This was an actual question that a rich, young ruler asked Jesus...and Jesus answered him, so I want to pass the question - and the answer directly to you from Jesus' mouth.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO GET INTO HEAVEN!
I'll bet ten dollars that every preacher who read my headline has already formulated in their minds that John Tyler is a heretic! But, before you get all excited, and get your e-mail typing skills ready to attack the notion that there are TWO WAYS into heaven, let me assure you that JESUS HIMSELF TAUGHT THAT THERE ARE, IN FACT, TWO WAYS....Let's prove it, shall we?
Matthew 19:16 - "And a man from the crowd surrounding Jesus came to Him and said, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
Therefore...You and I are about to hear from Jesus Himself what we MUST DO to inherit eternal life. We have asked this question throughout the ages...yet, the Bible has always told us exactly what WILL and what WILL NOT get us into heaven. We must, therefore, accept that what Jesus told this man is what He would tell YOU or me today. Let's proceed...
Matthew 19:17 -"And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into (eternal) life, keep the commandments."
That is the FIRST WAY INTO HEAVEN. Jesus said, it's simple...just keep all of the Commandments and you can get into heaven.....no problem.
Now, let's analyze what Jesus said in verse 17, because it is the key to how He would lead this man (or YOU or ME) to decide on whether we really want to inherit eternal life in heaven - to be with God forevermore.
Jesus said, I want you to know that there is only ONE who is worthy to be called GOOD. Jesus used the word GOOD here to mean, righteous, holy- PERFECT.
Jesus wanted us to know that there are NONE on the earth who can be called GOOD - RIGHTEOUS - PERFECT - HOLY - only God, and He is part of the trinity known as God. He points this out in Romans 3:10: "As it is written - there is no one on the earth who is righteous - no, not one."
When Jesus says, "It is written", He means that it is recorded in the oldest of Bible manuscripts...The Old Testament. He is referring to the Old Testament Book of Psalms 119:137 -"Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments."
God is the only one who is Holy, Righteous, Perfect - GOOD...and the One who will judge mankind...God is the only One qualified to do so.
The rich young ruler was about to ask the fatal question. He believed that he was a righteous, holy, prefect man. He did many good works, and kept the Commandments, so he figured..."I'm in". But, he asked Jesus, "Which commandments?"
Jesus answered him (knowing that he would come to the same conclusion that all of us should come to...."There are none righteous - no not one."
In the next verse (18), Jesus said, "You shall not murder, or commit adultery, or steal, or lie, and you shall honor your mother and father, and love your neighbor as you would love yourself."
Well, this rich young ruler had those covered...so he returned the dialogue with, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?"...verse 20.
How many times do WE try to convince God/Jesus that we should be allowed into heaven because we are GOOD? Jesus is about to show us that NONE OF US are GOOD or PERFECT....only He/God is PERFECT, and Jesus leaves no question that He interchanges the words GOOD with PERFECT......read the next words of Jesus very carefully - your eternal destiny hinges on Jesus answer to this rich young man.
In verse 21, Jesus replied, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
Here, Jesus puts it to this man that If you will be PERFECT - RIGHTEOUS - GOOD...then follow my teachings.
Jesus also knew that He would be going to the cross to die and pay the penalty for this man's sins - and YOURS and MINE, but He also wanted to demonstrate that this man was putting his riches BEFORE God. When one puts anything before God, he has another priority in his life. Jesus gently reminded the rich young ruler that he was about to admit that he broke the FIRST COMMANDMENT, and therefore has violated the Laws handed to Moses by God.
Here is the FIRST COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20:3 -"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
The man was faced with the question, "Will you choose to follow God...or will you choose to keep your idol...your money that you worship, and forfeit entering into the kingdom of heaven?" Refer back to verse 21.."If you wish to be PERFECT, forego your money god and follow me."
As PERFECT, GOOD, RIGHTEOUS, HOLY as this man thought he was (and none of us could stack up to how GOOD he was), he made this choice: "But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."
This man put something other than trusting Jesus in his own eternal destination in front of himself, and it was his stumblingblock. He was sorrowful that he chose to put his money god before almighty God, so the very Law that he thought he was keeping, he violated the first of them, and he would later be judged by the Law...and condemned to spend eternity in the Lake of fire in the center of the earth.
The apostles that Jesus chose to join His ministry heard this entire conversation and they asked Jesus, If this man...being NEARLY PERFECT, can not enter into the kingdom of heaven for his one infraction...who then can be saved? So, Jesus doesn't just drop it there, He answered their question brilliantly. He said, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Get Jesus' answer here...."With men, it is IMPOSSIBLE to inherit eternal life.....there is NOTHING they can do to earn their way into heaven, and I have just demonstrated that, no matter how GOOD man thinks he is...there are NONE that are PERFECT. Therefore, NONE can enter into heaven....BUT.....with GOD...all things are possible...especially entering into heaven."
What Jesus was saying is that NO MAN CAN, by doing good works, enter into eternal life in heaven....BUT, God will make it possible. The way that God made it possible was that Jesus would become the sacrifice for OUR SINS. Jesus would offer Himself as the one and only sacrifice needed to grant us access into heaven.
This is why Jesus said two other things (among much that He said), and one is found in Ephesians 2:8-9: "God saves you by his grace if and when you believe. And you canít take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."
God is telling us the same thing that his Son, Jesus told us. "THERE ARE NONE RIGHTEOUS....and the gift that I am giving you...the way I am making for you to get into heaven is either BE PERFECT, which is impossible, or trust my Son, and listen to what He has to say....and THAT is how you will get into heaven."
And Jesus wraps it up nicely for us ALL. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."
Now, YOU have the choice to make. Will it be the same as the rich young ruler? Will you put anything else in front of God?
He wants to save you, but He also will have to judge you under the Law of the Ten Commandments one day should you reject His Son, and what Jesus did for you on the cross.
"There is only ONE WAY to get to the Father...to get into heaven...and Jesus told us that HE is the way....He is the Truth and the Life."
To discover more about SALVATION and how you can KNOW that you will inherit eternal life in heaven, go to the link that I have prepared for you below. There, you will also find the "Prayer of Salvation". If you say that prayer, or something similar, God promises to save your soul from the Lake of Fire.
John Tyler, Author
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