By Rev. James P. Cooper
There are two places in the New Testament where people - not disciples - approach the Lord and ask Him straight out, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
One occurs in the Gospel of Luke:
"And behold, a certain laywer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25).
The other occurs in the Gospel of Mark:
"Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17).
Jesus answers these two people with answers that are quite famous. In his answer to the lawyer, he said:
1. Love the Lord
2. Love your neighbor
3. And just in case you don't know who your neighbor is, here's the parable of the "Good Samaritan."
In his answer to the rich young man, he said:
1. Love the Lord.
2. Love the neighbor (but with a little more detail)
3. Follow the commandments
4. Then shun worldly things.
5. Be kind to others
6. And, most importantly, do this because of Me.
Taken together, these two incidents lay out four principles of life in the world that, if followed, will prepare us for eternal life in heaven.
The first principle: Believe that the Lord is God.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14-17).
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:66-69).
"The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His Human; and without this no mortal could have been saved; and those are saved who believe in Him." (True Christian Religion 2).
The second principle: Stop focusing on the things of the natural world; stop allowing your hereditary evils and your proprium to lead you.
"So Jesus answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.' " (Mark 10:29-30).
Anyone unacquainted with the internal sense of the Word will think that house , brothers , sisters , father , mother , wife , children , and fields mean house, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, and fields. But the meaning here is this The kinds of things present in a person which are properly his own must be forsaken by him, and instead of these, spiritual and celestial things which are the Lord s must be received by him. This change is effected by means of temptations, which are meant here by persecutions'. Anyone can see that if he forsakes his mother he is not going to receive mothers, nor likewise to receive brothers and sisters by forsaking these. (Arcana Coelestia 4843).
In Luke, Jesus said to the young ruler, You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. In the internal sense these words mean that everything completely a person's own, which consists of nothing but evil desires and false ideas, ought to be alienated from him, for such desires and ideas are meant by 'all that he has', and then he will receive from the Lord good desires and true ideas, which are 'treasure in heaven'. Arcana Coelestia 5886 .
The Third Principle: Do good works, be kind to each other.
(Luke 10:25-29) "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said, " You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. " And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
To answer this key question, the Lord told the parable of the good Samaritan.
Your neighbor is not someone of your family, town, or race. Everyone is your neighbor and deserving of your care.
God does good in the world through us! Our care for the neighbor is HIS care for the neighbor. Just as He uses us to create new angels, He uses us to do good in the world.
The Fourth Principle: Take up the cross and follow Him, that is, endure in temptations, and do this things not for yourself, but because He has asked it of you.
(Matthew 25:34-46) "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. If you do these things, the reward will be great."
Just four principles.