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The Cost of a Free Gift

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Paradoxical Truth

“This matter of ‘salvation’ is, when seen intuitively, a very simple thing. But when we analyze it, it turns into a complex tangle of paradoxes. We become ourselves by dying to ourselves. We gain only what we give up, and if we give up everything we gain everything...” - Thomas Merton No Man is an Island
All spiritual truth is paradoxical
A paradox is something that seems at first glance to be contradictory but in reality it isn’t.
Matthew 10:39 ESV
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mark 10:31 ESV
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Matthew 20:26–27 ESV
It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,
One of the great paradoxes of the gospel is that salvation is a completely free gift, but it is a free gift that costs us everything.

Free Gift

Romans 5:15-17

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

5 times this passage tells us that it is a free gift
Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 6:8-9

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.

One of the great emphasis's of Protestant theology is that salvation is the free gift of God and not a result of human works, or even something merited by faith coupled with good works.
It is by grace alone through faith alone.
If salvation were not a free gift then no one would be saved, for there is nothing we could ever have done to earn it.
Romans 3:9–18 ESV
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3:23 ESV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Psalm 143:2 ESV
Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
Ephesians 2:12–13 ESV
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
We were far from God. Slaves to sin. And dead in our trespasses.
We were separated from God and we had not the ability to bridge the gap ourselves.
It was the blood of Christ that saved us from our sins and brought us into right standing with God.
He did not have to die for our sins, but He chose to. He could have left us in our sins and He would have been totally just in His judgement and condemnation of each and every one of us into eternal perdition.
He freely came and accomplished what was impossible for any man to accomplish.
It is therefore a gift and nothing that we could ever possibly earn, or merit, or in any way be worthy of.
It is a free gift, given in grace.

A Costly Free Gift

We have been graced by God to live in a free country where we are blessed with innumerable benefits derived from our citizenship.
But as we are often reminded “Freedom isn’t free”. It comes at the price of great personal sacrifice by the men and women who have fought and died to gain and defend our freedom.
It is a great gift, but it was purchased at a great price.
So it is with our Heavenly citizenship.
We are citizens of the Kingdom of God and are heirs of great and wonderful benefits.
But it was purchased by a great sacrifice. The cost was beyond anything we could imagine.
God Himself sent His only Son.
A member of the eternal and perfect divine Trinity deigned to take upon Himself flesh and be born into this world and suffer the degradation of becoming fully man while remaining fully God.
He was born, lived, loved, suffered, and died to purchase us our redemption.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 ESV
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Peter 1:18–19 ESV
knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Titus 2:14 ESV
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Revelation 5:9 ESV
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
Hebrews 9:12 ESV
he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Count the Cost?

The Cost of our Salvation paid by God Himself is beyond our ability to truly fathom, but that isn’t the only cost the bible speaks of regarding our salvation.
This is the paradox, our salvation is a free gift but it also must cost us something.
Listen to the words of Jesus
Luke 14:25-33

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

We have looked at a lot of Scripture today. And I could likewise pull out a ton of different scriptures to make this point as well, but instead I’d like to camp out on this one for a little bit.
Vs 26:Jesus is speaking hear of precedence in relationships.
The term “hate” in the Bible is often used in the sense of preferring one over another.
Romans 9:13 ESV
As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
It is an idiom meaning that God chose Esau over Jacob, not that God hated Esau in the sense that we use the word.
So what Jesus is saying here is that in order to be His disciple you must place Him above every other relationship.
He comes first, even over your spouse, your parents, your children, etc. And even over His own life. Then He cannot be His disciple.
Vs 27: Bearing your own cross in a culture where crucifixion was a common form of execution was a way of saying you must die to yourself.
You must die to yourself, but He also says “and come after me”. So it is dying to yourself in order to live for Him.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
There can be no resurrection unless there is first a death.
He will not be our savior unless He is also our Lord.
Vs 28-32: Jesus is preaching the gospel but he tells his listeners to stop for a minute and way the cost.
Following Him isn’t easy and it will cost you everything, so before you make that commitment stop and soberly weigh the cost.
In vs 33: He sums up by again stating that anyone not willing to renounce all that he has, cannot be His disciple.
The cost is very high and not to be entered into lightly. But the reward is so much greater than the cost.
Matthew 13:44 ESV
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:45–46 ESV
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
In both of the above parables, the person went and sold everything they had in order to gain their treasure, but they were willing to do so because of the value of that treasure.
They realized that what they were giving up was far inferior to what they were gaining.
Giving our life to Christ may cost us everything, but what we gain is Far Far better.
Each and every one of us was created for a purpose, and we have each and every one of us deviated from that path and given ourselves over to lesser things.
We have all fallen into sin and come short of the glory of God.
We have tarnished the image of God we were created in and we have been left broken and hurting and lost.
We have deep seated needs that nobody knows about. Sometimes even we are unaware.
There is only one thing that can fill the void in our hearts.
There is only one place we can truly find the meaning in life that we are all secretly looking for.
There is only one relationship where we will find the perfect unconditional love that our hearts yearn for.
And when we find our place in that love, every other thing in our lives is enriched and magnified, and improved by its presence.
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