COUNTETH THE COST
By John C. Carpenter
 
Speaking to multitudes, Christ said, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth [enumerate, compute] the cost [expense, cost], whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Luke 14:25-35). In these verses, the Lord suggests what sounds like a strange thing. He suggests that before an individual decides to become a Christian, he or she should "sit down first" and compute the cost of coming to Christ. Regarding loving, confessing, and following Christ, of becoming His disciple, let us examine three aspects: the cost, the reason for the cost, and the reward of the cost.
 
FOR YE ARE DEAD
 
The apostle Paul wrote the believers in Rome Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift [of eternal life] came upon all men unto justification of life (Rom 5:18). Many in the church interpret this statement to mean that there is no price or cost to be paid by the believer for this free gift. There is, in fact, a cost, and price, and that price is high. The apostles of Christ well knew the cost of following Christ, and encountered that cost daily. The great apostle Paul wrote believers in Colossae, For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3). The apostle Paul explained the nature of his love for Christ when he said, ...I die daily (1 Cor 15:31), while Christ told His own disciples, ...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:23-25). The Lord added elsewhere, And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it (Mat 10:38-39). Paul wrote believers in Rome, Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord(Rom 6:11). Although the Lord was referring to His own death, He also fully explained the calling of believers when he said, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down [figuratively, or, in some cases, literally] his life for his friends (John 15:13). Speaking to the multitudes, Christ initially said, If any man come to me, and hate [love less] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26), and then summarized a few verses later, So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:33). Paul instructed those in Rome, for if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death, kill] the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Rom 8:13), and I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice [by offering up to death your carnal nature, and thereby being], holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service [ministry, requirement] (Rom 12:1). We should note that in his letter to Roman believers, Paul referred to this price as our "reasonable service." In summarizing His own life, as well as the required life of the believer, Christ told twelve of His disciples,...the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mat 20:28). Since The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord (Mat 10:24), the calling and requirement to be fulfilled, and the price to be paid by the believer is to also give his or her life. Lastly, we are instructed in the book of Revelation that believers...overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death (Rev 12:11). The cost, the price, of following Christ is clear. In verse after verse, scriptures use terms like "ye are dead, I die, lose his life, lay down his life, hate your own life, forsake all that you have, mortify the deeds of the body, and present your bodies a living sacrifice." The cost is your death. This death is certainly figurative, in that it involves a loss of your own will, desires, activities, physical comfort and worldly things, as well as the crucifixion of your own bodily appetites. The death may also be literal, as many apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and missionaries will one day testify to.
 
YE ARE NOT YOUR OWN
 
The cost of following Christ is clearly death, but why is this cost necessary? When we examine the scriptures, the reason becomes clear. Paul wrote believers in Rome, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not [no longer] your own? For ye are bought [purchased, redeemed] with a price [the crucifixion]: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:19-20). Paul taught that the believer in Christ has been bought by the price of Christís death, and, as a result, the believer is no longer his or her own, to do his or her own will and live as he or she desires. An old life has passed, and a new life is present. Paul instructed Ephesian believers, ...put off concerning the former conversation [behavior] the old [worn out] man [ways and life], which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (Eph 4:22), and told those in Corinth, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17). The apostle Paul explained the reason why believers should respond to the requirements of the gospel when he wrote the church in Corinth, For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:20). Christ's death on the cross has purchased the believer's body and spirit, and the believer now belongs to God. Paul also wrote those in Rome, Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). The apostle John also knew the reason for giving up our lives in service to Christ when he wrote, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he [Christ] laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). The apostle Peter also encouraged, Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (1 Pet 4:1-2). The believer in Christ is instructed to, Purge out therefore the old leaven [puffed up rebellion], that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even[because] Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (1 Cor 5:7). The reason that the believer's death is necessary is that the believer is no longer his own. He or she has been bought with a price, and is instructed, and expected, to "put off the old man since old things have passed away, glorify God because he or she now belongs to God, walk in new life, and lay down his or her life."
 
WHAT SHALL WE HAVE THEREFORE?
 
In this article, we have found that there is a cost to following Christ, and that cost is death. We have also seen that there are reasons why this death is necessary. But what is the reward for giving Christ our life? Christ's own disciples also wondered about this, and asked the Lord this same question. Immediately after the Lord's disciples heard the story of the rich man, and realized the requirements and difficulties of being a disciple of Christ, they were amazed and shocked, and asked Christ,...Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold [in this life], and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first [consider themselves and their lusts most important] shall be last [least important to Christ]; and the last [those that consider themselves and their lusts as least important, and Christ and His kingdom most important] shall be first [most important to Christ, and therefore inherit everlasting life] (Mat 19:25-30). In the letter written by the apostle John, we find, I believe, one of the many scriptural summaries of the Christian walk. Holy Scriptures teach us, And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die [give up itĎs own life and will], it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour (John 12:20-26). The reasons for giving our life in service to Christ are apparent. Believers shall "bring forth much fruit, shall be honoured by our Heavenly Father, and shall inherit everlasting life." Holy Scriptures clearly teach us that following Christ has costs, reasons, and reward.  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"Jesus saith
unto him, I
am the
way, the truth,
and the
life: no man
cometh unto
the Father,
but by me"
(John 14:6)




 
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