What must you do to inherit eternal life?


What must you do to be saved? This was exactly the question that a rich young man asked Jesus in Luke 18:18.

Luke 18:18 (ESV) - And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

How does the answer that Jesus gave compare to the answer that the "Iglesia Ni Cristo" would give?

No one is good except God.

Shockingly, Jesus did not begin his answer by giving this young man a list of things that he should or should not do. Instead, Jesus first identifies who is truly good.[1]

Luke 18:19 (ESV) - And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."

Do you consider yourself to be a "good person"? You should not, because Jesus said that the only one who is good is God. To put it simply, mere humans are not good because mere humans sin and are not God.

Sinful people can do nothing to earn eternal life.

What can sinful people do to inherit eternal life? Nothing. No amount of church attendance, religious ceremonies, "good" works, or penance can make a sinner righteous.

Consider a man who has raped, murdered, stolen, and lied. Can such a man become innocent simply by going to church or performing religious ceremonies? Should this man’s sentence be removed just because he is sorry for what he has done? Could a fair judge let him go just because he promises to never do those things again?

Absolutely not! Any righteous judge would have to declare such a person guilty regardless of any "good" he otherwise did.

You must confess that you are a helpless sinner.

What we must understand, which the young ruler in Luke 18 did not, is that we are fallen sinners.

Luke 18:20 (ESV) - 20 "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth."

This young man thought he had kept the commandments of God, but how did Jesus define adultery? He said that "everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28). And what about murder? Jesus again said that, "everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:22).

The truth is that we have all lied and committed adultery, murder, and theft. We are sinners. You are a sinner. And if you are still unconvinced then I challenge you to obey the greatest commandment -- which is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength -- just as Jesus challenged the young ruler to do:

Luke 18:22-23 (ESV) - 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

You must ask God to give you eternal life as a free gift

Since there is nothing you can do to earn salvation, you must ask God to forgive you of your sins even though you absolutely do not deserve it. You have to beg with the tax collector,

Luke 18:13b (ESV) - 13b "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"

And when you do -- good news -- God promises that he will give you eternal life, not because of what you have done, but because of what Christ has done for you!

Romans 5:8 (ESV) - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is contrary to the gospel preached by the INC, which teaches that we are counted righteous in part because of our works. Instead of believing a gospel of receiving mercy through church membership and good works, INC members should turn to a gospel of forgiveness of sins through faith in the cross of Christ.

[1] Notice that in this verse, Jesus did not deny that he is God, but confessed that he is God.