29
May
10

Receiving or Doing?

 

     There has been some discussion about the story of the rich young man in the comments after my last post.  In this post I would like to make a point that hasn’t been made in that thread yet.  And that is the placement of this story in Mark’s Gospel. 

     One aspect of Bible study that is often neglected is seeing the structure and flow of the individual books of the Bible and how each part relates to other parts.  This is something people often don’t see especially when it comes to the four Gospels.  Without giving it much thought, many people think that the four Gospels are just individual stories and parables of Jesus strung together without much structure.  But nothing is further from the truth than that.  Each Gospel writer wrote with a specific purpose in mind.  Each carefully structured his Gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Each placed the individual stories in their Gospels as carefully as a jeweler places each gem in its setting.

     We see Mark doing that in the placement of the story of the rich young ruler.  He significantly placed it right after the story of Jesus’ blessing of the little children.  As such it stands in bold contrast to it especially Jesus’ saying in Mark 10:15.  “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”  As one commentator pointed out, children are not like adults who don’t want anything given to them.  Rather they eagerly and ashamedly receive things as gifts. This is all the more striking when we say that Luke reports that the little children being brought to Jesus were infants.  (Luke 18:15)  The point is little children, especially infants, don’t do anything.  They receive things. As Jesus says, “whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

     What a striking contrast then is offered by the rich young man!  The topic is the same:  entering the kingdom of heaven.  (Compare Mark 10:15 with verses 23-24.)  But the approach is so much different.  The young man wants to know what to do to inherit eternal life.  As has been stated in the comments on the previous post, if “doing” is the question, then there is no room for talk of the Atonement – then there is no room for “trying”.  It’s all about doing.  That is the level Jesus answers him.  In effect Jesus says, if you don’t want to receive it as a small child but want to earn it, then you had better do everything.  That’s why Jesus tells him to sell his possessions. 

     This, however, is something no one can do.  “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’” (Galatians 3:10)  Jesus makes that same point to the disciples when, after the young man left, he said: “With men it is impossible.” (v. 27)  Man can’t do what needs to be done to inherit eternal life.

     But what man can’t do, God did.  “with God all things are possible”.  Jesus did do everything that was commanded and he did it for us.  Jesus paid the full price for every one of our sins.  Jesus did it all so that God can give us eternal life in his kingdom, living in his mansions, freely as a gift

       That’s why little children, and not hard-working adults, are to be our role models.  That’s the clear lesson Mark is teaching us by contrasting these two stories.

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27 Responses to “Receiving or Doing?”


  1. 1 Echo
    May 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Mark said: “The point is little children, especially infants, don’t do anything. They receive things. As Jesus says, “whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

    Saint Mark shows us two ways to enter the kingdom of heaven:

    1) LAW – Perfection is required of you. Your reward is of debt. The debt must be paid in full. There is no grace.

    2) GRACE – Perfection is given to you as a gift. To you that worketh NOT for it but simply believe that God justifieth the ungodly.

    Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

    Romans 4:4-5 “Now to him that worketh is the reward NOT reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

  2. 2 RLO
    May 30, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    On this Holy Trinity Sunday of the Christian Church year, it is only right that all Christians reflect on these words of The Athanasian Creed.

    “Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all else, hold to the true Christian faith. Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever.”

    “Now this is the true Christian faith: We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being. For each person – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – is distinct, but the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty.”

    “What the Father is, so is the Son, and so is the Holy Spirit. The Father is uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy spirit uncreated; the Father is infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father is eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal; yet they are not three who are eternal, but there is one who is eternal, just as they are not three who are uncreated, nor three who are infinite, but there is one who is uncreated and one who is infinite.”

    “In the same way the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty: yet they are not three who are almighty, but there is one who is almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; yet they are not three gods, but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord; yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.”

    “For just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually to be God and Lord, so the true Christian faith forbids us to speak of three Gods or three Lords. The Father is neither made nor created nor begotten of anyone. The Son is neither made nor created, but is begotten of the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeds from the Father and the Son.”

    “So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And within this Trinity none comes before or after; none is greater or inferior, but all three persons are coequal and coeternal, so that in every way, as stated before, all three persons are to be worshiped as one God and one God worshiped as three persons. Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity.”

    “It is furthermore necessary for eternal salvation truly to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ also took on human flesh. Now this is the true Christian faith: We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man.”

