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I am certainly not a theologian, but I do believe salvation has to be a free gift from God through Jesus, because we are all sinners to a degree and cannot earn salvation. The problem comes if we do not know for sure that we are saved by grace alone and what Jesus did on the cross, we degenerate like the Pharisees into trying to make ourselves righteous through good works inorder to save ourselves. We quit trusting in Jesus and do good works to save ourselves instead of doing good works because we love God for what He has already done for us. We either trust in Jesus work on the cross for us as final payment for our sins or we will trust in ourselves that we can make ourselves righteous through good works and we can earn our salvation. The Pharisees thought they could earn salvation through all of their extra biblical rules and regulations. Jesus told them there would be prostitutes in heaven before them. It is the same old idea that if we are better than our neighbor that God will see that are good works are better than our bad works and we can go to heaven. Then our faith is in us instead of Christ alone. This was the problem of the rich young ruler. He asked Jesus what other comandment he needed to follow to earn his salvation. Jesus knew his heart and that he wanted to justify himself through what he did. We should quit sin and do good works because of what Jesus has already done for us, but we cannot earn our salvation. That is like saying Jesus death on the cross was in vain and not good enouph to save us. That is not to say that if we use grace as a license we will not be chastened if we belong to Jesus. But once we are saved we cannot out sin grace nor can we earn our salvation through good works. Some say you just want fire insurance. That makes my blood boil because Jesus did pull me out of the flames of hell and paid my way to heaven. I give him all the glory and none to myself. We are either saved by grace or by works. Not both. It can only be one or the other. Either Jesus paid it all, or we now still owe a debt we cannot pay.
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