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The Answer to Life's Greatest Question, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2024 3:00 am

The Answer to Life's Greatest Question, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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The scribe knew his Old Testament and so he knew he would live forever. The Old Testament taught that.

And it taught that there was an eternal place of bliss and blessing in the Kingdom of God and there was another place of terror and fear and darkness and punishment. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Today John MacArthur begins a series called What Must I Do To Be Saved?

and that title says it all, and if you're at all unsure of the answer, or even if you think you know it, you won't want to miss a broadcast. You'll see aspects of the gospel that you may never have considered. And you know, John, the title of this series, the question, What Must I Do To Be Saved? There's pretty much no more important question that anyone could ever ask, except perhaps this one, which is foundational to the gospel, What Is It That We're Being Saved From? Yeah, you would think in the church climate today that you're being saved from purposelessness, you're being saved from a bad marriage, you're being saved— Low self-esteem. Low self-esteem, you're being saved from a lack of personal fulfillment. Maybe you're being saved so that you can go to heaven.

But what does the Bible say? Yeah, but the reality is, and this might surprise some people, you're being saved by God from God. It is God who will both destroy in hell and punish everlastingly all the unsaved. God is the king of hell, not Satan.

Satan and all the demons are punished in hell, which were prepared for them, and all unbelievers are punished there, but God is the executioner. So the threat is that God will punish forever those who do not embrace his Son as Lord and Savior, and God's wrath will be unleashed against all those who reject his Son. You're being saved from the wrath of God. How did you get under the wrath of God? You were born under the wrath of God. You were born as children of wrath.

Because you were born alienated from God, you're born with a sin nature, and that manifested itself immediately in sinful patterns, nothing but sinful patterns through your whole life. So first of all, we must be saved from the wrath of God. We must be saved from the sin that put us under the wrath of God. And Scripture is very clear that when you come to God, you are coming saying, I want to turn from my sin. I repent of my sin and alienation and rebellion against God.

I want to be rescued. I want to be forgiven. I want to confess Jesus as my Redeemer and my Lord.

It is completely an issue of being saved from sin and its consequences. We have to preach the wrath of God, the judgment of God, so that the gospel is the good news. That's right, the gospel is good news, and that's the way Jesus himself preached. And friend, this is a series that puts the good news of the gospel on display, as it shows you how Jesus answered the crucial question, what must I do to be saved? Again, that's the title of the series, and here to get it started is John MacArthur.

JOHN MCCARTHY, M.D. : Luke chapter 10, verses 25 through 29, we have a little motto at grace to you, unleashing God's truth one verse at a time. And that's what we do here as we open the Word of God every day. We find ourselves now in chapter 10 and a section beginning in verse 25, and I will read down through verse 29.

I won't be able to cover this entire section but you'll note its importance even as we read it. Starting in Luke 10 verse 25, And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put him to the test saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And he said to him, What is written in the Law?

How does it read to you? And he answered and said, You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself. And he said to him, You have answered correctly.

Do this and you will live. But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? Of all the questions that could ever be asked, of all the questions that could ever be answered, none is more important than this one. What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

That is the most important question that can be asked and answered. And the reason is that every human soul is immortal. No soul, no inner person in any human being ever goes out of existence. Every human being ever born lives forever. Our bodies die, our souls go on eternally. We are created immortal.

Annihilation is a lie. Soul sleep is a lie. Reincarnation is a lie.

Evolution is a lie. Every person who has ever lived will be the person they are forever. The only question is, where and under what condition will you spend your forever?

That is obviously the most compelling question that can ever be asked and compared to the brief time in which we live in this world, compelling beyond any other consideration. Every one of us is eternal. You will go on as you forever. James says that life in this world is a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away.

It's like steam from a boiling kettle. There it is and then it's gone. Life in this world is an infinitesimal amount of time compared to eternity. You will live forever. You will never go out of existence and you will spend that forever in one of two places, heaven or hell, and those are the only two places. There is no other place. There is no purgatory.

There is no waiting place. There is no limbo. There is heaven and there is hell and that is all and you will be in one of those two places through all eternity. And you will be conscious that you are there with the full heightening of all your rational faculties running at their maximum.

