'Not far from the Kingdom of God'

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Martin Marprelate, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    Mark 12:34. 'Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."'
    If the Lord Jesus said that to you, would you be pleased, flattered, annoyed, worried or not bothered? And why?
     
  2. TCassidy

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    As I don't live in the transitional period between the Old and New Covenant, and don't have to make the transition from one to the other, and have never, yet, been in the Personal Presence of the King of Kings as the Second Person of the Godhead, I would not be asked that question. :)
     
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  3. th1bill

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    Like TC, I live now and from a little more than three weeks before my forty-fifth, I have done my best to keep my hand in His hand making the question of no import.
     
  4. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    Wow! Neat sidestep. So the very words of the living God are nothing to do with you? Interesting.
     
  5. TCassidy

    TCassidy
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    When He is not addressing me I don't claim He is.

    When I offer to take my wife out to lunch, and you overhear it, don't expect me to buy your lunch. :)
     
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  6. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Brother Martin I would be pleased!... Why?... I have something of worth that I believe but according to Jesus I have not all... I'm searching diligently for the rest of what I don't have and if the Lord can complete what I lack why would I not be pleased?... Hearing him say to me You are not far from the kingdom of God... My answer would be true Lord what do I need to do to get there?... Brother Glen
     
  7. HankD

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    If I heard Him say that to me then that means I also heard the trumpet sound just previously and I would be glad as I rocketed thru the atmosphere with Him on my way to the third heaven.

    HankD
     
  8. JonC

    JonC
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    That is an interesting question (I don’t view it as a matter of interpretation here, but of how we would actually feel if that was spoken to us in a modern context).

    There is one sense where I think most of us would feel bothered. We all have understandings that we lean on (hence they are our understandings). So in a sense, Jesus’ words could mean that we are not quite where we will be in terms of doctrine and understanding. This is an uncomfortable idea because it implies the fact that our understanding is not exactly right.

    We, as a whole, have placed so much emphasis on theories, interpretations, rationalization, and systems of understanding that it would be difficult to hear that we are close to the Kingdom based on the wisdom affirmed by the Scribe. We are very much products of the Enlightenment. There was absolutely nothing in the reply (vs. 32) that would stand as soteriology, yet that affirmation hit at the heart of the gospel. In a sense, this diminishes those theologies that we prize and elevates salvation to a state many would dismiss or take for granted (of loving God and our neighbor completely).

    But Jesus’ words were also directed to the Scribe in that he had answered wisely, which carries an implication of complement. The truth that the Scribe had stated (or rather, affirmed) demonstrated that he was on the “right path.” So there is another sense where I think I would feel comforted that my cognitive “ducks” are in a row, so to speak.

    Those words could indicate that I have indeed “been saved,” and are counted among those who will be saved.
     
  9. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    If we go back to verse 28, the scribe is asking another trick question, trying to catch Jesus out. I think that's evident from the context and from Matthew 22:34-35. So he asks the Lord Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Of course, he is not asking which was the first to be given, but which is first in importance. He is not so much trying to catch Jesus out as to bog Him down. He was doubtless expecting Him to name one of the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue. If He were to say, “Oh, the most important is the first one: ‘You shall have no other gods before me,’” the Scribe could say, “Aha! So you don’t think murder is important then!” Or if He replied, “’You shall not kill’ is most important,” then the Scribe could say, “Jesus of Nazareth doesn’t think duty to God is paramount.” In fact, there is a rich vein of totally useless argument to be had here. Imagine how much time you could waste discussing whether breaking the Sabbath is better or worse than not honouring one’s mother or father. And this sort of stuff is such nonsense because nowhere does the Bible give one commandment priority over another. Deut. 27:26 says, ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’ All of them. Or as the New Testament says in James 2:10, ‘For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all’!

    Firstly, it tells us that the whole moral law- all those ‘Thou shalt nots’ that unconverted people find so restricting- can be summed up in one word- Love. And this love is to be directed first of all towards God. It is a response, of course, to God’s love for us. 1 John 4:19 tells us, ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ What could be more natural than to love God who has created us, sustained us and, when we rebelled against Him, redeemed us at measureless cost? And how are we to love Him? With heart and soul, mind and strength. The heart in Scripture speaks of the centre of man’s existence, the mainspring of all his thoughts, words and deeds. The soul is the seat of emotional activity; the mind is the intellectual capacity and strength equates to power.. Ever faculty of man is to be united in love to God. And not in some half-hearted manner; ‘ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind and ALL your strength.’ When God loves, He loves whole-heartedly. ‘For SO God loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son……’ How can we be half-hearted towards a whole-hearted God?

