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Does Matthew 19:17 infer that one can gain heaven by keeping the law?

If not why did Jesus tell the Rich Young Ruler the following: "If you want to enter into life (eternal life) keep the commandments"? BTW, the context has to do with the moral law (see verses 18,19)

Matthew 19:16 - 17

NKJV - 16 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.

Clarify Share Report Asked March 31 2018 Mini Robert Broyles

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Mini Robert Broyles
Romans 3:28 is stating that our works cannot justify us before God - even what God's Spirit does in us. You see we either are perfect "in Christ" or we are perfect in our performance under law, but not both. 

James is speaking of "works of faith", which is not the same as "works of the law". And James proves this using two people: Abraham and Rahab the prostitute. 

What did Rahab do that proved that her faith in the God of Israel was genuine? She put her life on the line in hiding and protecting the Israel spies. That's works, but it wasn't law works. 

As far as God's law was concerned she was a practicing harlot. In other words she was a sinner and yet God used her "work of faith" to prove her faith in Him that He might present her perfect in Himself before God and His holy law. 

"The Law is not of faith; on the contrary, 'HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL BY THEM LIVE.'" Gal 3:12 

In others words the law doesn't care about belief or faith. The law is concerned with performance. If you want to be justified by law then you must perfectly keep it, but if not you are cursed. See Gal 3:10 

This is repeated in Romans 2:12-13 "All who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified."

April 06 2018 1 response Vote Up Share Report


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Mini Aurel Gheorghe
Can we gain heaven by keeping the law? Apparently the young ruler kept all the commandments and that did not saved him. It must be something more that just legalistically observing the law. 

The young man came to Jesus with a vital question: what to do to be saved (Matt 19:16). We are a little uneasy (and rightfully so) when we talk about “doing anything” in order to receive eternal life - because the Bible says that all we have to do is believe and shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).

But in Matthew 19:17 Jesus unequivocally tells the young ruler that he must keep the Commandments to enter into life. Is there a contradiction between being saved by grace through faith and Christ Himself saying that a person must keep the Commandments in order to enter into His eternal kingdom? Not at all! And the answer to this apparent contradiction is found in “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). And again, Jesus Himself tells in John 14:15, 23 how faith through love really works: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” If we don't truly love God keeping His Commandments is impossible. 

It works the same way in our daily relationships: tell someone close to you that you love him/her but do not do what they ask and see how fast that relationship is going to die. 

So, in Matthew 19:17, Jesus is speaking of the fruit of a faith-filled love relationship with God. If someone who claims to be a born-again Christian really loves Christ, they will be happy to obey His word, including the Ten Commandments (1 John 2:3, 4). 

Furthermore, in Matthew 19:18,19, Jesus lists five of the Ten Commandments and the all-inclusive “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). The young man however, walked away because he loved his earthly possessions more than he loved Jesus (Matt 18:21-22). Christ invited the young man to follow Him, to become one of His disciples and have his name written in stone in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:14), Instead he valued his possessions more than the Kingdom. 

In Luke 10:25, Christ tells what to do to inherit eternal life: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). The first four Commandments (Ex 20:1-11) deals with the love for God - if we truly love God we should be delighted to obey, The next six Commandments (Ex 20:11-17) deals with the love for the neighbour - if we love our neighbour it should be easy not to lie, murder, commit adultery, steal, or covet.

April 04 2018 6 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Mini Albert DeBenedictis Retired computer programmer
In the Matthew 19:16-22, an inquirer asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life. Apparently, this person had heard Jesus talk about how one obtains eternal life and wanted Jesus to explain to him what he needed to do to obtain eternal life (Matthew 19:16).

In this passage (Matthew 19:16-22), in response to the man’s question, “… what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16), Jesus did not directly tell the man that he was not as perfect as he thought he might have been.

Instead, Jesus prompted the man to think for himself whether he was observing the Law of Moses perfectly or not. Had Jesus just told the man that he was not as perfect as he might have thought he was, most likely he would not have listened to anything else Jesus might have wanted to say to him. Jesus responded by telling the inquirer to “keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17). Then, the inquirer asked Jesus which ones? (Matthew 19:18a), to which Jesus mentions some of the moral laws (Matthew 19:18b-19).

The inquirer then states that he has kept all the commandments that Jesus mentioned (Matthew 19:20a). Then, in response to the inquirer’s question, “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20b), Jesus tells the man to sell everything he has, give to the poor, and follow Him (Jesus) (Matthew 19:21).

In Matthew 19:22, it states that the inquirer “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” I interpret this to mean that the inquirer did not want to do what Jesus told him, which means that the man had more confidence and trust in his wealth rather he had in Jesus.

So, by Jesus responding initially as He did, it caused the man to think about whether he was living as perfectly as he claimed. After Jesus told the man to sell everything he had and give to the poor (a reference to the Law of Moses {Deuteronomy 15:7-11}), (Matthew 19:21), the man went away “sorrowful” (Matthew 19:22), most likely because he must have realized he was not keeping the Law of Moses as perfectly as he thought or claimed, because he didn’t want to sell everything and give to the poor, as the Law commanded in Deuteronomy 15:7-11.

12 days ago 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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