BDCMINISTRIES                  HOME

 

MARCH 2016

To leave comments go to http://bdcministries.com/

Back to Archived Meditations

 

Are we Too Rich to be Saved?

 

Mark 10:25-27 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

 

The Rich Young Ruler

There was a rich young ruler who thought he could get into the Kingdom of God by keeping the commandments, particularly the ones having to do with loving his neighbor.  But there was one problem, he was rich materially and didn't understand how poor he was spiritually.   Now being rich is not a problem unless your riches are more important than your love for the Lord and your love for your neighbor.  Joseph of Arimathea was rich but he was obviously saved.  By telling the young rich ruler that he needed to sell his possessions and give them to the poor, He tested the young ruler's love for his neighbor.  The rich young ruler failed the test.  He didn't love his neighbor the way he said he did.  He was just a sinner in need of a Savior but he was not willing to acknowledge that. 

 

The Riches of the US

My wife and I have recently been to Belize, and it has become painfully obvious to us that in this country those who claim to be Christians are for the most part rich.  Some of us are richer than others, but we all have abundantly more than the average person in Belize.  Even those on welfare have more riches than most of the poor in Belize.  Our riches are important to us in this country as seen by our voting patterns.  The man who can promise us the most wealth usually gets our vote.

 

Riches Are a Test of Reality

I am so glad that the Lord tested the young man's understanding of the law and his ability to live up to its demands.  He was able to show him and us how far short our own efforts and motives fall when it came to the gold standard of the law.  The Lord was going to be willing to sacrifice his life for sinners, but the young ruler was not willing to sacrifice his riches out of love for the poor.  Since he didn't understand his need of a Savior, He never found the Lord to be anything other than a good man.  He never found  that that the Lord was good because He was God and as God, He was able and willing to die for our sins.  The rich young ruler went away from the Lord, the Lord did not go away from Him. 

 

God has made the Impossible Possible

So if having riches is a hindrance to believing the Gospel, how can anyone be saved?  With God all things are possible and He made salvation possible through the death of His Son.  If being asked to sell our goods and give the proceeds to the poor was really the way to heaven rather than the means of opening our eyes to our own covetousness, I certainly would not be saved.  I have never shared with the poor as much as I could have.  But I am glad that the Lord, has provided for sinners.  The impossibility of being saved by doing something and being worthy of salvation has been replaced with the possibility of being saved by receiving the gift of God instead of the wages of sin. Romans 6:23 tells us emphatically that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Fortunately, the rest of the Bible tells us that we don't have to get good to get saved, we have to get saved to get good.

 

All things are possible with God and yet there are a lot of things that God will not do, even though He could.  He will not save by what we do, He saves by what He has done for us.  But He will not save those who see themselves righteous and good.  He will not and cannot save those who depend on riches rather than on Him.  He brings truth and events into each of our lives to help us see and understand our sinnership and our spiritual poverty.  He wants to show us how much we need Him and His way of salvation. 

 

Many people want to know why the Lord has allowed evil in this world since as God, He could have restrained it.  They have other objections to believing in God as well.  I would suggest that those who want their questions answered come to the Lord in simple trusting faith so that when they get to heaven, they can ask Him.  All things are possible with God but that doesn't mean that He does everything that is possible.  I am glad that he has had mercy on those of us that most of the world would see as rich by making salvation a free gift.  God has provided for everyone who is willing to depend on His Son rather than on their own efforts or their own riches.

 

If getting to heaven by selling our goods was the way to go, I would not make it.  Salvation would be impossible for most of us.  But thank God, salvation is a free gift.  God has made the impossible, possible through the ultimate gift of the death of His Son.  But maybe, just maybe, we who are saved should start praying about how much is enough and whether we should be sharing what we have with the poor. 

 

Meditation for the week of March 6, 2015

Inasmuch!

 

(Matthew 25:40)  And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

(Matthew 25:45)  Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

 

Getting to heaven is based on what Christ has done for us, not on what we are doing for Christ.  However, what we are doing for Christ reflects strongly on whether we really believe that Christ died for our sins, that He GAVE Himself, that He was willing to sacrifice all for us.  Ephesians 2:8-10 explains the relationship between faith and works clearly.  Verse 8 shows us God's plan which is by grace through faith.  Verse 9 shows us Man's plan which is by works.  Verse 10 shows us the results of entering into God's plan.  People of faith are a poetic masterpiece, a new creation designed for good works.  While good works do not save, the lack of good works might indicate that a person is not saved.  I have been thinking about those good works in relation to the poor.

