Many people believe they can earn their way to heaven, but what does the Bible say about it? It very clearly states in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Because one should never build a doctrine on one isolated passage, however, here are several others: Romans 10:9-10, Galatians 2:16, and I John 5:11-13.
THE ISSUE OF LAW AND GRACE
Law and grace cannot be mixed. We are saved by grace apart from the law. See these two verses in Galatians 3. Verse 19 asks the question, “Why the law…?” Then it gives the answer. “It was added because of transgression…” Verse 24 goes on to say that “the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” The law was given because of our sin, not for our salvation. It makes us recognize our need for a savior. No one can ever keep the law perfectly in thought, word, and deed, and James 2:10 says that whoever “stumbles in one point” of the law “has become guilty of all.”
WHAT TO DO WITH JAMES 2:14-26?
This section opens with the question, “If a man says he has faith, but he has no work, can that faith save him.? This is sometimes used to say that salvation is based on works. Then we read in verse 24, “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” These verses, though, must be taken in the context of the entire passage. When one carefully reads through this section there is no indication that it is a work leading to salvation. Rather, it is work as an evidence or indicator of salvation, as in the case of Abraham offering up his son, Isaac. (verses 21-23)
WHY DID JESUS DIE?
If one can earn salvation and heaven there was no point in Jesus dying on the cross. If you say salvation is by works, you are saying that His death was of no value. Enough said.
EARNING HEAVEN IS AN INDICATOR OF THE PRIDE AND ARROGANCE OF HUMANITY.
Men and women want to think they can do something to merit heaven. Every religion other than Christianity is based upon works. Here is a question: What makes one person think they can earn salvation and another can’t? Isn’t that pretty boastful? I don’t deserve to go to heaven, but you do? Or, I deserve to go but you don’t? Where does one draw the line, and how much “earning” does one have to do?
Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:8-9 and break it down into small bites: 1. By grace you have been saved. 2. It has nothing to do with you. 3. It is a gift of God. 4. It’s not the result of works. 5. Therefore, no one can boast. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” I John 5:11-13 says, “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
I don’t deserve heaven. It is only by accepting God’s grace that I am going there. How about you? Is there some way you are trying to earn your way to heaven? What is keeping you from receiving God’s free gift of grace?