That really depends. The truth is this, though it may shock you. With man salvation is not easy, it is impossible. Paul gives a wonderful account on this when he wrote Romans 10. Paul argues that there are 2 ways to earn salvation. I purposely use the word “earn”, this is because salvation is not free. It has to be earned. The issue here is this, did you earn it through works or did Jesus earn it by his work?
This is how The King James puts it.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Now see Romans 10 via the Message translation so that you can see it easily.
“1-3 Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what’s best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.”
Paul hits the nail on the target doesn’t he? Salvation is God’s business. That is his terms! Israel was trying to “make their own deals” via the works of the Law. How did Paul addressed that. “They are backward! They have nothing to show for it-that despite there WERE impressively energetic”.
Jesus says the same thing when he preached about the parable of the Merciful Master who paid everyone an equal share regardless of when the servants went to work.
“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
So in God’s syllabus does working your heads off and striving mean anything to God with respect to salvation?
Check out what Paul says in Galatians 2:15-16 (the Message)
“We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.”
He then continues in verses 19-20:
“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
It’s the word of faith that we hear that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Lord”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation.” Salvation is based on the ultimate sacrifice on the cross and not your utmost sacrifice to please Him.
THAT’S SALVATION! “You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you.” Salvation came at a great price to God in giving up his son but it comes free to us and that is why it is called grace. To them that receive (not work) gave He power to become sons of God. John 1:12