What Exactly is Salvation?
Introduction - You Are Going To Die - And Stay Dead. Christianity Alone Offers The Unbeliever Something They Cannot Get Anywhere Else. Shallow, Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages. The Wrath of God is His Response to Sin. The Love of God - The Substitute Sacrifice... Jesus' life For Yours.
Repentance, Faith and The Lordship of Christ
Salvation involves more than simply affirming in one's mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior - Repentance and Faith are both absolute requirements for forgiveness. Also why it isn’t enough to just acknowledge Jesus as Savior. In fact, close to 60% of the New Testament books never mention Jesus as Savior even once
Part III (This Page)
A "Free" Gift? - In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - words that are supposedly based on 3 verses in Romans. But does the Bible say this or have we ourselves conjured up (and spread) a completely erroneous idea?
Crucial Details About Salvation Every Christian Needs to Know
In the church today one often hears that salvation is a 'free' gift from God - this based on 3 verses in Romans. But do the Scriptures actually say this?
As Christians we believe that Bible is the Word of God. And so it is. However, there is a caveat - the Bible is ONLY the Word of God if it conveys exactly the same message as the original Greek and Hebrew in the original books did. If any portion of the translation we hold in our hands has been changed in any way, then that portion is no longer God's Word.
And Christians know this all too well often (rightly) making it a point to say that we should never ever add or take away anything from God's word? The idea being that we don't change anything.
Yet, it is done all the time - not only by cultists and fringe groups but by those we consider upstanding leaders and scholars. Deception is often very, very subtle.
With that in mind we need to take a closer look at the words 'free' and 'gift'.
Several popular translations including the KJV, the NASB, ASV, ESA, etc. use the words 'free gift' in Romans 6:23 and 5:15-16. As an example, the NASB says
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift (Gk. charisma) of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NASB)
(Note: A few Bibles versions like the NET use the word gift without the free part and, although I am no fan of the version the NIV does as well)
Many of them do exactly the same thing with Romans 5:15-16 (again using the NASB as an example),
But the free gift (Gk. charisma) is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (16) The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift (Gk. charisma) arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (Romans 5:15-16 NASB)
What makes it worse is that Charisma is used some 21 times in the New Testament - most often in regard to the gifts of the Spirit (healing, miracles, teaching. etc. Yet, it was translated 'free gift'' ONLY in the three instances when it occurred in connection with salvation. In all other verses charisma is rendered as gift. For example,
For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift (Gk. charisma) to you, that you may be established; (Romans 1:11 NASB)
for the gifts (Gk. Charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29 NASB)
Since we have gifts (Gk. Charisma) that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; (Romans 12:6 NASB)
so that you are not lacking in any gift (Gk. Charisma), awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7 NASB)
For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift (Gk. Charisma) of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6 NASB)
Presumably based on these translations, numerous Christian leaders use the word "free" without any restraint. See for example, John Piper's The Free Gift of God Is Eternal Life - Part 2 available on the internet.
This is a HUGE problem simply because
The Word 'Free' Does Not Exist in These Verses
In the original Greek the word free does not exist in the above verses from the book of Romans. In fact, the word "free" has not been used anywhere in the New Testament in connection with salvation or God's gift to us (perhaps because God knows a little more about how man's mind can work than we do).
The translators took the word charisma which simply means a gift - and rendered it "Free Gift". Did they not think that had Paul wanted to emphasize the 'freeness' of this gift he was perfectly capable of doing so without any help whatsoever.
Translators are supposed to be translating the original Greek words, NOT providing us with a commentary as to what they believe the verse means. And they are certainly not supposed to add in words not found in the original languages unless it is done VERY carefully to make more sense in English - which is not the case here.
Remember what was said earlier - If any verse or passage of Scripture has been changed in any way at all then that portion is no longer God's Word.
And this is not the only case where words were translated in accordance with preconceived ideas affecting some very crucial issues.
See Footnote I for other examples and links to the relevant articles/
The Greek word Charisma is derived from charizomai which in turn comes from the root word Charis that simply means graciousness. Bible Study tools says "Charisma is a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own."  In other words, the three verses from Romans simply point out God's kindness and graciousness in spite of the fact we have no merit of our own.
Small Change - Big Impact
The result of adding one single word to three verses conveys a subtle but powerful emphasis to the idea that salvation doesn't cost us a thing and is neither restricted by or subject to any given condition. It costs us nothing and there is nothing more strenuous for us to do than 'accept' this gift - 'Sure, I'll let Jesus be my Savior'
However, one question remains. Does the word gift (minus 'free') mean that it never has any strings attached?
I'm afraid not!
In ordinary everyday use a gift is "something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation" (Free Dictionary). In other words, if it were paid for in cold hard cash, in services rendered, or coerced in some manner, it wouldn't be a gift. But just because a gift is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation, it does not necessarily mean that there are no conditions attached.
And this is nothing new. Both God's gifts and promises to man were usually conditional.
In Joshua 6:2 the Lord told Joshua that He had given him the city of Jericho but, as we know, there were certain conditions that had to be complied with before the Israelites could occupy the city.
