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.


Posted on February 25, 2015, in Matthew and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The way to salvation or eternal life is clearly demonstrated by Jesus Himself in the front of the 12 disciples ( Matthew 19:16-21). The question is being answered by Jesus. How can someone be save or gain eternal life? The first step is to follow the commandments, the second step is to extinguished your desire in material things or lead a simple life, then the third step is to follow Jesus, that is the only way to salvation no more no less. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. You can have only treasure in heaven if you successfully extinguished your desire in material things (Matthew 19:21). To become spiritual do not desire the material, that how simple it is but very difficult for the people to understand because their hearts are captives of the power of wealth.

    • Thanks for commenting! I agree that all the things you mention are important, but I think I would put them all under the umbrella of your third step of following Jesus. If we are following Jesus, then we will have salvation. I do believe in salvation through faith alone. However, I think good works like following commandments and not making idols out of material things like money will come from that. We will begin to show the fruit of the spirit

  2. Judas Iscariot kept the commandments ( one of the reason he is chosen as one of the twelve ) but he follow Jesus without extinguishing his desire for wealth that is why he failed. The 2nd and 3rd step is mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 19:21. The three steps Jesus mentioned as the way to salvation is actually the good news to the poor predicted in Isaiah 61 revealed in a surprising manner to the twelve poor apostles as they listen to the conversation between the rich man and Jesus. It is a good news to the poor because it more easy for them to fulfill the 2nd step but it was a bad news to the rich man that make him left with sadness in his heart.

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