Tuesday 5 October 2021


MARK 10 v17/31

This week’s gospel reading is told in Mark, Matthew and Luke, and by looking at all three we get a complete account of what took place. This story tells of a young man running to Jesus and flinging himself at  the feet of Jesus. There is the amazing sight of a wealthy man at the feet of a penniless preacher, and the man calls Jesus good teacher, but get a cold reply. Jesus asks why call me good, only God is good?

Jesus possibly gave a personal satisfaction to him, and tried to cool the man who  was in an emotional state. Jesus said what many people need to hear, that a man or woman can’t be a Christian by emotion or any other passion, you have to turn to God.  It is perfectly normal and good to be influenced by one particular preacher, it happens to us all, and is acceptable if based on the preacher’s practice of basing his words on God and Jesus

A person seeking to be a Christian can never be qualified by his/her position on life, or where born, or who parents were, or in fact anything other than turning to Christ, who alone can lead to God.

Jesus told the man of the Commandments, and the man said he had kept them all and had never caused harm. In this case the man was rich and had possessions, so Jesus was not ruling out having possessions, He wants the heart to be focused on God, but must have wondered if the man  had used any of his possessions to help others, and decided the man had not.

Jesus gave this man a challenge, one in effect to say get out of the respectability you have, and spend the money on those who need help. Whilst the man had many possessions, and had conducted his life without acting badly, giving away his property had not entered his thinking. Jesus then in effect asking him if he wanted Christianity enough to give his possessions away?  The man’s response was that he didn’t, so walked away; he realises his true state has been exposed and he leaves sorrowfully without repenting.

Jesus loved the man and was not angry, He showed the man an appeal of love, which sought to persuade him to settle himself as a Christian. Jesus grieved at what might have been.  Pray that none of your family or friends may not come to God.

As the man walked away into the distant unknown, Jesus said how difficult for a man who has money to enter the Kingdom of God.  It was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God,  The Apostles were amazed at the words of Jesus, for such was a direct contradiction of Jewish popular standards. Popular Jewish morality was that riches were a sign of God’s blessing and favour.

The camel was the largest animal in Palestine, and  a needle offered the smallest hole. Jesus is using the comparison to indicate the impossibility, but how with God, all things are possible.

Jesus saw things with a more realistic understanding. Material possessions draws the hearts of men and women to this world and can change a person for worst. Jesus said all who gave up worldly ways to follow Him would be rewarded a hundred fold, and earn eternal life as an inheritance.

The reaction of the Apostles was ,that if what Jesus  was saying was true, to be saved was near impossible. Jesus said if salvation depended on man’s efforts it would be impossible, for salvation is a gift of God, for all things are possible for God.  The one who depends on possessions will never be saved, but the one who trusts in the saving and redeeming power of God can enter freely into salvation.

This would later cause Paul to write Letters in which he stated what became the doctrine of justification by faith.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and to the Gentile. For in it righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, for the righteous shall live by faith.

The final standard of judgement is with God. Many may stand judgement of the world, but the righteousness of God may upset the world’s judgement. God’s evaluation of a person is very different.  This a warning that ultimate judgements belong to God, who alone knows the motives of people’s hearts.

Peter asked what would he and the followers of Jesus get for leaving everything to follow Jesus, who answered that anyone who gave up anything for sake of following him would receive one hundred fold in return.

In Churches across the world, especially in non-Christian lands, people have suffered, and still are.  Murder, homes and Churches burned, people wounded, just for believing in Christ. Similar treatment was given to Paul when he was engaged on mission. For years the United Kingdom was known as a Chrustian country, such cannot be said now.

Men, usually in the elder years are being arrested for preaching, sometimes handcuffed or dragged from a wheelchair, just for expressing Bible teaching. It was said we in England would not be restricted in our beliefs, but we had Prime Minister, ever anxious to curry favour from activists, who forced legislation to authorise same sex marriage, despite stating beforehand he would not do so. Further legislation made it hate speech to criticise.

A lower Court decided words in the King James Bible were offensive, and heavily fined two men who were preaching from it. Fortunately a higher Court showed how ridiculous the judgement and penalty were, and allowed an appeal.

You will have read of the bakers who were prosecuted because they would not place a slogan on a wedding cake which cost £36.40, stating support gay marriage. They endured four years of mental stress whilst the case was pursued through the Courts at a cost of £450,000, where they were deemed criminal offenders, until the Supreme Court upheld their appeal; much sympathy has been shed on the gay activist who deliberately set them up.

At no stage has the Church spoke up in support of the bakers, just as they have let legislation, which is offensive to many ordinary believers, pass without comment. The Church does not have a united front in moral issues, we make provision for people to attend services which contradict Scripture.

Jesus made it clear that to be a Christian could be costly in the sense of living a more righteous life, but millions have found it worth a cost. Anyone who has read of the way Jesus was arrested, falsely convicted of a crime, savagely beaten to the extent of not being able to walk, and finally to be cruelly nailed to a Cross in order to make us acceptable to God, must surely consider anything most face is marginal.

There are so many people out in the spiritual wilderness who would be a most valuable asset to the Church, maybe friends of yours. It will be a hard task, but try and persuade them to follow Christ.

In every biblical message, there is something which relates to us living now. Let us consider how this story can relate to us.

People still join a Church for wrong reasons; to further their career or business, tradition. makes them look respectable. One man is quoted as saying, for me Sunday is church then business. but from Monday to Saturday the reverse order.

Some ladies have been known to attend a Church because of the personality of the (male) Minister. I am not sure that works in reverse order.

