"Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." The popular definition of grace is "unmerited favor", an apt meaning but by no means a thorough one, it is so much more. The popular definition of "works" is anything that a person can do to earn salvation, which is completely unbiblical in all of it's permutations. Many may consider religious duties, or sacraments, or even simply belonging to a 'church' as a 'work' and they would be right (the list of man's works for salvation is endless). But there is one such 'work' that has crept in virtually unnoticed and unannounced and has been welcomed with open arms by most of the "evangelical" community of today. It is even championed as "God's way for man to be saved" despite the fact that Scripture must be mutilated to arrive at this conclusion. Not just mutilated but ignored, rewritten, tweaked, and redefined. The voices who warn against this 'work' are maligned, said to be ignorant, uninformed, uneducated, their very character is impugned all because they refuse to acknowledge that this 'work' is a necessity for salvation in any manner, preaching just the opposite that no work of any sort will do and that a man really is "saved by grace." They are 'labeled' with cruel and unloving words (they are said to be "unloving") some are cursed, and the very principle of Scripture that they preach is so hated that any rebuttal, no matter how unbiblical, nasty, or filled with lies-about the Scriptures and the man preaching them-it may be, it is acceptable to those who in actuality are fighting against God Himself.
This stealthy, insidious "work" was born from the pride of man's heart, that places himself above the God he claims to love and serve. The effect of this 'work' (were it a legitimate one) would be to de-throne God Almighty and place man, individually and collectively as the ruler of the universe---sounds more like what is described in Isaiah 14. Imagine for a moment this scenario: a created being usurps his Creator. Sound ludicrous? Good! But that is the outcome of this so-called work that men must "do" in order to be "saved" according to the ones that require it and preaches against the Scriptures. This "work" is the exercise of one's will to first, approach God, then to "accept" God ("accept" Jesus Christ as Savior) and/or "ask Him into your heart." It is commonly referred to as man's "free-will" yet this notion of man having a 'free-will' when it comes to salvation is nowhere to be found in the Bible (Rom.3:10 & 11). The precise opposite is the fact. Man's will, man's cooperation, man's seeking God before He comes after him plays no role whatsoever (John 15:16). It is only man's pride that requires this of himself, a pride that refuses to bow before God Almighty and acknowledge Him as the Sovereign God. It is this very unbelief that is spoken of in John 3:18-21. God is who He is and man's acceptance or rejection of His Character, His Attributes, will not alter any of them. This "free-will" mantra of the neo-evangelicals is exactly what Paul spoke of in Rom. 11:5 & 6 in that it totally negates the necessity and the effectiveness of grace. It is a classic false doctrine because it is "climbing up some other way" or seeking God on man's terms like Cain did; man dictating the terms of his "salvation" to the One who is doing the saving. The proponents of this false doctrine readily forget Isa. 6:9 & 10 and John 12:40, "He [God] has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts..." Instead they want all to believe that Christ's sacrifice was intended (not simply sufficient) for all men to be saved and it's just up to the individual as to whether they will "accept" His offer or not. In order to make people believe this lie the fact of His foreknowledge, predestination, and election of His chosen ones must be destroyed and for many they have been successful. "For by GRACE you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, least anyone should boast" Eph.2:8 & 9. What a shame that some real believers still hold on to this notion of man having the deciding vote when it comes to salvation. They have cheated themselves of the humility and gratitude before God that comes when we know that He really is all Sovereign, that He chose us, that we did not choose Him and that we are forever His because of His Work.
If a man can come to salvation by the action of his "free-will' then that man has no need of grace.