but that's not what Jesus has in mind when He makes that statement. What He was doing, He was answering the question that was asked of Him, “Who, then, can be saved?” And His answer is what seems to be impossible with man is possible with God. Yes, He states that it is only possible with the Lord. Sometimes we might even think, in our own life, that God cannot save someone like me. It's just impossible. You think about your life, and you think about the way you lived in the past, all of the mistakes and all of the problems you've had, and the rebellious life perhaps you have lived in days gone by. Or, perhaps we think about how we are living today, that we are opposed to God and Jesus and the church, and we want to live any way we want to live. Well, we then come to the idea, God can't save someone like me. I'm too far or gone. I'm too rebellious. I'm not worthy of that salvation. Well, with that in mind, we remember Jesus' words: “What appears to be impossible with man, God makes it possible.” And that's the Good News message of the Gospel, that Jesus died on the cross, He was buried, He rose again. That's the Good News! And through that death and resurrection we have now the opportunity for our sin to be eliminated for us to experience a new life in Him. Well, we go on in the story and notice that everyone who wanted to follow Jesus had to leave something behind in order to be that disciple. And Peter reminds Jesus, and the others who were there, that he and the disciples had already done that. Some had left a successful family fishing business. Some went against the culture of the day. Others turned away from what everybody else was doing because they believed Jesus had a better way, and they wanted to follow Him instead of the culture of that day. Well, Jesus is stating that that's what it takes in order to be My disciple; that, being saved is impossible for those who are too deeply invested in the riches of this world. That's exactly what happened with this rich young ruler. He trusted in his riches more than he trusted in God. You know, throughout Luke's Gospel, we find many statements he records from Jesus about the rich and the powerful. You know, Jesus, throughout His ministry, constantly warned people about the danger of money and the misuse of wealth; and He warns us of the same thing today. You know, like this rich young ruler, we may think we can take care of ourselves and really don't need to rely or to depend upon God. We have wealth and we have some power, we have some possessions and we don't need any help. We can make it in this world. We can do something significant for the Lord; and, “Look at me. I am somebody special,” we might say about ourselves. Well, there's more to the story. Go back, if you will, in that 18 chapter, to the previous story and let's read three verses that began in verse 15. <People were also bringing babies to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”> Well, it was after that story, that situation, that this rich young ruler comes to Jesus and presents his question. But the problem was, he did not come as a humble child, as a helpless child; but rather, he came as a rich ruler. He wants to do something dramatic that only he could do. He is drawing attention to himself and his wealth and his possessions, and he wants to make a big splash. Well, he was ready, perhaps, to give large sums of money, maybe to underwrite Jesus’ ministry. Perhaps he wanted to build another synagogue nearby. Maybe he could fund an army or do something really special that would make a difference. But the one thing that he was unwilling to do was to come to Jesus with a humble spirit, like that of a little child. He was unwilling to come to Jesus as someone in need of help for his own life, because he already thought he had the solution. No, it was not so much that he wanted to earn his eternal life, but he wanted to prove himself to be of great importance and of great service to God. He had money and position, and he could make things happen. And Jesus' response to that pride and to those possessions was get rid of all of it, sell out, give to the poor, let go of your pride and your money, and it is only then that you can enter the kingdom of God as a humble child, totally dependent upon God. And when he could do that, it was then that he could follow Jesus and become His disciple. Well, the point is obvious in this story, inheriting eternal life is impossible if one relies on power and pride and possessions. Yes, all of that is to be eliminated if one wants to receive God's kingdom. It is only then that we can become His true follower and disciple and walk in His footsteps. At times, we too might allow our money, our possessions, or something else to become so important that we no longer depend upon God. And when that happens, it makes us too big to enter into the kingdom of God. We become too big, too prideful, and we are not humble enough to accept what God has already done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Well, a couple of questions come, as we begin to close our lesson. First of all, how can we get small enough in our own eyes to enter the kingdom of heaven? And number two, how can we enter into eternal life and receive that salvation? Well, Jesus answers those questions. We realize we have nothing to offer God, except our dependence upon Him. In fact, we were created to depend upon and God and to receive from Him what He freely offers. We are also to humble ourselves and become like little children, that we empty ourselves of our pride, of our possessions, or anything else that stands in the way of humbly receiving what God has to offer to us. And then, we do as Peter said and did. We leave all behind and we began to follow Jesus. And I don't know what that is for you or for me, but whatever it is, we leave it behind. We give it up and we do not depend upon that to provide for our salvation. We let go of our pride and our possessions. And with a spirit of humility we come to Jesus. And with a spirit of thankfulness, we say, “We appreciate what you have done for us on the cross of Calvary, the opportunity we have to be a part of your spiritual family, and we humbly receive that.” Yes, it is impossible to find salvation on our own. It can not be done. It has already been provided for us through Jesus’ work upon that cross, and He simply invites us to receive what is already there. And when we come to Jesus in that spirit of humility, when we come with a willingness to be His disciple, it is then that God turns the impossible into a possibility. I would encourage us today to listen very closely to what Jesus has to say about being saved. And we receive that salvation with a humble and dependable spirit upon the Lord.



When driving by a church building like this one, many people give thought to some spiritual and religious matters. Some people might think, well, this is the place through which a great deal of mission work is done and where people come together to worship God and to love one another and to pray. Some people might even say, well, that's the place where I was baptized into Christ and received His salvation. On the other hand, some people drive by and say, well, I don't have anything to do with religious or spiritual matters. In fact, there is no way I can receive God's love and salvation. They say such things because of the way they are living or perhaps the way they have lived in the past. They believe they are not deserving or worthy of what God has to offer. And yet Jesus stated, “With God all things are possible.” It does not matter what our life looks like now. God, through Jesus Christ can take us right where we are and He can offer salvation. In fact, that's what He does. He offers that to us, and He wants us to receive it. I would invite you to this church sometime. This is where we talk about the salvation of the Lord, the love that God has for all people and how we can receive that free gift which leads to eternal life. Don't let your past keep you down. Don't let the life you're living now prevent you from receiving what God so freely offers. But rather, recognize we can't earn it and we're certainly not worthy of it, but God and His love for us graciously gives us His salvation.


Thank you for joining us for today's broadcast. I am glad Jesus reminds us that our salvation depends upon God and not upon ourselves. No matter what our life looks like to other people, or even to us, God can do the impossible. If you have an interest in hearing this lesson again, it can be found on our website; keytothekingdom.com. It, along with several other lessons is available to download in several different formats. I hope you will find those which are of interest; and, all of them are free from any charge and they require no obligation. Several other things are on the website, which might be helpful in your spiritual walk with the Lord. Short two minute videos and one minute devotional thoughts are added on a regular basis. They offer Biblical insights for living in today's world. Our basic beliefs and teachings are there, also, along with our latest newsletter. If you use Facebook®, I hope you will find us there as well. Every week, new messages are uploaded. I hope you will like and then share those messages with others. A free phone app might be of interest. It is easy to download onto your smart-phone and it will take you directly to our website. Finally, you can call the number on the screen and leave a message and it will be returned just as soon as possible. Oh, I hope you will take advantage of any of these media tools to keep up with our ministry and mission efforts. Thank you again for watching today's broadcast. Please consider joining us next week at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”