Sermons of David Chadwell

The Costliness of Salvation

Several years ago I talked to a new acquaintance about general interests to encourage the development of a relationship. Quickly I learned that we had similar interests in hunting and fishing. I asked the man what kind of hunting he enjoyed. He replied he liked to hunt small game--birds, rabbits, squirrels. I asked if he had any interest in deer hunting. (This was at a place in a time when deer were few and the deer hunting season short.) He smiled, replied no, and made a statement I remember: "That is too much candy for a nickel."

I knew immediately what he meant. The average deer hunter had great expectations he hoped to achieve with a minimum of effort. In most instances, those expectations were never realized.

I am convinced the phrase, "Too much candy for a nickel," is an appropriate description for a large, growing segment of the American society. We all need to beware or our lives will be trapped in the pursuit of looking for "too much candy for a nickel."

Ask a person what kind of job he/she wants. Most will not discuss the kind of work he/she wants to do. Instead, he/she will discuss the kind of benefits he/she wants. Likely those benefits include an excellent salary, incredible fringe benefits, a minimum of time required, and no demanding responsibility. The person rarely discusses personal productiveness, useful involvement, or a task resulting in personal fulfillment. The determination is to get as much candy as possible for a nickel.

Consider our society's expectations. We want guaranteed medical help of every kind at modest prices. We want a minimum annual income for every adult even if the person refuses to work. We want to eliminate poverty even among those who by choice refuse to be productive. Basically, we want everyone to enjoy a good level of life with no one having to pay for it. Many increasingly think the government can pay for anything. Whether we want to admit it or not, this perspective affects all of us in our thinking on some level.

For years I have been fascinated by observing parallels between social-political attitudes and religious attitudes. Personally, I am convinced that the more our society pursues getting a lot of candy for a nickel, the more that philosophy influences our religious lives and spiritual commitments.

I see the philosophy of a lot of candy for a nickel at work in the minds of too many Christians in the expectation of a no cost salvation. The basic view of this concept is that all the benefits, all the promises, and all God's blessings should be available to everyone for a nickel. Such people want to dwell exclusively on the fact that salvation is the free gift of God.

Does scripture teach there is a price associated with acquiring eternal life?

  1. Allow me to begin by noting some problems that disturb me.
    1. Problem one: I am disturbed by the dilemma created by considering salvation's costliness.
      1. First, by emphasizing the responsibility of godly obedience for years, we have created a false impression in the minds of many Christians.
        1. Too many are convinced they can earn their salvation through a acceptable number of deeds in response to the proper commandments.
        2. This mistaken idea produces several problems.
        3. The problem of self righteousness--a person feels saved by virtue of his/her own "goodness."
          1. Nothing is more offensive to God than the human arrogance of self-righteousness.
          2. Nothing destroys salvation any quicker than self-righteousness.
        4. Too many are plagued by constant guilt.
          1. The person tries to do everything associated with perfect godliness and finds the attempt is an impossibility.
          2. The harder the person tries to earn salvation, the guiltier he/she feels.
          3. They are constantly impressed with their failures.
        5. Too many Christians are victims of hopelessness.
          1. Because perfect obedience alludes them, they are terrified of God.
          2. Every failure results in their despair.
          3. The Christian life becomes an existence of intense frustration rather than an existence of joy and hope.
      2. Second, by misunderstanding the role of works in salvation, as a solution to a dilemma we substitute the importance of God's grace.
        1. When we properly emphasize that we can never earn our salvation (Ephesians 2:4-10), some are so relieved that they go to an opposite and equally wrong extreme.
        2. These people declare that all one must do is "trust the Lord," and they refuse all spiritual responsibility.
        3. The result: Christian life is a farce; obedience is forgotten; and Christians become spiritually irresponsible and negligent.
      3. Third, we desperately need a sound understanding of salvation.
        1. We need to understand we are saved by God's grace.
          1. Salvation cannot be earned.
          2. Only proper faith in Christ allows us to live in God's grace.
          3. It is that grace that enables us to have a life of joy, hope, and happiness that is free from despair and guilt.
        2. Yet, it is faith in what God did in Jesus' cross and resurrection that expresses itself in appreciative, grateful obedience.
          1. Obedience trusts God's grace.
          2. Appreciation of salvation expresses itself in total commitment.
          3. Obedience is an expression of gratitude, not an attempt to earn.
        3. Thus salvation involves a combination of God's grace and human obedience.
    2. Problem two: I am also disturbed by the fact that many Christians are becoming materialists, sensualists, or both.
      1. A materialist--a person subscribing to the concept that physical well being should determine all conduct/behavior.
        1. The number one priority in life is the material.
        2. This person's life is preoccupied with things; he gives the highest importance to things; and lives for things.
        3. Consideration of God or people are secondary to his/her consideration of things.
      2. A sensualist--a person who believes life's highest priority is satisfying physical wants and desires.
        1. The appetites of life determine the course, conduct, and interest in life.
        2. This person lives to satisfy physical wants.
        3. Anything in the way of satisfying physical wants must be moved--even if it is God or people.
      3. Too many Christians live more for material purposes than for spiritual purposes.
      4. Too many Christians live more for sensual purposes than for spiritual purposes.
      5. It scares me to see how easily all of us believe we can combine Christianity with materialism, sensualism, or both.
    3. Problem three: the belief we can get a lot of candy from God for a nickel.
      1. While it is true that we cannot "buy" God's grace,
      2. It is also true that it takes more than a nickel to continue in that grace.
      3. Do you honestly believe that you can receive:
        1. Forgiveness of all past sins.
        2. Continual forgiveness of mistakes
        3. The constant right to approach God's throne.
        4. Daily spiritual strength.
        5. Special strength in crisis.
        6. God's presence in death.
        7. Eternal life after death.
      4. For:
        1. Assembling in a building one to four times a week.
        2. Praying when it is convenient.
        3. Getting up a Sunday school lesson when it is convenient.
      5. That is a lot of candy for a nickel!

