Sunday, 22 January 2023 05:11

Article of faith: Why rich people can’t go to heaven - Femi Aribisala

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Femi Aribisala Femi Aribisala

Jesus says: “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.” (Matthew 19:24).

This means it is impossible for a rich man to go to heaven by the same token that it is impossible for a camel to enter the eye of a needle.

Christians, who are lovers of money, ignore this statement at their peril. They fool themselves by saying what is impossible with man is possible with God. But God will never contradict Himself. He will never make it possible for a rich man to enter heaven.

Despising the Rich

God did not send Jesus to the rich. He sent Him to the poor. When He inaugurated His ministry, Jesus read from Isaiah, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.” (Luke 4:18).

This is without ambiguity. The gospel of the kingdom of God is specifically for the poor and not for the rich.

James leaves no one in doubt about this. He says: “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).

It is the poor that God has chosen and not the rich. Accordingly, Mary says: “(God) has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:52-53).

Jesus addresses this dichotomy between the poor and the rich in the kingdom of God. He says: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:20-21).

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” (Luke 6:24-25).

James even presents a lamentation for the rich because God has rejected them:

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.” (James 5:1-5).

Amos echoes this: “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion. (Amos 6:1).

Ignoring Jesus

The problem with the Christian church today is that Jesus’ words are often ignored. Jesus warns: “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38).

Jesus tells the story of poor Lazarus and the rich man. When Lazarus, the beggar, dies, he is received by angels and carried aloft to Abraham’s bosom. But when the rich man dies, he goes to Hades, a place of torment.

In agony, the rich man pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus with just a drop of water to cool his tongue. But Abraham replies: “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.” (Luke 16:25).

This shows that heaven is redemptive. Those who have on earth will be destitute in heaven. Those who are destitute on earth will be rich in heaven. But the modern church insists on consolation here and now, thereby making many unfit for the kingdom of God.

Jesus puts this graphically: “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:30).

The first in the world can never be first in the kingdom of God. For the first to be heirs of God, they have to become last here before they can be first in heaven.

Listen to Jesus: “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35).

Therefore, Jesus tells the rich young ruler who asks what he must do to inherit eternal life: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21).

He warns the heirs of salvation: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Divine Prescriptions

Contrary to the heresy of the prosperity gospel currently prevalent in the churches today, it is foolish to aspire to be rich:

“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Therefore, be poor in spirit and the kingdom of heaven will be yours. (Matthew 5:3). “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:9-10).

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Bad Success

Prosperity in this world is illusory: “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” (Psalm 73:12).

Jesus says worldly riches are deceitful. (Matthew 13:22). Ditto for success in the world. “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).

God redefines success. He implies there is good success, and bad success. The success cherished and obtained in the world is bad.

He says to Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).

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