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Dr Tow's Letter 26 Mar 2017

My dear readers,
(Extracts from RPG, Jan – Mar 1998, Edited by Dr SH Tow)

1. THE RICHEST MAN! (Luke 12:13-21,Matt 6:19-21)

Who? But he whose heart is not swayed by the wealth of the world, whose feet run not after its empty glitter, whose mind is stayed on the Lord Jehovah. He is the richest man who says, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup" (Ps 16:5) and "God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever" (Ps 73:26).

But in this world whose heart is not prone to covetousness? Not even the man in Luke 12:13, sitting under the very sound of the Gospel spoken by the Son of God Himself could resist the nagging thought of wanting a bigger share of his inheritance from his brother. To claim one's fair share of an inheritance is no sin, but to expect the Son of God to arbitrate in a family dispute betrays the covetousness lurking in the heart. Hence Jesus said, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).

The earth-bound rich man in our Lord's parable is a pathetic person in a most precarious position. His long-term plan to increase his wealth is in fact a short-sighted scheme fraught with the greatest peril. With foolish confidence he declared: "This will I do! I will pull down ... and build greater ... I will say to my soul ... thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:18-19). That night God cut short his earthly sojourn and his ambitions ended in the grave with him.

The richest man is he who, having found the Saviour, the “pearl of great price” (Matt 13:46), gives over all that he has (heart, soul, mind, strength, resources, wealth, everything) to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matt 6:20). The richest man is he who gives to God bountifully and liberally – as he receives from God.

QUESTION: Do you give God a tenth? Or more? Or less?

THOUGHT: You reap what you sow. You get what you give.

2. POSSIBLE WITH GOD! (Luke 18:18-27, Matt 19:16-26)

The love of money binds the heart and blinds the eyes. The rich young ruler was very rich. He had vast possessions. He loved the world and he also loved the kingdom of God. Aspiring to enter, he came to enquire of Jesus: "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18). Our Lord said, "…Keep the commandments" (Matt 19:17). To this the young man answered, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (Matt 19:20).

In his spiritual blindness he saw nothing lacking in his keeping of God's law. "What lack I yet?" Spiritual eyesight was what he lacked! Had he prayed for and received it he would have seen his true condition. Then he would have said, "I know that in me dwelleth no good thing ... For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do ... O wretched man that I am!" (Rom 7:18, 19, 24).

Jesus knew that heart of the young man, how it was money-bound. He put him to the test: “…sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, …come and follow me” (Matt 19:21). This is the acid test: which do you love really: the kingdom of God or the kingdom of man? The two are mutually exclusive. It is either one or the other. When the young man heard Jesus' words, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. His heart was inseparably bound to this material world.

Then our Lord made His famous statement: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:24). Amazing words! Who then can be saved? Today we wonder with the disciples. Our Lord gives us the answer. "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt 19:26). Salvation is God's work, not man's. It is the miracle-working of the Holy Spirit. God can save the rich and powerful, the wise and learned – not many, but not impossible.

THOUGHT: With God all things are possible. Have faith!

3. CAMEL THROUGH NEEDLE'S EYE (Luke 19:1-10, Ezek 37:1-14)

This "camel" was named Zacchaeus. By God's grace he went through the needle's eye! He was rich but God saved him. That the chief among the publicans of Jericho should be received into the kingdom of God was something most unlikely if not impossible. But did not our Lord say, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27)? Let us trace the steps of his salvation.

(a) Zacchaeus sought Jesus. What he lacked in stature he made up in action. It was a determined, almost desperate, action. Zacchaeus ran before the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree. (Sycamore trees are plentiful in Jericho even today.) He had heard the name and fame of Jesus. Perhaps he had heard that Jesus welcomed sinners and publicans like him. Whatever the immediate reason for his action, we see the moving of God the Spirit in the heart of Zacchaeus leading him to God the Son.

(b) Jesus called Zacchaeus.Does anything happen by happy chance or coincidence in a Christian's life? "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son ... Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called ..." (Rom 8:29-30). Jesus foreknew, even his name! What a gracious call: "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house" (Luke 19:5).This was divine grace reaching out to one "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4).

(c) "Salvation is come." Zacchaeus hurried down, received the Lord joyfully into his house and into his heart. Publicly he confessed Jesus as Lord and made restitution for his past: "…the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold" (Luke 19:8). Truly, salvation was come to his house which had received Jesus. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Zacchaeus was saved, by grace through faith ... the gift of God.

QUESTION: How did Jesus know Zacchaeus?

God bless all readers.

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Dr SH Tow