Some Christians believe that salvation can be lost, some think that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was not enough and we need to work for our salvation.
To imply by any means that our salvation is depended on us is to insult the grace of God. While many people agree that our salvation does not depend on us, they also turn around to say things that seem to imply that what Jesus did is not enough.
Let’s take a look and some portions of the scriptures that explains this subject in detail.
WE BELIEVE AND RECEIVE
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” – John 3:14-16, 18 NIV
Eternal life is received only on the condition of belief and trust in Jesus as our saviour. This is the only condition, outside it is no other. This is a result of God’s overwhelming love of God. There is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus and we come to him by faith when we received him into our hearts as our own Lord and Saviour. In Jesus, we do not stand condemned.
WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.
He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” – Romans 3:23-28 NIV
We are only saved and justified not on the principles of good works but on faith! We work out our salvation because we are saved, not to be saved! A king lives like a king and not as a slave and this he learns how to do immediately he is coronated king. In the same way, the saved learns how to live as saved but regardless of the pitfalls, he is still saved anyway just like the king who acts like a slave is still king.
Let me borrow from the Anglican Article of faith:
“Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.”
We are justified by faith, not good works. We work out our salvation, that is, we show forth the evidence that we are saved but that in itself does not save or keep us saved. We are saved by faith in Christ Jesus alone.
THE GIFT OF GOD
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:22-23 NIV
Eternal life is God’s gift to those who believe, not a reward for our good works or efforts. It’s a gift, it’s a remarkable gift, it’s an overwhelming gift! You don’t pay for a gift, you just receive it!
The wages of sin is death but Jesus took death on our behalf, he died our death and took our sins away by the reason of his sacrifice on the cross. That is why he is called the Lamb of God who takes sin away, he took our sins away and gave us the gift of life. If it’s a gift, then it can’t be worked for.
WHAT IF WE SIN?
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 NIV
While God desires that every believer walks and manifest his righteousness which they have been empowered of by the Spirit, it doesn’t happen automatic and as we continue to grow and mature in the knowledge of God’s word, we may make mistakes or sin.
When a believer sins, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, he is the atoning sacrifice and he speaks on our behalf. He speaks more truth than the blood of Abel and this truth is that we are saved. A believer may make mistakes but we do not continue in sin. And yes, saying “I am a Christian” or being to Church every day isn’t what makes us born again, it is belief and trust in God.
There are still consequences of sin, it may affect our conscience, it may destroy our relationship with others, it may make us unproductive and it can make people never recognize Christ in us. However, sin is not superior to the sacrifice of Jesus.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV
Every man has been given salvation and when we hear the good news about our salvation and believe it, we receive it. When we receive it, we have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit. This is an assurance that we belong to God forever.
When Jesus said “it is finished” on the cross, he wasn’t joking. It was indeed finished! If Jesus can’t come again to be crucified, then whatever happened on the cross was meant to be permanent. The war is over, sin has been defeated and it has no condemning power on us again.
HOW ABOUT DENYING JESUS?
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” – 1 John 2:19, 22-23 NIV
We are saved only by trusting Jesus and it is this belief in him that powers our confession of his Lordship. However, should anyone turn back and deny the son, then the person was never part of the fold in the first place, the person didn’t believe and in this regard the Bible says “the Lord knows those who are his.”
Some denied Jesus under duress, I believe that what applied to Peter would apply to them. Jesus didn’t come reminding Peter “you denied me” because true belief or denial starts from the heart.
Anyone who outrightly denies the Son didn’t believe in his heart in the first place, his heart is hardened against the truth. An example is the thief on the cross who said: “if you are the son of God…” He simply didn’t believe, he had his doubts and only tried his chances.
WHAT IF I DON’T BELIEVE ETERNAL SALVATION BY GRACE?
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” – Galatians 1:6-9 NIV
Anyone teaching any other gospel outside the one handed down to us by Jesus through the ministry of the Apostles is a false teacher. Paul sees them as those worthy of God’s curse because of the damage they do to ministry and the confusion they bring to believers.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, he was not hard on unbelievers or weak believers but he was very hard religious people who were twisting the teachings of Moses and using it to oppress and threaten people. In the same manner, anyone who teaches that the salvation of God is subject to our efforts is exalting the flesh other than Jesus.
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” – Galatians 3:1-6 NIV
How can we start a journey by grace and end by works? How can you board a plane with a gifted ticket only to start trying to make payments to the pilot for being on the plane? How can you say “Jesus is my salvation” and then suddenly turn to say “I’ve got to work for my salvation?
Paul calls it foolishness. We received the Spirit (seal of God’s promise) by believing and that’s all! Anyone teaching that God’s salvation is temporal and is dependent on our works can be likened to one who bewitches others. Anyone who believes it can be likened to a foolish person.
God’s love is overwhelming, his mercies are new every morning and he solved the sin problem once and for all! We are saved for eternity and whether we agree or not, it doesn’t change the truth, if only hinders us in our walk with God.