The Sacrifice Made

John Shaw - Small Groups Pastor | Bethel Baptist Church | Troy, IL

I received a call from a couple seeking some spiritual guidance about the potential of an upcoming marriage. As we talked, I sensed there was a misunderstanding of what the Gospel meant to them, and the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation. As the woman communicated about her spiritual background, it became clear to me she was taught that her works attributed to her salvation. The man’s background, although not as apparent, seemed rooted there also. I quickly steered the conversation towards the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our salvation. I began to share my testimony with them, which included my childhood struggle with trying to earn the approval of God and others.

Having grown up in a works based religious setting, I truly didn’t understand the sacrifice Jesus made for me. I knew who He was, what He did on the cross for the sins of mankind, and that He rose again. I didn’t understand, He paid the full penalty for all my sin. There was no good in me that could earn my salvation. I was so consumed with thoughts of how to earn God’s approval. My actions were motivated by a heart trying to be “good enough”. I knew nothing about a relationship with Jesus. I didn’t know Him personally! The sacrifice He made provided access to a personal relationship with God.

In terms of Jesus’ sacrifice, His death at Calvary to atone for the sins of mankind by crucifixion was indeed the greatest act of sacrifice in the history of the world. It was a perfect demonstration of His own teaching in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” His supreme offering of His sinless life paid the terrible cost of all of mankind’s sins for all time (Hebrews 9:26-28; 10:10, 12, 14).

When I accepted Christ as my Savior in high school, I finally understood the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for me. The heavy burden of my sin was gone. He had paid the price for my sin. The impact it would make in my life as a Disciple-Maker, and my commitment to His method and message, would be transformational. A proper understanding of His sacrifice has motivated me to love the way He loved, and to die to self so that others may have life today and for eternity.

Our salvation has been completed — signed, sealed, and delivered. But our character transformation, the process of becoming like Him in our thinking and behavior is a process.

We despair over our sins, but His once-for-all sacrifice has dealt with them. However, our renewed repentance from those sins is evidence He is purifying our conscience and changing our heart. Rather than external, Christ’s sacrifice for us works through his Holy Spirit from the inside out! His sacrificial death opens up a mission field of opportunity to be a part of this transformational process in people’s lives. As a Disciple-Maker, I am intentional to connect and be a part of this journey of faith.

The conversation ended with an invite to dinner. They accepted! They are on a journey of faith. I am praying for our conversation and an opportunity to disciple. God’s desire is to have a personal relationship with them, as is mine. I get to be in on what God is doing. Following through with this couple will take time, energy, and some personal sacrifice. But, nothing like the sacrifice Christ made for them and for me.

by John Shaw – Small Groups Pastor
Bethel Baptist Church
Troy, IL