The Man Who Missed Heaven By 18 Inches Matthew 19:16-22

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1 Message for THE LORD S DAY MORNING, February 5,2012 Christian Hope Church of Christ, Plymouth, North Carolina by Reggie A. Braziel, Minister The Man Who Missed Heaven By 18 Inches Matthew 19: Now behold, one came and said to Him, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? 17 So He said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He said to Him, Which ones? Jesus said, You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and your mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 20 The young man said to Him, All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack? 21 Jesus said to him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. P R A Y E R ******************** ********************

2 I N T R O D U C T I O N Close but no cigar.. Just missed it by a hair Just missed by a cat s whisker. We have lots of little cliches in the English language to describe the disappointment of falling just short of a desired goal. I L L U S T R A T I O N How many of you remember the old TV show back in the late 60 s called Get Smart? Don Adams played the roll of CONTROL Secret Agent 86, Maxwell Smart. Maxwell Smart was nothing like the suave, sophisticated JAMES BOND, agent 007. Maxwell Smart was a bumbling buffoon who was always getting himself in all kinds of terrible predicaments. And every time Maxwell Smart would make one of his bumbling mistakes, he would say one of two things, Sorry about that chief..or. I just missed it by that much (show distance between thumb and index finger) I m sure if the RICH, YOUNG RULER were here today he would say to all of us (hold hands 18 apart) I just missed heaven by that much. *********************** As we go back and study this account of the RICH, YOUNG RULER, we are going to see three tragic mistakes this young man made that caused him to miss heaven. And I might add, millions upon millions of people, including some of our relatives and friends will leave this world having made the same three mistakes the Rich Young Ruler made.

3 First of all I. The Rich Young Ruler Made A Tragic Mistake About The Person of Christ vs. 16a 16a Now behold, one came to Him and said, Good Teacher.. (let s STOP right there.) 1. The Rich, Young Ruler called Jesus teacher..not Master, not Messiah, not Savior, but TEACHER. Now calling someone teacher certainly is not offensive or belittling in any way. To be called teacher is a greeting of honor and respect. 2. But in this instance it reveals that the Rich, Young Ruler did not know who JESUS truly was. 3. Now why is this so important? Well turn back a few pages in your Bibles to Matthew 16: When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? 14 So they said, Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. 15 He said to them, But who do you say that I am? 16 Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. 4. Some thought Jesus was John the Baptist, some thought He was Elijah, some thought He was Jeremiah, some thought He was just a great prophet. The Rich Young Ruler just thought Jesus was just a Good Teacher. 5. It is absolutely impossible for one to be saved until he

4 or she believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. -JESUS is more than a good man. -HE is more than a good teacher. -HE is more than a great prophet. He is the CHRIST, the anointed One, the only begotten Son of the Living God. 6. JESUS said of himself.. I am the bread of life. (John 6:35) I am the light of the world. (John 9:5) I am the Son of God. (John 10:36) I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25) I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. (John14:6) I am the True Vine (John 15:1) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8) I am the first and the last. (Revelation 1:17) 7. These are all amazing claims! No human being who ever lived has ever claimed such things as these. 8. While respectfully calling Jesus, Good Teacher, the Rich Young Ruler was revealing he truly didn t who Jesus was. Secondly..

5 II. The Rich, Young Ruler Made A Tragic Mistake About His Own Goodness vs.16 v.16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? 1. Now that sounds like a great question doesn t it? I mean what greater question can one ask than What do I have to do to have eternal life? 2. But look very closely at his question again What good thing shall I DO that I may have eternal life? 3. The Rich, Young Ruler has just revealed he believes he can SAVE HIMSELF by his own good works. What GOOD thing shall I DO that I may have eternal life? You know, I don t doubt one bit that the Rich Young Ruler was one of the nicest, most well-respected men in his community. From what we learn here in the text he was a morally upstanding man who had tried to obey the Ten Commandments ever since he was a boy. In his own eyes, he was a good man. But there-in lies a very tragic mistake. He was trusting in his own goodness to save him. 4. Tragically there are billions upon billions of people who will miss heaven because they made that same tragic mistake the Rich Young Ruler made. They trusted in their own goodness to save them. 5. You and I know people like this, in fact we may even

6 be related to some of them. I m talking about those people who would bend over backwards to help you and are just as nice a person as you would ever want to meet, but they don t want anything to do with Christ or the Church. These are undoubtedly some of the hardest people to win to Jesus Christ. 6. You see, their confidence in their own goodness is the biggest obstacle standing between them and salvation. 7. But remember what Jesus said to the Rich, Young Ruler about man s goodness? Jesus said, There is only One who is good. The Rich, Young Ruler Made A Tragic Mistake About The Person of Christ. And He Made A Tragic Mistake About His Own Goodness That brings us to the third mistake the Rich Young Ruler made.. (next page )

7 III. The Rich Young Ruler Made A Tragic Mistake About The Value of His Worldly Possessions vs. 21 v.21 Jesus said to him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. 1. By worldly standards this young man had it all! -He had GREAT WEALTH - He had YOUTHFULNESS -AND He had POWER 2. But by HEAVENLY STANDARDS this young man was a lowly pauper. 3. When Jesus told this young man If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor.it was as though he had been struck by a bolt of lightning. 4. I believe if Jesus had told him to do anything but give away his earthly possessions, he might have been willing to do it. 5. But you see.jesus zeroed in on the one thing the Rich, Young Ruler valued more than anything else and that was his earthly possessions. 6. The Rich Young Ruler made the tragic mistake a lot of people make and that was he placed a premium value on something he could never keep. 7. Jesus said in Mark 8:36, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

8 8. Oh brothers and sisters, there are countless numbers of people who are willing to sell their souls to the devil to get as much money and material things as they can lay their hands on in this life. Their whole life is focused on money and things. Their riches are their god. They are blinded to the truth that everything in this world is absolutely of no value in comparison to eternal life in heaven. 9. One of my favorite quotes is by the late Jim Elliot: He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. 10. What a tragic mistake the Rich Young Ruler when he chose his earthly possessions over eternal life. The Rich Young Ruler Made A Mistake About The Person of Christ. He Made A Mistake About His Own Goodness And He Made A Mistake About The Value of His Worldly Possessions That brings us to what has to be one of the saddest verses in the Bible. v. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. The Rich Young Ruler missed heaven by 18 inches. That is approximately the distance between one s brain and one s heart. The Rich Young Ruler had all the information UP HERE (point to brain) that he needed to have eternal life.

9 -He now knew in his MIND that his own goodness could not save him. -He now knew in his MIND the only way he could be saved would be to give JESUS first place in his life over all his money and possessions. He knew in his MIND exactly what he need to do, but HIS HEART would not let go of his PRIDE and his POSSESSIONS. And that day he turned and walked away from JESUS. I wish I could have you turn over to another passage of scripture in the Gospels that would tell us the Rich Young Ruler later changed his mind and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. But there is NO SUCH SCRIPTURE, which leads us to believe the Rich Young Ruler left this world in a lost condition. Oh, what a terrible tragedy! He was this close! (hold one hand by head and the other by the heart.) The Rich Young Ruler missed heaven by 18 inches! C O N C L U S I O N As we close this morning I want you to think of your loved ones and friends who are outside of Christ. How many of them know up here (point to head) what they need to do, but they just can t open up their heart to Christ? How many of our loved ones are just 18 inches from heaven? The challenge before all of us today is to keep praying and don t stop praying for the salvation of our loved ones. We must never write them off as a hopelessly lost. Will you join with me in prayer for our lost loved ones and friends. And then we re going to offer the LORD S invitation.

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