    “He is God, eternally begotten from the nature of the Father, and he is man, born in time from the nature of his mother, fully God, fully man, with rational soul and human flesh, equal to the Father as to his deity, less than the Father as to his humanity; and though he is both God and man, Christ is not two persons but one, one, not by changing the deity into flesh, but by taking the humanity into God; one, indeed, not by mixture of the natures, but by unity in one person; for just as the rational soul and flesh are one human being, so God and man are one Christ.”

    “He suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, and from there will come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all people will rise with their own bodies to answer for their personal deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire. This is the true Christian faith. Whoever does not faithfully and firmly believe this cannot be saved.”

  3. 3 jm
    May 31, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Beautiful message Mark, Echo, And RLO.

    Their’s one thing i disagre with, when RLO says ( is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty). Dr. Michael Brown points this out in one of his book’s. He points out this verses in Revelation (3:21,4:2,4:8,5:6,5:13,7:9,7:10,7:17,22:1-4,and 22:9. And sums them up this way.
    There is one throne for God and the Lamb (not two thrones), and his servants (not their servants) will serve him (not them) and see his face (not their faces). One throne, one God, and one face. This is profound, glorious, monotheistic truth at its best. Our God is complex and unique! And so the angle exhorts John in Revelation 22:9,”Worship God!” not “Worship gods.” Perish the thought. The one God of Abraham and Moses is the God of Peter, Paul, and us.

    God Bless

  4. 4 Echo
    May 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    jm said: “Their’s one thing i disagre with, when RLO says ( is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty)”

    Mathew 26:64 ” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

    Mark 16:19 “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.”

    Luke 22:69 “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

    Acts 2:33 “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear”

    Acts 5:31 “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”

    Acts 7:55 “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

    Ats 7:56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

    Romans 8:34 “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

    Ephesians 1:20 “which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,”

    Colossians 3:1 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

    Hebrews 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

    Hebrews 1:13 “To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” ?”

    Hebrews 8:1 “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,”
    But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”

    Hebrews 10:12 “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”

    Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”

    1 Peter 3:22 “who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”

  5. 5 jm
    June 1, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Echo,

    Not one of those verse says that Jesus’s throne was two the right of God’s throne. All I’m saying is their both on the same throne. They are God.

  6. 6 RLO
    June 1, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Are you familiar with what “anthropomorphisms” or “anthropopathisms” are?

  7. 7 faithoffathers
    June 1, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Mark,

    It amazes me what lengths some will go to in an effort to rationalize away the clear words of the Savior of the world.

    I really don’t know what more to say. We have gone through this topic over and over. I believe the words of Jesus as He uttered them. That is the standard. If you want to put editorialists between man and Christ, that is your choice.

    Christ’s message could not be clearer- repent, keep the commandments and follow Him. People can look for every possible contextual nuance to dismiss His words all they want.

    Does any teaching of Christ stand on its own?

    Or did He always intend to hide or mask His true meaning from average listeners and readers? Seems this is a criticism sometimes thrown at LDS for their insistence that some gospel truths and principles were not to be taught in the open to all people. But some EVs appear to take it to the extreme in the belief that absolutely everything he taught is to be understood through the prism of some other person’s view or writer’s explanation.

    Seems I am the one saying we need only Christ and not any mediator.

    fof

  8. 8 Echo
    June 1, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    FOF said: “repent, keep the commandments and follow Him”

    The Bible says repent, keep ALL the commandments, be perfect(not become perfect) and THEN follow him. “If you want to put editorialists between man and Christ, that is your choice.”

    You can’t follow Jesus until your perfect. Are you perfect?

  9. 9 faithoffathers
    June 2, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Echo,

    Show me where the Bible says a person cannot follow Christ until he or she is perfect.

    Thanks,

    fof

  10. 10 Echo
    June 2, 2010 at 4:51 am

    FOF said: “Echo, Show me where the Bible says a person cannot follow Christ until he or she is perfect.”

    Mathew 19:21 “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

  11. 11 faithoffathers
    June 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Echo,

    I really don’t this this qualifies as a verse that says we must be perfect before we can follow Christ. Christ had extended the invitation to each of the apostles to “come, follow Him.” He meant that in a literal way with the apostles, and who knows but what he also meant it literally with the young man.

    And in that verse, being perfect may come before following Christ in the sentence, but the principle of being perfect is not where you are trying to place it.

    If you want to be perfect:

    1. see all and give to the poor (you will have treasures in heaven).
    2. Follow me.

