Romans 6:23 doesn't tell how to "receive the gift of eternal life." Skelly though tells you that receiving the gift of eternal life is "trusting Jesus as your Savior," that's how you receive it. Romans 6:23 doesn't say that, but it is what Skelly reads into the verse. Since "receiving the gift of eternal life" is "trusting Jesus as your Savior," then how do you "trust Jesus as your Savior?" You "call upon the name of the Lord to be saved," which means "praying a scripted prayer to trust Jesus as your Savior." This instruction follows from something that wasn't in the verse in the first place. The first step isn't biblical and then none follow from the other. If someone does any of what Skelly teaches, it's because he trusts what Skelly is telling him is true. He's not starting with the Bible, but with Skelly.My point for this post isn't again to deal per se with Skelly's presentation. Many men use Romans 6:23 in a "Romans Road" of salvation, but they are likely not thinking about what Romans 6:23 means. You will not get the right interpretation of Romans 6:23 by pulling it out of its context.
Romans 6:23 works in a plan of salvation. It does. Usually it is used for the second point in the plan, something about the "penalty for sin." The penalty for sin is "death," and someone turns to Romans 6:23, which says, "the wages of sin is death." There we go. It works. The wages of sin is death. That is true. Do we know what Romans 6:23 is saying though? Most, I believe, couldn't care less about that. They like how it reads, so they can use it like they want. It comes in very handy for them for what they want with it.
In Skelly's presentation, he also parked on the "gift of God" aspect of Romans 6:23, to turn salvation into "asking for a gift." You ask for a gift and God gives it. That is false. That's not salvation, but it is a common turn from Romans 6:23 that many in evangelicalism, fundamentalism, and independent Baptists take. I get it too. They want to simplify the plan to the extent that they get professions, that is, they get results. People want to receive a gift. The idea that it is a gift is very appealing to someone, so this offer brings more often a positive response.
The idea here is, isn't God good? He wants to give you a gift. How could you refuse a gift from God? And guess what? The gift is eternal life. Who wouldn't want eternal life? Come on! Take the gift! How can you refuse the best gift ever, eternal life, when God wants to give it to you?
I'm pretty sure that the statistics, the percentages, on prayers prayed go exponentially upward with this approach. Who do you think wants to accept a gift? About everyone. If the gift is eternal life, who wouldn't want to have that? No one. People use Romans 6:23 because it seems to sit there right on a proverbial platter for using it in that way. Someone doesn't have to receive his wages for sin, because instead he could just take this gift of eternal life. This simplifies salvation and provides the lure for asking for the gift, which is praying the prayer. The whole process of which I speak is very horrible. Horrible is bad. Very horrible is worse. I can't use enough "very" in front of horrible.
Is Romans 6:23 about salvation? It isn't in its context, unless you are including sanctification as an aspect of one's justification, which is true. Sanctification comes out of justification, and since that is true, Romans 6:23 could be about salvation, but in a technical sense it is not. Romans 6:23 is speaking to already saved people. They are already justified. The audience of a Romans 6:23 is saved people and Romans 6:23 is helping those already saved people in a church at Rome in their sanctification. The Apostle Paul wants the saved audience in Rome to understand how they are to live the Christian life.
The believers in the church at Rome had a problem in their sanctification that Paul dealt with in Romans 6. Many through the centuries since Romans 6 was written have had a similar problem to the church at Rome. Salvation was by grace, but they interpreted or used their grace in the wrong way. They misunderstood grace as it applied to their own practical righteousness, its relationship to their Christian living.
Paul writes about the righteousness of God in Romans. Righteousness comes by grace through faith, which is the gospel. The righteousness that comes by grace through faith should also be lived for a Christian. Salvation doesn't stop for a Christian when he is justified. He keeps being saved by grace, which keeps producing righteousness. However, he also needs to cooperate with the salvation through the gospel. He has a responsibility to keep living by grace through faith the life of righteousness to which he has been saved.
I'm only going to go as far back as the previous few verses (vv. 20-23) in Romans 6 in order to understand verse 23 in its context:
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.The people to whom Paul is speaking "were the servants of sin" and "free from righteousness" (v. 20). They "are now ashamed" (v. 21) of that former state and practice. When they were "the servants of sin," what fruit did they have from that? Their fruit, which was sin, led to its end, which was "death" (v. 21). Now that they are in a different state since their justification, "being made free from sin, and become servants to God" (v. 22), they have their "fruit unto holiness" (v. 22). That means they live a life after the nature of God, which is righteousness. The end of the former fruit, sin, was death, and the end of their present fruit, righteousness, is "everlasting life" (aionios zoe, v. 22).
Romans 6 explains why someone would not live in sin even though he has saving grace in his life. To sum it all up in v. 23, death is the payment or wages of sin. The servant of sin has earned through his works, his evil deeds, the wages of sin, which is death. He was paid what he deserved. The servant of righteousness, the servant of "Jesus Christ our Lord," who has Jesus as His Master, doesn't earn eternal life. He receives it by grace through faith, so it is a gift of God. Death is a wage of sin and "eternal life" (aionios zoe, v. 23, identical to "everlasting life") is a gift of God. The former is earned and the latter is not.
Upon faith in Christ, God set a man free from his slavery to sin, the end of which is eternal life. He doesn't serve sin anymore, which is why he has eternal life. Servants of sin die and servants of righteousness live. If someone takes Romans 6:23 in its context, he can't separate it from repentance, habitual righteousness, the fruit of holiness, and Jesus Christ our Lord. Someone should know that if he is a servant of sin, he doesn't have the gift of eternal life. The end of the fruit of holiness is everlasting life.
Let's say you know someone who is living in habitual sin. You ask him if he is saved? He says, "Yes, because I received the gift of eternal life." According to Romans 6:23, the gift of eternal life is a life of holiness. He isn't living a life of holiness. He obviously doesn't have the gift of eternal life, because that is slavery to righteousness that keeps on going right into eternity. The life and the righteousness or mutually inclusive.
To pull the language "gift of God" out of Romans 6:23 and then say it teaches to pray to God and ask Him for the gift of eternal life misses or more likely twists or perverts the entire point of Romans 6:23. The slavery to sin is the problem. Slavery to sin is the habitual practice of sin. A person practicing sin is earning the wages of sin, which is death. Obviously, the person no longer a slave to sin, because of the gift of God, practices holiness, which end is eternal life.