“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
Most of us are familiar with the story of the Rich Young Ruler from Matthew 19. As I read from verse 13 to 30 in my quiet time today I noticed something that I hadn’t before.
The Rich Young Ruler was working out of a framework most of us live by because, well, that’s just the way the world works most of the time. That framework is the idea that in order to receive something, we must do something to earn it. This is a good principle to keep us from being elitist and having a sense of entitlement by virtue of our existence. Working hard to earn or achieve something produces in us substance of character and fortitude. All good things.
But when it comes to the gospel, we must understand that the way things work in God’s Kingdom take the principles of the world and flip them on their heads.
The problem with the Rich Young Ruler’s question is that he is assuming that in order to attain eternal life, he must do something to earn it. And this is what many Christians today believe – but this is not the gospel!
Jesus’ response is brilliant: “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.” The thing we get through salvation is God Himself! And God is not something we can have or achieve on our own – it is purely by God’s grace that He extends His love and relationship to us. God IS our salvation, from God Himself.
Let us not be foolish like the Rich Young Ruler, or even like the Galatians – who Paul rebuked for “turning back to those weak and miserable principles (?) Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Galatians 4:9).
It is by grace we have been saved, through faith – not of our own works (our own doing), so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is completely God’s work, completely His own predetermined election and grace, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We need only repent, turn from our sins, and believe and trust in what Jesus has done; enjoying the free grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father.