    You are forcing something into that verse that it is not necessarily saying.

    fof

  12. 12 faithoffathers
    June 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    1. above should read “sell all and give to the poor.”

    fof

  13. 13 Echo
    June 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    FOF

    1)Can he give to the poor before he sells all his possessions? The answer is NO
    2) Can he have treasures in heaven before he gives to the poor? The answer is NO
    3) Can he follow Jesus before he has treasures in heaven? The answer is NO

  14. 14 faithoffathers
    June 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Echo,

    Your logic is very strained, my friend.

    A person can give to the poor without selling everything he has. But your are right in that Christ instructed the man specifically to sell everything and follow Him.

    A person can have some amount of treasure in heaven before giving to the poor. But Christ specifically wanted him to have the treasures in heaven that would result from giving away everything.

    How do you justify #3? Honestly. How is that a supported conclusion?

    I again refer to my previous post about the logic and sentence structure of Christ’s statement. It in no way says a person must be perfect to follow Christ. You cannot support that conclusion logically from Christ’s words.

    fof

  15. 15 Echo
    June 3, 2010 at 6:17 am

    FOF said: “How do you justify #3? Honestly. How is that a supported conclusion?”

    It appears I didn’t get enough sleep last night LOL. Thanks for catching that. Let me correct that. That should be:

    1) Can he give to the poor before he sells all his possessions? The answer is NO
    2) Can he have treasures in heaven before he gives to the poor? The answer is NO
    3) Can he follow Jesus before he is perfect? The answer is NO

    FOF said: “I again refer to my previous post about the logic and sentence structure of Christ’s statement. It in no way says a person must be perfect to follow Christ.”

    Read the context.

  16. 16 adb
    June 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    FOF,

    A debito non valet consequentia ad posse.

  17. 17 faithoffathers
    June 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Echo,

    Nowhere does it say a person must be perfect before they can follow Christ. The passage you are using simply does not say that. The concept of being perfect may come before the concept of following Christ in the sentence, but that does not necessarily imply or suggest any type of chronology of action- as I have shown in my brief layout above.

    Using your logic, you should also conclude that in order to give to the poor, a person must first be perfect. This just makes no sense.

    fof

  18. 18 Echo
    June 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    FOF

    Mathew 19:21 “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. THEN come, follow me.”

  19. 19 faithoffathers
    June 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Echo,

    That verse does not mean one has to be perfect to follow Christ.

    Are you arguing that selling one’s possessions and giving to the poor makes a person perfect?

    That verse does not say one must be perfect to follow Christ. PERIOD.

    I don’t know how else to explain what is obvious.

    The sentence does not say perfection comes before following Christ.

    Following Christ is part of the equation in becoming perfect.

    fof

  20. 20 Echo
    June 4, 2010 at 6:28 am

    FOF, you doing exactly what you charge Mark of doing. That is: “It amazes me what lengths some will go to in an effort to rationalize away the clear words of the Savior of the world.
    I really don’t know what more to say. We have gone through this topic over and over. I believe the words of Jesus as He uttered them. That is the standard.
    If you want to put editorialists between man and Christ, that is your choice” Your adding to the text something it doesn’t say.”

    The Rich man asked Jesus what he had to do to get eternal life. Jesus replied: “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” and he listed some of them. The Rich man asked: “what do I still lack”? So Jesus showed him what he had to do to be perfect, And then Jesus said: “THEN come follow me”

    Jesus didn’t say: “try to obey the commandments” or ” try to become perfect” If I might borrow your words and direct them towards you, ‘your adding to the text something it doesn’t say.’

  21. 21 faithoffathers
    June 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Echo,

    Jesus’ reply was “If you would be perfect, go sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, then come follow me.”

    You are claiming that this statement is saying that the perfection part comes before the following part. And that is simply wrong based on sentence structure and concept. Don’t know how else to say it.

    The “then” relates to the selling all, not being perfect.

    Anybody else have an opinion on the matter?

    fof

  22. 22 Echo
    June 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    FOF said: “You are claiming that this statement is saying that the perfection part comes before the following part. And that is simply wrong based on sentence structure and concept.”

