Pause for thought
Written by: | Posted on: | Category:

When reading scripture, I often wish I had more information about the context surrounding some incident or event that is recorded there.

Here is an example: Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Matthew 19:15 NLT

And here is another: As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17 NLT

And another: One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25 NLT

Another: Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18 NLT

And yet another: Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30 NLT

As you can see, it was no isolated occurence to have some person, seemingly at random, seek advice from Jesus about how to be assured of everlasting or eternal life.

I’m sure that these same people made similar inquiries of the religious leaders and teachers of the time, and I would love to know what their answers might have been. We do get some clues when Jesus asked one of the lawyers how they interpreted the Scriptures in this regard:

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:25-28 NLT

The problem with that standard, of course, is that it is impossible to attain in a human life-span!

However, Jesus let his disciples know the easy-peasy secret of eternal life:

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 NLT

For many of Jesus’ followers, this kind of teaching was a step too far, and John tells us in his Gospel that many of them decided to leave for other, more accomodating teachers. But Peter certainly understood:

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66-69 NLT

Paul emphasizes the same point in his letter to the church in Rome:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 NLT

I have to believe that people today are asking the self same question amid all the conflicting noise and confusion of our culture. And I also believe that the answer has not changed either — it is through faith in Jesus we are saved to eternal life!

Salvation is a precious gift offered to everyone, and all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior receive salvation. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are reconciled with God, forgiven of all our sins, and granted eternal life. This salvation is based not on anything we have done but on God’s grace alone.

Our salvation depends not on our feelings or circumstances but on the unchanging character of God and the finished work of Christ. We are saved by grace through faith, and nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ.

Assurance of salvation brings peace and security to our souls. Yet this does not mean we can grow complacent or have a license to sin. The gift of salvation prompts us to live in gratitude and obedience. Knowing that we are saved, we are motivated to live lives that honor and glorify God. We strive to grow in faith, walking in step with the Spirit and sharing the hope of salvation with others.

So the answer to the question of the moment, “What must I do?” is “believe that Jesus is eternal life, and trust in his grace”.

It seems too simple, but yet it is profoundly true!

Other people — friends, family, acquaintences — are asking this question too.

It would be a deriliction of our shared humanity not to share the answer with them!

Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black

P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at