IT IS A GIFT OF GOD performed by a miraculous transformation of our lives when we accept His Truth in the love of His Son, Jesus, by the work of God's Spirit. All we have to do is receive Him. Our new life is only by Grace, never by works, or confession sessions, or battling in the flesh with our sins. "For by Grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." If God can't do it, nobody can!
WITH FAITH YOU'VE GOT TO BELIEVE ON THE WORD, and only accept that you've been saved just on the Word. This is all that saves us, not any other exterior things. In water baptism, for example, the preacher isn't actually washing away your sins; he's merely going through the motions of outward show of an inward spiritual change. This is the trouble with most of the Church. Their faith is in the water instead of Jesus, Who is the Word!--As John said; In the beginning was the Word and ... the Word was made flesh (Jesus) and as many as received Him (Jesus the Word), to them gave He power to become the Sons of God.
THIS REVOLUTIONARY NEW LIFE IS OFTEN QUITE A SURPRISE to our loved ones and associates, and is sometimes called Salvation or conversion. But let me remind you and reassure you that this has been a very common miracle of God throughout history! Jesus called it begin "born again" of His Spirit, and Paul called it the new birth in which old things are passed away and all things are become new. It is often such a remarkable transformation and actual personality change that God's Word likens it to the death and burial of the old and a resurrection of the new to an entirely new life and way of living. For as many of us as were baptized (spiritually) into Jesus were ... buried with Him unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead ... even so should we walk in newness of life.
FOR A FEW YEARS AS A YOUNG CHRISTIAN I WAS DECEIVED BY THE DELUSIVE DOCTRINE OF THESE RELIGIOUS ADDICTS OF THE CHURCHES, with their off-again, on-again, gone-again eternal insecurity of the believer and their damnable religion of works, until one day as a teenager I was thrilled to discover the simple truth of John 3:36. I found all I had to do was believe, and that did it! "He that believeth on the Son hath EVER LASTING LIFE."--Right now!--No if's, and's, or but's about it. No "providing you're a good boy and go to church every Sunday." You have Eternal Life through His Son, which is the Gift of God and you cannot lose it for He will keep you. As Jesus said, "I give unto them Eternal Life: and they shall never perish" and "him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."
SINCE YOUR NEW LIFE DIDN'T DEPEND ON YOUR WORKS in the first place, it is so secure that even if you were to commit suicide, like King Saul did in the Old Testament, you will still be saved! You are a coward and a quitter, but you don't lose your Salvation. It doesn't depend on whether you are a success or not. If you were lost, then God failed, because salvation is a work of God--for He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it to the end--for ye are God's workmanship!
THE MOST RAGING RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN has always been between the Do-It-Yourself religions and the God-Alone-Can-Save-You kind. In fact, this was the biggest church fight amongst the Early Christians: whether you could just believe and be saved, or didn't you have to keep the Law, too, to make it? "Sure, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah," they said, "but we still have to help Him save us by keeping the old Law." This obnoxious mixture of works and grace so nauseated Paul that he bawled Peter out publicly for it, and spent most of his years fighting it in epistle after epistle. And he really summed up God's views on the subject when he said, "if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain"! In other words, if you can be saved by just keeping the law, why did Jesus have to die anyway? Therefore he said, if it is by grace then is it no more of works; otherwise grace (or mercy) is no more grace.
YOU HAVEN'T GOT ANYBODY'S RIGHTEOUSNESS EXCEPT CHRIST'S, and He's the only One that can give it to you! Your own righteousness stinks! It's filthy menstruous rags ( Isa.64:6 )! And that's all there is to that--nothing else, no other way, no righteousness of your own, none of your own good works, none of these can keep you saved any more than they can save you in the first place! Only Jesus can do it! He not only saves you, but He also does the works through you--and it's all Jesus--none of your own damn self or your own stinking self-righteousness--just Jesus. Paul said that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth." In other words, receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour and following His Spirit, this is the only law that justifies you--none of the others count!
HOWEVER, REAL FAITH MOTIVATES WORKS, so don't hand me any of that stuff about a free, no-works religion! We're sure not saved by our works, but if we're saved we'll sure work like everything to give it to others, and it'll cost you everything! Because Jesus said, He that forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be My disciple!
YOUR HEAVENLY REWARDS ARE ALSO BASED ON SERVICES RENDERED TO GOD'S KINGDOM while in this life. When Jesus said, Beware lest any man steal thy crown, He wasn't referring to your Salvation. The crown is your reward given only to winners!--Only to those who run, and win, the race of good works, not Salvation.
IN THE CASE OF MISTAKES, FAILURES AND EVEN BACKSLIDERS YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THE CASE OF THE PRODIGAL SON: Although he lost his birthright and inheritance, he did not completely lose his place as a son at the Father's table. The Lord doesn't lose His Children! They may go back for a while, but they'll often return when they have found out through the Lord's wise chastening and sometimes bitter experiences that the Pit is just not where it's at! "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten."
I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DAY WHEN--THIS MAY BE ANOTHER SHOCKING THING FOR SOME PEOPLE--WHEN EVERYBODY OR ALMOST EVERYBODY WILL BE SAVED--at least there won't be many left in Hell, if any.
THE WORK IS NOT EVEN OVER IN HEAVEN, or in the Heavenly City after the Millennium (the 1000-Year Reign of Christ on Earth)! We'll still be serving God, and quite a few things will not be finished yet: total redemption, universal reconciliation, cosmic restitution. All of which Paul spoke about and are also recorded in the Book of Revelation, but won't have even happened completely by the time you arrive in the Heavenly City! There'll still be kings and nations who will yet need healing. In the midst of the street ... was there the tree of life ... and the leaves were for the healing of the nations!
TOO MANY RELIGIONS AND RELIGIONISTS WANT A DICTATORIAL STRANGLEHOLD ON THE SOULS of men, making merchandise of them through their insistence on Salvation by works--their kind of works, their particular religionisms, the special corner on God that they claim to have! They're scared to death to tell you about Eternal Salvation by Grace because that means "once saved always saved!" and you wouldn't need them or their damned church buildings any more to keep you saved!
BUT, SINCE THEY'RE NOT WILLING TO FORSAKE ALL AND FOLLOW JESUS to live together and share in order to become fishers of men, they had to do something to have a little fellowship and show they were Christians and get their once-a-week, one-hour dose of religious opiate to keep 'em going.
SO THEY COOKED UP CHURCH BUILDINGS AND CHURCH ATTENDANCE to supply these weak, adulterated weekly shots--hardly enough to keep anyone alive or awake, usually only enough to put 'em to sleep so they can die the slow death of spiritual starvation without even knowing it!--Churchianity is usually spiritual suicide!
THEN, OF COURSE, THERE ARE ALSO THOSE WHO GET AN OVERDOSE OF ADULTERATED SPIRITUAL AND DOCTRINAL POISON which excites them into such a fanatical frenzy they want to kill for their religion and finally wind up killing and being killed for religious fakery that was a lie from the beginning! Mere religion can kill you, for there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death! Don't let it happen to you!
TO GET THE REAL THING, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS RECEIVE JESUS, God's Son, as your Saviour by asking Him into your heart! You can do it right now if you want to by simply praying the following childlike prayer:
DEAR LORD, PLEASE FORGIVE ME for my selfish life. Thank You so much for sending Jesus, Your Son, to take my punishment for me. I now receive Him as my Saviour and Your Son, and ask Him to come into my heart and help me to be good and love You and others by Your Spirit. Help me to read Your Word, obey it and do my best to help others. In Jesus' name, amen.