How To Attain The Kingdom of God

God can do what men can’t!

By Rev. Fr. P. M. Joseph

Sermon Delivered on 10/24/99

Today’s scripture reading was from Luke 18: 18-27.

Once a Jewish religious leader asked Him this question: "Good sir, what shall I do to get to heaven?"

"Do you realize what you are saying when you call me ‘good’?" Jesus asked him. "Only God is truly good, and no one else."

"But as to your question, you know what the ten commandments say- don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your parents, and so on."

The man replied, "I’ve obeyed every one of these laws since I was a small child."

"There is still one thing you lack," Jesus said. "Sell all you have and give the money to the poor – it will become treasure for you in heaven – and come, follow me."

But when the man heard this he went sadly away, for he was very rich.

Jesus watched him go and then said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye f a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."

Those who heard him say this exclaimed, "If it is that hard, how can anyone be saved?"

He replied, "God can do what men can’t!"

This is a very appropriate reading for what I wanted to conclude my messages with.

A man who is good in every aspects came to see Jesus. He strictly followed all the laws as commanded by Moses and Jewish laws.

He told Jesus that he want to make sure that he has all the qualifications to go to Heaven – something like a pre-check we do when we have to make a long trip – the ticket, passport, addresses and telephone numbers, map, etc.

First, Jesus told him that the only person who is Good is God. Everyone else is a sinner in one way or other. There is nothing like a perfect person except God. Jesus also reminded him of the Ten Commandments and the other laws.

The man was very pleased. He followed all the laws to the letter from his childhood. He just wanted to make sure that everything is OK and he hasn’t missed or forgotten something.

The question is, "is it enough to follow the rules to reach the Kingdom of God?"

I am sure you have heard the question being asked by the evangelists standing on the corner of roads and asking the passers-by, "Are you saved? If you die today, are you sure you will go to heaven?"

Well, we are born in good families. We went to church every Sunday; studied in Sunday school. We still go to church every Sunday. We also follow all the lent. Is it enough to be saved?

As members of Christian church, we are all baptized in Holy Spirit. We were reborn in Christ and became part of God. Are we saved?

Are these enough to attain everlasting life?

Jesus took a closer look at the person and said, "Oh! There is only one thing that is lacking. You haven’t really got any deposits made in your heavenly account. To do that, you need to sell everything you have, give it to poor. Then come and follow me. This will create wealth in your name in heaven."

The person jumped as if hit by a bolt of lightening. This was something he never expected. He was a very rich man. He was quite comfortable with the earthly pleasures and power that money afforded him. To sell everything he has and then follow this guy, without even having a place to sleep at night? Are you crazy? No way! He left very disappointed and dejected. Ancient books suggest that the scene was very stunning.

Last week we talked about three carnal sins that keeps us from reaching God. One was the lust of flesh or our yearning for material things in life. I suggested that we need to have command over these three aspects before we can see God.

It was tough for the rich person to lose everything. Even if that meant he may lose out on eternal life. Like many, he will take what is available at the present rather than taking a chance for the future.

Jesus commented that it is really tough for rich people to go to heaven.

Money is something God gives. People who does not have any money may still have God’s grace. Very often we are tied to the pleasures of this earth.

I like to share a true story with you.

This is the story of John. He was born in Arur near Moovattupuzha. He, two brothers and their parents lived in a small hut near the highway. His father’s name is Kuriakkose.

Kuriakkose and his wife toiled very hard all day to earn something to feed the family. Unfortunately, what they earned in a day is often not sufficient to buy them food. The kids were waiting for the arrival of their parents to eat something. They only eat a meal a day. Very often, there is nothing left over after the kids eat. The mother often went to sleep in an empty stomach and water. I hope you get the picture. It is that of utter desolate poverty.

Then it happened. The father became a mental patient. He quit going to work. You can imagine the situation. When both father and the mother were working, they couldn’t earn enough to feed all. Now that the father is not working, the situation has really took an ugly turn. Their life really was put in jeopardy. The wife and the old kid trid to do all the odd jobs they can find to bring something to the dinner table.

This was the time, when a small prayer group has formed in that part. They invited the mother to attend the prayer service. What she needed was some peace. She went to the prayer meeting for her mental peace.

She went and prayed. Then something happened. She was transformed. She was filled with peace. She then took her children to the prayer meetings and later her husband. They all started getting better as the time passed.

John, the elder son, started a small business. Later he became an owner of a dental lab that employs 30-35 people. They have 3 vehicles. He had gone to Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and many other countries for business. Today, he is a very successful businessman.

Has the prosperity changed him? No! He still goes to the prayer meetings. Money is something God gives. There is nothing impossible with the God.

In the past few weeks, I had been talking about preparations to meet God. I also told you that it is not just enough that we are prepared. We have to be ready to answer his knocking when He comes. We should be willing to let go of everything that ties us from reaching God and follow Him when he calls. Just attending services and following rules are not enough.

God sent his only begotten son to the earth to save us. God became man so that man can become part of God.

My humble request to you is to pray everyday. Confess your sins. Keep a pure heart so that God can enter it and live there. Please remember me in your prayers.

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