Principles of Righteousness and Interpretation of Facts for the Reaching of Eternal Life

And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. John 8:32

What do I need to do to reach Eternal Life? Regardless of which branch of the Gospel each one belongs to, the answer is one common to all: you need to believe and persevere in what you have believed; speaking of course, of believing in Jesus.

It is a generalized response that is born from the evangelism that was established in our lands introduced by the missionaries who helped to colonize the newly discovered lands, mainly the Latin American lands. There has been no major change since then.

However, when we read some passages from the acts of Jesus, from people who came before Him with a similar question, we notice that Jesus did not correct the question but answered according to the approach in which they had asked.

Let me explain. Luke records a first account of a doctor of the Law who asked him: Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (10:25); and then, in the second account, Luke records the words of a Jewish leader who asks him almost in the same terms: Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (18:18). in this second account, the only thing Jesus corrects is the reason why he calls him Good Master.[1]

In both accounts Luke records the word, to do, as the basis of the question, which if we were precise, to do (ποιησας), has to do with executions or at least with works done, as they were taught by the Law of Moses, and not necessarily with believing (πιστεύω).[2]

Why doesn’t Jesus correct the question? You don’t need to do anything, but you have to believe. If Jesus does not correct the question, it means that the question is well formulated, and indeed, there is something that needs to be done to obtain Eternal Life. It can’t be that Jesus ignored the question since neither of us would believe, which would have led to contempt.

What must be done to obtain Eternal Life? Before answering this question properly, let us review another situation that also has to do with obtaining, in this case, the loss of Eternal Life. This is another reference recorded by Luke in which they asked Jesus: are there few that be saved? (13:23).

In the answer Jesus explained that many would seek to enter, and would not be able (13:24); and He added to His answer: But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. (13:27). in the end, in the conclusion, Jesus explained that those who were considered avant-garde would become stragglers, and vice versa, stragglers would become avant-garde: there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. (13:30).

And again, the presence of the expression workers (ποιησον in 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament; ἐργάται in 1550 Stephanus New Testament), referring to those who work (those who do), leads us to see the action of doing something as determining to obtain Eternal Life.

The doctrine of Jesus states that salvation is by His Grace,[3] not by works;[4] that it is God’s gift;[5] all this through faith in Jesus the Anointed of God (Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in Greek),[6] which leads us to affirm the foundation of faith that Eternal Life is not won by works.

Why then did Jesus not correct those who asked him what to do to obtain Eternal Life? And in fact, in his teaching on those who become last, he used the expression of workers, which is an argument in favor of doing as a determining element to obtain Eternal Life.

The situation is resolved by understanding doing not as works executed, but as establishments of principles of righteousness and interpretation. Salvation is obtained by faith in Jesus, but it demands the establishment of principles of righteousness and interpretation, not considering them can cause the acts to become acts of iniquity.

Let’s understand this last part. Luke records that just before explaining why many will seek to enter, and will not (13:24), Jesus had dealt with a situation with the chief of the synagogue by healing the woman who had spirit of sickness eighteen years (13:11).

Before the anger of the chief of the synagogue for the action of healing on the Sabbath, Jesus led the chief of the synagogue to see his deficiency of righteousness and interpretation of the facts, despite his extensive knowledge of the Law.

The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? (13:15-16)

Eternal Life consists in discovering the righteousness of acts and knowing how to establish their priority. We are saved by the righteousness that we do, or rather, to be in harmony with the revelation of the Word; we are saved by the righteousness that we establish. This is the life of faith, and upon which Eternal Life is built,

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:17

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Galatians 3:11

Works of righteousness are the fruit of faith, without which faith dies,

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?…   26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:20-26

Luke records several other cases of people in similar circumstances who by establishing the righteousness of their faith earned the right to obtain Eternal Life. A first example is the case of the woman with blood flow that touches the edge of the mantle of Jesus,

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched…    47And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. 48And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. (8:43-48)

A second example is the case of the woman who wipes the feet of Jesus with her tears,

And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (7:44-50)

The stragglers who become avant-garde are those who do (establish) works of righteousness; on the other hand, the avant-garde who become stragglers are those who believe but do nothing, are theorists; with time their inaction constitutes them as workers of iniquity.

Eternal Life is not just about believing, it is about knowing how to do (establish) the righteousness of your faith.

The interpretation of the facts of the chief of the synagogue was unfair; of course he could untie his donkey to take him to water, but he could not see the need of a daughter of Abraham, greater than the donkey, who needed deliverance from the one who bound her; with just reason he was ashamed of his way of interpreting.

The main reason why we do not have sufficient principles of righteousness and an inadequate interpretation of the facts is because we do not expose ourselves to the most insignificant actions. If perhaps we were to release the donkey more often in order to water it, we could see the need for the liberation of those who are bound, indebted and afflicted… even if it is the Sabbath….


All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.



Pastor Pedro Montoya

Twitter: @pastormontoya

[1] Mathew 19:16; Marks 10:17

[2] John 3:15

[3] Romans 3:24

[4] Ephesians 2:9

[5] Idem 2:8

[6] Romans 3:30; 5:1