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Salvation is Impossible

February 16, 2015

camel and needleSalvation is not doable by men. The disciples responded to the departure of the rich young ruler with the question, “Who then can be saved?” Their question implies that salvation is somehow a work of man. If a good man who kept the law from his youth cannot be saved, who can be? To show the impossibility of salvation, Jesus gives a vivid illustration. He calls up a proverb well known throughout the region to show something was impossible. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than . . .” Today it might be said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a politician to tell the truth.” Something impossible is proverbially harder than a camel squeezing through a hole in a needle. Think about what’s being said. A camel is large, unfriendly hoofed mammal that stands over six feet tall and can weigh over a thousand pounds. It was the largest animal in Palestine at the time Jesus was speaking. A needle is a small metal shaft with a tiny hole punched in it for inserting thread. Putting a tiny little piece of thread through a hole barely large enough to fit the string is difficult. One thing is certain, a large desert dwelling mammal will never squeeze through a tiny sowing implement.

Jesus grabs a familiar proverb about an impossible feat and says, “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.” This is why in Mark 10 Jesus told the rich young man to keep the law and then tells him to sell everything and give the money to the poor. The rich man did not believe salvation was impossible. He thought he could do something to get salvation. He did not know a rich man can never purchase his salvation. Never. This thing is impossible. A good man can never deserve his salvation. Never. This thing is impossible. A law keeping man can never earn his salvation. Never. This thing is impossible. All attempts to bring about one’s own salvation are impossible. Charles Spurgeon said, “It is not that which comes out of you which will save you, but that which goes into you.”

The rest of Jesus’ words bring out the supremely great truth of salvation. Salvation is impossible for a rich man, a poor man, an obedient man, a disobedient man, a respected man, a despised man, a powerful man and an unknown man. The disciples were mortified at the impossibility of salvation. Their astonishment was misplaced. “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27) The disciples should have been astonished that God would do for men this most remarkable of deeds.

Only God can provide a complete substitute for all of men’s sin. Only God can take the penalty on Himself and provide full pardon. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Actus 4:12) Only God can change the heart. No man naturally turns away from his idols, his desires and his own flesh. That requires a supernatural work in the heart of man. Romans 3:11 says, “There is none that seeketh after God.” Jesus Himself says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44). Salvation is impossible. Yet what man cannot even begin to accomplish, God does to the fullest.

“With God all things are possible.”

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