What counts

Written by Charles Ekong

31/07/2023

It’s common among Christians to hear the phrase: “giving your life to Christ”. The popularity of such statements can diminish the significance of the commitment it implies. I seriously doubt that anyone can make such a decision without considerable introspection. So, while I celebrate every decision to follow Jesus, I’m cautious of any commitment made without significant consideration of the associated cost [Luke 9:57-62]. So, what does it mean to give your life to Christ? Paul put it this way to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” [Galatians 2:20 AMP].

Paul’s words set a remarkably high bar, but as a preacher once said: “The price for all of God is all of you” [Romans 12:1], and God won’t share you with another [Exodus 20:3]. While the decision to follow Jesus can be made in a moment upon revelation [Romans 10:9-10], it understandably takes time, commitment and divine assistance to live out Paul’s words in experience – a process often called sanctification [2 Peter 1:3-10]. While God has made several provisions for our foibles [1 John 1:8-9], Jesus was unequivocal about the hallmarks of a life surrendered to Him. He, not His followers sets the priorities for their lives, and He did so with His parting words before His ascension [Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, Acts 1:8]. Consequently, you haven’t given your life to Christ until you prioritise His will for you.

The three Bible passages above often constitute what many call the Great Commission – the threefold marching orders for followers of Jesus. In them, Jesus instructs those who give their lives to Him to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel – a message which reveals God’s love for us and the price Jesus paid to liberate us from sin and death and reconcile us to the Godhead [John 3:16, Romans 5:6-11]. It’s a message for every person on earth because God wants everyone to receive salvation and not die in sin [Romans 6:23, 2 Peter 3:9]. This assignment, evangelism, isn’t for a subset of believers but a mandate for all who have given their lives to Christ [Romans 10:14-15]. I didn’t consider evangelism a priority for most of my life, but I know better now. Who Jesus is, His message and what He has done for me is information I must share with as many people as possible at every opportunity. Doing so demonstrates my love for Him and the souls He died to save [John 14:15].

Another aspect of the Great Commission is teaching others to obey what Jesus commanded. That’s what is often called discipleship. Beginning with Abraham, God has always instructed His people to teach their children, household and communities how to obey His word [Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:5-9]. Discipleship is necessary because we cannot follow God in ignorance and excel [Ephesians 4:18]. We live in an evil world that opposes the purposes of God [Ephesians 5:16]. Our flesh is corrupt through deceitful desires and also opposes the notion of Jesus as its Master and Lord [Jeremiah 17:9, Ephesians 4:22, Galatians 5:17]. Worst still, an evil adversary stalks us, seeking any opportunity to destroy us [1 Peter 5:8]. But God has made ample provision for us to triumph over the world, our flesh and Satan, but ignorance of our weapons and systems of advantage is disastrous [Hosea 4:6]. Discipleship equips us to be Christlike in experience [Ephesians 4:11-13].

Most of my blogs focus on discipleship, but it’s important to remember that there are no disciples without evangelism. Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfectly sanctified before we can evangelise and disciple. But those we proselytise will often scrutinise the authenticity and outworking of our message in our lives before they put any stock in it. As such, our lives will either hinder or enhance our testimony to others. Consequently, Jesus calls His followers to be His witnesses as we evangelise and disciple. That means others should examine our lives and find evidence of our faith because we’re living epistles attracting them to our Lord by our fragrance [2 Corinthians 2:14, 3:3]. When that isn’t the case, and there’s a cognitive dissonance between our lives and our message, people understandably doubt the veracity of the Gospel.

Salvation is contingent on accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. That implies that once we give our lives to Christ, we can no longer do as we please [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]. In fact, everyone who truly gives their life to Jesus is a new creature. They’re also entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation and appointed as ambassadors for Christ, charged with appealing to the unsaved to be reconciled to God [2 Corinthians 5:14-20]. That’s the hallmark of a life lived for God. Scripture says we’ll all appear before the judgement seat of Christ [Hebrews 9:27, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:11-15]. On that day, unbelievers will answer for rejecting Jesus [John 16:8-11], and we’ll all give an account of how we spent our days [Psalm 62:12, Hebrews 4:12-13]. 

When we stand before the judgement seat of Christ, wealth, power, fame, connections, lineage, titles, accolades, etc., won’t matter. What will count is what we did to advance God’s agenda – our efforts to be faithful witnesses in our spheres of influence as we evangelise and disciple. So, how effective is your ministry of reconciliation? How much of what you spend your time, energy and resources pursuing and accomplishing will echo positively in eternity [Psalm 90:12, Matthew 6:19-21]?

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