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