Luke 10:25-28, “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”
This is an intriguing passage of Scripture. I love something that Dr. Curtis Hutson (1934-1995) said: “A good rule to follow when interpreting the Bible is to never use an obscure passage to contradict a clear one.” Using that important Bible study principle, we can say without a doubt that Luke 10:25-28 is NOT teaching a works-based plan of salvation! We know this because of clear passages; such as, Romans 4:3-5, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
To understand what Jesus is saying in Luke 10:25-28, it is key to notice that one of the wicked unsaved Pharisees, a lawyer, is tempting Him. Luke 10:25, “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So we must keep in mind that Jesus is responding to a wicked man who is tempting Him. The Lord often spoke in parables, or in a clever way, when dealing with skeptics and unbelievers...
Mark 4:34, “But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”
Jesus was a sincere man, He refused to cast pearls before the swine, before those whom Jesus knew resented His Words and had no interest in the truth. Jesus asked the lawyer how he interpreted the Old Testament. Luke 10:26,“He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?” The lawyer gave a works based plan of salvation, so Jesus agreed with him. Christ did the same thing with the rich young ruler...
Mark 10:17-23, “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
The young man called Jesus, “Good Master.” Although Jesus was good, God in fact, sinless in every manner; the rich young ruler didn't recognize Jesus as such. Instead, the young man saw Jesus as a good man, who had perfectly kept God's commandments. The Old Testament law had originally been given by God as a measuring stick, by which when sinful men compared themselves, they realized their sinnership and need for the coming Messiah (Romans 3:19-20). Unfortunately, the Jews failed to understand this truth and instead turned the law into a plan of salvation. So instead of seeing themselves as sinners and turning to Christ by faith to be saved, they were now trying to perfectly keep the law as a means of attaining eternal life. The law had become a stumblingblock to the Jews!
Jesus was not giving the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-23 a plan of salvation, He was using the law the way it was intended to be used—as a measuring stick to show men their desperate need for salvation through faith in Christ alone. Acts 10:42, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Everyone in the Old Testament was saved the same way we are today—by faith alone in Christ alone.
So in Luke 24:25-28 Jesus is NOT giving a plan of salvation to this lawyer—the Lord is simply agreeing with the Pharisee that if he wants to get to Heaven by keeping the law, he must do so perfectly. Carefully notice what Jesus told him in Luke 10:28, “And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Notice that Jesus said, “THIS DO” (that is works). Jesus was simply agreeing with the man, who had said that you attain eternal life by keeping the law. Just as Jesus did with the rich young ruler, so also is he simply agreeing with this lawyer that if he wants to work his way to Heaven, then he must perfectly keep the law.
Please notice the lawyer's insincerity and confirmation that he is trying to work his way to Heaven in Luke 10:29, “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” You see, this heathen lawyer is trying to JUSTIFY HIMSELF!!! No one has ever been born-again by justifying himself. We can only be justified by faith in Jesus Christ, accepting His sacrifice on Calvary's cross as payment for our sins. The Pharisee lawyer in Luke 10:25-29 is seeking self-justification, and Jesus knew it; so the dear Savior used the law as it was intended to be used, to show men that no matter how much they may try to keep the law perfectly to merit eternal life, they cannot.
Again, we know that this passage in Luke 10:25-28 cannot be a plan of salvation, because it would contradict plain passages of Scripture; such as, the entire Gospel of John. A good rule to follow when interpreting the Bible is to never use an obscure passage to contradict a clear one. In the Gospel of John we find the word “faith” mentioned 85 times, but there is no teaching of doing works, praying, turning from sins, speaking in tongues, surrendering to Christ's Lordship, confessing, following, serving nor of water baptism to get to Heaven. John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
The two greatest commandments in the Holy Bible are to LOVE GOD, and to likewise LOVE OUR NEIGHBOUR. These two commandments are really just one: TO LOVE!!! But loving God means different things to different people. Biblically, loving God means to obey His commandments, the foremost of which is to believe on His only begotten Son, the Christ (John 3:16; 20:31). No one has rightly divided the inspired Word of God, who thinks that a person can be saved through personal righteousness. In fact, we can only be saved by God's imputed righteousness, which is through faith in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”