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64 Luke 18.18-30

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Luke 18:18-30

Close But No Cigar

v    Illustration: The Danbury Fair

Ø     I love to go to Fairs

§        Perhaps it is because of the memory of going to the Danbury Fair every years as a boy

·        My family always took a day off from school to go to the Danbury Fair

¨     I remember one year as a boy of 10 or 11 raiding my piggy bank and bringing $9 in rolling the pennies

Ø     Heavy, bulging pockets

§        Ready to play the carnival games

Ø     I loved the carnival games area

§        Everyone has a favorite and the games never seem to change

·        The squirt gun in the clowns mouth

·        Darts and balloons

·        Ring Toss


¨     And there is always the hammer and bell

Ø     As a boy I used to stand and watch because I was too small to lift the wooden mallet

Ø     Men would pay to swing again and again

Ø     Their girlfriends watching

v    On the way up to the bell there was a scale with various insulting remarks

Ø     Dud, Try Again, Weakling, Almost a man,

§        But right next to the top was a saying that has become an idiom in our culture

·        Close but no Cigar

¨     Years earlier, cigars were given out as prizes for this and other carnival games

v    In our text today, a man approaches Jesus asking a very good question

Ø     What must I do to inherit eternal life?

§        He is asking about salvation

·        But as we see…

¨     He gets close, but no Cigar

READ 18:18-25

v    I think we all know people like this rich ruler

Ø     People who have a sincere desire for salvation…

Ø     Who might find the Christian life attractive…

Ø     Who might even do all the things that we as Christians do…

§        Yet will always fall short because of various reasons

·        Just like this young ruler

v    One way they fall short is

A Poor View of Christ


v    In v. 18-19, there is an interesting initial interchange between the rich ruler and Jesus

Ø     The rich ruler approaches and asks a really good question

§        ‘Good teacher, how do I get to heaven?’

·        Jesus, as we have come to expect, responds with a question

¨     A rather enigmatic question

Ø     “Why do you call me good?”

§        In effect, Jesus is saying to the rich ruler…

·        Do you know what you are saying?

v    You see…

Ø     There is a deep, foundational, OT Scriptural truth that no one is good except God alone

§        1 Chron 16:34

·        Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever

§        Ps 34:8

·        Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him

§        Nahum 1:7

·        The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him

Ø     The Bible teaches that God alone has an exclusive claim on goodness

§        No one else is good!

·        God is the only one who is “good”

¨     Some of us might think that we are good

Ø     But even a cursory reading of the Bible teaches that that is not true

§        It teaches that man is depraved, sinful, prone to wander, idolatrous,

·        Only God is good

v    So Jesus challenges that man to think through what he has just

Ø     He actually wants him to complete the Syllogism

§        A syllogism is a simple logic framework in which there are two premises and a logical conclusion

·        Example:

¨     All men are mortal.

¨     Socrates is a man.

¨     Socrates is mortal.

§        He wanted to man to complete the syllogism

·        If Jesus is good

·        And God alone is good, then…

·        Jesus is God

v    And herein lies the irony…

Ø     Believing that truth is what answers to the ruler’s question…

§        How do you inherit eternal life?

·        Believing in Jesus Christ the incarnate God alone for your salvation

¨     John 3:16

Ø     For God so loved…

¨     Acts 4:12

Ø     There is only one name on earth by which men shall be saved

¨     Rom 10:13

Ø      for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”

¨     John 3:36

Ø     Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life

¨     1 Thes 5:9

Ø     For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

¨     Acts 2:21

Ø     And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

v    Many people approach Jesus

Ø     Many people step up and swing the mallet

§        But If they do not believe that Jesus was the son of God…

§        That he was the second person of the Godhead incarnate…

·        They are close, but no cigar

v    The second way that the rich ruler fell short was in his view of sin

Ø     He had…

A Reduced View of Sin


v    Jesus goes on to list some of the ten commandments

Ø     Adultery, Murder, stealing, lying, honoring your parents

§        What is Jesus doing here?

·        Is he saying the rich ruler that the Law can save?

·        Is he saying…

¨     “Just keep the law”

·        Is he saying…

¨     “just do this and you will be saved”

v    No, not at all

Ø     That is a common misconception of the OT Law

§        That it was put in place to save people

§        That the Old Covenant was intrinsically different from the New Covenant in this regard

·        That by following the Law, one could attain eternal life

v    But that is not it at all!

