I. THE EXPLANATION OF THE DIFFICULTY. It is wholly on the side of the man who is hindered and hampered by his wealth. God has opened the gate and invited all who will to enter. He is no respecter of persons. He does not favour the rich to the neglect of the poor; and he does not favour the poor and deal harshly with the rich. He is just and fair with all. But the rich man has hindrances in himself.
1. The absorbing interest of riches. The danger is that the wealthy man should be satisfied with his possessions; or, as that is impossible unless he is partially stupefied by them, that they should so fill his life that he should not have time or thought for better things. He may be buried under the load of his own goods, lost in the mazes of his forest of possessions.
2. The deceitful promise of riches. Jesus spoke of the deceitfulness of riches as one of the weeds that spring up and choke the Word (Matthew 13:22). if wealth does not yet satisfy, still it promises future satisfaction. The rich man comes to think he can buy all he wants, if only he can find the right market.
3. The foolish pride of riches. If ever a man has a right to be proud, it is on account of what he is, not because of what he has. The owner of millions may be a miserable coward, sensual sot, a senseless fool. Yet the disgraceful sycophancy of the world teaches him to regard himself as a superior person. Now, pride is the most effectual harrier to the entrance of the kingdom of heaven. Only the lowly and humble and childlike can creep through its humble doorway.
4. The hardening selfishness of riches. Wealth, though it gives the means of helping others, tends to seal up the fountains of generosity and destroy the springs of sympathy. The self-indulgent man cannot enter that kingdom, the citizens of which have to deny themselves and carry the cross.
II. THE LESSONS OF THE DIFFICULTY.
1. The folly of covetousness. Why should we make haste to be rich, if riches may become a curse to us? If in any case they are likely to bring fresh difficulties, should we be so anxious to acquire them? How is it that so many Christian people are to be found eagerly pursuing the race for wealth?
2. The duty of contentment. We may never get riches. What of that if we have the kingdom of heaven, which is far better? Perhaps we are spared a dangerous temptation.
3. The need of sympathy with the difficulties of rich men. Jesus did not denounce the young man who made the great refusal. He loved him and pitied him. If rich men fail, we should remember that they were beset with temptations that do not fall to the lot of most of us.
4. Faith in the power of God. The rich man is gravely warned. He is in serious danger. He may fail miserably, crushed by the load of his own wealth. His salvation would be a miracle. But God can work miracles. Though it be as hard for a rich man to save himself as for a camel to pass like a thread through a needle's eye, God can save him. Therefore
(1) the rich should have the gospel preached to them;
(2) we should pray for the rich;
(3) we should rejoice greatly that there are rich men in the kingdom of God. - W.F.A.
Who, then, can be saved?legal, but moral, and in the latter the real hindrance will be found. Men make excuses, etc.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY BEING SAVED? In the narrative connected with the text, our Saviour calls it " Entering into the kingdom of heaven." The governing power of true religion over a man. Governed by love. To be saved is to be delivered from the kingdom of Satan, etc. It is a present change. Would you WISH to be SAVED? Or, would you like to compromise this matter in the way of postponement? Or, would you wish to have your love of " good society," etc., made secondary to the love of Christ? Let these questions sink deep into your hearts. The Young Ruler.
II. THE HOLY GHOST CAN DEAL, AND DOES DEAL, WITH THIS MORAL HINDRANCE in the way of man's salvation as effectually as God the Son has dealt with the legal hindrance by His work of substitution for man. There is hope for us all. To You is the word of this salvation sent. Use the appointed means, for God works by means, etc.
(Hugh McNeile, D. D.)I. TO PUT THE QUESTION. This inquiry sometimes arises —
1. From partial views of the character of God.
2. It is often suggested by correct and scriptural views of the Divine law.
3. It arises from ignorance of the plan of human redemption.
II. To ANSWER THE INQUIRY.
1. Shall I first tell you who cannot? Not the ignorant, proud worldling, not the impure.
2. Who, then, can be saved? The vilest can.
(Dr. T. Raffles.)I. THAT MEN OFTEN ERR AS TO THE REAL DIFFICULTIES OF SALVATION, that they are prone to under-estimate its cost, effort, self-sacrifice, and demanded pains. Christ never deceived anybody as to the real cost of discipleship. Salvation under the gospel is not an easy thing.
II. The disciples were left to derive from this incident the lesson THAT MORAL UPRIGHTNESS WAS A DIFFERENT THING FROM GOSPEL PIETY. The young man had kept the law. Christ will not be in the heart except He have absolute dominion there.
III. OUR PARTICULAR IMPEDIMENT TO SALVATION. Riches. A wealthy class of men in a community is a social necessity. Greed to be avoided; compassion to be cultivated.
IV. A practical inference is that, however difficult salvation be, IT IS NEVER IMPOSSIBLE at least, the impossibility is only relative. With man it is impossible; but with God it is possible and promised.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
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