Salvation: Why You Can Never Earn It


According to Barna research, 8 out of 10 Americans believe in an afterlife of some sort. People think about heaven and hell more frequently than you might think. If salvation can not be earned, how can you be absolutely certain that when you leave this earth you will be welcomed into Heaven? These are serious questions that need answering in this life.

Salvation can never be earned. It is a gift given by God through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. All people are given the choice to agree with what God has done, and receive the gift, or not believe what He has done, and reject it. 

God is extremely honoring of human beings. He has created us with the ability to make our own decisions and He will not violate that. He honors us by giving us freedom to make our own choices, whether good or bad. Love cannot exist without freedom. Salvation is a gift, but let’s look at exactly what salvation is, why you can never earn it, and how to receive it. 

What is Salvation in the Bible?

Choosing to receive what Jesus has done in regards to salvation is the most important decision you will ever make. That’s a bold statement, but it’s totally true. This decision affects not only your life now, but your life eternally. You are an eternal being, meaning you will exist forever. 

So what exactly is salvation? In the New Testament of the Bible, the word ‘salvation’ is translated from the Greek word sótéria, which means deliverance, salvation, welfare, prosperity, preservation, salvation, safety. It comes from the root word sózó, which means to save, heal, preserve, rescue. 

You receive salvation when you come into agreement with what Jesus has done for you and accept it as truth. Immediately, when you confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord, your spirit comes alive and you receive the very righteousness of God as a free gift. You are no longer condemned. You are set free. No more guilt. No more curse. 

When Does Salvation Start?

Salvation is not only for the afterlife, it is for today. Salvation starts the moment you receive it. Jesus came to deliver us out of this present evil age, not just the future age to come.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, Galatians 1:3-4

We are delivered from the evil of this age. Delivered from terror and fear. Delivered from sin and its consequences. Delivered from evil and torment. Delivered from sickness and disease. Delivered from the curse and death. Delivered from poverty and lack. The list goes on and on. Jesus has come to destroy the works of the devil and give us abundant life.

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Set yourself in agreement with the Word of God. Learn how to walk in what Jesus has provided for you. He loves you and gave Himself for you to experience the life He always intended. He will always lead you into the victory He has obtained. 

Why Do We Need Salvation?

When Adam and Eve ate from the knowledge of the tree of good and evil, they died spiritually and invited sin and death into the human race. God had warned them of this but they were deceived by the clever deception of Satan and chose to not heed God’s warning. Their spirits became separated from their oneness with God and fell under the authority of Satan. 

Many people do not understand why God “allowed” Adam and Eve (as a representative of humanity) to make this wrong choice. Again, this goes back to the reality that freedom must exist in order for love to exist. They go hand in hand. But God had a plan before this ever happened to bring His children back into oneness with Him. That brilliant plan included Him becoming a man, absorbing all the sin and penalty of sin into Himself on the cross, taking it to the grave, and rising again without it. He did this as a representative of the human race, and mysteriously, when He died, humanity died and rose again with Him. 

We need salvation in order to bring our spirits back to life- back to oneness with God.

On the cross, Jesus became the curse of sin for us. He drew all judgment, guilt and condemnation into Himself. He took the penalty of sin and death into His own body. He suffered every bit of the effects of sin, although He had lived a completely sin-free life. Wow! That is intense love. He took the penalty for us. He took sickness and diseases. He took condemnation and guilt. He took anxiety and depression. He took lack and poverty. He absorbed it all into Himself so that we could live free from it!  

Is Salvation by Works or Faith?

Salvation can never be earned. Your very best attempt to live perfect comes nowhere close to perfection. In fact, in Isaiah 64:6, the Bible describes our attempts to become righteous on our own as “filthy rags”. This is talking about the nasty rags used during a woman’s time of the month. Imagine they’ve been sitting out for months. Yuk, just nasty. That’s what our attempt to “be good” on our own is compared to. 

There is absolutely no way that by self-effort you can obtain righteousness equal to God- which is what the requirement is. Be as perfect as God, or you’re out. Woah! We must throw up the white flag and receive right standing with God as a gift. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

How is Salvation Achieved? 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Titus 2:11

God has provided salvation for every human. He has already done it. There is nothing you must do to earn it. Simply believe what He’s done and receive this gift into your life. How could you earn something that’s been provided for you before you were even born? That’s like saying a baby in the womb must earn their crib and clothes before they get here. It’s impossible. Salvation was provided for you way before you even needed it or could possibly do anything to deserve it. It’s just because of His intense love toward you, regardless of your actions. 

God passionately loves you and desires to walk as one with you, the way He intended. He has provided everything you could possibly need in this life. He delights in you and just wants to be your best friend. You can tell Him everything. He’s kind and compassionate and just adores you. He has completely and utterly obliterated your sin on the cross. It will never again be brought up or remembered. The blood of Jesus has completely removed it and made you perfectly holy. 

and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24

God has not just provided salvation for the “Christian”, but for the whole world. He has forgiven the sin of all of humanity. It’s a done deal. 

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Rest, and receive what He has done. No more striving to be good enough- you are good enough. No more trying to pretend to be good- you are good. He’s made you that way through the cross and resurrection. In fact, He’s made you look just like Jesus. 

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 1 John 4:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:17-18


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