What Must I Do? - Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 19:16-21, Acts 4:12, 2 Timothy 1:9
What is the most important question in all the world? A rich young ruler once asked Jesus this question: "What must I do to be saved?" This broadcast explores Jesus' response to this young man.
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There are a lot of questions that may seem important to you, but the question we are going to discuss today is the MOST IMPORTANT IN ALL OF THE WORLD. And you want to know what it is? That is why you are listening today. It doesn't matter whether you are a farmer or a banker, a housewife or a teacher, a store keeper or a plumber, young or old, this should still be the most important question in your whole life. And you must know the answer. For if you do not know the answer, life is all in vain.

What is this most vital question? We find in Matthew 19:16 that a very rich young man came to Jesus and asked this question, "Good Master, what good thing must I do, that I may have eternal life?" Do you know any more important question than this? What can I do to be saved? How can I BE SURE that I can have everlasting life? I am sure there is no more important question that can be asked in all this world. Everyone listening must some day stand before God in the judgment, and so we should all seek the answer to this question.

This young man asked Jesus, What can I do?" and that was a very fair question. The wonderful thing about it is that the answer Jesus gave was very, very clear and very, very simple. First, in Matthew 19:17, Jesus told him: ". . . If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS." That is the first point. Then almost flippantly, the young man countered, "Oh, I've done that ever since I was a child; I was brought up that way. Mother was a member of the church."

But that apparently was not enough. So the young man asked, ". . .WHAT LACK I YET?" He had followed the letter of the law, so he could not figure out what else he could possibly do. He didn't recognize his obligation to his neighbor. The law of God is divided into two parts; half of it has to do with our connection with God, "LOVE THE LORD THY GOD," and the other half of the law has to do with our relationship to our fellow men, "THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF."

Now this rich young ruler had not come to regard his neighbor as he should, so the Lord tested him on a very touchy point. He was avaricious; he was trying to get all that he could out of life and did not recognize his obligation to his fellow men. In Matthew 19:21, Jesus said, ". . .If thou wilt be perfect, GO AND SELL that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. . ." Jesus had touched a very sensitive spot. And the young man's face began to flush.

But the question of his property disposition is not the main thing. Some people stop right there. I have heard a good many preachers making quite a point of the fact that Jesus wants us to go and sell what we have and give it to the poor or to the church. I think it is good to give to the poor, and I approve of giving all we can to the church. But I don't think that is the primary lesson that Jesus meant to teach us.

I think that what Jesus said next in Matthew 19:21 is the most important advice that Jesus gave the young man, ". . .AND COME AND FOLLOW ME." This is the principal thought. Whatever it is that stands between you and following Jesus, that is the thing that He says to get rid of. If it is riches, get rid of it. If it is your social standing, for your soul's sake, forget it. If it is all the clubs you belong to, all the activities that stand between you and a closer personal walk with your Saviour, then away with them.

In Matthew 5:29,30 Jesus emphasized this, "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. . .And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. . ." Anything in order to be right with God! Let nothing stand between you and following your Saviour. There are a good many individuals that allow this or that to stand between them and Jesus. Maybe it is a loved one, or a friend or opposition, or the pleasures of this world. Whatever it is, do not let it any longer stand between you and your God.

Jesus condensed the matter into a simple formula: Come and follow me. And, then, don't forget this: Keep the commandments.

It is unfortunate that there are so many individuals, especially Christians, who have the mistaken opinion that salvation through Christ on Calvary applies only to those this side of the cross. They seem to forget that there are two arms to the cross, one reaching toward the Old Testament and one reaching toward the New Testament. The arms of the cross extend to the whole wide world. Christ is the Saviour of the entire world. Christ is the Saviour of the Christians, but He is also the Saviour of the Jew and of the Gentile.

In Acts 4:12 the Good Book plainly tells us that Jesus is the one and only Lord and Saviour of all, "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Don't forget that. Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of this entire world. The people in Old Testament times had no other Saviour. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is the way to eternal life. It is not keeping the law that would give eternal life to the young ruler, although that was important. He must come and follow the Saviour.

In Revelation 13:8 it is plain that Jesus was the Saviour since the very creation of man, for it says, ". . .THE LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." Here you see the larger import of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary. This is a very, very vital, and very, very important point. Jesus was actually offered, His blood was given as a sacrifice. His life was given as a guarantee back there in the very beginning of the history of this world of ours.

God had intended that Adam and Eve should keep the Garden of Eden pure, clean and undefiled. In Romans 5:18, we are told, "Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." What did we inherit through Adam, LIFE OR DEATH? Death! But thank God that while condemnation came through the sin of one, justification also came through Christ Jesus on Calvary.

Not one of us is free from the blight of sin for in Romans 3:23 we read, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And in Romans 6:23 it says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." "The wages of sin is death." That is exactly what the Bible says. But it also says that eternal life and justification came through ONE, and that one is Jesus, our Saviour. Remember, it came as a gift, we cannot earn it.

God cautioned Adam and Eve about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But Satan slipped in with his most insidious suggestions that God is not particular about little things. Over and over and over again that dangerous attitude has been passed on from generation to generation that a God of love will not destroy men and women when they break just little commandments. Right there in the Garden, Adam and Eve found out that God is particular about little things for they took of the fruit and ate of it and were immediately denied access to the tree of life. Man possessed immortality until he sinned.

ln Genesis 2:16 God commands, ". . .In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Satan said in Genesis 3:4, "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die." Now who told the truth? Satan knew that God was telling the truth. In fact, Satan expected that Adam and Eve would be killed that very day. He thought that he had succeeded, now that Adam and Eve had sinned and must die. Now he would be ruler of this world. lt would be his home forever. He had gained it from Adam by his deception, and now he would be the prince of this world. But before nightfall that evening, before the setting of the sun, we see the tragic picture of Jesus in heaven, as He, the Son of God, steps before the Father. He pleads, "My Father, let me bear the curse. Let me die in Adam's stead." Jesus loved Adam dearly for He had created him. They were like twin brothers, for Adam had been made in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Jesus loved him with an everlasting love. Jesus loved Adam more than He loved Himself. He was willing to come down and die that Adam might have eternal life.

Now let us read another text found in 2 Timothy 1:9. "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN." When was grace given? Before the world began. Grace was given us, not according to our works, but according to his purpose, given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Grace, then, came through Jesus in the Old Testament times, right back there in Eden.

Jesus offered His life, and the Father accepted that sacrifice. Do you think the Father gave up His Son without a struggle? In John 3:16 we are told of God's decision, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I tell you, friends, that must have been a terrific struggle when the Father weighed it in the balance, "Shall I give my Son to die?" God says he will forgive all who have fought against Him and despised the work of grace, if they will only repent and accept His Son Jesus Christ.

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