Christ’s Promised Eternal Life Versus Salvation by Works

Written: June 1, 2017 | Updated on February 13th, 2020 | Jun P. Espina | 11 min read

Christ’s Promised Eternal Life

Eternal security is one 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 that “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! But Christ’s promised eternal life won’t fit into the framework of man-made Theology that was conceived and intended to glorifying man and giving him the honor for striving to attain immortality through his good works.

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 a bad teaching; it is, therefore, nothing more than an eternal presumption. For a person who sins will forfeit his salvation; Christ’s promised eternal life, therefore, is conditional and unsure. Only those perfect ones 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 the Spirit will come to awaken him from his infernal slumber, then he won’t see his need of 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 act of God of 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.

Such goodness of God of giving us eternal life for free is not without payment on the part of our Father in heaven. Jesus Christ, His son, purchased that gift through 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 obtain 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, a former Assemblies of God minister, who became a partner of Pat Robertson of 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 start to allow the devil to destroy our Christian testimony. It is how lacking in biblical integument the man-made teaching that we can be saved and enter God’s Kingdom (and live there forever) because we are good people. The truth is that 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 promised 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. Wrote the Psalmist: “Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.” (Psalms 106:8)

Why did Christ come and die on the cross and return to life again already 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 promised eternal life to everyone who believes. “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 of 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 for the purpose of making 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 promised eternal life is the impossibility of all moral human beings to enter heaven (irrespective of our religious rank) given the sinfulness of our souls before God. Our unholiness is plain, and we know it is always there in our heart. We don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize we are sinners and unacceptable into God’s eternal home. Left to ourselves, without the saving power of Christ, we could not live in heaven forever. We would 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 love to kill innocent civilians is not 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 love Him truly. Why? Because of sin. Adam “divorced” with God. He disobeyed God, left Paradise, and tilled the ground to survive. We are like him today because we are sinners like him. We want to live life alone, away from God. We don’t honor Him for the good things we received. We mock Him for our failures. We are so separated from God that without Christ’s promised eternal life, we could not rein our feet that are now moving slowly like someone very determined in the direction of the grave and then hell for lack of divine pardon and a Savior in our heart who is Christ, the Lord.

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

Sin is the one separating 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 why we can’t see God—why is 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 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 live forever, “for by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH.” Christ’s promised eternal life really 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 the one saved because Jesus is the Savior. No two saviors in God’s divine plan for man’s redemption (cf. Acts 4:12). To make the man a savior of himself is unscriptural. Those who want to save themselves by their own 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 is glorifying to the Savior, Christ. 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, furthermore, 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, that is, in Christ man finds the salvation of his soul which is evidenced by having a new heart; a fresh outlook with God, His Word, and the Savior Jesus. A saved person has a new sense of priorities; an incredible feeling of divine forgiveness; of 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

Is 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 skillful the player? 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 word born again or born of God connotes 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 an infant would be, granting, for the sake of illustration, his or her return to 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 out to be unrelated to salvation. One clear 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

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

Is Not Christ’s Promised Eternal Life Given Only to Those Who Obeyed Him?

Is not Christ’s promised eternal life given only to those who obeyed Him? Well, the sin issue (or you may call it as disobedience) raised by the Arminians as a ground for losing one’s salvation is without 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 our committing sin once in a while is always a scriptural possibility. Should it happen, the Holy Spirit in our body will be grieved. And John told us that the only way to restore fellowship with God is 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. If pseudo-Christians claim salvation and security while still in darkness, such an assertion, therefore, is only an eternal presumption.

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 main problem with some Bible teachers is that they tend to draw a conclusion out of a wrong premise. Here is one most illogical argument in the world we feel helpful in our discussion: “God is love, and because love is blind, therefore God is blind.” We say illogical because while it is true that 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 having been drawn out of a false premise that love is blind. Likewise, the argument that eternal security is inconceivable for the habitually sinning “believers” is fallacious and an utter theological confusion, for how a believer can 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 happen to meet a song leader, a Sunday School teacher, or a preacher who doesn’t bear the mark of the new life in Christ then, to use 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. For how can his own efforts save him or how can he purchase eternal life?

Scriptures supporting this doctrine are too numerous to write here. Let us just pick up the commonly ignored or resisted in the 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 the eternal assurance of salvation is indeed, one of the sweetest teachings one can easily find from the Word of God. Indeed, it builds up an intense devotion and affection to Jesus who “is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12)

Are your heartfelt praises to Jesus more meaningful now—now that you are already assured of Christ’s promised eternal life?


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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