Reason #5: They reject the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
If a person adds any personal effort or work to salvation whereby they are assisting God in the process, they are rejecting the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Any works plan of salvation will never produce genuine assurance.
How can we know a person is relying on his or her own efforts rather than the grace of God for salvation? We discern this in the responses they give to certain questions. Questions like:
- “Are you saved?”
- “Are you going to heaven when you die?”
When we ask questions like these, we may get one of several responses. Let us consider some responses and see if we can understand what the person is really saying.
Response: “I am doing the best I can.” This person is saying he is in the process, so he thinks, of earning his salvation.” Notice “I” am doing the best “I” can.
Response: “I won’t know or no one can know until they die.” This person has what we call “Saint Peter at the gate” theology. This line of thinking comes from hearing too many Saint Peter at the Gate jokes. They have the idea that when we die, God is going to weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds and based on the comparison God is going to make a decision. This person is betting on his own good works to out-weigh his bad works.
Response: “I hope so, I think so, I am as good as other people.” All three of these responses indicate that he is attempting to earn God’s approval because he is, relatively speaking, a good person.
As Spirit-controlled believers, we know the best we can do will never measure-up because Jesus did it all on the cross. We know the Word of God says salvation is acquired here and now. It is not decided based on some sort of merit system in heaven. We know that our salvation is not based on our being better than other people are because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Genuine salvation is based on grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone.