Christ’s Promised Eternal Life Versus Salvation by Works Why You Really Need Eternal Life in Christ

Jun P. Espina         11 min read

Updated on November 8th, 2022

Christ’s Promised Eternal Life

Eternal security is a teaching our Lord affirms firmly in His Word. Teach it, and you will produce real born-again Christians. In John 6:37, Jesus made this truth so clear “the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” And in John 10:28, He said, “and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” Once saved, always saved! The framework of man-made theology, however, was created and intended to glorify man and give him the honor of seeking to gain immortality via his good works. Christ’s promised eternal life, however, will not fit into this framework.

For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.—2 Timothy 1:12

Objections Concerning Christ’s Promised Eternal Life

Some argue that eternal security is just a license to sin. It is bad teaching; it is, therefore, nothing more than an eternal presumption. A person who sins will lose his salvation; Christ’s promised eternal life, therefore, is conditional and uncertain. Only those perfect at death could live in heaven. Salvation, for them, is like gambling—a win-or-lose contest, a game of chance.

Read More: Saved Eternally and Assuredly from God’s Wrath

The Scriptures, however, declare that man is spiritually dead in his sins and transgressions and cannot perform anything good at all based on the standards of God. (cf. Eph. 2:1) Man cannot understand the Bible; he even hates it most of the time. Unless God’s Spirit comes to awaken him from his infernal slumber, he won’t see his need for Christ, his only Hope of salvation and eternal life. Christ’s promised eternal life is a gift (or undeserved favor). We are not worthy of God’s deathless life in heaven. Such an act of God as saving our souls from hell for FREE (hence a gift!) is called grace—or God’s unmerited goodness to all of us, the children of our sinful father, Adam.

The goodness of God in giving us eternal life for free is not without payment by our Father in heaven. Jesus Christ, His son, purchased that gift with His own blood at Calvary. We are like refugees who have free food. Someone paid for the food; someone sacrificed for it.

Indeed, it is worth repeating: Our salvation from God’s judgment of eternal torment in hell on account of our sin is all of God’s grace, for we are dead spiritually. We are helpless to get salvation through our good works since our so-called “labor of love” (our favorite description of our human capability of extending kindness to our neighbors) is sin-colored and cannot be accepted as a ticket to reach our eternal home. God is holy; we are not. “Filthy rags” is God’s description of our so-called good works.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.—Isa. 64:6

I was watching a video clip on YouTube about James (Jim) O. Bakker, a televangelist and former Assemblies of God minister who became a partner of Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He was accused (after helping “make The 700 Club one of the longest-running and most successful televangelism programs”) of a sex scandal and an accounting fraud that led to his imprisonment and divorce. Think of the books he published after his indictment in 1988. It is how fragile we Christians become when we allow the devil to destroy our Christian testimony. It is how lacking in biblical integument the man-made teaching is that we can be saved and enter God’s Kingdom (and live there forever) because we are good people. We are sinful people in the eyes of God, and our good works cannot produce a divine pardon. “Morality,” said Charles H. Spurgeon, “is a neat cover for foul venom, but it does not alter the fact that the heart is vile, and the man himself is under damnation. Men will be damned with good works as well as without them, if they make them their confidence (rather than Jesus Christ).”

Read More: Human Responsibility to Believe in Christ

The Principle Behind Christ’s Promised Eternal life

There is a principle behind Christ’s promise of eternal life. It is the rule of God’s unmerited kindness and love for the rebellious people that we have become after the fall of Adam. Christ’s first coming was like Noah’s mission to save a people for the glory of God. The Psalmist wrote: “Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.” (Psalms 106:8)

Why did Christ come, die on the cross, and return to life again with a physical body? He also made post-resurrection appearances. “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:6) Then, He ascended to heaven physically!

