Calvary Road Baptist Church


Matthew 19.16


It is in Romans 10.9 that the Apostle Paul writes,


“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”


The salvation referred to by Paul is deliverance or rescue from the penalty, the power, and ultimately the presence of sins. This salvation comes to a sinner through the means of faith in the Lord Jesus.


In Romans 10.10, Paul continues,


“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”


Thus, we see that when a sinner’s heart embraces the savior it affects his mouth. Salvation, though very personal, is never a private matter. People who are saved from their sins begin to talk about their newfound faith in Christ.


Verse 11 adds,


“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”


This is the second time in this epistle the Apostle Paul has quoted Isaiah 28.16, the other being Romans 9.33. It is once again emphasized that a relationship with Jesus Christ is not private!


In Romans 10.14-15, Paul asks four rhetorical questions that take the reader from the moment of believing in Jesus Christ chronologically backwards to the gospel message being carried forth by preachers:


14     How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15     And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!


However, it is in Romans 10.16 that we are reminded of a great tragedy:


“But they have not all obeyed the gospel.”


Have you ever wondered by some people obey the gospel, while others do not obey the gospel? Why is it that some sinners embrace Christ and enjoy the fruits of His labors through time and eternity, while others suffer the punishment poured out by God in wrath for their own sinful labors through time and eternity? On two entirely different levels, there are answers to that question. On one hand, some of you will not obey the gospel, no matter how it is presented, because you are not numbered among the elect.[1] Because you are not elect, God the Father will never draw you to saving faith in Jesus Christ.[2] Therefore, when you certainly die without Christ, you will no doubt suffer the torments of the damned for all eternity.[3]

Allow me to state most emphatically that no matter what anyone may think or say, there is no possible way to tell who the elect are aside from your response to the gospel. Therefore, no one can possibly know what he is talking about who says, “I am not of the elect. There is no way I will ever be saved.” Such talk is pure foolishness, and should not be voiced by any thoughtful individual. The way in which the elect are discovered from among those who are not elect is by the preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the only way the elect are discovered. There is no other way. As well, though a person may either reject the gospel a number of times, or perhaps experience any number of false hopes in his efforts to become a Christian, that sinner who is elect will, finally, eventually, obey the gospel to the saving of his eternal and undying soul without regret.

These weighty issues considered in their proper light, let us not fail to consider the other hand of those who do not obey the gospel. These might be categorized as those who have not yet come to Christ, who have not yet been saved, who have not yet embraced the savior of sinful men’s souls.

Consider those of you who will certainly be born again, who will certainly turn from your sins and come to Christ. Some of you will become Christians, though you presently doubt that you will, though you may even be afraid of the risk involved or the potential for embarrassment you think is associated with false hopes and disappointments. Yes, at some point you will obey the gospel. Why will you obey the gospel? You will obey the gospel because at that time you will want to obey the gospel, you will want to become a Christian, and you will be determined to come to faith in Jesus Christ of your own will. What will change your mind? What will be the decisive difference? I do not know what will change your mind. I cannot be sure what will turn your opinion about the importance of becoming a believer in Christ, about the benefit to you of your sins being forgiven. However, I suspect that everything related to your present resistance to the gospel may be in some way related to your wrong view of Jesus Christ.

I remember from the early days of my Christian life a preacher whose church was advertised in The Sword of the Lord, a periodical started decades ago by the late John R. Rice. Somewhere in the Deep South, perhaps in Charlotte, South Carolina, a pastor named Jack Hudson had as the motto of his ministry and preaching, “Making much of Jesus.” Wow, was that impressive to me. The first time I saw that phrase I was bowled over. What a great motto. What an exceptional tag line. What could be better for a man or a ministry than to make much of Jesus? Listen to what the Apostle Paul writes to the Colossian church, in Colossians 1.14-18, and you will see why making much of Jesus is so Christianity a concept:


14     In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15     Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16     For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17     And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18     And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.


