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by John W. White
The purpose of this tract is to show that the Rich Ruler was not asking how to be saved, but how he could have a better inheritance in the Kingdom of heaven. The counsel the Lord gave to this man is similar to the counsel that Paul gave Timothy to give to the rich. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18. That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19. Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Matthew 19:16 “...said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Mark 10:17 “...and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18 “...asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
The first occurrence of the word poie>w is found in Matthew 1:24 “Then Joseph ... did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:” Matthew 8:9 “For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say ... to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” The word poie>w has to do with works and the Lord told him what he must do to have an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. The Lord did not tell him to believe, but gave him a list of things to do to have an inheritance. Our inheritance will be on the basis of works. Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatsoever ye do [poie>w], do [ejrga>zomai, labor, work] it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
This man was assured of an earthly inheritance because he was a Jew. God had promised the land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to their saved descendants. In the Law, given by Moses, provision was made that every family would have an inheritance. Genesis 28:4 "And give thee [Jacob] the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham." The phrase thy seed and the word inherit indicate that this is a family matter.
What is the meaning of the words aijw>n and aijw>niov? According to Lexical Aids For Students of New Testament Greek, by Bruce M. Metzger, page 11, the root meaning of the word aijw>n is “an age (aeon)”. This is not eternity as understood by the English language, but an undefined period of time. The word aijw>n is used in Matthew 28:20 “... lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end [suntelei>av] of the world [aijw>n] Amen.” The use of aijw>n in this context indicates that there is an end to this age. In Hebrews 9:26 “... since the foundation of the world [ko>smov]: but now once in the end of the world [aijw>v which is plural, ages] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” From Genesis 1:1 until John 19:30 there has been more than one age. From the Greek mind the concept of eternity or eternal is found in Galatians 1:5 “To whom be glory for ever and ever.” The phrase “for ever and ever” is: “eijv tou<v aijw~nav tw~n aijw>nwn.” Both words ever, aijw~nav, are plural and should be translated ages. Translation of this phrase should be for the ages of the ages. The phrase eternal life is a reference to the coming millennial age when Jesus Christ will rule and reign for 1,000 years. This is not salvation, because eternal life is gained by good works and salvation is not. Romans 2:7 “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality [incorruption], eternal life:” Galatians 6:8-9 “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting [the opposite of corruption, incorruption]. 9. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap [eternal life, incorruption], if we faint not.” When we are born from above, John 3:3, we are saved now but will not enter into eternal life until the age to come. Mark 10:30 “...and in the world [age, aijw>n] to come [the one coming, a present participle] eternal [agelasting, aijw>niov] life.” Eternal life, Biblically speaking, is not something that you have now but will enter into in the coming millennial age.
Ephesians 2:1 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:” This verse lets us know that we are dead because of sin. John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, ..., Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Being born from above provides us with life. Until we are born from above we are dead in trespasses and sins. If we have life then we will see the kingdom of God. Jesus is telling this man how to enter into life and not how to have life or be born again. Notice in Matthew 19:17 “... if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” The word enter is the Greek word eijse>rcomai, a compound word including: eijv meaning into, plus e]rcomai meaning to come. Enter into life in context is the same as entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. Again entering into the kingdom and seeing the kingdom are not the same thing. Matthew 19:23-24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter [eijse>rcomai] into the kingdom of heaven. 24. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go [eijse>rcomai] through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter [eijse>rcomai] into the kingdom of God.” Who “...shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth [poie>w] the will of my Father ...” Matthew 7:21 The concept of entering is revealed in Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter [eijse>rcomai] not into temptation...” This does not mean if we watch and pray that we will not be tempted. This verse is telling us if we watch and pray we will not participate or actively take part in what we are tempted to do. To enter into life or the kingdom of the heavens is to become active participants in the life of the kingdom as will the apostles, as shown in Matthew 19:28 “And Jesus said unto them... That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This will not take place until the age [aijw>n] to come.
The first thing one must do to have a better inheritance or enter into life is Matthew 19:17 “...if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” The rich ruler replied “... All these things have I kept from my youth up...” Matthew 19:20 There is no contest to this statement. By keeping the commandments this man was just, as in the case of Zackarias and Elisabeth in Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous [di>kaiov, just] before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” Being just is not enough if one wants to enter into life or the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:21 “...If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor..” The word perfect, te>leiov, is also translated of full age. This was the prayer of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12 “Epaphras, who is one of you, ... always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Hebrews 5:14 “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age...” For someone to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven he must be faithful and spiritually mature. Matthew 25:21 “Well done, ... good and faithful servant....I will make thee ruler....”
Matthew 19:21 “...If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor..” In Matthew 19:22 “...he had great possessions.” Having great possessions seem to indicate he owned many parcels of land as in Acts 2:45 “And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” and Acts 5:1 “...Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,” Acts 5:3 “...Satan filled thine heart ... to keep back part of the price of the land?” Owning land brings in revenue and security. Selling your possessions is to lose your security, and self sufficiency. If he had done this then he would be one of the poor. James 2:5 “...the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” When you have nothing you learn to trust Him for everything.
You need cash in hand to be “... rich in good works, ready to distribute, ...” 1 Timothy 6:18 Those who have money must be “...willing to communicate; 19. Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:18-19
Matthew 19:21 “...and thou shalt have treasure in heaven...” Matthew 6:1 “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Then in the regeneration when “...the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27
This phrase in Matthew 19:21 and with the variation in Mark 10:21 “...come, take up the cross, and follow me.” helps us to see what it takes to follow the Lord. Matthew 4:19 “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This is what he told his disciples to do and become. Matthew 16:24-25 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” The Lord was asking the Rich Ruler to lose his life for His sake then when “..Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27
Matthew 19:22 “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” This is a good example of how riches can choke the Word. Mark 4:19 “...the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Revelation 3:17 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Luke 12:21 “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” 1 Timothy 6:9 “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest...” This phrase confirms to us that he was just because he had kept the Law. The one thing that he could not bring himself to do was to live by faith. Hebrews 10:38 “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” When you sell all that you have you learn to become “...rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love (obey) him?” James 2:5. Abraham’s nephew Lot is a picture or type of this Rich Ruler. 2 Peter 2:7 “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:” Lot was just but he did not live by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" Lot lived by sight. Genesis 13:10 “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where...” In the end Lot and his family did not have an inheritance in the land flowing with milk and honey but as shown in Deuteronomy 2:8-9 “And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau ...and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab. 9. And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, ...for I will not give thee of their land... because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.” There is not a single testimony that Lot live by faith. Lot is not mentioned in Hebrews 11 yet Abraham is mentioned more than once.
There are those who want a better inheritance but are not willing to do what is required. Those who lived by faith in Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:16 “...they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” The Rich Ruler was not willing to pay the price here on earth to be an overcomer and release his earthly possessions and become a pilgrim and a stranger here on the earth that he might enter into that heavenly city. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” You have to be just before you can live by faith. The Rich Ruler was just in that keeping the Law was not one of the things that he lacked. What he lacked was a lifestyle of faith.
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