    ‘Now when Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”’
    What an interesting and cryptic comment! What does it tell us? Well first of all it tells us that there are varying distances at which non-Christians are from the kingdom. We may easily observe this; many people today are totally materialistic. They believe in their foolishness that the whole of life can be explained by natural processes and if you can’t see a thing or hear it or measure it in some way, they don’t want to know it. They are as far from the kingdom of God as you can imagine. Then there are others who have some sort of spiritual awareness; these are into New Age or Feng Shui or whatever. They at least have an awareness of some sort of divine essence in the universe, but as to a real knowledge of the living God, they are still pretty clueless. They are perhaps nearer to the kingdom than the first group, but still a very long way off. Then there are others who have read parts of the Bible and are really quite interested in religion and like to get into discussions about it, and so on until you get to this Scribe and he really is right at the gates of the kingdom. He knows the Scriptures back to front; he knows that the Law is not based on outward observance; he knows that Jesus of Nazareth is a great Teacher and so our Lord says to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

    ‘Not far from the kingdom of God.’ What a terribly dangerous place to be! Did you read about the British Antartic explorer last year who walked 900 miles across the snow, but couldn't quite manage the last 30 miles and lay down and died? He was 'not far' from safety, but it did him no good. 100 years ago, the liner Lusitania was 'not far' from the Irish coast- just a mile or two- when she was torpedoed by a German U-boat and hundreds of passengers lost their lives. John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress, ‘Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven.’ Let me put this another way. Suppose you are in a queue of twenty or thirty people waiting for the last ‘bus home. The ‘bus arrives and people start climbing aboard. Just as you are about to get on the ‘bus, the conductor says, “Sorry! We’re full,” And the ‘bus leaves without you. It makes no difference whether you are the next person to get on or if there are fifty people ahead of you. The ‘bus has gone. You have to walk home. So it is with the kingdom of God; being near it doesn’t help at all in the final analysis. You’re either in the kingdom or outside it; you’re either saved, or you’re lost.

    So what was the matter with this man? Well, when our Lord said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” I see him as being rather pleased. Perhaps he went home and said to his wife, “You know, that Jesus of Nazareth says I’m not far from the kingdom of God,” and his wife said, “Oh, that’s nice, dear!” And perhaps he sat in his favourite chair and thought to himself, “Not far from the kingdom of God, eh? Not bad!” You see, he had heard the Lord Jesus say that the greatest commandment was to love God with heat, soul, mind and strength and to loves one’s neighbour as oneself and he had agreed with Him. But he had never asked himself, “Do I actually do this?” ‘For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified’ (Rom 2:13 ). Are you, the reader happy to stand before God on the Last Day and tell Him that you have kept these two commandments perfectly and constantly? Of course not! ‘As it is written, “There is none righteous, no not one”’ (Rom 3:10 ): not this scribe, not me and not you. ‘For by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified’ (Gal 2:16 ). It can’t be done. To hear God’s law as this scribe had done, to approve of it, even to preach it, can save nobody. Only perfect obedience can satisfy our thrice-holy God and fallen men and women cannot achieve it. Worse than that, we are constituted sinners in the eyes of God, and are under His active displeasure. The Bible tells us, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23 ), and that ‘God is a just Judge; God is angry with the wicked every day’ (Psalm 7:11 ).

    If we cannot save ourselves, then what we need is a Saviour: someone to stand between us and the righteous anger of an outraged God. We need an ark to shield us from the torrent of God’s wrath; a city of refuge to which we can run to be safe from His justice; a hiding place from His indignation (Isaiah 26:20 ). In short, we need Jesus Christ. He is for us a perfect Saviour in every respect. He has led the life of perfect obedience to God’s commandments that we cannot live; and He has taken upon Himself the punishment that our sins deserve. There on the cross, all the sins of those who trust in Him are laid upon His sinless shoulders and His perfect righteousness is credited to them.

    So what should this Scribe have done? Well, there was another way in which he was not far from the kingdom of God; he had the King standing right in front of him and yet he let Him go away. He should have laid hold of Him and pleaded with Him: “Lord Jesus, you’ve got to help me. If what you’ve said is true, I’m lost! If these are the greatest commandments, I can’t keep them. I know I break them every day. What can I do, Lord? How can a sinner like me get right with God?” You see, there is only one way to enter the kingdom of God- by repenting of your sins and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. And His blood, shed for sinners on the cross. He tells us, ‘Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 45:22. cf. John 3:15 ); and again, “The one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out’ (John 6:37 ). If there is anyone on this board reading this who believes he can be right with God by any other way than coming to Jesus in true repentance and faith, you may be 'not far from the kingdom of God' but you haven't entered and are in deadly danger. Lay hold of Jesus Christ as a drowning man lays hold of a lifebelt, and He will not turn you away.
     
  10. TCassidy

    TCassidy
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    #1 I am saved from the penalty for sin. (Justification). (Romans 8:1)

    #2 I am being saved from the power of sin (sanctification). (Romans 12:2)

    #3 I shall be saved from the presence of sin (glorification). (Jude 24; 1 John 3:2)

    So, is it correct for me to say "I am saved?" Yes, according to #1.

    Is it correct for me to say "I am being saved?" Yes, according to #2.

    Is it correct for me to say "I shall be saved?" Yes, according to #3.

    Salvation is so much more than we often comprehend. :)
     
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  11. kyredneck

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    BINGO!
     
  12. HankD

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    WHAT Tom!? You mean salvation has a basis in all three time tenses - past, present and future?
    Great!

    HankD
     
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