Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday, August 12 -by Pamela

Sorry...forgot to autopost this after I finished it last night!! It's up now :)

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Corinthians 11, Psalm 139, Job 5-6
Today's scripture focus is Luke 10:25-29

25 And a [a]lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? [b]How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Why is it that we are always looking for a loophole?

We want the easy way, the quick way, the way that causes the least amount of effort on our part. We know this is true as a society because if you are ever watching tv late at night there are so many infomercials that showcase the many ways to solve our never ending first world problems.

Today's passage shows a lawyer searching for the easy way. He had the directions, he knew the way, but he wanted to know if their was an easy way out. Don't we all?

MacArthur's thoughts on this short passage are explored in these 3 messages (Part 1) and (Part 2) and (Part 3)

He begins his thoughts on these verses by suggesting:

Of all the questions that could ever be asked, of all the questions that could ever be answered, none is more important than this one. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? That is THE most important question that can be asked and answered. And the reason is that every human soul is immortal. No soul, no inner person in any human being ever goes out of existence. Every human being ever born lives forever. Our bodies die, our souls go on eternally. We are created immortal. Annihilation is a lie. Soul sleep is a lie. Reincarnation is a lie. Evolution is a lie. Every person who has ever lived will be the person they are forever.
The only question is, where and under what condition will you spend your forever? That is obviously the most compelling question that can ever be asked. And compared to the brief time in which we live in this world, compelling beyond any other consideration. Every one of us is eternal. You will go on as you forever. James says that life in this world is a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away. It's like steam from a boiling kettle, there it is and then it's gone. Life in this world is an infinitesimal amount of time compared with eternity. You will live forever. You will never go out of existence. And you will spend that forever in one of two places, heaven or hell, and those are the only two places. There is no other place. There is no purgatory. There is no waiting place. There is no limbo. There is heaven, and there is hell and that is all and you will be in one of those two places through all eternity. And you will be conscious that you are there with the full heightening of all your rational faculties running at their maximum. And there will be no dulling of your sensibilities and sensitivities and understanding and comprehension as if to somehow mitigate the joys of heaven or ameliorate the pains of hell.

The lawyer asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus answered his question with a question. I think sometimes when we ask a question, we might already know the answer we just want to hear it to see if there is possibly a different answer.

This might be a stretch but it made me think about the process we've been going through in our renovation. We've been working on our basement for the last 20 months. Over that time, we have had to move and organize all of our basement possessions. I asked myself the question, "what must I do to have an uncluttered basement?" I looked on pinterest for organization ideas and I've searched up storage solutions. I asked the question but really...I already knew the answer and it was a tough one...I needed to get rid of my stuff. You can't organize clutter. I needed to get rid of the old university texts I will never use again, the clothes that didn't fit, accept the fact that it was time to donate the toys that are no longer being played with, and the desk we didn't need. It was tough to realize but the solution was clear. When the lawyer asked "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" he already knew what he had to do, just like I did.

MacArthur explains the problem with today's culture and the very belief in eternal life:

The question wouldn't have been asked if the man didn't believe in eternal life. He wouldn't need to know how to inherit it if he didn't already know it existed. He knew he would live forever and he knew that it was possible in living forever to live with God in His Kingdom. The whole incident is predicated on his understanding of immortality. Of course, evolution, materialism, humanism and atheism has cut man off from that universal conviction that has always existed in humanity until our modern times. I don't care where you go in the world throughout history to any culture no matter how primitive they might be, you find belief in immortality. But now living in this post-humanistic, post-materialistic, post-evolutionary world, people no longer need to believe in immortality. And so in our evangelism, we can't presume that people understand that they will live forever.
When I asked the question "what must I do to live in an uncluttered basement" I was acknowledging that I had the belief that such a state could, in fact, exist. For the lawyer to ask the question, he also believed that eternal life was possible. This is something that we face as we witness to non-believers who do not believe eternal life is a reality.

