Summary: Doing is essential for our salvation. Doing means keeping God’s law. But we can’t be justified by doing!
N.B. This talk is in two parts. This is the first. The second talk is uploaded as '3 The Good Samaritan, Part 2'.
Also, I can email you the slides I used - firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my first talk as minister of Rosebery Park Baptist Church – or as minister of any church! I think it would be hard to find a much better choice of passage for a first talk than the parable of the Good Samaritan. It goes right to the heart of what the Christian faith is about.
We all know this parable; we’ve heard it loads of times before. But even so, I think we can miss its main message.
A teacher of the law asks Jesus “Who is my neighbour?” That is a vitally important question. For example, in the 2015 migrant crisis Europe really struggled to answer the question of what responsibility we have to the migrants who were coming to Europe. Are they our neighbours? What responsibility do we have towards them? So the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbour?” is one we definitely need to answer today.
But before the teacher of the law asked Jesus “Who is my neighbour?” he asked another question. Do you remember what it was?
Reading: Luke 10:25-29
What was the first question the teacher of the law asked? It was, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
That question is at the core of what the Christian faith is about. If we are blunt, that’s what we really want, and it’s what Jesus wants for us. It’s the key question of life, and so it’s an excellent place for ‘Talk Number One’.
So we have two questions: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and “Who is my neighbour?” and the second question is a follow-on to the first.
In the church Bibles this passage is divided into two sections and I’ve decided to split this talk into two parts. We’ll do the first section, from verses 25-29, this week and the parable itself next week.
This first section makes three really important points.
Doing is essential for our salvation.
Doing means keeping God’s law.
But we can’t be justified by doing!
So let’s dive in and take a look.
Doing is essential for our salvation.
If you have Bible with you please look at v.25. The story opens with a lawyer asking Jesus, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Let’s pause for a moment. The lawyer says, ‘What shall I do..?’ Some of us here may think that is fundamentally wrong. Let’s do a little straw poll. Can you put your hands up if you think inheriting eternal life requires doing? And now, if you think it doesn’t require doing?
When I was at school we had a Christian Union. A lot of speakers came to give talks. One of the common presentations of the gospel was based around ‘A,B,C’.
‘A’ stood for ‘Admit’ your need. ‘B’ was ‘Believe’. And ‘C’ was ‘Come’.
There is nothing in this presentation to suggest that we actually have to do anything to be saved. But the lawyer asks Jesus what he must do. He assumes that he has to do something. Jesus, to our surprise, doesn’t say to the lawyer, ‘My friend, you are wrong, you don’t have to do anything’. He doesn’t say, ‘Salvation is by faith alone’. Quite to the contrary! Jesus’ answer is all about doing. The Good Samaritan does something.
And to add insult to injury, notice that Jesus doesn’t say anything about ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. What’s happened to the steps to salvation that I was taught in my Christian Union? There is nothing wrong with ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. We do have to admit our need, believe and come. I think that neither Jesus nor lawyer mentioned ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ because for both of them they were a given. Every Jew in Jesus’ day would have believed in God. He would have accepted that he was a sinner. He. He would certainly have come to God. The ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ were all there. The question mark was on the ‘D’. The lawyer focused on ‘D’ for ‘do’. And ‘D’ for ‘do’ is a missing component for many Christians.
This is a very common view of many Christians today: that we don’t have to do anything to be saved. Surely, we think, that was the point of the Reformation. Salvation is by faith alone and by grace alone. We don’t have to do anything. But there is ‘D’ for ‘do’. It is as clear as day in Scripture.
One of the clearest passages of Scripture on this subject is in James 2:20-22.