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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
October 9, 2017
Counting the Costs
Please turn to Luke 14:25–35 and follow along as I read the passage for our study this morning. 25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. 34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Our previous studies in Luke 13 indicate that Jesus is somewhere in the region of Galilee teaching in the various cities and villages as He makes His way slowly toward Jerusalem. (See: Entering the Kingdom). Luke does not give us a time indicator about how soon this occurs after Jesus was hosted by a ruler of the Pharisees for a Sabbath meal. Luke simply points out that a large crowd is following Him. We have seen in the past that Jesus’ presence could attract a large multitude of people even when He was in rural areas. My guess is that due to Sabbath travel restrictions, either Jesus was in a city or this was some day following the events recorded in Luke 14:1-24. (See: Characteristics of Godliness: Compassion and Humility). As Jesus is going along with this large group following along, He decides to take advantage of situation and challenge the people about the sacrifices they would have to make in following Him. He wanted them to carefully consider the cost of being one of His disciples.
The word “disciple” is used a lot in Christian literature, but not always according to its Biblical usage and meaning. Strong statements such as in this passage about the sacrifice necessary to be a disciple of Jesus have led some to make being a disciple some sort of higher plane of Christianity. In their view you first become a Christian and then become a disciple sometime later when you make Jesus your Lord. That is contrary to the meaning of the Greek word translated as disciple (maqhthvV / math t s) and its usage in the Scriptures, but it became a popular idea and a point of conflict within evangelical Christianity in the late twentieth century.
I recall the first time I met someone who held to this view. I was a seminary student at the time and just finished preaching at Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. The men who go there are generally desperate enough to endure a preaching service in order to get a meal or a bed for the night or even to sleep in a chair, uncomfortable, but safe from the dangers of being out on the streets. This fact leads most of those who would preach there only periodically, such as I was doing, to proclaim a gospel message to the unsaved. That night one of the men confronted me about the need to preach to the Christians that were there, and then one of the workers started talking to me about how many of the men there were “Christians” but not yet “disciples.” That did not make sense to me, but I did decide that after that I would direct my sermons to those professing to be Christians about walking with Christ and include Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
This idea also became a topic of study in my theology classes resulting in my reading books and material by Zane Hodges, Michael Cocoris and Charles Ryrie in order to understand this teaching. It saddens me how many have latched onto these ideas in a desperate attempt to increase the number of people saved by redefining what that means. But God saves people according to His standards and not those concocted by theologians whomever they may be. All of their arguments fall apart with the simple fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is a crucial aspect of His identity and necessary for salvation according to Romans 10:9-10. You either recognize and submit to this or you don’t, and if you don’t, you have the wrong Jesus, and the wrong Jesus cannot save you. Or to put it more succinctly, Jesus is either your Lord and Savior or He is neither.
A foundational error in this teaching is an improper understanding of being a disciple. The term disciple (maqhthvV / math t s) at its root “denotes the man who directs his mind to something” (TDNT). This quickly developed into describing the person who followed the teachings of another with a particular emphasis on becoming like them in knowledge and actions. Though the word is also translated as pupil and student, it is more akin to being an apprentice for there is a strong link of relationship between the disciple and the teacher. This idea was clearly expressed by Jesus in Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” A disciple is the follower of a teacher with a goal of becoming like that teacher. It is an ongoing and progressive quest.
Related to this it was also understood that someone who is a disciple today may change his mind and not be a disciple tomorrow. This is seen in John 6 when the difficulty of Jesus’ teaching caused many who are specifically identified as “His disciples” to grumble causing Jesus to warn them “there are some of you who do not believe” (John 6:60-65). The final result was that “many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:66). This forces us to the conclusion that being a “disciple” in its proper sense precedes salvation and not the other way around.
In the book of Acts, those who became followers of Jesus and His teachings are commonly referred to as disciples (30 times in Acts). This is in keeping with a normal usage of the word in describing those who continued to follow the doctrine of a teacher even after that teacher was no longer physically present. It is not until Acts 11:46 in Antioch that the disciples are first called Christians, those identified as followers of Christ. (The term “Christian” is only found in Acts 11:46; 26:28 & 1 Peter 4:16).
