In previous articles, I have mentioned that my desire to find some quick and simple method of equipping people to be able to share the main features of Christianity led to suggesting an ABCD view of Christianity. As the material below shows it is about remembering initially only 4 words, Admitting, Believing, Considering and Doing. It is a method [among others] that I have been using for over 60 years with individuals or in large groups.
In this article, I will be looking at Section C on Considering the cost of becoming a Christian. As the outline under C below suggests, salvation is a free gift to us, but in another sense, it costs us everything. It was costly for Jesus who laid down His life for His friends. It comes to us as a free gift in Him. However there needs to be a response from us, expressing gratitude to Him for all Jesus accomplished on the cross for us. In NOTE 3 below we will see what that response might be. [Sections A and B are minimized as I have written on the in the previous 2 articles, but still are retained here to give the overall outline. So move now to Section C.]
A]. ADMITTING WE ARE SINNERS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS. [NOTE 1 below shows the Bible verses and other quotes.]
What the OT says. Ps 14:2-3, 51:5, Jer 17:5,9, Eccles 9:3 are some examples.
What Jesus said. Jn 3:16, 17, 36. Mat 15:19, Mk 7:21-23. Jn 8:12.
What the Apostles said. Paul, Rom 3:23, 6:23, 2Cor 5:15, Eph 2:8-9. John in 1 Jn 5:11-13. Peter in 1 Pet :18-19, 2:24.
What the Church says. 39 Articles. Westminster Confession.
B]. BELIEVING that Christ came to die for sinners. [ NOTE 2]
We obtain forgiveness in Him and only in Him!
It had been prophesied.
It was fulfilled. “It is finished!” exclaimed Jesus.
It is available in Him alone.
C]. CONSIDERING the cost of becoming a Christian. [NOTE 3]
Salvation is a free gift to us, but it costs us everything.
- Salvation is a free gift in Christ. Eph 2:8-10
- He died for all, so that we might live for Him. 2 Cor 5:15.
D]. DOING something about it. [Not just believing but acting on that belief.] [NOTE 4]
- Inviting Christ to come into our lives as our Saviour from sin. Rev 3:20
- Inviting Christ to come into every area of our lives to be our Lord and Master.
- Inviting Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we can know His will and do it.
[Notes 1 and 2 are to be found at the end of the articles dealing with Sections A and B.]
NOTE 3. on C]. CONSIDERING the cost of becoming a Christian.
1]. Salvation Is A Free Gift In Christ. BUT! Eph 2:8-10
One of the most well-known passages about God’s grace in sending Jesus to die for us, is found in these verses. Eph 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Our salvation is a gift from God. It is an act of grace towards us. It is a gift in Christ we can choose to accept or reject. Faith accepts the gift, recognising this is because of what Christ has done and not because of any good work we have done. That is why is our salvation is never something we can boast about. We have been saved and now we belong to the family of God. There was no ‘good work’ we could ever do that would gain any merit for us to enter into heaven. But He wants His children to do good works.
In fact, Paul says that He has “prepared beforehand” what works God wants His children to do. Not only were the works prepared beforehand, but He had to prepare His children to be motivated and to be able to do them. They were His “workmanship,” His handiwork, being created and being prepared to do the works He had already prepared for them to do. Some translations are seemingly extravagant in their translation of the Greek word for ‘workmanship’ [poiēma; ποίημα] which simply means something that is made, when they render the word as ‘masterpiece.’ [Which of course we are as created unique beings with our own unique fingerprints and all.] However the point is that God Himself created His people for good works which He had already prepared for them to do. They do them, not to gain any merit in doing so, but because this is God’s purpose for them as new creatures in Christ.
Phil 2:12-13, has similar concepts. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Salvation is a free gift, but believers are to “work out” in practice, the implications of their salvation. “Work out” is [katergazomai; κατεργάζομαι meaning to work and accomplish, or to achieve] and it is possible for them to do so because, as Paul states, God is actually at work in them, giving them the motivation and the ability to know and do His will. “At work” is energeō; ἐνεργέω, the basis of our English word ‘energy.’] To “work” for His good pleasure, also has the same [energeō; ἐνεργέω] word.
In other words, the believer is to work out in practice what God is inwardly working in them.
So the cost of becoming a Christian is nothing, but the responsibility of being a Christian means becoming God’s agent in accomplishing the work He has prepared for us to do.
2}. He Died For All, So That We Might Live For Him. 2 Cor 5:15. This is often called the “Divine Exchange.” “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 5:15. It means that instead of living life as we want to live it, we now begin to live life as God wants us to live it. We hand the ownership of our lives over to Him, rather than being the Lord and Master of our own lives. We enthrone Him as Lord on the throne of our lives and seek to know and to do His will, rather than our own.
Living for Him means being committed to Him as one’s supreme responsibility and hanging on faithfully doing what He wants us to do. Jesus taught on that in Luke chapter 9 when someone said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus’ answer showed that commitment to Him, had the highest priority for His followers, “No one who puts his hand to the plow [plough] and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lk 9:62. We can rightly rejoice in past accomplishments done with the Lord’s guidance and help, but we are not meant to relax in our efforts to serve Him in love at the present and in the future. St Paul wrote of his own philosophy of life and his future objectives in Php 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” There IS a time for healthy reflection on past accomplishments and on life in general, provided that it doesn’t distract us from present and future responsibilities and opportunities to work for “His good pleasure” as Phil 2:13 says.
Counting the cost means committing oneself ‘boots and all” as they say in some circles, or “being totally committed” in other circles.
What a wonderful privilege it is to become a child of God by having faith in what Christ has done, but there is the great responsibility in living the way He wants us to live, from that point onwards! Working out in daily life, what He is working in us, day by day!
[The next article will be on Section D, Doing Something about it.]
Blog No.345. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 17th January 2020.