Robert C. Oliver
It has been said that love is a two way street. By this, it is meant that love should flow both ways. It is certainly true that in a marriage, both husband and wife must be committed and put forth effort to make the marriage a success. The relationship of a Christian with the Lord is much like a marriage relationship. In fact, the apostle Paul used the analogy of a marriage in explaining how the old law was as a husband that had died leaving the wife free to remarry and the gospel of Christ was as the new husband (Rom. 7:1-4). He concluded, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4). Thus, our salvation is dependent upon such a two way street.
Many hold to the view that God has done everything and that there is nothing man can or must do in order to secure his or her salvation. It is certainly true that God has the largest investment in our salvation. Man cannot be saved without the mercy and grace of God. As Jeremiah once wrote, “…the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Without what God has done toward our salvation, we could get no closer to heaven than did the builders of the tower of Babel (Gen. 11). “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Space would fail us in attempting to record all that God has done, beginning with the very creation itself, through the sending of His Son to die upon the cross and continuing to be ever present and accessible to His children. Such a great investment in the salvation of man was predicated upon love. What is considered to be the most well known scripture in the entire Bible states; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Later, the same inspired writer said, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9-10).
However, with all this being true, man still has a part to play in his own salvation. Man must make an investment as well as that already made by God. It’s not that God needs anything from man for as Paul stood upon Mars’ hill, he told the Athenians, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:24-25). But, God requires certain investments on our part. These investments must also be predicated upon love. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3). God requires obedience to His commands of every person who would be one of His. If man had absolutely nothing to contribute toward his own salvation, then everyone would be saved, for God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and God has made an investment that is sufficient for the salvation of all (John 3:17). Yet, the New Testament clearly teaches that not all will be saved. Jesus said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46). Earlier, He had said that many would enter the broad easy way that leadeth to destruction, while few would walk the strait and narrow that leadeth unto life” (Matt. 7:13-14). Obviously, man must make an investment into his salvation.
Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 7:21). This speaks of man’s part in the plan, his obedience. Jesus asked the question, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The Hebrew writer stated, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). As noted in this verse, even Jesus recognized the necessity of obedience. Paul said of Him, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).
Dear friends, obedience to the commands of God in order to receive the salvation that He has invested so much into, in no way constitutes salvation by meritorious works. It is still salvation predicated by a faith in and a love for the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who gave Himself for our salvation.
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