What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?


Today in the church there seems to be a serious difference in opinion regarding the nature of obedience. Some have stood declaring that obedience to God’s law is unnecessary to salvation and even impossible. I, on the other hand would say that obedience to God is extremely necessary to salvation and is indeed possible for every child of God.

As far as I understand it, the Bible is quite clear. The account of the rich young ruler helps, “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 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 commandment.” Matthew 19:16-17. Now we know that salvation is not of works, so what was Christ telling the young ruler? Christ was not telling the young man that he must earn merit in order to obtain eternal life, but rather he must meet a condition in order to receive eternal life. “In reply to this question [what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?] Jesus told him that obedience to the commandments of God was necessary if he would obtain eternal life . . . . All should consider what it means to desire heaven, and yet to turn away because of the conditions laid down.” Desire of Ages, 518, 523. God extends the gift of salvation to us, but we must submit and meet the condition laid out before us, that is, obedience to God…not just believing. “The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined. It is plainly stated that the condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God.” Review and Herald, 26 October 1897. In other words, there is no salvation without obedience (1 Selected Messages, 364).

One can say that they believe and have faith, but “faith without works is dead,” the Bible says and that even “the devils believe and tremble,” (James 2:17-20) so mere belief and faith alone cannot secure our salvation. It is faith in Christ that gives us the strength to obey. One might say that we only need a relationship with God, or it is the only thing that matters….that will save us. Well, our relationship with God is the important thing however, what kind of relationship do we really think we have if we are not obeying God? Jesus said, “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord (those that claim a relationship) shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:27. Jesus also says that, “ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14.

There is also the idea that man cannot keep God’s law anyway. My question to that would be this, why would God tell us to obey Him if we could not? Why would God tell us repeatedly to repent and turn from our wicked way to righteousness, to forsake our sin and keep His statutes? (Ezekiel 18:20-24; 3:18-21; 14:4-6; 33:8-16; etc.). However, trying to meet God’s holy standard alone will prove worthless. We need the grace of Christ to help us. “The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of the Christians hope, and that grace will be manifested in obedience.” Great Controversy, 256. We must have the abiding presence of Christ in us if we are to live holy lives….for it is Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). “With Christ working in you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same good works of righteousness, obedience.” Steps to Christ, 63.

“The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been, just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents, perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized.” Steps to Christ, 62. God has not changed, but many are now teaching contrary to God’s word. It is sad to hear others push aside God’s law. By doing so, we place ourselves on the side of Satan who accused God of being unjust and boldly claimed that His law could not be kept. Let us shun any demonic idea and may we in faith look “unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 1:24.

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