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 #4843
4843. 'To Tamar his daughter-in-law' means a Church representative of spiritual and celestial things, which is called 'a daughter-in-law' from truth. This is clear from the representation of 'Tamar' as a Church representative of spiritual and celestial things, dealt with above in 4831, and from the meaning of 'a daughter-in-law' as the spiritual element of the Church, which is truth. The reason 'a daughter-in-law' has this meaning in the internal sense is that everything connected with a marriage, and all persons who were the offspring of a marriage, represented the kinds of things that belong to the heavenly marriage, see above in 4837, and consequently the kinds of things that belong to good and truth since these are the two partners in the heavenly marriage. This is why in the Word 'husband' means good and 'wife' truth, and also why 'sons and daughters' means the forms of truth and good which are the offspring of these. Consequently, being the wife of a son who has now become a husband, 'a daughter-in-law' means the truth of the Church which has been joined to good, and so on. But the meaning is different in the case of those who belong to the celestial Church from that of those who belong to the spiritual Church; for in the spiritual Church the husband is called 'the men' and means truth, while the wife is called 'the woman' and means good, see above in 4823.
 As regards 'a daughter-in-law' in the internal sense of the Word meaning the truth of the Church linked to its good, and consequently in the contrary sense meaning the falsity of the Church linked to its evil, this may also be seen from places in the Word where the expression 'daughter-in-law' is used, as in Hosea,
They offer sacrifice on mountain-tops and burn incense on hills, under oak. and poplar, and hard oak, because its shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit whoredom, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. Shall I not punish 1 your daughters, in that they commit whoredom and your daughters-in-law in that they commit adultery? Hosea 4:13-14.
This refers to the worship of evil and falsity, the worship of evil being meant by 'offering sacrifices on mountain-tops' and the worship of falsity by 'burning incense on hills'. A life of evil is meant by 'daughters committing whoredom', and the teaching of what is false from which a life of evil results is meant by 'daughters-in-law committing adultery'. As regards acts of adultery and whoredom in the Word meaning adulterations of what is good and falsifications of what is true, see 2466, 2727, 3399. 'Daughters-in-law' therefore stands here for affections for falsity.
 In Micah,
The great man utters the perversity of his soul. and he twists it out of shape. The best of them is like a brier, the upright like a thorn-bush. The son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are those of his own household. Micah 7:3-4, 6.
This refers to falsity that is the offspring of evil and which exists with the Church in the last times when it has been laid waste, in the proximate sense as it existed with the Jewish Church. 'The daughter rises up against her mother' means that the affection for evil stands opposed to truth, and 'the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law' that the affection for falsity stands opposed to good.
 Because the experience of a person undergoing temptations is of a similar nature to this - for in temptations a conflict takes place between evil and truth and between falsity and good, spiritual temptations being nothing else than experiences when the falsity and evil present in a person are laid waste - temptations or spiritual conflicts are described by the Lord in practically the same words,
Jesus said, Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be these of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36, 38.
The words from the Prophet that are similar to these, quoted a little above them, meant the laying waste of the Church. But here the temptations of those who belong to the Church are meant, for, as has been stated, temptations are nothing else than experiences in which falsity and evil are laid waste or taken away. For this reason also temptations as well as vastations are meant and described by deluges and floods of waters, 705, 739, 756, 790. Here also therefore 'daughter against mother' means the affection for evil standing opposed to truth, and 'daughter-in-law against mother-in-law' the affection for falsity standing opposed to good. Now because the evils and falsities present with a person undergoing temptation exist inwardly, or are his own, they are called members of his own household in the words 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household'. The fact that temptations are described in this passage is evident from the Lord's saying that He had not come to bring peace on earth but a sword; for 'a sword' means truth engaged in conflict, and in the contrary sense falsity engaged in conflict, 2799, 4499. (Yet He did come to bring peace, John 14:27; 16:33.) The description of temptations in this passage is also clear from what the Lord goes on to say - 'He who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me'.
 Similarly in Luke,
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division; for from now on there will be in one house five divided, three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Luke 12:51-53.
From these words too it is evident that 'father', 'mother', 'son', 'daughter', 'daughter-in-law', and 'mother-in-law' mean the kinds of things that originate in the heavenly marriage, namely goods and truths in their own order, and also their opposites; as also in Mark,
Jesus said, There is no one who has forsaken house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for the sake of Me and of the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold, now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, 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.
1. literally, visit