Summary: The world seeks to do something in order to be blessed. God calls us to be, so that we can enjoy the blessings He gives. Salvation is God's gift, not a position we earn.

“A man came up to [Jesus], saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these I have kept. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

“And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Then Peter said in reply, ‘See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’” [1]

When I was a boy, a nickel would purchase a bottle of pop. With a quarter, I could ride the train from my little town in southeast Kansas to the next town eight miles away, go to a movie and enjoy a soda. A quarter meant something in that day. Woe betide the young man who happened to have a hole in his pocket, causing him to lose his dime, or worse still, lose his quarter. There was always some sharp-eyed son of a pickpocket who’d spy the dime or the quarter on the ground. That scoundrel would gloat, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” I learned to live by that rule as a young boy— “Finders keepers, losers weepers.”

On one occasion, a rich man, a young, virile, handsome young man with a position of power, came to Jesus. Jesus represented something this young man didn’t have, but he was confident that he could get what he wanted. After all, who wouldn’t want a fine-looking rich man like him on board with their team? Who wouldn’t want someone with authority and power representing their cause? He was certain that he could pay for whatever Jesus was peddling.

However, Jesus didn’t play along with that young man. Jesus didn’t need his influence. He didn’t need his verve, his authority, his money. Jesus would gain nothing from that young man’s presence, but that young man desperately needed what Jesus could give him. The price Jesus demanded was too much for the young man, and so we read that he went away sorrowful. He was crest-fallen. The young man’s approach and his exit afforded the Master one of those teachable moments for the disciples. To the disciples, Jesus turned the saying of my childhood upside down; Jesus said, “Finders weepers, losers keepers.”

“WHAT GOOD DEED MUST I DO TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?” The young man that approached Jesus almost asked the right question. However, he was off in one point, and that point was critical. This young man should have asked, “How may I have eternal life?” Instead, he wondered what he could do to ensure that he received eternal life. He was looking for a guarantee that he would receive God’s gift of eternal life. He wasn’t terribly concerned about experiencing a transformed life, he wanted some sort of assurance. He was far more concerned about a fire insurance policy than he was concerned to have a life that revealed transformation.

I recall a man asking what he could do to be saved. I responded, “You’re too late. You can’t do anything to be saved.” He was shocked, expressing his disappointment in a rather vigorous fashion. “But, I want to be saved! What can I do?”

Again, I responded, “You’re too late. You can do nothing; it’s already been done.” We can’t encourage people to do anything, since salvation has already been purchased by the sacrifice of the Son of God. We need to hear the Word of the Lord as recorded in the Letter to Hebrew Christians. The passage to which I now direct your attention, HEBREWS 10:1-18, is somewhat extended, but makes a significant point. “Since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

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