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The Answer to Life's Greatest Question, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2024 3:00 am

The Answer to Life's Greatest Question, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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You never measure the issues of salvation by what's going on in this life. Several years ago, Time magazine published an article titled, How to Live to be a Hundred. It gave tips for longevity from people who've reached the century mark. And of course, no advice can guarantee you're going to reach 100, because as the article rightly said, you can't predict death. But there is one thing you can predict. You will die.

We all will. And then you will go on forever. The question is, Where and under what conditions will you spend eternity? I think you'll see how that question drives you to an even greater one.

Really, this is life's greatest question. What must I do to be saved? That's the title of John's current study, so follow along now with John MacArthur. 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? 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. Key word is recognition. They have to recognize that they're going to live forever.

Now this is repeated in many, many places. Job knew that if he died yet in his flesh, he would still see God whom he would see for himself and no one else. David knew that when he died, he would awake in God's likeness and be fully satisfied. When David's little son died, he said, he cannot come to me but I will go to him. He knew there would be a reunion with his little son that died and entered the presence of the Lord. In Psalm 133 it says, the Lord commanded the blessing.

What was it? Life forever...life forever. And so the Jews had the anticipation of immortality, that they would live forever and that they could live forever in the bliss and the joy and the pleasure of the presence of God. And in God's presence there would be satisfaction, and in God's presence there would be fullness of joy, and in God's presence there would be pleasures forever.

And that's why the question kept coming up. The rich young ruler, what do I do to inherit eternal life? The lawyer, what do I do to inherit eternal life? And in John chapter 6, the whole multitude of people that are in the presence of Jesus are confronted with this same issue. Verse 27 of John 6, Jesus says, do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.

You're far too concerned with earthly things, far too concerned with temporal things. You need to be concerned about eternal life which the Son of Man shall give you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal. I'm offering you eternal life and you're chasing Me around for breakfast because I fed you last night. Remember the loaves and the fish. And so they said, what shall we do that we might work such works to get eternal life?

Like everybody was asking that question. Rabbi Ben Eliezer was one of the rabbis of Israel whose writings we have, and in one of his writings he says that there was a conversation that started this way, Rabbi, teach us the ways of life so that by them we may attain to the life of the future world. They all believed in a future world and they wanted the life in the presence of God, not the alternative, not the everlasting disgrace and contempt and hatred. They wanted joy, not sadness.

They wanted reward, not punishment. They knew about the next life. They knew, this lawyer knew that Enoch had walked right into the next life, that Elijah had gone right into the next life in a chariot of fire.

They knew that Moses had just disappeared into the next life and never has his body been found. They knew that Job anticipated the next life. They knew that David looked forward to it, and so on and so on.

Eternal life, not chronological life or some kind of biological life, but life in the fullest sense really living in the presence of God. They knew it was available and it meant to go into God's eternal kingdom of bliss and blessing and pleasure forever. You say, well why did they ask the question? I mean, weren't they pretty confident that they were going to be there anyway?

Well, you know, kind of on paper or on parchment, if you will. The system said that, you know, you can sort of count on your Judaism to get you there. I mean, if you're a Jew, hey, you know, we're the children of Abraham, certainly we're going to be there. And wasn't after all the promise of God to them and weren't they the people of God? I mean, wasn't everything really okay?

And again I say on parchment, yeah, it was okay. But it didn't deal with their conscience. It was superficial, it was hypocritical, it was external. It didn't guarantee them the kingdom of God at all, as we know. And Paul in Philippians 3 says, I looked at it all and I reevaluated all the stuff that I thought would get me in the kingdom of God and realized it was all manure. Very dramatic statement.

It not only didn't get me there, it not only wasn't enough, it was sending me the other direction. They knew that inside. They weren't ready to admit on the outside that they weren't qualified. But I really believe there's a nagging question that keeps coming up and it comes up because the heart is utterly discontent. If they were whited sepulchres full of dead men's bones, then they lived with that reality all the time.

