Counting the cost of following Jesus

 

There are many great investments we can make today to ensure that what we have money to live on when we get old. But the greatest investment that anyone can make is being a true follow of Christ because it reward far out way any earthy wealth we may acquire because it a promise of eternal life in heaven. But as Christians we need to understand the cost that comes from following Christ. Jesus illustrates this concept in.

 

Luke 14:27 "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.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 --†† 29 "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 "saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'31 "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?32 "Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.33 "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

 

So you see must really think about what we are doing and realize that following after Christ comes at cost and we must be willing to put God first nomatter what the consequences are that Jesus said.

 

Matthew 16:24 "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

There are many today in the religious world and in the brotherhood who have not sit down and really considered the cost of following Jesus. Now some continue to go through the motion of Christianity but they really have not denied themselves nor have they fully began to take up the cross of Christ. We have a great example of this found in John 6. Jesus begins to tell the people that he is the bread of life which came down from heaven. Lets pick up on in,

 

John 6:47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.48 "I am the bread of life.49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.55 "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.58 "This is the bread which came down from heaven -- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

 

Jesus was letting these people knowthat was following him that they must follow after him fully to have eternal life and explained this symbolically of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. We need to remember that those who were following him were doing so because he was providing food and he was healing people and what Jesus had just said would weed out those who were not willing pay the cost of following after him.

 

John 6:60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?62 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

 

You see many of these disciples were willing to follow after Jesus as long as things were going smooth for them but as soon as they couldnít understand what he was saying nor did the try find out the deeper meaningof what he said they simply left and that is exactly what some Christians do today. They will follow Godís word until something happens in their life that makes it to hard for them to follow God word so they will turn away from God but that did not the cost for following after Christ all the way. Now Jesus 12 disciples had the right attitude and had counted the cost.

 

John 6:67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

 

This is always need to keep in the back of our mind that Jesus has word of eternallife and no matter what disappointmentsmay come from this life we need to hold fast to Jesus and follow him realizing that eternal life only come through him.Jesus himself said,

 

John 8:31 Ö"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

 

So as disciples of Christ we must learn to look to Gods word on how we are live our lives so that we can follow Christ with all our might so that we can truly take up that cross and follow after him. Like I said there are many religious world today who to pawn off a cheap grace that say that all you have to do is believe and you will be saved nothing else is required. However you look at the passages that we looked at already you can easily see that it take life time commitment of following after Christ and this goes way beyond the realm of simply believing. God always called his people to be active and not idle. But when are not willing to go by Gods word and you twist it to your own desires than you make up your own religion and with or without your knowledge you carrying someone else cross. The Pharisees were a group of Jews during the 1st century that had perverted the word of God this way and had made up their own religion based on their desires and mans traditions. In fact Jesus spoke about these self-righteous men in,

 

Luke 12:1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.2 "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.3 "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.4 " And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.5 "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

 

You see the Pharisees were people who stood out on the street corner and said long prayers to impress the people around them. They wore extravagant clothes and always tried to get the chief seats in the temple. When the gave of their money they only gave out of their abundance and they looked down at everyone else as being lower than they were that is Jesus said they were full of hypocrisy. You seetheir biggest failure was they were directing themselves to toward man trying to impressing them instead of directing themselves to God that is why Jesus said that they had already received their reward.

 

As Christian we must be careful not to get caught up in pleasing man kind instead we as we count the cost we must learn to dedicate ourselves to serving God with out whole being. We need to remember that God does not look at us as man does because he is not concerned with your outer appearance or how rich you are he is concerned with your heart and with what kind of spirit you have.

 

We need to keep this in mind because many times people will base the worth of someone on how much money they have. James teaches us not to do this.

