Is it hard for a rich person to go to heaven?
The following passages from Matthew 19:16-30 gives us great insight into this question.
16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
18 "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "`Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,
19 honor your father and mother,' and `love your neighbor as yourself."
20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
On close examination of this passage it is clear that Jesus never said that the Rich Man didn't have Eternal Life.
The Rich Mans Question was as follows: Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?
Jesus Answered: If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.
After a discussion on which commandments he needed to keep, it became clear that the Rich Man had kept them.
After this The Rich Man asks "What do I still lack?"
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.
The Rich Man went away sad because he had great wealth.
Please note that Jesus said if the Rich Man had given away his possessions then he would be perfect. Nowhere in this passage does it say that the Rich Man didn't have eternal life. This passage shows us that he wanted to hold on to his worldly riches rather that become rich in the Kingdom of God.
In verse 24 & 25 Jesus goes on to say that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, then straight after that he reassures the Disciples saying that all things are possible with God.
After this the Disciples point out to Jesus that they have left everything for him and Jesus says that there is reward for all who leave possessions and there old life. In fact from chapter 21 onwards the subject is not Eternal Life, but Reward in the Kingdom of God.
According to scripture, it is possible to have Eternal Life and not have any Reward.
Rewards are blessings that are given for good deeds and these rewards are only given to those that have Eternal Life. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 shows us quite clearly that there will be some who are saved, but they will receive no reward, and others will receive reward to varying degrees according to the strength and purity of their good deeds.
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.
14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
The following verses in Matthew 27:57-60 introduces a Rich Person who was a follower of Christ.
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.
59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
The Book of Timothy has some wise advise for the Rich who are also followers of Christ.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:9
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
The Biblical Examples that have been drawn upon so far, should prove without a doubt that Rich People can inherit Eternal Life. In fact many faithful "Old Testament" persons were rich.
Job was very rich, and became even richer after he was tested.
Joseph was also very rich and he gave to his brothers when there was great famine.
Moses was very rich and held a very high position of authority in Egypt, but he chose to follow Gods wonderful plan for him, which meant giving up the riches of Egypt.
King Solomon was extremely rich and he lacked nothing as far as physical possessions went. He came to the conclusion that all his wealth was vanity and the only thing that was really of value was serving God. See the Book of Ecclesiastes So God bestows riches on the faithful.
James 1:17 says the following
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Does this scripture mean that all who are rich have been blessed by God.
No it doesn't. Some people desire to be rich and some of those people become rich through scheming, others are made rich because they are faithful as the following scripture from the Book of Proverbs points out.
A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
One form of Riches is given by God and the other form is snatched. One might argue then by saying "How is it that many faithful people today are not rich".
The answer to this is, they are rich. They are spiritually rich.
In fact Gods children today are far richer than they were in Old Testament Times. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he not only purchased us back to God by providing forgiveness of sins, but he also redeemed us from the curse that was over us. As a result many blessings from Heaven have been given to the Saints that the Prophets of Old desired to see.
Remember that spiritual riches are far greater than physical riches. Today the emphasis is on being Rich in the Spirit. Not rich in the world because the riches in the Kingdom of God are far greater than Worldly riches.
In Revelation 2:9 it points out to the Believers in the Church at Smyrna, that even though they are poor and lacking this worlds goods they are in fact rich.
2:9 I know your afflictions and your poverty, yet you are rich!
On the other hand it is very possible to be Rich in this world and very poor in the Kingdom of God as Revelation 3:17-18 points out.
17 You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
It says in Matthew 6:31-33 (English-NIV)
31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
So to conclude I would have to say that God is generous and makes rich all who would seek him and are worthy. He gives us the true riches which according to Luke 12:33.
are a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys and of course God provides for us so we have the necessities of this life, if we seek his Kingdom and righteousness first. I leave you with 2 scriptures that shows us the importance of serving God rather than Money.
Matthew 6:24 (English-NIV)
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
So to it is better to serve God and let him bless you richly, rather than serve and trust in money with a possibility of being financial rich, but risking your own soul to destruction. Matthew 16:26 sums it all up nicely.
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
- Start up a discussion based on this subject.