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What shall I do to inherit eternal life?
Query for the Month
Next up-date: December 1st 2009 (God willing).
Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.
Some perpetual questions ....
Is there really an immortal soul?
Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world? Click here to find out!
Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can share amongst your friends. It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! (when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in. Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )
In the meantime, try this site. And here's one where you can read it online.
Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library. No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law [Old Testament]? How read you?”
And he answering said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind [Deuteronomy 6:5]; and your neighbour as yourself” [Leviticus 19:18].
And He said to him, “You have answered right: this do [as evidence of salvation], and you shall live [a good life]”.
Can we trust our own understanding of the word of God, or is that also only trusting in man? How can we be sure that what we have is the truth?
How can we love God with ALL our heart, soul, strength and mind?
Only by knowing Him.
“For the scripture says, ‘Whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed’. [Isaiah 28:16.] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same LORD over all is rich to all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name [character = Saviour] of the LORD shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’ [Isaiah 52:7.] Romans 10:11-15.
We may need someone to show us the scriptures initially, but after that we need to read and understand for ourselves what God is like. When the lawyer came to Jesus with the inquiry, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the Saviour referred him to the scriptures, saying: “What is written in the law? How read you?” So that’s what we need to do. Ignorance will not excuse young or old, nor release us from the punishment due for the transgression of God's law when there is in our hands a faithful presentation of that law and of its principles and claims.
(Yes, there is a punishment for transgressing God’s law, but that does not mean that He does the punishing! It is the sin itself which does that, for “the wages [the payment] of sin is death”. Romans 6:23. He is trying to save us from that and says, “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [receive] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [repent and come to Me], and live you”. Ezekiel 18:31-32.)
Of course, if we don’t have access to a written copy of God’s requirements, then the following verses apply;- “For when the Gentiles, which have not the [written] law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel”. Romans 2:14-16.
Moses wrote; “All the commandments which I command you this day shall you observe to do, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, [for you] to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments, or no. [Consider Jeremiah 17:9.] And He humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live”. Deuteronomy 8:1-3.
When we realise this, we will know that we are all in the same boat and will not condemn our fellows anymore, but will love and encourage them instead.
“Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ [the Sent of God] is [re]born of God: and every one that loves Him that begat loves him [or her] also that is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous [hard to do]. For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith”. 1 John 5:1-4. So love for our fellow Christians is a sure sign.
“Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers [and sisters], see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever”. 1 Peter 1:22-23.
“Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brothers [and sisters], be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing [condemnation] for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing”. 1 Peter 3:8-9.
And John also wrote: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers [and sisters]. He that loves not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is [really] a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers [and sisters].” 1 John 3:14-16.
It is not enough to have good intentions;
it is not enough to do what we think is right
or what the Bible teacher tells us is right.
Our sanctification [Christian life, Christian example] is at stake here, and we should search the Scriptures for ourselves. However strong may be our convictions, however confident we may be that the minister knows what is truth, this is not our foundation. We have a chart pointing out every major event on the heavenward journey, and we ought not to guess at anything.
It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his or her example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help we are to form our opinions for ourselves as we are to answer for ourselves before the Son of God as in Matthew 25:31-46.
Because the truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have often been involved in doubt and darkness by many learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: “You know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God”. Mark 12:24. Jesus also told them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte [follower], and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves”. Matthew 23:15.
The language of the Bible should be received according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. Christ has given the promise: “If any man [or woman] will do His will, he [she] shall know of the doctrine”. John 7:17. If we would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse our minds, a work would be accomplished that would make angels glad and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who are now wandering in error. They are not necessarily lost forever, for that depends on whether they are a “sheep” [a led one] or a “goat” [an independent], but they are certainly lost to righteousness temporarily.
We should exert all the powers of our mind in the study of the Scriptures and should allow the Spirit to train our understanding to comprehend, as far as mortals can, the deep things of God; yet we must not forget that the docility and submission of a child is the true spirit of the learner. Mark 10:15.
Scriptural difficulties can never be mastered by the same methods that are employed in grappling with philosophical problems.
We should not engage in the study of the Bible with that self-reliance with which so many enter the domains of science (if I see it, I’ll believe it), but with a prayerful dependence upon God and a sincere desire to learn His will (if He says so, it is so). We must come with a humble and teachable spirit to obtain knowledge from the great I AM. Otherwise, evil angels will so blind our minds and harden our hearts that we shall not be impressed by the truth.
Many a portion of Scripture which learned men and women pronounce a mystery, or pass over as unimportant, is full of comfort and instruction when we have been taught in the school of Christ. One reason why many theologians have no clearer understanding of God's word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not wish to practice.
Understanding of Bible truth depends not so much on the power of intellect brought to the search as on our singleness of purpose, our earnest longing after righteousness. Jesus told us, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled”. Matthew 5:6.
The Bible should never be studied without prayer for guidance. The Holy Spirit alone can cause us to feel the importance of those things easy to be understood, or prevent us from wresting truths difficult of comprehension as Peter warned us;
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells [only] righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering [patience] of our LORD is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [twist], as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness”. 2 Peter 3:13-17.
However, it is also the work of heavenly angels to prepare our hearts to so comprehend God's word that we shall be charmed with its beauty, admonished by its warnings, or animated and strengthened by its promises. We should make the psalmist's petition our own: “Open You my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law”. Psalm 119:18. Temptations often appear irresistible because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, we cannot readily remember God's promises and meet Satan with the scripture weapons. But angels are round about those of us who are willing to be taught in divine things; and in the time of great necessity they will help to bring to our remembrance the very truths which are needed. “The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear Him, and delivers them”. Psalm 34:7.
Thus “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard [of Bible truths] against him” and we shall overcome. Isaiah 59:19.
How can we be sure that what we have is the truth of salvation? When it leads us to love God and be obedient to His commands, and when we love our neighbours as we would like to be loved. It's that simple!
It's not just a profession, but actions which show love.
Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from December 1st, 2009.
Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
What wisdom is needed to understand the number 666? And who does it apply to?
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