Blog Archive

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Big Question by Geoff Thompson

On the weekend just gone I had the privilege of sharing the Gospel in the Renmark West Uniting Church and the Renmark Town Uniting Church.
I woke up to a cool foggy morning and arrived at the Renmark West Church before anyone else.
I looked in the paddock across the road and there in the fog I saw kangaroos grazing.
I could not resist grabbing my camera and getting some shots.
How wonderful is God' creation.

Below is the transcript of my message.Also I have now uploaded the audio to youtube so here is the link below.It may differ slightly to what is written below.


Nicodemus and the Rich Young Ruler meet Jesus

Today I want to talk about the most important question anyone can ever ask and the only record in the Bible of two people who asked Jesus this question.

(The question is answered in many other parts of the NT when you examine the subject)

The question is “what must I do to be saved?” or “what must I do to have eternal life? Or “how do I enter the kingdom of Heaven?”

The answer Jesus gives is different to both these people.

Why is that?

If we asked that question of Jesus today what would he say to us?

So I want to talk about this under the following headings:

1.  Why we today need to ask that question.
2.  Did Nicodemus ask Jesus this and how did Nicodemus  respond?
3.  Why did the rich young ruler ask this and how did he respond to Jesus.
4.  Is there a definitive answer, a specific answer to this for us?
5.  What was the outcome for Nicodemus and the rich young ruler?
6.  How should we respond and what is our likely outcome?

1.Now of course today a lot of people don’t bother to ask that question, what must I do to be saved,not in public anyway.

Many think if there is any such thing as Heaven or life after death, that somehow that will just automatically happen when we die.

However in our society and all societies, there is a belief in the afterlife.

We have had an observable evidence for this in recent events where sporting heroes have died.

I won’t mention some of their names but you will probably guess of some notable sportspeople who have died over the last few years and very recently.

Many of their friends and team mates look to the sky, often in reflection, when they have made a 100 or kicked a goal ,acknowledging the one who has left us as if he or she is looking down upon them.

They might be. We don’t know the answer to that.

Many from other cultures and religions of course have beliefs about life after death and how to obtain it.
In Australia we have a rich Christian heritage but there would be seem to be very few believing Christians in this country over all, let alone those who are active in their faith.

So for today's message I am not going to argue whether there is an afterlife or not, or a place such as Heaven, but assume there is and talk about what the Bible says about it.

I mean by that  how we qualify for eternal life, not what it is like when we arrive.

In reality we begin eternal life before we die physically.

If we don't we are in trouble.

If there is such a place, and we don’t want to just cease to exist and go 6 feet under when we die, it is the most important question we can ask.

“What must I do to be saved?”

2. So why did Nicodemus ask the question and who was he?

Well Nicodemus did not ask the question outright but Jesus knew what he was thinking and answered the unspoken question.

The skill of a really good counselor is to hear what someone is not saying.

Jesus is the ultimate counselor.

Here is the passage in John Chapter 3 of Nicodemus meeting Jesus.
Nicodemus was a man of great standing in the Jewish Community.

He was obviously aware of Jesus and what He was doing in the community.

It was not easy for him to come and see Jesus and that is probably why he came by night.

He was a member of the Pharisees who were very much against Jesus, and a member of the Sanhedrin, the governing council that did vote to have him executed.

He was obviously impressed by Jesus and drawn to Him.

He knew Jesus was from God by the miracles He had performed.

Jesus honed in on what Nicodemus was thinking about.

 The Kingdom of God and life after death.

He went straight to the main  issue, the need to be born again before Nicodemus got started. .

He told him of the necessity to be “Born of water and the Spirit”

And of course Jesus uttered the well known words from John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The whole of Chapter 3 is very pivotal concerning the Gospel message.

Nicodemus at the time did not grasp what Jesus was saying and did not understand how he could be born again.

There was a good reason for that.

Jesus had not yet gone to the cross and no one who was following Him could anticipate that or realize the implications.

The Gospel at this time was still hidden from them.

Nicodemus obviously responded favourably to what Jesus had told him because he later defended Jesus before his peers(John 7:50,51) and he came to the cross and brought Myrrh and Aloes to tend to Jesus body after the crucifixion.(John19:39-42)


3.What did the rich young ruler ask Jesus and how did he respond to the answer Jesus gave him?

