Salvation: Received, not Achieved!

All Christians agree that salvation is a gift of grace. And yet, despite this assurance, the vast majority of Christians, almost unbeknownst to themselves, slip into a salvation-by-works mentality that contradicts their stated beliefs.

See what Scripture has to say about the incredible gift of salvation and your part in it.

hudsonHudson Taylor, the 19th century missionary to China, once wrote:

To every toiling, heavy-laden sinner, [Yahushua] says, “Come to me and rest.” But there are many toiling, heavy-laden believers, too. For them this same invitation is meant. Note well the words of [Yahushua], if you are heavy-laden with your service, and do not mistake it. It is not, “Go. Labor on,” as perhaps you imagine. On the contrary, it is, “Stop, turn back, come to me and rest.” Never, never did Christ send a heavy laden one to work; never, never did he send a hungry one, a weary one, a sick or sorrowing one, away on any service. For such the Bible only says, “Come, come, come.”

Christians have been given assurance after assurance that salvation is a free gift. And yet, the attitude still creeps in that the believer must have some part to play to maintain that saving state of grace. Salvation may be a free gift, the believer will agree, but surely it is his job to remember to make a daily surrender, to eat right, to deny self, to obtain victory over besetting sins, etc., etc. And if he does not, it is assumed, the gift of salvation is taken away.

Daily surrender, victory over besetting sins, and a godly life are all the fruits of salvation.

This reasoning was rejected by the great Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, who asked: “Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?”

Daily surrender, victory over besetting sins, and a godly life are all the fruits of salvation. They are not, and never will be, righteous works that are required in order to maintain the gift of salvation.

Salvation is always received; never achieved.

Not by works of righteousness

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

But when the kindness and the love of Yah our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saves us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Yahushua Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heir according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7, NKJV)

Paul is adamant: salvation is not by works of righteousness anyone has done. Rather, it is solely due to the kindness and love of the Father. Furthermore, believers are not responsible for cleansing themselves. Instead, the active agent in the renewal and “washing of regeneration” is also a gift: the spirit of Yah Himself, poured out on all who believe in the merits of Yahushua’s blood.

Salvation, always, is a gift.

Always and ever by faith

But now the righteousness of Yah apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of Yahuwah, through faith in Yahushua Christ, to all and on all who believe.

For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Yah, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Yahushua, whom Yah set forth as a propitiation by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in His forbearance Yahuwah had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Yahushua.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:21-28)

Justification is a big word that simply means being declared righteous. When a person is justified, Yahuwah takes the merits of Yahushua’s sinless life and blameless death and credits them to the believer. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, he then stands before Yah as though he had never sinned.

It is a gift, but it is a gift that keeps on giving. It is not a one-time transaction. You are not justified at the beginning of your Christian walk, only to be required to maintain that justification on your own by self-denying sinless living, since victory itself is also a gift.


It is the work of Yah

But Yah, 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), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Yahushua, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Yahushua. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Yah: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Yahushua unto good works, which Yah hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Salvation-by-faith becomes salvation-by-works the moment you shift your focus from Christ’s merits to your own actions. There can be a subtle sense of satisfaction that enters when you refuse to eat that chocolate you really, really want because chocolate contains caffeine, and caffeine is bad for you. There can be a not-so-subtle sense of superiority when you see other Christians doing what you secretly want to do, too, but because “a true Christian would not do/eat/drink/watch that,” you practice self-control and abstain.

A sense of spiritual self-superiority is always a symptom of salvation-by-works. By contrast, Paul states that it is Yah that “made us alive together with Christ.” Our part is to trust in the efficacy of the gift provided: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Yahushua and believe in your heart that Yah has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

The Creator is our re-Creator

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of Yah, who has reconciled us to Himself through Yahushua Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that Yah was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

The purpose of the plan of salvation encompasses far more than a desire to save sinners from eternal death. The ultimate goal is to bring them once again into intimate communion with their Maker. This is a work that can only be done by the Creator Himself. He re-creates us in His image, restoring in the human heart the purity that was lost at the fall of Adam.

Once purified, the believer becomes “one” with the Father. Now, instead of agonizing self-denial, the believer will simply be carrying out his own deepest desires when doing the will of Yahuwah.

This is a priceless gift! Once purified, the believer becomes “one” with the Father. Now, instead of agonizing self-denial, the believer will simply be carrying out his own deepest desires when doing the will of Yahuwah. This is why even obedience cannot save you if it is something you generate in yourself. Only obedience that flows from purified motives is acceptable to Yah, and that level of purity is only available as a gift.

The choice is yours

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

Augustine of Hippo, an early Christian theologian, once said: “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” Salvation, first, and last, and always, is a gift. But it is up to you whether or not you choose to accept it. To paraphrase Augustine: He created us without our help and, with our consent, recreates us without our help as well.

Salvation is yours, right this very moment. There is nothing you can do to earn such a priceless gift, no works of obedience you must do to retain it. Salvation itself provides everything you need to be restored to the divine image, and that includes obedience that flows from purified motives.

You can never achieve salvation. You can, however, accept it. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of Yah. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as Yahuwah did from His.” (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Make that choice today! Receive Yah’s gift of salvation and you, too, can enter into His rest.

“Whatever is born of Yahuwah overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
(See 1 John 5:4.)