Share This Episode
Grace To You John MacArthur Logo

The Answer to Life's Greatest Question, Part 3

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 4, 2024 3:00 am

The Answer to Life's Greatest Question, Part 3

Grace To You / John MacArthur

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1107 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

March 4, 2024 3:00 am

Click the icon below to listen.


The problem is, you haven't loved God perfectly always, nor have you loved your neighbor the way you have loved yourself.

And so, Paul records the final indictment. People have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Today John continues his series titled, What Must I Do to Be Saved? Stay here as John gives the answer to that crucial question and helps equip you to share the good news with others. But before we get to the lesson, John, with all that's going on in the world today, probably the most common questions we get at Grace to You have to do with biblical prophecy. How do current events fit with what Scripture says is going to happen? So what would you recommend to someone who is looking for a single resource to give them an introduction to what the Bible says about the future?

Well, that's easy for me to answer. It's a book that I wrote some few years back called, Because the Time is Near. And basically what it is, is a treatment of the book of Revelation. It takes you through the book of Revelation in maybe 200 plus pages. In other words, it's not a jet tour through Revelation.

I have a sermon like that and a little tiny booklet on that, which is just an overview. But this deals with everything in the book of Revelation. And I find myself, in response to what's going on in the world today and around us, going back to that book, Because the Time is Near, and saying, that's exactly what the book of Revelation says.

Everything is on schedule. Everything that's happening in the world today is laid out in the book of Revelation. You can take your newspaper or your internet news people and set them aside and read the book of Revelation with understanding and know exactly where everything is going. It's headed toward globalism, a one-world power under a one-world ruler. It's headed toward a global assault on Israel. And maybe we used to wonder, where will the common denominator come that drives the whole world at Israel?

We now know Islam can be that common denominator. It's all in the book of Revelation. And Because the Time is Near will take you from the first chapter to the end of the book of Revelation, the new heaven and the new earth, and lay out God's plan. It also will draw from other parts of prophetic scripture, Old and New Testament. So it's the best you can possibly hope for, because it's God's revelation of the future. I think if I could say anything to people who want to understand the times, understand the book of Revelation, this book will help you to do that. And you can get a copy from Grace to You.

That's right, friend. If you have questions about how current events fit into Bible prophecy, this book can help answer them. I'll tell you how you can order a copy of Because the Time is Near before we end today.

But first, here's John MacArthur with today's lesson. Luke 10 verses 25 through 29. I come to this passage again with great anticipation.

It is a jewel of a text that shines especially brightly amid all the other diamonds in Luke's setting here. Let me read it to you, starting at 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? Now as we have already noted, if you've been with us, you've heard me say it, the key to this text is the question that appears in the first verse. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? This is about eternal life and that is the compelling question. What we have here is Jesus in a discussion about the most important question that can ever be asked or answered, the question about eternal life. The first point that we learn here about effective evangelism is the person has to have a recognition of eternal life.

So if you're going to be dealing with somebody about the gospel, they have to be on the wavelength of matters that are eternal. And in the modern era, that's a challenge because materialism, humanism, atheism all come together to sort of convince people that this life is all there is, we're just protoplasm waiting to become manure, when it's over, it's over, this is all there is, you go into the box, you disintegrate and from the time you die, you have no conscious existence whatsoever. Therefore what interest do you have in the next life? What fear do you have of eternal punishment? What anticipation could you have of eternal joy if this is all there is?

If we are nothing more than the top of the biological food chain, if we're nothing more than the max level of current evolution and all we are is material, then all of this means absolutely nothing. But if there is an afterlife and there is, preparing for that afterlife which lasts forever should be everyone's primary concern. The man in the story, like all the Jews, was a believer in eternal life. All the Greeks were believers in eternal life.

All the Romans were believers in eternal life. All that other materialism, humanism and atheism is a modern invention of man and it's not a rational invention, it didn't come out of his understanding of the universe, it is a moral invention, or if you like, an immoral invention desiring to get rid of any implications for his wretchedness, any future judgment or punishment for his sin, he does away with God and therefore is free to do what he wants without consequences. It is not born of his understanding of the universe, it's irrational, it's not born of his understanding of reality, it is born of his love for sin. So when we come to the gospel, the gospel is not offering a happy, pain-free life in this world.

It's not offering successful marriages and family life and careers, etc., etc. It's talking about eternity. So first of all, we began, didn't we, number one, a recognition of eternal life.

