With the financial woes facing the stock market lately perhaps evangelical stock brokers will finally find a reason to make Luke 18:22 into a bumper sticker. In a bear market Jesus says, “sell all that thou hast”.
Of course this is taking the verse out of context but it raises an interesting question. What is the context of Luke 18:22?
In fact, Jesus has been asked the most important question any man could ask the Lord, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18)
That’s right. Jesus is telling a ruler of Israel how to inherit eternal life. His initial answer was to do the commandments (Luke 18:20), but the ruler had already kept them. There was only one thing more the man had to do. He had to sell all his possessions and follow Jesus. The man refused.
Is the white elephant obvious to anyone else yet? Jesus answers the salvation question with good works and selling all your possessions! Where is the teaching of the blood and the cross?
Many make excuses for the Lord as if he was testing the ruler who was only tempting the Lord. Yet, if this were the case then why did Jesus also teach his disciples to sell all in Mat 6:20, 19:11, and Luke 12:33?
Many teach that Jesus didn’t mean this literally only figuratively and that he meant we should only be willing to sell everything. But Peter and the disciples obeyed this teaching literally in Mat 19:27. Many more followed in Acts 4:34-35.
The truth is that while Jesus walked this Earth he did not preach his death, burial, and resurrection as the message of salvation. This message was not revealed until later to the Apostle Paul.
Instead he taught to Israel of the coming kingdom with himself as king and the doing of the law for salvation.
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. ” – Mat 5:20
Since everything would be provided for them in the kingdom then they had no need of storing up treasures on earth.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Mat 6:33
Those that did this were rewarded.
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. ” – Mat 19:29
Every church in your town preaches the kingdom but you will sooner hear your dog bark ‘Just As I Am’ before they teach that verse for salvation.
This verse is easily handled if you rightly divide the scripture. Jesus taught the circumcision and revealed the mystery of the cross later to Paul first.
You do not inherit eternal life today for what you sacrifice; it is what Christ sacrificed on your behalf (Rom 3:25). Eternal life is the gift of God (Rom 6:23).