There is so much more to having eternal life than just being able to go to heaven when you die. Of course, going to heaven is wonderful. But if you could have more, wouldn’t you want it? You can have more. We are instructed to lay hold on eternal life, 1 Tim 6:12, 19.
When you lay hold on eternal life, you are blessed with great gain, you have protection against temptation, you are victorious in the good fight of faith, and you lay up in store a good foundation against the time to come, 1 Tim 6:6-19.
But to lay hold on eternal life you must first have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Then, after that, you have to let go of some temporal things you’re holding onto.
For example, the rich ruler in Matt 19:16-22, could not have the eternal life he desired because he wouldn’t let go of the temporal possessions he was holding.
The rich man wanted to have eternal life, Matt 19:16. Because this was before the cross, Jesus told him to keep the commandments, which include 1) Thou shalt have no other gods before me, and 10) Thou shall not covet. According to Eph 5:5 a covetous man is an idolater. And according to Col 3:5 covetousness is idolatry. This man’s possessions were his god. He was a rich ruler, but the riches were ruling him.
To have eternal life, the man needed to “follow me”. And to follow Jesus, he needed to get rid of his riches in which he trusted. They were anchoring him in the world and ruling him. The key to having eternal life now was to “come and follow me”. Jospeh of Arimathaea, who was also rich, was a follower of Jesus. His riches weren’t his god, Jesus was, Matt 27:57-60.
Today, we face the same challenge the rich ruler faced. For the rich ruler to be perfect he had to follow Jesus, Matt 19:21. For us to lay hold on eternal life, 1 Tim 6:12, 19, we must follow righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness, 1 Tim 6:11. Instead of following these spiritual things, many Christians are following their possessions and money.
When you lay hold on eternal life:
You’re blessed with great gain – 1 Tim 6:6-8. But godliness with contentment is great gain. We must follow godliness and learn to be content with such things as we have.
According to 1 Tim 6:7 you came in with nothing; and you leave with nothing. Therefore, right now you need nothing but God. That’s why Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness…”. Right now, men seek first the money and the things money can buy. And they seek God second. But according to Matt 6:24, there is no such thing as second. If you don’t seek him first, you will hold to the money and despise the Lord.
According to 1 Tim 6:8 we are to be content with food and raiment, which are guaranteed to us when we seek first the Kingdom of God and follow him, Matt 6:32-33. Don’t you realize that God, who clothes the grass and feeds the birds, can take better care of you than you can take care of yourself with your wealth? The Lillies are more glorious than Solomon in all his riches.
If you’re trusting your riches, like the rich man, Mk 10:24-25, 1 Tim 6:17, you won’t follow Jesus. You can’t; it’s impossible, Matt 19:26, Matt 6:24. You won’t make God your strength, Ps 52:7.
Your protected against temptation – 1 Tim 6:9-11. They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare. You and I have two choices. We can covet money, 1 Tim 6:9-10. Or we can flee these things and follow righteousness godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness, 1 Tim 6:11. Following these spiritual qualities is the same as the rich man following Jesus.
When you follow righteousness godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness, you lay hold on eternal life. And when you lay hold on eternal life, you find righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Rom 14:17. These are the things that the rich man lacked. These things are completely unobtainable with money. And their satisfaction far exceeds anything money can buy.
You’re victorious in the good fight of faith – 1 Tim 6:12. Fight the good fight of faith. We are in a spiritual battle with the world and the devil. They are doing all they can to overthrow our faith in the Lord.
When you lay hold on eternal life, you get the victory. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”, Rom 8:31. The world and the devil cannot defeat a Christian who has laid hold on eternal life. Death, the thing with which they can scare you the most, is the thing over which you walk in continual victory. You are the possessor of life eternal and they can never take that away from you.
You lay up a good foundation against the time to come – 1 Tim 6:17-19. Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come.
If you just happen to be rich, like Joseph of Arimathaea, then follow these instructions:
- Be not high-minded – be God minded and humble.
- Don’t trust in uncertain riches. As the saying goes, Here today, gone tomorrow.
- Trust in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. He gives you so much more than money can buy.
- And four more things. Do good, be rich in good works, be ready to distribute, be willing to communicate,
This is how you lay up in store (just like Joseph did in Egypt) a good foundation against the time to come (just like the famine in Egypt). It’s counter intuitive. You think that the best investments are your security against the coming economic collapse. But the truth is that the best investment for the future is giving to missions today. When you give to the Lord, he is there for you when you have a need. And given the current state of the economy, we will definitely have needs in the future.
Conclusion: This is what the rich man wanted, and couldn’t have. It was impossible because he wouldn’t let go of the possessions which ruled him and which he followed.