How can I obtain eternal life?
SPROUL: The obtaining of eternal life is simple: we put our trust in Christ and in Christ alone for our salvation. Everyone who puts their trust in Christ alone, as the Bible promises, as Jesus promises, has life eternal (John 3:16). There’s no other way to get it except by faith alone. It’s not by our works (Eph. 2:8–9). We can’t merit it. We can’t earn it. We can’t deserve it. We put our trust in Christ, who alone is worthy of the gift of eternal life.
In the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve were created, they were put on probation. If they obeyed God, then they could have the tree of life. If they disobeyed, they would lose it. And what happened? They disobeyed and they lost it.
Then we come to the New Testament, and Jesus appears as the new Adam. Where the first Adam was disobedient and plunged the world into ruin and into death, the new Adam is perfectly obedient. And by His perfect obedience, He wins for His people the reward of obedience, eternal life.
Therefore, I don’t get eternal life as a reward for my works. Rather, I get a reward of eternal life because the righteousness of Jesus is transferred to my account. We use the theological term imputation—just as my sin was transferred to Him on the cross, and He paid for that, so His righteousness is transferred to my account. The only way I get that righteousness is by putting my trust in Him.
WEBB: Is that the concept of double imputation?
WEBB: That’s spelled out in one verse in 2 Corinthians 5:21, where the Apostle Paul says, “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” It’s one of my favorite verses because it encapsulates the entire gospel.
SPROUL: We often think that Jesus just died on the cross. That would put us back at point zero—we’d be innocent, but not positively righteous. We’d be right back to where Adam was before the fall. Now, however, He has not only taken our sin but has also given us His righteousness. It’s a double transfer.
WEBB: So, it’s not enough just to have our sins forgiven?
SPROUL: No, it’s not enough to just have our sins forgiven. We need to have His righteousness attributed to us as well.
This transcript is from an Ask R.C. Live event with R.C. Sproul and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.