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Sunday, September 30, 2012 am 

COUNTING THE COST
(Presented in 2 Lessons)
Luke 14:25-33

 This passage is one we have discussed in times past, but it is worthy of revisiting from time to time.  Because of His powers and message, Jesus attracted many followers.  They came from all walks of life and for different reasons.  Just like today (and throughout all of history), everyone who comes has a different background and needs.  Some are more dedicated than others, but others are more emotional.  I am convinced that some who came to Jesus fully understood them impact of following Him, but others did not.  I see that demonstrated in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15) where some remained faithful while others did not or else they lost their fervor.

As He taught His disciples, Jesus wanted them to understand the cost that would be associated with following Him. He wanted them to know that the cost was not cheap.  Jesus tried to instill this message throughout His teachings.  On the occasion we are discussing He said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)  While we know that Jesus is not saying that He WANTS us to hate our family (that is contrary to His teachings about family), He wants them to understand the level of commitment that is necessary to follow Him.  That is followed by saying, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.” (Lk. 14:28-30)  This is followed by another illustration about a king going out to war and planning before he goes.  Jesus concludes by saying, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (vs. 33)

Just like back then, today we face the same challenge.  There are many who are desperately searching for answers to life’s problems.  Many are seeking to find out about Jesus and the Bible (our job is to look for them), BUT they are searching with varying levels of commitment.  Some are seeking to change their lives, while others are simply seeking to change the moment.  Our job, as we teach others, is to do our best to ensure that they understand the COST of following Him.  Sadly, there are many who will respond to the gospel invitation and obey, but without true understanding of their need to transform their lives.  But the warnings of scripture are strong toward those who obey and then reject Him (Luke 9:62, 2 Pet. 2:20-22, 1 Cor. 9:27, etc.).  We need to do work at ensuring that when one desires to obey the gospel that they understand the commitment necessary to be a true disciple of Christ. That is why it is best to take our time and try to teach them before they obey (and continue teaching after they obey).

So with that in mind, let us take a few moments and discuss counting the cost.

I.                    The cost paid for us

a.        John 3:16 – let us be reminded that for our sins God sent Jesus to die on that cross.  He paid a tremendous price because of His love for us.

b.       Jesus willingly came to this earth and died – Phil. 2:5-7, John 10:15-18, 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  Rom. 5:6-9 – in due season Christ died for us.

c.        It would do us well to consider all that Jesus went through while upon this earth.  Not only the ridicule, blasphemy, rejection, disappointment and frustration, but the pain of the cross and events leading up to it.

d.       The cost Jesus paid is the motivation for the cost we ought to be willing to pay.

 II.                  The cost of being a Christian

a.        The story is told of a man searching for a church when he moved into a new town.  As he looked around, he asked the preacher, “What will it cost me to be a part of this church?”  He received various responses, “Not much, just identify with us and we’ll add you to our roles”, “We will try and make you comfortable and accommodate all your needs”, “We would like for you to attend occasionally and ‘tithe’”, “Here is a list of things we expect of you…”, etc.  Then he finally came to another preacher who said to him, “It will cost you everything!”  That is what the man was looking for.  Far too many want “cheap grace” and the benefits without the work and commitment.

b.       This IS also what Jesus had in mind when He made His statement. He wanted us to understand that He MUST be first and we cannot let anything stand in our way of that relationship.  Let us consider some of the costs associated with following Jesus.

                                                   i.      Relationships – Jesus specifically said you should be willing to “hate” your father, mother, son, daughter and even your spouse.  (14:26-27).  Earlier (Lk. 12:51-53) – Jesus said HE had not come to bring peace on earth.   Following Him would divide households.
Of course, His point was that you love them less.  We need to ensure that we are not “Unequally yoked together with an unbeliever.”  (2 Cor. 6:14)
That is why it is not wise to marry an unbeliever, which would include someone whose religious views are different than yours.

