Section 4 .. The Heart Of The Matter/Salvation


003white  Index To   The Heart of The Matter   ...  Salvation Part 3


Salvation - Part III
In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - words supposedly based on 3 verses in Romans. But does the Bible say this or have we ourselves conjured up (and spread) a completely erroneous idea?

      Carol Brooks

    Part I
    What Exactly is Salvation?
    Introduction - You Are Going To Die - And Stay Dead. Christianity Alone Offers The Unbeliever Something They Cannot Get Anywhere Else. Shallow, Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages. The Wrath of God is His Response to Sin. The Love of God - The Substitute Sacrifice... Jesus' life For Yours.

    Part II
    Repentance, Faith and The Lordship of Christ

    Salvation involves more than simply affirming in one's mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior - Repentance and Faith are both absolute requirements for forgiveness. Also, why it isnít enough to just acknowledge Jesus as Savior. In fact, close to 60% of the New Testament books never mention Jesus as Savior even once

    Part III (This Page)
     A "Free" Gift? -
    In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - words that are supposedly based on 3 verses in Romans. But does the Bible say this or have we ourselves invented and spread a completely erroneous idea?

    Part IV
    Crucial Details About Salvation Every Christian Needs to Know

    Have you ever noticed how often Christians (rightly) make it a point to say that we should never ever add or take away anything from God's word? The idea being that we don't change anything.

    Yet, it is done all the time.

    Usually the changes are so subtle that the vast majority of Christians never ever notice how they differ from the original languages. In many cases, the translators had an unfortunate tendency to translate words according to their own preconceived ideas. For example they used "He" for the Holy Spirit, "Hell" in place of not one but three different Hebrew and Greek proper names, and "guarantee" rather than earnest in regard to the Holy Spirit. The list is quite a long one and affects some very crucial issues.

    Most believers not only accept the changes as God's word but defend them to death. What we need to remember that only the original documents (AKA the "autographs") can be considered infallible. This makes it imperative that we pay close attention to the words the original authors used and what those words meant in the original Hebrew or Greek.

     In this case, the question is whether the Greek word Charisma means 'free gift' as it has been rendered in so many English versions.

    The short answer is that it does not.

    Free Gift?
    Most, if not all, of Christianity will tell you that salvation is a free gift. That there is no price tag attached and nothing to do except believe or, as many erroneously put it, accept Jesus into your heart. SEE. This idea probably stems from how various versions (the KJV, NASB, ESV NLT, Amplified Bible etc.) have translated some verses.  I am using the NASB as illustration.

      For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift (Gk. Charisma) of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NASB )

    But the free gift (Gk.Charisma) 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 (Gk.Charisma) arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (Romans 5:15-16 NASB)

    Based on these translations, virtually all Christian leaders use the word "free" without any restraint. See for example, John Piper's The Free Gift of God Is Eternal Life - Part 2 available on the internet. (Note: A few Bibles versions like the NET use the word gift without the free part and, although I am no fan of the version the NIV does as well)

    However, in the New Testament the word "free" does not occur in a single verse that speaks about God's gift to us. See all 17 occurrences of Charisma on THIS page on the Greek-English Interlinear Bible.

    This perhaps because God knew that many of us would latch onto this word and run with it in completely the wrong direction. As a matter of fact, this idea of a "free" gift opposes much of what the New Testament tells us.

    Lets examine how Charisma is used in the Scriptures. 

    The Greek word Charisma
    Strong's Hebrew and Greek Lexicon says the Greek word charisma (derived from charizomai ) means a (divine) gratuity - (specifically) a spiritual endowment. The root word, charis, simply means graciousness. Note that according to Merriam Webster gratuity means "something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially: TIP - adding a gratuity for the server. Gratuitous means "given unearned or without recompense.

    Charisma is used some 21 times in the New Testament - most often in regard to the gifts of the Spirit (healing, miracles, teaching. etc. For example,

      For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift (Gk. charisma) to you, that you may be established; (Romans 1:11 NASB)

      for the gifts (Gk. Charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Romans 11:29 NASB)

      Since we have gifts (Gk. Charisma) that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;  (Romans 12:6 NASB)

      so that you are not lacking in any gift (Gk. Charisma), awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,  (1 Corinthians 1:7 NASB)

      For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift (Gk. Charisma) of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  (2 Timothy 1:6 NASB)

    Yet, charisma was translated 'free gift'' ONLY in the three instances when it occurred in connection with salvation. This is not a translation error, but a clear case of intentionally adding human thoughts and ideas to God's word. I guess they forgot that they were supposed to be translating the original Greek words, NOT providing us with a commentary as to what they believe the verse means.

    Did they not think that if Paul had wanted to emphasize the 'freeness' of this gift, he was perfectly capable of doing so without any help whatsoever?