The reason for it all was to give a concrete verification of the truth of Christ’s promise of eternal life to everyone who believed. “Because I live,” Christ said, “you also will live.” (John 14:19) He said it before His crucifixion. He had other teachings, too. His resurrection confirmed all of them. Christ’s promised eternal life was well-documented by His own blood and by the many witnesses to His post-resurrection appearances. They are all written in the Holy Bible for you and me to believe. God wants a people for His own position. He wants to have children to make them “kings and priests” in Christ’s eternal Kingdom on earth.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. (Rev. 1:6 KJV) There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore [meaning, an eternal kingdom on earth, on the throne of David]. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (Isa. 9:7 NASB)

Read More: Earthly People After the Millennium—Ruled by Believers

The second point behind Christ’s promise of eternal life is the impossibility of all moral human beings entering heaven (irrespective of our religious ranks), given the sinfulness of our souls before God. Our unholiness is plain, and we know it is always there in our hearts. We don’t need to be rocket scientists to realize we are sinners and unacceptable in God’s eternal home. Left to ourselves, without the saving power of Christ, we could not live in heaven forever. We will die in the presence of God’s majesty and holiness! “So Manoah said to his wife,” wrote Judges 13:22, “‘We will surely die, for we have seen God.'”

One Muslim man raised his placard on one radical Muslim parade in London that says, “Your dead will go to hell; ours, to heaven.” This belief is fanatical since Mohammed did not rise from the grave to confirm his teachings. How could a suicide bomber who killed dozens of people and made children fatherless in the name of religion enter God’s kingdom? The desire to kill innocent civilians is not part of the doctrine of the Christian God. It is murder, and the murderer will go to hell. (cf. John 8:44; Rev. 21:8)

God’s Teaching About Sin vs. Christ’s Promised Eternal Life

Death, according to the Bible, means separation—separation because of sin. When the soul leaves the body, physical death occurs. Likewise, the soul that is alienated from the life of God is deemed spiritually dead. Christ’s promised eternal life is the only logical solution for all sinners to live forever. We are separated from God; we don’t truly love Him. Why? Because of sin. Adam “divorced” God. He disobeyed God, left Paradise, and tilled the ground to survive. Today, we are sinners like him. We want to live life alone, away from God. When we receive good things in life, we don’t honor Him. Our failures become our private moments to mock God. We are so separated from God that without Christ’s promised eternal life, we cannot rein in our feet; we are now moving slowly, like someone very determined in the grave’s direction, and then to hell for lack of divine pardon and a Savior in our hearts who is Christ, the Lord.

Read More: God’s Love Unaffected Man’s Behavior — Unconditional?

Sin is what separates man from his Maker, and we know it. We know that sin is the root of divorce between husband and wife. Sin is the reason we can’t see God—why is so He far away? “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear… the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Isa. 59:2; Ezek. 18:4 KJV) Among all who walked upon this planet, only Jesus, the Son of God, was without sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) Only in Christ’s promised eternal life can there be a pathway out of the overpowering tunnel of sin.

Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.—Acts 13:38-39 NIV
christ's promised eternal life

Without Christ’s promised eternal life, we would all one day wake up in hell. But praise God, through His grace, we can now be saved through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and personal Savior. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

Faith in Jesus is the key to living forever, “for by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH.” Christ’s promised eternal life makes sense since we are sinners and cannot impress God with our gifts and charities to the poor. Hence, our salvation, our eternal life, is “the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Salvation by Works vs. Christ’s Promised Eternal Life

As already mentioned above, GRACE is God’s unmerited favor upon sinful man in Christ Jesus. Before the world began, it was in the mind of God to save man from his sins through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son. Jesus is man’s Savior, for it was He who redeemed man from sin’s death penalty. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Man is saved because Jesus is the Savior. No two saviors exist in God’s divine plan for man’s redemption (cf. Acts 4:12). Making man a savior of himself is unscriptural. Those who want to save themselves by their good works—they are better known as Arminians—also want to share Christ’s glory as Redeemer. God, however, rejects their doctrine. Observe God’s Word through the Prophet Isaiah:

For My own sake,
for My own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.
—Isaiah 48:11

Christ’s promised eternal life is God-glorifying, as it glorifies the Savior, Jesus. It is the soul’s pardon granted by God on the parameters of grace alone, or God’s undeserved kindness through faith in Jesus Christ, His only Son.