Those hearing Jesus would have understood that being a disciple meant to be someone who followed a teacher with a goal of becoming like that teacher. It should also be pointed out that common in Jewish society was the idea that a Rabbi, a teacher of their religion, was identified by having disciples that would follow him. The term Rabbi even has its roots in the idea of being a substitute abba, a father, which gives us an understanding about the nature of the relationship between a disciple and a Rabbi. Jesus was called a Rabbi because He was a teacher who had disciples.
In this passage Jesus is addressing those that were physically following Him as He was going along. He turns and challenges them on what it would cost them if they wanted to be His disciples. This is not the pattern followed by those looking for large numbers and popular acclaim as is done by so many Christian leaders in the present, but it is the truth about what it means to be a true Christian. Woe to those that pervert, minimize or ignore what Jesus teaches here to give a false assurance to people that they are destined for heaven when in fact they are not disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be condemned by Him as among those that are evil doers that He does not know (Matthew 7:23; Luke 13:25, 27).
The Cost to Relationships – Luke 14:26
Jesus begins by pointing out what it will cost you in terms of your relationships in order to be His disciple. 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
We begin by stating that since Jesus commands us to love even our enemies and do good to them (Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 6:27-35), then the term “hate” here (misevw / mise ) is not being used in the sense of the English word of intense hostility and aversion, extreme dislike or antipathy, nor is it used in the common meaning of the Greek word of strong dislike or to detest with an implication of aversion and hostility (Louw-Nida). This is a Hebraism of exaggerated comparison as in Genesis 29:30-31 in which the text states that Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah” and in the next verse describes her as being “hated” (ESV – literal meaning). The description of Jacob’s relationship with Leah makes it clear that he loved Rachel more and so by comparison Leah was “unloved,” but it is also clear that he did not detest or even have hostility toward her. This sense is seen in Matthew 10:37 in which Jesus says, “He who love father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” The idea is that your love for Jesus must be so great that your love for even your family members will seem to be hatred by comparison. So do not fear that Jesus is requiring you to detest and have intense hostility toward your parents, siblings, spouse, and children in order to be His disciple and be saved.
However, do not minimize the cost to your relationships with your family members in following Jesus. Remember from our study of Luke 12:53 some months ago that belief in Him would cause division in a family even with the father and son being against each other as well as mother and daughter against each other and mother-in-law and daughter-in-law against each other. Jesus is adamant here that to be His disciple then He must be the priority relationship in your life even if that means a broken relationship between you and the nearest and dearest people you have on this earth. And do not think this being reality is rare for some of you have experienced it.
Will you continue to follow Christ even if it means being ridiculed by your family for believing religious mythology. Will you continue to follow Christ even when it means your mother cries hysterically because she believes you are renouncing the family by becoming a Christian? Will you continue to follow Christ even if your father denounces you and considers you dead and refuses to talk with you or acknowledge your presence? Will you continue to follow Christ even if your children reject you for it and shut you out of their lives. I have personally known Christians who have experienced these things here in America. Will you continue to follow Christ even if it means your siblings will now seek to betray you or even kill you as is common in Muslim countries?
Or perhaps closer to home for most of us here, will you continue to follow Christ even if it means upsetting your family by continuing to live out and proclaim the gospel and refusing to join them in their sins? Being a disciple of Christ means loving and living for Him first and foremost. Every other relationship must be hatred by comparison, for you will be accused of it by those who reject Christ and demand that you reject living according to His commands if you want a good relationship with them.
The Cost to Self – Luke 14:27
In verse 27 Jesus expands on the idea introduced in verse 26 of hating your own life. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Those who heard Jesus say this knew exactly what He was talking about because they had seen those condemned carry their own crosses to the place of their execution. To them the cross was not a pretty decoration. It meant one thing and one thing only – death by a tortuous means of execution. They would have understood that Jesus was telling them they would have to die to self it they were to follow Him.
