Recently I heard a Bible teacher exclaim that, “Salvation is a gift from God, that it is given by Him to the undeserved. The teacher went on to say, “there is nothing that a person can do to earn his or her salvation.” In this he was correct. The Apostle Paul affirms this truth in his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:1-5). Paul included himself and his fellow companions (the Jews) in this assessment. Stating that before new life was granted, all of them were dead toward God, both Jews and the Gentiles. By extension, this falls to all persons from Adam to the present.
Considering the above assessment further we find that God has a purpose in the granting of this new life. It is to end the separation that exists between Himself and fallen man. God restored spiritual life to Adam, and He has restored spiritual life to many across these centuries, continuing to our day. This new life opens and keeps open the line of communication between God and the recipients of it. This new life causes the recipient to turn from, repent of, their sin. It brings about a change of behavior (a new lifestyle), and it causes the recipient to avow the Lordship and authority of Jesus Christ over his or her life.
God however does not make of us (His redeemed) mind-numbed robots. We are to work out our salvation, that is, we are to work out the salvation given freely to us by God (Philippians 2:5-15). This new life makes it possible to live a Godly life of discipline and obedience, to live a life that demonstrates what God has brought about, and our part (the believer’s) part is to be actively engaged. James, the Lord’s half-brother after the flesh, said that the believer was to be “a doer of the word and not a hearer only” (James 1:22). He went on to list several things that would qualify a believer as being a doer and not a hearer only (Please read James 1:26-2:26). He pointedly asked in verse 14 of chapter 2, “14What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” So certainly, as the Bible teacher proffered, salvation is a gift, but there is a cost to the believer. Salvation is not a free ride. It comes with surrender and commitment.
A person cannot truly claim salvation and live as he or she did before this new life was birthed in them. In another letter, (his letter to the Galatians), Paul wrote that his readers were to “Walk in the Holy Spirit” and if they did, they “would not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Walking in the Holy Spirit means that they were to be committed to His authority, to His direction over their lives and this holds true of us.
New Spiritual life is regenerated (is birthed) by the Holy Spirit as He convicts persons of their sin, convinces them that they are separated from Holy God and are in need of His mercy. As the Holy Spirit performs this supernatural work in people, they find themselves believing these truths and committing their life to Him, committing themselves to Him not just for salvation but to His bringing about change to their lives. God’s purpose for His children is that they be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son (Romans 8:29).
Having been adopted by God, we as His children are to have a different mind-set than in the days when we lived according to the flesh, in the days in which we were controlled by our old nature.
If a person should claim salvation and not experience or desire change it is very doubtful that new spiritual life has been birthed in them and they are not regenerated. May this, not be true of you or me.
Transforming Power; the Work of God on Behalf of Man