As regards man’s salvation, the Holy Spirit taught that man must come, confess, or believe in Jesus. Or he must be born again if he wants to see God’s kingdom. All these terms mean the same thing: in Christ, man finds the salvation of his soul, which is evidenced by having a new heart; a fresh outlook on God, His Word, and the Savior Jesus. A saved person has a new sense of priorities; an incredible feeling of divine forgiveness; friendship and sweet fellowship with God’s Spirit! “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

The Permanence of Man’s Salvation and Christ’s Promised Eternal Life

Are man’s salvation from sin and the kingdom of darkness a one-time occurrence? Or, is it like a ball game—a win-or-lose situation—just depending on how skilled the player is? Christ’s words to Nicodemus may shed light here: “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The words “born again,” or “born of God” connote a one-time event. If a man is born physically just once, it is inconceivable for his second birth to be like an endless cycle. How deformed would an infant be if, for the sake of illustration, he or she returned to their mother’s marsupium?

Dr. H. L. Willmington said that “those holding the Arminian position confidently assure us that their view is amply supported by some 100 biblical passages.” He tried to study the most important ones of them and found them to be unrelated to salvation. One simple proof is the much-quoted Matthew 24:13: “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” This passage wrote Willmington, “deals with sheer physical survival during the tribulation… What ‘end’ is he referring to here? According to verses 3,6, and 14 it is clear that it is the end of the tribulation.”

Read More: Calvinism Rejected by Most Christians

A man is born again only once, not many times! The miracle of salvation, therefore, happens just once in one’s lifetime. Meet Jesus through faith, and you will forever be sealed by His Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:30). As a child does not cease to be a child when he sins against his parents, so God’s child remains His under any circumstances.

Isn’t Christ’s Promised Eternal Life Given Only to Those Who Obey Him?

Isn’t Christ’s promised eternal life given only to those who obey Him? Well, the sin issue (or you may call it disobedience) raised by the Arminians as a ground for losing one’s salvation lacks scriptural support. John said that “If we (the word “we” automatically includes John himself) say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). In Romans 7:19, Paul also admitted imperfection in this life: “For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.”

Since we are still in the flesh, sinning once in a while is always a scriptural possibility. Should it happen, we will grieve the Holy Spirit in our body. And John told us that the only way to restore fellowship with God is through a confession of sins to Christ. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The Arminian position that eternal security only encourages sin is untenable. John said that “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). Truly born-again Christians hate sin. Therefore, if pseudo-Christians profess salvation and security while they are still in the dark, their claim is nothing more than an assumption.

“The real Christian experienced Christ; the fake one experienced the church.”

Christ's Promised Eternal Life Versus Salvation by Works
Ex Muslim Woman Calls on God & Jesus Christ Appears to Her In A Dream & Changes Her Life. Credit: The Endless Love of Jesus Ministries

The major problem with some Bible teachers is that they conclude from the wrong premise. Here is one of the most illogical arguments in the world that we feel is helpful in our discussion: “God is love, and because love is blind, therefore God is blind.” We say illogical because, while God is love, it is never universally accepted as true that love is blind. The conclusion that God is blind is wrong, if not blasphemous, simply for having been drawn from the false premise that love is blind. Likewise, the argument that eternal security is inconceivable for habitually sinning “believers” is fallacious and utter theological confusion, for how can a believer habitually sin and live in complete darkness? Forgive the repetition, but John said that a born-again person does not live in darkness (cf. 1 John 1:6).

If you meet a song leader, a Sunday School teacher, or a preacher who doesn’t bear the mark of the new life in Christ, to use the words of Paul, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” A person who doesn’t have the victory and fruit of the Holy Spirit is not born of God.

Truly born-again Christians are safe in the arms of Jesus. For it is by grace through faith that saves us and keeps us so. Pride is behind the teaching that man can maintain salvation. How can his efforts save him, or how can he purchase eternal life?

Scriptures supporting this doctrine are too numerous to list here. Let’s just pick up the commonly ignored or resisted book of Romans 8:31-39:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

May God’s Spirit speak to your heart right now? For He said, nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. How happy would a believer be who has this hope of the promised eternal love of God and Christ’s promised eternal life in heaven?

Thus, the doctrine of eternal assurance of salvation is true; it is one of the sweetest teachings one can easily find in the Word of God. Indeed, it builds up an intense devotion and affection for Jesus, who “is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12)

Are your sincere adorations of Jesus now more meaningful because you are already certain that He will provide you with eternal life as He promised?



About Jun P. Espina

A former educator, Jun P. Espina is a family man, author, blogger, painter, Bible believer, preacher, a lover of books—passionate about many things. He believes life is good when fed constantly with the biblical truth that is wiser than what most people think. Find him on Facebook,Twitter,or at

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