In Acts 27:24 the Lord told Paul that the lives of all two hundred and seventy-six sailors in the ship with him would be "given him", but Paul recognized that there were conditions to be met which he communicated to the sailors a few verses later when they wanted to abandon ship [See John 6:33 in Section... Limited Atonement].
Remember that the imposition of conditions in no way nullifies the freeness of the gift. Perhaps a couple of simple analogies will sufficiently illustrate when I mean.
1.) Lets say I have a young nephew who is crazy about dogs. So one day, I go out and get him a small puppy as a gift. He is ecstatic but, knowing him to be a little careless, I warn him that if he does not look after the puppy properly (feeding, clean water, exercise etc.), he will lose it. I have attached a condition that in no way takes away from the fact that the gift was given voluntarily and without any compensation. My sole reason for giving my nephew this gift was not as a reward for being good or for doing his chores, but because I love him and would take great pleasure in seeing him spend many happy hours playing with and enjoying his dog. However, if he carelessly neglects the puppy and is unrepentant about doing so, I will take it away from him.
2.) It is similar to a situation in which a very wealthy man "gives" a Rolls Royce to a much poorer man, on condition that he take care of it - keep it washed and waxed, change the oil regularly etc. Moreover, the rich man promised to send someone over to help maintain it. The recipient could never have afforded this car even if he were to save his pennies for his entire life but now all he had to do was stretch out his hand for the keys and bless his good fortune. Now in possession of such a beautiful and valuable piece of machinery would he not be a fool to neglect its upkeep especially considering he could never ever own something as beautiful.
Salvation is a gift of His grace offered to us by the Father because He doesn't want any of us to perish. However, numerous texts tell us we that there are conditions - we have to do something - live a certain way in order to be admitted into God's kingdom. We have to take care of the gift. See The Warning of the Bible.
Not all the passages in the Scriptures that speak of God's promises expressly mention the conditions that have to be met in order for Him to keep those promises. This does not mean that the conditions do not exist and have not been made very clear... they just aren't in the same verse. For example,
Be Obedient: Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)
Do Good Works: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)
Endure: But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:13 NASB) Also See Mark 13:13.
Be Righteous: For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven". (Matthew 5:20 NASB)
Quite obviously salvation and sanctification go hand in hand... One does not exist without the other. And as the last quote immediately above says the consequences are severe "you will not enter the kingdom of heaven". Hebrews 12:14 echoes the warning
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (NASB)
Continue on to The Kingdom Doesn't Come Cheap HERE
To imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world, but still be welcome in God's presence, is little more than wishful thinking. The minute we convert and are born again, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God and become citizens of His heavenly kingdom - strangers and pilgrims that stop here for a little while and then move on - eventually returning to what will be our permanent home.
However we cannot maintain a dual citizenship - allegiance has to be to one or the other. If our standards are set by this godless, profane, and anything goes world, we have no inheritance in His Kingdom. Living by the standards of the coming kingdom involves everything that we do, everything that we say, and everything that we think or imagine.
It is not too much to ask that translations not add words to those found in the original Greek. These human additions can and do influence people and not in a good way. In fact, they have been shown to lead believers down some very unbiblical and treacherous paths. Here are some examples.
The Holy Spirit
Every Bible version I know of uses 'He' or "Him" for the Holy Spirit causing Christians to assume that the Holy Spirit is male. However, the Greek pronouns used did not necessarily have to be rendered ‘he’ or ‘him’ unless, of course, the gender of the Holy Spirit was pre-assumed. Doctrinal bias, not grammatical accuracy, is responsible for referring to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns when both are equally legitimate. And there is more - much more. See Is God a Trinity?
The word ‘Hell’ does not exist in the Scriptures. It has been used in in place of not one but three different Hebrew and Greek proper names,believe it or not. For example, the KJV translates Sheol into 'hell', but also 'pit' or 'grave'' (especially when 'hell' would have been ludicrous). Some newer translations use the original Sheol and Hades but still render Gehenna as 'hell'. The NIV substituted '"the realm of the dead" in two places where 'hell' or 'Hades' would have conveyed entirely the wrong impression. The fact is all four words are proper nouns, i.e. names of places and should have been left untranslated. Sheol and Hades are exactly the same place - one is simply Hebrew, the other Greek. Also none of the words including Gehenna convey the idea of everlasting torment. Gehenna that Jesus spoke about was far removed from the modern myths that surround the place. See What and Where is Hell?
ere is one example in which the translators not only rendered a word according to their own pre-biases, but actually had the audacity to supplement God's words with some of their own. Several popular translations added the word guarantee to Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, and 2 Corinthians 5:5. Unknowingly, countless people who rely on these translations, believe that Scripture actually speaks of a guarantee when, in fact, it does no such thing. For more about this and the biased rendering See A 'Deposit' 'Guaranteeing' Our Inheritance?
The Tower of Babel
Also see the Myths surrounding the Tower of Babel aka the tower of Babylon. The truth is far, far more insidious and terrifying than the usual explanations trotted out void of merit or foundation. See From Babel to Babylon