by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Jesus was really saying to the rich young ruler: “You are carrying a security blanket that you rely on more than God. God will not agree to be co-champion in your tournament of favorites. That false god must be dethroned in order for you to experience the glory of God.”

Then in Matthew 19:22 we find one of the saddest statements in all of Scripture: “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. The young man had caught a glimpse of a magnificent, God-centered way of life. Something in the eyes and spirit of Jesus sent shivers of excitement down his spine. It was as if his whole life had been preparation for this pivotal crossroad.

But oh, the price was so high! His money had always been his magic carpet to comfort and connections and opportunities. How could he live without this familiar security blanket? So he went away sorrowful. One doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist to conclude that the young man probably became a grumpy old man, unhappy with his money, always looking back sadly to that day when, face to face with the Master, he almost became a disciple—he was “Almost Persuaded.”

Let me give you a slice of truth that you won’t hear very often in nice respectable churches like this. Not everybody here is going to hell; but everybody, including the preacher, deserves to go to hell. Why? Because all of us are sinners. Most of us don’t realize how awful sin is in the sight of our holy God. It’s cosmic treason. It’s a puny little sinner like you or me shaking his fist in the face of Almighty God, saying, “I don’t care what You command or prefer. I’m going to do what I want to. If You don’t like it, tough!”

God’s patience with us is incredible, and His grace is truly amazing. Because He loves us so much, He arranged for all of our sins and foul-ups to be transferred to the shoulders of Jesus when He died on a cross. In exchange, we can be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus. What a trade! But that gracious offer can be accepted only if we endorse it by faith. Each of us must confess our sin and trust in this risen Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

Larry, a well-known pastor from Greenville, South Carolina, was on an airplane one day. The passenger beside him asked Larry what he did for a living. When he replied that he was a minister, an interesting conversation ensued. The man said, “I believe in God, but I don’t attend church. I don’t see why I need it. I am an honest guy, and I try to treat other people decently. One day when I die and meet God, I believe that my record will be acceptable to Him.”

Larry took a legal pad from his brief case and said, “I agree with you that God will judge all people. Let’s do some preliminary figuring on how we might stack up before God. I’m going to draw a line across the middle of this page. Let’s say that this line represents a passing grade with God. Who is the best person you can think of, the one who grades out highest with God?” The man thought for just a moment and replied, “Billy Graham.”

“Fine,” said Larry, “let’s put Billy Graham on our chart, but we must place him here where Billy Graham himself says he ought to be. Billy Graham has said repeatedly that he is a sinner who deserves to go to hell; but in fact he is going to heaven, only because Jesus paid for his sins on the cross. So, we must put Billy down here beneath the middle line.” Then Larry said, “I’m going to put my own name on this chart well beneath Billy Graham’s name. Like Billy, I’m a sinner whose only hope is the cross.”

Larry noticed that his new friend had suddenly become strangely quiet, perhaps anticipating the next question.
Larry turned to him and asked, “Brother, where should we put you on the chart? You don’t want to be ranked above Billy Graham, do you?” After a considerable pause, the man replied, “You have certainly given me food for thought.” "Almost persuaded"!

Today is a day of decision and commitment. Don’t be like the rich young ruler who was “almost persuaded.” He walked away from the best offer on earth, and his life thereafter was a tale of sorrow. Today is a wonderful time to become a forgiven, redeemed child of God!

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