What are the conditions for eternal salvation according to the Bible? The verses that come immediately to mind are Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Grace is another word for a free gift and faith means to trust or be firmly persuaded. So it involves a free gift and includes a trust in something or someone. In John 3:16, that someone is “His only begotten Son” a clear reference to Jesus Christ. When one trusts in Jesus Christ as “His only begotten Son”, he is ready to receive a free gift, a gift that cannot be received by human works. It is the gift of salvation in Ephesians 2:8, but this gift may also be referred to as eternal life (John 3:16). And what about the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)? This is an amazing gift!
In John 4, Jesus and His disciples were traveling to Galilee from Judea and He made a point to travel through Samaria, a route not normally traveled by a good Jew. This was intentional because He had a divine appointment with a Samaritan (Gentile) woman. In verse 10, Jesus spoke to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Of course, Jesus was teaching her, a Gentile about salvation, how to receive eternal life (verse 14). He was teaching her that the elements of salvation were the recognition of the Giver, Who He is, and that He has a free gift for her.
Later in the conversation, she recognizes Him as a prophet (verse 19) and then in verses 25-26, Jesus confirms that He is the Messiah. How do we know she got saved? In verses 28-29, “So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’“ She became the first missionary in the New Testament age. She accepted the free gift when she recognized the Giver.
The simplicity of the Gospel
This is the simplicity of the Gospel. Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus as an esteemed Pharisee when something profound took place. He tells the story this way in Acts 26:14-16, “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you.” In that moment Saul came to realize that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and he was being promoted into his gift. The manifestation of that gift in soon-to-be Paul’s life was the incredible ministry that God was calling him to, that he would be the Apostle to the Gentiles.
There’s another example to consider here. It’s found in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas are imprisoned in a Philippian jail. The reasons why are not important to this conversation. God decided that Paul and Silas were no longer to remain in jail, so He sent an earthquake to shake the foundations of the prison house and the prison doors were opened. The jailer woke up to see this miraculous event and drew his sword to kill himself, believing that the magistrate would have him put to death since the prisoners were escaping. In verses 28-29, “But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!’ And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas”. His question to them is still sounding today: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Their answer also rings true today: “Believe in [epi – on] the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” This jailer and his whole household believed in Jesus as Lord and were gloriously saved. They acknowledged the Giver and received the gift of life, eternal life. It’s so simple yet so profound.
What a gift
There is so much more to the free gift. In Romans 5:15-17, “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
This gift is not only free, but much more, abounding to many. This gift solves the transgression problem and becomes the gift of righteousness, resulting in the believer “reigning in life through the One, Jesus Christ”. What a gift!