Bible Lesson 96

The Cost Of Discipleship

Luke 14:28

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?

What do we mean when we speak of there being a cost to discipleship’ First, perhaps we should define discipleship, which means in the context of Christian understanding, one who is not simply a pupil, but an adherent of their teacher who is Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who imitates their teacher. That means if you are a Christian, you are a disciple because you abide in the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible. We have begun to equate salvation to a belief in something about Jesus; but Jesus Himself made it clear to a multitude that had just professed that they believed in Him, that there was a test that would determine whether their belief was a ‘saving belief’ or a belief that made them true disciples.

What Jesus told these that had stated a belief in Him, was that there was a cost to be a true disciple; and that cost was that they must abide in His word if they would be His disciples indeed (John 8:30-32). Knowing and paying the cost of discipleship is not required in our salvation, but it is the only real proof that we have been saved. All true Christians are disciples, but not all disciples are true Christians.

Christ has no interest in those who claim that they are Christians, yet bear no fruit that Christ said would always be produced by those who are truly saved. Jesus speaks to us from the gospel of John chapter 15 and verse 8, and says ”By this, My Father is glorified, that ye bear much fruit; proving yourself to be my disciple.’

Being a disciple of Christ means that you are submitted to Christ, not simply inheriting heaven but being pleasing to our Savior as we obey all that He has said we would do. In the gospel of John chapter 14 and verse 15, we find Jesus Christ preaching and teaching, and He says there that if we love Him we will obey His commandment. Then in verses 21 through 24, Jesus gets real specific about obedience and He places our obedience as the proof that we love Him.

In verse 21 of John chapter 14, Jesus says ‘He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved of My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.’ Jesus Christ says in verses 23 that same thing only in different ways, in verse 23 He 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 then in verse 24, Christ puts the same thought into the negative sense and says, ‘He who does not love Me does not keep My words, and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’

What we, who have been blessed by the Grace and the gift of God, must understand is that much of what we have been taught by our churches and denominations have not been the truth of the Word of God. We have created beings, the work of the Almighty’s hands and we have been given the perfect inerrant Word of God to teach us the way of God.

Unfortunately, we began over a hundred years ago to ‘evolve’ into something that would make us appear better to each other as we played our little church game. We were not able to change the Word of God the Bible, so we simply changed the way we would receive it. We were taught tolerance by our church leaders because tolerance made us appear better to the sinners all around us. We were taught compassion by our leaders and that made us look good to those who did not like what the Bible had to say about sinners. So in our day, we have what we call a church, but it does not resemble the church that God said that He would build.

Our little church has become a business venture in and of itself. We manage it much like we would a grocery store. We are in it for profit, and we go after the almighty dollar in everything that we do. Think about this, we use ‘bake sales’ and ‘garage sales’ and sometimes we even put our children out to become beggars for money for this or that program in our church.

Instead of preachers speaking the Word of God in no uncertain terms to the congregation and convincing them that their offerings are their responsibility, and are all that should be needed to do what the Church is supposed to do, we soft-pedal what God has said about the Christian and his giving-back to God. We have brought forth from the Old Testament the tithe, which means, a tenth of everything that the Lord has blessed you in; however, that is legalism and does not reflect the spirit of freedom in Christ that we find outlined in Galatians 5:1-15.

The Christian is a free man in Christ, and He is to love Christ and have a spirit that is ‘giving’. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians commanded to tithe, and my knowledge the early church, before Constantine, did not uphold tithing. True Christians are not under the law, and they know that if they belong to a group that has expenses they should participate as the Lord has blessed them. The true Christian loves God and wants to give back to His work here on the earth. I think that 2nd Corinthians 9:5-8 makes it plain that we are to give ‘as each one purpose in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver’. Remember now the true Christian has a new heart, that loves Christ and wants to show that love in every way.

I have said all of that to say this, we must worship Christ in Spirit and Truth, and the truth is evident that we should be giving in proportion to our blessings from God. If you want to continue calling it a tithe, fine, as long as you understand that you are not under the law but grace and that you are not limited to 10 percent. The Lord says ‘give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.'(Luke 6:38). I implore you to examine yourself, to make sure that you are in Christ; because if you are you are free in Christ to do all that Christ would have you do; and Christ does not want you to forget the poor and the needy. (2nd Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:9-10).

Never begin to think that your money is all that you need, don’t hoard it up and see it as your security because then it becomes you, god, regardless of how much or how little you have. ( Matthew 6:24). Money must never become the ‘main thing’; however, it is part of the cost of discipleship.

Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior tell us clearly that there is a cost of discipleship. The cost is not concerning our salvation, because Jesus paid it all for our salvation and God does the rest. But no one is ever saved that is not willing to pay the cost of following Jesus. Jesus makes that clear in several places throughout the Bible. First, in Luke chapter 14, beginning at verse 26, Jesus was speaking to a multitude of people and 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. I suspect that no one who reads this lesson will fail to see the cost that is entailed in those short statements by our Lord and Savior. Notice that Christ (God) was speaking of those who come to Him, and those are the ones that the Father has drawn, and who will be saved. That means that all who are saved will come to Jesus and He has said that all who came to Him, ‘He would in no wise cast out’.(John 6:37, 44). That is what I meant when I said that all Christians are disciples, but not all disciples are Christians. It is a sad commentary on our understanding of God’s Word that we seem to think and teach that you can be a Christian and not follow Christ. As I have said, you can be a follower and call yourself a disciple, but if you are truly saved you are a follower who obeys all that Christ has commanded. Remember that scripture in the gospel of John chapter 8 and verse 30-32; where Jesus was preaching to a large number of Jews and we are told that many ‘believed in Him’.

Unlike so many churches in our day, Jesus did not pronounce those who said they believed in Him saved and make them members of His church’..nor did He call them disciples, instead Jesus said to them ‘If’If’you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed’. So Christ predicated that to be His disciple, we must abide or continue in His Word. That does not mean that we continue to study His word or talk about His word or think about His word, instead, it means all of that plus, it means that we will obey His word. Again, that is not to be saved, but as proof that we have been saved. The life of the true Christian is a ‘Can’t help it’ kind of life! We obey because the Holy Spirit that lives within us leads us in the right way and gives us the power to live like Jesus. Galatians 2:20 tell us that if we are saved, we are ‘Crucified with Christ, nevertheless, we are alive, yet it is not me that lives, but Christ living in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’.

There is no doubt about it ‘.in true salvation, the person saved is radically changed and one of the first things that are changed is our ‘Want to’. As sinners we did what the devil wanted us to do; but as truly saved children of God, we do what Christ wants us to do. God does not do imperfect works. When God works to create us as ‘new creatures in Christ’ that is a perfect job. That’s another reason that a saved person will always be following Christ, as a good disciple. I know that some say that because God is gracious that there is no cost to be saved.

That provides exactly no cover for those who want to use God’s Grace to provide for the lust of the flesh. Yes, we are saved by Grace, and being saved is a gift of God however that is not all the gift includes. Everyone who is saved receives a new heart, a clean record, and a job’ just like we are told there in Ephesians 2:10, where God speaks to us through the Apostle Paul and says’.’ We are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus ..unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’. We are saved, born again by God for a purpose and that is to be a disciple and do good works that God set in place in eternity past for us to do. Ephesians 2:10. It is a favorite ‘saying’ of cheap grace preachers, to boast that there is no cost in anything connected to salvation; but don’t be fooled by that because the Lord of all, God in the flesh, the only one who can save anyone, tells us in Luke 14:28-30, ‘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.’

Jesus goes on in verse 33 of Luke chapter 14 and says again ‘ ‘So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has Cannot be My disciple.’ Now we have to understand those scriptures in the context of the entire Bible. We know that the Bible commands us to honor our mothers and fathers and also our children, so we have to understand verse 26 as meaning that we have to love Christ more than we love anybody else on the earth or in heaven or hell, to the extent that our love for our families will seem like hate (Exodus 20:12). We know that verse 33 does not mean that everyone who is saved has to give away all that they have, but their minds must never be on possessions instead of on Christ.

Christ does not seek those who will not commit and submit to His Lordship and those will never know the love of God. Those who come to know the love of God must be willing to deal with the wrath of God against their sin. Christ never rushes those who come to him to learn about Him. He is not in a hurry and does not deal in numbers like most churches of our day do. He always challenged people who came to join His group. For instance, we find in the gospel of John chapter 6, an account of the ‘hard sermon’ that Jesus preached (See John 6:48-67).

His statement in verses 64 and 67, to those who had been his disciples, makes it clear that the disciples indeed are those who will not break and run. All of that I have said so far is connected to true salvation’.Christ’s call to deny self and follow Him was not a call to a second blessing or higher life, but true salvation. Look what happened to Judas, who called himself a disciple, but chose money over the Lord’.He was not saved and is in hell today, like so many other of the good-time, lite, easy-believe, Christians who have sought to hold on to Christ in one hand, and the world in the other. Christ commanded us all to ‘go into all the world and make ‘disciples’ ‘teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20).

We cannot be saved and act like the people that said they believed in Jesus Christ when He walked here on the earth. You will remember that so many back there had made up their minds about what their Messiah, was to be like and they envisioned an earthly king who would sit on the throne of David and drive out all of Israel’s enemies. They would not believe in Jesus because He did not fit their mold. He had come to save His people from their sin’.not from their problems. So many of the Disciples of Christ in these days that we live in want something different from the real Jesus. They want a Jesus who will co-exist with evil and sin, a Jesus who makes no demands on the lives of those that He saves, a convenient Jesus who will not intrude on their daily lives. There is no Jesus like that; because Jesus Christ is God and He is Lord over all things and all people.

Many people in our world today do not think that Jesus is their Lord, but there will come a day, a day too late to be forgiven, but a day nevertheless when their knee will bow and their tongues confess that He indeed is Lord over all (Philippians 2:10). We, as a rule, are not prepared to seek the real Jesus because we have been confused by all of the false Jesus that we have been taught instead of the real Jesus (Matthew 24:23-24). We have been confused because we have been too lazy to read and study the Word of God, the Bible, for ourselves, and as a result, we have failed to find that strait gate and that narrow way that leads to life eternal (Matthew 7:13-14).

If you would like to hear what makes a disciple of Christ, and hear it from the lips of the Savior, Jesus Christ, go to Matthew 10:32-39, and you will find that disciples are people who have submitted to Christ and who obey His commands, regardless of what that may entail. A great old preacher, John Watson, said, ‘Many a man’s knowledge is a torch to light him to hell. Thou who hast knowledge of God’s will, but doth not do it, wherein dost thou excel the devil, who transforms himself into an angel of light.’ If we understand what he said, we know that it is not altogether how much we know, but how much we do, about what we know, that makes a difference.

Strong commitment to His cause has always been a requirement for anyone to follow Christ. Just think about what Jesus said to the scribe who came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go’. Jesus then said to this man who said he wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’. Then another one who said he was a disciple of Christ, said, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him’.’Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead’. I don’t know about you but that certainly sounds like a cost to being the disciple! Willingness to pay the cost of following Jesus has always been a doctrine or teaching of the Bible (the word doctrine in the Greek language which is the language that the New Testament was translated from means teaching). Only those with ulterior motives use the dodge that says ‘salvation is one thing and being a disciple is another blessing or calling.’ That is a lie and we know when we hear it, that that person has no intention of submitting themselves to Christ.

Let me say right here that as Christians, we are not called nor are we empowered by God to force salvation on any person. Our calling is one that calls us to teach those who want to learn and preach to those who will listen. You cannot find one single place where Christ forced His service or salvation on anyone. Forcing submission to our God is not part of our religion. It is of others but we know that Christianity is the only religion that has the payment for our sin, which forgives our sin, and the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in Salvation and the rebirth and an inheritance in heaven. In Christ, we become new creatures who are fit for heaven. That does not take place in other religions who give lip service to Christ as a prophet or good man and teacher’.only to Christianity that knows for certain that Jesus Christ is God, which assures us of our salvation. Our Savior does not call us to the sword to cut off and kill those who refuse, instead He calls us to love and pray for those who refuse to submit. If you are a true Christian, you are called to go in love into the world and teach those who God has worked in their hearts to hear His message. We preach and teach to everyone ‘the same message and if they hear, then glory to God in the highest; because He has caused it; but if they refuse to hear and submit to Christ, they are not rejecting you; instead they are rejecting the God of Grace and reconciliation.

It has become church policy and desire to see individuals respond to the message that we give them, and by respond I mean that we want to see them come down the church aisle and shake the preacher’s hand and profess that they have faith. That my friends are not Biblical Christianity’..that is secular Churchianity! We are not called to grow churches, we are called to ‘preach the Word’ and God will take care of growing His Church. Jesus Christ said, ‘If I am lifted, I will draw all men to Me’ (John 12:32). Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross and lifted to hang between heaven and earth and He satisfied the wrath of God toward our sin. Now if preachers and teachers and Christians will lift Christ as the only solution to mankind’s sin problem’.then God will build His Church out of those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The job of every man saved today is to ‘lift Jesus’ in the way we live and the way we think and the way that we die. In season or out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching’ (2nd Timothy 4:1-2). Now as you go about your daily lives, ‘make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey all things which I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob