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Lesson6: The Cost of Discipleship, Eternal Destinies, Procrastination

Conversion: Salvation and Forgiveness - Free Bible Study Course

Conversion, Salvation, Forgiveness - Free Online Bible Study Course: Lesson 6. The choice to be a Christian: counting the cost, eternal destinies, judgment, heaven, hell. The danger of postponing obedience.

Made available by David E. Pratte


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Conversion from Sin

Lesson #6: The Choice

I. Counting the Cost

We have learned that a faithful life is necessary after conversion in order to ultimately receive eternal life. This means there is a very real possibility that some who become Christians will fall away and be lost.

>>> Please read Matthew 13:3-8,18-23. <<<

*1* What caused people who are like stony soil to stumble (vv 20,21)? Answer: They stumble when ___________ arise because of the word.

*2,3* What caused people who are like thorny soil to become unfruitful (v22)? Answer: They become unfruitful because the word is choked by cares (worry) of the ___________ and the deceitfulness of ___________ .

The Bible warns in many passages that falling away and being eternally lost is a real danger for children of God. See John 15:1-6; Romans 8:12-17; Galatians 5:1-4; 6:7-9; 1 Corinthians 9:25-10:12; Hebrews 3:6,11-14; 4:9,11; 6:4-8; 10:26-31; 2 Peter 2:20-22.

On the other hand, the Bible also encourages us that we really can successfully serve God.

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 10:13. <<<

*4,5* What promise does God give about the temptations we face? Answer: God will not allow us to be tempted beyond ___________ , but with every temptation will make a ___________ so we can endure it.

>>> Please read Ephesians 6:10-18. <<<

*6* What can the spiritual armor that God provides do for us? Answer: If we take up the whole armor of God, we will be able to ___________ in the evil day.

While falling away is a real danger, it is not necessary. God has provided everything we need in order to remain faithful and receive eternal life. So the choice of whether or not we remain faithful ultimately depends on how committed we are to God and His will. See 1 Peter 5:8,9; Philippians 4:13; James 4:7.

>>> Please see Luke 14:25-33. <<<

*7* In the illustration of the tower, what did the builder need to do first? Answer: Before beginning to build, he had to sit down and ___________ to see whether or not he could finish.

Jesus here is describing the great sacrifices that serving God may require of us. We may lose our possessions, our loved ones, or even our lives in His service ("hate" here means that we do not love the items named like we love Jesus). Jesus requires us to put Him first and serve faithfully regardless of what hardships life brings.

Great sacrifice is necessary to serve God. Falling away is a definite possibility, but we can serve God successfully if we are truly committed. Since all this is true, we need to consider carefully before we become Christians whether or not we are willing to make the sacrifices required. We will never know ahead of time all the specific problems we may face, but we must honestly evaluate whether or not we really believe the Bible message and are willing to make even the most extreme sacrifices required.

In making this evaluation, however, we should consider, not just the cost of serving God but also the cost of not serving God. We must weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. Consider the blessings of service as well as the hardships. So note the next point.

II. The Consequences of the Choice

A. The Consequences of Not Becoming a Child of God

Conversion is necessary in order to receive forgiveness of sins. Consider now the condition of those who are old enough to be accountable before God but have not obeyed the gospel.

>>> Please read Romans 6:23. <<<

*8* What wages or consequences will we receive for sin? Answer: The wages of sin is ___________ .

This is eternal death, in contrast to the eternal life that the verse says Christ can give us. But if we do not come to Him to receive that eternal life, we will receive eternal death.

>>> Please read Romans 2:8,9. <<<

*9* Who will receive indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish at the judgment (cf. v5)? Answer: This destiny is for those who do not ___________ but obey unrighteousness.

>>> Please read 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9. <<<

*10* When Jesus is revealed from heaven, what will happen to those who have not obeyed the gospel? Answer: The Lord will take vengeance in flaming fire and they will be punished with ___________ .

>>> Please read Matthew 25:41,46. <<<

*11,12* What will be the destiny of those who are found unacceptable at the judgment? Answer: They will go into the ___________  prepared for the devil and his angels (v41); so they will be in ___________ while the righteous will be in eternal life (v46).

>>> Please read Psalms 38:3-8. <<<

*13* What caused David to feel terrible as he describes here? Answer: There was no health (rest) in his bones because of his ___________ .

Notice that guilt is a terrible burden in this life, even before we face our eternal destinies. It makes us fear death and the judgment. We feel guilty and know the Lord does not accept us as belonging to Him. We are alienated from Him like enemies. We may lay awake at night worrying about the future, and we have every right to be worried!

