Deathisdefeated

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Your Opinion: the Rich Young Ruler, Preterism, and Salvation

I will start with the story of the rich young ruler, directly from scripture, and then I want to ask your opinions about how this story fits into preterism and salvation:

Mark 10:17-31

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him,loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[b] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

OK. Let's notice a few things.

  • This ruler was RIGHTEOUS in the law. Yet he still had to ask how to inherit eternal life. Apparently he comprehended that there was an afterlife, but within the law, he did not know how to achieve it.
  • Jesus acknowledged that the ruler was righteous, but He made a demand of the ruler that was NOT in the law. This caused the ruler to have internal turmoil. After all, the law was actually a covenant of prosperity between God and man. God said that if you obey certain laws, then God was bound to bless you. The ruler must have understood this very well, because he was indeed rich. The demand Jesus made was to sell his blessings. In other words, Jesus told the ruler to renounce the law's benefits, and embrace another paradigm, one that the ruler could not do. Apparently, Jesus knew that this man's desire was for treasure, because Jesus even promised future treasure instead of earthly treasure
  • The ruler lacked foresight, or faith, in things he could not see. The ruler wanted his cake and to eat it too. He wanted all the earth's wealth, but he also wanted future treasure. 
  • Jesus tacitly acknowledged that His way was harder to follow than the way of the Law. He said "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom." What does this mean? Jews of that day were convinced that they had a lock on eternal life through the law, but Jesus said the law could not provide that.
  • The disciples equated kingdom entrance with salvation. They asked "Who then can be saved" Jesu equated eternal life with kingdom life. Therefore, logically, eternal life, being in the kingdom, and salvation were the same things. 
  • Jesus stated that man's ideas do not produce salvation, and that with man there is no possibility of salvation, and only God can save.
  • Paradoxically, Jesus said that IF one follows Him, such a man will receive IN THIS LIFE, a hundredfold more blessings than he would have in the law. And yet, its pretty clear that Jesus was talking about spiritual blessings, not physical ones. As far as I know, there is no promise of  "health and wealth" in the true gospel message. So Jesus was talking about something spiritual, and He also promised persecution.
  • Jesus spoke of another future age, and in that "age" there would be eternal life.
  • Finally, Jesus cryptically said "the first shall be last, and the last first"

Putting all those things together, I would like to ask your informed opinions about some paradoxes.

  1. If the first shall be last, and the last first, do you think this is some kind of allusion to a future salvational period for Israel? Or even, do you think there can be some kind of future resurrection of those like the rich young ruler who obeyed the letter of the law as they understood it, yet did not believe in Jesus in their lifetimes? If so, do you think such a period would have a time when the gospel would be preached to them and eternal life offered to them at that time?
  2. If you believe in this possibility, when could it happen? After all, if you are a preterist, then you believe Jesus' second coming has already occurred and that ushered in the kingdom. If the kingdom has arrived, then what of the dead righteous ones (righteous within the law) who did not receive Jesus, even though they were God's chosen people through Moses? To paraphrase Paul "Has God cast away His people"?

Let's see where this goes. Lots of paradigms are going to be shaken I think in this discussion.

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I look forward to reading replies to this… It is a big far over my head as yet to comment much, however, "but many who are first will be last, and the last first", is very difficult to me to grasp.  could Jesus be talking about the Jews being last and the Gentiles first… since the promise was first given to the Jew and later the Gentile? But then since at the First Resurrection it was the dead of the OC who were raised first to everlasting life, right…. they would have almost all been Jews.  Was he talking about the poor… as the poor are normally last and the rich first in social status, etc… so maybe since the rich have such a hard time following Christ due to what all they must give up, they will be last to come into the kingdom of God and eternal life and will have fewer rewards… are there reward levels in heaven or is that an OC thing only?  So the poor will be a first in status in the Kingdom since they more easily follow God will all they have… if true and the rich who could not enter the Kingdom of heaven in this life are able to come in last in the new age… does that mean after death?  Lots of shaking paradigms for sure if that is so!  Someone who knows scripture better than I can shed some light as I am sure I only added more questions. 

