There is so much confusion in Christendom about salvation. I am not even talking about the cults, just in the church.
Salvation: what is it, according to scripture?
In Adam, we all inherited the sin nature. Sin itself, is defined as any violation of the laws of God, which summed up, He enumerated to Moses as the Ten Commandments.
God did not give those commandments in expectation that any of us would ever keep them. In fact, where there is no law, there is no knowledge of ” wrong”.Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans 3:28
The law is a teacher. It shows us we are sinners. It is not like soap. It cannot get us clean. Instead, it is a mirror, to show us we are unclean.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:23-24
You can’t have it both ways. If think you deserve salvation because of obedience to law, you will be judged according to the law.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Galatians 3:10-12
We are body, soul, and spirit. Our body is a shell, or container designed to function and interact with our physical world. God saves our soul, but our spirit was stillborn and flesh cannot inherit the Kingdom. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.1 Corinthians 15:50.
Our spirit was already dead when we were born of water ( physical birth) as descendants of Adam. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22
Our body, as we all know, will cease to function at the moment of physical death, so He does not save this physical body we were born with
Anyone raised in a legalistic version of Christianity, like the Catholic church, some Presbyterian, and others with emphasis on obedience, keeping traditions, rituals, etc. will come to believe that they must make themselves good and keep themselves ” good”. They abstain from this, they “always do” that, they keep perfect attendance in church, and over time, they come to believe they have earned something with God, and are entitled to things from Him. Or else, on the flip side, they realize it is impossible for them to “be that devoted or disciplined” and they waver between trying hard, and giving up. They feel hopeless, and worry and doubt always whether they will make it into heaven.
If that is you, you are on the wrong road. You can’t get to heaven by being good, or rituals, or saying certain prayers. We can’t even comprehend or imagine the pure, perfect holiness God requires for entry into heaven, much less produce it.
Have you ever seen someone who just had their teeth professionally whitened? I mean, you thought your teeth were nice and bright, but then you see this person with teeth so white, it is day glow white, like florescent. Like halogen light compared to incandescent bulbs. No version of human righteousness, and no amount of good accomplished by any human being, can ever even come close to the purity of God’s Holiness and His definition of righteousness required to enter His presence.
He clearly says in His word that our righteousness is as filthy rags ( actual verbiage refers specifically to the rags women used to wear during menstruation and after childbirth).
God gives grace to the humble, but those who are proud, who are trying to merit heaven by things they do ” for God”, by how many hours they spend in prayer, perfect attendance in church, how many scriptures they memorize, those proud folks who reject grace alone, through faith alone, as a FREE gift ( so no man may boast) will be judged according to law. They reject grace.
Grace is the gospel.
So if they try to merit (earn) eternal life by being “good” (by works), they are still condemned. They will be the ones who stand before the Lord, counting off on their fingers, all that they did…. ” but Lord, I prophesied in Your name, I cast out demons and healed the sick”, and will hear Jesus say ” depart from me, I never knew you”.
There is none righteous. (Romans 3:10, Isaiah 53:6).
Get over it! You are a sinner who sins, who can nothing about your sins. A murderer who murders one person, then becomes a doctor and saves thousands of lives, is still guilty of murdering one person. All the good does not erase the bad, and ask the family of the person you murdered, whether all the lives you saved, redeems you from what you did to their loved one. If a judge let you off for the one murder, because you saved other lives, would that be fair? Would justice be served in regards to the dead man? Of course not!
Jesus HAD to die, so that we could be saved. We are guilty of defying an infinitely holy God, and without the shedding of blood, we cannot be ransomed and we would eternally remain separated from life and the source of life. We would remain in a perpetual state of dying. Eternal death, always dying, never dead, never annihilated, never relieved of the dying. Have you ever watched a loved one die slowly by some disease that gradually reduces them to skin, bones, bleeding sores, lying helpless in bed for months. Were you not relieved to see their suffering end? Without the blood of Jesus, that is the eternal fate of all of us.
