How Shall I Inherit Eternal Life?
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.
Arcana Coelestia # 5886
5886. 'Whom you sold into Egypt' means the internal which they had alienated. This is clear from the representation of Joseph, the one whom they had 'sold', as the internal, dealt with in 5805, 5826, 5827; from the meaning of 'selling' as alienating, dealt with in 4752, 4758, while 'Egypt' here means the lowest parts, as it does below in 5889. For placing some subject among the facts one knows without any acknowledgement of it is casting it to the sides, thus to the last or lowest parts of the mind. This is also how it is at the present day with the subject of the internal in the human being. The subject exists, it is true, among known facts because religious teaching provides knowledge of the existence of the internal man. Yet it is cast away to the lowest parts of the mind because there is no acknowledgement of it or belief in its existence, as a result of which it is alienated, not, it is true, from the memory but from faith. In the internal sense 'selling' is alienating matters of faith and charity, consequently the things that make a person a member of the internal Church, as may be recognized from the fact that in the spiritual world no buying or selling like that on earth takes place. Instead there is the making one's own of goodness and truth, meant by 'buying', and the alienation of them, meant by 'selling'. 'Buying' also means a communication of cognitions of goodness and truth, for the reason that 'trade' means the acquisition and communication of such cognitions, 2967, 4453; but in this case selling is said to be done 'not by silver'.
 The meaning of 'selling' as alienating is also evident from the following places in the Word: In Isaiah,
Thus said Jehovah, Where is your mother's bill of divorce, whom I have put away? Or who of My usurers is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, because of your sins you have been sold, and because of your transgressions your mother has been put away. Isaiah 50:1.
'Mother' stands for the Church, 'selling' for alienating. In Ezekiel,
The time has come, the day has arrived. Do not let the buyer rejoice, and do not let the seller mourn, because wrath is on the whole multitude of it. For the seller will not return to the thing that has been sold, though his life may still be among the living ones. Ezekiel 7:12-13.
This refers to the land of Israel, which is the spiritual Church. 'The seller stands for one who has alienated truths and subtly introduced falsities.
 In Joel,
You have sold the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem to the sons of the Greeks, so that you might remove them far away from their borders. Behold, I will raise them up out of the place to which you have sold them. And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the sons of Judah, who will sell them to the Sabeans, 1 a people far off. Joel 3:6-8.
In this reference to Tyre and Sidon 'selling' again stands for alienating. In Moses,
Their rock sold them, and Jehovah shut them up. Deuteronomy 32:30.
'Selling' plainly stands for alienating. In the highest sense 'rock' is the Lord as regards truth, and in the representative sense faith, while 'Jehovah' is the Lord as regards good.
 Since 'buying' in the spiritual sense is acquiring to oneself and 'selling' is alienating, the Lord compares the kingdom of heaven to one selling and buying, in Matthew,
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man (homo) finds and hides, and in his joy he goes and sells whatever he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader seeking fine pearls, who, when he has found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46.
'The kingdom of heaven' stands for the good and truth present with a person, and so for heaven present with him. 'Field' stands for good and 'pearl' for truth, while 'buying' stands for acquiring these and making them one's own. 'Selling all that one has' stands for alienating that which previously was properly one's own, thus alienating evil desires and false ideas, for these are properly one's own.
 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. Luke 18:22.
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'.
 This is similar to what is said elsewhere in the same gospel,
Sell your resources and give alms; make for yourselves money bags that do not grow old, a treasure that does not fail in heaven. Luke 12:33.
Anyone can see that this verse holds a meaning other than the literal one. For at the present day 'selling one's resources' would be making oneself a beggar, and depriving oneself of any further opportunity to exercise charity, quite apart from the fact that one would inevitably regard such a course of action as being meritorious. Also it is an invariable truth that there are rich people in heaven as well as poor ones. The meaning other than the literal one contained in this verse is what was stated just above.
 Since 'selling' meant alienating what belonged to the Church the following law was therefore laid down,
If a man was not pleased with a wife he had taken from among women captives, she was to be set apart from him. She should certainly not however be sold for silver; no gain was to be made out of her, because he had caused her distress. Deuteronomy 21:14.
'A wife taken from among women captives' stands for truth that is foreign, not from a genuine stock, yet can be linked in some way to the good of the Church present in a person. If however that truth proves to, be in many respects incompatible it can be separated; but it cannot be alienated since it has been joined in some way to that good. This is the spiritual meaning of that law.
 There was also this law,
If there is found a man who has stolen a soul from his brothers, from the children of Israel, and has made profit on him, and has sold him, that thief shall be killed, so that you remove evil from the midst of you. Deuteronomy 24:7.
'Those who steal the children of Israel' stands for those who acquire the truths of the Church, not with the intention of living according to them and thus teaching them from their hearts, but with the intention of using those truths for personal profit. The damnation of such a person is meant by 'he shall be killed'.
1. literally, the Sebaites