who are willing ...

Count the cost

"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold 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, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:25-33

There are two sides to this challenge - the cost of following Jesus, and the cost involved in NOT following Him. Let's weigh up the options.

Firstly, what do we gain by following Jesus? For the burdened sinner struggling under a load of sin, as was the character Graceless in John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress, the immediate gain was losing his burden of sin. When Graceless finally came to the cross of Christ, he lost his burden and became known as Christian.

"And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. Mark 10:29,30

"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Matthew 19:29

And what will this cost us? Jesus did not preach about acting like a Christian once a week, or once a year, but every day. His call is for people who are going to completely dedicate their lives to Him, regardless of the cost involved with losing friends, fortunes, careers, family members, reputation, or even your own life. When Jesus spoke the words He was not just speaking to the apostles, but to all and to any man. This dedication is expected of all Christians, not just those who end up as preachers or leaders of the church.

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33

Secondly, what do we gain by NOT following Jesus? God has given us the natural pleasures of this life to enjoy, and for many people, that's all there is to life. If your life has no particular religious focus, then it's a life a self will, doing what you want day by day and getting along as best you can in midst of the government's rules and regulations.

Is there any cost in this? The Book of Romans teaches plainly that the wages of sin is death. A life of self-will is nothing else but a life of sin. As God is a God of holiness and righteousness, he cannot and will not tolerate sin in His presence. So at the end of a sinful life, there is only one destination for the sinner - the lake of fire and brimstone.

"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment . . . The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:" 2 Peter 2:4,9

"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Revelation 20:13

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:14

It's your choice

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13

The pagan Greeks spoke often of "fate", the concept that man's actions on earth were pre-determined by the gods, and that man had no responsibility in guiding his life. Whatever happened was your "destiny". This may have some truth in terms of natural disasters or events beyond our control, but the for the most part, people make decisions every day concerning their present life and future. It's known as free will, mankind's ability to choose for himself. This gift of God meant that His created beings could choose to either obey Him,or disobey Him.

That was the choice offered to Adam and Eve. They had only one rule to keep - don't eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They chose to disobey that rule, and plunged their descendants into the chaos of sin we find today.

This generation is still able to exercise free will. Our lives are not lived according to the whims and fancies of God, who makes random choices about who is to be saved and who is not to be saved. WE make those choices, and God passes judgment on what path we have chosen. Considering the two options above, which is the most sensible choice to make?

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7:24-27