October 27, 2003 • By Ed Wrather
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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:8-10.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. - John 3:16.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. - John 5:24.
According to Barna Research Group polling, many teens have beliefs that are “inconsistent with the Bible.” Barna says that 53 percent of teens believe that Jesus was not perfect but committed sins. Also, two-thirds of teens believe that satan is not really a living being but just a symbol of evil. In addition, 60 percent of teens believe that they can earn “eternal salvation” by doing good works.
Why is earning your way to Heaven by doing good works “inconsistent” with the Bible? Because the Bible clearly indicates in Ephesians 2 that salvation is a “gift.” The dictionary defines gift as, “Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.” Most likely, you have received a “gift” from someone during your lifetime. When you received the “gift”, were you required to pay for it or work for it? No! Because if you had to pay for the “gift” or work for the “gift” it would no longer be a “gift” but a purchase or compensation.
Ephesians 2 also gives us a reason for why salvation is a “gift” and not something that you have to earn through good works. The reason? “…lest anyone should boast….” What if you could work your way to Heaven - what would be the result once people did arrive in Heaven? In Heaven, the result would be that people would begin talking about what they had done in order to gain entrance to eternal life. Some people would believe they had done greater things than others and would therefore be proud of what they had done. These people the apostle Paul believed would be boasting about the good things they had done to earn salvation.
Doing good things will not earn you salvation but good works should be the natural result of your receiving the free “gift” of salvation. Paul says in verse 10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Once we have eternal life through Jesus, we should have a desire to follow his example of doing good things. Good works do not save you but if you are truly saved you should be doing good works.
Has someone ever given you a free gift that you did not receive? My step-grandmother for many years had been giving me a Christmas present even after my grandfather had passed away and she had remarried. The first Christmas that I was married, she told me that she had a Christmas present for me, and I just needed to pick it up. To my shame, I never picked up the present. It would have been a free gift, but it was not a gift since I never received it. Sadly, many have and will do the same thing with God’s free “gift” of salvation. Have you received God’s “gift?” If not, why not open up the greatest gift you can ever receive in life right now? Ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and life. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and be your Lord and Master. Words will not save you but if you mean it in your heart, you will receive the “gift” of eternal life.