July 26 2017 – Click here to listen
I was reflecting this morning concerning the “cost” of being a Christian. Some of you may raise your eyebrows and say, “What are you talking about? Why, it costs nothing to be a Christian.” I understand that the price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all”. Salvation cannot be bought with any amount of money or good works and is a free gift from God.
But that is not the point I’m pondering, and there is definitely a cost. It is called sacrifice, or what must we be ready to give up if we wish to be saved. Believers must grow as disciples and while we never perfectly arrive in this life we must boldly strive to be like Christ – Phil. 3:12.
“Not that I have already attained this – that is, I have not already been perfected – but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.
If a person claims to be a believer, but he isn’t seeking to grow in obedience to Christ, he is fooling himself. He is saying, “Lord, Lord,” but on that fearful day, he will hear the awful words, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23). In Paul’s words, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).
I concede that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian; (someone who attends a place of worship for an hour or so most Sundays and is reasonably moral during the week.) That’s about as far as millions of people ever go in following Christ. It is cheap and easy work: it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. J.C. Ryles wrote concerning this and said, “If this is soul-saving-Christianity and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”
But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an evil world to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory.
I read this morning of a struggle a couple is enduring on behalf of their Lord and Savior that can easily cause financial ruin in their lives. Praise God for groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom that provides free legal help to those who are being persecuted because of their Christian beliefs. Here is the story as told by ADF:
Angel and Carl Larsen are Minnesota filmmakers with a dream.
As owners of a video and film production company, they have sought to use their creative talents to tell stories that honor God. They know that great storytelling through film has the power to change hearts and minds.
ADF has filed a suit on behalf of Minnesota filmmakers Angel and Carl Larsen challenging the state law that would force them to express messages that violate their beliefs.
“As followers of Jesus, we believe marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman,” Carl explains. “Ultimately, we believe marriage exists to put God’s goodness on full display to the world.
“We want to tell the stories of couples who agree with this reality,” he adds, “and join in their celebration by adding our creativity to their union.”
But before they could launch their idea, and enter into the wedding video field, the Larsens ran into a major obstacle — a speech-coercing state law. This law mandates that if the Larsens create films celebrating marriage between one man and one woman, they must also create films celebrating same-sex marriage.
Those who refuse can be punished with damages of up to $25,000 and 90 days in jail.
The Larsens were left with only three choices — none of them good. They can:
- Tell marriage stories that violate their conscience.
- Violate the law and suffer the consequences.
- Censor themselves from making any films about marriage.
Rather than accept any of these unacceptable options, the Larsens decided to take a stand to challenge state law. But they needed help. So Alliance Defending Freedom has come alongside the Larsens to represent them free of charge. And we’ve filed a lawsuit on their behalf.
Who will be next?
Activists and misguided government officials across America are determined to force Christians to express messages that violate their faith. They seem to be watching carefully for anyone they can punish.
Since May 2016, ADF has filed five other lawsuits like the one they filed for the Larsens. They did this to protect their clients’ freedom to run their churches and businesses consistently with their faith. These suits were filed to protect a variety of clients from unjust laws across America:
- Wisconsin — for a photography studio
- Iowa — for a church
- Massachusetts — to defend four different churches
- Arizona — to protect a custom art studio
- Colorado — to protect a website and graphic design company
Who will be next?
Hmmm . . . Maybe me for one. It is not out of the question. Consider if I quote Lev. 18:22 right out of the Bible in Words for the Day: “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.” I could be subject to be arrested for hate speech. It is law in Canada right now and ministers are forbidden from reading this Scripture and others dealing with that sin to their congregations.
Or how about this verse: John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. Two men were arrested tried, convicted, and fined for preaching this on the streets of London. It was considered hate speech for Muslims saying that the only way to reach heaven is through Jesus Christ.
Of course, it is much worse in other parts of the world where Christians are martyred by beheading, burned to death, boiled in oil and other horrendous evil simply because they wish to worship Jesus.
There is a cost of obeying what Christ taught. Pollster George Gallup contends that fewer than ten percent of evangelical Christians could be called deeply committed. Most of those who profess Christianity don’t know basic teachings and don’t act differently because of their Christian experience. George Barna found that almost half (46%) of evangelicals read their Bible only once a week or not at all.
Are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus? Have you stood up for Jesus among your non-believer friends and acquaintances? What if your faith required personal sacrifice such as your freedom or suffering financially? What has following Christ cost you?
If the honest answers to these questions trouble you, then perhaps it’s time to come out of the closet and become a true believer that is appreciative of the heavy price paid by Jesus on the cross; someone who boldly walks with the Lord.
To truly follow Jesus Christ, we must consider the cost and put Him above everything else.
Something to ponder today – eh?
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”