What do I need to do in order to receive eternal life?
To receive eternal life, you must do whatever it takes to be known by him.
Yeah, I know...strange answer?
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt 7:21-23)
I'm not missing the clear references to "doing the will of My Father" or "you who practice lawlessness" here. But in all of this, what always sears my heart and lingers on in my memory are the words "I never knew you; depart from Me". In the sinner's moment of judgment, there seems to be no extended discourse, no lengthy verdict, no point-by-point explanation of all the ways in which the sinner failed to meet God's requirements. The verdict is swift and simple: "I never knew you". The sentencing, brief: "depart from Me". And the evidence will be undeniable: "you who practice lawlessness". But in the pronouncement of judgment, the ultimate and central reason for the sinner's condemnation is the simple but horrifying truth: "I never knew you".
I want to point out that knowing God and being known by him are not two different things, actually. Oh, knowing about God and being known by him are most definitely two different things, but truly knowing him is much more than simply knowing about him. You can know all about God, even to the extent of doing many wondrous things in his name, but still be told "I never knew you" on the day of judgment. You must know him, and you must be known by him.
Fortunately, the English language provides really simple terminology for this. It's called a relationship! And in this case, we're talking about a good relationship. Let's call it the really good kind of relationship; you know, the kind a husband and wife have who have really "gotten it" and are joyfully living in humble ministry toward each other. And the simple root of this kind of relationship is love, love, love, love, love. It's really so simple. It's love! It's God's love, the unconditional kind, the perfect kind, the only true kind.
So to receive eternal life, you must be in love with God. He is already in love with you. This is what he wants. This is what he created you for. He wants to know you. And he wants you to know him----really, really well! Eternal life begins now, at the moment you receive his love and begin living your new life in him. Forever!