Salvation may be free, but it ain’t cheap

Many among the population of this country will adamantly express the truth that salvation is free, while forgetting that though it is a gift that cannot be purchased, it did and does cost much.

Let’s start by confirming the truth that salvation is not something one can purchase or merit by way of good works. Paul clearly expressed the fact that eternal salvation is the “gift of God” (Rom. 6:23). He even specified that it is a “free” gift (Rom. 5:15-18). Further, he expressed to the Ephesians that it was by grace that they were saved through faith: “and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Peter told Simon that the gift of God cannot be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). When one has done all that God has commanded, he has still not “earned” that which God promised him. When Naaman, the leper, dipped in the Jordan River seven times as instructed by the prophet Elisha, he had not earned cleansing of his leprosy, but it was still given to him by God (II Kings 5:10-14).

We need to first recognize that the salvation of man was indeed extremely expensive! Not in the form of silver, gold or money of any kind, but expensive nevertheless. We are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (I Pet. 1:18-19). God commended His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Indeed, no gift has ever been so great, but no price so great has ever been paid for a gift!

But, let us also understand that not only was there a great price paid by the giver of the gift, there is a cost that the recipient must bear as well. For example, one could be in need of some kind of life saving surgery that the cost was beyond their ability to pay, and thus that surgery was beyond their ability to get. A big hearted surgeon comes along and performs the surgery for him without charge, or in other words, for free. That person will still have a price to pay. He would have to pay submission, by following the instructions given prior to actually having the surgery. He would pay with a certain degree of pain and discomfort that followed the surgery. He may even pay with limitations on what he could do after the surgery. Yet, his life had been saved and it was free. In order to have the gift of eternal life, we too must submit to the authority of the great physician, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We must submit His authority and follow His instructions. The Hebrew writer said that “…he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). Then, being “buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:12-13). Notice that after the operation, you are raised with Him. Paul told the Romans that such were being raised to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). There may indeed be limitations to what we can do after the operation. No more can we participate in the immoral fleshly desires of the world (I John 2:15-16). Our free salvation has cost us the pleasure of sin for a season (Heb. 11:25). There are indeed things that must be given up in order to have the salvation that is freely given of God.

Jesus once taught a lesson on “counting the cost” (Luke 14:28-32). He used two examples, one of a man building a tower counting the cost before construction and the other of a king going to war, first considering if he is able to succeed. Notice the verse that preceded these illustrations and the one following. Jesus said, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple…So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27, 33). Jesus also said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt. 10:34-36). It would seem that the price we have to pay could even include division within our own family. There are other cost that may have to be borne, such as persecution and ridicule (II Tim. 3:12). Obviously, though salvation is free, there is a great cost involved, both on the part of the giver of salvation, but also on he who would be recipient of the gift.

Friends, it is a fact that salvation is free, but it is also a fact that salvation is not cheap! The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have all paid the price from the heavenly standpoint. Yet, it is up to each individual to determine if he or she is willing to pay their part of the price. (Send any questions or comments to: