Mark 12.34 observes Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
If you believe in God it cant get much scarier than to have Him say you are not far from entrance. The good news is you are close. The bad news is you are close!
Getting close to entering heaven isn’t the same as being in heaven. Its like saying Seattle won the Superbowl, they didn’t but they sure were close.
Why was the this guy close and not in the kingdom of heaven?
He was close because He understood well what God required from people to get into heaven.
This religious scholar knew the myriad of religious law but he also appeared to understand the nature of God that they could be summarized into loving God and loving our neighbor. As an official religious person he no doubt was a believer in God.
Most of us would agree that if you believe in God and know what He requires you must be part of His family. Not so much says the One Who is called the gate and the door into eternal life.
So what is this guy missing? The text doesn’t say.
I purport that he first missed the fact that he was discussing getting into heaven with God Himself. To this religious guy, his religion didn’t include Jesus being the Messiah, the One Who determines who gets in and who stays out. To this religious guy Jesus was just another passing preacher with a nice smile and a great road show.
Jesus is emphatic in all of His teaching: reject Him as Savior and you reject your meal ticket to heaven.
Second, knowing and doing are not the same. All of us know much more than we do. Our waistline is the most practical and visible identifier of our discrepancy between knowing and doing. Loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves is not easy.
Loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength and loving my neighbor to the same degree I want to be loved by my neighbor is truly impossible. My failure proves daily my need for a Savior.
So if I want to get into heaven I need to do more than believe in God and accept His commands.
I need to reach up to Him for mercy and accept Him as my Savior realizing I am too poor to obey Him on my own.