We witness people who have never been willing to spend any time with God through Church or bible study, but when things go wrong they think a quick visit to church will fix all that, and when it doesn’t they are very disgruntled. They want something from God, but are not prepared to give.

Seeing the young man walk away, Jesus looked as he looks at us sometimes, I think, with sorrow. It is so easy to turn away from all that you could have had and done. 

It is a fact of life money talks and is playing an increasing part of life today. Lotteries have sprung up from many firms, betting is big business, and think of just how many television programmes classified as entertainment, are those where people are trying to win money. Money is seen as power with everything for everyone, and it has penetrated into the Church. In America evangelists (so called) are talking of having private jet planes, with one seeking funds for a fourth, justifying by saying if Jesus was alive now he wouldn’t now be using a donkey, 

Having wealth and nice things is perfectly justified as long as first they were honestly earned by labour, and secondly not motivated by greed.

The bible is full of stories of men and women who made sacrifices for God and Jesus. Paul lost home and friends and suffered much torture and pain, but brought so many people to know the Lord Jesus. 

Many brilliant minded men and women have, and still are, going to far flung places on this earth to serve the Lord, often in harsh conditions and the risk of catching some illness, whereas they could have had lucrative careers, Others have to a lesser degree taken early retirement from their work at all levels to serve in Christian ministry, and never regretted doing so. I was one such, and my only regret is I did not do so sooner, for my life has been so much happier and fulfilling than it ever was. 

Jesus was very fair and clear stressing how important it is to count the cost in becoming a true Christian; it is not a pastime it is a whole new way of life. He never offered bribes, it didn’t need him to offer food and drink to get people into church, He challenged to see if you were worthy; no rewards were offered or promised for this life, but blessings for eternal life. 

The question he gives, how much do you want to follow me?  The church is now trying to make it less to follow Christ. We encourage people to come into church who according to God’s Word are not worthy, even allow them to hold church office to preach false doctrine; we tell people they are ‘born again’, one of the most hallowed of phrases, when they are living in open sin or totally inconsistent with biblical teaching. 

Wherever Jesus went he was preaching and teaching for God, and knew the hearts of those listening were hard, and his words were falling on hard ground yet he laboured on and every minister must do the same without giving up.

Believe me it can be hard to listen to someone telling you how much they love the Lord and then see them carry on in total contradiction. I was always amazed at finding how many men God appeared to tell to go to a parish in the South of England or to seek a big church. Our Lord will reward all who labour for him in any background, whether good and successful or not as long as it is done faithfully.

Jesus speaks about his coming death and his journey to the Cross where he will suffer the most horrific death devised by man. One side of him feared what was to come and He would like to have avoided it, but knowing God’s will and the task God had placed on Him, He went willingly showing his dedication for He knew it was the only way to reconcile God and man.

God is a God of mercy and love, but He is also a God of justice and wrath who is aggrieved at sin. When we sin we break our relationship with God and so need to be forgiven and this can only be given because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross. God himself provided this means by sending Jesus to make it possible for Him to forgive. 

An example is of a woman appearing before a magistrate for stealing from a shop, food which she could not afford, and when asked if she admits the theft, the magistrate fines her, but when she pleads for mercy he writes a cheque out himself to pay the fine. Justice has been served, mercy shown.

If therefore Jesus died for us so willingly we must willingly serve Him, but if a person’s main interest is in material possessions it tends to make them think of price and not of value. There are things in this world which have no price, far beyond the price of money, things money cannot buy. 

In the times of Jesus, a Christian could lose home and friends, and many Christians in African countries are doing so now. The point Jesus is making that when faced with a choice of serving Him or fulfilling our pleasures, we must choose Him.

There was a Conference in America for the world wide Anglican Church, at which there was no recognised Church of England presence. The participants were those Churches in the Anglican Communion which were affirming the authoritative, infallible, trustworthy authority of the Bible as the inspired Word Of God; in other words, the traditional orthodox Scriptures, which contained the teaching of the Apostles on which the Church was founded.

This would be in contradiction to the Church in England at which the main issue is usually sexuality, as the liberal progressive wing seeks to have all forms of sexual conduct fully recognised, which is not accepted by other countries. This would be considered generally by the wider Church to be a non-subject, for the Bible states unequivocally that sexual action is to be between a man and a woman within marriage, so there is no need for further discussion.

I cannot imagine the Church making much progress, whilst it stands so disunited. This was foreseen back in 1966, when the great Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a world famous preacher, called for all the evangelical Churches in the country to come together and unite against the liberalism, then more in infancy. This was vigorously opposed from within the Church of England.

 I believe we in England should do what the American Church did some years ago. Let those who still uphold the sanctity of the Bible and affirm the authoritative, infallible, trustworthy authority of the Bible as the inspired Word Of God; and accept the traditional orthodox Scriptures, which contained the teaching of the Apostles on which the Church was founded,  be the Real Church.

I know there will initially be thoughts of horror, but how can true Bible believing Christians attend Churches which blatantly oppose Scripture. There only appears to be the Pentecostal, Independent Evangelical, and black Churches which honour the Bible.

Jesus stated the first will be last and the last shall be first.

For many years the United Kingdom and the United States of America sent men and women to far distant corners of the earth, Asia and Africa for example, as missionaries to teach the Bible to people who had never possessed one. They established schools and Churches, to tell the wondrous story of the Christ who died for them.

How things have changed. Missionaries are coming here to teach people the gospel message, and how well they are doing it, is revealed in the large sizes of congregations.

May God richly bless all who faithfully preach the Word of God.

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