And there will be no dulling of your sensibilities and sensitivities and understanding and comprehension as if to somehow mitigate the joys of heaven or ameliorate the pains of hell. This is the question of all questions. And it is a basic question. I confess that it is basic, but it is essential to deal with this question. We are at the basics right now. We're dealing with Jesus and the gospel which He preached which is the foundation of everything, the foundation of the rest of the New Testament and of all the work of the church that's gone on since it was written.

We make no apology for then embracing this question and dealing with it. Now just to put you in the flow of what's going on in the life of Christ at this time, it's less than a year now, it's just a matter of months before He will be executed on a cross and then rise from the dead and then 40 days later ascend into heaven and send the Holy Spirit and the church age begins. He's moving now in the last year of His life, the last year of His brief three-year ministry. And in this particular time, He is blanketing, has already blanketed Galilee with the message of the gospel. He's now in these final months blanketing Judea's village and town here and there, proclaiming this wonderful message of eternal life. So we are in the heart of the teaching ministry of Jesus. He is calling people to be disciples of His true disciples, not just curious, but committed.

He has already said that if you want to come after Me in the true sense, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. And that is the hard call, but the true call to true discipleship. In the midst of the teaching about being a true disciple, the Lord has pulled together seventy of His true disciples and dispatched them out two by two to spread this message of true discipleship, to spread the gospel of salvation through faith in the Messiah who has arrived. The seventy have gone out, they've had some success, and so we're in the middle of the evangelistic enterprise of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles and the seventy who were also sent. In the midst of this proclamation of the gospel, we come in this text to a very personal conversation.

Though it happened in a public environment, it was a personal conversation. This is evangelism one on one. We have heard Jesus preach in synagogues and outdoors. The Apostles have gone out two by two and preached in towns and villages of Galilee. The seventy have gone into all the towns and villages where Jesus would come to visit, preparing the way by preaching the gospel publicly there. Jesus has been preaching. Most of what we've been going through, with some exceptions, has been public ministry to groups of people. But here we come to a one on one encounter between Jesus and a lawyer who asked Him this question. And the question is, what do I do to inherit eternal life?

This is the most compelling question. Now two years plus into the ministry of Jesus, He has already covered Galilee, a year and a half in Galilee, preaching, sending the Twelve. He has already spent the first year of His ministry in Judea, so the knowledge of Him has spread around.

Now He's back there for the final months before His crucifixion and He's preaching again and being aided in that by the Apostles and the Seventy. But with all of that preaching activity and literally banishing illness, as it were, from the land of Israel by His miracle power, and doing miracle after miracle day after day to prove that He in fact is the divine Son of God, with all of that, the number of true disciples, those who have genuinely believed and embraced the gospel, is very, very small. Well we know there are the Twelve, one of them is a false disciple. We know there are the Seventy whose names are recorded in heaven, verse 20 tells us that. So you have at least 81 true believers and there must have been some others who weren't commissioned among the Twelve or the Seventy.

But it's not a huge crowd by any means. And later on when Jesus after His resurrection appears in Galilee to the gathered believers, there are only five hundred of them there. And when the Holy Spirit falls in the Upper Room in Jerusalem after the ascension of Jesus, there are only a hundred and twenty gathered there.

So by head count, six, seven hundred, maybe a few hundred more. But after all this ministry, all this demonstration of divine power, that's a small remnant. It certainly fulfills what our Lord said when He said, the gate is narrow and few there be that find it. And He was preaching forgiveness of sin. He was preaching the Kingdom of God. He was preaching blessing. They didn't accept the message because they wouldn't accept the diagnosis that in spite of what they thought of themselves, they were wretched sinners, they were religious hypocrites and they were on their way to destruction.

They didn't like the diagnosis, so they rejected the cure. Here we meet one who was following in the crowd. He is identified as a lawyer.

