I believe the correct qualification for immortality is simple faith in Christ, not something we attain through meritorious works. You will recall the Philippian jailer asking the apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s response was simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” that is, simply and sincerely place your faith in the one who translates lost, undone sinners from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son.
Your belief is, without question, in line with mainstream Christianity. But the question is, What does the Bible say? There is a saying that “Fifty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.” But we all know that the majority can be and often are wrong. A review of Bible history shows that God’s prophets and God’s people were always in the minority. They were persecuted, killed, despised and ignored. Why? Because they taught a way of life that did not suit the masses.
We would be very happy to accept the common teaching, i.e., that simple faith in Christ is all that is necessary to obtain salvation; that all we have to do is simply believe in Christ—if we could be convinced that such is the teaching of the Bible. But when we find so much in the Bible that conditions God’s favor or rewards or salvation on one’s personal obedience, conduct, character, virtue, etc., what should we believe? Either we must say that the Bible contradicts itself, or that it teaches two plans of salvation, or we must look for the teaching of the majority of statements, then find a way to harmonize what seems to conflict.
Consider a few points:
Why did Jesus say, “Not every one who says unto me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”? (Matt. 7:21).
Why did Jesus say in His last letter, “Blessed are they who do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life”? (Rev. 22:14).
Why did He say that His reward was with Him to give to every man “according to his works”? (Rev. 22:12).
Why did the apostle Paul, after having been many years in the service of Christ, write, “Therefore I run thus,…Thus I fight…I discipline my body…, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified”? (1 Cor. 9:26-27). Why did he need to be concerned about being disqualified if his eternal life was already within him?
In Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation, He promised blessings repeatedly “To him that overcomes”—and this was after He had already died and been resurrected. If His death had saved them, why did they need to overcome in order to inherit blessings?
Why did Paul say that “to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality” would be given “eternal life” (Rom. 2:7), if good works were not essential for salvation? And why did Paul write that “those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8), if there was not an obligation upon the believers to obey? Why did Paul write to the Corinthians that they had heard the Gospel, and received it, and by it they would be saved if they kept in memory what he had preached to them—else they had believed in vain? (1 Cor. 15:1-2).
We can thank God for opening a way whereby we can be saved. Jesus Christ showed us that way, and it is our responsibility to follow Him. In His own words, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV).
There is one other point to notice about the Apostle’s words to the jailer and his family: that he did not say they would be saved that night. In fact, no time was stated, only this “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved”—future tense.
Every sincere believer will be saved, because such belief will mean a life of full and wholehearted service to Christ.