>>> Please read Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8. <<<

*14* Where will people be after the judgment if they are guilty of sin and are not listed in the Book of Life? Answer: They will be in the ___________ which is the second death.

B. The Rewards of Serving God Faithfully

While the destiny of the wicked is terrible, there is no need for anyone to go there. The Bible teaches that people may be forgiven by the blood of Jesus. Those who do so and remain faithful will receive instead the reward of the righteous. But those who do not obey will miss this eternal reward.

We have already learned that the righteous will have eternal life, while the wicked are in eternal punishment - Matt. 25:46; Rom. 6:23. Consider other passages about the blessings God promises to the righteous:

>>> Please read 1 Peter 1:3-5. <<<

*15* What hope has God's mercy begotten people to? Answer: We are begotten to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in ___________ .

>>> Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:9,10. <<<

*16* What reward did God appoint for those who obtain salvation through Jesus? Answer: He died for us so we should live ___________ .

Note that 4:17 says we shall always be with the Lord. Since He will be in heaven, the reward of the faithful will be to always live together with Him in heaven.

>>> Please read Ephesians 1:3. <<<

*17* What has God blessed His people with? Answer: They are blessed with every (all) ___________ in Christ.

Just as the wicked suffer guilt and fear in this life, even before they face eternal punishment, so the righteous receive blessings, peace, and hope in this life even before eternal life.

>>> Please read Matthew 11:28-30. <<<

*18* What blessing did Jesus promise to those who come to Him? Answer: He said that all who labor and are heavy laden will find ___________ to their souls.

>>> Please read Revelation 21:4,5. <<<

*19* What problems will not be found when the righteous receive their reward? Answer: There will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying, or pain, because the former things have ___________ and God has made all things new.

These are some of the many blessings that God has promised to those who are converted and live faithfully. But those who have not been converted do not have these promises. When you count the cost of being converted, be sure to include the cost of the blessings you will receive if you are converted and the cost of the punishments you will receive if you are not converted.

III. The Urgency of Obedience

A. Examples of Urgency

Consider some Bible examples that demonstrate the urgency of obedience to the gospel. In these examples, notice how soon the people obeyed after they learned and believed the truth. Compare these examples to modern denominations that sometimes tell people, who want to be baptized, that they should wait a few days, weeks, or months till a "baptismal service" sometime in the future.

>>> Please read Acts 2:36-41. <<<

*20* After they heard and believed the gospel, when did these people obey it? Answer: Those who gladly received the word were baptized and that (same) ___________ 3000 were added.

Note that people with true understanding and conviction did not even wait till the next day to respond.

>>> Please read Acts 8:35-39. <<<

*21* What question did the treasurer ask after he had heard about Jesus? Answer: When they came to some water, he asked what hindered him from being ___________ .

Note that he saw an urgent need to be baptized. Philip's response showed that he could be baptized if he had a sincere belief and a willingness to acknowledge (confess) that Jesus is the Christ.

>>> Please read Acts 16:30-33. <<<

*22,23* After the jailer's family heard the gospel, when were they baptized? Answer: The same hour of the ___________ he took care of Paul and Silas, then immediately he and his family were ___________ .

Note that the events described here did not begin till after midnight (v25). When he learned the truth, the jailer realized that baptism was so urgent that he did not even wait till morning.

>>> Please read Acts 22:16. <<<

*24* What did Ananias tell Saul that showed the urgency of baptism? Answer: He asked why he was ___________ then told him to be baptized and wash away his sins.

All these examples confirm the urgency of baptism, and they show why it was urgent. Until the person is baptized, he is still in his sins. Sins are washed away or remitted only when one has been baptized (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Modern denominations do not see this urgency, because they do not believe baptism is necessary to salvation. But those who appreciate the Bible truth will not want baptism to be postponed.

Surely people must understand the teaching of God's word and should not jump into something before they realize the consequences. They should have a genuine faith and repentance, including a commitment to faithfully serve God no matter what the consequences may be. But they do not need to understand everything that God's word teaches - there is much to be learned after baptism (Matt. 28:19,20). And as long as they procrastinate, they are still lost in sin.

B. The Danger of Procrastination

Some people know what God's word teaches and they believe it to be true, but they put if off thinking, "I'll obey someday." Consider now some passages that show the danger of postponing or putting off obedience to the gospel.

>>> Please read Acts 24:24,25. <<<

*25* What was Felix' response when Paul taught him the gospel? Answer: He asked Paul to leave saying he would call for him when he had a ___________ .

The last we know of this man, he never did obey the gospel.

