Counting the CostLuke 14:25-33Theme: Paying the price.This week’s lessons teach us that there is no such thing as “easy Christianity.” LessonIn order to be a disciple, I must pay the price of my own understanding of life, of what it is all about, and of what ultimately matters. I must surrender my confused and contradictory opinions to the revelation of God in Scripture. I must never attempt to correct or second-guess God. But when I bring every thought into captivity to Christ, I find true liberation. As Jesus said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
I must pay the price of this world’s friendship. I will be in the world but not of it. I will know that the world is not a friend of grace to lead me on to God but that it will always keep me from him. Indeed, I must not only forsake the world; I must despise it for the sake of following hard after God. A hard price? Yes, but in place of the friendship of this world I have the friendship of Christ. He said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus is the friend that sticks closer than a brother.
I must pay the price of my plans for my life. I have many ideas for what I want to do and be, but I must give them all up. I cannot both run my life and have Jesus run it. Jesus is Lord of all, and unless he is Lord of all in my life he is not Lord at all. If he is not Lord, he is not Savior. My plans must go. Yes, but in place of those flawed plans, Jesus has a perfect plan that will both bless me and help others.
I must pay the price of my own will. That sinful, selfish will must go entirely. But in its place comes that “good, pleasing and perfect will” of God (Rom. 12:2).
At the beginning of this week’s study, I told about a conversation I had with that missionary doctor who complained about the sad watering down of the gospel in his area of the world. At one point in this discussion he said that he had been thinking about what was the minimum amount of doctrine or belief a person had to have to be a Christian, and he asked my opinion. I told him that a number of years before, I would have answered as I suppose the vast majority of today’s evangelicals would answer. I would have said, “Well, it is necessary to recognize that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died to save you from sin. And you must commit your life to him.” And of course, that is still a perfectly valid answer. Many millions of Christians have been saved by doing precisely that, because Jesus takes us where we are and teaches the fullness of what commitment means as we go on.
But I said that when I answer that question today, I say that the minimum amount that a person must give to be a Christian is everything. You must give it all. You cannot hold back even a fraction of a percentage of yourself. Every sin must be abandoned. Every false thought must be repudiated. You must be entirely the Lord’s.
What is the teaching of John 8:31-32?
List the gains that come to those who are willing to pay the price of discipleship.
How much must we be willing to give to truly belong to Christ?
Further StudyWhat guarantee does Scripture offer that the cost of discipleship is well worth paying? Study Matthew 19:28-30 to find out.
PrayerOur Father, we confess, even as we study a theme like this, that we understand still very little of what it means to forsake everything, and take up our cross, and follow Christ. And yet, though we don’t understand all that it involves, we understand that it does involve that. And so, it’s on those terms that we would come–your terms. Our Father, we’d ask that you would work in the hearts of any who have been thinking spiritual things, and pondering what it really means to be a Christian, and perhaps holding back because of some unwillingness to give up that which is sinful, but which is cherished. Our Father, we pray that by your grace, you would break down that resistance and bring many to the point of personal surrender to him who is the Lord of all and fill them with the joy of that kind of gospel for Jesus’ sake. Amen.