It is the height of arrogance to believe you can ” help” God redeem you. It is a proclamation that Jesus’ death was not enough. You spending eternity in hell will still not pay your sin debt. It is infinite, because the God you sinned against is infinite, and infinitely holy.
Sometimes, God lets you fall into some sin you never imagined you could even be tempted by, because you think you are maintaining your salvation by your ” righteous acts”. That’s because even if we comprehend that He’s the only source of salvation, we still think we are earning merit by how we conduct our lives after we have believed. We think we are the ones keeping and preserving our salvation.
You did not earn righteousness. You were granted, credited, covered under the righteousness that belongs to Christ. He who never sinned, became sin for us, and sin was nailed to the cross and died, as it pertains to any and all who will believe upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
Does your effort count at all? Only if and after you are saved. But it still does not factor into salvation, or sanctification. It counts in the next life toward your crowns, your rewards, your potential position of service in the kingdom. But only if done with pure motives. Out of love for God, love and concern for others, and or for the sake of the gospel. If you do it grudgingly, or because you are trying to make yourself look holy, you have your reward, the approval and admiration of men. It doesn’t count in heaven, and will burn up. That is why God says do your good deeds in secret. If you do that, it is likely you aren’t doing it for selfish reasons.
The first aspect of Salvation is regeneration. God does not fix, repair, renovate the dead spirit, He puts a whole new spirit in us. Salvation is instantaneous. He then grows our faith and spiritual understanding (second aspect of salvation) so we begin to conform to His ways, to be like Him in our character. That is calked sanctification. We don’t, and cannot sanctify ourselves. Salvation reconciles us with God. Sanctification is to be set apart. We are distinguished from the unsaved, as far as heaven is concerned, the moment we believe, but inside of time, down here on earth, we are gradually sanctified more and more, as we come away from things of the world, follow Christ by the Word, study, prayer, and submission to the Holy Spirit, and fellowship with other believers. Our salvation is 100% completed (the third aspect)when we die, or get raptured, as the sinful flesh is shed, and new glorified bodies are given to us. That is redemption of soul, Spirit, and body.
Grace is unmerited (undeserving) favor. Salvation is free, and eternal, and Jesus said no one has the power to take you out of His hand. Not even yourself. If you could lose it, it is not eternal. If future sin is not “covered” then no sin is, because He died a couple of thousand years before we even were born. All of our sin was “future” when He died.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
If you have never realized Salvation is 100% free, received only by believing, changing your mind and understanding you cannot earn it and have no righteousness of your own ( that is repentance) and realizing He did it all, it is finished, then you have not received salvation. There are 32 verses in scripture where someone repented. 13 of them, it was God who repented. God has no need to turn from sin, as He has no sin. Repent from doing things the way of fallen human nature, and realize you need to submit to God. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, His sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection. Once the living Spirit is in you, then you will see your own sin, and will want to do that other kind of repenting.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (Romans 4:4) That means if you think God is going to owe you salvation because you earned it by works and obeying the law, you will be judged according to the law, and even the tiniest “white lie” is a violation, so by that standard, you are guilty, and cannot enter Heaven or inherit the kingdom.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. ( meaning worketh not in vain hope of earning favor) Romans 4:5
Repentance is the realization your works don’t save you. Once saved, with a new and right Spirit in you, you will want to walk in good works out of gratitude and love toward your Savior, and you will become aware that you represent Him to the unsaved world. Your works, then, will show righteousness that will make others wonder what makes you different, what gives you peace and joy. The unbelieving world can’t see our faith in God. But they can see our actions. They can witness us putting others first, repaying evil with kindness, helping someone. That is why James said “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 2:18
Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven us at hand ( and works won’t get you there). It is finished.
He paid for the sins of the whole world. You can enter into the covenant ( like marriage) with Him, the arrangement by which your sins are blotted out and Jesus’ righteousness is put on you like a robe. It takes two to have a covenant. Jesus did all the work. All that is left for you to do is believe it and apprehend the priceless gift of pardon.