Summary: This sermon deals with the idea that so many people have today that all you have to do to get to heaven is be a good, moral, upstanding person.
The question this young man asked Jesus is a question that many people today are still asking. “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” In other words, what do you have to do in order to go to Heaven when you die? The Rich young ruler was a very good man, he had kept all of the commandments from his birth, yet he still felt like there was something else he needed to do in order to make it to Heaven.
The question I want to pose to you tonight is this: Is being a good, moral, upstanding person enough to get you to heaven? Obviously it is better to live that kind of lifestyle than to be an immoral and unethical person. But is it enough?
If you were to die today and God were to ask you why He should let you into Heaven, what would you say? If asked that question, most people would say something like this: "Well I’ve tried to be a good person. I’ve tried to live by the Golden Rule. I’ve tried not to treat other people badly. I’ve tried to do good. I’ve tried to avoid sinful situations. I’ve tried to live by ethical and moral standards in my own personal life and in my business life. I haven’t intentionally hurt people. I’ve tried to be a good person. Oh sure, I’ve done some things that were bad, but I think the good things that I’ve done would probably tip the scales in my favor so that I would be able to make it in."
I believe that most people in America today believe that their good works will get them into heaven. What do you think? What or who are you trusting in to get you to heaven?
Salvation: Our Way
There are basically two, and only two, methods people use for trying to get to Heaven. Either people attempt to be saved according to God’s terms or their own. And this is precisely what Jesus indicated would happen. In John 10:9, He said "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved."
The implication here is that Jesus is the only way to be saved. There is one door, and He is that door. If you go through this door you will be saved. Which means if you try to go through any other door to get to Heaven, it will not lead to salvation.
This is consistent with what Jesus said in John 14:6: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me."
In other words, there is a right way, and there is a wrong way. But it isn’t enough to say that Jesus is the right way. We must determine what that really means. Truth is not truth as different people interpret it. Truth is truth as it really is. Christianity is not what we think it is. Christianity is what it really is.
Let’s begin with what Christianity is not. Christianity is not our attempt to earn our salvation, because Salavation is not based on works. Throughout History men and women have made valiant efforts at obtaining salvation through good works. That is what the Rich Young Ruler was trying to do, when He asked Jesus What good thing he needed to do to get eternal life?”.
Many people who consider themselves to be Christians have this kind of understanding about Christianity. Someone has referred to this kind of philosophy as "American folk religion." It can be summed up in statements like "I’m not perfect, but I’m doing the best I can." — "I try to do what’s right and consider myself a pretty good person — there are plenty of persons worse than me." — "I think I’ve done more good than I’ve done wrong; so therefore I should be okay." This may be the philosophy of American folk religion, but it is not what the Bible teaches about salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”
According to the Bible, we were all born with a sin nature. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of Sin is Death.” So, obviously it is going to take more than a few good deeds to overcome our sin. After all a spiritual transformation is what we are talking about.
Unfortunately, some people substitute Religion for a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. These individuals mistakenly believe that their Religion will get them to Heaven. Some people have been led to believe that since they were baptized into the church as a child that they are saved. Others believe they are saved simply because they walked down the isle of a church one Sunday and told the pastor that they wanted to be baptized and join the church.