The High Cost of Discipleship – Sermon Application #1
The connected parables of the man setting about to build a tower and the king deliberating about whether or not to go to battle confront us with the high cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). If we are to be true disciples─ followers of Jesus Christ (which the Bible assumes that all Christians are), then we must have counted the cost and determined that we would see it through to the end.
Sanctification application 1:
The Christian life may be likened to a building─ a construction project: “a wise man, which built his house upon a rock (Matt. 7:24);” “if any man build upon this foundation (1 Cor. 3:12);” “which is able to build you up (Acts 20:32).” Before someone sets out to build a tower, he sits down and deliberates for a while. To avoid any potential embarrassment for failing to finish the project, the builder does a thorough cost analysis first. What will this construction project cost me? When it comes to the Christian life, there is the cost of our salvation and then there is the cost of following Jesus. Jesus won our salvation for us by losing all for us, and now we must win Him by losing all for Him (Php. 3:8, 12-13). We can only abide in close fellowship with Jesus if we are with Him, we can only be with Him if we follow Him, and we can only follow Him if we leave the world behind us. Though the ground of our walking with Jesus has been paid for in full at the cross, the experience of it comes only by personal sacrifice. Let’s consider what cross of worldly loss would be our heavenly gain?
Sanctification application 2:
When we talk about counting the cost, we must be careful not to take up a wrong view of the Christian life as a continual pain. The devil would love to paint the spiritual life as heavy chains and constant suffering. As Pastor Vradenburgh pointed out by connecting these parables to the surrounding context, it is evident that those who count the cost are the same who partake of the Gospel feast (compare parables with Luke 14:24). If we were ignorant to the glorious joy and peace and love on the other side of the cross, that cross would indeed be a hard thing to bare! But like Jesus “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross (Heb. 12:2),” we must not count the cost without counting the infinite gain both now and in the life to come!
Application to the philosophy of ministry:
The necessity for people to count the cost is diametrically opposed to the seeker-friendly movement. If you sugarcoat the Gospel, spiritual growth will be stunted. We live in a generation where many churches have become the world to win the world─ and so the world has won them. The Bible warns us against such compromising methods both individually and corporately: “be not conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2).” The world cares little about truth and a great deal about personal comfort, and so uncomfortable truths are the first to go in an effort to make people comfortable. The world cares little about sacrifice and a great deal about entertainment, and so Jesus’ ultimatums about taking up the cross are discarded and “experiencing Jesus” becomes a concert and a flesh-satisfying show. Let’s reflect on our own personal philosophy of ministry. Have we counted the cost of thinking biblically about these matters? Pastor Vradenburgh said that “True godliness is the building up of character that will endure the tests─ the fires of God’s judgment.” This also applies to ministry where works of wood, hay, and stubble, will go up in smoke─ though they be the product of ever so much toil and sweat.
– Thomas Bluemling, ministry intern