Who was the greatest theologian of all time? It was Jesus Christ. How did He say that you could enter the kingdom of God and have eternal life with Him?
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Obviously, any good thing that you do is actually God's grace operating in your life. Christ was saying that, in order to enter the kingdom, you must allow His grace to bear the fruit of obedience in your life. But isn't this contrary to the "faith alone" gospel that many evangelical pastors teach?
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
The rich, young ruler asked how to obtain eternal life. Jesus answered, "keep the commandments." Christ did not say, "Be willing to obey." He said "obey." Many evangelical teachers would call this "cultic" teaching, but how can we ignore the words of Christ? How do we explain these two passages from the greatest theologian in history?
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me...... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not...... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Matthew 25:34-36, 41-43 & 46
Obedience will be a criterion for judgment. This is not just a criterion for judging non-believers. Nothing in this passage suggests that believers will be given a free pass to escape this judgment.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews 10:26 (NIV)
A just God will judge each person based on how they have individually responded and will apply the same standard to all people. What is the criterion that Christ said He would use? Obedience.