Salvation is a gift but the kingdom is a reward

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Salvation is free! It’s the reward that costs.

salvation is a gift

Salvation is a gift received by grace through faith but the kingdom is a reward received by works

Salvation is a gift, the Word of God never teaches that we can receive it by works. Nobody can buy salvation, Jesus already paid for it.  He bought and paid for it so that nobody else can buy what He has already purchased and paid for. We need to be firm concerning the fact that salvation is a gift received by grace and nothing else!  Salvation is a gift, it will not come with the confession of the name of the Lord plus deliverance, or confession accompanied with the attitude of giving up smoking, or changing your style of clothes, or any other way. Salvation is a gift that comes to us by grace, through faith.  It is by grace and only by grace.

The true invitation of the Lord is “Come as you are, but come!”  He does not tell anyone to “first purify yourself”, or “first change your habits”.  The Lord will change your life.  This is the gospel of grace: our salvation.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.  (Isaiah 55:1)

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) 

A gift is the same as a present.  Salvation is a gift given to us with no strings attached.  The only condition is that we believe.  If we believe, then we will be saved.

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. (Eph. 2:8, 9) 

Salvation is a gift that no one deserves!

I know that it is hard to believe that it could be that simple, but here we have it in black and white.  We cannot honestly interpret it any other way.  Either Salvation is free, or it has a price that we must pay for it.  It did have a price, a high price, but Jesus paid it all!

Salvation happens in an instant. God regenerates our human spirit when we receive eternal life within us.  Salvation is the door, through which we enter to gain entrance to God’s presence.

. . . that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9, 10)

Salvation is a gift and deals with the problem of Hell, but becoming an overcomer points to the matter of reward and resolves the problem of lack of fruitfulness. Many Christians are only concerned about escaping Hell, but once we receive the gift of salvation, we should forget the matter of Hell because we have not only received salvation we have become God’s begotten children.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” (John 1:12)

I have two sons, and no matter how many bad things they may do, they will never cease to be my sons.  The Lord also states that no one plucks any of those who come to Him out of His hand. (John 10:28)  I understand that not all believe in this way.  Arminianism and Calvinism are the two theological lines of thought that debate whether salvation can be lost or not.  The Arminian position teaches that salvation depends on us and that, if we are faithful until the end, we will be saved. The Calvinist, however, preaches that salvation does not depend on us but that it is a gift of God.  If I receive it, then God will never take it back.  Apparently, these two views appear to contradict one another, but there can be equilibrium between the two.

Both lines of thought have scriptural backing, but, even so, both cause some problems.  Generally the Armenian considers only the aspect of salvation, the Armenian almost never considers the matter of reward; normally, the Armenian will teach that, if you come to Jesus, you will receive a reward in heaven. Such teaching is incorrect however; Scripture has never taught that anyone will receive a reward for receiving Jesus as Savior. It is incorrect to interpret salvation as a reward. Salvation is one thing and reward is something distinctly separate. The Arminians are mistaken on this point. Many Arminians live in constant fear, because each time that they fall in sin they conclude that they are in danger of losing their salvation. I am speaking in general terms, because not all Christians of the Armenian persuasion think this way. Generally, however the Armenian position makes for a more zealous and committed believer because of the fear of being lost if not sufficiently faithful.

For the Calvinists however, there is no loss of salvation. They generally place more weight on God’s sovereignty than on man’s responsibility. Since for them there is no loss of salvation, many end up living lax spiritual lives. Since God is sovereign, they conclude that it is not necessary to pray, fast or serve the Lord with zeal. Many Calvinists become third rate Christians. They are believers, they have spiritual life, but in general, they do not live as overcomers. They think that because salvation is something that only God operates in the Christian that everything else in the Christian life is also exclusively His doing. However, scripture refutes this many times. We see examples in the Old Testament where God commanded men to do things and then turned around and said that He did them. It is because He works through the works of man. The New Testament teaches us that we are co-laborers together with Him.

I am seeking to emphasize the balance between the vision of grace and of works. On one hand, you are saved by grace, on the other; you are saved for good works. Thus, you will no longer be judged with respect to salvation; however, with respect to reward, you will be judged and deemed worthy on the basis of having practiced good works that deserve the approval of God or not.

The Calvinist position is useful because it teaches the truth that salvation is a gift received by grace. A gift cannot be lost. While the Arminianism position is useful because it preaches commitment, seriousness with respect to God’s commands and watching and praying, even if all this is for fear of going to Hell. However, we can harmonize these two lines of theology. We can balance the two. Salvation is a gift received by grace through faith, while the kingdom depends on works subsequent to having received salvation. Some preachers and teachers say that, if you come to Jesus, you will receive a crown in Heaven. This is definitely contrary to the Word of God. Nobody will receive a crown just because he or she has received salvation. It is necessary to have works. We receive salvation by faith and only by faith but for the works.  Jesus said:

“. . .and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”  (Revelation 2:23)

If we receive salvation entirely by grace through faith, how do we receive the kingdom?  The answer is by fulfilling the conditions of God connected to faithfulness, holiness, and perseverance.  Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

Is it necessary to be poor in spirit to enter Heaven?  We have already shown that salvation is by grace therefore we do not need any special virtues to receive salvation. Do you believe sinners possess any spiritual virtues? All sinners are miserable, arrogant and proud, as are many Christians unfortunately. However, if the sinner believes with his heart and confesses with his mouth, he will be saved. On the other hand, Jesus said, to inherit the kingdom, it is necessary to be poor in spirit and deny yourself.

In the same way, it is not necessary to suffer persecution in order to receive salvation. However, to receive the reward of reining with the Lord, there will be times when you will need to endure persecution because of righteousness, because Jesus said:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:10)

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:20) 

Fortunately salvation is a gift, otherwise we would be in big trouble!

If you think that in order to receive salvation you need to be holier than the Pharisees, then you have serious problems! Probably, very few of us would make it to heaven if this were true. From an external viewpoint, the Pharisees were blameless. Imagine someone who was so correct that they tithed on some mint or other kind of spice that someone handed to them. If someone gives you a stick of gum, do you tear off a tenth part to give back as a tithe? Careful, if you believe that the beatitudes are speaking of salvation you could go to hell for such an oversight! However to inherit the kingdom and be an overcomer, your righteousness must greatly exceed that of the Pharisees.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

To receive the gift of salvation, you don’t have to first do the will of God, rather you must confess with your mouth and believe in your heart as Romans 10:9 says. However to reign in the Kingdom of Heaven, we must do His will. How many Christians can honestly say that they are faithful in doing God’s will? We must recognize that there are Christians who have received the gift of salvation yet do not practice God’s will. However, such Christians cannot say that they are overcomers.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12) 

Salvation is a gift, no need to fight for it!

It is not necessary to be violent, to fight and scratch to receive your salvation because it is a gift of grace. However, the people of God can only receive the kingdom by works, and frequently, the works require force and strength and a resolute perseverance that can be called violence. The Word of God, repetitively, shows us each Christian receives his rewarded according to his works.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” (Revelation 22:12)

“Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (1Corinthians 3:8)

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24)

“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” (Romans 4:4)

All that we must do to receive the gift of salvation is to believe and sometimes we waver in our belief, not even that must be perfect. But in order to receive reward we must produce good works that proceed from pure and godly motives from the heart, anything else is called dead works which are useless in commending us to God and even less so to save us as if any work was needed to complete the saving work of Christ on the cross.

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