A little boy floating down the river while sitting on top of a bear in the middle of the jungle. You guessed it. The little boy is Mowgli and the bear is Baloo from the Disney classic Jungle Book. This was one of my daughters’ favorite scenes as they sang The Bare Necessities of Life.
But what are the bare necessities of…eternal life? In other words, what are the essentials one must believe in order to possess eternal life? To put it yet another way, what are those things that without believing in them one cannot possess eternal life?
1) The Holiness of God
This is the bare essential and where it all must begin. God is unstained by sin. He is perfectly righteous and perfectly pure. There is not a drop of corruption in Him. All of who He is as expressed in all His attributes and all of what He does as expressed in all His works is completely upright.
2) The Sinfulness of Man
Sin taints the whole of man. The depravity of man due to sin is not partial, but total. The corruption of man due to sin is not mild, but radical.(Jeremiah 13:23; 17:9) The depravity is so total and the corruption so radical that “Therefore they could not believe.”(John 12:39, emphasis added) One must personally believe that they have sinned(Romans 3:23) against a thrice holy God and are deserving of God’s justice expressed by His wrath now and ultimately in hell(John 3 :36; Romans 1:18; Romans 6:23).
“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—”
1 Kings 8:46
“The soul who sins shall die.”
3) The Deity of Christ
The person of Jesus Christ is so fascinating that it’s like looking at a diamond from all it’s angles. The synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke each portray a particular facet of the person of Christ. Matthew focuses in the Royalty of Jesus, presenting him as the King. Mark focuses on the Ministry of Jesus, presenting Him as the Servant. And Mark focuses on the Humanity of Jesus, presenting Him as Man.
John however focuses on the Deity of Jesus, presenting Him as God. And John explicitly states in his purpose statement that in order to have life one must believe that Jesus is God.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
One can see this throughout the gospel of John. The people of His day wanted to stone Jesus because they understood Jesus’ claim to deity.
“This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
“I and the Father are one.”
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
After all, if Jesus was not God, He would not be able to grant eternal life since he would not have been raised from the dead. And if He wasn’t God, He would not be sinless and therefore unable to save sinners.
“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
4) The Humanity of Christ
In order to be able to offer eternal life to sinful humans, Jesus Himself had to cloak Himself with humanity, as their representative.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Hebrews 2:14-17(emphasis added)
One of the heresies that the apostle John addressed was a denial of the humanity of Jesus Christ. This was the heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed that spirit was good and flesh was evil. Thus they denied that Jesus could take on human flesh because He could not be tainted by evil. John said to deny the humanity of Christ is not of God.
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
1 John 4:2-3(emphasis added)
5) The Exclusivity of Christ
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:5
6) The Substitutionary Death of Christ
There are 2 small Greek words, υπερ and αντί, that are the basis of the substitutionary death of Christ. (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18) In the place of, in the stead of, Christ died as a substitute, as a sin bearer(Isaiah 53:12), as a wrath bearer.
7) The Resurrection of Christ
The apostle Paul makes it unequivocally clear that one of the bare necessities of eternal life is to believe in the resurrection of Christ.
“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9(emphasis added)
8) Justification by Faith
Justification is a legal declaration by God that a person is righteous. God justifies the ungodly(Romans 4:5). And He justifies by crediting or imputing the perfect righteousness of Christ(2 Corinthians 5:21). And this justification is by faith in Christ…ALONE.(Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16).
“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”