To truly understand the salvation that God offers us, we must understand Christ's sacrifice and what it did for us. Truly salvation from sin comes to us through faith alone. No works of any kind will gain us entry into heaven. You cannot buy your way into heaven. Only through our faith in Jesus Christ, son of the living God, can we be saved from our sins and gain entry into heaven. However, we will all stand before the Father to be judged. Believer and unbeliever alike will be judged. Though we have faith and are found on the right hand of God on the Last Day we will still be judged that we may be given our appropriate reward in heaven. Jn.14:2- In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. There are many rewards waiting for us in heaven.
One of the great misconceptions is the free gift of God. This gift truly is a free gift. It is given to sinner and saint alike. One does not need faith to receive this gift; it is given unto all men, nor can this gift be taken from us. 1Cor. 15:21- For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22: For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive. Christ's sacrifice freed us from Adam's original sin. Death came upon all things living because of Adam's transgression. Christ's sacrifice freed all men, all life, from bonds of death. He conquered death. He opened the door that will lead to the resurrection of man. Through his sacrifice we have all been reconciled to God that we may be brought to stand before him to be judged on the Last Day.
Though we may all live forever; there are other ways we can die without dying. For the unbelievers a second death awaits them. Rev.21:8- But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. This is the death that the true believers escape through their faith in Jesus Christ. Rv.20:6- Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. The second death is to be forever banned from the presence of God and his Son.
Being a Christian is a daily battle to overcome the world and we can fall from grace. Faith in Christ is expressed through action. Are we truly believers if we continue to sin? I think not. We must become a new man. Eph.4:22- That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23: And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24: And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. This is not to say that works have power to save, but our works effect the reward that awaits us in heaven. Rev.2:23- ...and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
One of the great fallacies is that once saved, we are always saved. If we do not obey the law of God and the teachings of Christ we can be removed from our place and our names blotted out of the Book of Life. Rev.2:4- Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. And again... 16: Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Do not think that if you do neither right or wrong you are safe. You cannot sit upon the fence. Rev.3:15- I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. We cannot sit on the sidelines. We have to get in and play the game. We must run the race and we must endure to the end. Mt.24:13- But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. We cannot go partway. What must we do? 1Cor.13:7- Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. All these things are actions, works which bring us closer to God. Our good works are treasures laid up in heaven. It is for this cause that James said: 1:22- But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 26: If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 2:14- What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? 15: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16: And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. You cannot claim to have faith and do nothing. On the Last Day many will say, "I have faith in you Lord." Matt.25:44- Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45: Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. For by our works is our faith justified. True faith brings about a change of heart. Love of God is service to our fellow man. To be a Christian, a true believer, is to couple faith with action. Jesus said, "Come follow me," this bespeaks faith in action. It is not enough to just say you believe. You must follow the commandments and teachings of Christ. You must endure all things for Christ's sake. You must overcome the world. Rv.3:5- He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. The implication here is that if you do not overcome the world your name will be blotted out of the Book of Life.
We cannot buy our way into heaven with good works, but faith alone is nothing. The history of the bible teaches us that if we remain faithful we will be saved. But, those that turn from the path are destroyed. Salvation from our sins is another gift from God, but it is conditional on our obedience to the things taught by Christ and his apostles. Stray from the path and God offers us a chance to repent and return to the path. This is part of the salvation offered us. We can always repent and God will always forgive us as often as we repent. But, if we do not repent, and we do not return to the straight and narrow path, we will be cut off and our names will be blotted out of the Book of Life. For this cause is it written: Matt.7:21- Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. We see here that a professed faith in Christ, nor good works have the power to save us if our faith is not genuine.
What power does the law have if we obey the law? The power of the law is in the punishment for a broken law. Why would you worry about getting a speeding ticket if you never went faster than the posted speed limit? Hence, the law has no meaning to a true follower of Christ. Yet, we must all stand, every man, before God to be judge. Matt.16:27- For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Rev.20:12- And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13: And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. The things written in the books are the scriptures, the teachings of Christ and the Prophets and Laws of God. This is the standard that justice will hold up when it comes time to judge us according to our works. Those that have faith in Christ and have followed where He has led have nothing to fear.
Salvation from sin comes through our faith in Christ. This is a faith that is embedded in our heart. It is a continual striving to do what is right. It is a bending of our will to do the will of the Father. It is a love of our fellow man. It is helping those that stand in need of our help. It is a willingness to lay down our life for what we believe. It is maintaining our faith in Jesus Christ to the very end. It is to trust Jesus and follow his example. This is the only true way to heaven. Anything less than this is just a path down to hell. Amen.