“And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly [wisely, prudently], he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
Today’s verse passage reminds us that there are necessary and sufficient conditions for everything, even salvation and entry into the Kingdom of God. The scribe Jesus was talking with understood from the Old Testament Scriptures that our heart position before God was primary; internal worship is far more important than mere outward, external performance. Such knowledge is essential to salvation but it is insufficient. “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God,” said Jesus, meaning that though the scribe’s current understanding was essential, it was by itself insufficient to gain access into the Kingdom. Paul lamented the state of his countrymen the Jews. “For I bear them record,” wrote Paul, “that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). This was nothing new. God spoke through the prophet Hosea centuries earlier, declaring, doubtless with a heavy heart, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The bottom line is, God’s plan of salvation in the present dispensation entails our hearing and believing certain things. Specifically, we need to hear and believe the apostolic message (the Gospel) before we can call ourselves Christians and expect to go to heaven. The 47th Psalm instructs us: “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding” (Psalm 47:7). Though some Scriptural knowledge is essential, nevertheless it is by itself insufficient. “Thou believest that there is one God” wrote James, the half brother to the Lord Jesus, “thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”(James 2:19). Satan and his minions know the Bible. Satan even quoted some of its passages when testing Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:6). Simply knowing and affirming scriptural truth is not enough for us to live fruitful, God-honoring lives, much less grant us salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of God. There must be heartfelt repentance from dead works and genuine faith towards God (Hebrews 6:1). When this happens, there will be change in our visible, outward conduct. James instructs us, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:22-24). May our lives be overflowing with outward expressions of those things that God counts as essential and sufficient, both in securing salvation and in pleasing the great God Who loved us first (1 John 4:19).
God bless and keep you today dear saints,