Recently a question came up within an informal discussion group I participate in as to what is revealed of Jesus' attitude toward the law in Luke's account in chapter 18 of our Lord's conversation with "the rich young ruler, particularly in regard to what Jesus expected of the young man, given that, in response to the young man's question, "....what must I do to inherit eonian life," Jesus told him to obey the law.


The questioner asked if Jesus actually expect the young man to keep the law as the story SEEMS to indicate, until our Lord went on to say, "yet thou lackest one thing..." I've put the title to these thoughts, Jesus, A (Very) Personal Soul Winner, since my early mentoring after Christ called me to Himself, was as much about being a "soul winner" as anything related to the Christian life. My mentors back then presumed that the main issue in seeking souls for Christ was, by far -- as it was often expressed -- "there's a hell to be shunned, and a heaven to be gained."


When folks approach the Bible presuming that scripture is mostly concerned with escaping hell and getting to heaven, then they read that presumption into the text over and over again, where no such issue is involved. Most certainly, salvation is a very important biblical subject, but that salvation has to do most essentially with being delivered from our soul-fragmentation, and becoming a true, whole, human being, who is "conformed to the image of God's Son." In fact, that, very specifically according to Paul in Romans 8, is our predestination.


The rich young ruler thought of himself as consistently obedient to the law, but only in terms of behavior that could be outwardly observed, not re: the condition of his heart. His kind could always reduce the demands of the law to what could be outwardly measured as obedience of a mechanical nature. The core-issue of the law is that "thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength," something the law could demand, yet while being impotent to enable one to do so. The final effect of the exchange between Jesus and that young man was to reveal the condition of his heart. In facing the Lord's call to be following Him, his love of his riches would not allow him to do so. He was obviously a man of some sensitivity of conscience, with possibly a fear that he might miss the enjoyment of, and participation in, the life of the age of Messiah, i.e., "eonian life." Any allusion by the Lord to the blessing of eonian life, led the average Jewish hearer to connect that reference to being worthy of being afforded that supreme blessing.


The obsession of the average reader of scripture, that the core-issue in scripture is always about avoiding hell and gaining heaven, causes them to read into many texts a condition or conditions that would ensure the latter, whereas, in many cases, Jesus, for instance, in a very personal way, would draw out the individual or individuals in such a way as to lead them to see their need, and not, as it were, laying out some form of "the plan of salvation." Instead, He was working with the person or persons with whom He was conversing in order very personally to initiate the process that in time would "deliver them from the authority of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son."













JESUS-A VERY PERSONAL SOUL WINNER [John R. Gavazzoni] 2015          1

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