Matthew 19: Works-Based Salvation
Matthew 19 seems to present a tall order for all of us who one day hope to live forever with God in heaven.
Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Mat 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Mat 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Mat 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
I know that I certainly have possessions. I have not gone and sold everything I own. Does that mean that I don’t have a chance of making it into heaven?
I don’t think so. I was reading the following verses, and I think that they help us put this into perspective. This man had previously asked Jesus what he could do to have eternal life in verse 16. He then appealed to the fact that he had kept all the commandments. He was looking for salvation based on his works, and Jesus recognized that, just like all people, this man’s heart was not perfect.
As a result, in the context of works-based salvation, Jesus was explaining that it was impossible for this rich man to make it to heaven on his own. I think that the passage could also be said about poor people, but maybe the particular sin would be different.
The disciples were confused because they wondered then who would be able to make it into heaven. That is why verse 26 is so important. It is impossible for people to make it to heaven on their own, but with God, salvation is available for all to make that decision. Verse 26 seems to be taken out of context quite a bit, but it seems to me that it is a direct reference to salvation by our own works being impossible, but through God, salvation is possible.