We have all heard the age-old adage that: “Practice makes perfect.” Not so, says a famous basketball coach who claims that “Only perfect practice makes perfect.” And he is right. In the story about Jesus and the rich man who had asked Him how to receive eternal life, Jesus answered the singular question in two parts beginning with: “If you would be perfect ….” This tells us that in order to be saved one has to be perfect, else why did He make that statement? Then Jesus told him how to be perfect and thereby attain eternal life. He told him to obey the Ten Commandments (Mat. 19:16-22). The man said that he had obeyed all of the Ten Commandments all of his life, yet he knew something was missing. That “something” was keeping him from qualifying for eternal life and he knew it. But WHAT was it? The Lord’s answer should alert every salvation seeker who reads the episode that God REQUIRES PERFECTION in those who would spend eternity with Him. He and His Son are perfect, so why would They allow imperfect people to join Them in paradise forever and place them in charge of their perfect universe? Then there is the question concerning HOW to be perfect. Christ also had the answer: OBEY THE LAW. Notice that Jesus did not tell him that He (Jesus) would be perfect for him. Nor that He (Jesus) would die so that he (the man) would not have to be perfect by obeying Him. Nor did He tell him that he could sin and get away with it if he would only accept Him as his Savior.
My grandson is a fighter jet pilot who flies half a billion dollar, perfectly made machines hundreds of miles an hour. Everything in those planes must work as designed or the result is disaster and probably death. In the past, those who procured parts for the planes were found to have purchased parts of inferior quality, which cause several crashes. The problem was quickly solved by making sure that the purchased parts were of the highest quality.
Our spiritual life is like the F-15 my grandson flies. Everything has to work perfectly in order to complete the task at hand, which is to qualify for eternal life, rise up in the first resurrection, join Christ in the air, descend with Him to the Mount of Olives, walk with Him into Jerusalem and there help Him establish the Kingdom of God. Though our physical/material life is important, our spiritual life makes everything else pale by comparison.
Which is what Jesus was saying to the rich man who was seeking that which was of utmost importance. Being “very rich,” he had every material possession available. But he knew that something was wrong; something was missing from his “walk.” Jesus told him that in order to inherit what he so deeply wanted he had to be PERFECT. Perfection, Jesus made clear to him, required that he OBEY ALL TEN OF THE COMMANDMENTS, including the one Jesus told him he was not obeying. “One thing,” Jesus told him, would prevent him from receiving salvation if he did not get rid of it. He had to obey the tenth commandment that condemned lust for material possessions. But that was not all. He had to get rid of those things that had satisfied his lust. The rest is Biblical history.
The lesson Jesus taught the rich man and us is that WE MUST RID OURSELVES OF EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT OF GOD AND KEEP OURSELVES FREE OF THOSE THINGS IN ORDER TO JOIN HIM IN THE FUTURE. In order to do this we must know exactly what is and is not of God. One does not gain that kind of information by reading the Bible. God makes this clear through the Apostle Paul who, when writing to another apostle named Timothy, reminded him that IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN GOD’S APPROVAL THE ESTABLISHED, POPULAR AND HARD WORKING EVANGELIST HAD TO: “STUDY.” The man who would one day give his life for His Master must continue to STUDY THE WORD OF GOD IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM (2 Tim. 2:15). The only Word of God available at that time was the Old Testament. As a follow-up to 2:15, Paul noted that: “ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GOD AND PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE, FOR REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION AND FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, SO THAT THE MAN OF GOD WILL BE PERFECT AND THOROUGHLY PREPARED FOR ALL GOOD WORKS” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Recall that Paul received his Gospel direction from Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:12). The Apostle Peter confirmed the truth concerning the prophets and apostles speaking and writing under the power of the Holy Spirit in 2 Pet. 1:21.
While in captivity in Babylon for 70 years the Jews had replaced the Tora (Law) and the writings of the prophets with the Talmud, a collection of writings and sayings of the Jewish fathers. I have read portions of this vile tome. It is evil and anti-God. Many who are studying for the priesthood today still study the Talmud. While studying to be a Pharisee the Apostle Paul had studied this vile substitute for God’s Word. Nothing has changed. Their religious descendants have substituted church doctrines for God’s Law. These Satan-inspired “church truths” are equally as vile and anti-God as the Talmud. Paul warns us about such “truths” coming from false prophets in the church in Galatians 1:6-9, calling them “perverted.” Pure Gospel Truth comes only from the Holy Bible. In the next posting we will turn directly to that most excellent tome for the Words spoken by God to the Word (Jesus) by way of the Holy Spirit. The Word (Jn. 1:1-4,14) then spoke God’s Words to His holy prophets who spoke them to Israel and recorded them for our (the church’s) instruction (1 Cor. 10:11). As we continue in our quest for God’s Truth (Word–Jn. 17:17), let us diligently STUDY GOD’S WORD IN ORDER TO BE APPROVED BY THE AUTHOR OF THAT WORD–ALMIGHTY GOD. L.J.