Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


The Secret to a Good Life

Matthew 19:13-30

When it comes to having a relationship with God, mankind makes two vital mistakes-we have something that keeps us away from God and lack something else we vitally need. What we have is self-sufficiency. It\'s that sense that we have what we need. And we lack a respect for and our understanding of our need for God.

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Today we encounter someone who seems to have it all from a worldly perspective, but in reality the very thing he thought he possessed was the exact thing that kept him from God. As we examine this encounter, think of things that might be keeping you away from God as well. And we\'ll talk about the true secret to a good life.

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13 - 15

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Why does the kingdom of heaven belong to \"such\"? They are receptive, unburdened, trusting, and non-self focused. They in large part get their image of self from those around them they trust.? In contrast to the stubbornness of the Pharisees, the hardness of heart, and lack of trust. They are also unburdened, unlike what we will see with the rich young man. Jesus takes time for every child.

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16

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This guy had what we all want as a society-he was rich, he was a ruler (Luke 18:18), and he was young. Power, riches, and youth are the things the world strives after. He came to Jesus with everything the world offers, but the one thing it cannot give, and that is eternal life. The man knew that only came from God. He was probably accustomed to getting what he wanted, and he knew that because of the Law, there must be something he could do in order to please God enough to cap off his already successful life.

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What he didn\'t know what that 1) there is nothing you can do to please God and 2) it was the stuff he held onto most tightly that was killing him.

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This guy viewed eternal life as something he could get like buying a piece of property. It\'s interesting that he would even come to Jesus, except that something was pulling at the back of his mind that planted doubts that he already had obtained that which he sought. With all the power and riches he lacked contentment. That thought turned out to be correct. He finds out that eternal life isn\'t something you can earn or buy, but it comes from submission to Jesus.

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This may be a small thing, but the man calls him \"teacher\" rather than Rabbi. The main difference is that teacher (we get the word didactic) doesn\'t carry with it the honor that the term Rabbi does (honored master).

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17 - 22

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Jesus focuses back on the goodness of God, not the results of obedience. If you could perfectly keep the commandments, and be like God, then you could get to heaven, but the truth is that \"all have sinned and fallen short of the glory (read: character) of God,\" and even from birth we are not like God so it doesn\'t matter how good we think we are.

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Notice that the guy is still in bargaining mode: \"which ones.\" He wants to know the minimum it is going to take for him to close this deal.

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Jesus replies with the last of the Ten Commandments, plus what the Jews believed summed up those commandments. They all had to do with relationships. These, in fact, simply point back to who God is naturally-and what we are not naturally. In the end it is about who you are, not what you do or don\'t do. The Law is not the standard of perfection, God is.

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The man arrogantly replies that he has kept all these. He probably didn\'t hear the Sermon on the Mount. Besides, just by saying this he was guilty of bearing false witness!

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What flawed this man was pride-the thought that we are self sufficient. It is very common, but this guy probably had it worse because he had no lacking in the world around him to remind him of his spiritual lack.

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Jesus told him to sell everything. That isn\'t what would \"buy\" him a ticket to heaven. After he was bound for heaven, though, that act of selfless love would deposit money in his heavenly account.

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But money, the worship of it, stood in the way of this guy humbling himself and following Jesus. Maybe for you it is something else-intellectual or athletic prowess, great beauty, or power. Anything that is more important to you than God is an idol. And anything you are not willing to give up means you worship it, instead of God.

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The guy thought he had arrived and really understood God. Jesus let him know that he was really just beginning. \"Perfect\" in verse 21 means \"mature.\"

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What holds you back? For this man, and for all of us, it wasn\'t so much the \"selling\" as it was the \"following.\" Following Jesus means that everything else in your life takes second place.

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25 - 26

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People who have a lot in this world do have a harder time seeing their need for a Savior. That\'s because physical needs remind us of our spiritual need. If anytime you feel any want in your life you are able to supply that need then you won\'t as easily recognize that the need for a Savior goes so far deeper than just physical or emotional needs.

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I love how the disciples react to this. Wealth and power were seen as signs of God\'s blessings. If their idea of someone blessed can\'t get into heaven, then who can? In reality, all the best that men can produce means nothing to God.? Isaiah 64:6 says \"all our righteousness are like filthy rags\" to the Lord.

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Man simply cannot save himself. It is impossible. But not with God. God Himself saves us by His own voluntary death. Our task becomes not to earn God\'s favor but to cling to Jesus.

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27 - 30

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So Peter, always the thinker, realizes that they have already given up their physical possessions and entanglements and wants to know if receiving physical blessings are not the way for God to show His approval, what will they receive?

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This isn\'t a bad question. There are in fact great benefits to giving up what holds on to you and following Jesus-the benefits are just not what the world has taught you about.

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Paul wrote to his prot?g? Timothy:

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1 Tim 6:7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

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All the physical things of this world: youth, power, intellectual achievement and recognition, and wealth-all stay here. But there are two things that we take with us: what God has done in our lives and the relationships we have made.

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Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians this way:

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Eph 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

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So as disciples we are being transformed and trained. Those who think that the Old Testament promises of material blessing carry over to the church have it wrong. Contentment, which is the byproduct of blessing, actually doesn\'t come with things, but with becoming more like God. Listen to Paul\'s entire statement to Timothy:

1 Tim 6:6-9 now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

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So for us, we desire only those physical things that won\'t distract us but will enhance the mission of being transformed into God\'s image, and making lasting relationships to help others do the same.

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Whether Jesus meant that you will also receive material blessing is immaterial (pardon the pun). By giving up something of value here, you receive something immeasurably greater from Jesus.

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Matt 6:19-21 \"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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Conclusions

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The big question from this encounter is \"where is your treasure?\" If your treasure is in getting everything you can here, you may feel a sense of satisfaction, but it may be inoculating you to the true reality of your situation.

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I would encourage you to be like a little child, whose treasure is wrapped up in those adults they trust. Our treasure ought to be wrapped up in our relationship with God-no matter what it costs us here.

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The rich young ruler made some fatal mistakes that can plague us:

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1.????? He lacked respect for God (by calling Jesus \"teacher\"-someone to debate, rather than someone to respect)

2.????? He lacked an understanding that being truly good is impossible except for God

3.????? He tried to bargain with God over what it would take to get to heaven like a used-car salesman

4.????? He needed the simple attitude of trust like a child-looking to Jesus to supply what he lacks, while being willing to let go of what was holding on to him.

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What holds you back?

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Intelligence?

1 Cor 3:18-19 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a \"fool\" so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God\'s sight.

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Youth and/or physical beauty or prowess?

1 Peter 3:3-5 Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing- 4 but let your adorning be? the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God\'s sight is very precious.

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Self-sufficiency?

Phil 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

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Respect for God?

Prov 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

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The true secret to life is contentment. That\'s what we really want. And you can only find it by letting go of that which holds you here, and clinging to Jesus.