On one occasion a rich young man had come to him, asking what most ministers would consider a marvelous question. He said, “Good Master, how can I achieve eternal life?” We would have said, if we had been in Jesus’ position, “Well, here is a heart that has certainly been prepared by God.” But Jesus, who knew what was in the heart of man and knew how hard the heart is, began to probe a little bit to perceive the depth of his understanding and the nature in which the question was being asked. He discovered that the man, although he had lived a very good life and had done a lot of very good things, nevertheless, was so consumed by his wealth – and he had a great deal – that he was unable to follow Jesus.
So he told the young man what he would have to do. (He didn’t say it to everybody, but he did to this man.) Jesus told him to give away his possessions to the poor. Jesus told him to distribute to those in need, and then come and follow him. The story tells us that the young man went away sorrowful because he had many possessions. That led the disciples to ask one of the few penetrating and perceptive questions they ever asked. Usually their questions were foolish. But the disciples really did understand the problem. They understood that if this young man had a barrier, in terms of his wealth, well, then, they all had barriers of one sort or another. So they asked Jesus, if a man this good, who has kept the law, who merely fails at this one point–he loved his money – if this man can’t be saved, who then can be saved? Ah, a very good question! Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).
Why is it possible with God when it is impossible for man? The reason, of course, is that, as we believe, there is something above, beyond, behind, and over the universe as we know it. If we merely look at that which we know – the things that we experience, that which is bound by the cosmos – well then, we are bound by the laws of the cosmos and are limited by the achievements of our own nature. You see, if we live in that kind of a closed universe, then it is proper to say, “These things are impossible. Certain things are excluded from any possibility of human experience.” That is the kind of world in which our world believes – a closed universe. If there is nothing beyond, above, and over our universe, as we know it, then it is a closed universe, and the only things that are possible for us are those things that are possible for us to do.
Christians don’t believe that. Christians believe in God, and that God is the Creator of the universe. And because God is above, beyond, and over the universe all things are possible, even if they are not possible for you and me. A virgin birth, why not? God is the giver of life. God creates life. He brought life into existence originally. God can create a virgin birth if he so chooses. An incarnation – why not an incarnation? God made us originally. He made us in his image. If God chooses to take a body to himself, God can do that, and he doesn’t become contaminated in doing it either, because the God who was the author of the incarnation is also the God who made the flesh originally, and he made it not evil. It only becomes evil because of our rebellion against God. God can take human flesh to himself without sin.
How about the salvation of the race? Well, the atonement is God’s answer to that. It shows that that is possible. How about the hardness of the human heart? With God, all things are possible. He made the heart. He can change the heart. He can produce changes in the heart, just as he governs the direction of the winds. That is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” When Nicodemus complained that he didn’t understand what Jesus meant, Jesus responded by saying that “the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound. You cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John:3-8). Why? Because with God, all things are possible.