What must you do to have eternal life? This is an interesting question. I am sure it has gone through the minds of all mankind at some time for death is the one inevitable part of life that no man can escape.
Some people have made a business of eternal life. There are companies that provide services to cryogenically freeze the bodies of dead people in the hope that at some future time science will provide a cure for whatever killed them. They believe that at some point in time they could then be healed and restored to life.
But death is not a matter of the physical being. Death is the separation of the spirit of a man from his physical body. Science might find a cure for all manner of diseases, but they will never learn how to put the spirit of a man back into a body once they have been separated.
Genesis 2:7 tells us that, “…the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground.” At that point there was no life in man but he was just a body of flesh. Then the same scripture continues saying God, “…breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” It was an act of God that gave life to a man, but it was an act of man through sin that took that life away.
Had man not sinned he would not die but would have had eternal life. But Ezekial 18:20 tells us, “The soul that sins shall die.” And Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is sin that took away our opportunity to keep eternal life. And it is sin that separates us from God and in this age will continue to cause people to die, which no matter of science will be able to reverse for science does not work in the spiritual realm but the physical.
But the process to receive eternal life is not unknown. Jesus tells us what is required in this section of Mark 10. A man came to him asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Verse 17) Jesus proceeded to quote six of the commandments given to Moses under the law. The man replied saying, “‘Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ And Jesus looking upon him loved him.” (Verses 20-21) At this point the man had met the requirements to receive eternal life. These are the words of Jesus and they show that those who keep the laws of God will receive eternal life.
There are some who disagree with this position saying that there is no life under the law. However that is not what Jesus showed here in this section. Those who keep the laws of God will receive eternal life.
However Jesus then goes on to show there is a higher way. It is the road to perfection as he showed in the Matthew version of this same discussion. He said there, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
The key to perfection was not the selling of all your property as he advised this man, but to “come, follow me.” For this man, wealth was a problem because it would distract him from following Christ. For many people, striving for wealth is a distraction and we know from other scriptures that it can lead people away from God for, “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10)
Not every person has this same problem. But every person needs to set their priority on following Jesus if they are to find the path to perfection. Following Jesus is a higher path than just following the law. But there is eternal life in following the law as Jesus showed.
So to answer the question, “What must I do to have eternal life?” The answer is…keep the laws of God, and specifically those he outlined here in Mark 10. Some will say it is impossible to keep the laws of God, and they are right. But Jesus specified only six of the laws and these are not hard to keep. They form the basis of morality for most races, religions and cultures and if they are kept will lead to eternal life.
But Jesus provides a better way for his path leads not just to eternal life but to perfection where the law becomes unnecessary. A perfect man does not need the law for they will not break it by nature. That is the path that Jesus has set before us if we are able to follow it.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by: Abdulhamid Al Fadhly