Have you ever wondered just how it is that Christians got saved in the first place? What turned them away from a worldly lifestyle that seemed to offer everything and drew them to the foot of cross? How did that atheist ever find God in a world of denial? It happened because it’s not their doing; it’s a miraculous call for salvation that begins with a gift of faith.
The very first step toward anyone getting saved is hearing the message of Jesus and how He died for our sins. He has instructed us in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” This is our commission, our ministry as Christians. We don’t want to keep the goodness of God to ourselves – and we can’t because the love of God within us compels us to share it. The more we know Jesus, the more we want to share His love with others, and so we live our lives as testimonies of His love and we joyfully tell others about Him.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that salvation is a three-step process: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” In other words, one person preaches and plants the seed or the interest about Jesus in someone, another person comes along and elaborates on that message so the interest is sparked to the point of submission, and then God gives the increase. What is the increase?
The increase is the gift of faith that is needed to actually believe in God, in the cross and the gospel of Jesus. It’s one thing to hear it and be interested, but it’s another thing to actually want it. When the message makes sense and the heart wants to try it, God gives that person a gift of faith. And this is called grace.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” … Ephesians 2:8
We cannot come to the cross on our own even if it sounds like a great idea. We cannot become a Christian on our own enthusiasm or good intentions. It is a gift that God gives to each and every person who hears the true gospel of Jesus and who decides in their own heart that they want it instead of the world. At that point, God gives them the gift of faith that allows them to accept the truth so they can repent and invite Jesus into their heart.
It’s an overwhelming feeling to know that Jesus died for all of us while we were still sinners and didn’t even care about Him. When He was nailed to the cross, He took upon himself every sin that we have ever committed or will commit. Regardless of what it was; whether we stole something, cursed someone, mocked God, killed an unborn baby or abused someone, He took it all for each and every one us and He paid the price of death for it all.
Some people would easily give their lives to protect the ones they love, but no one would give up their own life so that the evil people of the world could become good, or so that a brutal murderer could have a second chance. No one has that much love in them to want anything good for them. Yet, Jesus did that for us.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus is the Son of God; the lamb that God sent from Heaven to save all of us and He did it because He loves us. God knows that no person can come to Him without faith, and so to all those who hear the Word and want to change and become saved, God gives this special gift of faith.
Does this mean that once we accept salvation we’re always saved? No, and this is a lie that many people believe. It means that when we heard the truth and wanted it, God gave us a gift of faith to accept it. But not everyone will keep the gift and use it wisely. In Matthew 25:15-30, Jesus refers to the gift of faith as talents:
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
What He’s saying in a nutshell is this: when we are given the gift of faith to believe, we can lose the salvation opportunity that was initially given to us through this gift if we don’t act on it.
Some people, like the servant with ten talents, will spend his or her life living a Godly lifestyle and preaching and teaching others – and a good example is Billy Graham. He is committed to God and so God gave him a very large responsibility to preach to millions, and Mr. Graham accepted the responsibility and spent his life serving the Lord.
The second servant was given five talents and he could be compared to a husband and father who loves the Lord, but who has to work and provide and care for his family so he can’t be as committed as the first servant. Yet, he loves God with all his heart and lives a Godly lifestyle, so he preaches and shows God’s love to everyone around him and gives what he can to help others.
The third servant was given two talents, but sadly had the attitude of, “once saved, always saved”, and he didn’t care to live for God or to tell others about Him. This selfish person thought that the gift of faith to believe was sufficient to get him into Heaven, and he didn’t care about sharing it with anyone else. He continued to live his own life and felt that as long as he was saved that was all that mattered. This same lie and deception of false preaching affects many people who think they’re saved, but are not. And this is why God says, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Yes, you CAN lose the initial gift of grace if you don’t truly appreciate that it cost Jesus His life to give it to you. It’s a priceless gift that comes around to every person at least once in a lifetime; some people are given it several times and it’s usually because someone else is diligently praying for their salvation.
As we share the gospel of Jesus with others, we need to pray that their hearts be opened to accept this precious gift of faith, and that they’ll treasure it. The message goes out to so many, yet only a few will hear it, accept it and thank God for it.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” … Matthew 22:14
Let’s keep the message going out and pray for a harvest.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised;19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” … Luke 4:18,19
**An encouraging book of faith is one that I wrote under God’s anointing last year when I cried out to Him to make my faith strong during a nasty battle with cancer. It’s a daily devotional that’s loaded with scripture and it brought me through a very dark place in my life and into victory – and I want to share it with you to help you get the victory over situations in your own life.
You can visit my website for more details.