Salvation… It is the Gift of God
There’s a lot of talk about salvation and “getting saved” among Christian folks, and there is a broad general consensus among them that heaven is only going to be occupied by those who are saved. But there seems to be quiet a bit of division over exactly how one obtains salvation. It is this issue that I wish to address in this short essay.
Any discussion of salvation and being saved needs to begin with what I consider to be the defining passage on the subject, Ephesians 2:8,9:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Breaking down the verse, there are essentially three elements involved in it:
1. Salvation is by grace…it is God’s unilateral gift to man.
2. Salvation by grace is made possible through the faith of Christ.
3. Salvation cannot be of man’s works, because according to Romans 11:6, grace and works are mutually exclusive.
Salvation is by grace..it is the gift of God.
Anything that is truly a gift cannot be merited. If some one presents you with something of value, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, because you merited it through something you did or accomplished, this is not a gift; it is a reward. We must not get these two things mixed up. Even if there was no agreement (contract or covenant) between you and your rewarder, from the outset, I.e., that if you did this, he would do that, it still doesn’t qualify as the “unmerited favor” of the giver.1
Salvation is through the faith of Christ2
This grace, or unmerited favor, that makes God’s offer of salvation possible, came by the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ:
“There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all…whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood….made him to be sin for us….to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6; Romans 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21)
Christ’s sacrifice is the “work” of faith (the “through faith” of Ephesians 2:8) that provided the means by which God can now offer us the gift. If you go back to the old covenant,3 you will see that God set up a system of religious works as this means, by which Israel could stay in His good graces. This consisted of an elaborate sacrificial system, involving a collection of over 600 ordinances (laws), of which the chosen people were to adhere. What Jesus Christ did at Calvary ended this system,4 which is what Paul says, in the above passage, is to be testified in due time.
|1.||Please compare the difference in this and the “ifs” of the covenant between the LORD and Israel, as it is characterized in Deuteronomy chapter 28, the last book of the law.|
|2.||Ref. Romans 3:22 and Galatians 2:16|
|3.||AKA, the “Mosaic Covenant,” or the “Law of Moses.”|
|4.||Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (also ref. Acts 13:39; Romans 3:20,21,22) Of course, as all those who are familiar with the Old Testament know, by the time Christ appeared in his first advent, the old system of law keeping was completely broken down (failed).|
Salvation by grace excludes man’s religious works
If it is not by works or any effort on our part, how then do we obtain this gift? Simple answer: By believing what God says about us (you and I), that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); and by believing what He says about Jesus Christ and what he did for us, viz,. That he is “the Christ, the Son of the living God…and that he died for our sins..and that God raised him for the dead.” (Matt. 16:16; Col. 1:13-16; 2:12; 1 Cor. 15:3,4.
You see, it is a simple matter of freely receiving a gift (1Cor. 15:1), that requires nothing in return from you in order to possess it. If it is truly a free gift, then it could not have any conditions attached to at all. I have likened it to having a check from God for a certain amount of money with your name on the payee line. Since God said that it was his desire that “all men be saved”(1 Tim. 2:4), I believe all people have one of these heavenly salvation checks with their name on it. All they have to do is receive it by believing the above information, for it says in Romans 10:9 that, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Once you’ve believed and received God’s gift of salvation—received your check, so to speak—it is then your eternal possession. I received the gift on a Monday evening in June, 1985. When did you receive it?
All Scripture quotations are from the King James Bible. Pleas feel free to re-distribute this essay as you see fit.
Related articles: Believing in Vain; Will only Good People Go to Heaven?; What is Required to get into Heaven? Salvation and Good Works; Salvation: Is it Universal?