                                                  ii.      Your possessions & worldly pleasures – we are continually reminded that the things of this world are incompatible with true spirituality.  1 John 2:15-17 tells us not to love the world or the things in the world.  Will we give up the things of the world (and their pursuit) to follow Him?   Jesus, earlier in Luke said to those who sought to follow Him but began making excuses, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk. 12:62)

                                                iii.      A willingness to quit sinning – Rom. 6:1-2, “Shall we continue in sin…?  Certainly not!”  Being a disciple of Christ means you have to cease living a sinful life.
1 John 3:4-6, 9 – the Christian “does not sin” and “he cannot sin”

                                                iv.      A willingness to endure hardships for him – (Lk. 14:27)   In our text, Jesus said that one must be willing to “bear his cross.”  The idea of bearing one’s cross is a willingness to endure whatever comes our way.  The cross was associated with pain and suffering.  It was certainly something one didn’t want to endure.  NOTE that as Jesus spoke these words, He knew what was in store for Him in the near future – LITERALLY, He bore His own cross (John 19:17).  IN 1 Pet. 2:21 we read, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us n example, that you should follow in His steps…”

                                                  v.      A willingness to do what you need to do – (Lk. 14:27) – after challenging one to take up his own cross, Jesus said “and come after Me.”  The very idea of being a disciple to be a student of a teacher whose ways and message you will seek to learn, emulate and teach to others.   Jesus expected followers to FOLLOW Him.  Even if it is was not popular, fun or pleasant.
Will we do whatever He commands us to do (cf. Matt. 7:21).  Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not the things that I say?
A true disciple DOES what he is instructed to do. (cf. Jas. 1:22, 25)

                                                vi.      Your own life – (Lk. 14:26) will you die for Him?  The REST of your life!  Discipleship IS for life!  It is not temporary.  You can’t quit!  John 12:25, Rev. 12:11, Rom. 12:1-2 – a summary.  Present your body a living sacrifice (cf. Gal 2:20).

c.        Does this sound appealing?

                                                   i.      Rather than seeking souls with false hopes and watered down responsibilities, let us be realistic as we discuss the gospel with others.  Let them know what they are getting into.

                                                  ii.      BUT, consider the rewards of such obedience –

1.       A relationship with our Creator – this is lacking in many world religions.
1 John 4:13-16 speaks of God abiding in us because we confess Him. 
John 14:23 says, “IF anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and MY father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

2.       Eternal life in heaven – Rom. 2 7 speaks of the eternal life that awaits those who patiently continue doing good.  Rev. 2:10 speaks of being faithful until death.

3.       A brotherhood on earth – Mark 10:29-30 says, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for MY sake and the gospel’s who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.”

4.       Contentment in life – 1 Tim. 6:6.  There is so much to be said about the relief one has when his purpose in life is not tied to the pursuit of this world’s things and ways

5.       Peace of mind – the Christian life is one that if followed faithfully, you can live with a good conscience (cf. Acts 23:1, 1 Pet. 3:16).  That is not to say you will not face grief and sleepless nights, but you know that in God’s eyes, all is well.

 III.                The cost of refusing to obey –

a.        Like it or not, another consideration that we need to weigh is the cost of refusing to obey.    There is a high price in this life for one to follow after Jesus.  I have heard some say that following Jesus is easy.  I understand what is meant, but in the REAL WORLD, we know that it is not.  Even Peter, stumbled from time to time as an example (he denied our Lord and even as a seasoned apostle, he was a hypocrite in dealing with the Gentiles [Gal. 2:12-16]). 
It is not always easy to be a Christian, but it IS worth it!
AND, consider that if one refuses to obey God the COST is much higher!  Think about that!

b.       Scriptures are clear that those who will not obey will be lost!  2 Thess. 1:8-9 speaks of those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel.  Matt. 7:13-14 speaks of the two paths, the broader one leading to destruction.  Luke 13:3 says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
And then there are the passages that warn of returning to the world (again).

c.        One who is lost will:

                                                   i.      Be eternally separated from God – 2 Thess. 1:9 speaks of being punished with “everlasting destruction FROM the presence of the Lord.”
Matt. 7:23, concerning those who do not do the will of the Father, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

                                                  ii.      Suffer eternal torments - Mat. 25:46 speaks of everlasting punishment. The unprofitable servant was cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30).

                                                iii.      Spend eternity with regret – Lk. 16:25 – the rich man had eternity to “think.”  I am convinced that this is one way, “the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Pet. 2:20).  Imagine having had opportunity and rejecting it and being reminded of that every day.  That is one of the GREATER terrors of hell!

 Truly, the cost of discipleship is high.  It demands a dedicated change in your life that will affect every aspect of it.  But the rewards are “out of this world” and the price of refusing to obey is even higher.  What about you?  Have you counted the cost?  Why not obey Him today?