Convenient Gospel


Giving your life to Christ

I think this is a fine cliché that summarizes a lot of relevant scripture.  However, I want to address misconceptions about the meaning of this phrase which may lead to belief upon a false gospel.


Jesus does not need your life. 

As a matter of fact, He does not need anything. 


Acts 17
24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.


He is all set.  However, you need Jesus’ life. Yes, you can get it, but you might ask:  How much does it cost?


Count the Cost

Notice below how Jesus is upfront and honest about what following Him entails. 


Matt 13:20-22

20         The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.

21         But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

22         The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  (NIV)


John 16:1-4

1          "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.

2          They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

3          They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

4          I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.  (NIV)


Jesus did not go around begging everyone to believe in Him.  In fact, he applied some of what I call “crowd thinner” in the following passage:


Luke 14:25-33

25         Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:

26         "If anyone comes to me and does not hate [love less] his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple.

27         And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28         "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

29         For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,

30         saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

31         "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

32         If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

33         In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.  (NIV)


Losing everything

I have heard of “..everything he has” in verse 33 broadly interpreted as “giving your life to Jesus”.  It sounds good at first, but what do people usually mean by that phrase?  It seems to me like they usually mean, “If God tells me to, I will do whatever he says”.  They refuse to give up everything they have.  So, not surprisingly, their God never tells them to sacrifice very much – much less everything.  However, Jesus states that you must first LOSE your life for Him and the gospel in order to save it. 


Mark 8:35
For whoever wants to save his life[ 8:35 The Greek word means either life or soul; also in verse 36.] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Whole Chapter: Mark 8 In context: Mark 8:34-36)


Another translation of verse 33 debunks this broader interpretation with a solid behavioral command:


33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (NAS)


Notice what it does not say: 

33  “So then, none of you can be my disciple who [is] not [willing to] give up all his own possessions [if/when I tell Him to].


This false bracketed interpretation is not what Christ commanded.  His command is clear and simple.  Greedy “Christians” just do not like it. 


If someone’s God is the Jesus Christ of the Bible, then they would begin by obey his commands, and then also expect to hear his voice.


John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
(Whole Chapter: John 14 In context: John 14:20-22)


John 15:10
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
(Whole Chapter: John 15 In context: John 15:9-11)


His voice offers further direction to those who are already responding by grace to his scriptural instructions.  Why would He give further instructions to someone who is not responding to the

revelation of Christ that they have already had the opportunity to receive?  Well, He might give them some “deep revelation”:  REPENT!  Lay down your own life in exchange for mine, or you will perish.


            Mark 1

Jesus Preaches in Galilee
14   (13) Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, (14) preaching the gospel of God,
15   and saying, "(15) The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; (16) repent and believe in the gospel."


Convenient Gospel

So this Gospel of “believe now and repent later”, or “obey God if/when you hear His voice tell you to” is another gospel.  You must first forsake, lose, or lay down your life in exchange for His.  You can not add Jesus to your life.  He can only add you to His life, if/when you give up yours.  You can only partake in His life, by giving up yours. 


            Matthew 8

The Cost of Following Jesus
18When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
20Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
21Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
22But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."


Luke 9

The Cost of Following Jesus
57As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
58Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
59He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
60Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
61Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good bye to my family."
62Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."



Giving up your life

Jesus cannot fit inside of your life.  Your life is led by you, and not Him.  This will not work.  You must first lay your life down and make room for Him and His life to come in.  How do you do this?  By giving up your life:

  1. your time
  2. your material resources

for His sake and for the Gospel.


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