If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, did someone advise you prior to your decision that you should count the cost of becoming a Christian? Perhaps it was not needful in your case. You understood what it could mean, and were willing to surrender to Him, and do what He says you must do. But it seems that often the unconverted mind comprehends more about what it means to become a Christian, and calling Christ Lord, than some professing Christians.
The unbeliever sees the cost. And is not willing to pay it.
Some Christians, however, who have professed faith and submission to Christ feel there should be is no cost. Or if so, they have not experienced it. Counting the cost should have been urged upon them before any commitment. It seems to them more like their lives should be a comfortable ride on the heaven train. They are dismayed and not a little discouraged when their lives seem more chaotic, more stressful, with more troubled than before they professed belief. Someone once said to me that the more they prayed, the worse their situation became, so they were fearful of praying.
Some have heard that by professing to believe in Christ they can have health, wealth, and happiness - right now. Heaven begins now, and will just go on for eternity. All they need to do is relax and slide into the Kingdom of God. If they are paying no cost, perhaps they should question their position, rather than consider it a costless gift from God. An honest, even casual reading of the words that Christ said would prove otherwise. He affirmed that He had not come to bring peace on the earth. It is clear that the positions of cost-less Christians should be reversed, and repentance and real commitment with understanding begin. Here are just a few examples of what God’s Word has to say:
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household” - Matthew 10:33-36
“Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” - 2 Timothy 3:12
“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” - Acts 14:21-22
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" - 1 Peter 1:7 (KJV)
“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 14:27-33 (KJV)
God will never ask anyone to give up something without replacing it with something much better. In fact, this is one of the evidences of His limitless wisdom in dealing with all His creation. We can receive something much better by sacrificing something else. This becomes a very important lesson for us, and at the same time we receive something better. He uses this method incrementally, all of our lives. Give up something, receive something better; give up something, and receive something else even better. The trouble is, as human beings, this is not the way we would like to have it. The Apostle Paul understood completely, and notice his attitude and frame of mind:
“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One).” - Philippians 3:8 (AmpBlible)
In this world, in reality nothing permanently “gets better”. It only seems that way sometimes, for a little while. Since the Garden of Eden there have been times of great turmoil and upheaval. Then, things seem to plateau and return to a kind of normalcy. Then after a period of time, the upheaval begins again, crisis after crisis. Then another plateau and seeming calm. Then it repeats again, on a larger scale and with larger risks and consequences. This is very seductive to a humanity without God. The world willingly rejects the answer, claims that “all things continue as the were from creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Or, put another way, "things have always been this way". Therefore, the world hopes and believes it will get better, when it really never does. It gets worse.
But for those who have counted the cost, there are not many surprises, because even if things get worse, they are really getting better. The world is getting worse and worse, but for the child of God, the costs are proof of the glory to come - a better world, a perfect immortality. All is actually getting better. It is the principle of giving up in order to receive. Put another way, it is the way of being willing to loose something now in order to win something better, surrendering in order to conquer. To the natural mind, this just does not compute. But Christ does not ask for such a commitment without replacing it with something far more valuable - something far better. Notice:
“Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, in the new age [the Messianic rebirth of the world], when the Son of Man shall sit down on the throne of His glory, you who have [become My disciples, sided with My party and] followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And anyone and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name's sake will receive many [even a hundred] times more and will inherit eternal life.”- Matthew 19:28-29 (AmpBible)
Anything we must relinquish in this life is not worthy to be compared with what is to come when Christ returns. Then - and only then - will things in this world truly get better. If you have not really counted the cost of discipleship, it is not too late. Commit yourself without reservation to Jesus Christ as your Lord, and begin anew. He is always standing and knocking at the door.
I pray that we have all truly counted the cost, and trusted Him to take us to the everlasting best! (1 Corinthians 2:9).
And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the trusty and faithful and true Witness, the Origin and Beginning and Author of God's creation: I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be [truly] wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]” - Revelation 3:14-19 (AmpBible)
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