Number two, motivation for eternal life. The man had the motivation, verse 25, he stands up, he puts Jesus to the test, testing whether Jesus' theology was accurate, he said, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He knew the answer. He knew the answer. He was a scribe, he was expert in the Law of Judaism. He knew exactly what the answer was. But it was a very personal question, what shall I do?

What shall I do? And I think this is important for us so that we know the intent. I told you that, you know, sometimes these scribes came, they were counsel to the Pharisees, the Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus in some kind of violation of the Law so they could condemn Him to death and execute Him, which they eventually did. And they would use the scribes who were the experts of the Law to find the violations by which they could indict Jesus.

There were occasions when this question was asked with that in mind. For example, in Matthew 22 verse 34, when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, He did that frequently, they gathered themselves together. So they had a little meeting and out of that meeting it says, verse 35, one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?

Now you notice here in a different occasion, a different incident, the same issue comes up. What is the great commandment in the Law? What is God's great requirement? What is it that God ultimately requires, implication for us to be in His Kingdom, to possess eternal life, of course is implied. And Jesus said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. And then He added, of course, you shall love your neighbor as yourself, being the Second Commandment. Here clearly this lawyer comes as an emissary of the Pharisees who want to catch Jesus in some advocacy that violates the Law.

So it's not a personal question. The lawyer asks a generic question, which is the great commandment? In that particular occasion, you have an illustration of the lawyer coming as an emissary asking a theological question with the intention of indicting Jesus, which is the great commandment, is an impersonal theological question. Compare that with the question here. What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

And the whole picture takes on a different tone. This is not about a generic theological discussion. This is primarily about a man who wants personal information. What do I need to do to inherit? That is, by the way, a commonly used word with the future Kingdom of God.

First Corinthians 6, 9, Galatians 5, 21 uses it because it looks to the future Kingdom. Inheritance is down the road, isn't it? It's down the road after the current life of whoever is going to pass their wealth on to you. You don't inherit until after their life is over. And so the next life isn't inherited until after this life is over. That's why the word inherit is used. Now the question indicates that he understood individual salvation and he understood human responsibility.

What do I do? Which means salvation is a personal thing, even within the framework of Judaism. He knew that he had to have it personally in his own life. And he takes responsibility to do something.

What must I do? Evangelism then requires two things, a recognition of eternal life and a motivation to receive it. That is how we evangelize.

You have to get to that point. We can't evangelize on a superficial level about issues in this life. Then we thirdly came to, last time, a discussion of the complexion of eternal life, recognition and motivation and complexion, meaning the complex, the order, the nature, the structure. What is eternal life? What are we talking about if we're going to inherit eternal life? Well, Jesus turns to the table, verse 26, and asks him a question, what is written in the Law?

You know the Law. And then he says, how does it read to you, or better translated, how do you read it every day, or how do you recite it? And I told you last time that out of the Torah, the five books of Moses in which these lawyers were expert, there was one portion of Scripture, the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, verses 4 and 5, that was known as the Shema and it was believed to be the summary of the whole Law. The Ten Commandments is a summary of the Law in a sense because all of the Law of God, if you just took all of God's revealed Law in the Pentateuch, all of that revealed Law, it would either relate to men, people relating to people, or it would relate to God, people relating to God.

Those are the only two categories of relationships we have, how we relate to one another and how we relate to God. If you summed up all that Law, all the Law of human relations and all the Law of divine relations, you could sum them up in Ten Commandments. If you obey the commandments, the first half of the Ten Commandments, how you relate to God, you obey the second half of the Ten Commandments, how you relate to men, you will therefore by obeying the summary of the Law, obey all the Law because it's all summarized in the Ten Commandments and then it's summarized even more briefly in loving God perfectly and loving your neighbor perfectly. If you loved God perfectly, you'd never violate God in any way, you'd never do anything against His will.

If you loved your neighbor perfectly, you'd never violate your neighbor. So they knew that everything God said reduced down to Ten Commandments, reduced down to Two Commandments. He knew that.

He was an expert in the Law. The Law was drawn out of Deuteronomy 6, 4 and 5, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and strength. And then added to that was Leviticus 19, 18, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

They knew that completed the whole Law. In fact, in Mark 12, 28 to 34, Jesus had a similar conversation with a different lawyer, a different scribe and the scribe and Jesus were talking about the same thing and Jesus answered the question, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the scribe said, right, teacher, you have truly stated. So He knew the answer. Jesus knew He knew the answer, they all knew the answer.