 

Our Responsibility

In Matthew 25, the hungry were fed and inasmuch as it was done to the hungry, it was done to the Lord.  I realize that the interpretation has to do with judging the nations before the millennium based on how they treated the faithful Jews during the tribulation period.  But the principle applies to us now.

 

In the following verses, the New Testament teaches that rich Christians should help poor Christians so that there might be an equality.  I know that sounds socialistic and enabling when it comes to the poor, but that is what Paul says.  He also says that charity begins at the house of God, but that our responsibility reaches out to others.  And sharing is always a sacrifice:

 

(2 Corinthians 8:13-14)  For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack--that there may be equality.

(Galatians 6:10)  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

(Hebrews 13:16)  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

(1 John 3:17-18)  But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

 

John is writing to those in the family but these “brothers” in this passage might be Jewish brothers instead of Christian brothers.

 

Old Testament Teaching

In the Old Testament, there was a year of release where debts were to be forgiven every seven years.  This applied only to debts of other Israelite's but this was designed to give the poor in the nation of Israel a new start if they had fallen on hard times.  I have found Deuteronomy 15 to be interesting and instructive and convicting.  Blessing was associated with blessing the poor.

 

(Deuteronomy 15:11)  For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, “You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”

 

Conclusion

In the Unites States those who have worked hard and have enough of this world's goods often look down on the poor.  There is a tendency to think that helping them enables then to stay poor.  I have always thought that.  While I have always tried to help someone who is hungry get a meal, I have never helped the poor get a fresh start.   But enabling the poor by helping them does not seem to be a concern of the Lord.  He teaches that (at least for poor Christians) if the poor and indebted are given a fresh start they will use it to better themselves.  While that may not be true of many that are unsaved, we should still help them anyway.   However, we need to be wise as to how we help them..  I think that is clear from Galatians 6:10.  I am personally reconsidering how much of my work should be with those who are poor spiritually and in need of the riches of God's salvation and how much of my work should be with those who are simply poor.

 

I suspect that if we who are truly Christ followers helped the poor with a no strings attached type of help, that the Lord would use that to help the poor who are not saved believe that we believe what we say we believe.  I know that there are Christians who do this.  I am praying that I can be more personally  involved with a ministry to the poor in the future.

 

Meditation for the week of March 13, 2016

So What?

 

Ecclesiastes 2:11  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.

 

I know About Profits

Having studied accounting, having passed the CPA exam, having taught accounting at the college level, having worked as a cost accounting manager in industry and having practiced as an independent CPA in my own practice, I know something about profits.  All of us are seeking them in one way or another.  Some are seeking financial profits, some are seeking emotional profits and some are seeking spiritual profits. Most of us are seeking them all.  Of course, we all want something that we think will satisfy.

 

Profits represent the benefits of running a business or project.  Profits always have to be measured in terms of time.  They can be for a day, a week, a year or a lifetime.  But profits are elusive.  Not having profits is of course a losing proposition.  In any endeavor whether it be a practical one or an emotional one or a spiritual one, there needs to be something positive left over at the end of the day.  But I suspect that at the end of life, most will wonder if they searched for profits in all the wrong places.  No matter how rich we are, no matter how satisfied and happy we are, when this life comes to an end, the question will have to be asked, “So what?”  Our verse says that there is no real profit under the sun, that is in this life.

 

To Whom are we Accountable?

I realize that many people reject the ideal that they are accountable to God.  Yet, many of these people live lives that are exemplary in terms of the the kinds of things we all should be.  They seem to have consciences that are more tender than many people who claim to be “born again.”  They love their neighbor, they show grace, they are forgiving, they are industrious, they share and they care.  But at the end of the day, why do they act right even though they think that when they die there is no accountability?  I don't have the answer to that and each person would likely answer that question differently, but ultimately, I suspect they would all say that they do what they do because it is the right thing to do. But what did they personally gain by trying to do what they thought was right?  I am glad for the morality of these kinds of people. However, in the light of eternity, did they make decisions that really mattered?  No doubt they will be missed and some will go down in the history books,  but, “So what?”

