Can You Earn Salvation?
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The Bible says very clearly that salvation cannot be earned through works. The apostle Paul writes, "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). Salvation is a free gift from God received after genuine repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38-40).
However, salvation is something we are capable of losing. The author of Hebrews warns that it is possible to "neglect so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3) if we do not "give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away" (Hebrews 2:1). So how do we avoid neglect and spiritual drift? We need to be zealous to follow God's way of life. This includes doing what Jesus Christ told the rich young ruler: "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17).
Why? Because the only way to be happy is to be like God, which He explains through His laws. His laws are good, and so He wants us to obey them for our good and for the good of those around us. We must recognize that God's law is so important to Him that our disobedience required Jesus Christ to die. This should lead us to choose and to strive to avoid sinning.
The Bible tells us that "all have sinned [broken God's law] and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The blood of Christ removes the death penalty from us each time we sin only when we truly repent. Repentance involves turning from sin and following God and His law.
Salvation, though it cannot be earned, can be lost if we don't stay on the narrow path to life (Matthew 7:13-14). Obedience to God's "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25) should be our natural response to Jesus' sacrifice and gift of forgiveness and salvation.
For more understanding, please read our Bible study aid booklet "The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?"