WHAT WAS THE COST OF YOUR SALVATION?
When you think of God, what kind of image comes to mind? Far too
many people have a severely distorted image of God and it adversely
effects the way they relate to Him. Many see the Father as some kind
of old tyrant sitting on his big throne making tough laws that nobody
can obey perfectly and then getting angry over our failure, ready to
kill us any moment. When we envision Jesus, he is seen like a kind of
Jewish mother with chicken soup, always ready to protect us from the
ole’ meanie and his bonger. Then there is the Holy Spirit, something
that is just kind of hovering around like a vapor doing something, but
few know quite what.
While such confusing images are common to the world, it is
surprising how much of this kind of thinking is in the church.
Failure to properly discern the person of God is one of the basic
causes for failure to understand the nature and problem of sin. I
want to take a moment here to examine sin from God’s perspective as
revealed in the Word of God.
Jesus said that a wise man counts the cost of a thing before he
decides to proceed so that he will not look like the fool when he
comes up short. It is important to count the true cost of sin! We
have all heard the basic redemption story told from the angle of
Christ’s suffering at the hands of the Sanhedrin and Romans.
Crucifixion was a Phoenician invention that the Romans perfected into
a fine science to make death as painful and slow as possible. Like
Gaius Caesar used to say, “make him feel like he is dying.” After the
body is ripped to a bloody mass by the Roman lash, the convicted man
will be forced to carry his own cross-bar to the place of execution.
There, the proficient executioners will secure the arms in place
and feel for the space between the bones just below the wrist. There
is a pain nerve that crosses this area, and it is here that the large
spike is driven through the wrist and fastened by the nail head to the
crossbar. Once the arms are secure, the feet are then also fastened
with a single spike so that the knees are slightly bent. The cross is
then lowered with a jolt into the hole, often causing the joints in
the body to be dislocated in places.
The stress of the weight of the body on the chest with the arms
secured in this way is such that one cannot breathe. To breathe, one
must stand on the nail pinned feet to push the body up and relieve the
pressure on the diaphragm. Thus, survival is lengthened as the victim
repeatedly rises and falls in order to breathe. This is why breaking
the legs speeds up the death process.
Friend, whenever you pull out your calculator and add up the cost
of sin, I dare you estimate the agony of Jesus. Yet it was your sin
that cost Him that pain and death. Our Father has made forgiveness so
easy and available that we have entered a “take it for granted” type
of attitude toward it. We seem to think that we can be lax on sin,
lax in prayer, diligence and holiness, reckless with our spiritual
walk and the only price we have to pay is taking the time to ask
forgiveness. Salvation may have been free for you, but it was not
cheap. Let’s look a bit deeper here.
Is there any doubt in your mind that the Father loved His Son?
What father doesn’t, except the debased? How intensely the Father
loved His only begotten Son who was perfect in every sense of the
word. He NEVER disobeyed. Yet, “God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son…”, not just to let Him come to earth, but God
gave Him to the cross. The pain that must have been in God’s heart is
unknowable. Not only did the Father allow Jesus to suffer a
horrendous physical death, but he also was forced by the law of
righteousness to turn His back on Jesus at His time of supreme need.
On the cross Jesus quoted David’s Psalm (22:1) when He said, “My
God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The verse goes on to say,
“Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my
groaning?” The penalty for sin is not only physical death, it
includes banishment from the presence of God. God must turn His back
on sin, and in eternity, turn away from the sinner that has not
forsaken his sin. On the cross, Jesus was dying as our substitute so
He had to experience the full impact of sin’s penalty. When they
offered Jesus a pain killer he refused for He knew that He must
experience the full blast of God’s wrath. He must not only drink the
bitter cup, He must drain it to the dregs.
I can not imagine how it must have anguished the Father to so
turn His back on His Son. Why did He do it? Because, my friend, He
loved you! He saw you dead in your sin and there could only be one
substitute. The price for sin was either your life or His, and He
chose to give His for you. Jesus died for the sin of adultery because
it was the sin of adultery that drove those nails home. He died for
the sin of lying and bitterness, because those sins drove the Roman
lash. He died for your selfishness and rebellion, because man’s
rebellion brought the curse of thorns into the world and forced a
crown of thorns into His precious brow.
Get out your calculator and add it up! Before the sum reads
“Freebee Grace”, remember the price somebody had to pay. Calculate it
out, friend, before you curse your circumstances, treat a brother
rudely, cop an attitude, or sleep with someone you should not be with.
If you can proceed with sin, knowing the cost Jesus and the Father had
to pay, then you lie when you say you love Him. Nobody would put
somebody they loved through that just to please the lusts of the
flesh. Sin is a reproach and deserving of eternal hell, especially if
it is persisted in in light of the cross.
Finally, we have the command of Jesus Himself when He says that
we should forgive just as we have been forgiven. Before you cop an
attitude or embrace a bitter or unforgiving attitude in your heart
toward someone, remember the debt you were released from. If what
they did to you comes anywhere close to what your sins inflicted on
Jesus, then I suppose you are now dead and this message doesn’t even
matter. If you are still alive, then you must forgive.
I assure you, forgiveness is still just a repentant heart away,
but I pray that the knowledge of the weight of what it cost will cause
you to consider your ways and rush to an altar of prayer, not just for
forgiveness, but also for His delivering power. “Come near to God and
He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify
your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your
laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before
the Lord and he will lift you up” (James 4:8-10).
J.Jefferson (John J. Clark II)
Computers for Christ – Chicago