Eternal life is God's undeserved gift and it cannot be earned. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this absolutely clear: “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.”
Many believe that Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” and Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” indicate belief is all that is required to receive eternal life. But is this correct?
But if we look at everything the Bible says on the subject it becomes clear God does set certain conditions for receiving salvation. Jesus Christ is the author of our salvation “to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9) and He warns in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” This admonition makes it clear that to inherit the Kingdom of God we must do the will of the Father.
When a wealthy young man asked Jesus: “... what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Christ’s reply was “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17). This reply completely negates the idea that obedience to God’s law is unnecessary. As the Apostle James points out, “...faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).
Jesus also gave another condition for God’s gift of eternal life in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Romans 6:1-23). Through the act of baptism we symbolically put to death and bury the old person with his or her sins and rise from that watery grave to life as a new person. Baptism is to be followed by the laying on of hands, which allows us to receive God’s Holy Spirit and truly belong to Him (Acts 8:17; Romans 8:9).
The apostle Peter affirmed these conditions for receiving God’s Spirit, declaring, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Repentance means to turn from disobedience to God to obeying Him. So committed obedience and baptism are shown as requirements in the salvation process.
In Matthew 10:22 and Matthew 24:13 Jesus also gave another condition we must meet to receive God’s gift of salvation: “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Some believe in the unbiblical teaching of “once saved, always saved.” But as Jesus directly implied here, we can lose out on salvation if we fail to endure to the end.
Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, willingly surrendered His life so that we might receive God’s gift of eternal life, and God therefore expects us to surrender our lives in return. Our love for and commitment to Jesus Christ and God the Father must be more important to us than any other relationship. We must be willing to bear his “cross,” to faithfully follow Jesus even through life’s most difficult challenges (Luke 14:26-27) .
So clearly, belief is not all that’s required for salvation. God’s Word spells out certain conditions that must be met. Let us be sure, as Hebrews 2:3 warns, that we do not “neglect so great a salvation”!
The Good News Magazine