30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
June 18, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for tuning in this morning to WAVG radio to listen to another truth of God's word. Today's lesson is entitled The Cost of Christianity," I want to encourage you to get your Bible, pen, and piece of paper out and be ready to write the scriptures down and turn to them as the truth of God's word is presented this morning. How many times has it been that you have heard something discussed in matters of religion and wished that you had a pencil handy to write down that passage of scripture or that particular thought? I want to give you a chance right now to get your pencil and paper ready so that you can be prepared to write these verses down so that you can do some serious study at a later date. I want to encourage you this day to learn the truth. Jesus said plainly in John 8:32:"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Every sincere, religious person will want to learn the truth in order to make sure that his call and election is sure (2 Pet 1:10).
Very often we see people who pride themselves on how much they have paid for certain things. They want you to know how much it cost them. When we go into a store to purchase something, usually the first question that we ask is, "How much does it cost." It seems so important to us, and often the cost will determine whether or not we will purchase it. It is difficult to justify expensive things.
When our friend shows us something new, we ask, "How much did it cost?" We value things of great cost, and rightly so. And yet, have you ever thought about the cost of CHRISTIANITY. Now, I am not talking about how many dollars that it costs. Not how many millions, or trillions. Though Christianity did not cost dollars and cents, it has cost something. That is why it is so important for us to study this valuable subject entitled: "The Cost of Christianity."
First, it cost Jehovah God, the Father, the giving of His Son. This was planned from the very beginning. Note Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."
In Ephesians 3:10, we learn the following from the apostle Paul, "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places." The coming of Christ Jesus was no afterthought. It was planned from the very beginning. John 3:16, states, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." Then in Romans 5:8, Paul states, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."Truly, Christianity has cost the best of Heaven. God the Father, sent His Son to this cruel earth because of the sins which you and I commit. Now remember, God did not have to do this, but chose to do this because He loved us, His very creation. He truly does want those of us that He has created to live with Him in eternity. So He sent His Son to suffer and die for all of mankind. God has done His part in the salvation process. Now we must do ours.
Secondly we note that Christianity has cost Jesus Christ his very life. Jesus left heaven`s glory and became flesh. I now invite you to turn in your Bible to the New Testament book of John. Let's read together chapter one, verses 1-14. Here the text says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. In these passages of scripture we can see the salvation process of God unfold.
We further learn that Jesus was born of a virgin, entered the fleshly body of pain and anguish, of hurt and despair. The Hebrew writer states that He was made a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). In Hebrews 5:8, 9, we learn, "though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." And suffer He did, ultimately to die that excruciating death on the cruel cross of calvary. Note the reading of Galatians 3:13- 14, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." The agony of crucifixion is indescribable. The vocabulary of man does not have the words to tell of this kind of agony, pain and despair. Had He been guilty of some sin against humanity (as were the two thieves) we might say that he was receiving his just rewards. But NOT SO! "He committed not one sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." Listen to Peter, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-- by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Pet 2:21-24). Yes, indeed, Christianity has cost something. It cost the Father His only Son. It cost the Son His place in Heaven, and his death on the cross. Is that all that it cost? It cost God a dear price to send His own Son to suffer and die for man. You know it must have pained God to have to see His dear Son go through the pain and anguish that He did. You know that it had to hurt Jesus physically and emotionally as he went to the cross for you and me. Remember the words of Christ as He said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me. He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matt 26:38-39).
Friends, It was not just God the Father and Christ the Son that will have to do all the suffering. It will cost man something also. If you want to benefit from what the Father had done, and what the Son has done, you, too, must be willing to pay the price. This is the hard part, because now we are involved in doing something to show our allegiance to Jesus. God has provided, now man has to accept. However, there is an extreme cost that man must be willing to pay in order to accept Jesus and live for Him each and every day, longing for the eternal home of heaven!
First, It will cost you the forsaking of all that you have. Jesus, our Lord, states in Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." The word hate here carries with it the idea of "love less." We simply cannot love the fleshly ties of this creation MORE THAN we love Christ. This is easily understood in theory but extremely hard to put into practice. We read and understand what Jesus has said, what our priorities should be in this regard, yet to actually do that, to love family members less than Jesus, is something that only a few people are able to do. To the rich young ruler who asked, "What lack I yet," Jesus responded, "Go and sell all that you have, and come and follow me" (Matthew 19:16). This young man made a tragic decision when he went away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. Do you think this man was saved? He certainly believed in Jesus didn't he? Yes, he knew exactly who Jesus was. He thought within himself that he had done everything that was required in order to be a good and sincere follower of our Lord. Yet, Jesus, knowing his heart, asked him to do something that he probably never thought would be asked of him. "Go and sell ALL that you have." Jesus got to the very heart of this man. He knew that his possessions was something that he loved more than following after Christ. Jesus knew that and asked him to do something that would really show whether or not he was willing to put Christ first in his life. He was only willing to put Christ first up to a point. As long as he could serve Christ AND still keep his possessions. Friends, there is a very valuable lesson in this for you and me. What is it that really keeps us from putting Christ first in our life? As was the case with this wealthy man, Jesus really knows the answer to that question. We cannot fool Christ. We may be able to fool one another, but we cannot fool Christ. His words will judge us and He will KNOW where our loyalty really was in this life. Are you ready to forsake all to follow Christ? If not, then you are not His disciple. You see friends, there is absolute nothing that can be put ahead of our service for the Master, if we would be His follower. No doubt this is why many do not obey the Lord. They are simply not willing to put Him first in all that they do.
