Those who have built a new home know that it involves lots of work and can be quite costly. But the results can be well worth it. Conversion is like that too.
Let’s consider this scenario: You are living in a home that is beyond repair and thinking about whether to build a new house. Thankfully your father is willing to give you a generous gift and to help you with the work. And in exchange, all he wants is assurance you’ll keep it in good condition after it is built.
And so you decide to accept his offer and put it in writing. In the contract he adds that if you build your house and also keep it maintained, then he will give you an even bigger gift!
What an incredibly generous offer! So now it is basically up to you. Will you close the deal?
The spiritual application
There may be times in our life when we feel the need for change. Things may not be going well. It may be our job, our finances or perhaps our relationship with others. Or perhaps it is a combination of all these. But one thing is sure, if we continue on our current path, the future doesn’t look good. So we decide that we need a change.
The good news is that our Heavenly Father wants to help us. God is in the process of creating a family, and He would like for us to be His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). Furthermore, He wants to give us eternal life!
And in exchange for this, all He wants is for us to change our life—to build on His foundation. That is, He wants us to change our way of living and conform to His way of life. If we accept His offer by repenting of our sins and being baptized, He will give us His Holy Spirit as a down payment. This is explained in Ephesians 1:13-14, where it says, “You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”
The word guarantee is translated from the Greek #728 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, which is defined as “a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest.” So, we see that the receiving of the Holy Spirit is a down payment for eternal life.
Because God wants us to be a part of His family, He is even willing to make a down payment for us. And in exchange, we need to promise that we will change from living a life of sin to living God’s way of life. If we choose to make these beneficial changes, the deal will close.
To understand the preplanning, we need to back up a few steps and look at the overall situation. The Bible tells us that God gives His Spirit upon repentance and baptism. In other words, it’s given when we accept God’s offer. It is like accepting a contract; but in this case, we are making a covenant with God. A covenant is essentially a contract.
Before accepting a contract, there are things we need to consider. Do we really want to go through the effort of building a new house? Can we afford it? The same questions are true when we come into the faith.
The first question is, “Do we really want to change?” Are we willing to sacrifice the ways of this world for God’s way of life? Accepting God’s way requires living a whole new way of life.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. … We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 5:17; 6:1).
Once we accept the offer, our life is to be lived according to God’s way of life; otherwise, we are receiving the grace of God in vain. Our acceptance requires a whole new lifestyle, one that is based entirely upon God’s way of life and includes obedience to God’s laws.
In the analogy, after we decide that we want to build a new house, the second question is, “Can we afford it?” We likely will need to borrow the money to pay for the job. Or, as in the introduction above, our father may generously offer to pay the expenses.
Counting the cost
To accept God’s calling, we need to do the same thing. We need to ask ourselves, “Can we afford it?” We refer to this as counting the cost.
Jesus explained it this way, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate [love less by comparison] his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? … So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-30, 33).
God expects us to be fully committed to Him. It is a lifelong commitment; once we begin, we can’t just quit!
The good news is that God truly wants us, and He is willing to help us make the changes in our life that are necessary to overcome this world. We can find comfort in the fact that God says that He is patient and not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He definitely wants us to overcome the evil pulls of this world and become members of His family.
Basically, Jesus is telling us that if we remain committed to living God’s way of life, He and the Father are fully committed to ensuring that we succeed in overcoming this world.This fact is magnified when we consider what Jesus said in John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
Basically, Jesus is telling us that if we remain committed to living God’s way of life, He and the Father are fully committed to ensuring that we succeed in overcoming this world. As Paul stated in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
So, in answer to the question, “Can we afford it?” the answer is, “With God’s help, yes we can.”
We know that God is willing and ready to help us as much as possible. The Holy Spirit that He gives us for a down payment gives us the power to overcome. God really wants us to be in His family!
But we must remember that the Holy Spirit won’t force us to do something against our will. We can quench the Spirit if we are not careful. God is willing to work in us, and He wants to do so, but some will reject God.
Paul wrote, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Others will have a form of godliness but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
We need to have the attitude of now-retired airline pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River during an emergency situation. In his book Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, he wrote, “I am trained to be intolerant of anything less than the highest standards of my profession” (2009, p. 375).
As Christians, we should have this same mind-set as to how we live our life. We should be striving for perfection, training ourselves to be intolerant of anything less than the highest standards of Christian living. We may not reach perfection in this life, but we should strive for it.
To be committed to the faith, we must remember that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26). It only stands to reason that if a person truly believes in God’s Word, he or she will try to live by it.
This is what John explained when he wrote, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
Paul wrote, “‘Come out from among them [referring to those who live an unrighteous life] and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18). And then Paul added, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
These scriptures reveal that if a person is truly a Christian, he or she will be striving to live God’s way of life.
God has not left us clueless as to what is right or wrong
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The literal translation of the phrase given by inspiration of God in this verse is “God-breathed.” This informs us that the Bible came from God through the men who wrote it.
This is verified in Peter’s writings when he said, “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Therefore, we can be assured that the Bible is our trustworthy instruction manual.
Closing the deal
God has called us to come out of this world. He wants us and has offered a contract in good faith for us. He even gives us His Holy Spirit after baptism as a down payment, ensuring that we can overcome this world and be in His family.
But now it is up to each of us. Will we do our part?
Make your calling and election sure by following God’s instructions and staying on the path that leads to eternal life.
For further information, please download and study the biblical passages in our free booklet Change Your Life!