So in verse 27, what does the scribe say? He answered and said, He gave the right answer, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself. With all your is repeated four times so nobody misses the fact that He's calling for a perfect love, with nothing left out, nothing omitted, nothing diminished. Comprehensive, complete, supreme, unmixed, perfect love for God with all your human faculties. And the same kind of love toward your neighbor. You want to be in God's Kingdom? Jesus said, love God perfectly and love others perfectly.

That's what God requires for eternal life. That love would be demonstrated by perfect unwavering trust in God, perfect devotion to God, that is to His will and His Word. Perfect fellowship with God, never ever violated, never broken, never interrupted. Perfect humility before God without any taint of pride whatsoever. Perfect obedience to every law that God had ever revealed.

Perfect hatred of sin, perfect satisfaction and delight in God's presence, perfect affection for the truth, perfect everything. Is that possible? Of course it's not possible. By the deeds of the Law, no flesh will be justified.

It's impossible. And yet the Old Testament reinforces the standard. Delight yourself in the Lord. Delight yourself in the Lord. That's the requirement. This is what God commands.

Love Him perfectly. Love others consummately with the same kind of love that you love yourself. That is to say, give to people the same kind of attention you give yourself.

Nobody does that. And yet that's the standard Jesus established, an interesting approach to evangelism, frankly. I mean, most of us would never have answered the question that way. If somebody came to you and said, what do I do to inherit eternal life? We would jump immediately to, oh, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, wouldn't we?

I mean, we wouldn't get into this kind of a discussion. But before a person can receive eternal life on God's terms, they have to understand their true condition because you can't receive eternal life apart from repentance. And you can't repent truly and genuinely until you know of what you must repent. And it's not necessarily possible for you to go back through your whole life and try to think of everything you've ever done that should be repented of, but it's a pretty simple thing to say, I do not love God the way I ought to love God and I do not love others the way I ought to love others. I fall short. My love for God is woefully failing and inadequate. My love for others is the same and therefore I have fallen short of the divine standard.

It's not difficult to understand, right? So it's not a matter of sorting through somebody's life and trying to balance off the good with the bad. You know, people think, well, you know, I'm a good person, I do more good than I do bad and I think God's going to let me into heaven because I'm basically a good person and, you know, I try to take care of my little space in the world and, you know, pick up trash and take care of my kids and be nice to my wife and give to charity and whatever, whatever, whatever.

It's not about that. That's what some theologians call bad good. It might be on the surface good, on the earthly surface good, but underlying motivation isn't divine. The bottom line is, you're going to hell forever if you don't love God perfectly and love your neighbor the way you love yourself and no one can do one can do that. Verse 28 then, Jesus said to him, you've answered correctly.

You are responsible now because you knew the answer. And then Jesus quoted Leviticus 18, 5, do this and you will live. That is what the Law says.

Do this and you will live. In Leviticus 18, 4, you are to perform My judgments, keep My statutes, live in accord with them. Verse 5, you shall keep My statutes and My judgments by which a man may live if he does them.

You want to live? Keep My laws. Well I don't know if I can keep all your laws. Okay, just keep the summation of the Law.

Love Me perfectly. And then you won't ever violate the part of the Law that relates to Me and love your neighbor perfectly and you won't ever violate the Law that relates to Him. So perfect love fulfills the Law. Isn't that Romans 13? Isn't that what Paul said?

Paul understood that perfectly well. Do this and you will live, Leviticus 18, 5. That's not an isolated verse. As I was thinking about that, kind of tracked my way through the Old Testament. Listen to Deuteronomy 6, 25, and it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment. You want righteousness for you? Then obey all the commandments. Over in the wonderful book of Nehemiah and the ninth chapter and the twenty-ninth verse, admonished them...they were admonished in order to turn them back to Thy Law, yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Thy commandments but sinned against Thine ordinances...listen to this which if a man observes them, he shall live.

And that's just three samples of several places in the Old Testament. You want to live? Keep the Law. You want to keep the Law?

The simplest way to keep the Law without having to worry about every little commandment is to love God perfectly and love your neighbor perfectly and if you've done that, you'll live. That's where you want to take the sinner. You want to take the sinner to a point where he has absolutely no escape. He can't weigh off his good stuff with his bad stuff.

He can't weigh off some kind of relativism, measuring himself against somebody else. He can't say, well I really haven't committed the big things, I never murdered anybody, etc., etc., maybe he never committed adultery or whatever. The problem is you haven't loved God perfectly always, nor have you loved your neighbor the way you have loved yourself.

And so, Paul records the final indictment. All have sinned and fall...what?...short of the glory of God. All have sinned. Galatians 3 puts it another way, but it's basically the same indictment, as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse for it is written, cursed is everyone who doesn't abide by all things written in the book of the Law to perform them.

