Back in the early 90’s I faced a crisis as I held to a works-based salvation and constantly lived in fear of my eternal destiny. I had no assurance of my salvation because I never knew if I’d performed enough good works to validate my salvation. It was a terrible place to be. The solution came when I began to study the Scriptures carefully, stopped looking at myself, and fixed my “eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:2). I trusted Jesus at His word when He said, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28). And the apostle John, who wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). And when I sinned, I trusted that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1), turned to the Lord in confession (1 John 1:9), and resumed my Bible study (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2) and walk of faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38). As I began to live by faith in God and His Word, my fear disappeared, the burden lifted, and my heart was filled with joy. That’s the blessing of learning God’s Word and trusting the Lord moment by moment. It’s the walk of faith.
Jesus Christ Saves
The Bible teaches that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9), in Christ alone (Acts 4:12), totally apart from any human works whatsoever (Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). The teaching is that the lost sinner is “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24), for “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:5). The Scripture is clear, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). For God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim 1:9). Our salvation was accomplished in full by the Lord Jesus Christ who, while on the cross, bore all our sins and paid our sin debt in full, for “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and He “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Just before Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Our salvation was finished at the cross. Jesus paid it all. God has “forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14). Our salvation was finished at the cross, and we bring absolutely nothing to God for salvation. No good works are required of those who would be saved; none before, during, or after salvation. Salvation a gift. If we have to pay for it, in any way or to any degree, then it ceases to be a gift and becomes something we’ve purchased.
Now, the Bible teaches that good works should follow salvation (Eph 2:10; Gal 6:10), but they are never the condition of it. Those who learn and live God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), and walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38), will honor the Lord as they “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (Eph 4:1). Their performance in life will match their position in Christ. Furthermore, these obedient-to the-word believers will “live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit 2:12), and “through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13), and earn rewards for eternity (1 Cor 3:10-15).
To be born again (1 Pet 1:3, 23), we need to come to Christ, for He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). And Peter said, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We need only Christ to be saved. Believing in Christ means we trust Him to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves; to save us. If would save ourselves, then it would not have been necessary for Christ to die; but He did die, and the benefits of His death, burial, and resurrection are available to those who come with the empty hands of faith, trusting in Christ alone to save. If you’ve not trusted in Christ as your Savior, then I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Your reconciliation with God occurs at the moment of faith in Christ. The matter is simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Dr. Steven R. Cook