We'll find out more about him. But this takes this preaching ministry of Jesus, the Apostles and the Seventy and takes it right down to a one-to-one conversation. And we learn from this some profound and helpful lessons about doing evangelism. Jesus is our model. Now remember, the literate, the elite, the religious leaders, the educated, the prominent, the powerful, the influential had rejected Jesus. They are the wise and intelligent of verse 21 of whom Jesus said that the Father had hidden these things.

And those that have believed and are following Jesus are babes. They are the nothings and the nobodies. They are the fishermen and those who worked with their hands, those who were the unknown. Not one of them was a Pharisee, not one a Sadducee, not one a scribe, not one a rabbi, not one a priest, not one with any position of prominence other than Matthew who was a tax collector and thus possessed a position which made him the most hated of all people by the Jews. They're the riffraff. And the others who seem to be tagging along after Jesus are the publicans and sinners and harlots.

But they are the babes, that is, they considered themselves as nothing, as having no rank and no achievement. And in their desperation and a proper assessment of their condition, they embraced the gospel which the self-righteous and the proud rejected. Here we meet one who is among the elite. Here we meet one who belongs to the religious establishment.

And this encounter gives us insight into how you evangelize a person one to one. Now this person, this lawyer, unnamed, has a privilege that is beyond estimation. He has the opportunity to have a conversation about eternal life with the one who is eternal life himself.

His privilege cannot be overstated. And the result makes the story all the more tragic. Here he is face-to-face with the eternal life, asking the right question and going away to face eternal death.

It's a horrific loss of opportunity. But in the process, we learn what is necessary in doing effective personal evangelism the way Jesus did it. There are four things required and I'm going to work my way through these with you. Number one, if you're going to have an impact on somebody in regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the matters of eternal life, they have to have a recognition of eternal life.

The keyword is recognition. They have to recognize that they're going to live forever. Secondly, they have to have a motivation toward eternal life. Once recognizing that life is eternal, they need to be motivated toward that eternal life which God offers through His Son. Recognition of eternal life, motivation for eternal life. And then the third point we're going to talk about is the complexion of eternal life.

They need to understand the nature of that eternal life. We use the word complexion to talk about somebody's face. That is probably an appropriate way to refer to complexion. Complexion comes from complex which means a structure or an order.

And that's, you know, why ladies use makeup to bring order and structure to what is otherwise disorderly. So...well we don't need to go there, that's not helpful. So it's an application of that concept. But complex means the structure of something, the order of something. And I want to talk to you as Jesus talked to that man about the nature of, or the essence of, or the order of eternal life. We move from the recognition that it exists to the motivation to desire it, to the complexion or the definition of it, and finally the acquisition of eternal life. How does one then appropriate that? Understanding it exists, being motivated to receive it, understanding its nature, how does one then receive that eternal life?

That is the flow of the conversation. It's a very, very critical, critical text. Now just having read that text and the question, teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? If you're a Bible student at all, if you've read the gospels, and of course most of you have, that sounds like a very familiar question, doesn't it? Well it is a familiar question because that question appears a number of times in the gospels. In fact, it appears in every gospel. But I want you to know that this particular encounter with this man is not a parallel to any of those others.

This is a unique event. In Matthew 19 it wasn't a lawyer, it was a rich young ruler. And the setting was very different, though the question was the same. And as we'll note, the one in John 6 was a group of people and not an individual.

So this stands alone and we can't really compare this with the other ones because they are different. But what it tells us is that the question about eternal life was on the minds of the people. In different times, in different locations, in different encounters from different people, the question kept coming up.

And it comes up because of the first point I want you to understand. This is what we have to understand. They had a recognition of eternal life. They recognized eternal life. And by that I don't mean that they only recognized that they would live forever, but they recognized that there was an eternal life, not in the bios sense, not eternally living, but eternal life in the zoe sense, that is eternal well-being, eternal blessing, really living. They recognized that God had promised an eternal kingdom, that God had promised a kingdom of blessing, a domain of bliss and joy and peace and fulfillment and satisfaction and hope.

They believed in that. That was part of the very fabric of Judistic philosophy and theology. This conversation would never have occurred if the question hadn't been asked. The question wouldn't have been asked if the man didn't believe in eternal life.

He wouldn't need to know how to inherit it if he didn't already know that it existed. He knew he would live forever and he knew that it was possible in living forever to live with God in his kingdom. The whole incident is predicated on his understanding of immortality. Of course, evolution, materialism, paganism and atheism has cut man off from that universal conviction that has always existed in humanity until our modern times. I don't care where you go in the world, throughout history, to any culture, no matter how primitive they might be, you find belief in immortality. But now living in this post-humanistic, post-materialistic, post-evolutionary world, people no longer need to believe in immortality. And so, in our evangelism, we can't presume that people understand that they will live forever. But historically, and I think even still today, in spite of all of the philosophies that have been pounded into the heads of our society, most people believe and have believed in the immortality of the soul.

People still try to talk to their dead relatives, don't they, through hypnosis and seances and whatever. People believe and you hear it all the time that somewhere up there the people that have died are looking down and watching them and there's just this reality that exists in the human heart. God has set eternity in the human heart and philosophically you might talk yourself out of it, but there's this nagging sense that it's there. Man feels the pull of eternity in his heart like a little blind boy flying a kite, feels the tug of the wind against his hand as it pulls the string though he can't see it. Man feels the pull of eternity.

The Creator has put that longing in his heart. That's why in Egyptian society, for example, when they buried the pharaohs in the pyramids, they put a solar boat with them so that they would sail across the river into the next world. And when the Greeks buried somebody in the Greek culture, they put a silver coin in their mouth when they put them into the ground so they could pay their fare across the mystic river into eternity. And in the American history when the American Indians buried their warriors and their braves on the plains of our own nation, they buried their ponies with them so they could have something to ride through the happy hunting season.

I mean, that's just everywhere across the face of the earth throughout history. God has said eternity in the heart. But that's not why this lawyer believed in that and that's not why I believe in immortality. I feel the pull of immortality, that's a normal human sense that God has built into us. But the fact of immortality is on the pages of the revealed Word of God, the Bible. The scribe knew his Old Testament and so he knew he would live forever. The Old Testament taught that and it taught that there was an eternal place of bliss and blessing in the Kingdom of God and there was another place of terror and fear and darkness and punishment. Eternal life is referred to many times in the Old Testament.

Let me just show you a few because they're so important. In the sixteenth Psalm, listen to the confidence of the inspired David as he writes. Verse 8, Psalm 16, I have set the Lord continually before me because He's at my right hand, I will not be shaken, therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices. David says, I rejoice, I have joy.

Here's why. My flesh also will dwell securely for Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol or the grave, neither wilt Thou allow Thy holy one to undergo decay, Thou wilt make known to me the path of life in Thy presence is fullness of joy, in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever. David said, I can take anything in life, I can go through anything that comes my way, I can bless the Lord, I have set the Lord before me, I will not be shaken, my heart is glad, my mouth rejoices, I live in security.

Why? Because I'm not going to end up in a grave. I'm not going to corrupt in that tomb or that grave. I'm going through that grave, out the other side, down the path of life, into Your presence where there's fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

This is the hope that is clearly given to the Old Testament believer. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today, John launched an important study called What Must I Do to Be Saved? Now, if you don't know the answer to that crucial question, or if you know someone who isn't absolutely sure that he or she will be in heaven after death, I want to encourage you to download this entire series. That's four MP3s, and the transcripts are also available. You can get What Must I Do to Be Saved? when you contact us today. Just go to our website, and remember that both the MP3s and the transcripts for What Must I Do to Be Saved?

are free to download. Just visit And keep in mind that today's lesson is just one example of the ways Grace to You is taking God's word to people around the world. Every day this broadcast is heard on thousands of radio stations, and well over a million sermons are downloaded from each month. All of that Bible teaching ministry comes back to the support of listeners like you. To partner with us in this global outreach, mail your tax-deductible donation to Grace to You, Post Office Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. You can also donate at, or when you call us at 855-GRACE. That's 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for joining us today and be back tomorrow as John explains how you can be sure you are going to heaven in his study, What Must I Do to Be Saved? Join us then for another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-27 05:30:15 / 2024-02-27 05:39:47 / 10

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