Counting the Cost of Discipleship

Luke 14:25-33 ESV

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a 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 out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.’”

Apparent Contradictions

When we are studying the Scriptures, it is a good practice that, when something doesn’t make sense, to compare it with other Scriptures. For, right “off the bat” (immediately) here we are faced with an apparent contradiction in Scripture. For Jesus and the New Testament Scriptures teach us to not hate anyone and that we are to love all people, even our enemies. So, logic says that there must be another meaning to this.

The problem really comes with translations, for they don’t always translate the words into English (my language) as accurately as we might always hope that they would. For the word translated as “hate” can mean either to “love less than” or it can mean to detest, which is usually acted out with spite, meanness, cruelty, bullying, harassment, false accusations, and evil deeds. But, in this case, it means “to love less than” (see Matthew 10:34-39).

So, what Jesus is really saying here is that if we are going to come to faith in Jesus Christ, but we don’t love others less than we love him, but we love others more than we love him, we cannot be his disciples. He has to be in first place in our lives. His desires must be our desires. His will for our lives must be our will for our lives. Pleasing him must take top priority. We are not to be people pleasers who then do not please God with our lives.

And it makes more sense when we understand that the word love (agape) literally means “to prefer,” which is based in moral preference, i.e. it means to prefer what God prefers. So, we need to prefer God and what he prefers above all else. Also, when we understand that God is love, and since he is righteous, holy, trustworthy, faithful, honest, and pure, then these are the things we must prefer and also put into practice when we love God and when we love others. For love does no deliberate harm to another.

Becoming His Disciples

So, if we want to be our Lord’s disciples, we are to love all others less than we love Jesus, i.e. we must love him above all else. He must be in first place in our lives, and his choices must come first above all else. And we must take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) Jesus (see Luke 9:23-26). For, if we have not been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and if we have not been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and if we are not daily putting sin to death and walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands, then we cannot be his disciples (his followers).

And we also can’t separate faith in Jesus Christ from discipleship as though we can have salvation from sin and eternal life with God minus discipleship. Our faith and our salvation include discipleship. For faith in Jesus Christ means dying to sin daily and daily living for the Lord. For if we continue living in sin, in deliberate and habitual sin, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not our practice, we don’t have eternal life.

Now, you will hear people say that God’s grace and our salvation are free. That is true. We do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation of our own doing in our own flesh. But then we have to search the Scriptures to learn what that grace and salvation are all about. For God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.

And our salvation is not just forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life with God, but we are saved from our slavery (addiction) to sin and to walks of obedience and submission to Christ as Lord. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him. And he shed his blood to buy us back for God so that we would now honor God with our bodies.

So, the free gift is not without cost entirely, if we truly understand what that gift is. For it is the empowerment of God’s Spirit to walk in freedom from slavery to sin and to walk righteously in holiness and in obedience to our Lord Jesus. So, there is cost. And we need to count that cost beforehand so that we don’t enter into a false relationship with Christ thinking that we now have heaven secured for us despite how we live. For many will hear Jesus say one day, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Therefore, if we do not die to sin and to self and take up our cross daily and follow Jesus in obedience to his commands then we cannot be his disciples. And, again, becoming one of his disciples is not optional for the true believer in Jesus Christ. We are either his disciples and we are saved from our sins or we are not his disciples and we are not saved from our sins. So, count the cost, for many of you are following a false gospel and a false Jesus thinking you are headed to heaven when you are still on the road to hell.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10]

God is With Us

An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46

God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.

Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.

God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.

God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.

Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.

Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.

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