You Can’t Buy Your Way Into Heaven

Psalm 49:5-9– “Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit?”

Some see their money as their salvation or their “end all.” These are the individuals that would subscribe to the 1980’s bumper sticker mantra “he who dies with the most toys wins.” They depend and “trust” in their riches.

There is a story about the French atheist and philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778). He was a man who trusted in his riches for he was a very wealthy man. During the last few days of his death, he begged his doctor, “I will give you half of all I possess if you will give me six more months of life.”

It didn’t happen; none of his riches could slow the certainty of death. Those who trust in their riches think they can buy life.

Eternal life cannot be bought. It cannot be bought with good works or prestige or popularity or riches. Peter would say it this way, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet 1:18-19). It was “costly”; it cost the Son of God His life. And no “silver or gold” can “redeem his brother.”

Jim Clark, who co-founded Netscape, is an incredibly rich man who grew in his reputation of buying whatever he wanted when he wanted it. He once said, “I grew up in Texas, the prototypical poor boy. When you make it, you start to think there isn’t anything you want than you can’t buy.” He couldn’t be more wrong.

Wealthy people might be able to buy better health care or live in safe environments to extend their life but they cannot buy eternal life; God alone redeems.

Ligon Duncan said in his sermon “Trusting in Wealth” (based on Psalm 49),

“Riches cannot buy talent. They cannot buy the excellency of mind or heart. They cannot give a good physical constitution. They cannot prolong life. They tend to increase rather than diminish our fears. They cannot soothe a guilty conscience. They cannot cool a fever. They cannot fix a headache or a heartache. They can contribute nothing to salvation.”[1]

One commentator just simply says “Death laughs at bags of gold.”[2]

Wealth has always been insufficient and it will always be. It cannot purchase exemption from eternity in hell. Wealth cannot buy eternal life. It’s like trying to buy a house or car with Monopoly money; it just can’t happen. Money does not solve everything and it certainly can’t solve the biggest issue in life – our eternal destiny.


[1] J. Ligon Duncan, “Trusting in Wealth,”

[2] Exposition of Psalms, pg. 540.


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