Whoever printed the bumper sticker, “Read the Bible. Free gift inside,” got it right. That free gift is something that no amount of money could buy–salvation through Christ (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:6). Many books purport to tell us how to be saved eternally; only one of them is written by the Savior Himself. He is the One who will be saying, “Enter,” and “Depart” (Matthew 25:21, 41) on the world’s last day. Since He will use the latter much more than the former (Matthew 7:13—14), it behooves us to find out how to get in the group that is traveling to heaven.
We can ask no more important question than, “What must I do to be saved?” What does God’s book say about salvation? It says that all mature people are sinners (Romans 3:23) and that all sinners are lost without Christ (Romans 6:23; Isaiah 59:1—2). It says that each of us will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The Bible presents salvation as having two sides: God’s part, and man’s part. God, because of His great love for mankind, has done His part by sending Christ to die for the sins of men. The Bible says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s part is called grace: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Paul explains that we cannot save ourselves, and that we must rely on God’s grace. No person is ready to be judged on his own goodness or morality (cf. Isaiah 64:6).
“Through faith” means that man must also do his part, because no one benefits from a gift until he receives it.