Featured Post

Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

A Fresh Look at Suicide

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper-tree: and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

-1 Kings 19:4

Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

-Ecclesiastes 2:17

The two men we are dealing with in these verse are two of the greatest men who have ever lived: Elijah and Solomon. Yet these men, at some point, find life to be not worth living. The first a prophet of the Living God and the second a king blessed and adorned by God as no other (Matt 6:29). We can find room in our hearts for Elijah's predicament and we can readily understand his desire to live no longer, but Solomon is another story.

Solomon had riches untold. In today's economy of value, he had sexual satisfaction at his disposal as well (700 wives and princesses plus 300 concubines).  Sexual satisfaction is something sought after by many in our world. Yet we find this man, who had his fill, writing one of the most despair-filled books (Ecclesiastes), not only in scripture, but in all of ancient literature. It is hard for many of us who struggle day to day with bills, emergencies, hunger, and loneliness to find pity for someone like Solomon. We cannot imagine how he could find life so vain in light of his circumstances.

This is a reasonable thought. I admit I envy those who do not worry about expenses. I envy those who don't live in fear that the car won't start or that the roof might spring a leak or that they might need a new prescription. These seemingly small issues can throw a balanced budget into turmoil. How can those who have no fear of the ordinary be in any darkness of mind? But my envy is my sin. I have no right to pretend to translate my envy into another's sin.

Likewise, anyone who has suffered a broken heart cannot fathom the love of a thousand at one's beck and call. Even more to the point, we feel the pain of a single spouse who discovers the unfaithfulness of one to whom he/she has pledged his/her heart. This is devastating. We understand the despair. We sympathize. We reach out in love. How could one so awash in physical satisfaction be depressed? One who had 700 spouses? How could one who had guards standing by making sure his wives were faithful find himself in despair?

One of the insights gleaned from Solomon's other inspired book, The Song of Solomon, which we should not miss, is how one woman in particular stole the heart of the King. He had a thousand women available to him, yet he longed to be held in the bosom of only one. Of all he could have, one stole his heart.

Like a lily among thorns,
So is my love among the daughters.

Solomon is fortunate in that his beloved returned his love. We have great sympathy for the one whose love is rejected, especially the one who is rejected after giving many years of self to another. How tragic it is to see a family broken by infidelity or selfishness. How we hate to witness the denying or breaking of vows. Yet it happens. And we acknowledge it can happen to anyone. We are fallen creatures, weak and carnal. Even the believer carries his old nature about with him. Even one who loves his/her spouse dearly is subject to falling to the flesh. 

Imagine the soldier, far from home in a war zone. This one may seek comfort in a moment of weakness. He may become overcome with guilt and his wife back home may be crushed by his infidelity. Despair may abound! 

There are countless scenarios whereby we can certainly understand despairing of life, even for those we deem "lucky" or "winners of life's lottery." Even if we are puzzled by certain circumstances we observe, we recognize pain when we see it. We find solace in "love" songs which are often "rejected love" songs. Pain of soul has many origins and plays out in many ways. 

Let us turn back to Elijah for a moment. Imagine in today's world a pastor who is depressed and finds himself in the darkness of despair. We are tempted to claim such an one lacks faith or that he must be hiding a secret sin. But as with Elijah, he may be carrying a great burden from the Lord for the Lord's people. He may be suffering attacks from the world or even from his own flock that we cannot fathom or see. 

My understanding of suicide and suicidal thoughts has evolved over the years. Growing up in the Roman Catholic faith, this is how suicide was officially seen by my church: 

That suicide is unlawful is the teaching of Holy Scripture and of the Church, which condemns the act as a most atrocious crime and, in hatred of the sin and to arouse the horror of its children, denies the suicide Christian burial. Moreover, suicide is directly opposed to the most powerful and invincible tendency of every creature and especially of man, the preservation of life. Finally, for a sane man deliberately to take his own life, he must, as a general rule, first have annihilated in himself all that he possessed of spiritual life, since suicide is in absolute contradiction to everything that the Christian religion teaches us as to the end and object of life and, except in cases of insanity, is usually the natural termination of a life of disorder, weakness, and cowardice.

-New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia 

Persons who willfully and knowingly commit such an act die in a state of mortal sin [no hope, eternal damnation] and are deprived of Christian burial.

-Baltimore Catechism

They have, in recent years, allowed for the idea of those suffering “grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” Of course, this is a very recent change (after I left the RCC) and the victim still has no access to "Christian burial" in the RCC.