Paul said, no man knows the man but the spirit of that man. They knew the reality of the condition of their hearts. They had painted themselves white on the surface. But that nagging question was there because they knew they weren't right with God, because they knew they weren't in control of their lives. They knew they couldn't live righteously on the inside. There was the fear that they were going to miss that eternal life. And the fact that they came and asked the question points up how this question existed and it was everywhere. They believed in eternal life.

They wanted to be there. And when Jesus started preaching, what did He preach about? For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life, everlasting life. His message was about eternal life, all through the preaching of Jesus. I'm amazed how many, many times He talked about eternal life, at least fifty times eternal life is referred to in the New Testament. He said in Mark 10 29, truly I say to you, there's no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms for My sake and the gospel's sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms. What that means is if you gave up all that to embrace Christ, what you got in exchange was the body of Christ. You got all of us and now we're your family and we provide all that. But, He said, along with persecution.

Just throw that in. And then He adds, and in the age to come, eternal life. It's really about eternal life. The main message of the gospel is eternal life.

It's not isolated, as I said, it's just everywhere. And when you read the New Testament through the gospels again, just look for it. John 4 36, already He who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal. John 5 39, you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. The Jews looked at the Scripture and they searched why? They wanted to find the way to eternal life.

That's what they were looking for. You know, they were a lot further ahead of many evangelicals today, at least on the surface. At least they knew that the issue was eternal life, not a better life here. Jesus said in John 6 54, He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life. I'll raise him up on the last day. Verse 68, I love this, will you go away? Jesus says, everybody's gone, the disciples walk no more with Him.

Will you go away? Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of...what?...eternal life. Everybody was into eternal life, it was all about eternal life. It was the question most on the hearts of those people. Everybody's going to live forever.

Where? And if God has a Kingdom and I can be there to live with Him forever, how do I inherit that Kingdom? Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, I know them, they follow Me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish and no one shall ever be able to take them out of My hand. It's about eternal life. John 12 25, Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it. He who hates his life in this world shall keep it to eternal life. You lose your life here, you deny yourself, you crucify yourself, you set yourself aside and you live forever. That's where the discussion of eternal life links with Luke 9 23, if any man will come after Me to receive eternal life, he has to deny himself. If you lose your life, you gain it. If you keep your life, you lose it.

It just goes on like this. Just all through the gospel record. John 17 2, Even as thou gavest him authority over all mankind, that to all whom thou hast given him, he may give eternal life. And this is eternal life that they may know thee, the only true God in Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. If you want eternal life, you have to know God and you have to know God through Christ. You come into the book of Acts and the Apostles and the preachers go out and their message is the same thing, it's the message of eternal life.

There's nothing but the message of eternal life to preach. Acts 13 48, When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord and as many as have been appointed to eternal life believed and the Word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. Well I could go on, I could read from Romans 2 7, Romans 5 21, Romans 6 23, where the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life. First Timothy 1 16, For this reason I found mercy in order that in me as the foremost sinner Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Titus 1 2, In the hope of eternal life. That's why Christ came. That's why Paul preached the gospel five, six times. In 1 John it talks about eternal life. Jude 21 talks about everlasting life.

It's everywhere. There are other descriptives and phrases. This in the Greek is zoe ionios, eternal life, life that never ends. And so I go back to where I started. You're going to live forever. Everybody is. Bodies die.

People don't. And you will live forever as you. Annihilation again is a lie. Soul sleep is a lie. Reincarnation is a lie. Evolution is a lie. You're not evolving into somebody else and you're not cycling back as somebody else.

You're you and you'll be you forever, somewhere. And you have only two places as possibilities. First Timothy 4 8, Paul says, bodily discipline is only of little profit. Spend all your time fussing around with your physical body, it is little profit because it's a perishable commodity. But godliness is profitable for all things.

Why? Because it holds promise not only for the present life but for the life to come. If you're going to work on something, work on the part of you that lasts forever. See this society in which we live, maniacal about the perishing flesh and indifferent to the eternal soul.