Joy,

I think heaven does indeed have "levels" of reward, though I don't know how that works exactly. The epistles tellus that there are levels of glory, as the stars have levels of brightness or glory. Jesus rebuked the disciples who were arguing about who would be greatest in the kingdom. He didn't say there wouldn't be some greater than others, He instead said that IF somebody wants to be great, he has to become a servant.

The visions of Revelation portray the 12 apostles as the 12 gates of the city. Angels seem to have rank. I can't possibly know how all this works, but I have to believe that those on the lower pecking orders in heaven won't feel bad about their status. Conversely, those at the top won't be prideful about their positions. That would be sinful.

I would hate to think that for all eternity I would be stuck in a job that was a bad fit because I didn't labor hard enough on earth to merit a better position in heaven.

Hi Doug,

Before we write off this rich young ruler as an unbeliever who never accepted Christ for who he claimed to be, remember that we have an indisputable comment about him in this Mark 10:21 verse - Jesus loved him.  To be loved by Jesus is to be in company with Jacob, Solomon, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the apostle John, to name a few.  John 14:21 would seem to indicate that if Jesus loved him, then the Father also loved him, and it would be evidenced by the person loving Him and keeping His commandments.   

Whether or not this young man changed his priorities at this moment of the story is not told.   We do know that Jesus promised to eventually manifest himself to those who love him and keep His commandments.   Sheep will follow the shepherd, even if they get sidetracked on occasion.

With regard to the "first last/last first" concept, it helps to compare this Mark 10 passage with it's companion account in Matthew 19 and 20 where it gives more details as to it's meaning.  It refers to the time of the "regeneration" (resurrection) when Christ sits on the throne of his glory and dispenses rewards for those who gave up earthly possessions and family relations for his sake.  To explain what the "first last/last first" means, he gives the illustration of the householder (God) who hired workers for his vineyard (those who spread His message) in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 11th hours of the day, all of whom received the same wage (the everlasting life inheritance mentioned in Mark 10:30 and Matt. 19:29) at day's end (close of the OC in 70 AD).   All of those righteous ones of the Old Covenant from Adam onward until 70 AD would have waited long for their inheritance.  The prophets who were persecuted and bore the "heat of the day" would share in the same inheritance of eternal life that the apostles would receive - these who would die after laboring in the vineyard at the 11th hour, just before the close of the Old Covenant in 70 AD.   Yet these very apostles who only labored the one hour would be the ones sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the regeneration (Matt 19:28 / Rev. 20:4).  The "last" who labored in the vineyard would be the judges over the "first" members of the Old Covenant who had served and died long before.    

Patricia,

Those are great thoughts about the first last/last first statement of Jesus. Do you believe those statements apply to saints today? If so, how?

Doug,

This ruler was RIGHTEOUS in the law. Yet he still had to ask how to inherit eternal life. Apparently he comprehended that there was an afterlife, but within the law, he did not know how to achieve it.

Eternal life need not be strictly post mortem life.

do you think this is some kind of allusion to a future salvational period for Israel? Or even, do you think there can be some kind of future resurrection of those like the rich young ruler who obeyed the letter of the law as they understood it, yet did not believe in Jesus in their lifetimes?

No.

If the kingdom has arrived, then what of the dead righteous ones (righteous within the law) who did not receive Jesus, even though they were God's chosen people through Moses? To paraphrase Paul "Has God cast away His people"?

What made people righteous was faith. Law without faith probably made no one righteous Heb 11:6

So those who never believed (before and after the incarnation) probably never attained righteousness nor could they partake in the resurrection of the righteous.

Jefrey,

I appreciate and respect your views, though I don' t share them.

