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Earned by God and Given to Us

Posted by Nolan Jones III on

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 ESV

In these two verses, the apostle Paul tells us that salvation is a “gift of God” and it is “not a result of works.” Have you ever wondered why God would simply give us salvation and not make us work for it at all?

Think about it. Why does God have to be the one to do all the work to save us when he didn’t do anything wrong, and we did everything wrong? It seems to me that we should have to spend every waking moment of our lives trying to work to earn our salvation, since we are the ones that rebelled and destroyed our relationship with God in the first place.

I’m not the only one that feels that way. Look at all the other religions and cults in the world. They obviously agree with my reasoning. Look at the followers of other religions and cults and you will see people trying their best to earn their way back into the good favor of their gods.

You will see people living their lives hoping that, at the end, their list of good deeds outweighs their list of bad deeds. They believe that, if it does, their god will receive them into his presence. You will also see people living their lives making sacrifices of one kind or another, hoping that their sacrifices in some way make up for all the wrongs they have committed in their lives.

Whether it be one’s best attempts at obedience or one’s sacrifices or a combination of both, it all amounts to people trying to work their way back into the good favor of their god. This describes the followers of all the other religions in the world. And this is proof that, deep down, they believe that it is man’s job to earn his own salvation.

Here is a simple summary of the beliefs of all other religions and cults:

  1. Salvation is not free. It must be earned.
  2. Salvation is earned through obedience and sacrifice.

Now, let me share with you a simple summary of the beliefs of Christianity, so you can compare.

  1. Salvation is not free. It must be earned.
  2. Salvation is earned through obedience and sacrifice.

Whoa, wait a minute! Something’s wrong! It can’t be correct to say that both Christianity and all the other religions and cults in the world share both of these beliefs, can it?

Well, it is true that Christianity and all the other religions and cults in the world share both these beliefs. Like other religions, Christianity also believes that salvation is not free and that it must be earned through obedience and sacrifice. But there is one major difference between Christianity and all the other religions and cults of the world:

In other religions and cults, man must earn his own salvation through obedience and sacrifice.

There is a fundamental flaw in all religions and cults that believe that man must earn his own salvation. The flaw is the belief that man is capable of earning his own salvation. In the Bible, God tells us that man is dead in his sins (Ephesians 2:1) and is unable to do anything to bring himself back to life. Dead men are not able to bring themselves back to life. If a dead man is ever to live again, it will be because he is resurrected from the dead by God (Ephesians 2:5-6), who alone has the power to raise the dead to life.

In Christianity, God earns man’s salvation through obedience and sacrifice, and then gives that salvation to man as a free gift.

God stepped down from heaven, clothed himself in humanity, and was born as the man Jesus.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
— Philippians 2:6-7 NLT

In the person of Jesus, God perfectly satisfied his own requirement of perfect obedience that we were unable to satisfy.

He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin.
— Hebrews 7:26 NLT

In the person of Jesus, God gave himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and satisfied his own requirement that all sin must be punished.

Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
— Hebrew 9:14 NLT

In the person of Jesus, God raised himself from the dead and proved that he had successfully earned our salvation through obedience and sacrifice.

God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior.
— Acts 5:30-31 NLT

In the person of Jesus, God offers salvation to all of us who will give up trying to earn salvation ourselves and will trust in the obedience and sacrifice of God alone to be saved.

Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.
— Galatians 2:16 NLT

You see, in Christianity, salvation is both earned and a free gift. God earns it and gives it to us as a free gift.

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 ESV

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