Secondly, it will cost you a life of self-denial. Our Lord states, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). Again, He speaks,"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other" (Matthew 6:24). Jesus puts it rather simple: You just cannot serve two masters. I cannot serve Christ on Sunday and Satan on Monday. There have been many who have tried that, but it just will not work. Each one of us must make up our mind as to whom we love the most -- SELF OR CHRIST!
God gave us 7 days in every week. On just one of those days, He has asked of us to remember His Son. We have an obligation, a responsibility as a child of God to DO what our creator has asked of us. After all, it was our Father that gave us the days to enjoy in the first place, only asking that we give one day to remember the great and wonderful sacrifice of His dearly beloved Son for us. Why? So that we might have everlasting life. Do we care? Or do we think only of our self as we get into the family car on Sunday and drive off to the lake, the golf course, the races, or any other pleasure seeking trip, thinking only of me, me, me, and not our God who will judge us, who will determine our eternal resting place based upon our words and deeds (2 Cor 5:10).
What else will Christianity cost you? It will cost you a life of sacrifice. The apostle Paul speaks, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2). Here the apostle speaks of a "living sacrifice," a "spiritual service." The very reason of our existence is to be living sacrifices unto our God; to offer up spiritual service unto Jehovah. Why are you here in the flesh? Is it to eat, drink, and be merry. You know that is the philosophy of most of the world about us. But, not God's children. Remember, we are God's children once we have put on Christ in baptism. He is the one that we are to remain loyal to first and foremost. Our first loyalty is not in ourselves, not in our friends, not in anyone. The apostle Paul also wrote to the Ephesians as he says, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma" (Eph 5:1-2). A true Christian, a true disciple of Christ will want to be an imitator of God. We will want to walk in love for one another. Our Christian life is simply a life of sacrifice. Doing without the worldly, fleshly things, so that we can first concentrate on, and live for our Lord Jesus.
Another thing that it will cost you to be a Christian is a LIFE OF WORK. Yes, indeed, the Christian is to work. Paul told the Philippians to "work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2:12). Was there anything that they must do in order to be saved? Evidently so. How else would the apostle have worded it if that was not what he meant? What did he say? "Work out your own salvation." Does that mean that we can work our way into Heaven; that God will be obligated to save us? Of course not. When one is saved, it is by the blood of Jesus Christ. But those who are saved must obey the commands of our Lord. Again, I invite you to open up your Bible to the New Testament book of James. Let's look at what this inspired writer has to say to us concerning works and salvation. Let's begin reading from chapter two, verses 14-26. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-- and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Isn`t that clear? Faith made perfect by works. Not by works of man's invention, but works of obedience to the commands of God. My friends, it makes no difference how much you may say, "I believe in Christ," unless you are willing to obey his every command, your faith is a vain faith.
Another thing it will cost you to be a Christian is a LIFE OF TEACHING. Someone has said, "One will not go to heaven alone, we must take someone with us." God has always demanded that His people be teachers of His will. Listen to the inspired writer,"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:1-2). Another has said, the gospel is to have a domino effect. You stand a string of dominoes in a line. Push the first one over, it in turn hits the next, then the next, etc. So it is with the gospel. A Christian will teach another, who in turn teaches another. But, in order for us to teach, we must study. How can one teach what one does not know? That first domino will never fall in order for the others to have opportunity to fall if action is not first done to start the chain reaction. Action is required of God's children to know the Bible in order for us to start the chain reaction of teaching the gospel. I wonder, do you know what it takes to become a child of God. I can tell you in about four sentences. You must believe that Christ is the Son of God; you must repent of those sins committed; you must confess with your mouth your faith in Christ; and you must be baptized into Christ Jesus for the remission of your sins. If you would do these things, then you in turn can and should teach someone else their responsibility.
If you want to be Bible Christian, then you will live a LIFE OF SUFFERING. Paul states, "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra-- what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them" (2 Tim 3:10-14). And again he states, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward" (Romans 8:18). God`s people have always suffered. Sometimes it is physical suffering, even death. Often it is mental suffering when the world turns on us with their slurs and their accusations. Their wrath and ridicule. The subtle inuendos. Yes, if you would be a child of God, you will suffer in this life. This is not to say that we must become martyrs. It is to say that the world does not think highly of those who follow Christ Jesus.
The summation of all that we have been saying is that if you would be a servant of Christ Jesus it will cost you a LIFE OF OBEDIENCE. Our God demands of us that we decide upon whose side we are on. We must make up our mind as to whom we wish to serve. GOD or SELF. This has always been demanded by the Father. This morning, my friends, whose side are you on? Are you serving God, or are you serving self? If you would be a servant of Christ Jesus, you must be willing to pay the price, it will cost you something. God demands obedience. As we have already stated you must obey the gospel. Obedience to the primary commands of the gospel is that you believe in Christ Jesus as the Son of God. Faith is produced by hearing God's word " (Romans 10:10). That faith will lead you "to repent and be baptized to be saved" (Acts 2:38). Baptism is the surrender of oneself to the demands of Jesus.
Have you really considered the cost of Christianity? What is it worth to you? God gave His Son. Jesus gave his life. Can you be saved without giving something? Please honestly consider the application of this lesson.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"