John Henson wrote about a high school senior and valedictorian who was bragging that he could pick his college based upon his 1510 SAT score. He even went so far as to say that he could even get into Harvard if he chose to.
This score may get the young man into an elite university, but will not help him or anyone else get into heaven. In fact, most people will not enter Heaven. Eternal life will pass them by because they will show up with the wrong credentials.
Henson suggests that we consider the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” of Matthew 19. He came to Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus directed him to keep the laws of the Old Testament which was the law in force at the time. The young man responded, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus responded: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Jesus knew that the rich young ruler had made an idol of his riches. How do we know this? Watch this:
“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:22)
Gus Nichols once preached a message titled, “The Dividing Line.” Nichols made the case that there are lines that some men and women will not cross in exchange for eternal life. Barriers of many sorts can go up preventing one from crossing over their own “dividing line.” Each of these is something that they have chosen to cling to rather than completely surrender to Jesus Christ.
As a new Christian many years ago, I was invited by a “seasoned saint” to visit random homes near our church. That Saturday morning found the two of us knocking on the doors and getting little response. Finally, he went to a door, knocked and a rather large man with shorts and an undershirt came to the door holding a beer. My friend told him who we were and said that we were visiting people in the neighborhood to invite them to church the next day.
The man grinned and said, “Oh no, that’s just not for me.” When asked why, he responded, “If I started going to your church, I would have to give up my beer!” To that, my mentor said, “Oh no, not at all. Just come tomorrow and you will be welcome. I promise!”
When we got back in his car to leave, I asked him, “You mean we don’t have to give up drinking to become a Christian?” He looked at me and said with a huge smile on his face, “It’s not our job to clean people up or tell them what they can or can’t do. Our mission is to just deliver the invitation. If they come, the Lord will take over from there.”
Matthew 16:24 reads, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
As we can see, the first requirement here is to desire to come after Jesus. This can only happen after the Spirit of God draws us. Then we must die to ourselves (deny ourselves). Once this takes place, we are then born again which enables us to take up our cross, step across the dividing line and follow Christ. The implication here is to surrender and commit to his Lordship and faithfully follow, serving our new Master and others along the way.
We must choose to cross over that line in the sand if we ever want to be truly free.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”