By Asst Ps Lai Keet Keong
Imagine a ship filled with people crossing the Atlantic. While the ship was in the middle of the ocean, there was a sudden explosion. The ship was severely damaged and began to sink. Many passengers lost their lives, and the rest rushed for the lifeboats.
Suppose one man did not know about the lifeboat and so he did not get on board. He did not have knowledge and was not saved.
Suppose another man knew about the lifeboat that might save him. But he was grief-stricken, for he saw his wife die before his own eyes. So, he chose not to get on board and eventually also died. He had knowledge and believed, but he was not saved.
Then there were others who knew and believed the lifeboat can save them. So they made their way and got on board. They had knowledge, believed, and acted on it. They had faith in their belief. However, it was not their faith that saved them – no matter how much faith they had – it was the lifeboat.
Perhaps one of the most important questions in life was recorded in Luke 18:26. Here, Jesus was asked, “Who then can be saved?” Why did the people ask Jesus this question? How did Jesus respond, and what does that mean for us today?
Luke 18:18-30 gave an account of a promising young man who came to Jesus to announce his absolute compliance to the teachings of the law. He then asked Jesus, “What else do I still lack?” Jesus’ reply confronted the idol in his heart – his wealth. In the end, the young man left disappointed. Then Jesus said to the disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Some sharp-minded disciples immediately did a swift analysis of their own lives and made a horrible discovery: If this devout young man, with all his discipline and success, failed to qualify for heaven, where did this leave them? The dejected followers then asked their master, “Who then can be saved?” If their question was a statement, it would be, “It is impossible for anyone to be saved!”
Up till now, the people experienced God’s power through miracles, signs and wonders. Yet they had misplaced their faith. Just like the story of the sinking ship, it is not our faith that saves us – no matter how much faith we have – it is the lifeboat. The lifeboat refers to our Lord Jesus Christ, his death is the price of our sins, and his resurrection is the promise of eternal hope. He alone is worthy of our faith.
Then Jesus went on to say, “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” You see, the key words are, “for the sake of the kingdom of God.”
Different people may do the same thing for different reasons. For example, not everyone who works overtime do so because of a sense of responsibility. Some work hard to be seen; some, for career advancement; and others do so for extra monetary pay. But only those who sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom of God, are promised eternal rewards.
Why did the promising young man live a religiously disciplined life? What was his motive in asking Jesus’ advice? Though we may not be in the position to judge others, we can certainly make honest assessment of our own motivations. As we ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, may God affirm our faith in Him and spur us towards where we are found lacking. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the true intent of the human heart.
I invite you to pray this prayer with me: “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of grace. You have sent your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and reconcile us back to you. For this we are eternally grateful. Help me to be your extended grace. To share the good news of love and salvation to others. That we may bring healing to the broken-hearted, and restoration to those who are lost without you. Help me to live all my life for the sake of your kingdom, and bring glory to your name.
In Jesus’ most wonderful name I pray, Amen.”