Only One Way to Heaven

October 17, 2021

Pastor John Hering

Mark 10:17-27

Mark 10:17-27

17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, one man ran up to him and knelt in front of him. He asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. 19 You know the commandments. ‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not defraud. Honor your father and mother.’”

20 The man replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a child.”

21 Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When he heard this, he looked sad and went away grieving, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus told them again, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in their riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”

26 They were even more astonished and said to one another, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For people, it is impossible, but not for God, because all things are possible for God.”

It is really amazing what modern medicine can do for us.  Many of you have been to see the doctor and learned that you needed surgery.  Surgery isn’t any fun, but sometimes it is the only way to correct the situation.  Maybe you need a new hip or knee.  Maybe it’s a cancer or a diseased heart.  You can change your lifestyle in the way you eat, or do therapy or take medications, but when you hear the news that you need surgery to correct the situation you know that you’re heading for days, weeks or months of recovery.

So, aren’t you glad you’re not in a hospital right now!?!  You’re in church!  You didn’t come here today because you had some physical ailment or because you wanted to talk about doctors.  Or did you?  Every time we come into this house of prayer for Bible study or worship aren’t we really coming here to learn about our spiritual ailments and learn more about the miraculous “surgery” God performs on our hearts!   Today I’m going to talk about our hearts, but when I use this word I’m talking about the seat of our thoughts, emotions and attitudes as it pertains to our relationship with God.  Some physical sicknesses are hereditary.  The spiritual disease we all have and that we’re going to diagnose is hereditary—sin.  We were all born with a heart infected with sin that always ends in death.  Unless that spiritual heart disease is cured our relationship with God is ruined and there is no hope to spend eternal life in heaven.  God, however, uses some super powerful instruments in order to repair the damage—those instruments are God’s threats and promises.  His threats serve as the scalpel that cuts deep and exposes our sins.  His promises serve as the miracle cure that heals hearts and gives life.

Mark 10 introduces us to the Master Surgeon of Hearts—Jesus Christ.  He goes to work on a young, rich man’s heart.  17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, one man ran up to him and knelt in front of him. He asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What sort of answer do you think he was hoping to hear from Jesus?  Maybe, “Young man, you might be asking this question so I will give you a couple of spiritual exercises and then you’ll be all set to enter into heaven.  But, it seems you’ve done it all.  It looks like you’re in good spiritual shape. Here’s your gold star and your ticket to get through heaven’s gates.” But, Jesus didn’t say that.  He wanted the man to realize the seriousness of his congestive heart failure and to give thanks to the Lord for his miraculous cure.  Today, may the Holy Spirit cause us to examine our own hearts and believe

There Is Only One Way To Heaven

Either You Have to Produce Perfect Love

Before an operation the surgeon will go over the risks for the surgery.  He doesn’t want you or your family to have any unexpected surprises and to realize what all is involved in the surgery.  Jesus did the same thing.  18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God.  What a thought-provoking question!  Jesus is not denying that he is God. He is testing whether the man believes that he is God.  Jesus knows that his question comes more from flattery than it does from faith.  It is the first step of the diagnosis.  If anyone is interested in living with God then we must first know that God is good, really good, yes, perfectly good.  Anybody who wants to live with God must be the same–perfectly good. Then Jesus holds up the scalpel of God’s demands: 19 You know the commandments. ‘You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not defraud. Honor your father and mother.’ If you want to live with a good God, then you need to be good to the 9nth degree! 

The man answers with great confidence in his own goodness: 20 The man replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a child.  He might as well have said, “Cut away Jesus!  You won’t find anything bad in me!  I’ve already met all of God’s demands.  I only asked the question so you could pat me on the back and reaffirm what a good person I am!”  The man was in need of further treatment!

Jesus wasn’t done cutting.  And there were plenty of places Jesus could have chosen to continue his spiritual surgery.  He could cut into the murder muscle and said, “Murder isn’t just taking a person’s life, it is also a sin when you hurt or harm your neighbor or become unjustly angry” for God’s Word says, Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15).   Jesus could have cut into the marriage muscle and said, “Adultery isn’t just cheating on your spouse, it is also a sin when you don’t respect God’s gift of sex whether you are married or single, or using dirty words and having lustful thoughts” for God’s Word says, but I tell you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:28).  Jesus could have cut into the stealing muscle and said, “Stealing isn’t just taking something that doesn’t belong to you, it is also a sin if you don’t use your money in a God-pleasing way” for the Bible says, Will a man rob God? You are robbing me!  You say, “How have we robbed you?” In regard to the tithe and the special offering. You are being cursed since all of you, the whole nation, are robbing me (Malachi 3:8,9).  Jesus could have cut into the lying muscle and said, “Do not give false testimony” does not just apply to the courtroom, it is also a sin when you give your neighbor a bad name, fail to defend him and don’t speak well of him [on Facebook]” for God’s Word says, Do not lie to each other (Col 3:9).

