Counting the Cost

By Jim Jones

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’?  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? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.  (Luke 14:28-33 NKJV)

Most people – Christians – never stop to “count the cost.” And when they do, they usually count in the wrong direction. This is an example of what I mean: “If I become a Christian I will need to give up certain things. I will have to change my lifestyle, reform my language, lose some of my friends, and even possibly change my job. Let me see, is it worth giving up all this to be a Christian?”

Even after becoming a “Christian” many go through the same analysis when considering how much of a Christian they are willing to be. “How much can I afford to give to the church?” “How much time can I really be expected to spend in Christian service?” “You expect me to spend two or three hours a week in Bible and Ministry Training classes? Are you crazy? If I do that I would not be able to spend as much time fishing as I like to!” Of course, you could substitute for fishing any of the following – playing ball, watching television, going to movies, crafting, going out with friends, etc, etc, etc.

You see, this way of counting the cost totally misses what Jesus was saying in our text above. It shows how little we truly understand about spiritual things, and about what is really at stake. Look again at the last sentence of our scripture text, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Jesus never intended for us to consider if He was worth whatever cost might be required of us, the intent was to get us to consider the cost of our not forsaking all and following Him!

Some might say, “Well, I am just content to be a Christian and see no need to become a disciple. Some folks get a little too fanatical about all this anyway.” I have personally heard various forms of this sentiment expressed to me over the years. Unfortunately, many times I have simply shaken my head, let the conversation drop, and walked away. But no more! I am getting too old and there is too little time left for me to allow that to go unchallenged. I am becoming bolder and perhaps more confrontational than I used to be. So let me say this as simply as I know how, a person who is not a disciple is not a born-again Christian!

Christianity, especially in America, is filled with people who want all the benefits of being a child of God, but none of the responsibility. “I believe in Jesus so I can go to heaven when I die!” Sorry, that is not what salvation is about. We are not “saved” just so we can go to heaven when we die. Yes, heaven is a wonderful benefit of salvation, but it is not why Jesus died. God provided salvation through the crucified and resurrected Christ so that He can restore His image in fallen man, the image that was lost by Adam’s fall. Our salvation is for His glory! God has already predestined that every person who is born-again will be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

If we are not actively in pursuit of His image in us, then that is a very good sign that we do not belong to Him. How can I say such a thing? Well, the work of the Spirit in us is to conform us to Christ. God has predestined this to be so as we have already seen. If this conformation is not taking place, the Spirit is not dwelling in us. I like the way the original KJV says it, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

So what am I saying? Jesus said if we are not willing to forsake all, we cannot be His disciple, and being His disciple means that we are conforming to His image. This is called sanctification, and it is a sure process that follows our justification. You cannot have one without the other. And without justification no man shall enter into the presence of God.

Counting the cost, then, is simply to realize that the cost of not being His disciple is the forsaking of eternal life. It is not what it costs us in temporal things to gain that which is the eternal, but what it costs us in the eternal to cling to the things that are temporal. Paul said in Philippians 3:7-9:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

I challenge you to rethink “counting the cost.” Be sure you are counting the right thing, not what it will cost to be a disciple, but what it will cost not to be!

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