There is something about us that makes us want to make everything about us. If there is any way to make it appear to anyone, everyone, or even just ourselves we will move any mountain, swim any sea, or rationalize any action to see ourselves as the center of the universe. And salvation falls into this same pattern.
For this reason, every religion man has ever devised has been built upon works. We must earn our way to heaven. That way we can take the credit.
I taught Comparative Religion for several colleges. During the semester as we covered the major and many minor religions of the world, I would write on the board a section on each one. In these sections, I wrote what it takes to receive salvation or make it to heaven in these different religions. At the end, I asked the students to review all the sections and see if they could spot one striking similarity and one striking difference.
Inevitably at least one, often several, would discern that every religion except one required people to earn their salvation. And only one, Christianity, said salvation comes through faith alone.
Several times after this exercise students sought me out after class and accepted the Lord as their personal Savior. One time a woman brought in her whole family, and they all confessed Christ as Lord and professed their belief that God had raised Him from the dead.
We know there is a profound and life-altering difference between a mental assent that Christ is Lord and a knowledge that God raised Him from the dead and a living faith in these two realities. The very faith we use to accept and profess is a gift from God. However, God gave us our intellect. He doesn’t mean for us to check our minds at the door when we enter His presence.
Learning the truth is a fundamental step towards accepting the truth.
The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Humanity does not need another teacher, a leader, or a new way of looking at life. The problem is that since the fall of Adam man has been spiritually dead. We are separated by an uncrossable gulf from God and each other. What we need is spiritual re-birth and reunification of fractured humanity.
Once we are re-created in Christ our feet are on the highway of holiness leading to life in, through, and with our Savior, but we aren’t merely passive passengers along for the ride. Because once we’re saved, we have work to do.