Shelby G. Floyd
A man asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life” (Mark 10:17)? Contrary to what we hear today from the popular religious teachers, there is something that man must do to have eternal life. If that question is asked today, most preachers would say, “You do not need to do anything but accept Jesus as your personal Savior.” Therefore, a subjective faith—a mental assent that Jesus is the Christ, is the only condition of salvation. But even a subjective faith is something that man does mentally. And Christ said that belief in Christ is “the work of God.” His words are explicit:
“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:28-29).
Therefore, it seems to me that if the command to believe is the work of God, then so are the other conditions of salvation—repentance, confession and baptism, are also the work of God. Christ answered the rich young ruler by referring him to the 10 commandments and specified 5 of them from the second tablet. But today we are not under or obligated to keep the 10 commandments of the Law of Moses. When some read this statement they will think I am crazy. But we are not amenable to the Law of Moses any more than citizens of America are now under American Indian tribal law, English law, French law or Spanish law—even though parts of our country were under these laws at one time. If we obey any of those laws now it is because they have been brought over and made a part of our constitution and federal system.
Therefore, we do keep in principle the 10 commandments, because they have been brought over and made a part of the gospel, with the exception of the Sabbath Day—seventh day, being replaced with the Lord’s Day—the first day. On this principle, when the same question asked by the rich, young ruler, was asked in the gospel age, they were given a different answer from that given to the young man who approached Christ. Why? Because he lived under the Law of Moses and we live under the law of Christ. The Law of Moses has been abrogated, having been nailed to the cross and done away. We live under the new covenant as the book of the Hebrews plainly teaches (cf. Hebrews 8-10).
When people wanted to know what to do to have eternal life in Acts of Apostles, the answer given was according to where they were spiritual speaking:
(1) To a penitent unbeliever, who asked that question, he was told to “believe in the Lord Jesus” and then he was baptized (Acts 16:29-33),
(2) To those believers who were guilty of murdering Christ, they were told to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:37-38),
(3) To a penitent believer, who asked the question, he was commanded, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). And finally,
(4) to a penitent believer who wanted to know why he should not be baptized, he was told to express his faith by confessing the name of Christ. Having done so, he was immediately baptized into Christ (Acts 8:36-38).
This is the reason Christ gave a different answer to “what must I do to inherit eternal life.” Christ and the people living during his lifetime were living under the Law of Moses and were amenable to that law, not the law of the New Testament. But everyone living since the day of Pentecost must be baptized after the antecedent action of faith, repentance of sin and the good confession of faith (Romans 10:9-10).
Copyright © 2020 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142