Many have argued that spiritual salvation is based upon works. This faulty argument presents an opportunity for any sinner to enter heaven through any source of good intentions. It proclaims that men are inheritably good, and that a just God will not send good men to hell. Thus men come to the false but inevitable conclusion that mankind is able to contribute toward his own salvation; that the gift of spiritual salvation is not really a gift; that sin plays no role in redemption; that God has no right to establish the terms; and that salvation through Jesus Christ represents a brand of religion that is ignorant and intolerant of man’s right to establish his own faith.
In a sermon delivered some years back, Dr. James Kennedy posed a question that momentarily stumped my mind. “What,” he said, “do we contribute toward our on salvation?”
This wonderful man of God, hailing from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was speaking to a congeration of Christian belivers. He was addressing the Christian principles of salvation by grace through faith as a gift of God and not of works. Again, here is the question: “What,” he said, “do we contribute toward our on salvation?”
As Christians, we tend to think that we contribute faith. But do we? The scriptures disclaim such a thought. It is written in this manner:
“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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Faith then, according to God’s word, is a gift to lost men that they may be saved. While reading, you might also notice how this text rebukes any claims that associate salvation to good works. Good works are the ordained work of a redeemed sinner, but they are not in any manner the source of redemption. Yet for verification on the matter of works, let us also view another scripture, which reads as follows:
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” (Romans 11:6).
So we now recognize that neither faith nor good works can be our contribution to the gift of salvation. What more then can we seek? Perhaps, as the Hebrews did, we will believe that we have inherited rights to the gift of salvation, that it is our father’s father who has contributed our part of the gift. Or maybe we conclude that it is by our personal desire and will that we are saved, or even that some other man may proclaim us redeemed; thus the “power of grasping” becomes our contribution to the free gift of salvation. What is the scriptural answer to such faulty logic?
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13).
We see then, that salvation is by grace alone, and that nothing can be added to the gift such that it becomes anything less than free.
Perhaps some will argue that “love” is the overlooked ingredient. The scriptures express a firm demand that we must love God and our brothers with a perfect love. Since perfect love is always kind, is without envy, is never arrogant, never seeks its own, is without evil thoughts, never knows fear, and always seeks the best for the object of that love, this argument must include the simple question: is any human capable of perfect love? The answer is, to any honest person, a resounding NO, not yet, not while this imperfect flesh remains a container for our mind, spirit, and soul.
What then, as Dr. Kennedy has asked, is our contribution to the free gift of salvation?
Sin. This is the only thing that mankind brings to the table.
We bring the wickedness that God the Father places upon the sacrifice of his risen son, Jesus Christ our redeemer. We bring our cursing, our anger, our fortification, in mind if not in flesh, our gossip, our foul habits, our rejection of truth, our self created gods, and all the other thousands of momentary failures that keep us from being “good enough” to satisfy God’s demand for perfect holiness.
Sin is our only contribution to the free gift of eternal salvation. Will you lay your sin before God today? Will you surrender your pride and admit that God is truth and that men are liars? Will you kneel at the feet of Jesus Christ and be saved?
The choice is yours. All you need do is admit that sin is your only contribution.