“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.”
In compliance with the request of Mrs. Albert Cook, on page 372, current volume of the SIGNS Of The Times, I submit the following thoughts concerning this solemn declaration of our Lord, only explaining that physical weakness forbids that mere than a brief statement of the subject should be presented.
From the context it will be seen that the occasion of this declaration was that one who had great possessions, had inquired what good thing he should do that he might inherit eternal life. In justice to the intelligence of this inquiring one, it should be remembered that he had been educated in that legal system which required continual labor as the price of acceptance. From his own language it is manifest he was amply supplied with all the righteousness which could be attained by keeping the letter of every precept of the law of Moses. Yet the one thing which he lacked was revealed by the direction which Jesus gave him to sell his possessions, and give to the poor. The Lord did not say that compliance with this direction would purchase treasure in heaven. The answer accomplished just what the Lord designed in showing the inquirer that he had not obeyed the commandment which required perfect love to his neighbor. Lacking this one point, he was guilty of the whole law. It is important to note that Jesus loved this one. He did not show him his error by way of condemning him; only to cleanse him from selfish confidence, and to show his need of that righteousness which exceeds all that can be attained by the law of Moses. Trust in his own works was the riches which made the inquirer sad at the saying of the Lord. The possession of the treasures of this world is no mere of a harrier to the reception of the gift of divine grace, than is the destitution of such wealth. Abraham, David, Solomon, and Job, are instances of those who were rich in worldly goods, and yet they were unquestionably subjects of the electing love of God. Saul of Tarsus was rich also in the works of the law. Vet grace was displayed in those vessels of mercy no less than in Lazarus and the blind beggar. No condition of the sinner can defeat the power of that eternal love which has chosen every one whom Jesus loves, and ordained all such unto eternal glory. That salvation which is in Christ Jesus is not dependent upon any earthly circumstances. It is all the work of God, and his power is not less in saving the infant Samuel, or John the Baptist, than in the case of a bloody Manasseh, or a persecuting Saul.
The entering into the kingdom of God, to which our Lord here refers, in not the receiving of that eternal life which he gives to all his sheep. The inspired apostle has defined that kingdom. “Let not your good be evil spoken of; for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” – Rom. xiv. 10, 17. Not even those subjects of eternal love who are saved by divine grace, can ever enter into this kingdom experimentally while trusting in their own possessions. That saint who has not a farthing of worldly wealth is not secure from the temptation to trust in this selfish riches. Indeed, the crafty tempter may even use his very destitution as a snare by which to betray him into this trust in himself. Such trust must be overcome by divine grace before he can enter into the kingdom of God, as defined by the word of inspiration. No human power can accomplish this; but it is possible with God. The experience of the saints teaches this as often as they are delivered from the vanity of self confidence. Every trial of their faith shows their own utter helplessness; and reveals the unlimited omnipotence of God.
Unquestionably the illustration used in the text, is designed to express the utter impossibility of any saint experiencing the joy of that answer of a good conscience toward God which is the entrance into the kingdom of God, while trusting in the riches of his own works of righteousness. This is the unvarying experience of the tried followers of the Lord in all ages. Since it is only in keeping the commandments of our King that there is great reward, it is evident that in rejecting them no saint can receive that reward. Those lovers of the truth who never walk in the ordinances which our Lord has established in his church, do not even know what joy in the Holy Ghost their disobedience forbids them to experience. Those who can be satisfied with the prayer of Balaam, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” lose nothing by walking after the flesh. But those who by faith choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, in obedience to their Redeemer, enter into the kingdom of God, which is found to be the perfect blessedness of the joy of their Lord.
Weakness forbids that the subject should be further considered in this article. If published it will express my desire to comply with the request of the inquirer. May the Spirit of truth, whom tin world cannot receive, neither knoweth him, bless every longing soul with that hunger and thirst after righteousness which marks all who are “poor in spirit,” and keep them from trusting in the uncertain riches of their own works, so that they may rest in the perfect love of their Redeemer! And unto our God be unceasing praises from all the poor and needy, both now and evermore, world without end!
In the hope of life in Christ Jesus,
WM. L. BEEBE.
Warwick, Orange Co., N. Y., June 18, 1897.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 65., No.14.
JULY 15, 1897.