How to Have Eternal Life

By David
Originally Published 2011 - Updated July 2, 2015

What Did Jesus Say?

Many people are unsure of how to receive eternal life and go to Heaven. Some believe that you must go to church on Sundays and pray every day. Others think that you must be part of a certain church and do certain religious activities. Still others think that you get to heaven by being a good person and if your goodness outweighs your bad, then God will let you into Heaven.

Though there is confusion on this subject, Jesus clearly speaks about it. In Luke 10:25 a Pharisee asks Jesus, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" In verse 26 Jesus replies with "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" Though this doesn't directly answer his question, Jesus is making a statement.

The Mosaic Law

The Law was a set of 613 commandments for how to live. What Jesus is saying here is to obtain eternal life, you must keep the Law. God says in Leviticus 18:4-5 "You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the LORD your God. So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD." Later in Ezekiel 18:9 God declares, "if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully - he is righteous and will surely live".

If you want to live forever in Heaven, what you must do is keep the Law. But keeping the Law is not as simple as just being a good person. The Law is a single set of governing rules, and you must keep the whole set. James 2:10 says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all."

10 Commandments

The Law is summed up by God in the 10 Commandments He gave to Moses. These commandments are the most well-known section of the Law. To see if you have kept the Law lets go through some of the 10 Commandments. 1Footnote 1

Some people split the Law into Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil Law parts, but God never does that in the OT.

The 9th commandment says, "You shall not lie." (Exodus 20:16) Have you ever told a lie? Who hasn't told thousands (millions?) of lies? What do you call someone who has lied thousands of times? A Liar

The 8th commandment says, "You shall not steal." (Exodus 20:16) Have you ever stolen anything? Irrespective of its value? If you have ever stolen anything, what does that make you? A Thief

The 7th commandment says, "You shall not commit adultery." Seems like an easy one right? But Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-28, "I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Have you ever lusted after someone? If so what does that make you? An adulterer at heart

The 6th commandment says, "You shall not murder." This one also looks like an easy one, but the Bible says differently. Jesus says earlier in Matt 5:22-23, "I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." Also 1 John 3:15 says, "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Have you ever hated someone or been unjustly angry with someone? If so, then how does God see you as? A murderer at heart

If you said yes to any of these, if you are a liar or a thief or an adulterer or murderer at heart, then you have broken God's Law. And this is only 4 of the 613 commandments (less than 1%) Remember James 2:10.

The Problem

If you've broken God's Law, you cannot inherit eternal life. God is a perfect and righteous judge. He will punish all murderers, rapists, and adulterers. But He won't stop there. Because He is a perfect judge, God will also punish all liars, theives, and those who dishonor their parents. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Revelation 21:8) To be righteous, He must judge sinners. God says the penalty for sin is death: eternal separation from God in hell. (Romans 6:23)

The Solution

If God judged us by the Ten Commandments the situation would look incredibly grim. Let's be honest, who hasn't broken at least most of the Ten Commandments? Being perfect, God must judge sinners, and Romans 3:23 says that everyone has sinned. If that's the case, how can anyone go to Heaven?

Romans 3:21 says, "But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been made known." Jesus Christ kept the whole Law and yet He died. He died to pay your penalty. Since He was perfect, He didn't have to pay a penalty of death, He could pay your penalty.

Think of yourself in a courtroom. You are guilty of a serious crime and the sentence is a $1,000,000 fine or life in prison. You don't have the money so the judge has to send you to jail. Then someone you don't even know steps up and says he'll pay the fine for you. The judge counts the money and sees that there is $1,000,000 there. He then says that your fine has been paid and you are free to go.

That is what Jesus did for us at the cross. We are guilty before God of breaking His Law, and we have nothing to offer as payment for that. God then has to sentence us to death, but before He does that Jesus said, "I'll pay their penalty; I'll die for them." God then sees that as adequate payment for our sins.


So Jesus paid my penalty, does that mean I'm going to heaven? NO, not automatically. To inherit eternal life there are two things you must do. You must repent (turn away from) your sin and believe in Jesus. 2Footnote 2

For those of you who believe that lordship salvation is heresy I offer no more to you than Mark 1:15 and please stop hindering the Gospel.

Repenting means being remorseful for your sins and asking God to forgive you. Believing in Jesus means that when you ask God to forgive you, you trust that He will. Repenting includes turning away from your sin and surrendering your life to God and choosing to live for Him. You need to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. You need to trust Jesus, like you would trust a parachute. You need to transfer your trust from yourself and your righteousness and place it in Jesus and His righteousness and grace.


John 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

John 6:47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life."

Acts 16:31 "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved"

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."


Mark 1:15 "repent and believe in the gospel."

Acts 3:19 "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away"

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, unless you repent, you will perish."

Acts 17:30-31 "God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed (Jesus), having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."


The Bible makes it clear that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23) and because they have sinned everyone deserves death in Hell (Romans 6:23). But God being full of love and mercy made a way of salvation for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the debt of death that you and I owe on the cross. All you must do to have that death credited to you is repent of your sins and trust Jesus as the savior of your soul. This isn't a passive belief that God exists, but an active belief that leads to repentance.


  1. Some people split the Law into Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil Law parts. They then say that the Moral law is still in effect, but the Civil and Ceremonial Laws have been done away with. This is common among Covenant Theologians, but God never makes any distinction within the Law in the Old Testament. All of the Mosaic Law has been done away with for the Christian. See Romans 7:1-6 for more information.

  2. Must you repent to be saved? Yes of course, but even that turning from sin is by the power of the Holy Spirit. For those of you who believe that lordship salvation is heresy I offer no more to you than Mark 1:15 and please stop hindering the Gospel.