Counting the Cost of Christian Discipleship…

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Written by Jimmie Burroughs Email this article to a friend

If Jesus was wanting followers who were just followers in name only, he could have had thousands instead of a  the few that left everything to follow him. When Jesus discussed the cost of discipleship, most people turned to follow him no more, thousands at a time. It almost seemed if Jesus was discouraging people from following him; he wasn’t, he just wanted to be clear concerning the cost of Christian discipleship and what was expected; for the majority the cost  was too much.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s  glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:24-27)

Today we have an easy believeism; come down to the front and fill out a card and become a member of the church, or repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved; just ask Jesus to come into your heart. That isn’t the gospel that Jesus preached. The gospel is in Jesus words, “Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me.”

Today Christianity is just a matter of going to church when one feels like it and if it is not raining or to cold and sitting on a soft cushioned seat for a little while and if the service goes past 12 noon, complaining about the preacher talking too long; then going home until the next time which may be next year. That is a far cry from what Jesus said discipleship is. He was talking about denying everything that is important to us and following him.

A friend of mine has made a couple of missionary trips to  an eastern country where it is against the law to worship anywhere but in a government approved church where government guidelines must be followed. People are hungry for God and meet in secret home churches referred to as the underground church. They will walk for miles or ride a bicycle to get there and sit for hours at a time to hear the word of God. They risk going to jail and in some cases risk their life. That is what it means to “Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me”.

When the original twelve disciples followed Jesus they left all, their jobs, their family and their homes. It was the signing of their death warrant because almost every one of them lost their life because of their stand for Christ. They were stoned, run out of town and finally crucified or beheaded. I wonder how large the mega church of today would be if it required that kind of commitment to become a member?

The requirements today are no less than they were in the time of Jesus, though today we don’t face the same dangers they did, at least in this country. Nevertheless there were more Christian martyrs around the world for their faith in the 20th century than all other centuries combined.

Do you think God is pleased with some rich man setting on a comfortable pew in an air-conditioned building on Sunday morning thinking they are doing God a favor by being there? He had rather have a native in the bush country of the third world country dancing around a campfire in native garb that truly loves him and worships him.

The cost is no different today; it requires our total commitment to Jesus;  we must be willing to commit our life, our family, our everything. Yes we must be willing to give up everything even our life if necessary. We may never be called on to do that but that must be our attitude. He must come first in our life and not just in words but every day in how we live.

“…do not be conformed to this world,

But be transformed

By the renewing of your mind.”

Romans 12:2

It is my purpose to share the gospel with more than a million people through the means of this and other websites but I don’t want it to be a watered down form of gospel that makes no changes in the lives of people. There are already enough people who have been deceived into believing that they have a ticket to heaven because they went through some sort of formalism or ritual and they are going to be sadly broken one day to learn that God never knew them.

Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
(Mathew 7:21-23)

Billy Graham once said that he believed that the majority of church members were lost. I think he was right. And it is not a matter of judging; once again Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.“ (Matthew 7:16-20)

“Today Jesus is tenderly calling for you”; are you willing to pay the cost of Christian discipleship, whatever it may be even if it is your life? The cost could be high but the reward is everlasting life with God in his heaven where God will wipe away every tear and there shall never be any more death. If you are ready to commit your life to him, continue to read:

According to the Bible there is only one way to have a spiritual connection with God and Jesus reveals it: He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no man cometh to the Father but by me”. (John 14:6)

Here are the steps by which we are reconciled to God. We must be careful not to omit any for each is essential in the process of reconciliation.

Understanding our condition: First, we must understand that we are separated from God. This is an inherited condition from birth. The Bible is clear on this: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The Bible also says, “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23). Death means separation, thus our sins separated us from birth from any relationship with God. Therefore, the very first thing that we must acknowledge is that we are lost and our sins have alienated from God and we need a redeemer, Christ the Lord, and only then can we come to the point of reconciliation.

God’s remedy: Second, we must understand clearly who Jesus is and what he did for us. First of all Jesus is the son of God equal to the Father and is far more than a rabbi (teacher), a prophet or just a good person. He was virgin born; he lived a life completely free from sin; he was crucified and was buried and rose again on the third day. He ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He paid in full the penalty for our sins; He is our redeemer who reconciles us to the Father. Jesus died for us on the cross: “Christ also hath once suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3-18). Because of our sin, there is a great gulf fixed between us and God and we can’t cross it on our own. We can never be good enough; we can never buy our way through charitable giving, neither is there any other way. Jesus is the only way (John 14-6). It is only by his cross that we are able to span the gulf that separates us from God.

Jesus is the only remedy for our sin, had there been an easier or better way, God would not have sacrificed his son. The penalty for sin is great therefore the price was great; it required the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to meet God’s requirement for reconciliation.

Our responsibility: The only response on our part that will be acceptable to God is to repent and trust in Jesus as savior.

I said earlier that each step in the process of reconciliation is vital and must not be omitted. Personal repentance is absolutely necessary. The word from whence our word “repentance” comes is a military term which means about face and that is a clear definition of what repentance is: it is a willingness on our part to turn away from our former sinful life and turn to Christ to follow his new way. It is to be sorry for our past sins and to desire God’s forgiveness and to make a complete and permanent change in the way we live.

Experiences differ when we come to this commitment in life. Some will feel a sense of cleansing for a lifetime of sins while others may feel a peace that passes all understanding, the like of which they never experienced before. Regardless of what we may feel or not feel, it is certain that when we repent that God does forgive us and receive us as his own. While feelings may be important, we need to remember that salvation is based on God’s promise and nothing more.

A personal relationship with the Lord happens when we repent of our sins (turn from our sins) and trust in Jesus and believe he died for our sins, paying the penalty for us, and was buried and rose from the grave. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of ourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). GRACE is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. This is how we become the children of God as we read in John’s gospel: “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

THREE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:

* Does what you have read make sense to you?

* Is there reason why you should not receive the gift of eternal life?

* Are you willing to turn from your sins and trust in Jesus right now?

The Bible says that,” Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Read the prayer below and see if this is what you would like to say to God. Remember that it is not a prayer that saves but it is our faith and trust in him as savior that reconciles us to God. “That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). The prayer confirms what we already believe in our heart.

I don’t want to mislead you here; trusting in Jesus is more than a simple carefully worded prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart or walking down a church isle and signing a card. It is forsaking all to follow him; it is turning from your sin and desiring him more than all the world has to offer. His Word,   the Bible, becomes your guide book for life. You seek to know him better and to please him in your every action. When that is your purpose and only then should you pray the prayer below.

Jesus, I repent of my sins and trust in you with all of my heart to come into my life and to be my savior and to forgive me of my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross in my place. I believe that you are the son of God and I want to commit my life to follow you forever”.

Did you sincerely pray this prayer and are you willing to follow through? If so, WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. You have just made the greatest decision of your life. According to God’s promises and the desire of your heart, you can be sure that God has saved you and that you will spend eternity with him in heaven. This is only the starting place; be sure to follow through and read each article on the navigational bar. They will direct your next steps.

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