How can I Inherit Eternal Life?

5Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." 6But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7"or 'Who will descend into the deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Exerpt from Romans 10

Cross References
Leviticus 18:5: Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

With Deuteronomy as the backdrop, Paul highlights the difference between the observance of law and trust as a foundation. He uses the scriptures of Deuteronomy to prove that to even live out the law as a Jew, one must trust God above all else. The word believe, in modern times, is somewhat misunderstood though. The Greek word pisteuetai is used in Romans 10:10 and means "to believe, to entrust". This implies more that intellectual agreeance - it implies a giving over of something important to another. Beleif in this context is then also about trust; not just in facts regarding Jesus, but in Jesus himself. To be sure, in order to trust someone in an active way it is necessary to also believe that they are telling the truth when they make claims about themsleves, or about the nature and outcomes of the trust-relationship. Thus, 'belief' or 'trust' in the intellectual acceptance sense, of the claims of Jesus or of Paul in relation to Jesus, opens up the door for us to enter into an active relationship with Jesus. So as a starting point, the intellectual acceptance of Jesus gets us on the road of Salvation, and entering and maintaining a life-long trust-relationship with Jesus leads us to eternal life. We cannot have one without the other.

But the 'eternal' part isn't just something that happens when we die - it starts to happen now before we die. In the words of Jesus in John 4:14 - whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

When asked the question "What must I do to inherit eternal life"? Jesus gives answers that challenge conventional thinking in what it means to be righteous (luke 10:25), the importance of security and wealth, and the exclusiveness of the Jewish people as ineritors of eternal life (Mark 10:17-29, Matthew 19, Luke 18:18-29). Jesus revelas the true desires of God - relational righteousness, security through trust in God, wealth and prosperity through generosity and salvation that is made available to all people.

We live in times where I can explain something to a person and they will reject it, but someone else can explain the same thing using different words, and it will be accepted. The onus on the listener/reader to understand what I am saying. In times past (even until recently), this may not have been (as) problematic because people generally spoke on similar terms. But with the rise of Post-modernism, the foundations of language itself have been shaken, so the challenge of effectively communicating the gospel in any post-modern context is much, much more difficult than exegeting scripture. And exegesis itself is no easy task!

Context - scriptural context (narrow in the sense of the chapter/book and wide in the sense of narrative), linguistic context, and histocial and cultural context are important avenues of understanding we must not ignore if we are to effectively bring the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ into the post-modern world.


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