In “A Culprit Barely Pardoned” (Apr. 17, 2014), Clifford Goldstein puts aside his intellectual, philosophical quotes and vocabulary to write a column easily understood by lay readers. He states the truth that in following the Truth, after years of study, prayer, Bible reading, and striving, there are still flaws and reminders of sin and self.
A writer of another faith recently stated that looking back over the years, he found he was confessing the same sins. Goldstein finds himself in the same boat as Paul and the rest of us, struggling with vexing reminders of our sinful nature. As he concludes, only in Christ can we be redeemed and set free. Only by the grace of God will any of us enter the city of God.
I was deeply touched by Goldstein’s message.
– Marilyn Petersen
Silver Spring, Maryland
Clifford Goldstein spoke for many of us regarding our honest feelings in his article “A Culprit Barely Pardoned.” To find oneself still struggling after years of knowing the blessed Savior can at times be quite disheartening. I am encouraged, however, when I read how the Lord treated the Bible characters with all their faults: not casting them off but enabling them through His grace to be overcomers, willing, when necessary, even to die for their Lord.
I identify with Goldstein’s words because they resonate with my own experience. He has to remember that God is using him to encourage those of us who join him in this struggle. My hope, along with Goldstein, is in Jesus Who has promised that when the dust settles He will at last present us faultless before His throne with exceeding joy and gladness.
So by His grace I will keep looking to Jesus, so He can finish however He chooses this work He has begun in me; and all the time still count me righteous through His precious, atoning blood shed at Calvary.
Thanks for the encouragement. We’re in this together!
Who Can Be Saved?
The article “Everything?” by Jorge Arevalo (Apr. 10, 2014) is typical of the good old fashioned read about the virtues of heaven that favors the poor over the rich. The author claims: “Material possessions give nobody access to anything beyond the grave.”
Could he have misspoken? Of course, there is nothing material about heaven; but material things are given on earth to help people build God’s kingdom in their hearts; a kingdom that foreshadows His kingdom of love in heaven. This article sends a wrong message to people the church has to attract today: the rich and influential who could help speed up the work of taking the gospel to all the earth.
Mark did not identify the man in the parable (Mark 10:17), but Luke refers to him as a ruler (Luke 18:18), and Matthew says he was young (Matt. 19:20). When he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life” (Mark 10:17), Jesus knew at once that in his heart the man was sincere.
“Jesus looked at him and loved him” (verse 21). Mark saw unspoken love in the way Jesus looked at the man.
But hearing Jesus’ response the man went away. Apparently he misunderstood Jesus’ words, as did Jesus’ disciples and many others, for he went away sad.
Afterward Jesus spoke to His followers in parables: “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (verses 24, 25).
Fueled by subtle articles such as Arevalo’s, this parable gives the notion that the poor have a better right of passage than the rich when it comes to salvation. For Jesus also said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11). In fact, the poor are now a majority in the church. Could this majority be the result of refined messages and discussions that cause misunderstanding?
Jesus’ parable is not meant to alienate the wealthy. It is to point the rich to a better treasure that is found in heaven.
This parable is neither Jesus’ answer to the question, “What must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus’ answer to sell everything is a test of faith. Surely, to the same question, Jesus would have given different answers to different people under different circumstance. If one passes the test, Jesus will say, “Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
Jesus is clear when He says, “How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23). That means it is hard for everyone. But it also says, “All things are possible with God” (verse 27).
So, why not say so and avoid any other notion. That’s what I don’t get.
– Richard Suban