 

James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

 

We need to be careful and not show partiality with a brother or sister in Christ just because they have money. As Jesus continues in Luke 12 we see he also teaches us not to allow our own possession come before serving God. In Luke 12: 16-21 he tells story of the rich man who had a big crop and was going to build bigger barns and all he could think about was his possessions and himself well his life was going to end and the question was whose things are these going to be now. When we die we cannot take our money with us. I remember a story that was told to me that man died and he said he wanted be buried with his money and so the wife wrote a check for the sum of his money and stuck in the casket and told him cash it if he wanted to. So see even if you get buried with your money it still wont do you any good that is why we need to invest our treasure that is found in heaven by putting God first in our life. Jesus gives us one of the greatest lesson on this starting in,

 

Luke 12: 22 Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.23 "Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.24 "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?25 "And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?26 "If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?27 "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.28 "If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.30 "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.31 "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

 

Luke 12:34 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Another thing we need to realize when we consider the cost of discipleship is that following after Christ can divide families and friendships. Consider the wordof Jesus in,

 

Luke 12:51 "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.52 "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.53 "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

 

You see the message of the cross can divide a family when they donít agree with your personal decision to follow after Christ. While God would love the whole family to be united and follow after him this doesnít happen every time. When I was attending at Madill there a lady in our Bible class who had been treated badly because she left her denomination and came to the church of Christ. She told us thathe mother wouldnít speak to her and sister was calling her names and trying to make her feel guilty for her decision to become true disciple of Christ. Its hard thing to go against your loved ones but if want to be disciples of Christ we must be willing to put him first even over our loved ones. We need to realize that everyone has to make their own decision to follow Christ and we cannot force anyone to accept it but it should make us however to know that we are making God happy and that we will have home in heaven one for counting the cost of discipleship.

 

Many times becoming a Christian will loss you your friends because you can no longer engage in the sinful acts that you were before and this many times will push themaway or evencause them to despise you because they cannot understand why you have changed.Peter offer the following to us in,

 

1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

 

So as we count the cost of discipleship let make sure we are ready to put God over our family and friends and let us never be lured into returning back to a life of sin.

 

Our finally point this morning as we count the cost of discipleship is that we must invest our time, our talent and resources in orderto follow Christ.

 

We need to take to heart what Jesus did for us how he gave his all for us and wants us to follow in his footsteps. Paul tells us to redeem the time because days are evil Eph. 5;16. As Christian we need to make the best use of our time to serve God and to be shinning examples to those around us.

 

One area that some Christians really struggle with is being at all the church services. Even though know that we commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together in Heb. 10:25. They also know that we are to obey our elders when it comes to spiritual matters and this would include the times we come together for Bible study on Wednesdaynight and Sunday morning. But I want you to think about this what better way could you invest your time then coming together with Godís people for purpose of worshiping God or for the purpose of learning more about him in Bible classes. It really amazes me that some Christians cant invest 4 small hours of out an entire week to assemble with the saints. I can almost guarantee these same Christians probably watch more 4 hours of TV in one week. Donít find it sad when Christians will invest more time watching TV than assembling with the saints? Now I just used the TV as one example but it clearly put things into perspective that we should be willing to count the cost and invest these 4 hours every week to help us follow after Jesus because that is what he wouldwant us to do.

 

Now there is much more than just coming to ever service we must emulate Jesus in our everyday life.

 

Acts 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

 

Jesus went about doing good for others and we should look for opportunities for doing good as well. There are so many things we can do. We can use our talents to help out in the worship service or to help others. We can visit the sick and the shut-ins. We can make phone call encourage the weak. We can study our Bibles with people. We can teach Bible classes. We can invite people to come to church and the list can go on and on. We can also use our resources to help spread the good news. This means we donít need to be greedy when it comes to our money. We need to realize that it will perish and if it can be used for good or for the increase of Godís kingdom then we should not be afraid to make such an investment that may lead to wining of souls. So is important that give of our time, talents and our resources.

 

The apostle Paul had a great understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

 

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

So let us never forget that the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ can be difficult but in the end it is worth it all. I hope this lesson this morning has made you think about your life and I hope that if see that you have not been putting Jesus and his kingdom first that you will start making changes today and you will pick up the cross and start following Jesus to best of you ability for the rest of your life. We need to remember that our time here on this earth is short and as Christians we need to redeem the time we have and use it for glory of God.