We have often heard the old saying, “You get what you pay for”. The idea behind this saying is that if you don’t pay much for something, it probably is not worth much either. There is a whole lot of truth in that, though there are exceptions to the rule. Most of the time, the value of something is directly related to the cost of that item. For instance, the cost of a ring made of pure gold would be much more than one made of plastic. Sometimes, because of financial reasons, we have to settle for a cheap product, one that is cheaply made, cheaper in price and of poorer quality. However, cheap generally does not equate with being a good product. What we really need is a good value; the best product at the lowest cost. Generally, this requires research and effort on our part.
Some time back a quote came across my desk that caught my eye and contemplation. It stated, “A religion that cost you nothing is worth that in the end.” In other words, if it is free or even cheap, it will probably be worth nothing to you when you enter the eternal spiritual realm. Now, let us quickly head off any ideas that we are talking about one being able to purchase salvation.
As Peter told Simon, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20). Yet, there are two ways in which true Christianity is not free nor is it even cheap. The first of these ways is in the cost paid by both the Father and the Son. God gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16) and that Son gave His blood to purchase salvation for man. Thus, as high as the cost, it must be extremely valuable and it is (Mark 8:36-37).
The second way in which true Christianity is not free is in that it does indeed cost us something if it is to be pleasing and acceptable to God and result in our eternal salvation. Jesus even instructed that we not only recognize there is a cost, but that we count the cost. He said, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether ye have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28). It will cost us dedication, sacrifice and much effort, if it is Christianity as given by the Lord and acceptable to God.
Mark records, “And when he had called people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). In fact, it takes a complete surrender of self to the Lord.
The apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). The same writer commended those of Macedonia saying of the way they sacrificed in the contribution for the poor, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (II Cor. 8:5). Obviously, true Christianity is not cheap; it was paid for by the Lamb of God. It is not cheap; it requires that you give your all in order to be acceptable to the Father of lights.
With this said, no doubt all agree with the warning to beware of a cheap religion. However, it is often true that though we agree with a logical conclusion, we fail to actually make a real application to that which we know to be true. Many run around looking for a church that does not require much of them. In other words they do not want to spend much, neither in time, money or efforts; meaning that they are looking for a cheap religion. All too often people think it is just too much to expect of them to attend the worship services regularly (Heb. 10:25). After all, Sunday is their only real day of rest each week. The Bible teaches that one is to give upon the first day of the week as one has prospered and as one has purposed in his heart (I Cor. 16:2; II Cor. 9:7), but when it comes time to fulfill that which the Bible requires, they seek something that does not cost them so much. True Christianity as found in the New Testament requires time and effort be spent to learn the word of God (II Tim. 2:15) and to teach that gospel to the lost (Mark 16:15; II Tim. 2:2; I Pet. 3:15; Heb. 5:12-14). Yet, that is just too much for some to be willing to spend in the name of religion.
When David was yet to be anointed king following Saul, it was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). At one point king David made this statement when offered free items with which to offer a sacrifice to God, “…Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (II Sam. 24:24). David understood the need for sacrifice. Yet, no matter what it may cost us at present, the end result will be worth all the effort, all the time and all the money it may have cost us in this life. Eternal life in heaven is a great value at any price. (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.