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Impossible Things (3)


Let’s review.

First: since it is impossible for God to lie, we can and should trust Him wholly. But there is more to it than that. Unless we trust Him, it’s impossible to please Him. The problem with that is this: it is impossible to trust God unless He uses His truth to produce faith in us. Which, He does. And, when we listen humbly to His truth, faith springs up in our hearts and He is pleased. So, the impossible is then accomplished. The Holy God of Heaven finds pleasure in His feeble fallen creatures.

Second: since it’s impossible for God to be evil, we should love Him. Unfortunately, we love darkness, not light. And—how inconvenient—God IS light! So, an intervention is necessary. God loves us first. And, through that love we are exposed to God’s goodness. Beyond that, His goodness is produced in us so thoroughly that we are made to find The Light attractive. In the end, we find God’s absolute goodness to be so appealing that we can’t help loving Him as He has loved us.

But, perhaps we have gotten the cart before the horse here?

Here is a third impossibility. To be very specific: it is impossible for a rich man to be saved.

Are you surprised by that? Perhaps you should be. Jesus’ disciples were quite shocked by the claim. Much like today’s prosperity gospel preachers, the disciples were under the impression that if someone had plenty of this world’s goods, it HAD to be because they were good. Or, at least, better than average. Or, to say it even more subtly, they must be under the warmth of God’s pleasure. Surely the rich are rich because God loves them so much! No?

Well, no. I mean sometimes that happens. It happened to Solomon and Job. But it turns out that those guys are exceptions. While God doesn’t forsake His own, His care for them is aimed primarily at the soul and the eternal blessedness of that individual, not the body and it’s contemporary comforts. Not many of the mighty and noble are called (1st Corinthians 1:26).

So, the idea that health, wealth, success, prosperity, safety, fame, fortune, power, influence, and ease are symbols of godliness is a very old heterodoxy indeed. In 1st Timothy 6:3-8 Paul warns Timothy about those who can only see what God has to offer IN THIS LIFE. It’s the error of Balaam (Jude 1:11). It’s the false assumptions of Job’s 3 “friends.”

Instead of wealth being a symbol of salvation and grace, it’s a symbol of idolatry and ignorance. Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). A person can’t serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

So, it’s no surprise that in Mark 10:15-27 we find Jesus contrasting (1) the ease with which a humble little child (who has nothing) can enter into the kingdom of Christ, up against (2) the utter difficulty that a rich man finds in the same endeavor. Specifically, Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The disciples lived in a culture that had great respect for the rich religious power-brokers of their day. So, they asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus’ answer: "With men it is impossible…”

No mere man could ever persuade a rich man to part with his riches in order to lay up treasures in heaven instead. Human weakness holds tightly and foolishly to instant gratification. Heavenly wisdom demands the opposite.

But, good news! Jesus didn’t stop by declaring the impossibility of the salvation of the hardest cases among us. He continued, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

God has surely rescued some difficult sinners. Saul of Tarsus was a law-abiding citizen if there ever was one. And, it wasn’t just the law of the land that he abode by. He was careful to keep the very laws of nature and of God, which supersede any and all man-made laws ever written. He was “morally rich” (Philippians 3). But, Jesus arrested His attention, persuaded him of his guilt, offered him rescue, and turned him into Paul the Apostle. He went from persecuting the church to being it’s chief missionary and proponent. Only God can do something like that.

What about Rahab the Canaanite prostitute? She was living safely and securely on the top of the walls of Jericho, ignorant of Israel and of Israel’s God. What chance did she have of being saved from sin and idolatry? Yet, that’s exactly what happened. God sent Jewish spies to her house specifically and in the end she escaped the military conquest of her city and also became both a follower of Israel’s God and also one of the ancestors of the Messiah Himself.

The woman at the well also had much standing in her way. She had been looking for love in all the wrong places and couldn’t find a reliable man anywhere to meet her needs and to whom she could trust herself fully. She lived in the wrong place, with the wrong people, and believed in the wrong things, that is until she met Jesus. Jesus turned this cynical soul into a joy filled messenger of grace and goodness.

The Ethiopian Eunuch (of Philip’s fame) had many things going against him as well. But the Spirit intervened, interrupted his quest, persuaded him of the grace of Jesus, converted him, and sent him home to start what became the Coptic Church of Ethiopia.

We could go through Hebrews 11 looking at case after case of hard sinners to reach. And, some of them were wealthy indeed. Moses is probably the greatest example. He was persuaded to choose the reproaches of Christ over the treasurers of Egypt. That was God’s gracious work in his heart and life. With men, such a transformation is impossible. With God, nothing is impossible. Nothing is too hard for God (Genesis 18:14).

God CAN save impossible people. God can save ANYONE who will believe. God can’t save those who won’t believe Him. But He can and will save all who do believe.

You could say it this way. It is impossible for anyone in this world to be so lost that the Savior can’t reach them. It IS absolutely impossible for Him to save them if they refuse to trust Him, but if they will only hear and believe the gospel, then He can save anybody. He can’t and won’t save those who refuse to come to Him for salvation. He can’t and won’t save anyone who leaves this world and this life without trusting and believing in Him. But, all who come to Him and thereby come to God by Him during our sojourn on this earth, He is able to save (Hebrews 7:25). He can. He will. He does.