    It is “simply wrong” to you because it doesn’t fit in with your beliefs. But rather than changing your beliefs, would you rather add something to the text that it doesn’t say? We all have to ask ourselves: “What is more important, is it to believe what God’s word ACTUALLY teaches or to resist his word and pay the eternal consequences?” Pride never saved anyone because pride slams the door in God’s face when we resist his word in favor of clinging to our wrong beliefs. We need to always remain teachable and open to having God change our beliefs. We need to be willing to follow God’s word no matter what the cost! Otherwise we are guilty of sinning against the first commandment.

    FOF said: “The “then” relates to the selling all, not being perfect.”

    The selling all relates to being perfect. The “THEN” relates to following Jesus. Following Jesus comes after perfection. The verse teaches that once you are perfect, then you can begin to follow Jesus.

    Perhaps you resist this teaching of God because you realize it is impossible for you. Even still, even if it is impossible for you, you can’t negate what Jesus is teaching here. We can’t force God to fit our mold, we must allow God to speak the truth whether it excludes us or not. Truth isn’t negated simply because you or I can’t achieve what is being taught.

    The fact of the matter is that Jesus isn’t teaching us to follow him first and inviting us to become perfect once we do that.

    He is teaching this:

    What must I do to get eternal life?
    Obey the commandments
    Achieve Perfection
    Then follow me

    Is that impossible for you? Is that why you negate Jesus’ teaching here?

    How can we be sure this is indeed what he is teaching? Look at verse 25:

    Mathew 19:25 “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

    The disciple are as surprised at this teaching as you are! They are thinking just like you do! They are thinking: how can this be true? If it is true, then nobody can be saved!

    Verse 26:

    Mathew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Jesus tells them that it is IMPOSSIBLE for man.

    That’s how we know that what I am saying is true! If we put your interpretation on the scripture then it wouldn’t be IMPOSSIBLE for man.

    BUT, the fact remains…perfection is required before we can even begin to follow Jesus. AND that fact hasn’t changed. That fact will never change. Jesus himself taught that.

  23. 23 faithoffathers
    June 5, 2010 at 12:21 am

    I am dropping this exchange. We will have to agree to disagree.

    Thanks for psychoanalyzing my religious faith.

    fof

  24. 24 JTSmith
    June 8, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Echo, I have to say that you are wrong with your interpretation. Jesus isn’t saying to be perfect. Jesus wants to come as we are THEN we will made perfect through him. And for the the rich man, he could go to heaven. First though he has to sacrifice his life to follow him. Unfortunately the rich man loved his great wealth and couldn’t give it up to follow Christ. Which is why he was sad.

  25. 25 Echo
    June 8, 2010 at 3:15 am

    JTSmith, In discussing just the story of the Rich man, your adding to the text something it doesn’t say. That’s never wise or safe. Jesus is teaching us something very important here and we will miss the whole point of his teaching entirely if we add assumptions to it that just aren’t listed there.

  26. 26 JTSmith
    June 11, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Echo, I’m not adding anything to the bible or the text. It’s my interpretation and it’s my belief to believe all the bible and not some of it. We NEED to take into consideration everything thats being said in the bible not just a little verse that was meant for a “rich man” to give up their material wealth of this world and to focus on our heavenly wealth. By doing what you’re doing, your putting Jesus in a little box. He is sooo much bigger than that.

    Did he not say…
    Mark 2:17 “…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Also…
    Matthew 16:24-26
    24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

    So, what was Jesus really saying to the rich man?

  27. 27 Echo
    June 11, 2010 at 8:05 am

    JT. Thanks for replying.

    I agree and also believe that all of scripture needs to be taken into consideration. I simply wanted to focus on this particular story alone to draw the point of it out that I was trying to make.

    The story of the Rich man is a story about a man who believed that obedience to the commandments was necessary to gain eternal life. The LDS has the same teaching as the rich man because they believe that obedience is required before a person can be forgiven.

    In the story, Jesus is leading the Rich man to see for himself that he falls short of God’s expectations. God expects perfection. No unclean thing can enter the kingdom of heaven.
    Basically Jesus is leading the man to see that he is sick rather than healthy, that he is a sinner rather than righteous, that it is impossible for the Rich man to do what is required of him. Which brings us to the verse you quoted.

    It’s only when men come to the end of themselves first, by admitting that they are sick, so sick that they admit this is impossible for them, that their hearts are prepared to meet Jesus and learn what he has done to rescue them.

    If their hearts aren’t FIRST prepared in this way, they will naturally reject what Jesus has done for them just as someone who doesn’t think they are sick won’t go to the doctor.

    Mathew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


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