All evangelism, beloved, begins here. It is not about this life. It is not about prosperity in this life. It is not about health in this life. It is not about happiness in this life. It is not about healing in this life. It is not about success. It is not about money. It is not about possessions. It is not about freedom from trouble. That's junk bond evangelism. It's not about that. That bilks people out of their souls on false premises.

Run from people who sell that, they're false teachers. And so if you're going to do some evangelism, you've got to move people from Jesus is going to fix me here to Jesus is going to deliver me in the life to come. Until the sinner really understands that, evangelism can't even start. So the enemy loves to propagate the lie that there is no eternal destiny, you die and you just become protoplasm that turns into manure and that's it. You fertilize the soil you're in and that's the end.

So live it up while you can. This is the dominant lie in our society, propagated by evolutionists and humanists and materialists and atheists who refuse to believe in a Creator because if they did, He would be the supreme judge and if He was the supreme judge, they're in serious trouble. You will live forever, either in the presence of God or as 2 Thessalonians 1 says, away from His presence. And you will be conscious and all of your faculties heightened to their maximum capability so that you will feel all the pain of hell and all the joys of heaven. And again, this is very unpopular in evangelism today because talking about hell is unpopular, it's sort of uncouth. And talking about heaven is unpopular because everybody would rather stay here.

We don't talk about that. We just want to talk about how things can be better in this life, how Jesus can be the fixer of this life. You remember how often Jesus talked about hell, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, outer darkness where the fire is never quenched, the worm never dies, graphic language, Matthew 8, 12, Matthew 22, 13, Matthew 24, 51, 25, 30, etc. If you're going to do any evangelism that's legitimate, you have to clarify the reality of eternal destiny. This is the first task of the evangel. This is the first task of evangelism. Nobody is going to come to ask the question, what do I do to inherit eternal life if eternal life isn't a compelling issue?

How do we get there? We've got to stop talking about the issues in this life and motivate people for the life to come. I talked to somebody yesterday for a long conversation, told me of just a horrendous experience, his personal experience in his life, all kinds of pain, suffering, no way out, bad relationship. He said, what do I do? I said, hope in heaven.

I said, I don't think you can fix it. Put it aside, it's part of this world. And remember that Jesus said, in this world you shall have trouble, but I've overcome the world and some day you're going to enter into that triumph. Enter for what it is. It's the world...it's the world. That's where you have to go in this matter of evangelism.

Let me just make it...I'm trying to make it as practical as I can. When you evangelize someone typically in this environment, when the church evangelizes in this environment, the whole idea is to work with felt needs, right? Let's find out what their addictions are, let's find out what their little quirks are, their disappointments are, what their challenges in life are, what their disappointments are, what they feel isn't the way they would exactly like it to be in their life.

You know, maybe they don't look like they think they should look, and maybe they're heavier than they think they should be, you know, maybe they've got a bad smoking habit, drinking habit, an addiction, blah, blah, blah, on and on. Let's find out what their little deal is and we'll slide in there and we'll say, Jesus is the fixer of your little deal, your little life issue. Jesus is the helper of the dysfunctional.

That's the new approach to evangelism. You can read books that say if I can find, you know, if you can find people's felt needs, you can lead anybody to Christ. The driving motivation for salvation is nothing to do with this life...nothing. There is no promise in the gospel that you're going to have a trouble-free life. There's no promise in the gospel that you're going to have a pain-free life, that you're going to have a happy, successful life. The message of the gospel takes care of what happens in the next life. And while you're here, you endure in hope.

And that's what I told the person I talked to, I said, this is where hope kicks in. You may be successful in this life. You may be wealthy in this life. You may be healthy in this life. You may be content in this life. You may have a great marriage, a great partner, good kids, nice home, good career, and so do many who have no knowledge of Christ at all. Some of you may, on the other hand, be miserable in this life, married to a jerk, married to somebody who's unfaithful with lousy kids that just do nothing but drive you crazy. You may get cancer and fight it for fifteen years. You may always wish to be something and do something and never do it.

