The most important decision that a man can make is whether or not to become a Christian. It truly is a matter of everlasting consequences. If the man decides that he wants to go to Heaven, and thus decides to obey the Gospel, he should understand that there are some things that he may have to lose in order to be saved.
It was Jesus that said, “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Before becoming a Christian, the man should consider whether, if necessary, he is willing to lose all earthly things in order to stay faithful to the Lord. That commitment is to be so strong that Paul begged the Christians in Rome to “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). It was not unreasonable for Paul to expect those brethren to give their bodies in service to the Lord.
Both Jesus and Paul explicitly taught the importance of complete service, but they also lived it. One should know that Jesus “…came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). In order to remain faithful to the Father, Jesus endured much horrific treatment. Before His crucifixion, knowing the pain and suffering that was ahead of Him, Jesus prayed, “…Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What an amazing demonstration! Jesus was willing to lose His own life in order that He could be faithful and save many! One can understand that this tremendous act of sacrifice was not easy to endure. Luke records that after Jesus’ prayer, “…there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:43-44). It is hard to imagine the great weight that He was bearing! Even so, nothing was going to stop Him from doing His Father’s will. Later Jesus would experience the pains of betrayal, denial, and physical torture. Even after all of that, Jesus never wavered in His service. He was willing to remain faithful all the way to His death. It should not be forgotten that while on the cross, Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had given everything that He had to give so that He could be the faithful Savior.
In Paul’s case, we find another who was willing to lose physical things in order to be faithful. First of all, consider the privileges that Paul enjoyed before becoming a Christian. It was Paul himself that wrote, “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:4-6). His life before becoming a Christian was not that bad from physical standpoints. However, his soul was lost. Paul had to decide if being a Christian was worth losing all of those things. I will let Paul speak for himself. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:7-9). Later, the same man would be condemned to die for being a faithful Christian and preacher of the Gospel. Near the end of his life, Paul was still willing to lose anything that it took to remain faithful to his Lord. He wrote, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6-7). The brave soldier of Christ was ready to lose his life so that he could receive “a crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8).
So, what are we willing to lose? Is there something in this physical life that we are unwilling to relinquish? I plead with us now to make up our minds that there is nothing and no one that is going to keep us from becoming, and remaining, a faithful child of God (1 John 3:1-2).
~ Corey Barnette