Theme: Paying the Cost
This week’s lessons show the price that must be paid to follow Christ, as well as the blessings that come when we do.
Scripture: Luke 14:25-35
What must I pay to be a Christian? I must pay the price of my own self-righteousness, no longer counting myself a good person but rather as one who has transgressed God’s righteous law and is therefore under the sentence of His wrath and condemnation. But when I pay the price of my own self-righteousness, I gain Christ’s righteousness which is perfect and imperishable. In that righteousness I can stand before the very throne of God and be unafraid.
I must pay the price of those sins I now cherish. I must give them up, every one. I cannot cling to a single sin and pretend that at the same time I am following the Lord Jesus Christ. But in place of my sins I find holiness, without which no one can see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). I come to know the joy of holiness rather than the empty mockery of transgressions.
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 do, when I bring every thought into captivity to Christ, I find true liberation. As Jesus said, I know the truth and the truth will set me free (cf. 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 no 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 also 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 study I told of 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. I say, “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 must you pay to be a Christian? Dr. Boice lists five major areas. Perhaps you can add some more.
Can you remember any specific times when you were faced with a clear choice of paying the price of either discipleship or going your own way? What blessings have been yours as you follow Christ?
For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “The Cross of Discipleship.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)