In Which Lindsey Rants about the “Free Gift” of Salvation.

So, we’ve all heard it said that “Salvation is a free gift.”

I hate that phrase.  It’s dishonest at best and a flat out lie at the worst.  I know what people are saying, what they are basically saying is that all you need to do to get to heaven is say a simple prayer, it’s the easiest thing in the world, everyone should do it just in case. Ugh.  I’m a gentle person, but that makes me want to smack someone.  First; if one says “Jesus I’m so sorry forgive me of all my sins” but they don’t mean it, it’s only fire insurance, do you think Jesus is going to see that as honoring his sacrifice?  If we bully and nag and break people into saying a simple prayer just in case do you really think that is honoring God or that God will honor us in turn?

Oh, but someone might say, it’s still a free gift, even if it’s not meant that way.  If we wish to follow Jesus, he asks for nothing more.  Oh, really?  Really?  Please, explain to me in the Bible where someone told Jesus “I want to follow you”, and Jesus responded, “I ask nothing of you but your desire to follow me.”

I call bullshit.

The statement that Jesus asks nothing more than that we follow him is semantically sound.  Yes, all Jesus wants is our obedience in following him, but that obedience to actually follow him leads to all sorts of things like us having to treat our family like they are dead (Matthew 8), selling all of our possessions to give to the poor (Matthew 10), denying our own selves (Mark 8).  Not only does this call to sacrifice for Jesus’ sake come in those three places, but it is reiterated throughout every single gospel.  There is a cost.  The disciples did not walk beside Jesus down roads lined with flowers and people cheering (okay, they did that once, but Jesus was crucified shortly thereafter so I’d still argue that it’s not entirely a pleasant affair), it was a long hard slog through many trying, sometimes treacherous, and sometimes terrifying affairs.  In Jesus’ scant two years of ministry he still somehow managed to change the world.  Not because of hearts and roses and come on everybody let’s love one another- there was that, one cannot deny that- but there was also work.

There was sacrifice.

There were tears shed, long and hard prayers, countless miles logged and nights that dwindled into morning.

There was blood shed.

Ask the disciples, that last night in the garden, if they felt that their salvation was something free.  As Peter, as the rooster crowed, if he counted any cost.  Ask Paul, as he lay suffering blind, if he felt that Jesus’ call was a joyous thing.

It’s not free.

It’s worth the price, but it is not free.

I hear the words “Salvation’s Free Gift” with the same jaded ear that hears a salesperson in the mall asking if I want a free bottle of perfume.  Sure, it’s free, after I finish paying out all the contingencies.  Now, at this point I’m sure someone is thinking about the fact that we pray the Sinner’s Prayer and are guaranteed entrance into Heaven and all those nasty bits are about the reality of pursuing a holy life here on earth.  I could argue the theology that backs that realm of thought, but instead I’ll ask a practical question:

What use is it to be saved, if one does not actually desire to live out that salvation?  What use is my own salvation, if I have no desire to live in God’s light and offer up love for my fellow man?

If the only reason I gave my life to Christ was for my own selfishness, I don’t want him to let me into heaven.

And any Christian that would trap someone in selfishness in order to get them to follow God is as foul as the salesperson who claims that the bottle of perfume is free.  That’s no way to run a Kingdom, especially in the name of God.

/end rant

15 thoughts on “In Which Lindsey Rants about the “Free Gift” of Salvation.

  1. Thank you for that. The “free gift of salvation” phrase reminds me also of the saying “unconditional love”. Personally, I don’t believe in it. I think love has conditions; whether it be concerning friends, family, and yes even God.
    Many Christians have a spiritual life that’s what I call ‘ground level’.
    I’ll try to explain…without taking too much of your time, and boring you.
    I can stand outside my home and look at the neighborhood from the ground. If I climb on the roof of my home and look at the same neighborhood, I have a bigger picture and see things I didn’t see from ‘ground level’. The higher one goes the bigger the picture and the greater understanding one has.
    Same in our spiritual life. The higher we go in God the more we begin to see things from God’s perspective, and not just from ‘ground level’.
    Many Christian’s understanding of God and His ways are only from the ‘ground’…they never move higher. They quote ‘catch phrases’ but never really gain wisdom.
    Chapter 2 vs. 1-5 explains how we can understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
    IF we recieve His words, HIDE his commandments, INCLINE, APPLY, CRIEST, LIFT up the voice, SEEK, and SEARCH…
    THEN…after doing all those things…shalt thou…..

    Anyway, sorry to be so long here.
    Thanks again

      • Thank you. It’s funny how when I tried to relate my thoughts on the ‘bigger picture’; (I just read them again; what seemed so important to express), words seem to diminish the idea. But I’m glad you undertand what I was saying.
        Hoping you have a great weekend.

    • While the article makes a valid point, about salvation coming at a cost, I have to point out that the view experessed here on “unconditional love” is just flat out wrong. And I think that the words “love” and “like” are being confused.

      You have to start with the definition of unconditional. Which is to say that “unconditional” means in of itself “without condition” or “without having to earn.”

      God’s love is unconditional and has been since the death of His son on the cross. You don’t have to do a single thing to get God’s love. You already have it. No amount of work, church attendance, Bible study teaching/attending, will earn you God’s love, you already have it. That’s why you always here people say that you’re never more than a step away from God’s love because it’s always there. Just because you forget that doesn’t mean He did. God doesn’t have unconditional LIKE for us. He won’t always like what we do, but He will always love us.

      Bring it down to the human level. I love my kids unconditionally. There is nothing they can do that will cause me to not love them. However they will always do stuff that I don’t LIKE.

  2. The essential problem with such platitudes is that people who use them are regurgitating what they’ve been fed like a cow chewing her cud. “It isn’t palatable enough yet to digest, so I’m going to throw up into my own mouth and chew it again. Meanwhile I’m going to say it to someone else to see if they will swallow it. Moo.” If they’ll swallow it, it confirms for me that my platitudes are sufficient nourishment for my soul.
    Thinking for yourself isn’t easy, and shouldn’t be, and neither is making a serious decision about who your god is going to be. Those various people who decided to follow Jesus in the stories in scripture of whom you speak- some were looking for an easy road, and they drifted away, while others knew the choice meant everything.
    Our North American culture does not yet force us to consider this choice a significant one, but it will soon. For now we have an option similar to the option between drinking a Pepsi and what a Wine Spectator critic would call a “difficult wine.”
    Mogen David Christianity- it gives a cheap and easy buzz, tastes like turpentine, or vinegar. Jesus, even while on the cross, did not have time for such repulsive drivel and spat it out. Nothing good comes without a price! Sure, Meijer’s and everybody else will give you free samples, (that is the first taste of Grace most people get,) but if you want a serious drink of Living Water, it paradoxically will mean death to yourself.
    Rant On, my friend. And drink up on the good stuff.

    • Thanks, man. I agree, like a seed put into the ground, if we want to produce fruit we HAVE to stop being what we are now, we have to destroy ourselves to grow. It’s exhilerating and terrifying.

  3. Sorry, But a whole bunch of Hogwash. We as Christians want to make our faith, with way to many hoops to jump through. That way we can exclude any one that doesn’t conform. As I understand it. God did not promise anything except Salvation. The rest is just Man’s church hogwash. God didn’t say “you have to have this level of faith or you can’t be a Christian. We don’t have to show proof of Faith at the door. God knows our hearts, and our hearts desire.

    • I’m not saying that people need to conform to any standard- I honestly think that people should conform less. But I do think that loving God, truly loving him, leads to a lot of change in people’s lives. It doesn’t always look the same or mean the same thing to different people (my pursuit of God has led to tattoos and pink hair, I hardly think that’s on the list for most Christians!) and I think that ANY time ANYONE who truly loves God is cast out, that is a sin.

      But I think that loving God does lead to discomfort- if nothing more than the discomfort of having to embrace people you’d rather not embrace.

  4. Actually, the sinners prayer is not in the Bible. It came about in the modern times through our modern evangelists, especially Billy Graham. With the advent of the sinner’s prayer came the softer, easier gospel.

    When Peter preached his message on Pentecost, the people asked him, “What must we do?” (Acts 2)

    Peter said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus…”

    We Americans do not view this as a big deal, but if you are a Jew (or Hindu), public baptism is a big deal. It openly tells everyone you are a follower of Christ and that you have turned your back on your former beliefs. Then, the new believer can expect to be shunned and persecuted.

    But of course with the sinner’s prayer, we now have private baptisms away from the public with little meaning at all.

  5. As I mentioned before, I’m Catholic, and we are taught that it is our good works that get us into heaven. We had to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Yes, we needed faith and to know our Bible, but that was all secondary. Imagine how I laughed with the liberal Christians when they talked about “The Magic Jesus Prayer.” I thought it was a joke. Then I actually found out it was real, and it sent me reeling. Maybe I’m just displaying my ignorance, but it seems to easy to just say, “Jesus, I believe in You.” Well, that’s nice and all. But there has to be more to it than that.

  6. I want to suggest the idea of repentance, what Jesus asks us to turn away from, is usually unacceptable for most people. One of the things that trips us up is thinking repentance is just a sorrowful, foot in the mouth desease. But true repentance can and should bring joy. Repentance is a daily, moment by moment, heart decision. This can free us from our former or current addictions-that makes these bumps in the road, instead of dividing chasims.

  7. Beautiful post.

    Give it time and God will ask you for the most precious thing to your heart, the rich man who comes to Christ and who can’t give up that ONE THING. Salvation won’t be lost if we don’t give it to Him, but make no mistake, Christ will work His way to bring you to that point when He will ask you for that one precious thing.

  8. Just so you know, it’s me Mexid Cocktail/AB, who left that last message in case you were wondering who speaks with such authority. : )

  9. It says in the bible it’s a free gift. In Romans 6:23 “the free gift of God is Eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So it is a free gift if we chose to accept it. . As the repentant sinner found who sincerely repented and ask Jesus into His life, found salvation so the same is true for everybody else. I agree with you there is certainly a cost involved if we want to walk with Jesus and have fellowship with Him. Thanks for the thought provoking article.

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