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Can Salvation Be Lost? - Part 2
Salvation is a Free Gift of God
One of the reasons why so many people fear losing salvation is that they aren't sure that in the end they will be good enough to stand before the judgement of a Holy God. They wonder if the good works that they have done will be enough to make up for all of the bad things that they have thought and done in their lives. To some, it is almost as if God's future judgement is somewhat like a balance scale where God places a person's good works on one side and his bad works on another. If the good outweighs the bad, then everything is all right. But if you do even one more bad thing and the balance is tipped on the side of your evil deeds, then God has to reject you. This is truly a horrible way to live since you will never know, this side of eternity, how you'll measure up.
I. Salvation Can Never be Earned
My reply to people who are seeking to be saved in this way is to stop wondering. The Bible already tells us that nobody can ever be saved like this. If you're seeking to be saved by works, it will never happen. The Bible tells us that God's standard for heaven is perfection. James 2:10 tells us:
"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
In other words, in order to be saved by works at all, you need to be totally without sin. And that is not possible. I've often heard the illustration of the cake baked with one rotten egg. If you bake a cake and put all of the ingredients in it such as flour and sugar, baking powder etc. and put just one rotten egg in the mix, it will ruin the whole cake. That is a good example of a person trying to be saved by good works. Even one sin destroys the whole thing.
And what does the Scripture say of man and sin? It tells us that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 1-3 covers all people, from the utter pagan, to the morally self-righteous and even God's chosen people, the Jews. Read Romans 3:20-23:
"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. But the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Further, the Bible has this to say about what we perceive to be righteous deeds. Isaiah 64:6 tells us:
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
II. Salvation is by Grace through Faith
So if salvation is something that cannot be earned, then it has to be gotten in another way other than works. God's Word says that it is only by grace through faith. The word "grace" simply means unmerited favor. That tells us that we did absolutely nothing to deserve the salvation that God is freely giving to us. Don't get me wrong, salvation has a cost. It cost the Son of God his life on the Cross of Calvary. However, no price we could have paid would ever be enough.
There are many Scriptures that talk about salvation being by God's grace, through faith including Romans 4:1-5; Romans 8:33-39 and Titus 3:5. But let me quote one. Ephesians 2:8,9 tells us:
"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."
Did you get that? No one will ever be able to come before God's judgement seat one day and say: "I did it my way." It is God's way, or no way at all. And God's way is that you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and accept His sacrifice on your behalf. It is a lot like receiving a gift here on earth. Presents are given to the recipient without cost. But it doesn't belong to you until you reach out and receive it.
The obvious question here is: "If salvation is a gift, given by God through no merit of our own, then how can we have anything to do with losing it?" That which we received that we didn't work to get, we cannot lose through works either. However, it doesn't stop there. Salvation is more than a glorified "get out of hell free card." It is far more than just the forgiveness of sins past, present and future. When God is finished with us we will be totally conformed to the image of the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ. But that is a subject for the next article.