For many Christians, this is the question that haunts them whenever salvation is mentioned or thought of. This is even the question that keeps some non-believers from coming to Christ. The idea of working enough to deserve salvation actually come from a drive deep within us. Everyone wants to measure up. We all want to cut our own path in the world. Most people don’t want something for nothing, because if you didn’t earn it; what’s it really worth? Does this sound familiar? Most of us have either felt this way or we know someone who does. The, I’ll come to Christ when my life is “right” crowd. Or, the I don’t really measure up to His standard right now, but I’m working on it group. What a hopeless and helpless situation these folks make for themselves. Just for the record; you nor I deserve the salvation that Jesus offers to us freely. If left up to us; no one would receive salvation. With that said, shall we explore just a fraction of what the Bible says about a salvation based upon human works?
The rich young ruler of Mark 10:17-27 thought he had it all figured out. He had kept the commandments of God since his youth. He had done all he thought was necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When he asked Jesus what he must do to enter into Heaven; it was as if he was waiting for Jesus to say ; you have done all there is to do, by all means you can enter. After all he “worked” so hard to do everything right! But Jesus didn’t answer the way the man had thought He would. Jesus actually told him to sell all his belongings and follow Him. The man, obviously dismayed, turned and sulked away. He couldn’t believe his ears. What do you mean give up everything to follow Jesus? You see this man worked very hard at keeping the tenets of his religion, but He had no idea of who Jesus actually was. What was he missing?
True, there is work involved that makes salvation possible for you and for me. But the work of salvation was completed by Jesus Himself. You see, if you or I try to attach any work we do to the work that Jesus has already done, we miss the mark. And we make Him a mockery! 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. Ephesians 2:8-9. Jesus, while on the cross of Calvary, said “it is finished.” The free gift of salvation is only possible because of the perfect and complete work of Jesus. This was the Father’s will, and Jesus carried it out to a t! So the rich young ruler was putting his eternal security in what he had done instead of what Jesus Christ had done for him.
Sadly, this narrative plays out in the hearts and lives of people today. The same work that made possible the salvation of the rich young ruler is the same work that make salvation possible for you and me. The completed work of Jesus at Calvary. The gospel or good news is that we were separated from God by our sin. But God in His love for us sent His only Son to die and be the sacrifice to pay our debt. Jesus went willingly to the cross where He died in our place to satisfy God’s wrath. He was buried in a borrowed grave. And on the third day He rose from the dead to live once more. Only through His death, burial and resurrection is the gospel possible! For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish by have everlasting life. John 3:16
So the next time you or someone you know is struggling with the question, do I deserve salvation? Answer with a loud and convincing NO! That the wonderful thing about Jesus; He does not give us what we deserve He gives us His unmerited favor or grace. He lived a life that I could not live, He died a death I deserved to die, and He rose again to give me eternal life. What do I deserve? Death, Hell and the grave! This is what all of my good works earns me. What did Jesus defeat? Death, Hell and the grave! We serve a Risen Savior! Amen!
It should bring us comfort that we do not have to work to be good enough for God to save us or keep us saved. It all rests on Jesus. When we receive Jesus by faith as our Lord and Savior, He does the work. Our salvation lies in His hands. And quite frankly, He is the only one able to keep us till the Day of the Lord. He is worthy of all of all honor, glory and praise.
Till the day of His glorious appearing;