I only note the teaching of the RCC because it has always clouded my thinking on the subject. Living in fear of dying in a state of "grave (mortal) sin" colored my view of suicide. It was considered an act of pure evil ("a most atrocious crime"), on the level of premeditated murder. The more recent "nuanced" (their description) only adds to the fallible nature of RC doctrines. But that's another matter. 

My liberty from that system, my reliance on scripture, and the illumination of scripture by the Holy Spirit have helped me better understand suicide. I do not deny that it can be a selfish act (to one degree or another), but it cannot be seen on the same level as murder. Only because it is irreversible we deem it worse than other sins. Here's an irony: if one survives a suicide attempt, he may receive absolution for that sin in the RCC while the one who succeeds cannot. It's an insane system.

But on this last point, we must point the finger at ourselves. Imagine a father is despair. He has lost his job. Because of this, he may find himself and his wife and kids homeless and hungry. He cannot bear the thought. He blames himself for their misery. If such a man attempts suicide and survives, we often pour out our love on him and his family. We rally to his side. But if he had succeeded, we may be tempted to call him "selfish" and cast aspersions upon him in our hearts. Our reasoning is just as insane as the religious system of absolution. 

The Lord's despair in Gethsemane was much different from anything we could experience, but it was despair nonetheless.

He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

-Mark 14:35-36

Gaebelein in his commentary interprets this moment this way:

What was the cup He dreaded? The Sinless One, who knew no sin, was now soon to be made sin for us. God’s face upon which He had ever looked was soon to be hid. And what was it when at last He was made sin for us on the cross? One sentence gives us the answer, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Again, we cannot enter into this moment of dread, but many have experienced a level of dreading to face another day. The Lord persevered out of love for the Father and out of love for us, but some cannot always find the same strength. I believe this moment is recorded in scripture to help us see the way out of crushing despair. But as with all guidance from the Lord, it is given to weak men. "The Lord knows our frame, that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:14). Even if one loses the battle to despair, the Lord still has pity on him and so should we.

Suicide can the be result of many things (guilt, fear, suffering, painful memories, etc.) and we cannot pretend to understand the mind of another. We leave that in God's hands. What we can do is make ourselves available for those contemplating the idea and comfort those left behind in this instances when, sadly, someone is moved to take his own life in despair. 

For the brother or sister in Christ, we can remind them of God's forgiveness and his promise of abiding love. We can help them put their faith in God's will again. The latter is not always easy. The man who has lost wife and children in a horrible accident will find it difficult to see "God's good will" behind the scenes, but somehow we must help him get to that point. 

For the unbeliever, there is an opportunity to practice the ministry of reconciliation to which we have been called (2 Cor 5:18-19). As Ambassadors of Christ, we have a message of hope in this life and in the life to come through His name. 

In all cases, looking to lover of our souls must be a priority and compassion for the hurting must be our commitment. Judgment has no place. 

As my bones break,
my persecutors deride me,
all the time saying “where is your God?.”
Why are you so sad, my soul,
and anxious within me?
Put your hope in the Lord, I will praise him still,
my savior and my God.

- Psalm 42

Monday, March 7, 2022

Checking on Westboro Baptist Church Doctrines

 Many of us are familiar with the protests by the members of Westboro Baptist Church. This tiny number of people were, for a time, a convenient reference point for media and others to bash Evangelical Christianity as a whole. The picture above is one of the few without offensive wording (well, those signs are offensive, but they don't have any words I'd have to blur out).

Let me start with this quote from Volume 23 of The Berean Expositor from 1933:

Practice can never precede doctrine. Practice is the fruit of doctrine. I must know, before I can do. I cannot walk worthy of a calling that I do not believe or understand. I cannot adorn a doctrine that I do not know or believe.

We also want to start by recognizing the temporal nature of things. All around us will cease to be as is. If the Lord does not appear in our lifetimes, we shall go the way of all flesh (back to dust). Our accomplishments in the eyes of men are not worthy to be compared to the fruit of our lives as seen by the Lord. Two passages come to mind here.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

-2 Peter 3:10-12 


For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

-Romans 8:18-19

So, we turn from the overt, outward fruits of Westboro's hate on parade, to Westboro's underlying doctrines. Here we will find both a disconnect from their fruit and some direct growth from the seeds they sow. 

