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The Stakes of the Gospel

 

Introduction. (Luke 14:27-33)  Jesus teaches the importance of counting the cost of being one of His disciples.  By this He deals with the importance of realizing what obedience to the Gospel will require of a person before pledging their obedience to it.  We might think of this as considering what is at stake if we should obey the Gospel.  What will it demand of us?  What if we choose not to follow Christ? For a few moments this morning let’s consider the stakes of the gospel.

 

I. What Do You Have To Lose by Obeying The Gospel?

A.  A little time.  Becoming a Christian will require some time. You will need to commit yourself to faithfulness in worship. You will need to devote time to study, serving others, and surrender time you once devoted to sin. (1 Peter 4:1-3). 

B.  A little fun.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that being a sinner is not fun.  It is!  There is pleasure in sin. Hebrews 11:25 speaks of the “passing pleasures of sin” which must be forsaken. Becoming a Christian means turning away from that. I say “a little fun” because the pleasure of sin is not permanent—it is “passing.” 

C.  Some friends.  (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) Our friends have great influence on us.  If our friends are good Christians, that influence can be positive. If not, being a Christian may demand that we lose these friends. This may come either by our own choice to turn from them, or by their choice when they don’t find our new lifestyle as fun to be with.

D.  Some family.  Luke 14:26 teaches “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” While friends influence us, our families do even more. Some times the same sacrifice is required if our family resists our new commitment to Christ.

E.  Some habits.  (Colossians 3:5-11) A habit is a pattern of behavior. It is something we get used to doing.  These can be good things or bad things.  If you turn to Christ, you are going to have to give up those habits which are wrong.

F.  Some things.  Being a Christian may also mean that we give up some things.  1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  In Christ, your priority can not be attaining things, but attaining Christ.

G.  Some choices.  An honor of maturity and freedom is the right of choice.  A Christian does not have the same freedom of choice that the sinner does. Matthew 16:24 teaches that anyone who comes to Christ must “deny himself.”  As a Christian I cannot choose something I might want to do, if it is contrary to the will of God in Christ.

 

II. What do you Have To Gain by Obeying The Gospel?

In many cases, coming to Christ means that we gain some new things that are comparable to those things we have lost. 

A.  Time spent well.  All effort that the Christian makes in glory to God is time well spent.

B.  Fun that is meaningful.  One of the fruits of the spirit is “joy” (Galatians 5:22).  This is not “passing pleasure” but joy that is full, enduring, and meaningful.

C.  A fellowship of co-believers.  (1 John 1:1-3). Those who come to true obedient faith in Christ are in fellowship with all others who have done the same.  This offsets any lose of friends we have.

D.  A family of co-workers.  1 Corinthians 3:9 speaks of the Apostles and the Corinthians as “fellow workers.” Ephesians 3:15 describes believers as “family.” Whatever loss we have of family is more than compensated by this relationship of scores of brethren.

E.  Healthy habits.  (1 Corinthians 16:15-16) The KJV speaks of those “addicted to the ministry of the saints.” This is a good habit.  There are many others good habits which Christians can (and should) pursue.

F.  The things that are necessary.  We cannot love the things of the world, but Matthew 6:33 promises that those who seek the kingdom will have the things which are needed in this life.

G.  Eternal life with God.  (Revelation 21:3) This promises a time when believers will be allowed to dwell together with God. 

H.  Eternal joy, peace and satisfaction. (Revelation 21:4) describes the condition of the righteous as they dwell with God.  The choices, relationships, pleasures, and possessions we loose by coming to Christ, will seem as nothing at that time.

 

III.  What Do You Have To Lose by Not Obeying The Gospel?

These are some of the stakes (or costs) of following Jesus, but we need to look at one other thing.  What if we look at all this and still turn away? We are only looking at part of the picture if we just consider our gains and losses by obedience to Christ. We must also ask what will be lost by not obeying Christ?

A. All time.   (Revelation 14:9-11) We often speak of “having time.” What we mean is that we have life, health, and choice concerning how we use that time. This text speaks of the fate of those who worship the beast. It probably referred to emperor worship and the sinful behavior of worshipping something other than God. We do that when we reject God. We may forfeit some time in serving Christ, but imagine a condition in which we loose all time—not in the sense of annihilation (that would be preferable)—but in the sense of losing all choice of how our time is spent.

B.  All joy.  Matthew 24:51 describes the fate of the evil servant as assignment to a place where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This is not a place of the wicked partying for eternity.  It is a place where every pleasure you have ever known is absent!  There is no relief—no joy—no pleasure.

C.  All friends and family.  With no joy will family relationships mean anything in Hell?  Luke 20:34-35 seems to indicate that after the resurrection there will be no marriage relationships either in heaven or hell. Will it be better for us to suffer with family in hell?  No. Any comfort, companionship, sense of belonging, and warmth family and friends brings will be lost forever.

D.  All choice.  (Luke 16:19-31) In this account of the sinner after death we see that all choices are eliminated.  The sinner cannot change his location, he cannot relieve his pain, he cannot repent.

E.  All things.  Romans 8:32 promises the Christian “all things” yet 1 John 2:17 tells us the world is “passing away.”  If this world is gone and the saved have “all things” what does that leave for the sinner?  He will not have the blessing of “all things” but even those things he had in this life will be lost.

F.  God.  Matthew 7:23 tells us that when judgment comes the wicked will be told “depart from Me.”  I would contend that the presence, provision, and blessing of God in this life is one of those things which is so constant it is taken for granted. For example, what would life be like if all of a sudden there was no air?  The involvement of God in our life is more effectual than air.  Yet, one day, for the sinner that will be gone.  How horrifying! 

G.  Your soul.  (Matthew 16:26-27)  Your soul is who you really are.  Your body will turn to dust.  Your mind can fade with age.  Your soul goes on.  To lose your soul is to lose choice, to lose influence over its condition and location.  To lose your soul is to lose everything!

Kyle Pope 2009

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