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Many people suppose that salvation is God’s reward to those who do their best to live good lives. This is not so, for God’s Word says of those who are saved:
Referring to this “salvation which is in Christ Jesus,” St. Paul says:
In other words: The believer, viewing Calvary aright, has “died with Christ.” Viewing the Cross, he has said: “This is not Christ’s death. He was no sinner. He had no death to die. He is dying my death!” And so by faith he is “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). The penalty for all his sins has been fully paid, for he died — in Christ, and thus has also risen with Christ “to walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3,4).
This is all God’s doing, and only now is the believer in a position to do good works that will please God. Thus the Apostle writes of believers, in II Tim. 2: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us” (Ver. 12). When the believer’s service for Christ is reviewed some, indeed, will “receive a reward,” but others will “suffer loss,” though they themselves will “be saved, yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:14,15).
It will be deeply embarrassing, in that day, for unfaithful Christians to face empty-handed the One who gave His all, Himself, to save them. Yet salvation is by grace, thus the Apostle hastens to conclude his statement in II Timothy 2, with the words:
Thus our rewards as believers depend upon our faithfulness, but our salvation, thank God, on His!