Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"What does it cost?"

                   I have found over the years that there are very few people (including myself at one time) who are truly willing to consider this question "What does it cost?" This is not a trivial matter because it involves the salvation of our souls. What does it cost to be a true Christian? This is the most important question we will ever consider in our life. But because of serious thought about this question thousands, after seeming to begin well — many turn away from the road to Heaven, and are lost forever in Hell.
We live in a day when many profess to be a Christian. If you ask the average person if they are a Christian, the answer is usually yes. Yet it is very common to see people receive the Word with joy, and then after two or three years fall away and go back to their sins. I know this is true from personal experience. I did not consider nor was I ever asked by aChristian what it costs to be a really consistent believer and holy Christian. Shouldn’t we often sit down and count the cost and consider the state of our souls? If we desire to be truly holy, it is a good sign. We should thank God for putting that desire in our hearts. But we still need to actually count the cost with great objectivity. Without a doubt Christ's way to eternal life is a way of pleasantness. But it is folly to shut our eyes to the fact that His way is narrow — and the cross comes before the crown.
I know that it costs nothing less than the blood of Jesus to provide atonement and to redeem man from Hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We "are bought with a price." "Christ gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Timothy 2:6). But this is not the question. The point I want you to consider is what must a man be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved? What amount of sacrifice must a man submit to if he intends to serve Christ?
It costs very little to be an outward Christian. A person has only to attend church on Sunday, be moral during the week and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in being a Christian. All this is cheap and easy — it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. But if this is saving Christianity and it will take us to Heaven when we die — we must alter the description of the way of life and say, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to Heaven!"
But it does cost something to be a true Christian according to the Bible. There are: enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, and a race to be run. True Christianity is not putting a man in a recliner and pleasantly taking him to Heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Therein is the terrifying importance of "counting the cost."
Suppose a person feels drawn and inclined to follow Jesus. Suppose that some great affliction or some sudden death or a powerful sermon has stirred his conscience and made him feel the desire to become a Christian. His sins may be freely forgiven — however many and great. His heart may be completely changed — however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace — are all ready for him. But still, he should count the cost.
True Christianity will cost a person their SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. They must cast away all pride and conceit of their own goodness. They must be content to go to Heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. They must really feel that they have "erred and gone astray like a lost sheep," that they have "left undone the things they ought to have done, and that there is no strength in them."
True Christianity will cost a person their SINS. They must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God's sight. They must set their face against it, break away from it, fight with it, crucify it and labor to keep it under control, regardless what people around them may say or think. There must be no secret truce with any special sin which they love. They must count all sins as deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, open or secret — all sins must be thoroughly renounced. Sin may struggle hard with them every day, and sometimes almost get the mastery over them. But they must never give way to them. They must keep up a perpetual war with sin. "Cast away from you all your transgressions." "Break off your sins . . . and iniquities." "Cease to do evil" (Ezekiel 18:31; Daniel4:27; Isaiah 1:16).
Sin is often as dear to us as our children. We love them, hug them, cleave to them and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a hand or plucking out an eye! But it must be done the parting must come. "Though wickedness is sweet in the sinner's mouth, though he hides it under his tongue; though he spares it, and forsakes it not," yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved (Job 20:12, 13). They and sin must fight — if he and God are to be friends. Jesus is willing to receive any sinner. But He will not receive them if they stick to their sins.
True Christianity will cost a person their love of EASE. They must take pains and trouble, if they mean to run a successful race. They must daily watch and stand on their guard, like a soldier on enemy's ground. They must take heed to their behavior every hour of the day, in every company and in every place, in public as well as in private, among strangers as well as at home. They must be careful with their time, their tongue, theirs temper, their thoughts, their imagination, their motives, and their conduct in every relation of life. They must be diligent in prayer, studying the scripture and with all their means of grace. They may come far short of perfection; but there is none of them who can safely be neglected. "The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat" (Proverbs 13:4). This sounds hard but anything that requires exertion and labor is entirely against the grain of our hearts. The soul can have "no gains without pains."
Lastly, true Christianity will cost a person the favor of the WORLD. They must be content to be thought poorly of by man — if he is to be pleasing to God. They must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted and even hated. They must not be surprised to find that his opinions and practices are despised and held up to scorn. They must submit to be thought by many a fool, an enthusiast and a fanatic — to have his words perverted and his actions misrepresented. In fact, they must not marvel if some call him mad. Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said unto you, 'The servant is not greater than his Master.' If they have persecuted Me — they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).
