The Gospel of Mark #26 - Impossible to be Saved

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The Gospel of Mark #26:

Impossible to be Saved?

Text: Mark 10:23-31

Thesis: To stress that it is impossible to be saved unless one recognizes his/her complete

             dependence upon God and fully surrenders to His will.


(1)   What are some things that are impossible?

(2)   Do you realize that it is actually impossible for some types of people to be saved?


I.                   The Story:

A.    After the encounter with the rich young ruler, Jesus stated that it was hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom of God.

1.      This amazed His disciples, partly, because many of the contemporary rabbis taught a ‘prosperity theology’ by using “Old Testament passages to equate God’s blessings with material prosperity, and taught that the rich could build up future merit and reward for themselves by giving to the poor. To the Jewish mind it was inconceivable that riches could be a barrier to the kingdom” (Hughes 1:64-65).

2.      However, Jesus explained that it would be easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich person to be saved.

a.       Note: Some attempt to explain away verse 25 by suggesting that either:

(1)    The word ‘camel’ should be translated ‘rope’ (this is because there is only one letter difference between the two Greek words); therefore, Jesus is saying “a rope through a needle.”

(2)    The phrase ‘eye of the needle’ should be understood as a small gate in Jerusalem through which a camel could only go through with great difficultly.

-          However, these attempts are unconvincing; thus, one should take Jesus’ words literally.

b.      Why does Jesus say these words?

(1)    He doesn’t teach that money, in and of itself, is wrong.

(2)    However, He points out that “the peculiar danger confronting the rich … lies in the false sense of security which wealth creates and in the temptation to trust in material resources and personal power when what is demanded by the Law and the Gospel is a whole-hearted reliance upon God” (Lane 369).

(a)    Elsewhere, Jesus stressed that no man can serve two masters (cf. Matt. 6:24).

(b)   Later, He mentioned the deceitfulness of riches (Matt. 13:22).

(c)    Paul would instruct the rich not to be arrogant (1 Tim. 6:17).

(d)   Jesus would later confront a church that because of their wealth, believed that they were in need of nothing (Rev. 3:17).

B.     Upon hearing these words, Peter then asked: “Who then can be saved?”

1.      Jesus responded by saying that salvation is ‘impossible’ with man, which basically means that “salvation is completely beyond the sphere of human possibilities; every attempt to enter the kingdom on the basis of achievement or merit is futile” (Lane 370).

2.      However, everything is ‘possible’ with God.

a.       The point is that one cannot save himself/herself, but if he/she will come to God, then he/she can be saved.

b.      However, one must come before God with humility recognizing their total dependence upon Him.

C.     Peter then desired to know what a person would get who was willing to leave everything behind and follow Jesus.

1.      Jesus responded by saying that “one cannot give anything to God that God does not richly restore to him one hundred times over” (Schubert 190).

2.      Those who do sacrifice in such a way may be considered “last” in the eyes of man in this life, but they will be considered “first” in the eyes of God in the life to come.

II.                The Application:

A.    Make sure that your riches are not your master.

1.      Because one lives in America, he/she is in the top 5-10 % of the world, financially speaking; therefore, the passages concerning people who are rich speak directly to us today.

2.      Consider this: There are 450 separate Biblical passages that deal with money. It is the second most dominant theme, following idolatry.

3.      “It has been said that for every hundred men who can stand the test of adversity, not one in a hundred can stand the test of prosperity” (Schubert 188).

4.      We must be concerned about laying up treasures in heaven (cf. Matt. 6:19-21).

B.     Salvation is only for those who will let go of themselves and surrender wholly to God.

1.      David Garland observed: “Few are willing to risk divesting themselves of whatever provides them security in this life to enter a new quality of life under God’s rule” (403).

2.      Consider this poem written by Lauretta P. Burns:

As children bring their broken toys
   with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
because He was my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him,
in peace, to work alone;
I hung around and tried to help,
with ways that were my own.
At last, I snatched them back and cried,
"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said,
"What could I do?
You never did let go."

C.     God will not overlook our sacrifices.

1.      One wrote: “The kingdom of God topples our cherished priorities and demands of disciples new ones. It takes from those who follow Jesus things they would keep, and gives to them things they could not imagine” (Edwards 317).

2.      Romans 8:18 – “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV).


(1)   You don’t have to be one of those “impossible” cases.

(2)   Will you crown Jesus as the King of your life today?

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