Eyes for Heaven Matthew 19:16-20:16

“Eyes for Heaven”                                                           2/19/23                                                    Matthew 19:16-20:16

HI:  live for heaven by seeking positive holiness as a pilgrim


If getting saved was dependent on a person praying the sinners’ prayer, then what was Jesus doing with this guy?

  • Dr. Thomas—any televangelist worth his salt is coming home with a conversion here

It has to make you question your understanding of salvation if you did believe that the sinners’ prayer would convert a person

In Matthew’s style, he presents Jesus’ teaching a particular doctrine followed by a parable to help illustrate his point.

Here, the lesson is to see your need for grace and the parable that follows focuses on heavenly rewards—which are also according to God’s grace

After the rich young man walked away sad and grieving his wrong-headed love for this world, Jesus taught his disciples two important things:

  • The first:  Salvation belongs solely to the Lord
    • Winslow, “how frequently, clearly, and solemnly does the Holy Ghost unfold this great truth in his word, that salvation is entirely in and of God…salvation of his covenant people is supremely and solely his own work, so in every respect it is infinitely worthy of himself.”[1]
    • It was common for the Jews to think riches=God’s blessing
    • So, when Jesus told them how it was easier for a camel…
      • They were astonished
      • France, “By current Jewish thinking …The rich were those whom God had blessed; if they cannot be saved, who can? Jesus’ reply …places ‘salvation’ firmly in the category of the supernatural work of God (in contrast with the young man’s hope of attaining eternal life by ‘doing’). On this basis…no earthly circumstances can determine a man’s fate.[2]
    • Jesus’ answer: With God all things are possible
    • The second thing—since salvation is all God’s grace, rewards aren’t wages
      • Peter’s question—representative for the twelve and even for all believers in some way.
      • Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
        • We struggle with grace—Peter’s question shows it, the parable Jesus tells will show it even more
      • When Jesus’ answered Peter that was exceedingly gracious
        • He answered with gentleness and reassurance
          • They had lost livelihood—three years of itinerant ministry following Jesus
            • Not to mention the rest of their lives
          • They would lose friends, family, and even their lives
          • But in the age to come—the new world, the disciples would receive a special place of honor
        • In the life now, a “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold”—a promise of God’s kindness to be on all believers in the here and now
          • Not necessarily physical blessings
          • Spiritual blessings—Immanuel—they would inherit eternal life
            • Eternity, which begins at conversion
              • An entrance into what Peter calls the divine nature
              • “through the promises you might become partakers of the divine nature”
        • And the parable reinforces Jesus’ teaching—all of our faith comes by God’s grace.  Lift your eyes above this world and place them on heaven, where your Father sits waiting and wanting to supply you with every spiritual blessing.

Jesus calls us to live with Eyes for Heaven, today we have two main points:  1.  Positive holiness; 2.  Pilgrim Living