 

Of course others deny their accountability to God and they care little about their fellow man.  They start wars, they are rude, contemptible, covetous, and immoral.  They are takers instead of givers.  They use their fellow man rather than helping him.  And they seem to prosper.  Even spiritual men in the Old Testament wondered about these kinds of people.  Both Psalm 37 and Psalm 73 deal with the short-term prosperity of people like this.  But at the end of life, what did they gain?   Even though they may have been envied by many, and may have appeared to have it all, what did it profit them?  Obviously, they leave it all behind for others to fight over.  And what about eternity?

 

The Short-run and the Long-run

Now many deny that we exist for eternity.  The concept of eternity cannot be denied however.  We know that time existed long before we did and that time will continue long after we die.  But what is involved in that unlimited time span when many would say time is no more?  It is the idea of eternity that makes me want to question what this life is all about.  It makes me question what is profitable and what is not.  I have dreamed the dreams of youth, tried to accomplish the goals of middle age, have tried to achieve the wisdom of age and obviously have failed miserably.  I think of the Lord's question, “For what will it profit a man (or woman) if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Mark 8:36-37).  If we do exist for eternity (and God says that we do), for what are we selling our eternal souls?  We normally look at these verses from the standpoint of the unsaved that are living for the benefits of time and forgetting about the cost of losing their souls for eternity.  The unsaved tend to forget that this life involves short-run profits, while eternity deals with the long-run. 

 

How About the Christian?

But while these verses likely apply to those who have rejected Christ as their Savior, I have to wonder if they have an application to those of us who are saved.  Are we making long-run decisions that will benefit us for eternity or are we making all of our decisions for short-term happiness in this life?  Are we thinking about the short-run or the long-run? 

 

When life is over, and that may come sooner rather than later, will our lives be an asterisk in our family’s history or will we have amounted to something for eternity?  The preacher in Ecclesiastes was frustrated after having accomplished everything there was to accomplish in that day.  And now he says, I did it, “So what?”  I personally have lived for many years and the Lord has been good to me and my family and yet I have to ask myself, in the light of eternity, did I pursue eternal profits or temporal profits with my life?  Will the Lord look at my life and say, “So what?”

 

Meditation for the week of March 20, 2016

Resurrection Sunday

 

John 20:27-29  Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

 

Peter Believed

Peter reminds his audience that they loved someone that they had never seen (see 1 Peter 1:18).  Thomas had trouble believing in the One he had seen. He no doubt believed that the Lord was the Messiah, but until he saw the Lord, He didn't believe that He had been raised from the dead.  I believe in the resurrected Lord Who is coming again,  and I hope you do to.

 

We not only believe on Resurrection Sunday, we who believe, believe all the time.  That is what gives life purpose.  That is what removes despair.  The cross was awful and is quite believable because of man's inhumanity to man.  But the empty tomb--now that is unbelievable to the natural mind.  But when I read the accounts in the Bible of those who saw the resurrected Lord, it gives me confidence that the Lord really did come (Josephus, the Roman historian, records this), He really did fulfill prophecy and he really did die for my sins. And He proved it all by leaving the tomb empty three days after dying and ascending into heaven forty days after the resurrection while the disciples watched. 

 

We Who Are Saved Believe

I don't know who Anne Rigby Richter was, but she wrote the following hymn that expresses my thoughts with regard to the Lord Jesus:

 

We saw Thee not when Thou didst come
To this poor world of sin and death;
Nor yet beheld Thy cottage home,
In that despisèd Nazareth.
But we believe Thy footsteps trod
Its streets and plains, Thou Son of God.

 

We did not see Thee lifted high,
Amid that wild and savage crew;
Nor heard Thy meek, imploring cry,
“Forgive, they know not what they do!”
Yet we believe the deed was done,
That shook the earth and veiled the sun.

 

We stood not by the empty tomb,
Where late Thy sacred body lay;
Nor sat within that upper room,
Nor met Thee on the open way.
But we believe that angels said,
“Why seek the living with the dead?”

 

We did not mark the chosen few,
When Thou didst through the clouds ascend,
First lift to Heaven their wondering view,
Then to the earth all prostrate bend;
But we believe that mortal eyes
Beheld that journey to the skies;

 

And now that Thou dost reign on high,
And thence Thy waiting people bless,
No ray of glory from the sky
Doth shine upon our wilderness;
But we believe Thy faithful Word,
And trust in our redeeming Lord;

 

Meditation for the week of March 27, 2016