Posted by: Grover Gunn | August 31, 2007

The Rich Young Ruler

Salvation is by grace through faith unto good works. Salvation is a free gift, but a part of that gift is a new life. We are saved through faith alone, but the faith that saves bears the fruits of repentance and new obedience. We know that faith is genuine when we see its bearing fruit in the lives of those who profess to have it.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus thinking he could pay the price for salvation. He thought he could purchase salvation by keeping the law. He left Jesus aware that much less than being able to pay the price for salvation, he was not even willing to pay the consequences of being saved. A faith relationship with Jesus would necessarily result in freedom from his bondage to greed and materialism, and he did not want to be freed. He left Jesus sorrowful and still in bondage to his sin.

Let me put this a different way using some classic theological terms. The rich young ruler came to Jesus thinking he could meet the conditions of the covenant of works. He left Jesus aware that he couldn’t even fulfill the obligations of the covenant of grace. The obligations of the covenant of grace are faith and faith’s inevitable and necessary fruits, repentance and new obedience.

No one can look into his own heart and see his faith. No one can look into heaven and see if his name is indeed written in the Book of Life. Yet anyone can look at his life and see if there is any evidence of faith’s necessary fruits. Is there repentance? Is the a pursuit of new obedience? These do not save us, but they do give evidence that we know the Savior. If we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

For the full sermon, go to and choose the sermon on Matthew 19:16-30. 



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