So, salvation by faith is a wonderfully free gift from God that we cannot earn. It is not based on how well we keep or understand God’s laws, but on our desire to serve Him, and our trust in His ability. “God looks on the heart,” just as He told Samuel thousands of years ago.
It would still be nice to have that list, to know exactly what I need to do to be saved. Actually, when wanting a list it is more likely that what I am really looking for is how little I can do to be saved. That’s probably one major reason that a list is not the point.
However, Jesus spoke to us regarding salvation on a human, list-seeking, law-keeping level. He gave us a list. A short list, no less. Here is what He said about what we must do to be saved:
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Jesus starts by telling us that we can be saved by keeping His commandments, but then He goes on to give us the commandment that He is talking about: love.
This is frustrating for those of us who want a list. It is a little too ambiguous. It says nothing about when and where and how. It is just not very specific.
And the most frustrating thing of all: this is not a “command” as we usually think of them. Love is not something I can just do. Love is something I must feel, and think, and live. In fact, it is a little silly for Jesus to even speak of love as a command because love that is acted out as a command, as a simple act of obedience with no heart, desire, compassion, or mercy for the one being “loved,” is not really love at all.
But, Jesus only sounds a little silly because He is trying to explain things to us–and we are just a little silly, wanting rules, and lists, and all. The “heart” of the gospel is that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to show us how to love (i.e., “love one another as I have loved you.”). He wanted us to see Him in Jesus, to fall in love with Him, and to act, and be, and live out of that love.
That’s faith. That’s salvation. That’s the gospel.