I was prompted to ask due to this Q about measuring our salvation - Scriptural support - Measuring our salvation, God's love and blessings

But I want to confine my Q to views about measuring God’s salvation, from those who believe that it cannot be earned. This will immediately cancel out a whole raft of Christians who think ‘works’ contribute towards salvation. But for those who can answer, Christian points about misunderstanding God’s saving grace would be appropriate.

I do not want this to veer off into trying to measure other things, like God’s love and blessing, but a scripture mentioned by the PO of his related Q could be relevant:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess’.” (Luke 18:10-12)

This parable indicates a man seeking to measure God’s approval of him by listing things that (to him) indicated how pleased God must be with him (especially as compared with others). But as this indicates comparing himself with others as a measure, could that human tendency creep into trying to measure the extent of God’s salvation with ourselves? If so, what would be wrong with that, if anything?

  • Thinking that works contribute to or play some role in one's salvation is not the same thing as the belief that one "earns" one's salvation.
    – jaredad7
    Nov 3, 2021 at 21:54
  • Bp.Barron has an excellent explanation on this thing, have you heard about "fullness of salvation" or direct entrance into Heaven like the Saints, compare to "salvation" which is attributed to "purgatory" only, because many have not perfected their faith while on earth and so, not worthy to enter Heaven, but were save too, but must spend time and be purge for perfection. Nov 3, 2021 at 23:04
  • This is a very subtle question. +1 Nov 4, 2021 at 0:03
  • Paul speaks about some kind of reward in 1 Cor 3, so you could be onto something. Nov 4, 2021 at 0:22

3 Answers 3


A measure of salvation? No. Salvation is full and free through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus cried out "Finished!" in a loud voice while on the cross at Golgotha, the work necessary to provide salvation to anyone who believes was fully accomplished. Since then, believers can no more add to their salvation than they can subtract from it.

However (and this is a BIG however!), each believer who will one day appear before the Bema (i.e., the Judgment Seat of Christ that the apostle Paul writes of in 2 Corinthians 5) stands either to lose rewards for faithless living or to receive rewards for being "good and faithful servants" of their Lord and Master (see Matthew 25:21-24, and Luke 19:17).

Overweening pride, such as the Pharisee in Luke 18 had, would seem to be a "work" that appears to God as "wood, hay, or stubble." It gets burned up!

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

As for whether or not the Pharisee in Jesus's anecdote in Luke 18 was saved is for God alone to determine (see 2 Timothy 2:19).

In short, salvation cannot be measured like the gas we pump into our cars, but salvation is like having a tank full of gas. Good works don't make the car any fuller, but they certainly contribute to the reward our God gives His faithful servants. The treasure of good works that believers store up for themselves in heaven bears interest for them (see Matthew 6:20), since God is no person's debtor!

  • I agree, though the I think the quoted Scripture in context is referring specifically to the work of teachers of God's Word (it's talking about Paul's ministry and the ministry of other teachers, good and bad)--basically those that teach faithfully will receive their reward for it, those that are false teachers God will destroy, and those that are in between will not be rewarded for their bad teaching (teaching spiritual fluff??) but unlike the false teachers will still be saved. I think this is what this means in context. But otherwise I agree with this answer in general.
    – bob
    Nov 4, 2021 at 15:06
  • @Bob: I agree. In context, the quoted verses are perhaps directed mainly at teachers and preachers of the Word. Nevertheless, the principle is applicable to the Christian's works in general. Those Christians who are "rich in good deeds" (as the Bible and God measure them) God will reward richly; those who are not will lose rewards. Nov 4, 2021 at 19:41
  • Agreed--well said.
    – bob
    Nov 4, 2021 at 20:01
  • @rhetorician Good answer. A related question: is there a Biblical basis for people in the new covenant to enjoy the rewards in advance on earth before death? Of course this is not expecting to put God in debt, nor to construe the rewards as part of salvation, but more as the NT equivalence of the Deuteronomic blessings (Deut 28:1-14)? Nov 5, 2021 at 16:01
  • Salvation is full and free? Can you cite a passage on this? I think we are saved only means redemption and not salvation. Nov 11, 2021 at 18:43

The word "salvation" was inserted by the author of that other post into the ML quote and doesn't seem appropriate, as holiness and salvation are two different things. I do not believe Luther was referring to discerning whether one is saved based on other people's sins, but rather he was saying 'Don't think you're a good person just because other people are worse than you'. Unless I'm very mistaken, salvation is generally a binary state; one is either saved or not saved, and thus it doesn't make a great deal of sense to refer to a 'measure' of salvation. The Pharisee of the parable seems to be humble-bragging, measuring his own holiness, not how much God is pleased with him.

