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The Works Jesus Requires

Does Jesus require you to do anything to be saved from a life of sin?

Yes. Absolutely.

Can you earn your salvation? No. Abosulety.


There is a difference between earning something and obeying a command. Theologians have told us that we cannot earn our salvation, nor is there anything we can do to make ourselves good enough for God. These theologians are correct. But we still must do something to be saved. Jesus told his disciples: "If any man comes after Me, he must..." (Matthew 16:24). For our purpose at the moment, it doesn't matter what Jesus said next. What matters is the fact that Jesus said that His salvation depends upon your action. How can it be true that we cannot earn our salvation, and yet we must act to acquire salvation?


If you rescue a man from the desert, he must drink water. The man's rescuers do not force him to drink the water, nor do they make him earn it. Nevertheless, the man still MUST drink it if he is to live. The water is a gift; a rescue is a sacrificial act of grace. But the gift and the grace will be in vain if the rescued man refuses to drink water. The rescuers might say to the dying man, "If any man wishes to survive in the desert, he must drink water and lots of it!" If the rescued man follows the advice of his saviors, he has nothing about which to boast. He has received a gift; in fact, he received several gifts to gain his life back. Nevertheless, this desert survivor was still required to do something to be saved.


We are ready now to finish Jesus' statement: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must take up his cross and follow me." Jesus requires us to take up our cross and follow Him to receive salvation. In short, this means that we must transfer the sovereignty of our lives over to Jesus. Jesus must become the commander and chief of our entire life and operations.

The apostle Paul described His new life in Christ this way:


"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
Galatians 2:20


Your existence is a priceless act of God's grace toward you. Nobody pays God for their existence, nor do we volunteer to live life. Consciousness and being are thrust upon us before we have the will, the cowardice, or the cynicism to resist it. It wasn't your idea for your parents to give you birth. Neither was it your parent's idea that the sexual activity they casually and freely engaged in should produce children. You are alive because God chose to give you life and because your parents chose not to resist what God intended. Your existence is a gift of grace upon grace upon grace. And now, the rescue of your present life from sin and death is also a free act of grace.


Nevertheless, many gifts in the world are neglected, abused, and spoiled. A gift must still be opened, cherished, celebrated, embraced, and owned if it is to have value. Gifts are often given but not received. I gave a Christmas gift one time that was opened and observed but not received because of a relationship issue. People have also given me gifts that I did not accept because I perceived them to have more attachments than I wanted. God gave us salvation. We must receive it and own it to benefit from it.


When we own God's generous gift of salvation, we also become indebted to Him, and the debt is impossible to repay. But if a gift indebts us, is it really free? I suppose it isn't. But you still can't earn it. Words seem to let us down when it comes to describing God's great salvation. Maybe this is appropriate since Jesus' resurrection inaugurated a whole new world in which some of the old things simply do not fit anymore. We can't earn God's salvation, nor can we purchase it. But to own God's salvation, we must give our entire life over to the one who already gave His whole life to us. We must die to ourselves and submit our wills to Him. We must trust our future to God's will. These are the things that we must do to get rescued from our sins.




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