Some of you may wish to get married and wind up single your whole life, much to your dismay. And so do many other Christians. You never measure the issues of salvation by what's going on in this life. It's about the life to come. In this world you're going to have tribulation. But what's going to give you the upper hand in your suffering is the hope of the life to come.

And that produces present joy. You know, we would all do well to get shipped off to the third world. We'd be better off to be slaves in the gulag, or orphans in the third world than to be in this affluent society and try to have any desire for the life to come.

We've got to stop offering a gospel that intends to help people buy a bigger SUV. That is absolutely absurd, or any other temporal thing. We're talking about forever here, not now. You say, well are you saying that Jesus doesn't do anything now?

Sure He does. He gives you the grace and the peace and the joy to endure now, with all of its disappointments. And to turn some of its sorrows into joy because trials do perfect us.

Why? They drive us to Him. They make us love Him more, hope for heaven more, and that makes us a more healthy Christian.

You've got to deal with people on the basis of eternal issues. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is titled, What Must I Do to Be Saved? Back to something John said earlier, evangelism is not a message of prosperity and health and success, happiness, or anything else in this life. The ultimate focus is future blessing. What a contrast that is to the many voices today preaching a saccharine gospel, squarely focused on the here and now, and I know that grieves you, John.

Well, it does. One of the, I guess maybe the most popular preachers around has written a book on your best life now. And the only way this is your best life now is if you're going to hell, because if you're going to heaven, this is not your best life now.

This is a faint representation of what your best life will be in glory with the Lord. Making the gospel easy, tampering with its truths, removing things like the hard words of conviction and repentance and the need to abandon everything and submit to the lordship of Christ has stripped the gospel and made it seem like it's easy to believe and easy to become a Christian. And of course, Jesus said this, didn't he?

Many are going to say to me, Lord, Lord, we named your name, we did this in your name and that, and he'll say, Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity. So all you do by cheapening the gospel, cheapening the message, giving a shallow representation of the gospel is create false converts who will face that day when the Lord says, I don't know you, and they're cast out of his presence forever. And that led me some years back to write a book called Hard to Believe. It's a book that Christians need to read, particularly when there are so many people trying to make it easy to believe. As a Christian, you should really wonder, is the gospel in the Bible all about man and his needs? What is the gospel message Jesus taught, and how does it compare with what you hear so popularly in trendsetting churches? Well, Hard to Believe speaks thoroughly to questions like, is the gospel a message of self-fulfillment or self-denial? Can someone who rejects the hard demands of the gospel and clings to his own plan, his own agenda, success, self-esteem, and his own self-righteousness, can that person really be a Christian?

Those are key questions. In writing the book, I wasn't trying to be controversial, but the content does run counter to much of modern evangelicalism's conventional wisdom. So I want to encourage you to read Hard to Believe, see how it squares with Scripture. It's reasonably priced and available today from Grace to You. And friend, is the gospel message you've embraced the same message taught in the Bible? Does it square with what Jesus said to his followers when he talked about salvation?

Hard to Believe helps you discern true salvation from superficial belief and self-deception. Order your copy today. You can call us at 855-GRACE during our regular business hours. That's weekdays from 730 to 4 o'clock Pacific time. Or you can order it from our website anytime, our web address, gty.org.

Hard to Believe costs $11 and shipping is free. Again, to place your order, call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. That's our website. While you're there, remember, you can download John's study, What Must I Do to Be Saved, for free, along with 3,600 of John's sermons, all of them free in MP3 and transcript format. Just go to our website, gty.org. And friend, if you're benefitting from John's current series, would you let us know with a quick note? And thanks for remembering that our ministry is made possible because faithful listeners like you stand with us prayerfully and financially. To help us reach people in communities like this one with biblical truth, express your support when you write to Grace to You, Post Office Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. Or call us at 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Remember to watch Grace to You television Sundays on DIRECTV Channel 378 and then be here tomorrow when John continues unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-28 05:43:13 / 2024-02-28 05:53:39 / 10

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