Four Essential Gospel Truths
Rev. Michael Fintelman
In Mark 10:17–22, we find the Lord Jesus Christ interacting with the rich young ruler and, in so doing, teaching His disciples and us some essential gospel truths that are necessary to know and experience if we would “enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
1. ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
As Jesus and His disciples are walking along, a man who was young (Matthew) and was some type of ruler (Luke) and clearly had some wealth accumulated (thus, “the rich young ruler”) comes running to Jesus with much zeal and an apparent sincere request: “Good master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers, “There is none good but one, that is, God” (v. 18). What is Jesus doing? He is showing him that if anyone would have eternal life, he must learn who God is. We must learn not only that He is good, but must learn all of His attributes. In his Institutes, Calvin wrote some five hundred pages on the knowledge of God as Creator and Redeemer. Jesus Himself prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Spurgeon also says, “The proper knowledge of God is the great hope for sinners.”
So, to foster a misconception about the being of God by improper or vague teaching is tragic. Too often the Lord is either portrayed as a God of sovereign wrath or, more commonly, a benign great grandfather figure in the sky who winks at sin. But the Lord is holy, loving, sovereign, just, eternal, longsuffering, and good. He is all the attributes ascribed to Him in His Word. All those attributes that might seem irreconcilable find harmony in the Person and work of Jesus Christ in whom “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10).
It is important to have a biblically balanced view of who God is; if we don’t know Him from His Word, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
2. LAW OF GOD
It is also important to understand the Law. Christ demonstrates that in verse 19. We need to both hear and teach the Law, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). We need to experience the reality of sin uncovered by the Law or else we will not feel a need for Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. Ironically, preaching the Law today is often seen as outdated and even harsh. It is one of Satan’s cleverest devices to teach that Law and love are irreconcilable enemies, but Scripture teaches the opposite. The Law is given in the framework of love (Matt. 22:37–39). Jesus demonstrates that here as He looks on this young man in love (v. 21) while He lays the Law before him. Therefore, one of the most loveless things we can do is not lay down the Law in our households and proclaim it from the pulpit.
3. REPENTANCE TOWARDS GOD
The Law must be brought so sin is exposed and repentance given. Repentance is a necessary element of gospel truth that we need to experience and exercise if we would be saved and sanctified. Jesus tells this young man to turn from that which consumed his interest so that Jesus would be his number one priority (v. 21). Far too often today sinners are exhorted to confess sin and ask for forgiveness, but are not called to repent—that is, to turn their backs on sin. True repentance includes having a biblical sight of sin, a godly sorrow for sin, confession of sin, shame for sin, hatred for sin, and a turning from sin. Repentance toward God is necessary if we would enter heaven.
4. FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
The final essential gospel truth Jesus teaches that is absolutely necessary to inherit eternal life is a life of faith. He tells this young man, “come, take up the cross, and follow me” (v. 21). Faith is following Jesus Christ.
Faith is not just a nod of our head to a series of facts, but following Jesus at all costs. Without Spirit-worked faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
In the end, this young man turned away. He wanted eternal life his own way and would not submit to the gospel’s demands. If you and I would have the true gift of eternal life, we must know the true God, be convicted by and follow His Law, repent of our sins, and exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Are these four truths a reality in your life?