It’s important to add to this what exactly it is that a rich person (rich in whatever it is that he or she feels makes them safe) is being saved from.

In fact, let’s just go through a list of questions and answers along these lines. Time for a little Q & A.

Q: What does it mean to be saved? From what exactly are we being saved (rescued)?

A: Simply put, to be saved is to be delivered from danger. The danger every human is facing is the danger of the angry judgment of our Creator. So, if and when Jesus saves us, He is saving us from wrath. To do that He has to save us from sin, Satan, hell, self, the world, fear, self-righteousness, this present life and world, and probably a few other things that I didn’t think to mention here. But ultimately, He is saving us from the fury of the Almighty.

Q: Who needs to be saved?

A: Everyone. Everybody. Every human being. Every man, woman, boy, and girl is in need of grace and forgiveness. We are all in need of salvation. There are no exceptions.

Q: Why do we need to be saved?

A: Because we are fallen creatures. We are sinners by birth and rebels by choice. We are cursed. We are dead spiritually, dying physically, and doomed to die eternally. We are like our progenitor Adam. He begat Seth in his own likeness and we are all alike descendants of those men: Adam, Seth, Noah, and all the others. Each and every one were sinners worthy of damnation. Unholy and unable to reform. In a word: guilty. We are guilty of offending our Maker. So, we need a Savior.

Q: Who does the saving?

A: Jesus. We can’t save ourselves. God the Father loved the world so much that He provided the only solution that could have possibly been connived. He gave His Son as a ransom for our condition. So, there is no other hope except for Jesus. There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved. Only Jesus. HE is our only hope.

Q: How can a person be saved?

A: Repent and believe the gospel. There are other ways of describing it, but that is the answer. Repent and believe! It’s what Jesus, John the Baptist, and the apostles preached. It’s what Moses, David, and Isaiah preached. You can say it other ways: trust Christ, be born again, drink of the living water, receive the Son, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, call on the name of the Lord, look to Jesus, etc. But in the end, it’s all the same thing. If you see your need for a Savior and come to Jesus to claim Him as your Savior, you will not be disappointed. You will be saved.

Q: How can you know you are saved?

A: The list of proofs is very long indeed, but the most important answer lies in the promise of God. God said that those who come to Him for rescue will not be condemned. There is no better security than the sure Word of God. I know that I am saved because God told me in His Word, by His Spirit, and through the mouths of His preachers that if I will come to Him in the name of His Son in search of eternal life, then that’s what I will get. What a glorious truth!

Finally, the last question in this list has to do with what stands in the way of a person’s salvation. Q: Where are you looking for salvation?

A: Well, actually, you have to answer this one yourself. Some are looking for reassurance and “salvation” in some pretty strange places. Some feel secure and safe in their own successes. Others are just blindly optimistic. They think that God must be good in such a way that everybody will get to go to heaven when this life is over. But that is fairy tale theology. Still others are counting on this life being all there is. They are placing their hope in the idea that all the heaven or hell they will ever experience is here in this life. What a dismal disappointment eternity will be for them.

In the end, you must answer the question for yourself. What is your salvation? Where do you find your deliverance from the dangers of this life? And, is that deliverance real and lasting? If your hope is not in Jesus, then your hope is a false hope. All of the man-made dreamt-up systems of success and philosophies of meaning in the world are nothing more than temporary and disposable fantasies. All attempts to find meaning and purpose—apart from submission to the gospel of Jesus Christ—are equivalent to building sand castles on the beach. They won’t last.

But, God’s way of salvation will last. It will endure. It is the power of God (Romans 1:16).

In Jeremiah 32:27 the weeping prophet wrote God’s words, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” It was a rhetorical question. Of course nothing is too hard for Him. Even the transformation of the worst sinner into the most glorious saint is not a work impossible for Him to do. As long as there is life, there is hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4). So, if somehow you have been doubting that there is a way of salvation, or if you have been taking a dead end route in hopes of finding salvation in something or someone other than the Christ of Calvary, wait no longer!

God’s message for you is bold and voluminous: “Every one who is thirsty, come to the waters, and he that has no money; come, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which does now satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul will live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” (Isaiah 55:1-3).

Do you know what that passage is about? It’s about your salvation. My salvation. The salvation of any and every wicked person who is willing to forsake his or her way in order to return to our Maker. God will have mercy on all who come to Him for it. God is ready, willing, and able to pardon you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what horrid thing you have done. God is able to save. Is anything too hard for God? No! With men, your deliverance from danger could be properly labeled impossible. Even if you aren’t rich, you would surely like to be. No wonder the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” We all (like Paul) can’t help breaking the 10th commandment. So, we all need to be saved. We all need a Savior!

Like in Isaiah 55, in Revelation 22:17 John the Apostle penned the invitation of God to all of humanity, “The Spirit and the bride [the church] say, ‘Come.’ And let him that hears say, ‘Come.’ And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

If you will only just believe, then God is able to save.

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