If I could tell you a way whereby you could live forever, would you be interested? Well, the question was put to Jesus, and Jesus gave a straight answer. Would you like to hear it?
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
Now, there is our question. But the answer comes as a bit of surprise. One of the most fundamental Christian doctrines is that salvation is by grace, through faith and not of works. But listen to Jesus response.
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Now this comes as a bit of shock, not that we should keep these commandments, but the suggestion that works have anything to do with eternal life, right? There is a funny thing about the 10 commandments, though. They don’t call so much for you to do anything as to avoid doing things. Is it a
good work to abstain from committing murder? And surely we don’t think that men who habitually break the ten commandments will receive eternal life, do we?
I think what many confuse in this issue is that salvation is a rescue operation. Sin is the transgression of the law, right? And the wages of sin is death, right? Well, you cannot get rid of the guilt of sin by keeping the law. That can only come about by grace through faith. But the person who will not forsake the sin that killed him cannot receive the grace of God, no matter that God extends it to him. It is called repentance.