What it Takes to Be Saved
By Greg Hyler
Let’s turn in our bibles to the gospel of Matthew Chapter 19. Going to begin in Verse 13. This morning we’re going to talk about what it takes for a person to be saved. We’re going to explore what it means to have eternal life. Sometimes you’ll see people that’ll maybe respond to a gospel invitation, and later on they’ll come back and say, “You know, I really wasn’t saved, but I understand now what it takes.” And maybe this lesson this morning will give us a little bit of an answer about why it is that some would not be saved that first time. What did they miss? What did they not understand that they now understand?
And maybe some of you fancy yourselves to be soul winners. And I hope that our entire church would have a goal for all of us to be soul winners. Well, this might help you in giving them an invitation; to be able to give a more accurate invitation to those that you’re inviting to trust in Christ. Maybe some of you this morning are – or you’re not a believer yet. Or you’re not even sure if you’re a believer. Hopefully this message this morning will give you a full understanding of what it’s going to take in order for you to be saved.
I want to talk to you this morning about the cost of genuine salvation. Here’s what the Bible says beginning in Verse 13. Let’s read the text and let me talk to you about some of the things that it’s going to cost for those who become Christians.
Here’s what it says:
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone and do not hinder them from coming to me. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’ And after laying His hands on them He departed from there. And behold one came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking me about what is good? There’s only one who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ And he said to him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these things I have kept. What am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor. And you shall have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I say to you it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this they were very astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ And looking upon them Jesus said, to them, ‘With men this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.”
This morning we’re talking about the cost of genuine salvation. It’s a title I’ve used before on other messages, but I’m going to recycle that and use it again. We’re talking about how to receive Jesus, how to receive His gift of eternal life, because that is what Jesus is talking about. And so I want to begin with an illustration to maybe set the table for this. Imagine someone that is walking around with an arm full of something…maybe ladies you’ve gone to the grocery store and you’ve come back and the bags in the back of the car, they’re full of groceries and you’re trying to carry everything in at one time and you’ve just got so much you can’t take anything else. Or men imagine that it’s Christmastime, and you’re going to the mother-in-law’s house and the wife opens the trunk and she starts loading you down with Christmas presents. You’ve got them stacked over your head and you’ve got to carry all those things inside. Right? You’ve got so much stuff that you can’t carry anything else! Now, that’s kind of what our life looks like, spiritually speaking, before we come to Jesus. We’ve got stuff, we’ve got baggage, we’ve got things that we are holding onto and our arms are usually pretty full of these things. And so, when God offers you a free gift – says, “This is the gift of my Son for you, and through Him you can have eternal life forever.” In order for you to receive Jesus, you have to put down that which you’re holding, that your arms might be empty to receive Him.
So, there is a cost to salvation. The cost is not you buying your salvation, you’re not paying for it, you’re not saying, “Here, I’m going to trade or I’m going to offer something, and in exchange I’m going to receive Jesus.” Really what you’re doing is you’re laying these things aside to the point that you’re discarding them. You’re throwing them away. You’re putting them into the trash can. But now your hands are empty. They’re open. Your arms are wide and you’re saying, “Now I can receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior because I’m no longer holding onto these things.
And this is a lesson that Jesus has taught over and over again, and I’ll remind you of some things that He has taught about that we have to let go of in order to receive Him. But let me tell you about the first thing that He says in this text that reminds us of what we need to let go of in order to receive Jesus. And that thing is our pride. (6:06)
Now look back at Verse 14. But look what Jesus said, “Let the children alone, don’t hinder them from coming to me. For,” he says, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Now I’m going to jog your memory a little bit and take you back to Matthew Chapter 18, in Verse 3. Because this isn’t the first time that Jesus has talked about the children in relation to salvation. And here’s what he said back in Chapter 18, “Truly I say to you, unless you’re converted and you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Unless this happens, you’re lost forever. You can forget it; you’ll spend eternity in hell. What did he say has to happen to everyone? You must become converted like little children.
