“A certain ruler” (Luke 18:18), rich, accomplished, noble, Torah observant, full of “great possessions” asked Him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That question is undeniably great—not only as the question of what lies beyond death, but for our purposes, the critical enablement for a sustaining, overcoming, last days’ life of discipleship, service and worship.
It is the same life of which Jesus spoke when he said “I have come to bring you life and that more abundantly.” It is the indescribably precious life of God Himself, and it is evidently not given until we also comply with the same requirement made of him: “sell whatsoever thou hast.” For whatsoever we have, however accomplished, is of man and keeps us from an absolute reliance on Jesus for our life. That ‘whatsoever’ is inclusive of our spiritual insights, ministerial ability and even the best of our motives in serving the purposes of God. What we have not fully grasped is that “there is none good but God.” Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, September 28) writes, “The only ‘good thing’ from Jesus Christ’s point of view is union with Himself and nothing in between (my emphasis).”
“What must I do…” indicates the premium this young ruler puts upon man. Do we know what it means to relinquish, let go, abdicate, cease from ourselves, surrender, renounce, and abandon ourselves to the Lord? There is that ‘one thing’ we lack, and when that is deficient everything is inadequate! Therefore, “go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast”—talent, ambition, spiritual attainment, commendable preaching style—what-so-ever! And thou shalt have treasure in heaven, exceeding the best we have known, that waits upon this totality of renunciation that few are willing to make! Therefore, we don’t enter into the Kingdom, that heavenly dimension of reality and authority, though we prattle about it profusely, because we “trust in our riches”—make them our confidence and our dependence. The eye of the Lord is fixed upon us, beholding us and loving us as He did him; “and Jesus looking upon them saith, with man it is impossible—but not with God”! When will we really believe Him? ”Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
He yearns for the infusion of His Life for us that comes with union with Himself:
The believer can each day be pleasing to God only in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in him. The daily inflowing of the life sap of the Holy spirit is his only power to bring forth [enduring and eternal] fruit…That same Spirit that dwelled and still dwells in the Son becomes the life of the believer; in the unity of that one Spirit and the fellowship of the same life that is in Christ…it is a life union that makes them one (from Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ, p.36).
This is that Shalom spoken of in Hebrews: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (4:9)—that ultimate hallmark of biblical faith to which too few have come. This is that spoken by Jesus, “If any man come to me and hate not his father, mother, and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26)! You (preachers especially) must “sell all” you have; your impressive soulish verve, your picturesque affectations, your calculated stylisms—all that comprises your “riches”—your own life also, if you would follow Him in the same totality by which He followed the Father, taking up the cross. Murray enjoins us to “meditate on this until your soul bows to worship in the presence of [this] mystery”—it is that very act of bowing that breaks the soulish powers that have had too long sway. Here perfect union between Christ and the believer is found.