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A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.'" He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" He replied, "What is impossible for mortals is possible for God."
Some Good News and Some Bad News
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. And since I like to get the negativity out of the way as fast as I can, I’ll give you the bad news first, and here it is. It is impossible for us to get saved. Of course, I recognize that it’s tempting to play some little semantic games, you know, like saying that it’s impossible for us to save ourselves thereby keeping open the possibility that we actually can acquire salvation. But in spite of what we say to ourselves, I’m telling you right now, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than someone who is rich (like we are) to enter the kingdom of God.” No matter how you say it, the meaning is the same; we cannot get saved. It’s impossible.
Now, I understand that this flies in the face of what most Christians say. I mean, getting saved seems to be the goal of Christianity. And believers will talk about when and how and where and with whom they got their own piece of salvation. And then, if they’re worth their salt, they’ll tell you when and how and where and with whom you can do it too, if you haven’t done it already. No, in American Christianity, getting saved is the carrot at the end of the stick. It’s the honey that attracts the flies. It’s the dividend that makes the investment in Jesus worthwhile. And so, if it’s impossible to get saved, man, that’s really bad.
But now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can shift to the good news. As Jesus said, "What is impossible for mortals is possible for God."