Do We Have to Do Something to Get Saved?
By Ed Rodgers
If I only believe that Jesus died for me, and accept Him as my Lord, then I’m saved? Don’t I have to “do” something more?
This question reflects our desire to be in control. We want to be in charge of our life, including our eternal destiny. All man-made religions play into this. They all provide some method for man to enter heaven by doing something. Christianity, on the other hand, requires that man accept what Christ has already done for him. Instead of man climbing his way up to God, God is reaching down to man.
The reason man-made religions cannot provide salvation is because they all ignore the issue of man’s sin, which separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). As long as our sin remains, we can never join God in heaven. Once our sin is removed, we are free to enjoy the same relationship with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed before they sinned. Thankfully, it’s not a matter becoming good enough to enter heaven. We’d never make it. God’s standard is perfection (Matthew 5:48).
The sad truth is that we all have lied, stolen, and cheated. That makes us liars and thieves, and cheaters—a far cry from the holiness God requires. Hopefully, this helps us to see that we have absolutely nothing to offer. If we’re going to get to heaven, it’s all up to God.
The only passage in the Bible that in any way points to something we must “do” is found in the book of John:
"But to all who would receive Him, He gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust Him to save them." (John 1:12, The Living Bible, Paraphrased)
This verse tells us that a person becomes a child of God (and therefore, will be with God in heaven) by accepting (welcoming) Jesus into his heart and life as Lord and Savior. To “receive” Christ, however, is more than simply acknowledging who Jesus is (the Son of God). It’s a matter of trust—trusting in Christ alone for our salvation. Once again, it’s a matter of acknowledging that Christ already did everything that needed to be done to get us to heaven.
To attempt to add something to what Christ has already done is to claim that Christ’s death was insufficient. Who are we to think that we could possibly add anything to Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf? The thief on the cross (Luke 23:32-43) didn’t have an opportunity to do a single thing (including being baptized), yet Jesus said, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Consider what the following verses say about this:
"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5)
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." (John 6:47)
The last verse says it all. At the moment we believe, we are saved. Once again, to believe is to trust in Christ alone for our salvation, not just to believe some facts. It is a matter of accepting the Gospel and applying its benefit to our lives. So just what is the =Gospel? The apostle Paul condenses it for us:
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Salvation is a gift, and gifts are free. Contributing anything to our salvation is like offering a dollar bill to someone who has just given us the keys to a new Rolls Royce. Here’s the hard part. We must be willing to get off the throne and let Him be Lord of our life. When we do, we exchange our sin for the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.
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