Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
This question was posed to Jesus by a young man who has been traditionally labeled as the “Rich Young Ruler.” (See Luke 18:18). Jesus questioned the man about how well the man had obeyed the ten commandments.
He responded that he had kept all the commandments that Jesus listed out. Jesus gave one more step. He told the man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. The man went away sad because he was a wealthy man. (See Luke 18:18-25)
Inheriting Eternal Life
In a matter of one request, Jesus pointed out two ways that this man who thought he was obeying the law was not following everything God said. First, since the man was unwilling to let go of his wealth to help the poor, he showed that he loved his wealth more than he loved God. His wealth was more important than God.
The things of his life had become his god above the one true God. He broke the commandment:
Second, since the man was unwilling to put others ahead of himself by selling his material possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor, he was not living out:
Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).
In one response to Jesus’ question, the rich young ruler broke two of God’s mandates. He could not keep the law. So are we. If we cannot keep the law of God, how can we inherit eternal life? How can we experience the life that Jesus says He is offering?
The answer is this: believe and respond.
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
The first step to inheriting eternal life is to believe. That is, to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to experience the forgiveness of sin and to reconcile back to God.
Everyone has a problem that the Bible identifies as sin. Whenever you disobey God and choose to do things your way, it is a sin. For that sin, you deserve death (see Romans 6:23).
This death is a spiritual death that separates you from God. But in Christ, you can have that sin forgiven, and your relationship with God restored.
The way that occurs in your life is to believe that Jesus is who He said He is, and that Jesus accomplished on the cross what you could never accomplish for yourself. This belief is what the Bible calls faith.
We cannot be justified, that is declared right before God, by what we do or by keeping the rules. The only way to be right with God is through faith.
Jesus also described it this way. When asked what must be done to do what God requires, Jesus said:
What must you do to inherit eternal life? Believe in who God sent to be the Savior of the world. Place your faith in Jesus Christ.
The second step to inheriting eternal life is to respond. After you have believed in Jesus as God’s Son and the perfect sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sin of the word, you are called to respond to that faith by walking with and living for Christ.
Once you embrace Christ through faith, you display that faith by declaring and living that Jesus is Lord.
If Jesus is your Lord, that means that you will live your life doing what He wants you to do rather than what you want to do. He is the One who gets to dictate how your life will go. He is Lord of you.
Responding to your faith by acknowledging and living that Jesus is Lord shows that your faith is genuine and life-changing.
Inheriting eternal life is not accomplished by keeping the rules. Instead, to gain it, you must believe by placing your faith in Christ and responding to Jesus as the Lord of your life.
“How can I inherit eternal life?” Believe and respond.
When you are ready to become a committed Christian, it means you are prepared to engage in your first real conversation with your Creator, God.
You acknowledge that you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Jesus left Heaven and came down to earth in the form of man and lived like a man, yet led a sinless life.
The prayer of salvation admits that Jesus died in our place, and because of that saving action, we don’t have to pay the ultimate penalty we deserve.
Through this prayer, we are confessing of our past sinful life — admitting we are now ready to trust and embrace the saving grace of Jesus Christ fully.
We are asking Jesus to
- enter our hearts,
- reside there,
- and start living through us.
Why Do We Need Salvation Prayer?
Because of our sinful lives, God’s judgment is upon us — death (see Romans 6:23). Because we were born in sin and our sinful nature, death is what we deserve, and there is not much that you and I can do to correct or make matters right with God.
It is because of God’s love for us that He became flesh and lived among us, Jesus Christ.
However, we rejected God’s Son and put Jesus to a horrifying death through crucification. It was Jesus dying in our place, taking the burden of our sins and our deserved judgment upon Himself (see 2 Cor. 5:21).
After death, Jesus resurrected, proving that His final payment for our sin was sufficient. He had, by the power of God, overcome both sin and death.
God offers us salvation as a gift that we receive through a prayer of salvation. You may want to read 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 for more on that.
Your Salvation Begins With an Expression of Faith
Salvation is an expression of faith in Jesus Christ, and when we say the salvation prayer, we are effectively letting God know we accept and believe His Word is real, genuine, and living.
Through the faith imparted to us by God, we are now choosing to believe and trust in Him. We are expressing our free will, choosing to believe in Him, a demonstration of faith.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that:
What Does the Prayer Imply?
The Sinner’s Prayer is said to be an admission that we have sinned.
The Bible says:
For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Uttering the Sinner’s Prayer signifies a recognition that everyone, except Jesus Christ, has sinned.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
A simple prayer of salvation and repentance
A model prayer of faith can be molded along these lines, but your words must come from conviction:
“Dear God, I know and accept that I am a sinner, not deserving to receive eternal life.
But, today, I believe that You died and rose again from the dead to purchase a place for me in Heaven.
Lord Jesus Christ, come now into my life and take full control of my life.
From now, be my Lord and Savior, save me, and forgive my sins. I repent of all my sins, and now I place all my trust in You.
I receive and accept your gift of eternal salvation and eternal life -Amen”.
Having noted the above, it is important you don’t just base your salvation on the fact that you have said the Sinner’s Prayer.