Before the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses spoke to them to encourage them to remain faithful to God. This series of speeches that Moses gave are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. Near the beginning of the book Moses says the following: “The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it” (Deuteronomy 3:18). After Moses had died and the people were about to go into the land to possess it, Joshua told them, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land” (Joshua 1:13). The land that the children of Israel were to live on had been given to them by God; it was the gift of God. Yet, they still had an obligation to go in and take what was given to them. If they had turned around and went back to Egypt, they would not have received the gift that God gave to them.
Shortly after the children of Israel entered the land, they came upon the walled city, Jericho. In the ancient world, a walled city was a particularly formidable thing to conquer unless an army was prepared to wage a long campaign. But God said to Joshua, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour” (Joshua 6:2). God had given Jericho to Joshua and the children of Israel. Yet, the children of Israel had to take the city. They were given special instructions about marching around the city once each day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day. After that they were to blow their horns and shout and God said the walls would come down and they could go straight up into the city and conquer it. The city of Jericho was the gift of God, but if the children of Israel had not obeyed God, then they would not have received God’s gift.
In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writes, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” There are many today who say, “Salvation is God’s gift to man and so there is nothing that one must do to be saved.” Of course many say that one has to “believe,” but they turn around and say that “belief” isn’t a work that you do (regardless of the fact that Jesus said it was � see John 6:29). These fail to take into account the fact that Israel’s land was a gift of God yet Israel had to take that gift; they had to receive it. So also it is today; the salvation that God gives to man through Jesus is a free gift! That concept, however, doesn’t do away with the fact that God expects us to obey Him in order to receive that gift. In fact, the Bible teaches that obedience is necessary for one to be saved. In Hebrews 5:9 God’s grace teaches, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Indeed, salvation has already been given for those who obey.
What must we do to receive salvation? After having heard God’s word we must believe it (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6). We must then repent of our sins (Acts 17:30). We must then confess Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 10:32,33; 1 Timothy 6:12-13). We must then obey the command of Jesus in Mark 16:16 and Matthew 28:19 to be baptized. It is at that point that we receive God’s gift of salvation as Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:11-13, and 1 Peter 3:21 teach. Praise God that salvation is a gift! Praise God that we can receive that wonderful gift through our obedience and be saved!