Matthew 19:21 (The Rich Young Ruler, Part 3)

We have seen that the purpose of the law is to expose our sin nature and as a tutor to lead us to Christ, wherein we may be justified by faith.  As we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, does that mean that our own righteousness doesn’t matter, that our sins ultimately don’t matter, and that we are free to continue to sin because the only thing that matters is Christ’s righteousness that is imputed to us?  See 1Jo 3:7-8, Joh 8:34-36, Rom 6:15-16.  Consider too that in coming to Christ for salvation we are at our baptism united with Him in His death and raised with Him to a newness of life as a new creation (Rom 6:4, 2Co 5:17), “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pe 1:3).  In this way we are joined with Him in a covenant relationship to become one as our branch is grafted into Christ’s vine: we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, so it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Gal 2:20), and our branch bears fruit through the power of His vine as we draw our life from His; cf. Joh 15:4-5.

In this light, what did Jesus mean in Mat 19:21 “to be complete”?  See the NAS text note, and notice this is the same word Jesus used in Mat 5:48; cf. 1Co 13:10, Col 1:28, 4:12, Jam 3:2.  In what sense does God expect us to be “perfect” or “complete” in this life?  See Gen 6:9, 17:1, Job 1:1, Phil 3:12-15 and notice that the word is also often translated as “mature” (cf. 1Co 2:6, 14:20, Eph 4:13, Heb 5:14).  Does being complete then refer to any one act that a person may do?  Is the fruit that marks true salvation best described by acts of doing or a state of being?  I.e., is there some thing or things we must do to obtain eternal life, as the young man supposed?  Or rather, is it by dying to self so as to be cut off from our own vine, and being grafted into Christ’s through a covenant relationship, that we obtain an entirely new nature—the very nature of God as manifested in Christ—in order that we may as naturally bear fruit because of His life within us as any branch bears fruit because of the life of the vine within it?  Cf. 2Pe 1:3-4.  What does this help us understand about the nature of eternal life: is it just a future place where we go as a reward for having done certain things, or is it a present state of being that exists because of our connected relationship to Christ?  Cf. Joh 3:36, 5:24, 11:25-26, 17:3, 1Jo 5:11,13,20.  Following the analogy of our branch being grafted into Christ’s vine, does a grafted branch lose all its own individuality and cease to bear its own characteristic kind of fruit, so that it is indistinguishable from the vine?  I.e., does it bear the fruit of the vine, or its own fruit through the power of the vine?  Cf. Joh 14:12.  What can every true Christian who bears fruit through the power of Christ’s vine expect, and what is the great danger of being in Christ but not bearing any fruit?  See Joh 15:2.

What is the fruit of Christ’s vine in regard to the riches possessed by the young ruler?  See 2Co 8:9.  What Biblical examples do we have that the early Christians took Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler seriously?  See Act 2:44-45, 4:34-37.  Are we to understand from this and Jesus’ words to the man that the one act that is necessary for all who are rich to obtain eternal life is for them to sell all they possess and give to the poor?  Or are we to understand that in order to obtain eternal life it is necessary for the rich, like all others, to have the nature and character of God, which for them especially means to be generous and willing to give according to their individual circumstances and faith?  Cf. Luk 19:8, Act 5:4, 11:29, 1Ti 6:17-19.

As opposed to simply adding to their possessions by working more, most people who are very rich in this world obtain their wealth through investments that compound by the discipline of deferring their immediate gratification in expectation of an even greater future reward.  In what way was Jesus’ offer to the rich young ruler the ultimate investment?  As with all investments, Jesus’ offer to the rich man had its risks: the future reward must be seen through the eyes of faith, and the only guarantee is the word of Jesus.  He is certainly a very unique individual and gifted teacher who is clearly from God if anyone ever was, but is He to be trusted with our very lives?  What does this quandary illustrate about the ultimate nature of the dilemma that faces all mankind?  See 1Jo 2:15-17, Mat 6:24.  Should those who are rich suppose that Jesus’ offer carries too much risk?  What should be the allure of treasure in heaven for us to which the riches of this world cannot compare?  See Mat 6:19-20, Luk 12:33-34, 16:9.

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