When we look at their Doctrine Page, we see an entry for "Why You Deserve to Go to Hell." Readers of this blog know my position on "Hell." That is, I try to stick with the biblical use of the words translated "hell" in English versions (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus) and avoid personal feelings or Greek mythological understandings. WBC loves the manmade doctrine of fiery torture by God. They love it so much, they praise God for supposedly not choosing some people for redemption, just so he can mercilessly torture them (this would be mass of humanity).

When you combine their full embrace of Calvinistic predestination with their personal hared of Jews and their inability to understand that we all continue to sin even after we receive a new nature, you get very ugly fruits indeed.

Let the reader not conclude that I would ever excuse or make apology for sin (in myself or in anyone else). That is not what is to be taken from this acknowledgment of sin. I have been clear on matters of immorality. But I am careful to see sin in the believer and in the unbeliever in light of scripture (rightly divided) and in light of the biblical age in we live.

On their "Jesus Christ's References to Hell" chart, they include Matthew 8:12. To their credit, they quote the whole thing.

But the But the children [sons] of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer
darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But like most hell-lovers, they fail to notice a glaring problem with their citation.  That is the subject of the punishment, "the sons of the kingdom." We've covered that elsewhere, but it is a prime example of what you want to read into a verse as opposed to what the verse actually teaches. This is eisegesis, not exegesis. They see what they want to see.

They want the Lord to randomly be talking about torturing people with fire in their mythical and unbiblical "hell." To do so they have to ignore the context and the actual words in the verse! Not only is the subject of the punishment "the sons of the Kingdom," the punishment is being "cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." 

Again, we've covered this before, but just a simple thought here: if you re being tortured mercilessly by fire, will have the gumption to gnash your teeth in anger? This punishment is elsewhere said to be for servants. So, to make this fit the common understanding, we have to see the Lord calling those who reject his offer of grace, "sons of the Kingdom," "servants," and guests invited to the marriage of the King's son!

Now let's turn to the foundation upon which they build their doctrines, 5-point Calvinism.  

The "Doctrines of Grace" hold that God has created the mass of humanity so he could torture them with fire, without hope, without end, apparently. That's the dark side of the implications of TULIP. They scream at homosexuals, find joy in threatening them with their doctrine of God's torture chamber while as teaching they have no choice whether to avoid it or not.    

And note how they have exalted the 5-points of the Doctrines of Grace to be superior to the Gospel of Grace. It is not a rejection of the sacrifice of Christ that will doom you, it is apparently the rejection of any of the 5 points of Calvinism according to them. But they must do this. The Gospel of Grace is the offer of reconciliation. 

we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we implore you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

God is "beseeching" (Greek: parakalountos), as we "implore" (Greek: deometha) people to be reconciled to God who is already reconciled to them through Christ's perfect work. This is insanity if they have no ability to respond.

Parakalountos: (a) I send for, summon, invite, (b) I beseech, entreat, beg, (c) I exhort, admonish, (d) I comfort, encourage, console. [Strong's Concordance]

When the Lord tell his on in John's gospel that he sill send the "comforter," he uses the word, "Paraklētos." This word has the same root idea of coming along side. God is coming along side the world and inviting them to accept the reconciliation offered which is wholly paid for by Christ. Both the WBC signs of awaiting torture and doctrines of inability are anathema to the true calling of grace and reconciliation. WBC hides all of this wickedness under a cloak of "Grace." They reject the ministry of reconciliation to which we've been called.  


And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation...

-2 Corinthians 5:18-19

As we have noted from this passage in other studies, God is already reconciled to the world, not imputing their trespasses against them. God is more interested in the sins of his own rather than the sins of the world. Believers are to separate and correct/restore other believers who fall into destructive sin, however, our only message for the world is grace.

The many listings of sins in the epistles are most often in reference to sins of believers (who continue to walk in the old nature). The unbeliever has only an old nature. God is calling them, through us, to accept his free offer, then they can start to walk in the newness of life in his name.

 Let us be sure our walk is honoring to the Lord (and consistent with the calling of this current age, Eph 4:1) before we start our ministry of reconciliation. We must offer hope of liberty along with hope of a life to come. 

Three walks of the believer of this Current Age (Dispensation) in Ephesians:
  1. Walk in love. Eph 5:2 
  2. Walk as children of light. Eph. 5:8 3
  3. Walk circumspectly Eph. 5:15

Friday, March 4, 2022

Sell Everything That You Have, Then What?