Ø     Jesus is using the Law on this young man just as it was meant to be used

§        As a mirror to show sin

·        Rom 3:20

¨     Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

v    By listing off some of the 10 Commandments, Jesus is hoping to the ruler will realize his sinfulness

Ø     But look at what the ruler says…

·        V. 21 ~ “all of these I have kept since I was a boy”

¨     REALLY?!

v    I think we all have a little R.Y.R. syndrome

v    There a part of each and every heart that feels this same way?

Ø     I’m pretty good

Ø     I do pretty well

Ø     I don’t sin too much

§        Maybe in your heart of hearts…

·        In the recesses of your mind…

¨     In places never spoke, but oft thought we say…

Ø     “I keep several of the 10 commandments perfectly”

Ø     “I sometimes go several days, even a week without sinning”

Ø     “And even when I do sin, it is small, no big red letter sins”

v    2 weeks ago we read as the confession of faith from the Savoy Declaration 15:5 the following:

Ø     That there is no sin so great that God can’t forgive…

§        That sounds right…Good so far

·        But it went on and said…

Ø     Yet there is no sin too small that it does not deserve damnation

§        Whoa!  Hold on! That is pretty harsh

·        One sin, however minute, is cause enough to send me to hell!

¨     That is what James is talking about when he says in 2:10

Ø     For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it

Ø     So it doesn’t matter how good you are

§        It doesn’t matter how few sins you commit

·        It is not about being “Pretty Good”

¨     It is about realizing your sinfulness

¨     Realizing your inability to save yourself

¨     And running the feet of Jesus for forgiveness

Ø     And that is what Jesus tries to show this young man

v    So in his divinity, Jesus looks into the man’s heart and finds the Chink in his armor

Ø     The one weakness that will bring his whole house of cards toppling down

§        The one area in his life that was not surrendered to God

·        His wealth

¨     READ v. 22

Ø     The ruler was incredibly covetous

v    What is the chink in your armor?

v    What is the area in your life that is not surrendered to God?

v    What is it that will bring the house of cards called self-righteousness toppling down?

Ø     For that is what needs to happen in each one of our lives

v    You see…

Ø     When the Word of God comes in contact with a life it does one of two things:

§        It softens or it hardens

·        Do we allow it to soften our self-righteousnesses

¨     Our unsurrendered areas

¨     Our pride

·        Or do we harden our hearts

¨     Like this young man

Ø     Look at verse 23

An Inability to take the Final Step

v    The parallel story in Mark and Matthew both say at this point…

Ø     When the man heard this, he “went away sad”

§        The Message puts it this way

·        That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away

v    On July 20th 1969, Neil Armstrong descended a ladder and stood inches away from stepping foot on the moon

Ø     This moment was the culmination of years and years of work to get a man to the moon

§        This was THE defining moment

§        This was it

·        Can you imagine if Armstrong had descended the ladder and then never took that final step onto the moon?

v    Spiritually speaking…

Ø     That is what we have here!

§        The ruler is brought to the decision point

·        And he turns away

¨     And that is what makes this story one of the saddest in all of Scripture

Ø     The rich ruler did not take that final step

v    You know…

Ø     In all my years of going to carnivals

§        I have never played that carnival game that I watched for so long

·        I have always been a spectator

v    In the same way…

Ø     There are people who know who Jesus is

Ø     Who realize how sinful they are and in need of a savior

§        Yet never step up and give their lives to Jesus Christ

·        They never take that final step!

v    If you are here today and have never taken that final step

Ø     I invite you to do that today

v    Notes:

§        Ps 25:8

·        Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways

¨     And that is exactly what Jesus does next

Ø     He instructs the rich Ruler on his sin

§        James 3:2

·        We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check

·        Rom 7:7

¨     Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet”

Ø     The Bible teaches that this is simply not true

§        We sin in word, thought and deed one minute by minute basis

·        James 3:2 tells us that we “stumble in many ways”

·        Jer 17:9 that the heart is deceitful

·        Rom 7 that we ‘don’t do what we should do and do what we should not’

Ø     Eventually, the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us all to a decision point

§        To a point in our lives that we have to go forward or turn away

v    Jesus presented him with a choice…

Ø     Surrender and live

v    The Christian walk can be defined with one word…

Ø     Sacrifice

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.

v    Romans 10:9 says that to inherit eternal life you must…

Ø     Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead

Ø     V. 23

§        Mark and Matthew tell us that the man turned and went away

v    Can you imagine

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