What must I do to be saved?
3 phrases perhaps encapsulate The Bible Teaching on this subject – firstly:
Believe (in God’s Word and the Gospel as taught by his son the Lord Jesus Christ)
Be baptised (into His Name by complete emersion in water)
Follow in His footsteps.
But I would like to look at this question from a different viewpoint tonight.
The Philippian Jailor asked Paul & Silas this question (“What must I do to be saved?”) – when he saw they had been miraculously released from their chains…
And ‘a man in a crowd’ asked it of Peter too, when he realised that he was among those who had crucified Jesus.
And I’m sure it has been asked by many others since.
Yet the answer is simple.
It can be written in three short words:
Obey God’s Laws.
What are those Laws?
To answer that I would like to look at someone else who also said it:
Luke 10:25-28 (NIV)
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’
27 He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’
28 ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
MARK tells us he was rich – MATTHEW tells us he was young – BOTH record the same answer to the question:
“If you want to enter life, keep the commandments”.
Obey God’s Laws.
We don’t know the name of this lawyer, but he knew all about God’s Laws. So he stood up, perhaps from sitting with his peers? “Teacher”, he says. “Master” in some records.
( I wonder if he really thought of Jesus as HIS Master?) Lawyers considered they were The Masters – ‘Masters of The Law’. And he appears to be “testing” this Teacher’s knowledge of The Law with this question. …
v25…“Master, what must I do to be saved?”
(“to inherit eternal life” as he put it).
He knew exactly what he had to do – and everyone sitting there with him knew too.
It’s in The Law!
They were “Lawyers” – it was their job – and they despised any ‘who erred, not knowing the Scriptures’
So when Jesus asked him what The Law said, he could quote it verbatim!
Probably ALL OF IT! But he chose to say…
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”… Deuteronomy 6 AND…
‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” … Leviticus 19
“Well done!” says Jesus. I wonder why Jesus praised him? Was it because he switched from one part of the Law [what we know as Deut. 6] to another part of the Law [what we know as Levitcus 19] to get this full answer?
(What do you think?)
‘Do that ……… and you will live‘ (as Jesus said)
‘Do that ………and you will “inherit eternal life’. (as the lawyer put it)
‘Do that ……… and you will “be saved” (as our title puts it)
Now we have a quandary…
Good Question! (from the young lawyer) – Good Answer! (from the “Master”)
But does the lawyer now sense that the crowds’ attention shifts – from himself to Jesus. Has he lost the upper hand.
(Can you imagine the attitude that he takes? Hands on hips perhaps, head turned away from Jesus, a downward look of distain / arrogance? This is how Hoffman portrays him in his “Christ and the Rich Young Ruler”,)
But does the Lawyer now make the classic lawyer’s mistake –
of asking the witness a Question, without knowing in advance, what the answer will be?
”wanting to justify himself” … v29
So he says: “And who is my neighbour?” (Good Question!)
Is this the arrogance of a young man?
Or … do we have here, a rare, honest young lawyer, wanting to understand EXACTLY what Jesus means?
“Justifying” himself seems to be the stumbling block here.
Like a printer adjusts (or “justifies”) a line of type to fit a page. Wanting to “Get it right” if you like.
James uses this word, speaking of how the works of Abraham and Rahab “justified” them – in God’s eyes.
(What do you think?)
Then Jesus answers and says the parable that everyone knows…
“The Good Samaritan”
- ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead.
- A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
- So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
- But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
- He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
- The next day he took out two denarii * and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
- ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
* “two denarii” is about equivalent to about two days’ “Full Board & Lodge”
And now comes the telling question for this lawyer:
WHICH now of these three…? (Good Question!)
It depends which you favour…
If you chose the “arrogant young man”…it did look as if he couldn’t steal himself to even say the name “Samaritan” ? ‘which? …the er… the one who had mercy on him’.
If you chose the “expert in the law” … was he thinking: ‘It’s not whether you are a Priest, a Levite or a Samaritan or whoever – it is whether you love him like your neighbour”’ – so … “it’s the one who had mercy on him”. (Good Answer!)
( What do you think?)
He showed that he ‘had mercy on him’…(v33)
… by giving of his time and care (v34)
… by staying the night with him (v35)… and paying for his board & lodge
… and by giving his word.
And “ love your neighbour as yourself.”
What must I do to be saved?
Perhaps this is the best answer we can give for our question to-night:
“Obey God’s Laws” and … “love your neighbour as yourself.”
Simple…Clear… and Precise.
So if following God’s laws is the answer, can we have a few thoughts about those laws…? How do you see them?
How do you see “HEART” for example?
“Love the Lord your God with all your HEART…
His heart “went out” to him – we say. Is that “with all your heart?”
“he had compassion on him…” Is Compassion your “heart”?
Is loving the Lord your God ‘with all your heart’ as much as you love your husband for example? or your wife, or your children?
Do we love our children / grand-chidren MORE than our husband / wife perhaps?
How do you understand Matthew 10:37, and Luke 14:26?
“Love the Lord your God with all your SOUL…
If “Heart” is Commitment – Perhaps “Soul” is Passion.
Love with all your “being”? Is that what “soul” is?
How do you understand ‘soul’.
It is C.S. Lewis who is credited with saying:
“You don’t have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body”.
What do you think about this equation: Soul (Body) + Breath (Spirit) = Life
“Love the Lord your God with all your STRENGTH (?)
How can we do that?
“…put him on his own donkey.” ? Was that the Good Samaritan using his strength to show his love?
Is it lifting someone up? Physically or perhaps spiritually …
“Love the Lord with all your MIND…
I have always found this one the easiest to understand, because I can see how you can love someone in your mind.
(I have always thought ‘heart’ & ‘mind’ could be transposed – or mean the same thing?)
Is it knowledge?
‘…binding up his wounds and pouring in oil and wine’ …
OR – are we trying to read too much into this statement, which is merely trying to say we should love God with everything we have?
“ Love your neighbour as yourself.”
(I suggest this is something we all struggle with!)
How do you see this one?
Perhaps it is ALL caught in the words of the hymn composed by the Cornishman Thomas Haweis with words by Horatius Bonar…
Fill Thou my life, O Lord, my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part.
Praise in the common things of life,
In goings out and in;
Praise in each duty and each deed,
However small and mean.
Fill every part of me with praise,
Let all my being speak
Of Thee, and of Thy love, O Lord,
Poor though I be, and weak.
So shalt Thou, Lord, from me, e’en me,
Receive the glory due;
And even now shall I begin
The song for ever new.
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free;
But all my life in every step
Be fellowship with Thee