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”

-Luke 18:18-20 (NKJV)

This passage is one the most familiar passages in the New Testament. Primarily among professed believers (true or not), but even known among many outside Christendom. Our primary focus in this study is the Lord's admonitions and the ruler's response; specifically in the call to sell everything.

At the start of this passage, we see the rule asking about "inheriting eternal life." In the account in Matthew it is rendered, "that I may have eternal life?

In Luke, the word used which is translated "inherit" is klēronoméō. In Matthew, the word translated "have" is "échō." The word used in both passages translated "eternal" is the word "aiṓnios"[eons, ages, age-abiding, limited to time] and the word "life" comes from the Greek "zoe."  The Lord does not use the word "Psuche" which is translated as "soul" or "life" in many other passages. 

Putting these thoughts together, under the Law, to "inherit" and "have" (as a possession) "age-abiding life" in the Kingdom (as opposed to death, loss), one had to qualify under the Law. The Law was given "from the foundation of the ages" and is part of time. The Law is specific to Israel and to the Land (see: Exodus 19:3-7) as we have seen in many previous studies. 

We know that Paul will later write this well-known argument in the Book of Galatians:

knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

But when we step back and look at the context, we see Paul is even more specific. 

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ...

When we read the epistles of the Acts Age, we see Paul going back and forth between Jewish believers and Gentile believers as his audience. The differences are the most stark in the epistle to the Romans (as we have seen in previous studies). 

We've also noted that the earthly blessings of Israel is the root into which Gentile were temporarily grafted for the expressed purpose of making all Israel jealous. These Gentile believers had a different set of life instructions for purity (Acts 15:28; 21:24-25) and they could be "cut-off" from the blessings if they became haughty against Israel (Rom 11:15-23). We know no such division between Jewish and Gentile believers in the current age. This was unique and specific to the Acts Age when the Lord was still offering the Kingdom to Israel.

We've, again, noted how Paul reiterates the distinctions in lifestyle between the different groups of believers in Acts 21. There, he assures James he is continuing to teach Jewish believers to circumcise their boys and keep the Law. Paul himself maintained the Law (apart from the sacrifices which were completed in Christ).

On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.

This is in regard to Jewish believers living among Gentile believers. They still had to maintain their distinction. Paul himself testifies at his trial that he taught nothing that Moses and the Prophets did not teach (Acts 26:22; 28:23). Even the "necessary things" of Acts 15 and Acts 21 for Gentiles is in the Law (Lev 23). The so-called "compromise" of Acts 15 was no compromise at all, it was standard practice. 

James continues in Acts 21:

But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality [fornication].”

Paul does not dispute this. Paul goes on from this encounter to go "up to Jerusalem to worship." This is what a faithful Jew would do. As an aside, how many local churches today celebrate "Pentecost" as though it is given to Gentile believers and as though it is to be celebrated anywhere we like? Well, technically, it could be celebrated anywhere, but the call on the Jew was to be in Jerusalem.

For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.

As with the Law, the Feasts were specific to Israel (Lev 23).

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts..."

Now, back to the young man's case.

And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth. So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

The Lord does not dispute the assertion that the ruler has "kept" the commandments listed (again, not all the Law is listed). We have two options before us (as I see it). Either the Lord was using his statement and his own response to expose the man, or the Lord accepted the statement, but added another element in regard to his question regarding his goal to "inherit eternal life."

As we have seen, with inheriting the life of the ages to come, the Lord combines these arguments. That is, it was a requirement under the Law to keep the letter of the Law for "life" unto the age of the promises to Israel and the fulfillment of God's covenants with her, his bride, ("[Israel] to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." Romans 9:4).

And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Let's think through this. Did our Lord become sorrowful because now he has to torture him with fire for an immortal future without hope of relief? "I'm so sorry, but now I have to burn your flesh in horrible agony without relief." Unthinkable. We must be consistent in our theology. If you believe that the end for the "unsaved" is torture by God by fire, this is how you must read this. I beg you to reconsider.

He was sorrowful because the believer chose his life now over a greater life in the coming, promised Kingdom in Israel. We've noted in many studies that the Lord came preaching "the Gospel of the Kingdom" to Israel alone. There is application here to us in this age. We, as believers, are heirs of promises (not in the earthly kingdom) for which we must qualify through service and sacrifice. But we are not on trial so we can add to the all-sufficient work of our Savior. He took ALL sin on him on the cross. We must distinguish between gifts and rewards. 

