Do you understand God’s plan of salvation?
There are certain points we all need to understand about the heart of the Good News of Christ.
First, all are sinners and stand under the judgment of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). We might believe that we are good enough to win God’s favor or that we can perform certain religious acts to counterbalance our bad deeds. But the Bible states that we are all condemned, for “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10, NIV).
Second, we need to understand what Christ has done to make our salvation possible. God loves us, and Christ came to make forgiveness and salvation possible. What did He do? He died on the cross as the complete sacrifice for our sins. He took upon Himself the judgment that we deserve.
Third, we need to respond to God’s work. God in His grace offers us the gift of eternal life. But like any gift, it becomes ours only when we take it.
We must repent of our sins. Repentance carries with it the idea of confession, sorrow, turning and changing. We cannot ask forgiveness over and over again for our sins and then return to those sins, expecting God to forgive us. We must turn from our practice of sin as best we know how, and turn by faith to Christ as our Lord and Savior. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). Christ invites us to come to Him, and God has promised, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NIV).
Fourth, we must understand the cost of coming to Christ and following Christ. Jesus constantly called upon those who would follow Him to count the cost. A person must determine to leave his sins behind and turn from them. Some people may be unwilling to do so. And there may be other costs as well when we decide to follow Christ. In some cultures, a person who turns to Christ may be disowned by family, alienated from social life, imprisoned or even killed.
The ultimate cost of true discipleship is the cost of renouncing self: self-will, self-plans, self-motivations. Christ is to be Lord of our lives. Jesus declared, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV). Jesus does not call us to a life of selfish comfort and ease–He calls us to a battle! He calls us to give up our own plans and to follow Him without reserve–even to death.
Yes, it costs to follow Christ. But it also costs not to follow Christ. It cost the Apostle Paul the prestige of a high-level position in the Jewish nation. But he declared, “whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:7-8, NIV). Christ calls men and women not only to trust Him as Savior, but also to follow Him as Lord.