Q. My husband understands accepting the Lord as his Savior – and says he has – but has been taught since childhood that a person needs to do good in order to stay in “good standing” with God. I tried to explain that once you accept the Lord you are His child and have eternal life. The good works we do are to please the Lord and be a testimony to other people but are not requirements for heaven. Once someone has accepted the Lord, are these follow-up teachings moot when it comes to their salvation?
A. If a person accepts by faith alone that Jesus died for all our sins and that His death meets all the requirements for our salvation, then as soon as he or she asks the Lord for salvation it will be granted, irrespective of any prior or future actions. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us at that moment we are marked with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit that guarantees our inheritance.
If your husband believes in his heart that his good works are required to gain or keep his salvation, then in effect he’s making himself responsible for it and by his action is denying the sufficiency of the Lord’s death.
The only acceptable motive for any subsequent good works we do is gratitude for what we’ve already been freely and irrevocably given, and even then only if they are at the Lord’s prompting and in His strength. Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).