From John Hendryx at Monergism.com
Is Jesus really the only way? In an environment of such plurality and diversity this really seems an implausible or even arrogant claim of Christians. When confronted with the exclusive claims of Christianity, the question on many people's minds is how can Christians be so narrow as to believe that all non-Christians will be excluded from heaven? There are plenty of good people who are not Christians. Do Christians think they are better than others? So the question often put to Christians is what about a person, a good person who has been good all their life ... will they go to heaven?
Actually, Jesus himself answered this question. When asked by a rich young ruler what must he do to gain eternal life, Jesus answered: "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments" (Matt 19:17). So Jesus himself makes it clear that a good person who obeys all of God's commands would merit or qualify for eternal life. This includes all good people of all time from all nations, peoples, races and languages. The point is that if anyone could obey all God's commandments, they will live (also see Rom 2:6-8). So in answer to the question, yes a good person who has done good all their life would merit eternal life.
The Scripture declares, however, that there is no one on earth who fits that description (Rom 3:9-18). There is no one who does not sin when measured against the holiness and majesty of God. That means you ... and that means me ... yes, all of us have utterly failed to follow the law God has given us.
Only Jesus Christ alone has obeyed all of God's commands and earned a place at the right hand of God (Hebrews 4:15).
You see, it is always important to look at context, for after Jesus tells the rich young ruler, "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments", He then goes on to explain but "With man this is impossible..." (Matt 19:26) So it is very important to note that Jesus teaches that the first prerequisite of eternal life in God, is when by God's grace, we recognize our utter impotence to save ourselves by human effort due to our moral corruption. This slavery we have to our rebellion renders it impossible to obey God's commands. In fact Jesus saved his greatest criticism of people on earth for the Pharisees because they believed and trusted in their own righteousness and moral ability to please God.
So what is Jesus saying here because this is really important?
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