Have I feared the crowd or the contempt of the masses, so that I kept quiet and stayed indoors? (Job 31:34 NLT)

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Email Question on Rich Young Ruler

R's Question

I am a member of a fundamental Christian Church,and believe that the Bible is inspired of God, but as of now I have many doubts regarding doctrines that my church teaches. One of them is the teaching that keeping the commandments of God no one will become perfect in the sight of God. They  base this teaching, on their interpretation of Matt.19:20,21 where Jesus said to the commandment keeper rich young man "If you want to be perfect....." They concluded that if keeping of commandment we will become perfect why Jesus said to the commandment keeper "If thou wilt be perfect..."? therfore the rich young man is still not perfect in his standing in front of God even he fulfilled all the commandments from his youth up to Matt 19:20).
Is this the correct interpretation of Matt.19;21?

My Answer

I do not believe that is a correct interpretation. In 2009, I wrote a book free online (or for purchase at Amazon) entitled Jesus' Words on Salvation. The passage about the young man is in chapter 8. So follow the link and download.  

I have learned a bit more since. In those days Jews developed a doctrine that if you were dying, and you did just one important good deed, you would be saved. (If you read Rives, Original Gospel of Matthew Volume 1 on this passage, it reviews this issue.)  

This is what the young man meant by asking "what one good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?" So Jesus was refuting that it is just one thing, or you can have a pattern of evil all your life, and you can plan to do just one good thing at the moment you die, and you are assured heaven.  

When it came to this young man, Jesus gave the man a command particularized for him -- for the young man must have been wittholding gifts to the poor / was greedy. So Jesus gave the man a 'work worthy of repentance,' which means it can go beyond just simply repenting and from now on helping the poor. You have to make up from the lack of obedience over a long period of time. Thus, for this young man, the work worthy of repentance was to give all he had to the poor. This was a legal principle in the Mosaic law as the mandated repentance by a thief who stole and could no longer find the victim he stole from and thus no longer could return the item. The thief now had to pay pay 4x what he stole and that amount all went to the poor. This is a lesson also that just saying you are 'sorry' does not always work, and these are known as "works worthy of repentance." 

I suggest you read the chapters of interest at the link to Jesus' Words Only so you will see our Savior Jesus repeatedly said the same thing: believe, repent and obey. When you sin, repent again. If Jesus can ask us to forgive 70 x in a day, God is always likewise willing to do so, but repentance obviously must be sincere. A life-time of obedience, with "sorrow" over sin without complete repentance (e.g., giving to the poor what you stole from them

I hope this helps. Let me know your progress on these issues.

 Doug