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”
This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 12:1-2, 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. The gospel, the mercies of God that Paul had been explaining in the previous eleven chapters, is to logically result in you becoming a living and holy sacrifice. But to do that you must be dead to self and alive to God, and that in turn will result in being transformed into something completely different. Paul describes that in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as being a “new creature” in which old things passed away and new things have come. That is part of the Holy Spirit’s work in taking you while you are dead in your transgressions and making you alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). Paul describes this in his own life in Galatians 2:20 that “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
This is not a popular message with those who erroneously consider themselves to be part of evangelical Christianity because it is not attractive to the people they claim they want to save. But from what are they trying to save them? It certainly is not sin because they coddle people in their sin as if it is no big deal because God will forgive them for whatever anyway. Their worship services are designed to affirm people so they will feel good about themselves. Self help advice is given so people can be more successful in living a more fulfilling life however they may define that. They shy away from calling people to holy living by declaring what God has said about what is right and what is wrong, and especially if God’s standards do match that of political correctness. Such passages must be twisted and bent until they fit what people want.
They are also not saving people from Hell because their false gospel leaves people condemned by giving them a counterfeit ticket to heaven that will prove to be worthless. Jesus had just warned them to strive to enter God’s kingdom through the narrow door (Luke 13:23), but these charlatans are busy selling people tickets through the broad gate leading to the broad road to destruction (Matthew 7:13).
The good news is that man can be saved from sin and its eternal consequences through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But that cannot be done unless you turn from sin and self to the Savior. A claimed belief that does not change the manner of life corresponding to it is a false profession. If you are not taking up your cross and following Jesus, then you are not His disciple. You are not one of His sheep. He is not your shepherd.
Calculating the Cost to Finish – Luke 14:28-30
Jesus illustrates the importance of giving serious thought to what He is calling them to do with two illustrations about counting the cost. The first is concerning a construction project.
28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
The tower being referred to is something more extensive than just a simple raised platform of stacked rocks enabling you to see above your grape vines. Since this one has a foundation laid for it, then the plan was for it to be taller and stronger, possibly as something attached to the home giving it multiple purposes. If this is true, then the ridicule would be even worse because an unfinished tower out in the middle of your grape orchard would not be seen by many people, but one next to your home would be seen by everyone that visits. That would be embarrassing.
The point of the illustration is easily understood by anyone that started a building project. Before you do anything else, you figure out what you want to do and what it will take to do it. Even if it takes you a long time to do it, you make sure you have a reasonable plan that will enable you to complete the project. Jesus’ point is not about avoiding embarrassment, it is about being able to complete what you start otherwise you will have wasted your time and resources on something that in the end is worthless. The ridicule only adds to the frustration of the failure.
If you are going to follow Christ, be careful that you understand what it means to be His disciple lest you begin and then turn away. The danger is great because if you are not a true Christian then the warning of Hebrews 6:6 applies regarding those who have fallen away that “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” You will spend eternity in regret of what was so close at hand to you, but in the end you rejected it to your everlasting shame.
If you are a true Christian but do not count the cost correctly or are unwilling to pay it as it becomes due, then surely God will chasten you according to His promises in Hebrews 12:4-11. I am not sure there is anything more miserable in life than a Christian who is being chastened by God. He can’t enjoy God and God will not let him enjoy his sin. Yet, praise the Lord for His chastening since that demonstrates you are His child and by it He will turn you back to where you belong.
Considering the Cost of Defeat – Luke 14:31-32
Jesus’ first illustration is a warning about the failure to count the cost necessary to complete the work. Consider what it will cost you before you become a disciple of Jesus. The second illustration is a warning about the failure of considering your ability to overcome the danger you are facing. What will it cost you if you do not become a disciple of Jesus?
31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
Anyone with even a cursory understanding of history and military actions would understand this illustration. If you are the king and are facing an army twice as big as your own, your risk of defeat is great so you will want to find out how to gain peace with your enemy before the battle is joined and you are defeated. You want to count what it will cost to have peace compared to what it will cost to be defeated.
While the cost of being Jesus’ disciple is high, the cost of not being His disciple is a lot higher. Those rejecting Christ may enjoy the pleasures of sin for a brief time in this life, but they will pay a double price. First will be the natural consequences of sin that increases the decay of the body and shatters relationships. Second will be the price described in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 in which retribution is brought upon “those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” Indeed, as Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
Do not take Jesus’ illustration that the opposing army is only twice as large as yours to be any hope of pulling off an upset victory as has occurred many times in military history. God’s army is made up of angels, and in 2 Kings 19:35 it only took one angel to strike down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night.
