“How would you like to live forever?” yelled the pastor on TV, “Wouldn’t you like to be forgiven of your sins and given a fresh start? Don’t you want to spend eternity in paradise instead of burning in hell? Or claim the wealth and health God has for you?” The pastor relentlessly continued, “Then all you have to do is believe in Jesus, ask him into your life, and all this will be yours!”
I felt as if I had just been sold Jesus. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? To be wealthy, healthy, forgiven, not go to hell, and live in paradise! It’s a dream come true! But my heart couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of people who just signed onto to this ‘get rich scheme.’ Many had been fooled into making a decision for Jesus, but few of them had actually committed to Him. This is not the way it was meant to be. Jesus is not some prize to be won. We can’t just believe in him and then go about our lives as usual. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, the Scripture in the Bible says that all you have to do is believe to be saved (Romans 10:9), but it doesn’t stop there. Not only are we to believe, but belief comes with actions, verbal actions, and actions showing the sincerity of heart…
“ So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” James 2:17
Faith without works is nothing but dead faith. In other words, if you accepted Jesus with the words of your mouth and fell for one of those, ‘get rich schemes’ on TV, and little to nothing changed in your life. Then I have to ask you, did you really commit your life to Jesus or did you just say some fancy words?
You see, many people call themselves Christians but in truth, have fallen for the schemes of a few pastors. These people have made a decision for Jesus, but not a real commitment to him. In reality, you can’t have one without the other. If you are one of those, who have only made a decision for Jesus, then you need to ask yourself are you truly His?
Let me put it this way. Lets say a volcanologist (someone who studies volcanoes) came to your house and told you that in a few weeks a volcano was going to erupt near your home and that you needed to evacuate the premises; otherwise you and your house would be destroyed. He even showed you the paperwork and proved what was going to happen. You kindly and sincerely thank the gentleman, and acknowledge that you believed him, and told him you would be evacuating soon. But as time went on you lived life as usual. Sure you bought a few water jugs and stocked up on a day or two of food, but none of that could actually help you when the volcano erupted. Weeks passed and sure enough the day of the eruption was at hand and just as the volcanologist predicted, the volcano erupted. But it was too late.
You see, that person stated with their mouth that they believed the volcanologist, but at heart level they did not believe. Why? Because there were no actions to back up that belief. If they had truly believed they would have gotten the heck out of there. But instead they made a ‘decision’ to believe and not an actual commitment. Thus it is with many ‘Christians’ today who say Jesus is their Lord. They decide to believe Jesus, but have not committed to him.
The true cost of following Jesus involves more than just believing in Him. The Scripture is full of evidence for this. Did you know that in the Gospels the word, “believe,” is only used five times. While the word, “follow me,” is used about twenty times. Meaning Jesus wants us to not only believe, but to be followers of him. For if your words hold value, and you made the decision for Jesus, then your actions will back that up.
When you give your life to Jesus you’re not just handing over a verbal statement, you are handing over your life. Did you hear that, your LIFE! That’s huge! Meaning there will be sacrifices, trials, and things that have to change. A true follower of Jesus means you will have a transformed life.
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27
When Jesus made this statement there were crowds of people listening. He didn’t say, “praise God for all the people, come back next week and bring a friend.” No rather shockingly he says “If you do not bear your own cross and come after me, you cannot be my disciple.” This angered the crowd and many of them went back to life as usual and left Jesus that day. Why? Because they understood there was a cost to following Jesus. And today I’m here to tell you that there is a cost to following Jesus. My question is, are you willing to go there with Him?
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—” Luke 14:18
Have you counted the cost to following Jesus? These are not my words, but His. You can’t just take Romans 10:9 (believe and be saved) and make a doctrine around it. You have to take the Bible as a whole. Sadly, too many people today believe they are going to heaven just because they accepted the ‘get rich lies’ of some pastor. But today I’m here to ask you, if you haven’t already, to either make a commitment to Christ or leave him all together. Don’t call yourself a Christian if you are not willing to sacrifice with your life.
So what is the cost to following Jesus? Your LIFE! Giving your time, your service, your finances, your family, everything. Making time to pray, to be available, to read, to worship, to let go of sins, to forgive others, to be like Christ. Will you be perfect, no! But you will be transformed.
Love you all!
* If you would like further study on this subject I recommend reading ,“Not a Fan,” by Kyle Idleman.