Salvation, Grace, Faith & Works

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 ESV

Salvation is the core of all religion. When we look at all religions there is salvation in some form that includes us atoning for our sins, shortcomings or failures. In all religions there is some form of a god that needs to be satisfied in various ways–sacrifices, penance, whatever it may be that needs to be done to keep that god happy and prevent human punishment for here or eternity. Since that is the core of all religion, then it doesn’t matter which one we choose, right? Pick the one that is most comfortable to you and then spend your life striving to keep your god or gods happy. But that is what makes none of those religions worth choosing. They sound terrible–a life trying to please a god(s), to make atonement for our continual failures, trying to live up to impossible standards and die unsure of where we stand, hoping that we have an eternity of something good rather than punishment. No wonder people give up on religion and go their own way.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is different. I know some will disagree and say that even in Christianity, we must earn our way to heaven through good works or that through our works, we hold on to our salvation and without those good works we will lose it. This has been commonly taught (the apostle Paul called it a “perversion” of the Gospel which cursed anyone who taught it–Galatians 1:8-9) and has also pushed people away from Christ–so much so that now many teach that it is impossible to not be saved and that holiness has no place in the life of a Christian. This, too, is a perversion of the gospel (Romans 3:8, Romans 6:1)…My how the pendulum swings….the enemy must be delighted to see the focus be on everything but Christ and the cross.

So to answer this question about salvation, we must ask what is the gospel of Jesus?

{I am going to give a lot of scriptures, but I am not going to type them all out word for word, so I want you to go read them for yourself and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you about this (John 14:26, 1 John 2:27, Hebrews 8:11). This is not all the scriptures on each of these points–they are a place to begin your study.}

  1. God, the Father and Creator of all things, created every living thing–trees, animals, etc, but into mankind He did something different–He breathed His very Spirit into Adam. (Genesis 2:7)
  2. Adam and Eve’s sin did not kill them physically–it killed them spiritually leaving all their descendants also dead spiritually, so all of us have been born into sin and require a savior to reconcile us with God. (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Ephesians 2:3, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:12, Romans 3:10)
  3. Within our human ability, we are unable to keep God’s perfect law which He gave as teacher, a sort of measuring stick, to show us our guilt our need for Him and to “stop our mouths.” (Romans 3:19, 6:23, 7:5, Galatians 3:19, Galatians 3:24, Ephesians 2:12, Matthew 7:23, 1 John 1:8)
  4. Blood has to be shed to release us from the guilt and penalty of sin. (Hebrews 9:22)
  5. God became the savior we need. He became a man, walked among us and as a man without sin, He willingly died on a cross and defeated death. (Romans 5:8, John 1:1, John 1:14, John 10:18, Galatians 4:4-5, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrew 10:10, Galatians 3:13, Revelation 1:18.)
  6. We are saved when we surrender our lives to Him and become born again in our Spirit. (Romans 5:18, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:7)
  7. We cannot save ourselves. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We are saved by the grace (favor that we do not deserve) of God, through our faith (also a gift of God), not as a result of our works or efforts–this prevents us from boasting in our goodness or ability. (Romans 5:19, Romans 5:2, Galatians 3:7, Galatians 3:26)

Salvation is gained by acknowledging our need for Him and placing our faith in HIS sacrifice, not in our works, good deeds, religious rituals, pleading prayers. The scripture makes it clear that after we are saved, we are under no obligation to follow any religious rules, regulations or to try to keep the law within our own ability. (Colossians 2:14-20) We can do penance, we can abstain from certain foods, we can observe holy days, we can follow rules laid out by others, but if we place our faith in those things, we will never be saved. We are only saved by placing our faith in Jesus. This separates true Christianity from all world religions. Christ’s gospel is that we give up trying to bear the load of righteousness and accept His free and costly gift of His righteousness by faith. (Matthew 11:30, Romans 3:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Genesis 15:6, Hebrews 11, Hebrews 4:11)

Salvation by His grace through our faith does not exclude holy living, nor does it mean that we cannot harden our hearts and walk away from our salvation–relationship requires time spent together. (Hebrews 2:1, Revelation 3:11, Philippians 3:18-19, 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:7) Our holy living without faith in Christ will not earn or keep us saved, it is our heart that God looks upon. (Hebrews 4:12, 1 Samuel 16:7, Acts 1:24, Acts 15:8, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 John 3:20) Holy living comes from Him living within us. It comes as the fruit of His Spirit now breathed into us when we become born again. His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and to walk in holiness, through His power. (Titus 2:11-12) When we die to sin, we are in Him and Christ is holy. We grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus and over the time that we walk with Him day by day, we care less and less about this world and its temptations for our eyes are on better things, eternal things and holiness becomes our way of life. The fight with the flesh and the enemy of our souls will not end until we are at the end of this earthy life and walk the streets of gold, but praise God that when we fail and sin, Jesus is our advocate, our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5, 1 John 2:1, 12) and is there seated at the right hand of God our Father and because of Him our sins are forgiven.

The Creator of the universe loved us enough to limit Himself into human flesh for the sole purpose of dying just to save us. Now all we have to do is put our faith in Him…keep our eyes on the cross—choose Him every day and give Him what we have of this short life and in return, we have peace with Him for eternity and yes, even peace now, in the midst of evil, turmoil, disease, and all of the trouble that sin has brought to this world. How can we say no that?

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Hebrews 1: 1-3 ESV

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