    Nothing would suit us better than for God's gift of salvation to have no price tag attached and there be nothing more strenuous for us to do than 'accept' this gift. And what better way to convince ourselves of this than to add the word 'free' to verses where we think it ought to be although the original Greek says nothing of the sort.

    Much to the contrary, there are numerous texts that say we have to do something - live a certain way in order to be admitted into God's kingdom. See The Myth of Faith Alone

    Note: As the following examples show, the word free (Gk. Eleutheroo) does occur some 40 times in the NT but, in completely different contexts.

      So if the Son makes you free, you will be free (Gk. eleutheroo) indeed.  (John 8:36 NASB)

    Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free (Gk. eleutheroo) from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24 NASB)

    Nit Picking?
    It is not nit picking to ask that translations not add words to those found in the original Greek. These human additions can and do influence people and not in a good way. In fact, they have been shown to lead believers down some very unbiblical and treacherous paths.

    Here is one example in which the translators not only rendered a word according to their own pre-biases, but actually had the audacity to supplement God's words with some of their own. Several popular translations added the word guarantee to Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, and 2 Corinthians 5:5. Unknowingly, countless people who rely on these translations, believe that Scripture actually speaks of a guarantee when, in fact, it does no such thing. For more about this and the biased rendering See A 'Deposit' 'Guaranteeing' Our Inheritance?  

    In this case, the word free adds a subtle but powerful emphasis to the idea that salvation doesn't cost us a thing. Commonly used by preachers and teachers it cause us to be quite sure that God has indeed given us a gift that costs us nothing and is neither restricted by (or subject to) any given condition. Thus, we fondly imagine that all we have to do is say "Sure, I'll let Jesus be my Savior".

    But is this true? Does the word gift alone (minus 'free') mean that it never has any strings attached?

    I'm afraid not!

    In ordinary everyday use a gift is "something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation" (Free Dictionary). In other words, if it were paid for  in cold hard case or in services rendered, it wouldn't be a gift. If it were coerced in some manner, it wouldn't be a gift.

    But just because a gift is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation, does it necessarily mean that there are no conditions attached?  Actually no! Perhaps a simple analogy will sufficiently illustrate when I mean.

    Lets say I have a young nephew who is crazy about dogs. So one day, I go out and get him a small puppy as a gift. He is ecstatic but, knowing him to be a little careless, I warn him that if he does not look after the puppy properly (feeding, clean water, exercise etc.), he will lose it. I have attached a condition that in no way takes away from the fact that the gift was given voluntarily and without any compensation. My sole reason for giving my nephew this gift was not as a reward for being good or doing his chores, but because I love him and would take great pleasure in seeing him spend many happy hours playing with and enjoying his dog. However, if he continuously and carelessly neglects the puppy and is unrepentant about doing so, I will take it away from him.

    Similarly, God's gift of salvation is a gift inasmuch as we could never be good enough to earn it, there isn't enough treasure in the universe to pay for it, and no amount of good that we could ever do would earn us a place in the Kingdom. And the reason is very simple. God's own laws state that all sin carry the death penalty. So any and all the sins you may have committed have to be paid for with blood. And had Christ not shed His blood in place of yours, you would be, to use a rather expressive modern term, toast.

    Salvation is a gift of His grace offered to us because He loves us and doesn't want any of us to perish.

    But we?

    We started down  the slippery slope by misunderstanding the word gift. Then in in order that people would take it to mean what we think it means, we added the word 'free'. The end result is that so many take 'free gift' to mean that there is no price tag attached and nothing to do but accept. This is spite of the fact that many, many, verses say that salvation is a gift but we have to do some things and not do some things - we have to take care of the puppy.

    The Bible never ever says anything about faith alone but clearly tells us what is required of us. For example,

      Be Obedient: Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)

      Do Good Works: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)

      Endure: But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:13 NASB) Also See Mark 13:13. 

      Be Righteous: For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven". (Matthew 5:20 NASB)

    And let me remind you of what Scripture says will happens if we don't live the "Christian life".

      For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20 NASB)

      Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 NASB)

    Quite obviously salvation and sanctification go hand in hand... One does not exist without the other.

    None of this means that we will always do the right thing. But, when we stumble, we have to pick ourselves up, repent, ask forgiveness and continue on.. What is hugely important is that we want to live as God wants us to live. We want to do what is right..

    Continue on to The Kingdom Doesn't Come Cheap
    To imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world, but still be welcome in God's presence, is little more than wishful thinking. The minute we convert and are born again, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God and become citizens of His heavenly kingdom - strangers and pilgrims that stop here for a little while and then move on -  eventually returning to what will be our permanent home. However we cannot maintain a dual citizenship -  allegiance has to be to one or the other. If our standards are set by this godless, profane, and anything goes world, we have no inheritance in His Kingdom. Living by the standards of the coming kingdom involves everything that we do, everything that we say, and everything that we think or imagine.

    Salvation Part II