Can you tell me why you said eternal life may not be post-mortem eternal life? After all, do you believe in the immortality of the soul? Otherwise, I can think of no other way one can receive eternal life except if it is post-mortem. After all, until you die, you are alive! Are you redefining what eternal life is?

 

You also said that you don't believe in teh possibility of a future salvational period. Why not? Is there something in scripture that prohibits it?

 

You said that faith was what made people righteous under the law. Faith in what or who? How could they believe in Jesus if they had not heard of Him? Faith in God? OK. But what kind of faith did the law require? Did it require adherence to an INTERNAL faith, or simply acting out EXTERNALLY what the law required of them? As far as I can tell, there was nothing in the law that required anything more than physical actions. The one exception to that which comes to mind is the commandment that says not to covet. Coveting is something that happens in the mind. So you could argue from that one point of covetousness being a violation of the law. The others were external manifestations of obedience.

So then, are you defining faith as obedience?

Doug,

Jefrey, have we mis-paraphrased you?

No. That is exactly what I had in mind.

You also said that you don't believe in teh possibility of a future salvational period. Why not? Is there something in scripture that prohibits it?

Matt 21:41 speaks of the end of fleshly Israel as a special people, I know of no scripture that speaks of them being restored to any special place hence I dont believe in a future salvation period specifically for them.

You said that faith was what made people righteous under the law. Faith in what or who?

I left that part out because I dont think there is a single answer to that e.g. Noah had to build the ark, Abram had to leave his land, during the incarnation people had to believe in Jesus etc etc. So like Hebrews 11 says "faith" but expressed in different way according to the situation BUT once Jesus came no one was allowed to "neglect such a great salvation" but "all men everywhere" to believe in Him.

Jefrey replied to Doug:

You said that faith was what made people righteous under the law. Faith in what or who?

I left that part out because I dont think there is a single answer to that e.g. Noah had to build the ark, Abram had to leave his land, during the incarnation people had to believe in Jesus etc etc. So like Hebrews 11 says "faith" but expressed in different way according to the situation BUT once Jesus came no one was allowed to "neglect such a great salvation" but "all men everywhere" to believe in Him.

 

My Response:

2 Chr 20:20 - And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

 

Noah, Abram as well as the elders of Heb 11, all did just that.  It was no different when Jesus spoke, because as The Prophet of God, Deut 18:15; He was speaking the word of God.

 

Doug

You said: "As far as I can tell, there was nothing in the law that required more than physical actions."

Perhaps the law was a physical act to its adherents in general (which eventually led to self-righteousness), but it was always intended to be about the heart turning to God. The faithful would have understood this well--Joel 2:12 NET “Yet even now,” the Lord says, “return to me with all your heart—with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your garments! If physical action was all that God wanted, why would their hearts need to be torn and not just the garments?

Gordon

Excellent young Padawon!

Gordon,

The operative word here is "required". Remember, the old covenant was a COVENANT. Read the terms of the contract. You will see that the REQUIREMENTS of the law said that IF the people would DO, then God would DO. If this, then that...

Can you tell me, in the letter of the law, where it is said that the people had to have a change of heart in order to be blessed?

Doug the Law is full of examples that a change of heart was the ultimate basis of their covenant blessings and that the outward obedience was to be because of their heart, not just mere physical acts as if physical actions are some how separate from the heart or soul of a person (which is a Platonic and Descartesan viewpoint).

Deuteronomy 4:27-31 NASB  (27)  "The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you.  (28)  "There you will serve gods, the work of man's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.  (29)  "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.  (30)  "When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.  (31)  "For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 NASB  (12)  "Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  (13)  and to keep the LORD'S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?  (14)  "Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.  (15)  "Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.  (16)  "So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

Deuteronomy 11:13-18 NASB  (13)  "It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul,  (14)  that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil.  (15)  "He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.  (16)  "Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.  (17)  "Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.  (18)  "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

Deuteronomy 30:1-3 NASB  (1)  "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you,  (2)  and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons,  (3)  then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.

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