It could very well be that the reason you have not yet come to faith in Christ, you have not yet seen and been wooed by the glory and the beauty of the savior, is that you have not yet been properly shown who He is. His preeminence is not yet your goal in life. Therefore, I seek in this message from God’s Word to show you who Jesus is (at least in part), so you will want to know Him, so you will want to embrace Him, and so you will want to take Him as your own savior.

The text for your consideration is Matthew 19.16: “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” My focus is the manner of address used by this one who spoke to Jesus. He said, “Good Master.” I might paraphrase his salutation with the words, “Good Teacher,” since the word master translates the Greek word didaskale, which means teacher.

Take a step back with me as we consider four things:




The reason I urge you to take a step back with me is so we can bring into our field of view a broader picture than just this man who has just stepped out of the crowd to speak to the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to consider the context in which he says, “Good Master.”

Moments earlier, the Lord Jesus Christ was sitting in a home, when He noticed that His disciples were preventing some adults from bringing small children to Him. Matthew 19.14 records His words of rebuke to His disciples: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Even before that, Jesus had commanded, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[4] Therefore, it was known by everyone familiar with His ministry that our Lord was not only presenting Himself as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, but as Someone every individual was commanded to come to, to embrace, to trust.

What must it have been like for this first century Jewish fellow living in the Holy Land? Frustrated by the Roman occupation, oppressed by the cruelty of the Roman soldiers, and empty inside from an unexplainable void he felt in his bosom as he heard the Lord Jesus Christ speak, this man certainly was laboring and heavy laden. Just as the little children desired to come to Christ as the remedy for what ailed them, this man’s heart ached for the remedy this Nazarene spoke of with such tenderness and gentle authority.




It appears that soon after His rebuke aimed at His disciples, and laying His hands on the children who had come to Him, our Lord rose from where He sat and left the house and began moving through the streets.[5] It was there, somewhere on that pedestrian clogged street our Lord was passing through, that our text indicates He was confronted by this man of whom I speak.

However, both Mark’s gospel and Luke’s gospel provide us with somewhat more information about him than Matthew gives us. From Luke 18.18, we learn that this fellow who approached Jesus is a ruler, perhaps in a synagogue. From Mark 10.17, we are told that the man ran up to Jesus, kneeled at His feet out there on the street, and then asked Him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” It would seem to the casual observer surveying the scene that this man, who very likely had overheard the Lord Jesus Christ’s words in the house, was doing precisely what the savior wanted all men to do who labored and who were heavy laden, which is come to Him. However, we know from reading everything the gospel accounts record about this encounter that this man was not saved when he departed our Lord’s company. Thus, while it appears he did precisely what he was supposed to do to be forgiven (he came to Christ), he was not saved.

How could it be that this guy was not saved? He seems to have fulfilled the requirements of coming to Jesus. Yet Matthew 19.22 reveals to us that “he went away sorrowful.” Perhaps there are details we need to more carefully consider, that will also shed some light on people we know who thought they had come to Christ only to be as disappointed as this man was.




Our text reads, “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Turn to Mark 10.17 and read that parallel account: “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Now turn to Luke 18.18 and read what he writes: “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

There are two things about this man’s question that I want to point out to you, two things that pique my interest and arouse my concern: First, this man addresses the Lord Jesus Christ as “Good Master.” Sounds good. However, what does he mean when he says “Good Master”? That is what I want to know. If the mouth is the key to the heart, what does what he says to Jesus indicate about what he feels about Jesus? Or, as I often ask, what do you mean by what you say? Then, the man asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Of course, this should set off all the bells and whistles in the minds of those of us who have read the Bible. We know that salvation is by grace through faith.[6] Therefore, whenever someone asks what he has to do to inherit eternal life, it causes us to think he might be referring to salvation by works instead of salvation by grace through faith. What the man says to the Lord Jesus Christ brings us to our last concern.




There is, from the words that come forth from his mouth, evidence suggesting that this fellow, troubled as he appears to be in coming to Jesus in this way, in public and on his knees and all, is somewhat confused.

