A continuation of last week's TNBS topic:
Romans 6:23--Salvation is a free gift. The free gift is a new life. You don't just take a new life and carry on! New life tends to mess with things.
We don’t buy eternal life, or earn it. The Bible points out that people who don’t want to do things the new life brings, will never take the new life! That's why Jesus told the rich young ruler to give away his stuff. That's why Jesus told people that unless they hated their various family members they could never be His disciple. Doing that was a result of taking new life. If you don't think that's worth it, you won't take it.
It is impossible for rich to enter the Kingdom of God—why? Because they won’t give up their money. They won’t trust another, they trust themselves and their wealth. Paul warns rich believers today to be careful in 1 Timothy 6:17—don't put your trust in uncertain riches. The rich lack nothing, thus it is highly unlikely they will come for salvation, why would they? What do they need saving from?
Consider these verses from John:
Revelation 21:6--I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17--And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
John 7:37-- If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
You can drink the water freely; but you won’t if you’re not thirsty! You have to have a thirst for this new life for you to be interested enough in it to take it.
In this parable, a man offers a free meal. He's not opening a restaurant and charging people money to come. It's a free meal. But people won't come. They each have an excuse--one bought a new field to work, another bought new oxen to take out for a spin, and one has a wife so is busy with family.
The man offering the supper doesn't charge them the value of a field, or oxen, or a wife, these guys are saying that these things are preventing them from coming. Two point to materialism and one points to family loyalty as reason to not attend the free meal. That's why Jesus says you have to give up your stuff and even family loyalty to freely get eternal life! He's not charging you' you're just too busy to come take it!
Paul explains this same idea in Philippians 3:7-11—all is dung in comparison to Christ. If we don’t view all as dung, have we really taken new life in Christ? In order to gain Christ, Paul counts everything else as loss. If you can't view your old life as a waste of time; you'll never be interested in taking the new life, no matter how free it may be!
Jesus tells some parables to express what it's like to take salvation in Matthew 13:44-46--a man sells all that he has to buy a field with a great treasure in it. A merchant sells all that he has to buy a pearl of great price. If you don't view new life in Christ (eternal life/salvation) as more precious than anything else, you'll never drop that stuff long enough to take it.
Romans 5:15-18 tells us that the free gift is righteousness, justification, and is all from God's grace. Grace gives. God gives us all we need for salvation. In order to receive this gift you must take it. In order to take it, you have to see its value and the absolute worthlessness of your old life and all its stuff.
The gift is new life in Christ—a cessation of the old life. If you don’t have a problem with the old one, you won’t take the new one. Jesus and Paul bring up conditions that are inconsistent with new life in Christ. If you aren’t willing to give up those conditions—give all you have to the poor, etc—then you don’t have a problem with the old life and won’t receive a new one.
The word that sums up this whole concept is: Repentance—change of mind in relation to one’s purpose or what one has done, a reversal.
How do we get people to this point of repentance?
First of all, it's not up to you! You can't repent for someone else. They have to repent. 2 Timothy 2:22-26 gives some insight into who all is involved with this repentance thing. The one sharing the Gospel matters--they are to stop sin in their own life, be intellectually strict as far as what silliness you’ll get sucked into, and be unbelievably patient and meek. The person offered the Gospel has to do the repenting. God is also involved in turning them toward repentance. The Devil is also involved who is not willing to let them escape.
The modern Gospel presentation skips repentance. We skip trying to get people to see the worthlessness of their old life. We merely tell them salvation means you can keep sinning but go to heaven when you die. They take it, but have they? Have they seen the futility of their old life and have they thirsted for new life? If not, it's debatable whether they truly took the new one.