What Must I do to Inherit Eternal life?
That’s a question that I wish everyone would ask. What must I do to inherit eternal life. A lot of people would simply say.. What must I do to be saved. Saved from the consequences of sin, so that you can inherit eternal life.
Well, in the bible, in Mark chapter 10, we have the story about a man who came to Jesus, and asked Him that very question. Here’s what the bible says, in Mark 10, verse 17; “And when He was gone forth into the way, (Jesus was heading down the road, leaving where He had just been) there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
Luke 18 tells the same story, and in verse 18 Luke writes; “And a certain ruler asked him, saying; Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Now, we don’t know exactly what position this man held, as a “ruler”, but he ran to catch up with Jesus, and he actually knelt before Him. He was certainly showing a lot of respect for Jesus. Not quite like the Pharisees who were rulers of the Jews, who typically confronted Jesus. But this man wasn’t confronting Jesus at all; He was seeking the words of life, wasn’t he? What must I do to inherit eternal life?
It reminds me a bit of Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, to hear words of life. Here’s what we’re told about Nicodemus, from John 3, verses 1 & 2; “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (so not all rulers of the Jews were so adamantly opposed to Jesus) He came to Him by night and said to Him; Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one is able to do these signs that You do, unless God should be with him.” You see, Nicodemus had some commons sense didn’t he? He knew who to go to to hear words of life. To the man who obviously came from God!
But let’s get back to this other ruler, from Mark 10. The man had said to Jesus in verse 17; “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And Jesus replies; “..Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”
You know, a lot of people question that statement. What was Jesus saying there? Was Jesus saying that He wasn’t good? But Jesus didn’t say that He wasn’t “good”. What He said was that “..No one is good except God alone.” He didn’t say that HE wasn’t good! So then I wonder if Jesus was trying to get this man, this ruler of the Jews, to acknowledge, whether or not he understood, that Jesus was indeed “God in the flesh”.
People make a big “to do” over that statement, “..Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” They automatically think that Jesus was saying that HE wasn’t “good” like the Father in heaven is “good”. But like I just pointed out, Jesus didn’t say that. The fact is, that Jesus WAS just as “good” as the Father in heaven, because Jesus was indeed “God who came to earth, in the flesh”!
Remember John 1, verse 1; “..and God was the word!” And verse 14 which says; “..And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” And Hebrews 1, verse 3 tells us; “And He is the radiance of His glory, and the exact representation of His nature..” What’s the nature of God? Is God’s nature “good”? It sure is! And Jesu was the “exact representation of that nature! Was Jesus “good” in the same sense that God in heaven is “good”? He sure was, without a doubt He was!
So Jesus asks the man; ““..Why do you call Me good? No one is good, except God alone.” Are you acknowledging that I am God? Well, the man doesn’t exactly jump in and answer that question, and so Jesus continues.. “You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat others, honor your father and mother. ”
Jesus names six of the ten commandments there, right? Do you think that Jesus was implying that of you obey just those six, that you’ll inherit eternal life? No, that’s not what Jesus was implying. What He was implying, is that you must obey God’s commands! Period! All of God’s commands! There were literally hundreds of commands that the Jews needed to live by. Just obeying six of them wouldn’t save anyone.
And so I;ve really never heard anyone say that Jesus was implying that those six commands were all one needed to do to be saved. But yet that’s exactly the kind of “false reasoning that people want to use when it comes to us today. What do WE have to do it inherit eternal life? Well, someone says.. Just believe, that’s all! It says right here in Ephesians 2, verse 8; “For by grace you are saved, through faith..” Or, maybe they’ll cite Acts 16:31 which says; “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” You see, all you have to do is have faith, in other words, believe.
But God isn’t implying that simple believe in Jesus is ALL that’s required, in order to inherit eternal life, any more than Jesus was implying that just obeying six of the ten commandments would save the Jews.
So now, listen to what the ruler says to Jesus; (Mark 10, verse 20) “Teacher,” he replied, “all these I have kept from my youth.” He was probably referring to all of the ten commandments, even though Jesus only mentioned six of them. He was probably implying, that he has always kept all the commandments.
However, maybe he didn’t “keep” all those commandments as well as he though he did. But listen to what Jesus tells him next.. (verse 21) “Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him; One thing thou lackest: Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
Jesus evidently didn’t think of this man as a hypocrite, as He repeatedly called so many of the Jewish leaders, especially the Pharisees. Because the scripture says; “Then Jesus beholding him, loved him..” Jesus felt love for a man who had probably been very sincere in trying to keep the law of Moses. But yet, he was still lacking. But Jesus had love for him, and so He says to the man; “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
The man had said; “all these I have kept from my youth.” But evidently there was one commandment that he didn’t do quite so good with. And that would be the 10th commandment.. Thou shalt not covet. Jesus knew the man’s heart, He knew his weakness. And so He told the man to sell what he had, and give to the poor. But verse 22 says; “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
It would be hard to give up your possessions, wouldn’t it? And the more you have, the harder it would be. Why? Because it seems like physical, and material possessions, almost naturally, lead to some degree of covetousness. At least it did with this man. And he was probably pretty “normal”. We’re pretty “normal” aren’t we?
Does it make you wonder what Jesus would say to you, if you asked Him; Teacher, Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus might say; You know the new covenant laws; Hear the word of God, and acquire faith, (Romans 10:17) Confess your faith in Me (Mathew 10:32 & 33) Repent of your sins. (Luke 13:3) And be baptized for the forgiveness of those sins. (Acts 2, verse 38)
And we might say; “All these I have kept from my youth.” Or at least, all these have I done, in becoming a Christian. What more do I lack? I wonder what Jesus would tell us. I wonder what we would lack. Do we lack anything? Or do we lack several things?
I wish that Jesus could do that. I really do. I wish He could come to each one of us individually, and tell us plainly, what we might be lacking. Because we don’t want to be lacking anything.
Let me tell you a little story. This past week, I was talking to someone about the bible, and he asked me exactly what I’ve been talking about this evening. He asked; What do you think a person needs to do to be saved. Well, I didn’t get into a bunch of scriptures right off the bat, but I simply said that in order to initially be forgiven of past sins, we need to believe in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ the Son, and we need to be willing to confess our faith openly, and we need to repent of every one of our sins, and we need to be baptized for the forgiveness of those sins. I said, that brings us forgiveness of our past sins, and then as we sin again, we need to be sure to confess and repent of each sin that we commit.
Well, right then someone else joined in and said; That sounds a lot like what Jesus told the rich young ruler. And I thought to myself, yeah, it is a lot like that. Jesus went o the basics for that Jewish man. He basically told him to obey the commandments. But of course there’s so much that goes along with obeying the commands of God. And so Jesus went ahead and specified what was no doubt the biggest thing that the man was lacking.
And that’s a lot like what I told the first man I was talking to. Obey the basic and foundational commands of God, which are required, in order to be forgiven of your sins, and then go from there. And here’s so much that does go on from there. Like the two greatest commands, which are to love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with al thy mind, nd to love thy neighbor as thyself. Because as Jesus said; The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. some people say that the whole law and the prophets are fulfilled by these two commandments.
And then of course the bible goes on to get specific about all the good things we are to do for others, in “fulfilling the law of Christ”. “Bear one another’s burdens”, right? “And thus fulfill the law of Christ”. (Galatians 6:2) And “Do good unto ALL men..” (Verse 10)
So, what are we lacking, is one of the questions that we need to be concerned about. We know the basics, and we know much more than the basics, but what are we lacking from DOING, as we put our religion into practice?
Jesus said, in Mathew 7, verse 21; “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”