Salvation is the free gift of God.
Salvation is not something we earn, that is to say it is not by works (of goodness or righteous behavior).
Anyone who has heard the Gospel of Christ has heard this message, and yet…
We inherently know that God isn’t a fool, and that we can’t “put one over on Him”, as it were. We also understand that if He is who He claims to be (Righteous, Good, Just, Loving, etc.) He will expect us to modify our behavior because most (if not all) of what we call “bad” behavior is destructive of self and others. Salvation is by faith, not works, but faith without works is dead.
So which is it? Is it free, or is there work involved?
Here’s the skinny(as I see it) …
Anything of value requires care, maintenance, attention. If I give you a car or a house, you need to take responsibility for it, to care for it, to “keep” it. If you don’t, if you neglect the gift it looses its value even to the point of uselessness. If I give you a garden, it won’t nourish you unless you tend it. If I give you my Love and you don’t spend time with me what good comes of it? How will you even know you are loved?
Christ gave His life to give that life to us. His life was freely given, and in fact was not anything we could earn. This is obvious when we understand that His life was a gift of love, and love that is earned is not love at all. His life is salvation for us (for me!) and it is a gift, a free gift. That gift is the most valuable possession you will ever have. As it is written,”what will a man give in exchange for his soul“?
Everything we have learned in life about owning something of value teaches us that the thing we own also owns us. If we posses something we need to “keep” it. The gift of God is no different. His gift is our most valuable possession. A gift so valuable requires our attention to “keep” it. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
So the gift is free, as it has to be. Keeping the free gift is a full time job, as it has to be.
Note: I was intentionally obscure about my use of the word “keep”, which I used in the sense of tend, as one “keeps” a garden. This is in contrast to the idea of keeping or loosing salvation. My personal opinion is that we cannot “loose” our salvation, in the sense that we did not work hard enough to keep it, but the idea of “keeping” the faith or the possibility of neglecting our salvation is clearly present in the Bible. Your mileage may vary.