By Bill Keller | Original article | Used with permission
“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” (Galatians 2:20 ESV).
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV).
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV).
In our narcissistic, “What’s in it for me?” culture, we have learned how to market salvation to the masses like we do cell phones, cars, and hamburgers. In our zeal to win people for Christ, we have been very careful to focus on the benefits of salvation, making sure people understood all the reasons why this is a good choice, while being too afraid to tell them the whole plan of salvation.
We sell salvation just like the late-night infomercials sell weight-loss pills, whipping people into an emotional frenzy by hyping all the benefits of getting saved, but never explaining to them the full cost of getting saved. The “fine print” in the salvation message is not what we get but what we give!
I am saddened when I hear people share the Gospel, giving people an invitation to know Christ, but never really explain what a person is actually doing. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am grateful for everyone who shares the Gospel, gives people the opportunity to come to know Christ as their Savior, but my point today is that we must tell them the complete truth about what they are doing.
When a person makes the decision to accept Christ into their heart and life by faith, they are surrendering their life to Him. It is called giving your heart and life to Jesus because that is exactly what you are doing. From that moment on, your life no longer belongs to you, it belongs to Jesus. That is the critical part of the salvation message so many fail to tell people.
We are quick to point out that if you accept Jesus you will have the assurance of everlasting life with God your Creator. That is true. It is our faith in Christ, the One who died for our sins that allows us to be reconciled with a Holy God and know that when our brief journey through life is over we will be with Him for all eternity. We also make sure people understand the tremendous benefits of being saved.
At that moment, the Holy Spirit indwells a Believer to supply them with the power of Almighty God. By accepting Christ as your Savior you have peace and joy in your life that is impossible to know otherwise. You come to realize that your life has meaning and purpose and experience the abundance of this life that Jesus promised. All of these things are true and need to be pointed out.
It is easy to see why people would want to be saved. Most people on the planet can accept that there is a Supreme Being or God out there. It is not hard for anyone who is honest to admit they have sinned, so asking for your sins to be forgiven makes sense. Even the heathen with the hardest heart will admit that one day he will die.
Everyone knows that is a day each one of us will face. So, accepting Jesus by faith to have the assurance that when this life is over you will go to Heaven and not Hell is a logical choice to make. To also have the Holy Spirit living within you, know a special peace and joy, have a purpose in life and experience its abundance, all makes the decision to accept Christ very attractive and really something only a foolish person would turn down.
So people make that eternal choice to accept Jesus by faith and nothing really changes. They wake up the next morning in the same bed, the same house. They have the same family and friends. They go to the same school and have the same job. They have all the same problems they did the night before, and maybe even a few new ones.
They do all the same things. Even though the Bible proclaims that they are “Born again,” that they are a “New creature in Christ,” that the “Old has passed away,” their real, practical, day-to-day lives have not changed. This is why so many people who accept Christ are truly saved, but they never grow in their new faith and many of them see very little change in their life from BS (before being saved), to AS (after being saved).
The reason is when they got saved, what was left out or never really explained to them was the complete story of accepting Christ as their Savior. The part of the salvation experience that is often left out and never properly explained to people is the fact that when you accept Christ into your heart and life by faith you are giving your life to Him. It is an act of sacrifice and surrender, two words that most people want no part of.
That is why this most critical element of what it means to be saved is never really spoken about. The bottom line is, when you get saved you are surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. Your life no longer belongs to you, it belongs to the Lord. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice when He literally gave His life in payment for your sins, and when you get saved, you are making a sacrifice of your life to Him.
This is so important since it goes to the very core of what being a Christian, a follower of Christ, is all about. We have sacrificed, surrendered our life to Jesus. Our life is no longer our own but now belongs to Him. All we do, where we go, everything regarding our life is now in the Lord’s control. When you get saved, you are literally giving Him your life.
That is why so many who know Christ live without His peace, without His joy, without any real purpose, without the victory, because they have refused to fully surrender their lives to Him. That is why most of the false religions of the world are so popular. You simply accept their false teachings but you can still live your life anyway you want to. When you become a follower of Jesus, your very life now belongs to Him.
I love you and care about you so much. That is why even though Liveprayer reaches a massive audience each day through the Internet and on t.v. and we have people accepting Christ as their Savior every single day, we do our very best to first make sure they understand that in asking Jesus into their heart and life by faith they are literally surrendering their life to Him, that their life now belongs to Jesus. We send them a booklet that helps guide them in the basics of their new faith, things like reading the Bible and praying every day. We do our best to work with local churches to get people plugged in so they can be properly discipled and start to grow in their new faith.
When a person is saved, there is a supernatural change that happens to them spiritually. It is now critical for that person to understand that their life will never be the same again, that they are different now, and to help them begin the process of transforming their mind and day-to-day life to be a true follower of Christ.
That doesn’t happen overnight, but over time. It is that process of sanctification, or becoming more like Christ, that begins at the moment a person is saved and continues to their very last breath. It is vital that each person who knows Christ is not only being discipled by someone more mature in the faith at all times, but that they are giving of themselves to disciple someone who is younger in the faith at all times. We can only grow in our faith as we are helped along by those who are more mature, and we have that same responsibility to help those who are younger in the faith grow in their relationship with the Lord.
I will be praying for you today. Praying that as you share the Gospel with people like our Lord has commanded all of His children to do, that you will clearly highlight the benefits of being saved, but not leave out the fact that being saved also includes surrendering our very lives to the Lord.
We are actually cheating people by not telling them the whole story, since our purpose in life, the fullness of our peace and joy in knowing Christ, the true abundance of this life, can never be fully experienced unless we have unconditionally surrendered our life to Christ. Getting saved is not just about what we get, but it is also about what we give — our life to Jesus Christ!
In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,