There is no reason to doubt that this man was a fine, outstanding person in his community.  But, his heart was infected with sin.  Jesus loved this man and wanting to begin the healing process cuts right where the man would discover his great need for a Savior.  Jesus cut into his greed muscle: 21 Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.  Can you see it?  The man’s heart was cut wide open and the gangrene of greed was oozing out by the bucket full.  A minute ago he thought he was alright with God.  But now he realized how far he was from entering into eternal life with God he really was.  It was really a 1st Commandment disease.  Something besides his “Good God” was taking 1st place in his heart—Riches!  If the way to heaven was by Producing Perfect love for God and his neighbor, this man failed miserably. 22 When he heard this, he looked sad and went away grieving, because he had great wealth.

It’s really amazing what God’s miracle surgery can do for us, but who among you would ever want to go into God’s office for such a thorough examination?  It’s painful, but it’s necessary so we can come to realize how desperately we need the Savior.  But, here’s the thing.  We all know that we need this examination but jump off the exam table when we see God’s scalpel of law.  We know how important God’s law is, but have you memorized it?  Do we try to keep it?  Or are you tempted to know what God’s law says but pick and choose which laws you want to keep because the other laws are inconvenient?  Have you said that you’ll keep God’s laws—except the one about anger because your boss is so unfair.  Or the one about keeping the marriage bed only for marriage because, well, we love each other.  Or the one about greed because I’ve worked hard for my money and I should be able to spend it on myself first, before sharing my money with others or supporting the work of the church. 

Out comes Jesus’ scalpel.  Yes, thank God that his law cuts into our hearts and lives to expose our sins of failing to Perfectly Love God and our Neighbor.  Then be on your guard that you are not tempted to go the way of the young, rich man which was leading him in the opposite way of heaven.  Thank the Lord that he has given you faith in Jesus so you can repent of your sins and trust in his forgiveness. Let God’s law expose your sin, and the let God’s Gospel show you the Savior. For

God Has To Perform A Miracle

The lesson Jesus taught the rich, young man was a lesson for us all.  Jesus does not want us to miss the point. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus told them again, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in their riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”  26 They were even more astonished and said to one another, “Who then can be saved?” They understood first, that people cannot get into heaven by being good enough.  They had to be perfect.  That statement still stands: God demands perfection in order to enter into his heaven.  This statement is frightening to our sinful nature, and it needs to be.  But, it also prepares a repentant and sorrowful heart to receive God’s miraculous cure.

Jesus did not say a rich man cannot enter into heaven, he said it would be hard. The Bible has many examples of rich people who went to heaven—Abraham, Job, King David were all wealthy. That is because they had their hearts cured and set on something else.  Jesus points them to the only cure for their sin sick hearts. 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For people, it is impossible, but not for God, because all things are possible for God.  We can’t cure ourselves.  The miraculous cure comes from God.  It comes from Jesus Christ who came to live a perfect life in your place.  Jesus always obeyed his parents, never had sinful hatred, never abused God’s gift of marriage, never stole or told a lie.  Jesus was the perfect sacrifice you needed.  Then Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of all your sins, and rose again from the dead to prove that his redemption worked.  What a relief for sin-sick sinners!  Jesus Christ Performed the Miracle that saved us all, was brought to us through faith at our baptism, and promises eternal life in heaven for all who believe.  Your gracious God did it all!  What was impossible for you to do, Jesus did for you.   Miracle of miracles, Jesus healed your infection of sin perfectly.

So, does the theme for today’s sermon make sense now?  It says there is only one way to heaven but then there are two ways listed.  You can either be perfect OR God has to perform a miracle.  That’s where God’s surgery comes in.  It isn’t pleasant to go into God’s examination room, but we willing go because we need to be reminded that one of the two ways to get into heaven doesn’t work.  No one can get into heaven by their own works because they can’t produce a perfect life.  But what was impossible for people was possible for God.  He gave us the miraculous cure through faith in Jesus Christ.  Believe it.  You are cured!  You Are On Your Way To Heaven!  Amen!

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