Here is the Bible reading again.
Luke 18:18–23

18 uAnd a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to vinherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: w‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 And he said, x“All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. ySell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have ztreasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 aBut when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
The rich young ruler recognised Jesus also as a great teacher and probably from God.
He would have, like Nicodemus, known of the miracles.
He knew he lacked something, hence his question.
In both the case of Nicodemus and the young ruler I believe they were both under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and that is why they were attracted to Jesus,
Both seemingly had everything people hope for, a prominent position and role in life, and wealth as well.
But they both knew their was something lacking.
They both new they were mortal.
They both believed Jesus had the answer.
The rich young ruler became despondent as he did not want to give up his position and wealth and went away.
He had declared that he had been very diligent in keeping all the commandments but Jesus had said this was not enough.
He told how it was almost impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus knew also what was in this young man’s heart and that wealth and money was a major priority in his life. 
We do not know what happened to him after this encounter with Jesus.
It is important though as this encounteer is in 3 of the Gospels.
So what would Jesus say to us?
In todays world?
To find this out we go to another well known chapter and passage in the NT.
Jesus speaks to us here through the Apostle Peter.

 This is Peter speaking on the day of Pentecost

Acts 2:32-41
"32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
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.
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, " 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." '
36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."

The people present,Jews, had just witnessed the amazing events of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 12 apostles and were perplexed.
(Note a careful reading of the scripture shows that the Pentecost happenings with tongues of fire,rushing wind and speaking in tongues were only manifested on the 12 apostles not the 120 as commonly taught.)
Peter gave his stirring sermon on what it was all about and they were cut to the heart, particularly when they realised they had had a part in Jesus crucifixion.
They said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles
“ brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter said “ repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and remission or forgiveness for your sins."
Now I believe that the rich young ruler may well have been present at the crucifixion and the day of Pentecost.
He  likely would have still been alive as Jesus only was active in His earthly ministry for about 3 years.
The Holy Spirit was more than likely still calling the young ruler, as He does all of us, as God is not willing that any of us should perish.
In fact the Bible tells us that God is delaying Jesus coming again so that all have opportunity to hear the Gospel before it is too late.
So the rich young ruler may have been one of those added to the Church on that day.
But he needed to be prepared to make Jesus Lord and Saviour and let go of the importance his wealth and standing had in his life.
When Jesus spoke to him earlier, as we have heard,Jesus was not able to give the answer that Peter gave as it was still a time when the Old Covenant was still in place.
The age of Grace had not started.

Salvation before the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord depended on keeping the Law.
It was the age of the Law, The Old Testament Commandments. 
This New Covenant of Grace started on the day of Pentecost following on from the death and resurrection of our Lord.
It is highly likely also that Nicodemus witnessed the happenings of the day of Pentecost and responded to Peter's stirring address.

So what is our response, what is your response.

As a young person I was attending an Anglican Sunday School and was "Christened" in that Church as a baby.
At about 13 I was not interested in the Church and opted out of being "Confirmed"

Looking back it has been an interesting journey for me where I can quite clearly see God was reaching out to me through things and people that happened in my life.

Lesley had become a Christian before me and when we married I was not a Christian.

I had promised her however that I believed in doing things together and I would attend Church with her.
It was there that I was exposed to the word of God and responded to the Gospel message as given by Peter.

I believed Jesus was my Saviour,I repented of my sin and I was baptised as a repentant believer  by full immersion.

Whenever I have doubts about my faith I re-read the scriptures and note what my response is and has been .

That dispels any fears I have, even though at times my feelings may seem otherwise.
Most people here probably responded to Jesus long ago but I never assume that when I give these messages,that everyone here fully understands the Gospel or has responded to it the way the Bible spells out or is even a Christian.
So if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, like He was to Nicodemus and the rich young ruler, what will you decide today.
The Bible says these things are written that we might know we have eternal life.
1 john 5:13
"I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. "
Maybe talk to your Minister or someone else.
I am happy for people to ring me or email if you ever want to discuss any of these messages.
Of course we all have family members who we wish could just respond to Jesus.
Be assured He has not given up on them.

The Bible does tell us that God is delaying the coming of our Lord Jesus to this earth again as he wants as many as possible to be given the opportunity of repentance and salvation.
We will close now with a word of prayer and then we will sing our concluding Hymn and then sing the vesper as found in your hymn books.

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