Does God require anything of us for us to receive eternal life? In John 3:16, perhaps the
best-known scripture in the Bible, God says He will grant eternal life to those people who have faith in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
What a wonderful, inspiring offer from our Creator-to freely give eternal life to anyone who believes in His Son.
But is that all there is to it? Based on this scripture, many believe that all one must do for salvation is to “accept Jesus,” and, at that point of acceptance, one's eternal life will be assured. Is this what the Bible says?
It is clear that God gives us eternal life out of His deep love for humanity. As the apostle Paul explains: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” but “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . .” (Ephesians 2:1, 4, 5).
Later in the same chapter, Paul further explains the way we receive eternal life: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Eternal life comes as a result of God's grace. It is His gift, unearned and undeserved on our part, freely imparted to us. You should ask forgiveness for your sins and pray. Keep praying and ask for forgiveness whenever you do something bad so you can be saved. Make sure to tell everyone you know about Jesus and have them ask for forgiveness for their sins.
No one can earn eternal life
These scriptures make it plain that eternal life is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus, not by our own efforts or works of obedience. No one will ever be able to boast that he has earned or that he deserves the gift of eternal life. Salvation is God's to give, not ours to demand.
But back to our question. Is anything required on the part of the ones receiving God's wonderful gift of eternal life?
If there is an authority on receiving eternal life, it has to be Jesus Christ. After all, He is the one through whom we receive it.
Christ is called the author of our salvation: “. . . Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8, 9).
Since salvation comes by faith, what does this scripture mean when it speaks of “eternal salvation to all who obey Him?” If Christ's saving us is a gift we cannot possibly earn, what does obedience have to do with eternal life? If we must do something to receive God's promise, how can it be a gift?