>>> Please read 2 Corinthians 6:2. <<<

*26,27* When would the acceptable time to be saved come? Answer: ___________ is the acceptable time and now is the day of ___________ .

The only time we can be sure that we can obey the gospel is now. We have no way of knowing what will happen in this life if we do not obey.

>>> Please read 1 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 3:12,13. <<<

*28,29* According to these verses, what hinders some people from obedience? Answer: We might develop a seared (branded) ___________ or we could be ____________ by the deceitfulness of sin .

These problems develop gradually as people neglect to do what God teaches. After a while, what once seemed urgent no longer seems to matter much. We become insensitive and are not touched by the message. Many follow this pattern and never do obey. These are dangers of procrastination.

>>> Please read James 4:14; Proverbs 27:1. <<<

*30* How is life described here? Answer: Life is like a ___________ that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

How many people, who knew the gospel and intended to obey it "some day," have died lost in sin? We do not know what will happen tomorrow. The only day we have when we can be sure we can obey is today.

>>> Please read Luke 12:15-21. <<<

*31* What did the rich farmer plan to do with his life? Answer: He thought he had many goods laid up for many years, so he could take his ease and ___________ .

*32* What happened to him instead? Answer: That night his ___________ was required of him.

This man thought he had many years to live, not knowing that he did not even have one more day to live. He died lost, because he had not committed his life to God while he had the opportunity.

>>> Please read Hebrews 9:27. <<<

*33* What comes after death? Answer: It is appointed to man once to die, and after this comes ___________ .

Not one single person can prevent his life from ending. We may take measures to postpone death, but eventually we all will leave this life. Then we will face judgment and our eternal destinies. Are you ready?

>>> Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:2,3. <<<

*34* What do we know about the day when Jesus will return? Answer: The day of the Lord will come like a ___________ .

Not only do we not know when we will die, we also do not know when Jesus will come again. Even if we do not die first, He could come at any moment without warning. If we are not ready, we will be caught unprepared and "shall not escape."

>>> Please read Jeremiah 8:20. <<<

*35* How did Jeremiah describe those who had not been saved when they had the opportunity? Answer: The harvest is ___________ , the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

There is a time to harvest crops. If we wait too long, they may be destroyed or over ripen. Then it is too late. Likewise, we have the opportunity in this life to be saved. If we wait too long, it may be too late.

>>> Please read Matthew 25:1-13. <<<

*36* What happened to the virgins that were not prepared when the bridegroom returned? Answer: The door was ___________ and the Lord refused to open to them.

This describes the case of those who are not prepared when the Lord returns to judge mankind. It will be too late then to try to get ready. We will be left outside among those who receive eternal punishment (vv 41,46).

>>> Please read Psalms 119:60. <<<

*37* How did the writer describe his commitment to obey the Lord? Answer: He made haste and did not ___________ to obey the Lord's commands.

When people know the Lord's will and believe it, He expects them to obey without delay!

>>> Please read James 4:17. <<<

*38* If we know to do good but do not do it, what is our condition? Answer: When one knows to do good, but does not do it, to him it is ___________ .

We need to be baptized to be forgiven of our sins. As long as we postpone obedience we remain in sin. But this verse shows that, when we know what the Lord expects us to do to obey Him but we put it off, we are adding to our sin! The very act of not doing what we know we ought to do is itself sinful!

Personal application questions:

Do you now understand the Lord's teaching about how to be forgiven of your sins? ___________ 

Do you believe what He teaches about it? ___________ 

Which of the following is true of your conversion: (a) I am not yet ready to take the steps necessary for conversion, (b) I am not sure about my conversion, (c) I am willing to accept the responsibilities of being a Christian and I want to be baptized, (d) I was Scripturally converted in the past, but I now need to correct my life and return to the Lord, (e) I have been Scripturally converted and I believe I am serving Him faithfully. Answer: ______

While you have been studying this course, have you made any significant changes in your faith, spiritual conduct, church membership, or relationship with God? If so, please explain. _______________

Would you like for us to try to find a faithful local church in your area or a Christian to study the Bible with you or to baptize you? Depending on where you live, we may or may not be able to help in these ways. ___________ 

When you have carefully studied this lesson and written down answers to all the questions, click on this link to submit your answers.

(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2004

Topics for further Bible study

Why Do We Need Forgiveness of Sins?
Individual Responsibility in Salvation
Is Obedience Essential to Salvation?
How Can You Be Sure of Forgiveness?
The Meaning & Purpose of Life
Life after Death, Resurrection, Judgment - Return to the Bible Study Lessons home page.

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