The Cost of a Soul
What is the cost involved in bringing a soul to Christ? Take a careful gander at the four practically destroyed tires retrieved from the vehicle of Pastor Mamitiana in Fort Dauphine, Madagascar. New only a few months ago, they cruised for their final journey to the “people of the thorn,” the Antandroy tribe scattered over what is virtually inaccessible southern Madagascar. “These tires will not handle another hole or another thorn,” evangelist and church planter Mamitiana explained. “We must have new tires for ‘The Dorothy’” (his pet name for the vehicle).
Those are big, tough, expensive tires. Enter Dr. Harry Lewis, retired pastor, New Testament scholar, and missionary, who provided a sacrificial gift to keep “The Dorothy” chugging to proclaim the Savior with a thorn-crowned brow to the “people of the thorn.” That is what it cost to dispel the darkness in the life of Tsirahamba, a shaman (a priest of animism) more than 80 years old, who just received Christ. Thank God for men like Lewis, who comprehend what it takes to love the lost!
But wait a moment. Tsirahamba’s conversion cost much more. The cost begins in heaven in the heart of God with the decision to send heaven’s best in the Incarnate Christ. The cost to Jesus in human suffering on the cross is incalculable. But if one could estimate that cost, the Divine disbursement demanded by the Holy One of Israel when He accepted the sin of every man in the world introduces us to a sum that cannot be reduced to numbers. “I thirst” was the agonizing cry from the cross by the One “who knew no sin” and who “became sin for us.” A holy, sinless Man was suddenly immersed in the selfish, messy sinfulness of our world.
One of the earliest messianic prophecies occurred at the conclusion of Jacob’s life and is recorded in Genesis 48. Joseph has brought his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh to the aged patriarch for a final blessing. As Jacob blessed Joseph, he recounted, “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil . . .” (Genesis 48:7-8). “The Angel who redeemed me”? Indeed redemption has been the plan of God from creation. The “Messenger” or “Angel” of God, the Messiah would accomplish this.
And since He is the Lamb of God slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8), the benefits of the atoning death of Christ redeem those who lived before the cross, as well as those of us who live in its wake. Redemption is the theme of God’s Word. Its value is captured by our Lord in the trilogy of parables in Luke 15, when our Lord concludes, “There will be joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10); because that which was lost is found, and that which was dead is alive.
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) may have come as close to inspired utterance as a man can come when he penned the third verse of the well known hymn “It Is Well with My Soul”:
My sin – oh, the bliss of this glorious tho’t:
My sin – not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
While we sing about the cross and hear sermons on the atoning death of Christ, I fear that for most of us, the grandeur of Christ’s work has eluded us. And if the grandeur of the cross lies beyond our comprehension, the cost of the atonement belongs to another realm. But the salvation of Tsirahamba had a beginning cost of four new tires and a heart of compassion in a retired pastor. God’s ways are amazing!