We don’t like unjust dealings and false charges and hate being accused without cause. We would not be flesh and blood — if we did not wish to be thought well of by our neighbors. It is always unpleasant to be spoken against and forsaken and lied about — and to stand alone. But there is no help for it. The cup which Jesus drank must be drunk by His disciples. They must be "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3). To be a Christian, it will cost a person the favor of the world. Considering the weight of this great cost, only a fool would dare say that they may keep their self-righteousness, their sins, their laziness and their love of the world — and still be saved!
What sane man or woman could doubt that it is worth any cost to have their soul saved? When a ship is in danger of sinking, the crew wouldn’t hesitate in casting overboard any precious cargo. When a limb is rotten, a person will submit to any severe operation even to amputation — to save their life. Surely a true Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and Heaven. A faith or belief which costs nothing — is worth nothing! A cheap, easy Christianity, without a cross — will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown!
My experience has been that most who profess Christ now days are not "rooted and grounded" in their faith. Too often they have gained their knowledge second-hand, from being in Christian families, or from being trained in Christian ways — but they have never worked it out by their own inward experience. Many times they have hastily taken up a profession of faith under the pressure of circumstances or from feelings/emotional excitement — but without any solid work of grace in their hearts. People like this are in a position of immense danger. They are precisely those, if Bible examples are worth anything, which need to be exhorted to count the cost.
The Israelites perished in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. They left Egypt full of zeal and fervor. But when they found dangers and difficulties in the way, their courage soon cooled down. They had never considered trouble. They thought they would be in the Promised Land a few days. So when enemies, hunger and thirst began to try them — they murmured against Moses and God and would gladly have wanted to go back to Egypt. They had not counted the cost — and so lost everything and died in their sins.
Many of the Jesus's hearers went back after a time and "walked no more with Him" (John 6:66). When they first saw His miracles and heard His preaching, they thought "the kingdom of God would immediately appear." They cast in their lot with His apostles and followed Him without thinking of the consequences. But when they found that there were hard doctrines to be believed, hard work to be done and hard treatment to be borne — their faith gave way entirely and proved to be nothing at all. In a word, they had not counted the cost, and so made shipwreck of their profession.
Demas forsook the company of Paul, forsook the gospel, forsook Christ, and forsook Heaven. For a long time he journeyed with Paul and was actually a "fellow-laborer." But when he found he could not have the friendship of this world as well as the friendship of God — he gave up his Christianity and cleaved to the world. "Demas has forsaken me," says Paul, "having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10). He had not "counted the cost."
Many have professed what they have not really experienced. They receive the Word with such "joy", that it almost startles older Christians. They run for a time with such zeal and fervor, that they seem way ahead of others. They talk and work about spiritual subjects with such enthusiasm that they make some believers feel ashamed. But when the novelty and freshness of their feelings is gone — a change comes over them. They prove to have been nothing more than stony-ground hearers. The description Jesus gives in the parable of the sower is: "But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word — he quickly falls away!" (Matthew13:21). Little by little their zeal melts away, and their love becomes cold. And why? They had never counted the cost.
By not counting the cost, thousands of professed converts, in revivals — go back to the world after a time and bring disgrace to Christianity. They begin with a mistaken notion of what is true Christianity. They imagine it consists of nothing more than a so-called "coming to Christ" and having strong feelings of joy and peace. When they find, after a time, that there is a cross to be carried, that their hearts are deceitful and that there is a busy devil always near them — they cool down and return to their old sins. Why? Because they had really never known what Bible Christianity is. They had never learned that we must count the cost.
By not counting the cost, the children of Christian parents often turn out bad and bring disgrace to Christianity. Familiar from their childhood with the form and theory of the gospel, taught even from infancy to repeat certain verses and instructed in the gospel — they often grow up professing to be a Christian without knowing why, or without ever having thought seriously about it. And then when the realities of grown-up life begin to pressure them, they often drop their faith and plunge into the world! Why? They had never thoroughly understood the sacrifices which Christianity entails. They had never been taught to count the cost. These are solemn and painful truths. They all help to show the immense importance of the subject. They all point out the absolute necessity of pressing the subject of this message on all who profess a desire for holiness and of crying aloud "Count the cost."
The duty of preaching and teaching counting the cost should be taught much more than it is. However, hurry is the order of the day with most Christians. Instantaneous conversions and immediate peace are the only results most people care about from today's gospel. People need to be told honestly what it is they are taking up, if they profess a desire to come out from the world and serve Christ. Has anyone ever ask you seriously what the Lord Jesus Christ's practice was in this matter? "Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple!" (Luke 14:25-27). I have to truthfully say I cannot reconcile this passage with the teaching and preaching of most men from the pulpit in 2013. It shows me that we ought not to hurry men into professing Christianity, without warning them plainly to count the cost.