People certainly can be prone to thinking they are saved because they see themselves as good, though. In one sense, there is some merit to this, as one who is saved and has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them should be producing the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a NIV).

That metric, however, can easily be taken too far, and where it becomes problematic is when people think this fruit is necessary for salvation or they think they somehow earn salvation, going from "If you are saved, you will produce this fruit" to "If you produce this fruit, you will be saved". This is wrong because it is placing faith in ourselves and our works instead of in Christ.


The answer to the title question, "Is it possible for a person who has faith in Jesus to only receive “a measure of salvation” as opposed to “full salvation”?" is no, at face value. Salvation, at it's very heart, is an event: We enter the Ark of God's salvation and are sealed within by the grace of God:

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: - 1 Peter 3:18-21

One is translated from the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of light upon a transition of belief from "not Christ" to Christ.

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent (change your mind): for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. - Matthew 4:17

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: - Colossians 1:12-13

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John 8:21-24

We are, as the Scripture says, born again, not of the flesh but of the Spirit and we have passed from death unto life:

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. - John 5:22-24

For sure there is a process to undergo: A saved (new-born) individual is not what they will ultimately become:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. - 1 John 3:2

We must be sanctified. The Spirit lusts against the flesh and the flesh lusts against the Spirit:

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. - Galatians 5:17

But the ultimate victory of this struggle is guaranteed to us in Christ:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. - Jude 1:24-25

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. - 2 Timothy 1:12

The one who is able is also trustworthy:

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: - Philippians 1:6

This is an irrevocable transaction:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. - John 6:37-40

Salvation is not merited by our own efforts and it is neither retained by either our will nor our skill:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13

I think, for all of us, this question veers off into the bailiwick of assurance of salvation. John's first epistle is all about evaluating where we stand (personally) in the faith by the standard of love:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? - 1 John 4:20

The purpose statement of John's first epistle is:

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. - 1 John 5:13

Everything in 1 John is directed towards those who have believed and who have eternal life and need to be assured of it so that their belief may deepen.

Seen in this light, "partial salvation" vs. "full salvation" is more of a matter of degree of experiential personal assurance. If one measures their salvation based upon the performance of another (mere human) one becomes trapped by works. If one measures their salvation based upon the performance of Christ, both without and within, one is set free and assured by both mercy and grace.

At the end of the day one is not justified by any efforts towards perfection of Christian virtues but one is sanctified through such efforts. We are sanctified as we live out faith in Jesus Christ. Our justification before God is accomplished by the faith of Jesus Christ:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16

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    If one has faith in Jesus, but failed to perfect this faith, will his unperfected faith merit full salvation or partial salvation only? Nov 4, 2021 at 4:43
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    @jongricafort Full entrance into the presence of God (not by works) but with loss of works based reward. 1 Cor. 3:11-15. No one has perfected faith save Christ alone (Philippians 3:12). This would mean that everyone achieves partial salvation only. But now we are not justified by perfection of our faith (we need only a mustard seed of this). We are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:16-21 is a key passage. Nov 4, 2021 at 11:25
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    @jongricafort I guess the real question is, Are you making yourself perfect or are you being perfected? Personally, I would be terrified to demand entrance to God's Kingdom based upon my performance or level of perfection. I walked that path for a while...it ends in destruction. Jesus is the straight gate and in Him is no condemnation (Romans 8). I will rest in what He has done and He will perfect me and present me faultless before His glorious presence. (Jude 24-25). Nov 6, 2021 at 14:14
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    @jongricafort The way is hard and the gate is narrow. My flesh wants to boast but it is defiled and there are no works of it that can justify. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom. All I may have done that could please Him (both the will and the action - Philippians 2:13) has been done by Him in me. I have nothing to boast. My hope is that, at the last day, I will have the fortitude of spirit to lay all I have done at the feet of Jesus and cry, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner". The ones who receive the crown of righteousness are those who have been loving his manifestation. Nov 7, 2021 at 13:30
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    @jongricafort No. The Scriptures say that it is by grace you have been saved. This is now the second time you have brought up Matthew 5:26. Perhaps you should revisit that scripture in it's context. It is not about believers paying for anything after death. Those in heaven have no stain of any sin because Jesus has removed their sins as far as the east is from the west. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Having begun in the Spirit shall we now be made perfect by the flesh (Galatians 3)? Nov 8, 2021 at 11:52

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