Let me suggest to you that he is first confused about the nature of Christ. I suggest this because of our Lord’s response to him. Instead of answering the man’s question, (“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”), He zeroes in on something even more important, the manner in which the man addressed Him: “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” “Two words in the original Greek text are translated by the English word, “good.” The first, agathos, refers to what is intrinsically good. The second, kalos, refers to what is externally pleasing. The man used the word that refers to intrinsic goodness and addressed Jesus as the intrinsically good Teacher. Christ reminded him that there is only One who is intrinsically good - and that One is God. Jesus Christ had been claiming to be the Son of God. Therefore He claimed to be intrinsically good.”[7] What does this show us? It shows us that although a sinner need not know a great deal before coming to Jesus Christ for salvation from his sins (since children can freely come to Him), it must be clear in the sinner’s mind that the One he is coming to is God manifest in the flesh. So long as you doubt that Jesus and the heavenly Father are of the same essence and nature you are insufficiently informed to respond to His command to come to Him.

As well, this man kneeling at Jesus’ feet, in what seems to be a display of humility, is also confused about his own nature and condition. This is evident not only from the question he asks the Lord Jesus Christ, but also from his unwillingness to do what the Lord Jesus Christ told him to do. “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” The Apostle Paul later wrote, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” Titus 3.5. This man, though very likely feeling very bad about his relationship with God, is still persuaded that he is capable of remedying the situation, if only the Lord Jesus Christ will provide proper instructions for him to follow. Sin has a twofold effect on a sinner. It not only darkens your understanding so that you do not know what to do, but it also leaves you dead in trespasses and sins so that you are incapable of doing anything even if you did know what to do. Our Lord did not tell him to go and sell everything he had to give to the poor as a way of earning his salvation, but as a test to show him that he would not do what was demanded of him. To put it another way concerning your own salvation, you could not if you would save yourself, and you would not if you could save yourself. The reality, however, is that you both cannot save yourself and you will not save yourself. That is why you need Jesus.


Jesus left heaven’s glory to be born of a virgin named Mary, so that He might die on the cross an atonement for your sins before rising from the dead on the third day. He did not bear your sins and suffer God’s wrath on your behalf to provide instructions for you to save yourself, or to in some other way help you save yourself. Is Jesus a teacher? Oh, my, yes. Is He also good? He most certainly is good. However, He is not a good man who can teach and do no more than that. He is the eternal Son of the living God, Who was sent from heaven’s glory to do so much more than teach you and help you.

He suffered the death of the cross and rose from the dead on the third day to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. So, if you have never come to Christ, or if you tried to come to Christ and discovered along the way that you have entertained a false hope, do not draw the erroneous conclusion that Jesus somehow failed. The mistake is yours. The failing is yours. The shortfall is yours. For when a sinner, any sinner, comes to Jesus as He is, the Son of God, God the Son, savior of mankind, not for help but for salvation, not in his own strength but in his weakness and impotency, Jesus will save him.

“Pastor, what should I do?” Cast off the false humility this rich young ruler possessed. Oh, he pretended to be humble, kneeling there on the ground. However, all the while he thought he was capable of doing what needed to be done to save himself, if only Jesus would coach him, instruct him, and teach him a trick or two. You can be certainly sure that had he succeeded in convincing himself that he was saved by some deed he had done to inherit eternal life, it would not have been Christ who was preeminent in his thinking, but himself.

Give it up. There is nothing you can do. You cannot even come to Jesus yourself, since it is by means of a faith that only comes from God: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10.17. However, by God’s grace, which is divine favor that through the preaching of the gospel imparts saving faith, you can come to Jesus and be saved. Jesus commands you to do just that, and I urge you to obey the savior . . . Now!

Come to Jesus, really come to Jesus, and I promise you that Jesus will be preeminent because Jesus will be your savior.

[1] Romans 8.33; Titus 1.1; 1 Peter 1.2

[2] John 6.44

[3] Matthew 25.46

[4] Matthew 11.28

[5] Matthew 19.15

[6] Ephesians 2.8-9

[7] J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words & Works Of Jesus Christ, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), page 360.

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