Is God's Grace an Unconditional Guarantee of Salvation?

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Is God's Grace an Unconditional Guarantee of Salvation?

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Whenever most of us purchase an expensive item such as a car or an appliance we want to look at the manufacturer’s guarantee. We do not want to be unpleasantly surprised by the fine print or find out later that a certain part is not covered. We really like the unconditional lifetime guarantee. This is the guarantee saying we can return the item anytime for any reason for the lifetime of the product.

We do not have to earn God’s love. He gives it to us freely.

All of us also want to experience guaranteed unconditional love. We want to be loved by someone who has our best interest at heart, who wants us in spite of our imperfections, and who loves us without our having to always earn his or her love.

Christians claim that God’s love is unconditional, yet the Bible requires a person to have faith and to repent in order to have a relationship with Him. How can God love us unconditionally and then require conditions we must meet to have a relationship with Him?

God’s unconditional love

The apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…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 2:4-9).

We do not have to earn God’s love. He gives it to us freely. This is what Paul means by grace, or God’s favor.

In Romans 5:8, the apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves us even when we are totally unlovable. Before we were born, before we committed our first sin, Christ died for us as an expression of God’s love.

God actually desires a personal relationship with every human being no matter how despicable the person may be, but don’t be fooled into thinking that God’s unconditional love is an unconditional guarantee for us to have a relationship with Him. Relationships, the capability to relate to one another, have requirements for both parties involved.

God is doing His part to have a relationship with us by extending grace and mercy to human beings through Jesus Christ. Because of God’s grace we have the privilege as flawed human beings to enter into a relationship with the eternal, perfect Creator. What does God expects from us in this relationship?

What God expects from human beings

Jesus says that the greatest commandment, the foundation of all commandments, is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36-37). Once God, through His mercy and love, opens the door to a relationship with Him, He then requires us to learn how to love Him.

God actually desires a personal relationship with every human being no matter how despicable the person may be…

The apostle John writes, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our introduction to God is initiated by His love, but to have a real relationship with Him we must learn to respond to Him. This isn’t a relationship of equals. All human beings must come to the Creator aware of our own weaknesses and unworthiness before a righteous God. None of us deserve God’s love because all of us have a rebellious nature towards Him.

On the night of His betrayal Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23-24). Jesus said if we love Him we would obey Him. Jesus teaches us to express our love towards God by desiring to obey His commandments and instructions.

Some will say, “Wait a minute, now you’re trying to tell me I have to earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God.” It is true salvation is a gift from God generated by His unconditional love, but we must trust and obey Him if we are to enter into a relationship with Him.

Eternity has conditions

It is possible for people to want God’s love and offer of salvation and then deny the relationship He has offered to them.

While John 3:16 is the most quoted verse in the Bible the rest of the passage is often ignored. “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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:16-21).

John gives a bold declaration of God’s love in action towards an unworthy humanity. Yet the apostle also reminds us there are those who are condemned because they refuse to step into the light and have their evil actions exposed.

It is easy for human beings to lazily accept God’s love and stay in the darkness, but He will give eternal salvation only to those who are willing to live in the light. When a person accepts God’s offer of salvation he or she must now accept the work of God in preparing that person for eternity.

We must trust and obey Him if we are to enter into a relationship with Him.

We read earlier Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 2:4-9. In verse 10 he writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God isn’t just offering forgiveness from sins; He wants to prepare us for eternity by developing His works in us.

A great opportunity is being offered by the Creator to His unworthy creation. This offer is based on His grace, His mercy and His unconditional love. It has been revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are conditions to this relationship—we must be willing to walk in the light.

How can anyone neglect so great an opportunity? You may have already accepted God’s love in offering you salvation, but have you loved Him in return by desiring to obey Him? You may have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, but are you willing to imitate Him as your Master? You may have accepted certain biblical doctrines, but are you willing to search the Bible and follow the way of life it teaches? Are you prepared to walk from the darkness into the light?