And what we ended up talking about that day and what I’ll remind you about today is that children have a humility about them. That what we we’ve got to let go of, what we carry around with us. Each and every one of us carry around that we’ve got to drop, that we’ve got to turn loose, that we’ve got to throw away is our pride. The pride is an inflated view of yourself that elevates you in your own mind to a level higher than you should be. Sometimes with many of us, we elevate ourselves even to the point where make ourselves equal to or even greater than God in our own minds. That is pride. That is an idea or view of yourself that says: I am so wonderful, I am so worthy, I am so valuable, that I matter more than others. I matter even more than God.
Now let me show you how that might work itself out. Something you might have to let go of before you can be saved. There are some people that will have this idea in their mind, they will have the idea that you can bargain with God when you come to him for salvation. So what do you mean by that? Here’s what I mean. Some people might have this conversation in their mind or in their head or in their prayer with God that goes something like this. Alright God, I know I need to be saved. I’m going to come to you, I’m going to ask Jesus to save me. But if you save me, God, this is what I want you to do for me. Now don’t tell me that people don’t talk like this because I know they do. They have an idea that they can bargain with God and say alright God, I’m going to do this, but in exchange I want you to do this. God I want you to help me to live in a certain place, let me have a certain income, I want you to provide this for me. I want you to Heal somebody in my family and if you heal them then I’ll get saved. And make these bargains with God.
Now let me tell you how prideful that is. Your filthy soul is on the way to a devil’s hell. And God almighty sends his son to die on a cross to pay for your sin debt, to set you free and to save your soul. And in your pride you think that you’re so wonderful and valuable to God that you can come along and make a deal with God that says, “God, alright, since I’m so great and I’d be so wonderful for you to have and I know how much you desire me, I’m going to let you have but in exchange you’ve got to do something back for me. God doesn’t make bargains and God doesn’t need you. God can be equally glorified sending you to hell and punishing you and showing you his judgement and wrath in the same way that he could save your soul. He sends Jesus and he does what he does because he loves you. Jesus offers you salvation because loves you and cares about you, even though God hates your sin, he still loves the sinner.
But don’t think that you can make bargains with God.
I’ll tell you something else people do. They try to make deals with God before they get saved. They might say something like this: God if you save me, I’ll do this but let me tell you what I won’t do. I won’t go to church. I won’t give any money. Don’t ask me to be a missionary because I won’t do that. God I want to be a Christian, but I’m not going to do … and then you fill in the blank. Here’s what you do. You elevate yourself to the point where you say I can dictate terms to God and what I want matters as much as what God wants. You’ve saying that you’ve got some kind of right or say so in the plan of salvation that you can come a long and barter your way in the kingdom of God. You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to make deals. You’re not a deal maker. You don’t certainly get to dictate terms. Sometimes people have a different kind of prideful attitude. They say something like this: Unless God meets my demands, I’m not going to become a Christian. Now that’s prideful.
What kind of demands would somebody make? Unless I get all of my questions about the Bible answered to my satisfaction, I’m not going to follow Jesus. People think like that. As if, they think it’s ok to say no to God unless they got all the answers in the world about dinosaurs and the age of the earth and you just fill in the blank. Whatever else you think might be a good excuse for you to say to no Jesus. What you’re saying with that mindset is that my satisfaction is so important that God, you need to satisfy me before I’ll come to you.
Some people have this prideful attitude. God you got to show me something for me to believe. And they’ll pray and say God when you show me a miracle – Or they’ll even demand and say this is the specific thing I want you to do God. Show me this. Or they’ll say I need to hear from you God. Speak to me Lord. God doesn’t work like that. The miracle God gave you was an empty tomb when his son rose from the grave. The miracle God is giving you is converted Christians all around you that had lives changed. The miracle that God is giving you is the word preserved for you that God speaks to you through. God has done a lot for you. God has even helped you know that you need a savior. He helped you know that Jesus is out there. He doesn’t need to show you anything but pride and arrogance will say, God you got to do what I say. Show me.
If you’re prideful you’re the center of your own universe. See, you got to let go of that to be saved. In order to be a follower of Jesus, you got to know the world doesn’t revolve around you, never has. And now the world is going to revolve around Jesus, from this day forward, when you become a Christian.
Sometimes people will say things like this. God’s not fair. Think about the way that God punishes people. He says he’s going to punish them forever send them to a place called hell forever. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s right. What you’re saying when you say things like that – you say because I don’t agree with God – what you’re saying is your thoughts, your ideas, well they’re as important as God’s are AND IF GOD doesn’t agree with you, because God’s not doing it the way you would do it, you’re elevating your thoughts and your ideas above God’s. That’s prideful. You’re saying God’s not worthy of me unless God changes the way He thinks to think like me. You’ve got to let go of that.
Some people will say God’s not right about sin. I’ve got different ways of seeing sin in this world. We’ve changed. Our world’s evolved. We’ve got a different attitude about sin now. The things that God used to call sin, we don’t see those as sin anymore. People start to justify their sin. They start to make excuses for it. Let me tell you everything that the Bible says is sins, 2000 years ago, 4000 years ago, it’s still sin today. Because God doesn’t change and God is holy.
And let me tell you something else about the sin that people today say is not sin or they say it’s not that bad: the Son of God had to suffer and die on a cross for every one of those. Every time they’ve ever been committed Jesus suffered for it. That’s how bad the things are that God says are sin and we try to say is not that bad today.
Pride says: God needs to compromise. Come down to what I think is right and wrong.
Pride says: once I change, once I clean up my life, then I’ll come to Jesus. Do you think you’ve got the power to change? Isn’t that awfully prideful? Isn’t that an arrogant attitude?
Here’s another prideful attitude that builds on top of that. When I decide I’m ready, then I’ll come. The Bible says “Today is the day of salvation.” Do you think you’re the sovereign determinate over your salvation? Do you think you’re the one that needs to be in control of that? Or do you think God’s supposed to be in control of that?
See, we’re full of pride. We fill our minds and our hearts with these feelings and these ideas, and these thoughts, and we start to say, “Well, they’re important, they matter to me.” You know what humility says? Humility says this, “I may not be right.” Pride says, “I’m right, I know I’m right. I’m staying with what I know and what I believe.” Humility says this, “I may not be right. And I need to learn from God. I need to find out what God has said about something. And where God has spoken, where I’m different from God, I need to change. God’s not wrong…I’m wrong. God is always right and I’m not always right. That’s humility.
Humility says I’ve got a spirit that wants to understand what God says and how He says it. Pride says it’s all about me and what I think and how I feel. You got to let that go.
So if you’re carrying around your pride, and you’re making excuses, and you’re coming up with reasons that you don’t think that you need Jesus…you need to let that go. Cause let me tell you, you’re not that important. You’ve elevated yourself in your mind. You’ve elevated your ideas and your thoughts and your mind to the point that say, “God would be very blessed to have me following Him. He needs to change, and He needs to bargain, and he needs to make deals if He’s going to have me follow Him.” Not really.
Well, let me show you what else the Bible says you need to put down. Not just your pride, but you need to put down your error. We are wrong about a lot of things.
There’s this man that comes to Jesus after this. He’s called the rich young ruler we don’t know what his name is. If he had gotten saved, if he had come a believer, he would have been part of the early church, his name would’ve been recorded. But he leaves after this encounter and no one knows his name after this. But they are aware that he is rich, and he is young and he’s a ruler. He’s a leader. And this man in Verse 16 the Bible says came to Jesus, came to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
Now eternal life’s what we want! We want to be born again. We want to be saved. And this man has a humility about him. After all, he comes to Jesus. We read in the book of Mark what we find out is that he doesn’t just come to Jesus, he falls on his knees – on his face- before Jesus. And this man, like many people in our world, and maybe like some today, knows that there is an emptiness in his life. Knows that there’s something missing, knows that something is wrong. He knows there is something out there called eternal life. And the Jewish way of thinking about eternal life is not just an unending length of days, but it’s a quality of life as well as a quantity. And the quality would be more of an emphasis than the quantity.
Because listen, eternal life is not that great if you’ve got a body like mine that is breaking down every year. When your eyes get worse every year and your hearing gets worse, and your back, and your knees, and your joints, and you get sick…listen, you don’t want to live forever in broken down bodies like these. But when you have the quality of life, that has youth, and energy, and health, and strength – then when that body lives forever, in a relationship with God in a perfect way, in a pure way, in a holy way – that’s the wonderful life.
He says I want to know about this eternal life, Jesus. Can you tell me what I need to do to get that? So he’s got humility, he’s dropped his pride, enough to where he’s come to Jesus. But humility’s not enough. Cause this guy’s got some mistakes that he’s made. He’s got some errors. And let me tell you something about pride: You can let go of some of it and not all of it. And if you’ve got some pride over your beliefs and you’re wrong, pride will make you hold on to some things that you shouldn’t hold on to. Sometimes you can hold onto your beliefs and your false beliefs, well your errors will send you to a place called hell.
And I’ll tell you why that is. Faith is important. Faith is what’s going to get you saved – if it’s faith in Jesus. But if your belief is wrong, the object of your faith is what matters, not that you have faith. If you believe that your faith is in something that’s false, then you’ve put your faith in a lie, and lies don’t save you. Only the one that’s the way, the truth and the life saves you. Only Jesus saves you.
So you can have faith, but if your faith is in error, if your faith is in the wrong thing, it’s not going to do you any good. There are all kinds of people around this world that live by faith in a false god. It’s not going to do them any good. Only faith in Jesus is what’s going to matter. A lot of people have faith in their different ways to get to heaven. But it’s not going to do you any good if it’s not the way that God gives you.
So let’s look at where this guy messed up and think about some ways that we mess up in our day and time. He comes to Jesus in Verse 17 and it says Jesus replies to him and says, “Why are you asking me about what is good? There’s only one who is good.” Now who is the one who is good? Obviously that is God. And Jesus says, “Why are you asking me about what is good? There’s only one that’s good.” So this guy’s belief about Jesus is that Jesus is not God. You’re asking me about what’s good, but you don’t believe that I’m God. So why are you asking me?
See this man had a false theology. He had a false way of thinking. He did not understand the trinity, he didn’t understand the triune God that says that there is one God, but that there are three persons that are God. That God is a community. God is a family. God is a group of three persons. Just like we are one church. We are one humanity. We are one people in this room, but there are many persons. With God there is one God, but there are three persons who are God. The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. And God the Son has come as a man to be the Messiah, to make a way for us so that we might return to God. That we might be restored to God. That we might have a relationship with God.
And this man comes to Jesus and he’s got errors about God and he’s got errors about Jesus. Jesus is the pre-existent, divine, sovereign authority, Creator of the Universe, and judge of all men. Who is now come as a man, to die and to rise again, that we might be saved. This guy does not believe that.
In addition to getting God wrong, and to getting Jesus wrong, he gets God’s way of salvation wrong. If you look at Verse 16 he says this, “What good thing do I need to do to obtain eternal life?” You don’t do anything to obtain eternal life. You don’t work for your salvation. You don’t earn your salvation. He’s got that completely wrong. You can’t buy it; you can’t buy God off. All you can do is receive it. To have a prideful attitude that says I can do something that would earn my way to God; let it go. If you’ve got these errors in your life, you’ve got to let this go too, don’t you? You’ve got to put that down. You’ve got arms full of stuff that’s keeping you from grasping hold of Jesus; from receiving Christ. Your errors will do that.
Listen, cults – don’t believe rightly about Jesus. They don’t believe he’s an equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They don’t believe that you can get to salvation by grace through faith. They do think you have to work for your salvation. There are people that follow false deities all around this world. From Hindus, to Muslims, to you name it…Wiccans…your faith has to be in Jesus. Jesus said in John Chapter 4 that God is spirit and those that worship him must come in spirit and in truth. You don’t get to God based on a lie. So your error is something that you might be carrying around with you but when God shows you truth, you’ve got to turn that loose to be able to grasp hold of the one that is the truth. Without doing that, without putting that down, it’s going to cost you. But in receiving Jesus you’ve got to let that go and then that’s what the cost is going to be.
Let me tell you about a few other errors that people make. One is that they don’t believe the Bible. Jesus said about the Bible that thy word is truth. Prideful people say, “Well I don’t have to believe the whole thing or I don’t have to believe any of it.” Let me tell you, you cannot be saved apart from the Bible. It is impossible. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Apart from hearing from God – and the way you’re going to hear is from God speaking to you through his Word – that is how faith comes. That is how faith in Jesus comes. You don’t get to pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe in the Bible. You have to believe the Word. Pride will keep you from doing that. Error will keep you from doing that. Jesus believed the Bible. We need to also.
Let me tell you another error that you’ll believe. You’ll believe errors about yourself. Not just about God. Not just about Jesus. Not just about the Bible or salvation. You’ll believe sometimes an error about yourself. You’ll say sometimes I’m self-righteous. You may not say it out loud, but you’ll think it. Which means that you think you’re good enough to get to heaven apart from Jesus. And that your life is good enough and that you’ve earned a place in heaven. Or that you’re – or you might even think (and combine this with the false way of thinking about salvation) that your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. And so what it leads you to do is say “I don’t need Jesus.” I’m going to carry around all my good works and all my righteousness and I’m going to think that I’m somebody.
That’s what the apostle Paul was doing. He had counted all of his life as righteousness and the Bible says that he ended up trading that. That is had cost him all of his self-righteousness to be a Christian. He had to turn all that loose and drop it in order to be a follower of Jesus. He looked at the fact that he was Jewish, he looked that he was the tribe of Benjamin, he looked at the fact that he was a Pharisee among Pharisees; he looked at all the things that he had added up right in his life that said this is what makes me right with God. And he dropped all that and he counted it. This is an accounting term. He put everything on one side of the ledger and he put what Jesus and what Jesus offered on the other and he said, “I’m turning all that loose! I’m dropping it! Because what I want is Jesus and him alone. And to have Jesus I can’t say that I deserve God because I am Jewish. Or I’m a Pharisee. Or anything else.”
Some people are self-righteous. Some people are just good-ol’- boys, though. I think that might be what this guy was. You see what he said in Verse 18? Jesus said you need to keep the commandments. Why don’t you try that?
Now, when you hear the Bible tell you to keep the commandments, every time you hear that it’s supposed to drive you to Jesus. Because if you try to keep the commandments, it will drive you crazy first because you can’t do it. It’s impossible to do it. Looking into the law of God is like looking into a mirror, seeing all your flaws, and it makes you say, “Something’s wrong here. I need Jesus. Because I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this…and if I’ve sinned even one time I’m not worthy of God and his heaven.” So he says this, “Don’t commit a murder. Don’t commit adultery.” Now we know because we’ve heard Jesus preach, that Jesus says that, “If you lusted in your heart, it’s like committing adultery within your heart. If you’ve hated someone in your heart, it’s like committing murder in your heart. So God’s standards are pretty strong. So even though you may have never murdered, you may have hated somebody. So even though you’ve never committed adultery you’ve probably lusted. This guy’s probably done these things to but he’s trying to follow the letter of the law. He says, “I’ve never killed anybody, I’ve never cheated on my wife,” – and I hear a lot of people in our area talk like that – “I’ve never killed anybody, I’ve never cheated on my wife.”
You shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not be untruthful in any way, shape, or form, honor your father and your mother, and you’ll love your neighbor as yourself. So he says, “Well, I’ve done all that.” What does he mean? I’m a pretty good ol’ boy, I’ve kept the rules, I’ve done what’s right. And maybe he did. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Here’s what I think could’ve happened. I think if Jesus got to poking around in his life just a little bit, it wouldn’t take long before he revealed the guy really hasn’t honored his father and mother lately. That he really hasn’t been completely truthful his entire life. In fact, I suspect he’s telling a lie right now and maybe doesn’t even know it. But Jesus didn’t name all the rules here, did he? He didn’t name all of them. He left out a lot. Started going down the ten commandments and he jumped the first four.
What about this? Have no other Gods before me. What about that one? What if we put that one there and it’s interpreted later on that we’ll love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind? We’ll put Jesus first above everything! That our heart will passionately beat for God all of our life. Commandment number one: No other gods before me.
What’s the second one? No idols! You’ll not make for yourself an idol. No image of God. Well, he didn’t name those. So Jesus looks at him in Verse 21 and says this, “If you wish to be complete, you want to be perfect, you want to…look, you say you’re keeping the law but you know that you don’t have eternal life, here’s what I want you do: Go sell your possessions; give to the poor. And in heaven you’ll have treasure and you come follow me.”
What in the world’s going on there? This guy’s got stuff he’s carrying. He may have some pride. We know he’s got some errors. But let me tell you the third thing you’ve I’m going to tell you, you got to let go of in order to be saved. You’ve got to let go of your idols. Your idols are the false gods in your life. They’re the things that you love and worship more than God. You want to know whether you’re worshipping them? Whether you love them more than God? What do you give your time to? What do you give your attention to? What matters to you more than Jesus? What’s the most important thing in your life to you?
Now for some people their idols are their flesh. And they feed that flesh constantly. Some of them get involved in sexual activity, promiscuity. Some people get involved in drugs and alcohol and they’re all about feeding the flesh and feeding the flesh and that’s their god. Sometimes it’s just – maybe you’re not involved in that stuff – but it’s all about me, me, me, so you feel like it’s all about my freedom to determine my life and to make my choices and live the kind of life I want to live. And so your idol can be you. Sometimes your idol can just be a hatred toward other people and you say, “I don’t ever want to forgive them. I want to hold something against them.” And maybe that hatred results in a racism or a bitter tongue. But your attitude is: I’m not changing!
But sometimes your idol can be what Jesus figures out about this guy. It’s his money. He loves his stuff. He loves his money. Now if you really believe about Jesus, what Jesus has been saying about Jesus, that he’s the son of God come to earth, and that he’s the Creator of the Universe, and that he’s come to make a way for us to meet God…If you really believe that, if you’re this young guy, don’t you sell everything and follow Jesus?
If Jesus matters more to you than the money, don’t you turn the money loose and follow Jesus? Does he really believe? No! What’s more important? The money or the savior? The money’s more important! So what does he do? Verse 22: When the young man heard this statement he went away grieved for he was owned that owned much property. Here’s what people want to do when they make bargains with God, when they make deals with God, in our day and time, they’ll walk an aisle, they’ll come down here and they’ll say a prayer, as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. Don’t tell me I’ve got to do something more than pray.
I’m going to tell you it takes more than even believing in Jesus for you to be saved. Because the Bible says the Devil believes. The devil believes! It costs you to be a Christian. What does it cost you? You’re not paying for anything; the cost is what you turn loose in order to embrace Christ. When you give something up, that is the cost. You’re giving it up is not going to earn you heaven. If this guy sells everything he has and follows Jesus, the only thing that’s going to get him to heaven is Jesus. Not selling his stuff. The selling of the stuff was the test that Jesus gave to him.
But you’ve got to turn that stuff loose in order to have Jesus. If that’s the idol in your life, Jesus is going to put his finger on it and say, “If you want me, and you want this, you’ve got to make a choice.” It says this in Matthew Chapter 6, “No man can serve two masters. You’ve got to choose. You’ll love one and hate the other or despise one and cling to the other.” You’ve got to make a choice. Which master do you want? But Jesus is Lord and he’s not going to compete. He doesn’t have to compete. And there’s nothing in your life that’s worthy of competition with Jesus. Get rid of all of your false gods, get rid of all of your idols, because when you come to Jesus, here’s what you’re saying, “Jesus, I’m coming to you, and I don’t know what the cost is going to be. You’re going to tell me that as I live out my life. You’re going to make demands of me, you’re going to ask me to do things, you’re going to ask me surrender things, you’re going to ask me to go places and talk to people, and I’m willing to do anything, but I WANT JESUS.” That’s what he says you have to do. That’s what it means to give your life. To deny yourself, take up a cross, and follow him.
Deny yourself. Does that cost you? Take up a cross. Does that cost you? Following Jesus. Will that cost you? Absolutely. What is the cost of your salvation? It’s your life! You lay down your pride, you lay down your errors, you lay down your idols. I’m giving it all up because I want Jesus! He’s the greatest! He’s the treasure! He’s the wonderful joy of this universe! To have Jesus, I’d surrender everything!
What do you mean? You telling me that I can’t have Jesus and have money as my god too? That’s exactly…I’m not telling you that! Jesus is telling you that. It’s not my book, I didn’t write it. I didn’t make the terms of it. You say what does that mean? I thought you had to give 10%. Let me tell you something, it all belongs to God. Not just 10%. And I’m telling you this: If Jesus wants you to give up everything in your life that you own…he’s got the right to ask you to do it. If he makes that demand, he expects you to follow it. He’ll say things like this, “If your right eye offends you, pluck it out. If your hand offends, cut it off. If your foot – cut it off! What is he saying? If your god is your sin, and the things that you’re looking at and the hand that is touching things that it shouldn’t be touching, your feet are taking you places it shouldn’t be going, you need to turn those loose and that’ll be the cost! The sin that you’re following, that takes you away from Jesus, is what needs to be cut off in order to have him.
He’s said that it would be better for you to do that than to go into hell with two eyes, two hands, and two feet. He’d say things like this, “If you’re going to follow me, then I expect you to endure, even under persecution.” He said, “If you deny me before men, I’ll deny you before my father.” He expects you not just to start, but for the rest of your life to keep going, and to finish. Your deal with God is not, “Well, God, I’ll serve you for 6 weeks then after that I’m back to my old ways and I’m going to live like I want to.” No. No! A thousand times no! That’s not salvation. That’s pride. You need to drop that. That’s error. You need to drop that.
Following Jesus is a relationship with God for the rest of your life where God will sanctify you. You say, “Well, I dropped everything and I grasped Jesus.” Here’s what happens to you. The rest of your life God convicts you, he changes you, he comes in and speaks through the Holy Spirit through the Word of God and says, “This is wrong in your life. Stop it. Start doing this.” And if you’re a true believer, it will not sit well with you to have that going on in your heart, and you’ll turn it loose, and you’ll let it go.
You don’t know what all God’s going to ask. You don’t know the cost when you get in. All you know is, “I’m turning it all loose.” Because to have Jesus, he’s worth everything.
You have those passages? I think it’s Matthew 13. Throw those up for me real quick. 44-46. The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it he hid it again and from joy over it he sold everything he had and bought the field. What did he have? Did he have pride? Did he have error? Did he have his idols? Was the money so important to him he said I’d rather have the money than the treasure? No, from the joy he found the treasure! The greatest treasure in the world! He found it! He said, “I’ll give up everything to have that!”
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant with fine pearls. He’s seeking fine pearls. But what happened? Verse 46: He found one pearl. Oh, it’s so valuable. I’ll do anything to have that pearl. He sold everything he had. And he bought it.
He demands my soul. He demands my life. He demands my all. What’s the cost? I don’t know what it’s going to be for any of us. For many people it meant they gave their life as martyrs. For some people it meant they just lived out their life in comfort and they served Jesus whatever way they could. You don’t know what the cost is going to be, but here’s what I do know: You lay it all down; you empty those arms to follow Jesus.
And the disciples heard that and they said, “Whoa, hold on a minute. How in the world does anybody get saved then?” If it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for a camel to go through an eye of a needle… Listen, camels don’t go through an eye of a needle. Camels are big. A needle’s little. That’s impossible. How in the world is a camel going to get through the eye of a needle? Well, it’s easier for that to happen than for a rich man to enter heaven.
Look what he says in Verse 23, then we’re done. Jesus said to his disciples, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Why do you think that is? Why do you think it’s hard for rich people to get to heaven? I’ll tell you why; they’ve got arms full of stuff. It’s mine. My stuff. I’ve got it, I don’t want to turn it loose. I want to keep it.
Let it go!
No! It’s my stuff. I earned it, I worked for it, it’s mine.
“Hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said. He said, “Again I say to you it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” When the disciples heard it, they were astonished. They were blown away.
Aren’t rich people the favorite of God? Aren’t those the ones that God’s got his hands on in this world? If somebody’s rich doesn’t that mean that God’s blessing them in their life? You’re telling me…rich people, it’s hard for them to get to heaven? I don’t get that Jesus. Who then can be saved? And Jesus looked at them and said this, “Can’t do it, if it’s just about men. If you’re left on your own, you’ll never come to that point. With men it’s impossible. But with God, all things are possible.
If you’re saved, you’re a miracle of God. Cause God knocked the scales off your blinded eyes and let you see the treasure and the pearl of great price that you would give anything in order to have. God did a miracle in your life. To help you to know how valuable Jesus was and how worthless the things of this world are. And your heart – when you saw your sin, and you saw the savior – cried out from its depths and said, “God I want Jesus! I want him more than anything. Jesus, I’m a sinner. And I want you to save me.” God did that for you. God helped you get there. And when he says, “…with God all things are possible,” God can do it in every. Single. Life.
Do you see? Let me ask you this question: Christians, when you said yes to Jesus, you didn’t know what the cost was. But has the Holy Spirit of God been dealing in your heart, in some kind of a way, messing in your life in some kind of a way, calling you to either step up or to step back from something that is sinful, and you’ve been resisting God?
You’ve been saying, “You know, I know that’s what God wants me to do, but I don’t want to do that. It makes me uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel safe.”
Remember what Jesus did for you. And remember when you got into this you didn’t come with preconditions and terms, you just said, “I’ll take Jesus and whatever may come, bless the Lord!” He’s in control.
You know, this altar this morning…here’s what I wonder: if you have something in your arms you might want to come lay down, something you need to come leave here, something the Spirit of God’s been dealing with you about… Some of you who aren’t Christians here’s what you need to do: You need to let go of your pride, you need to put your trust in Jesus, and you need to say, “Jesus, I’m coming today. Empty arms. And I just want to embrace you.”
What does God want you to do today? Maybe he just wants you to come and pray. Maybe you’ve got a need in your life. Just something you want to call out to God for. Why don’t you come and say: God, my hands are empty? I’ve got nothing but Jesus. But they’re empty of the things of this world. I’m not offering you anything to say God I’m making a deal or I’m trying to bribe you. God I just need you. I need you for something. But I’ve got Jesus and that’s all I need. So I’m coming to you now, just with the Savior, and saying, “God help me.”
Let’s pray together:
Father, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for the way that you opened our eyes and showed us our greatest need, and our greatest treasure, which is Jesus. God thank you for saving our souls, doing miracles in our life. God, we’re not smart enough, we’d never get there on our own. You remind us today that it takes a work of God to help us to see what we need to see. God thank you for the miracle you’ve done in all the lives of my friends that are here. God, I pray that you will work in the service today through the Holy Spirit of God. To draw people to yourself and help us to make any changes we need to change. And we thank you Jesus for what you did for us. Amen.