So that's where you want to get the sinner. You don't love God perfectly and that's obvious because you don't perfectly obey His revelation and you don't love others perfectly and that's obvious because you are selfish. Now our Lord here is not telling this man how to get saved, He's saying this is how you would have to be to be saved by the Law, keep it or die. And the wages of sin is death, not just physical death but spiritual death and eternal death. So when we evangelize people, we're confronting them with the true complexion of eternal life, the true order of eternal life.

It belongs to those who love God perfectly. By the way, when we all get to heaven, guess what? We'll all love God this way and we'll all love each other this way. That's what perfection will be. So if you want one defining attitude that will prevail in heaven, it is perfect love going all the time in every direction, producing perfect joy.

I suppose you could say, and I love to link these two words, that heaven can be described that way, perfect love and perfect joy. So this is where you put the sinner. You back him into an impossible corner, impossible, and he says, well I love God, well the Bible says if you love me, you keep my commandments. Have you kept them all, all the time, never violating any?

If you've broken one, you're under a curse. Keep the Lord, die. This is where you take the sinner. And then at that point, what you want the sinner to do is to say, I can't do that. I don't do that. I can't do that. I know I can't do that. I'm not capable of doing that. No one is capable of doing that.

That's when you get them into the book of Romans. And so what should come out of the sinner's heart is, I can't do that. I can't love like that. It's impossible.

I cannot do that. And you want to excite his accusing conscience saying, obviously you don't love God, you're selfish toward God, you have offended God, you have violated God, you have disobeyed God, your heart is full of wickedness and corruption and evil things and obviously you don't love your neighbor the same way you love yourself. You take advantage of your neighbor, you're unkind, you're ungracious, etc., etc., you're self-centered and you want that sinner to feel inflamed on the inside by the guilt of his violation of this surpassing requirement. You want him to see his ugly lovelessness, his selfish indulgence.

You want his heart exposed. You want at that point the sinner to be shattered and broken into a contrite trembling soul, shaking under the realization that he falls short. You want the sinner at that point to know that because you have broken God's law of not loving him perfectly and loving your neighbor the way you love yourself, you are under the curse of God, you're headed for eternal hell. And then the sinner is left with one option. You choose heaven or hell.

You choose the fiery judgment of God or you choose deliverance from it. You would hope that the sinner at this point would cry out for mercy like Luke 18, beat on his breast, God be merciful to me, a sinner, that he would come with a broken and a contrite heart, that he would come like Peter, depart from me, O Lord, from a sinful man, that he would cry for mercy, Psalm 103, that he would bless the Lord from his soul because of God's mercy and because God had removed his sins as far as the east is from the west, buried in the depths of the sea and never remembers them again. You would hope that the sinner would say, O God, I've fallen short, O God, I don't deserve it.

I plead with You to be merciful. And this scribe, this lawyer knew that God was a forgiving God who would literally go out and buy back a sinner out of the slave market, that he was a pardoning God. He knew that he showed mercy to thousands and thousands, as Exodus describes it. This was the time for him to cry out for mercy and forgiveness which God would give him. And of course we know how God could render that to them because God would punish his sins on Christ at the cross, just months from here. But already he could apply the death of Christ to this man before he ever died because he was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world and the death of Christ had already been applied to the sins of all in the past, way back to Adam who had believed. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary.

His lesson today is part of his study, What Must I Do to Be Saved? Now friend, going back to the book John recommended before the lesson, if you're wrestling with worry when you think about the future, the book Because the Time is Near can help calm those fears and give you a victorious hope about what lies ahead. To get a copy, contact us today. Because the Time is Near is available for $11 and shipping is free. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or visit our website at

The title again, Because the Time is Near. Order your copy online at or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE. And to improve your understanding of God's Word, whether it's the book of Revelation or any other passage of Scripture, pick up our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible. It offers 25,000 study notes by John MacArthur, designed not only to help you understand the meaning of nearly every verse, but also to apply it to your daily life.

Also it's an ideal gift to put into the hands of someone you've been discipling. To order the MacArthur Study Bible, available in the New King James, New American Standard and English Standard versions. Call us at 800-55-GRACE or visit our website Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff here at Grace To You, I'm Phil Johnson. Don't miss tomorrow's broadcast, where John continues his compelling study, What Must I Do to Be Saved? Important truth ahead, be here for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-04 05:49:18 / 2024-03-04 06:00:06 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime