Luke 9:23-26 ESV
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’”
The Gospel in a Nutshell
You want the gospel in a nutshell? This is it! This is what it is all about, why Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on that cross nearly 2000 years ago. Jesus didn’t die just to forgive us our sins, and he didn’t die just so we could go to heaven when we die, but he died to transform our lives by his Spirit away from living in sin and for self to now walking in obedience to his commands in holiness and righteousness to his praise and glory.
I see a lot of memes (short messages usually in a picture) on social media talking about how our salvation from sin is free to us all. And yes, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Our good works will never outweigh our bad deeds, so we can never be good enough in our own merit to be approved by God. It is only through Jesus’ blood sacrifice for us on that cross that any of us can be saved and have eternal life with God.
So, yes, it is the free gift of God because Jesus is the one who paid his life so that we could go free. But what is the free gift? It is our salvation. But what is our salvation? It is not just forgiveness of sins so that when we die we get to go to heaven. Our salvation is deliverance from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so we can now be slaves of God and of his righteousness. And our salvation is ongoing, not a one-time deal.
What “Free” Means
“Free” does not mean we do nothing and Jesus does it all. “Free” does not mean nothing is required of us or that we have no part in our salvation whatsoever. “Free” means Jesus paid the price so we can be free from our addiction to sin and so we can live for him and for his righteousness, by the Spirit of God, by God’s grace, and in his power. For we can’t be free in our own flesh but only in the power of God.
But “free” does not give us freedom to now keep on in deliberate and habitual sin without guilt and without consequence. We must walk in the light as God is in the light, and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. We must no longer walk according to the flesh, in sin, but now we must be walking according to the Spirit in purity of devotion to Christ in obedience to his commands empowered by God’s Spirit, and by faith in Jesus Christ.
If we do not, and if we continue in deliberate and habitual and premeditated sin against our Lord, and against other humans, and if we do not walk in obedience to our Lord in his righteousness and holiness then we will not inherit eternal life with God no matter what we have professed with our lips regarding faith in Jesus Christ. And by this you see that our salvation is conditional upon our walks of faith until the very end.
A Typical Salvation Statement of Faith
So, when you read a statement of faith like this about our salvation, understand that this is only half the story, not the whole:
“Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all men; and those who repent and believe in Him are born again of the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of eternal life, and become the children of God.”
The assumption here is that most people understand what it means to “repent and believe,” but most don’t. Many are teaching repentance as though it is a mere confession of sin done once or that it is a mere change of mind from not believing in Jesus to believing in Jesus. And “believe” is also taught as a one-time experience at which time you receive God’s free gift of salvation from sin and now heaven is guaranteed you when you die.
But Jesus and his New Testament apostles did not teach that. Jesus said if we are going to come after him that we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow him. And for Jesus, taking up his cross meant death to himself and it meant putting sin to death, too. So, for us, taking up our cross daily is daily dying with Christ to sin and to self. And to follow Jesus is to obey him, and it is ongoing obedience, not a one-time thing.
And our salvation, thus, is progressive, and it will not be complete until Jesus returns to take his bride to be with him. And only those who are dying with Christ to sin and living to him and to his righteousness in daily walks of faith and obedience to him in steadfastness of faith until the very end will be taken to be with Jesus, which is when our salvation will be complete, and not until then. So, we have to walk the walk and not just talk it.
Few are Being Taught This
But few people are teaching this, and so the vast majority have this idea that once they have prayed the prayer or they have made that confession of faith that now all their sins are forgiven and now heaven is guaranteed them when they die whether or not they continue in Christ in obedience to his commands and live holy and godly lives pleasing to the Lord.
For, they separate sanctification from salvation as though they are two separate events and as though you can have salvation without sanctification, but you can’t. If we aren’t being sanctified and being made holy by God’s Spirit, but we are still living in sin, then chances are pretty good that we are not going to receive salvation in the end, not unless we turn away from our lives of sin and start following Jesus in true obedience.
Jesus made our salvation a lifestyle, not a one-time decision to receive Christ. He made salvation a walk of faith, not just a statement of faith. He made salvation about obedience and submission to him as Lord, not just about forgiveness of sins. And he made salvation about deliverance from our addiction to sin, and living in that deliverance and in holiness, instead of just about setting us free from the punishment of sin. And we must get this!
For, as Jesus said, if we hold on to our old lives (of living in sin and for self) we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (forsake our lives of sin to follow Jesus in obedience) for his sake, then we have the hope of eternal life in him. For if we make sin our practice, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. But if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are what we practice, then we have eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.