Lessons from a Transplant

By Royce Frederick

By the grace of God, I recently received a kidney transplant, for which I am deeply thankful. During my recovery, I realized there are similarities between receiving a transplant and receiving eternal salvation.

First, I learned that I had a PROBLEM. The doctor told me, “Your kidneys are failing.” Without proper treatment, my life would not continue long. But there was hope. A kidney transplant could restore my health.

All of us SIN (Rom. 3:23). If our sins remain unforgiven, they will separate us from God forever in eternal punishment (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:15).

After a long time, I HEARD the good news: “A kidney is available!”

A sinner must HEAR the good news that Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay the death penalty for our sins, was buried, then arose triumphant over death (Jn. 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 1:16; 10:14)! He offers the benefit of His death to all who obey Him (Rom. 6:3-4, 16-18).

I BELIEVED the message and believed in the doctors and nurses. Through consultations, I had developed trust in their knowledge, ability, and motives. I trusted what they actually said they would do, not merely what I “thought” they would do.

A sinner must BELIEVE the gospel and believe in Jesus (Jn. 8:24; Mk. 16:16). Believing in Jesus means accepting His written word, not merely our opinions or the words of men (Rom. 10:17; Jude 3; Matt. 15:9, 13). But it must be active belief (faith). Belief which is not followed by action is “dead” (Jas. 2:17; see Jn. 12:42). A sinner is saved by faith which acts, “not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24).

I DECIDED to accept the new kidney. Merely believing the message and believing in the doctors was not enough. I had to decide whether to accept the kidney or not. It was not a difficult decision. However, I heard of one man who refused a transplant.

A sinner must REPENT — “decide to turn” from sin and turn to God (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 17:30).

I AGREED to allow the surgery. At the hospital, the surgeon talked with me to be sure I understood what he would do, and be sure I was ready for him to operate. I listened carefully and agreed. By doing that, I agreed that the surgeon was the proper one to have power over my life for the surgery.

A sinner must CONFESS that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37). This is our statement that we agree with the Bible’s message: Jesus is Lord, the One who has the right to rule our life (Phil. 2:9-11). He is the Great Physician (Mk. 2:3-12, 17). But salvation does not occur at the moment we confess (see Lk. 4:41).

I SUBMITTED to the surgery. If I had “agreed,” but then resisted, I would not have received the kidney. So I surrendered to the surgeon. I let the surgeon and his team put me to sleep, thereby allowing the surgeon to cut me open and change me on the inside.

A sinner must BE BAPTIZED in water for the forgiveness of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38; 22:16). Baptism is the moment of surrender by faith (Col. 2:12). That is when God through Jesus forgives our sins and changes the sinner into a child of God (Jn. 3:3, 5; Gal. 3:26-27; 2 Cor. 5:17).

It was a FREE GIFT. My actions were necessary, but they did not earn the gift of a kidney — not even 1% of it. It was entirely a gift from the donor.

Salvation is a FREE GIFT (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-10). Baptism, and all that lead to it, are necessary. But we do not earn salvation by being baptized — not even 1% of our salvation. Jesus paid the full price for our salvation by dying on the cross.

A kidney is a great gift — but temporary (Jas. 4:14). Salvation is far more important. Obey the gospel and receive the gift of eternal life!