"One thing"

Notes of an address on Luke 18:18-25 and Phil. 3:13-14.

W. J. Hocking.

1919 261 In the portion we have read from Luke's Gospel we have an account of a man who came to the Lord and was morally very fair to look upon, but, according to the Lord's estimation, he lacked one essential thing. The Lord, in order to convict him of his shortcoming, tested him in respect of that particular qualification, and he failed in the test.

In the Philippian passage we have the utterance of a man who long before had come to the Lord and who was still following Him. He expressed the habitual attitude of his heart and spirit in the words, "This one thing I do." Excluding other minor considerations, he was pressing forward with concentrated energy "toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

The first instance affords a solemn warning to all, because it is clear that a person may possess a great many moral recommendations and yet fail to possess that needful thing which makes the essential difference between a child of God and a child of this world. Therefore the personal question should arise, How do I stand in this respect? I may have many outward virtues, yet lack the very thing that is more necessary than anything else.

The other person stands out as a great example of a man pressing forward to that supreme object, that is, "the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus."

In Luke then, we read of this young ruler who was sufficiently interested to come to the Lord, and he was in earnest also, for another Gospel tells us he came "running." He was clearly anxious to embrace the opportunity of an interview with Christ. We are told that he came and knelt to Christ: this attitude showed an absence of pride in him. He had some regard for the "Prophet of Nazareth," and so he did Him reverence by bowing his knee to Him. He then asked Him the question of all questions, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life? This life was something the law could not give him. There was an attraction about Christ Jesus and His teaching that gave the ruler to feel that Jesus could help him to find the treasure he sought. He wanted "life," the life which is the real life. "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

And the Lord looking upon him, as we are told. by Mark, "loved him." That great and compassionate heart of divine love was specially moved towards the ruler because he had put the question so many people forget altogether. They pass through the world as though they were on the same level with the beasts that perish, and think nothing of the life that is beyond the grave. They utterly disregard the fact that it is within their power to bow their knees before the Holy God and to seek His face. But here was a man who had thought about the life which was the true and the eternal. He had come to the right person to learn, and the Lord loved to see such a movement in the heart of one of the rulers towards Himself. There were so many of that generation who despised Him. Simon the Pharisee, for instance, invited Jesus into his house just to see what He would do, just to take Him off, as it were, little thinking that the Lord knew all about his motives. We often forget the Lord's omniscience.

But Jesus listened to the young man's question, and answered it in His own way, saying, "Why callest thou Me good?" The term was true, but the question gave the opportunity for the ruler to exercise his faith in the Lord and to confess His name. He was looking upon Him who was a "Man of sorrows," and yet that humble Man was the Man whom God had anointed, who was God's Fellow, the Son of God here below. This Man before Him was God Himself in person — to believe on if he would. Jesus was good because He was God, and if the young ruler had only believed on Him, his words would have been perfectly true and proper.

Then Jesus referred the ruler to the commandments, and he said, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Here was the young man's mistake. He had come to Jesus to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. By the law righteousness could never come, nor life either. There was no person ever able to keep the commandments. The young man, however, according to his own estimation, had kept them, but he forgot that it was not a question of what he himself thought and saw, but the important question was what God saw, and God saw that he had failed.

You children here tonight know that when you do your home lessons you may think that they are written quite nicely and correctly, but when teacher marks them the next morning, she puts a large cross against some of them, which means that they are wrong. In your own eyes they were quite right, but in your teacher's eyes they were wrong. It is just the same with us: our actions may appear in our own eyes to be quite correct, but not so in God's sight. So that it is no use for any to base a hope for salvation upon what they have done or upon what they can do.

And so the Lord put the test to the profession of this man, "Yet lackest thou one thing, sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me." The Lord, as it were, put the test in this way, What do you think of Me? I am come down from heaven, I was rich but for your sake I became poor. I have come down to be here as a man; I have not come to be ministered unto; I am going through this world teaching My disciples to look forward to that glorious time which is not of this world; will you follow Me? will you be on My side? You will have much to put up with. Do you think I am worth following? Do you think I am worth the renunciation of all that you have in this world? Do you esteem Me to be greater riches than all your possessions?

The young man broke down at this trial. He had no heart for Christ, no eyes to see that He was the "chiefest among ten thousand." He turned away very sad about it, sorry that he could not have eternal life on some other terms, more suitable in his own eyes.

Saul of Tarsus, too, at one time lacked the one thing, but that one thing could not be known. until he was broken down. His pride, his confidence in his own righteousness, was all humbled when he saw the beauty of Christ.

God in His own way applies this test to us individually. We should all ask ourselves whether we are prepared to give up all things for Christ.

But the young ruler went away from the Lord. It was such a blow to Jesus when men went away from Him.

The voice of the Lord Jesus calls here tonight, "Come, follow Me." Who will respond? who will be on the Lord's side, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ? If you believe on Him you will never be ashamed. He will carry you through every difficulty in the face of every foe, and bring you through this world into the glory that lies beyond.

In the other scripture that I read we have a word which applies particularly to those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus. There are those who say they follow Him, but their hearts are really far away. I quite understand that a person may believe in Christ, and not confess Him with his mouth. There are such curious persons to be found in the world; for it is possible that a person may have believed in his soul that the Lord Jesus is his Saviour, but never dared t0 breathe it to anyone else. This is a very improper state, for any, and there is a very solemn word in Scripture in connection with it. There is a verse in Romans 10 which says that a person has not only to believe in his heart, but to confess with his mouth. A man may believe in his heart that Jesus is the Lord, but then there must be the other thing, the confession made with the mouth.

In Philippians 3:13 you have a word which applies expressly to those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Just referring again to those  here who go to school, you know that at the end of the term there is usually one prize offered for the best scholar, but it is not so in the Christian life; there will be a prize for all who have loved and served Christ faithfully here below. W. J. H.