MacArthur says there is a need to explain this reality:

How do you get somebody motivated for eternal life? The only thing you can do is explain the joys of heaven and the horrors of hell. You explain to them that everybody is immortal, everybody lives forever in one of those two places. Take the time to lay that out. Don't give the gospel on the you have trouble in your life, do you have pain, do you feel bad about things? Let Jesus fix you up. That is superficial and may be not even saving. That isn't the issue because as soon as you start talking about heaven and hell, you have to inject into the discussion sin because somebody is going to say, "Well, I'm not going to hell, am I?" And then you're in to the issue aren't you? You're into the issue of sin, why you're going to sin and why God justly condemned you to hell because of your violation of His Law and what you did and what you said, what you thought and what you are. That is where you start effective evangelism. You get their attention off this world into the next.
And if you present the joys of heaven, the glories of heaven, the horrors of hell, the reality of sin, the desperate need for forgiveness, the provision of God in Christ to provide that forgiveness and to deliver the sinner from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son, you've now at least put them in a position to be motivated toward eternal life.
Motivation is key. We need motivation to encourage us towards our goals. Whether it be with weight loss, or the desire to live in a clutter free basement, or even as we move towards living for God and his gift of eternal life  All of these goals, when motivation is there, are possible. However, even with all the motivation in the world we fall short:

MacArthur explains:
There is a hell and your sin is going to send you there. And there is a heaven, but you can't qualify on your own because you are under a curse for violating the Law of God. You say, "Well maybe I never killed anybody or etc., etc., etc." Oh, but you didn't love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength all the time and your neighbor as yourself all the time, did you? That's it, you're cursed because, "Cursed is everyone who doesn't abide by all things written in the book of the Law, and all things written in the book of the Law are summed up in the great first and second commandment."

We can't do it on our own. We can try but we will fail. Even with my clutter busting motivation in our basement, I can't get rid of everything. I can't. My house will never look picture perfect in every area. The storage room will look like a disaster and somethings will just be too hard to let go of right now. My motivation for eternal life in Heaven is there too but I can't get rid of all the sin in my life. I can't. My life will never be picture perfect in every area. My heart will be in a constant state of disaster without God's grace and mercy and with His help, I can let go of the things He wants me to.

MacArthur concludes part 3 with this:

You know what's startling to me is that he jumped across the loving God part completely, he just leapfrogged that. Did his little inventory, well, got nothing to talk about loving God, since that's clear. I certainly do that. That was sort of easy for him to escape because that's something he couldn't see, but how you treat other people is visible. He just does not admit that he doesn't love God perfectly. 
What keeps people from being saved? I've said this so many times in so many passages, what keeps people from being saved when they understand the gospel is the issue of whether or not they will admit their wretchedness. Please, folks, it's not about whether people want a better marriage, a better life, a better this, a better that, happier things here, da-da-da. What it's about is eternal life and it is about accepting the indictment of Scripture that you are headed for eternal hell because you do not love God and love others perfectly, which demonstrates that you are a sinner and that violates the perfect Law of God. You can't keep it, you better cry for mercy. And if you're going to try to sustain your own sense of self-righteousness, you cut yourself off from salvation...that's the issue.

We want it easy. We want faster. We want something that won't disrupt our lives. When Jesus asked the lawyer what the law said and the lawyer responded,  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” he wasn't happy when Jesus told him that his answer was correct. He wanted it to be easier, faster, less disruptive to his life. He asked “And who is my neighbor?” because he wanted it to be easier. We want it to be easier. We know better but we still want it to be easier. 

Unfortunately, it's not easy but totally and completely worth it.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 10: 30-37
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Corinthians 12, Psalm 140, Job 7-8


Miriam said...

We know what we need to do, but it's work, it takes commitment, it's hard, and you have to keep doing it over and over and over. I know I'm always looking for faster, easier ways to do things; everything from laundry, to cleaning the windows, to re-organizing, etc, including living a Christian life. Always. Lots here to think about. Great post.

Tammy said...

I've never really understand this passage in this way before - that Jesus had to get him to acknowledge his inability to keep the law, his need for a Saviour. It's an evangelistical model - we have to do the same when witnessing to someone. They can't accept a Saviour they have no need of.