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The Rich Man, the Eye of a Needle and Heaven

As far back as I can remember I’ve heard Christians say, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” In fact, in past years, this is what I said that Jesus said about this topic. I was wrong when I taught this. Let’s take a moment to carefully examine what our Lord said. Let’s take time to learn the importance of reading the Bible more carefully.

So, let me ask you, is the following statement true? “The Bible teaches that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” True or false? Suppose I were to say that this is not what the Bible says. There is a context in which these words were said. However, we far too often fail to read the verses before and after a single favorite verse. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the words of Jesus in this way. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” How then could I have said, “This is not what the Bible says”?

Take time to study the matter more deeply. Mark adds another aspect of the rich man which so many have overlooked. Just before Jesus spoke of the rich man and the needle, Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:24). The kind of rich man Jesus had in mind when he spoke of the eye of the needle was the rich man who trusts in his riches. It was not the possession of the riches which was the problem, it was the trust rich men foolishly place in their riches.

Think about it for just a moment. How rich was David? How rich was young Solomon? How rich was Job? Have you not known Christians who were rich, yet their riches did not destroy their spirituality? We have failed to see precisely what Jesus was saying. The dangers of riches is that because of them men begin to trust in their riches more than in God.

There’s one other thing we need to see about rich men and the eye of a needle. The passage is not discussing entering heaven but entering the kingdom of heaven. What is that kingdom? The Bible clearly shows that the kingdom of heaven is the church! Jesus was not saying that rich men have problems entering into heaven, but they have problems entering into the church. Those who trust in riches rarely become Christians, but if they truly die to self in their repentance, they become tremendous assets to the cause of Christ. When they die to self, their riches no longer control them. They control their riches!

Let me encourage you to read the Bible more carefully. Read it more slowly. You may be overlooking great truths!