  2. Consider 1 Peter 1 with me.
    1. After the salutation, Peter called attention to the great blessings given the Christian found only in Jesus Christ.
      1. Look at verses 3-5.
        1. Note the stress on our hope.
          1. We were spiritually conceived in hope.
          2. Hope was at the foundation of our response to Christ.
          3. Hope is the reason we live in Christ.
          4. That hope is a living hope--not a mere wish!
          5. That living hope is not subject to death because it is based on a resurrection.
        2. Note the inheritance.
          1. Christians are spiritual heirs.
          2. We have an inheritance--we anticipate our promised land, our own country.
          3. This place we will inherit is incorruptible--not subject to decay, imperishable, not temporary [as is this existence].
          4. This place is undefiled--it is not polluted by evil; it serves only God's purposes.
          5. This place is permanent, does not fade away--what we know as time has no impact on it; it cannot become old; its significance cannot be dimmed; there is no "end" to dread.
        3. Note the protection.
          1. As long as we continue relationship with Christ, God's power guards us.
          2. Christians live in anticipation of the ultimate salvation, life with God.
    2. Consider the beautiful way Peter emphasizes the beauty of these blessings in verses 10-12.
      1. Christians right now enjoy the finest spiritual privileges God has yet revealed.
      2. The prophets of old knew God was yet to reveal wonderful privileges.
        1. They searched for the time when these privileges would be revealed hoping it would be in their lifetime.
        2. Yet, they found it was not for them in their lifetime but for those who would accept the Messiah.
      3. When we think of men like Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel we think of towers of strength.
        1. Yet, those men would have gladly traded places with us just to have the opportunity to have what we take for granted.
        2. As great as they were, they never had what you and I have in Christ.
    3. Pay particular attention to verses 13-19.
      1. Peter already enumerated the blessings.
      2. He already emphasized the privileges.
      3. Now he discusses the price.
      4. First, he says prepare yourself to receive these blessings.
        1. Gird up your minds.
          1. Their robes got in the way of manual labor.
          2. They wore what we would call belts--he said tuck your lower robe in your belt.
          3. We would say things like "roll up your sleeves" or "pull off your coat".
          4. They were to get their minds ready to work.
          5. Lazy minds produce thoughtless acts that work against salvation.
          6. Mindless ritual is meaningless to God.
          7. Salvation involves mind and body.
        2. Be sober.
          1. Think seriously about your salvation.
          2. When you deal with sin, death, and destruction after judgment, make careful, sensible, wise decisions.
          3. Salvation is not a concept that deserves no more than a passing thought.
        3. Set your hope on the grace in Christ.
          1. Your full hope is placed in Christ, not in yourself.
          2. Your hope is real--you are committed to serving God all the time!
      5. Second, he said live righteously in your conduct.
        1. We will be children of obedience.
          1. Obedience will be our first and last name.
          2. We will not rebel against God!
        2. We will refuse to return to the existence of ignorance of God.
        3. We will accept the responsibility to be holy in our behavior
          1. Since God is holy, we must set holiness as our standard to be His children.
          2. As God is totally set apart from sin, we consciously seek to set ourselves apart from sin.
      6. Third, we realize the seriousness of our commitment.
        1. If we call God our Father, we must live for Him in the awe of respect.
        2. Never forget the price He paid to redeem us--to make relationship with Him possible.
          1. The life of a slave was redeemed with money.
          2. God used something more precious than money to purchase our freedom--he used the blood of His sinless son.
          3. If we accept His redemption, we must live in awareness of what it cost Him.
      7. Being a Christian is a precious privilege and a serious responsibility.

How serious are you about being saved? Is it the most important goal in your life? Have you prepared your mind to serve? Are you a child of obedience? Is your behavior holy?

Or do you think you can live as you please in unconcern for God? Do you think you can occasionally give God a polite smile and thank you and reach heaven with no problem? Do you think you can have all of God's benefits without any personal cost?

God's candy cost more than a nickel!

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