If we desire to be pleasing to Him we should never be ashamed of walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus. Implore others to consider their ways. Compel them with holy violence to come in, to lay down their arms and to yield themselves to God. But in all your work, tell the truth, and the whole truth. Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armor, the watching, the marching and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back the cross of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ — but bid them at the same time to count the cost! I don’t mean to discourage anyone or to keep anyone back from Christ's service. It is my heart's desire to encourage everyone to go forward and take up the cross. Let us count the cost by all means, and count it carefully. But remember if we count rightly and look on all sides, there is nothing that need make us afraid.
How did Noah persevere in building the ark? He stood alone amidst a world of sinners and unbelievers. He had to endure scorn, ridicule and mockery. What was it that made him patiently work on and face it all? It was faith. He believed in a wrath to come. He believed that there was no safety, except in the ark that he was preparing. Believing, he held the world's opinion very cheap. He counted the cost by faith, and had no doubt that to build the ark was gain.
How did Moses forsake the pleasures of Pharaoh's house and refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter? How was it that he cast his lot with a despised people like the Hebrews and risked everything in this world in carrying out the great work of their deliverance from bondage? To the natural eye he was losing everything and gaining nothing. What was it that moved him? It was faith. He believed that the "recompense of reward" was far better than all the honors of Egypt. He counted the cost by faith, as "seeing Him who is invisible," and was persuaded that to forsake Egypt and go forth into the wilderness was gain.
How did Saul the Pharisee ever make up his mind to become a Christian? The cost and sacrifices of the change were fearfully great. He gave up all his brilliant prospects among his own people. He brought on himself instead of man's favor man's hatred, man's enmity and man's persecution, even unto death. What was it that enabled him to face it all? It was faith. He believed that Jesus, who met him on the way to Damascus, could give him a hundredfold more than he gave up, and in the world to come, everlasting life. By faith he counted the cost and saw clearly on which side the balance lay. He believed firmly that to carry the cross of Christ was gain.
The faith which made Noah, Moses and Paul do what they did, that faith is the great secret of coming to a right conclusion about our souls. That same faith must be our helper and reckoned when we sit down to count the cost of being a true Christian. That same faith is to be had for the asking. "He gives more grace" (James 4:6). Armed with that faith we shall set things down at their true value. Filled with that faith we shall neither add to the cross, nor subtract from the crown. Our conclusions will be all correct. Our sum total will be without error.
So ask yourself now this serious question: "What has my Christianity cost me?" Very likely it has cost you nothing. Very probably it neither costs you trouble, time, thought, care, pains, reading, praying, self-denial, conflict, or labor of any kind. Now listen carefully, such a Christianity or faith as this, will never save your soul!! It will never give you peace while you live nor hope when you die. It will not support you in the day of affliction nor cheer you in the hour of death. A Christianity or faith which costs nothing — is worth nothing! Wake up before it is too late. Wake up and repent. Wake up and be converted. Wake up and believe. Wake up and pray. Don’t rest or sleep until you can give a satisfactory answer to this question: "What does it cost?"
Think what it cost to provide a salvation for your soul. Think how the Son of God left Heaven and became a Man, suffered on the cross and died to pay your sin-debt to God and worked out for you a complete redemption. Think of all this and learn that it is no light matter to possess an immortal soul. It is worthwhile to have some trouble about one's soul. But ponder this, are we are so lazy that we will miss Heaven for lack of being troubled? Are you really determined to be shipwrecked forever, because of dislike or exertion? Why not rather say to yourself, "Whatever it may cost, I will, at any rate, strive to enter in at the strait gate." Look at the cross of Christ and take fresh courage. Look forward to death, judgment and eternity and be in earnest. It may cost much to be a Christian, but you may be sure it pays tremendous dividends.
Time is very short! A few more years of watching and praying, a few more tossing' s on the sea of life, a few more deaths and changes, a few more winters and summers and it will all be over. We will have fought our last battle and shall need to fight no more. The presence and company of Christ will make amends for all we suffered in this life. When we see as we have been seen, and look back on the journey of life we shall wonder at our own faintness of heart. We shall marvel that we made so much of our cross and thought so little of our crown. We shall marvel that in "counting the cost" how could we ever doubt which side the balance of profit lay. Take courage. It may cost much to be a true Christian and a consistent holy man — but it pays!
Bodolan Cristian

1 comment:

  1. It will continually cost everything, the temptations abound.
    Love Philip