Summary: Nearly never made any one a Christian
Near Is Not Enough
When our children were little we would travel from Washington to Brunswick usually about twice a year. We would no sooner get on the road than I would hear a voice from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” My answer would be, “It’s not far.”
Anyone who has traveled with children in the confines of an automobile has repeated that same scenario. Then the question would come“Are we there yet?” and the answer would be, “it is not far now.” However, not far is still not there.
Here is our text is a story of man who was not far from the kingdom of God.
Nearly never made any one a Christian.
Almost everyone who follows any type of sports, whether as a participant or a spectator, has witnessed the disappointment of "coming close" to winning. We have witnessed time running out in the football game with the ball on the one yard line. Or perhaps it was the final out of the baseball game with the tying and winning runs is scoring position. In any situation where "coming close" equates to "coming short,” a sense of disappointment prevails.
On an infinitely more important note, when the time clock of life runs out in the life of an individual, “coming close” to the kingdom of God leads to far more than disappointment...it ends to eternal damnation in Hell.
A man that drowns a few feet from the shore is just as dead as the man who drowns in the middle of the ocean.
Are you are nearly a Christian this morning? It is possible to be within inches of an open door and yet never enter the door.
I. The distance in his coming
To be near he had traveled some distance. When Christ said of him “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” He was implying that in his mind and understanding of things this man had come a long way.
This can be seen in the
A. Appreciation the man showed of the inwardness of the kingdom of God.
The Scribe, in the passage now before us, was evidently a man of more knowledge than most of his equals. He saw things which many Scribes and Pharisees never saw at all. His own words are a strong proof of this. “To love God ... is more than all whole burnt offerings.” He showed here his understanding of the basic fact that Christianity depends on a relationship and not on ritual.
The scribe was evidently emerging out of the bondage of ritual and perceiving the superiority of a relationship with Christ. He could readily that internal was more valuable then all merely external observances. He could see the heart was more important than the hand.
He knew where to find reality. He had seen many a wealthy worshiper offer innumerable offerings and remain a hypocrite. A poor widow might be unable to offer anything but a contrite heart, and this scribe realized which in the sight of God was more acceptable.
No wonder that we read next, that our Lord said, "thou are not far from the kingdom of God."
B. Aspiration the Master sensed behind the question “which is the first commandment . . .?”
Here was a man who wanted to get to the heart of things. He was not trifling around. He really wanted to know. He was beating around the bush when he asked which is the first commandment?
This Scribe asked Jesus a question, "Which is the first (most important) commandment of all?" He really desired to know the truth, and he recognized Jesus as an impartial Teacher of God’s truth, so he came right to the point.
II. The danger of his condition
He was not far, but he was not there. He had come so far, but not far enough. He was nearly there but yet not there.
A. There was the danger of failing to take the final step
He was in danger of being content with being close.
Close is a DANGEROUS word. Close is dangerous because of the peril of sudden casualty.
Close can be A DAMMING word.
The words “close” have damming consequences.
B. There was the danger of flinging away all the ground gained
There was the danger of losing all the progress so far.
How much had been achieved and attained, and yet if the final step was not taken it would all be wasted! If he did not take the final step the early steps would be in vain.
How tragic to throw away all the results of years of prayer, preaching, and pondering!
There are degrees of approximation, but there is also decisive separation between those who have and those who have not enter into the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ.