The Big 'If'
April 28, 2021
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world - and lose eternal life? (Matthew 16:24-26).
This is the core truth of Christianity. If Christian faith is about anything at all, it is about the complete surrender of a person’s life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Everything Christianity, the Christian church, and Christian ministry is about (i.e. evangelism, discipleship, missions, Bible study, preaching, etc.) comes out of this core truth. “Jesus . . . makes clear that there must be a cross before the crown, suffering before glory, sacrifice before reward. The heart of Christian discipleship is giving before gaining, losing before winning” (John MacArthur).
The ‘if’ here is a big ‘if’. It is conditional, which means once a person is confronted by Jesus Christ, once he/she has encountered the Gospel, once they realize the love of God, their sinfulness, and His provision of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, they have a choice to make - believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ, or dismiss and reject the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no middle ground. There is no straddling the fence. There is no gray area. Jesus said, He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters (Matthew 12:30). In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus pointed out there are two gates, two roads, and two destinies awaiting each person - the wide or narrow gate, the broad or the narrow road, eternal destruction or eternal life. Each person must choose for him/her self which gate, which road, and which destiny they will travel.
In Romans 10:13-17 we read, Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
God extends to us grace to believe in Jesus. He gives us faith to believe in Jesus. If we choose to exercise that faith in God’s gracious offer, we will be saved. If we choose not to, we won’t be saved. If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Again, that’s a big ‘if’.
“Father in heaven, You have made it abundantly clear that each of us has a choice to be saved or to remain lost in sin. That truth has gotten lost in the morass of religious thinking, preaching, and teaching. Help us to stay focused on the truth of Your Word. Help us to be clear in presenting the truth of Jesus Christ. To the salvation of souls I ask, Amen.”