And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”

Again, we must understand "saved." 

Our Greek word here is "sṓzō." Let's look briefly at the depths of this word:

For it is by grace you are saved, by faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.

If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

We are rescued from sin by faith and grace alone. It is a gift. Our lives are preserved in Him. As Paul teaches us, our lives are hid in God in Christ, waiting to be revealed. All of our works may perish, but our life in Him is preserved. Even a believer who chooses to live in wickedness was to be turned over to Satan for the specific purpose of destroying his "flesh." Satan could not touch his life. [We note "the day of the Lord Jesus" in the last passage, but we'll have to leave that alone for this study.]

Here are a couple of studies with sections on the "Days" of scripture:

Judgment is done for the believer's life. All that remains is judgment of service. Paul was clear to tell us that we should tolerate the fornicator outside the faith because we have a message for him. But we do not tolerate the fornicator within.

I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

All these sins are possible for believers. But they are still "within" the household of faith. The believer is called "wicked" and yet still distinguished from the wicked without.

Back to Luke 18:

But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

The Greek here for impossible is "adýnatos." The idea of the verse is "things not possible in human strength are possible with God's strength." That must be the case. It cannot mean "completely unattainable at all" or Peter would not interject and the Lord not recognize his point.

Remember, this is the answer to the question, "who then can be saved?" That is, everyone there doubted his worthiness (including the chosen disciples and future rulers of Israel in the Kingdom) for the Kingdom. Peter goes on to note that they had forsaken all earthly things (even Judas at this point).

Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.

If we put all these thoughts together here, we have the Lord stating that which would guarantee reward in the kingdom, his listeners fearing that they would fall short, the Lord noting that they would all fall short if not for God's intervention, and Peter offering what little he had (note, Peter does not address the matter of keeping the commandments listed). We cooperate with grace for our service, not for the gift of resurrection life. We are sealed.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

-Romans 8:9-11

So, what does all this mean? It means that servants who seek God and rely on his working in them, although they will not achieve the impossible on their own, may still achieve reward in accordance with their calling (we must "walk according to calling to which we have been called," Eph 4:1). Luke must be understood in the context of the earthly blessings and rewards for servants. And as we have seen, there may be an application to resurrection life, but the context is always reward for service.

So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life [age life aionion].”

Note, again, the absence of the list of commandments and the focus on reward. Have the 12 received "many times more" yet? Will Judas receive his reward? No and no. These are conditional promises. Conditional upon Israel's repentance and the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel (Acts 1; Acts 3) and conditional upon being a "good and faithful servant."

Could this be resurrection life truth? We run into the same issue we run into in the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. What if I visit one sick person, one person in prison, etc.? Is God my debtor for an immortal life beyond time? Of course not. As that passage deals with entrance into the kingdom for Gentile nations (see our studies on the parables of Matthew 25), so too does the passage in Luke before us deal with entrance into the Kingdom for Israel. 

Volume 6 of the Berean Expositor notes:

Many have felt how diametrically opposed to the way of justification and life these passages are to the doctrine revealed through Paul, and, failing to "discern the things that differ," [Phil 1:10] they have attempted to make the Lord teach the rich young ruler that aionion life was to be attained only by faith and not by works. In no other branch of study would such biased reading be tolerated. Nothing is clearer than that aionion life was connected with doing, keeping, forsaking, and following. Matthew, writing with the kingdom of the heavens before him, uses aionion life with special reference to that period. The Lord Himself links it with the kingdom and the regeneration, and the time when He shall sit upon the throne of His glory.

I want to close with a verse from a similar encounter recorded in Mark's Gospel and another verse from that very same chapter.

And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved [agapáō] him...

How often is this encounter told today with scorn heaped upon the young man? Scorn offered as though we are not guilty of the same failing ("went away grieved: for he had great possessions")? Yet the Lord loved him with agape (boundless) love nonetheless.

And finally.

Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein...

This is Kingdom truth, but we see here how the Lord values the simple faith and trust of a child. The one who answers not back. The one who runs to him without hindrance or hesitation. In our own walk and calling, we should also have this attitude. Paul warns us against being "childish" in our understanding, but that is quite different than being "child-like" in our faith.

One last theological thought... we hear about "storing up treasure in heaven." We will look at this idea in our next study. That treasure is coming to earth.