“Saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). This Scripture is one of the simplest of all messages. The bible tells us even a child understands and has faith (See Mark 10:15 & Luke 18:17). However, adults may be muddying the salvation waters a bit; making it so murky the truth…well… isn’t so crystal clear anymore.
In the center of the salvation message for Christianity is Jesus Christ. However, let man put his own hands on something and in no time, things become confusing and as shaky as the Tower of Babel.
Humans seem to do two things when we are confused about an issue: take something out or add something to in order to make it understandable. Salvation is no different. Salvation becomes distorted if we are not careful. The focus of our Christianity —Jesus Christ—becomes the blurry backdrop. If Jesus Christ is out of focus in our salvation message, there is a fair question to be asked. Who are we relying on to save our soul? Let me suggest an option. We run the risk of replacing sound doctrine with what we can DO ON OUR OWN to get to heaven instead of relying on the work accomplished on the Cross.
Here are four ways to know if we are trying to save our own soul:
1. When we complicate the salvation message, confusing religion and relationship, we are trying to save our own soul
Let’s face it. We have a tendency to be “Cafeteria-style” Christians. We often pick and choose what we want on the menu. How you get to heaven is an area which is convoluted and distorted for some. Salvation is barely recognizable by the time we are through dissecting it and putting our own finishing touches. We misrepresent the truth, put our own spin on it, twist it to our liking, wrap it in a pretty package, then put a bow on our interpretation. (And we wonder why non-Christians are confused and reject Jesus altogether).
Our religion is not going to get us to heaven. You’ve heard it said and its worth repeating: It’s all about relationship….not religion. Salvation comes through grace by faith (Eph. 2:8).
2. When we confuse righteous living as the source of our salvation and not the product of our salvation….we are trying to save our own souls
Jesus did not come into this world to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). If we focus on a set of religious rules to get to heaven, we are missing the mark. If we are going to be soul winners, fishers of men, we need to stop exhausting man-invented methods regarding how to enter into God’s Kingdom.
We need to stop making up our own rules, then judging others for not meeting our standard. This attitude is as dangerous as the attitude of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They kept trying to question Jesus by bringing up Levitical law when Jesus was preaching grace. We cannot be a fault-finding Pharisee and expect the world to understand grace.
We are putting a dangerous preposition in our vocabulary and passing it off as super spiritual. The word used, which takes away from the message of Jesus Christ, is “but.” “He says He’s a Christian….but…” But what? He sinned? Then let him without sin cast the first stone. Take the plank out of your eye while you are dealing with someone else’s speck and listen. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
This does not mean we have a license to go about sinning habitually and covering it under the umbrella of grace. God hates sin! He wants us to live lives worthy of our calling in Him. He has an expectation when we are a Christian we stop acting like the devil. I think that expectation is fair. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature, the old things passed away….new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
3. When we are relying on our own works…..we are trying to save our own soul
Salvation is FREE. Grace is given to us as a gift “so no man can boast” (Eph. 2:9). Anything less (or more) is cheapening the cost of Calvary. A holier-than-thou attitude gets us nowhere. Works without the genuine love of Christ in every detail is mocking the blood of Jesus Christ;we are presenting an offering worse than Cain’s (See the story of Cain and Abel, Gen 4: 2-5). God doesn’t want our sanctimonious, self-righteous arrogance. He doesn’t want works where we are getting the glory. Take it off the altar. This sort of offering is delivering a sickening aroma to the nostrils of the Almighty in heaven. Yes…give to the poor, feed the hungry. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17). However, what we do for the Lord is a product of our salvation, not the source of our salvation. If you are relying on an accumulation of gold stars on your forehead for your salvation, you are trying to save your own soul.
4. When we do not understand Grace…..we are trying to save our own soul
We sing it to the top of our lungs in every church building across America many a Sunday. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see”. A beautiful hymn speaking of the amazing, powerful, matchless gift of Jesus…..AMAZING GRACE! Therefore, if we do not believe grace saves us….stop singing Amazing Grace! (But, I guarantee “Amazing Works” is not going to sound as pretty).
Can you identify with any of these ways of distorting salvation? If so, ask the Lord to help you in your unbelief. Allow Him to work in you to come to the true meaning of the redeeming quality of grace.
Depend on Him and the work already accomplished at Calvary. If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repented of our sins and have experienced a true life-change, the work accomplished FOR us has already been done IN us; rely on this truth……stop trying to save your own soul!
Trying to save ourselves, is saying the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross is not enough. If this premise is true, hang the veil back up in the temple. Roll the stone back over the tomb. Now, turn with me to Leviticus.