Last week, we considered the hard truth that many begin the new life in Christ but many do not finish it. The key to understanding why this is true is found in our level of commitment. To live a successful Christian life requires that I am completely committed to it.
To live a consecrated, victorious Christian life is not easy in the physical sense. It is intrinsically difficult. First, it requires a choice be made; secondly, after the choice is made, it must be supported and recommitted with grace, care, and effort.
To fight the good fight of the faith (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7) and win is a great accomplishment. It requires a strong commitment and a sustained and dedicated effort.
Jesus taught this clearly in Luke 14:25-33. He pleads with us for a realistic and deliberate commitment to his cause. He tells us that if any of us come to him while still valuing family more than him, we cannot follow him. He even said that our own life must not be as important to us as he is. We must be willing to bear our cross (humbly submit to death and suffering) and follow him or we cannot be his disciples.
He then reinforces this by telling two parables. The first (Luke 14:28-30) one is about building a tower. In this parable, Jesus tells us that the man began to build the tower with enthusiasm but failed because he did not count the cost before he began. The second (Luke 14:31-32) one is a king who is facing war. In this parable, Jesus asks us if a king would seriously consider going to war with an army half the size of his enemy. Before the king would entertain the idea of war he would need to be assured that he could win the battle. If not, he would immediately seek terms of peace from the approaching king.
In these two parables, Jesus reinforces for us the level of commitment and love we must have to follow him. Jesus expects us to renounce everything else to follow him to eternal life (Luke 14:33). In today’s language, Jesus would say that you must mean business to live this life in victory.
Christianity combines principles that are natural with factors that are spiritual and eternal. It associates secular and spiritual; things human and divine; things temporal and eternal.
For instance, the gospel plan of salvation begins, continues, and is consummated through the love and purpose of God. Without God’s grace and power there could be no gospel. Having provided the grace and power needed, God calls upon man to become active in the use of his natural abilities and circumstances in appropriating the gospel.
On man’s level and purely within his ability salvation begins with a common-sense consideration of the facts, a recognition of conditions, problems, and possibilities. Before we start a war, build a tower, or do anything worthwhile, we should know the major facts involved. We should know what it will take to succeed.
Becoming a Christian is much like this. You must hear the good news of Jesus Christ, have all the facts relevant to our discussion, know the commands necessary to success, and the promises of Jesus; before we can be saved.