  1. Positive holiness—Jesus sends this young man packing
    1. Keep the commandments and you’ll have eternal life
      1. Jesus’ point was to make this young man look at himself
    1. Which ones? He says, Jesus points to several with “don’ts attached” 
      1. You shall not:  murder, commit adultery, steal, lie.  And a couple “you shalls”  honor parents, and love your neighbor
      1. Instead of meaningful self-examination, the young man says, “sure, I kept them all”
      1. Hilary of Poitiers—4th century French father, “this young man has grown impudent from studying the law…Jesus sends him back to the law so that he might understand that, in the very thing in which takes pride, he has as yet done no righteous work…the young man, like all boastful people, put his trust in the law, but didn’t really comply with it at all.”[3]
    1. The man says he kept them all—Spurgeon comments on this man, “His self-esteem needed no increasing.”[4]
    1. Jesus pokes a hole in his inflated ego.   The reply begins, “if you would be perfect”—remember back at the sermon on the mount, where Jesus insists we have to be perfect as our father in heaven is—he’s using it the same way here.  If you would be perfect, sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor”
      1. It’s not a call to reject worldly wealth
      1. It is a call to reject greed
      1. And to forsake anything that takes the place Jesus should occupy in our hearts
      1. God’s standard is perfection—and you ain’t it
    1. Negative Holiness
      1. This guy’s understanding of holiness is essentially what we refer to as “negative holiness”
      1. Keeping away from sins—keeping all the “thou shall nots”
      1. Some Christian houses and lives are marked more by why “don’t do that” than by their seeking God’s presence and love
      1. How do you define your holiness?  Or your growth toward Christian maturity?
      1. When you think about holiness and sanctification, do you mostly think of things you avoid or need to avoid more?
      1. There’s a place for this, it’s called mortifying the flesh, Romans 8:13  “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
      1. But there’s a huge problem:  we aren’t able to mortify the flesh—it happens by the Holy Spirit’s power
      1. That’s where positive holiness fits in
    1. Positive holiness—seeking the sanctifying presence of God
      1. Jesus points this young man to an action outside of his ability—not because he can’t physically do it, but because he’s not spiritually able to do this
        1. Sell everything and give it to the poor
      1. The call to discipleship is a call to follow Jesus as closely as you can
        1. Don’t get hung up on what is keeping you from your holiness
        1. Start living for the one who brought you holiness
        1. Do other peoples problems keep you from righteousness?  If so, you’re practicing negative holiness.  You need positive holiness for real sanctification.
          1. Jesus was sinless but surrounded by sinners
          1. Kept obedient and “made perfect by his sufferings” through the Holy Spirit
            1. Like any believer
        1. Look at our Approach to Worship—1 Tim. 3:16-4:5, “Great indeed, is the mystery of godliness—He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory”
          1. Godliness, or holiness, is achieved for you through Christ
          1. What’s necessary for you?          
            1. Believe him—believed on in the world
            1. Receive his good things with thanksgiving—everything created by God is good, nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving
            1. Make your gifts holy by God’s word prayer—it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer
        1. Positive holiness is found in identifying yourself with your savior.
          1. Relief from your sin, rather than denying the sinful condition of your soul
            1. Negative holiness often denies that every good action is tainted with sin
              1. That leaves you exhausted
          1. Positive holiness gives you Rest from your sin and the sins of the world through Jesus’ work for you
            1. That’s the gospel—you deserve death, but in Christ you are given rest, reconciliation with God, and restoration for the journey of faith
          1. Putting sin to death is impossible for you, but with God all things are possible
  2. Pilgrim Living—there’s a tension in Christian living.  A tension between our daily lives on earth and the reality that we are citizens of heaven
    1. The Pilgrim mentality:  1. Here is not your home; 2. God is the great guide to your heavenly home;  3.  Heaven is your goal and your source
    1. Here is not your home—you are a citizen of heaven (Php 3:20-21)
      1. Look to heaven daily
        1. In heaven—you’ll be Free from sin, trials, tribulation because Jesus has conquered—encouragement that sin has its effects still, but is no longer your master!
      1. Prepare for heaven with worship
        1. Worship begins preparing you for heaven because worship is our primary work in heaven—Rev. 4:9-11  And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
        1. Worship prepares you to look to heaven
          1. Just as radically different as heaven is than our earth
          1. So too, worship is different than our regular life
            1. It’s a little bit of heaven in the present to remind you of your heavenly title—son or daughter of the most high!
            1. It’s a taste of heaven to keep you looking to heaven as an anchor of hope and haven of refuge.
        1. But as other faiths around us embark on Lent we should remember that adding to God’s worship is as dangerous as neglecting it
          1. God gave us symbols—adding our own (ashes, red doors, speaking in tongues) serves only to water down God’s symbols
        1. Worship God in God’s way—with simple devotion
          1. Joshua’s final speech:  As for me and my family, we will serve the LORD! 24:15
          1. Decide that you will make God your God—put away all other gods—money, pride, entertainment, family
          1. “But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”  24:19-20
          1. Your devotion is always dependent on His grace
    1. God is your great guide—you can’t see the end from where you are now, but God does—he always does
      1. Jonathan Edwards, “there is a time coming wherein this great design will be completed…it will be proclaimed, as in the text, ‘it is finished’… God’s great ends will be obtained:  all his ends will be obtained, and by his own means.  After all this seeming confusion and vast succession of strange and wonderful revolutions, everything shall come out right at last.  There is no confusion in God’s scheme…not one mote of dust errs from the path that God has appointed it; he will bring order at last out of confusion.  God doesn’t lose himself in the intricate endless moves of events that come to pass.  Though men can’t see the whole scheme, God sees.”
      1. Being a Pilgrim means trusting the one who knows where you’re going better than you do
        1. 2 Cor. 5:7—trusting the God you can’t see rather than living by the chaos around you is the essence of walking by faith and not by sight
    1. Heaven is the final goal, but heaven is also the source of our strength
      1. Living with eyes for heaven is looking to God’s consummation as your goal
        1. The goal will be fulfilled when Christ returns, but heaven is a reality in seed form now for the beleiver
        1. Calvin, “we ought to understand that we are not only called to possess the heavenly heritage at some time in the future but through hope we have already in a certain manner been introduced into possession of it; not only are we promised life, but we have already been transported into this heavenly life in our being rescued from death.”[5]
      1. So, eyes for heaven look to your heavenly savior as the one who calls you
        1. Remember the scene at Jesus’ resurrection:  But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take his body.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”
        1. Samuel Rutherford, “finally Jesus spoke to Mary, but even then she did not at first recognize him.  So it is with faith; the first sparks need to be blown upon before we have a real fire.”  Your savior took on your flesh and prepares heaven for your welcome—don’t look for him here, look to your home and find your savior![6]
        1. He called you out of darkness is now calling you home—look to him for the breath of life that will kindle the sparks of faith into a flame!

The Apostles’ Creed

524  Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

[1] Winslow, Declension. 215.

[2] R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 290–291.

[3] Hilary.  Church History Study Bible. 1449.

[4] C. H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Book of Matthew (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1893), 162.

[5] Old.  Holy Communion. 176.

[6] Ibid, 294-5.