The majority of the Christian world answers the question by saying “believe.” They usually provide a sample prayer for one to offer, inviting Jesus into the penitent’s heart. Is this the right answer to this most important question?
The question is asked several ways in the New Testament. The rich ruler asked, “[W]hat must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10; Luke 18 NIV84). The crowd on Pentecost asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The Philippian jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Saul asked Jesus, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). Let’s look at the answers they received.
Jesus told the rich ruler he knew the answer: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother’ ” (Mark 10:19). While he claimed to have done all of these, he still recognized that something was lacking. The Bible says that “Jesus looked at him and loved him” and said, “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). The man went away with great sorrow because he was unwilling to sacrifice his wealth for Jesus.