The Cost to Materialism – Luke 14:33
In verse 33 Jesus goes back to point out another aspect of what it will cost to be His disciple. 33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” This is not a call for you to make a vow of poverty in order to be saved, though there are some groups that do take it that way as they strive to earn their way to heaven by good works. They will suffer tragic and eternal disappointment when they stand before God and find out that all their good works are as filthy rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6). Salvation comes by God’s grace and mercy through faith in Christ and not by any deeds of righteousness which you have done.
Jesus is not demanding vows of poverty, but He is demanding a yielding of all your possessions to their rightful owner, Himself. You are but a steward of what God has entrusted to your care for the short years of your life on this earth. Those who cling to their stuff have not yet learned what it means that Jesus is Lord and we are His slaves purchased with His precious blood. Following Jesus demands yielding control of everything to Jesus and that includes your possessions. Do not be one of those who discovers the truth of 1 Timothy 6:10 by personal experience; “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Being of Value – Luke 14:34-35
Jesus closes this particular teaching with a warning about the importance of continuing to follow Him once you have begun. 34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
This statement and those similar to it in Matthew 5:13 and Mark 9:50 are confusing to us because we are use to using salt in our food that is very pure so it does not make sense to us that salt could lose its salty characteristics. The word tasteless here is mwraivw / m rain from which we get our word “moronic” and it is usually used as a description of foolishness. It is something that is devoid of meaning. In this case, it is salt that no longer has value because it no longer has the characteristics valued in salt. How can that happen?
In ancient times salt was very valuable because it was hard to get, and what was mined was often contaminated with other minerals. The Dead Sea would have been an easy source of salt, but it is a mixture of salts. Included with sodium chloride (table salt) would be chlorides of calcium, potassium and magnesium along with fine clay, gypsum and other trace minerals. Since the various salts can precipitate out or dissolve in different concentrations of water, it was possible to either collect salt that had little sodium chloride in it or collect it and then have it leach out leaving a salt that was stale tasting. The desired characteristics were no longer present, so it became worthless. That was also true for salts that had lost their favorable characteristics for use as either a fertilizer (potassium) or a biological growth inhibitor (magnesium chloride).
Jesus’ point is obvious even to those without a knowledge of salts and how they are used. If something loses its ability to accomplish your purpose in having it, then it is useless. The “therefore” at the beginning of this illustration applies this truth to those that would want to be a disciple of Jesus. It is a warning about the serious nature of being one of His disciples.
Being a disciple is something that is ongoing and not for just a moment in time. A true disciple will remain a disciple and therefore valuable in God’s kingdom. You are at great risk if you begin to follow Christ but then turn away. If you are not a true believer, as already pointed out from Hebrews 6:6, it may become impossible for you to repent as your heart becomes hardened. It you are a child of God, you risk His chastening as pointed out from Hebrews 12, but you also run the risk of being set aside as useless to God’s kingdom. You will be received in heaven, but instead of having a reward, your works of wood, hay and stubble will be burned up (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Have you counted the costs? It costs a lot to be Jesus’ disciple, but the gain is infinite. Dying to self in the present is insignificant compared to gaining eternal life. It costs even more to reject being a disciple of Jesus. Even if you gained the whole world you will have nothing of value compared to forfeiting your soul. It is a serious matter, so count the costs carefully. But consider that at the heart of your decision of what price you will pay is the question of whether you believe you exist to serve yourself or exist to serve the God who created you and sustains you.
Sermon Notes – 10/8/2017
Counting the Costs – Luke 14:25-35
Jesus challenges a large crowd that was following Him about what it would cost to be His _____________
A current ____________understanding of being a disciple is that it is a higher plane of living after salvation
God saves people according to His _________& not those concocted by theologians whomever they may be
Romans 10:9-10 – Jesus is ___________, you either recognize or do not. No one “makes Him Lord.”
A disciple (maqhthvV / math t s) who follows the teachings of another to become ________him (Luke 6:40)
A disciple may change their mind and leave (John 6:60-66). Discipleship ____________ salvation
In Acts, the term “disciple” was used to identify followers of Jesus later called _____________(Acts 11:46)
A religious teacher was considered to be a ____________if he had disciples
The ____________Jesus sets here will not be followed by those wanting large numbers and popular acclaim
The Cost to Relationships – Luke 14:26
The term “hate” here is being used in the sense of a Hebraistic ____________comparison cf. Gen. 29:30-31
Matt. 10:37 – your love for Jesus must be so great that love for your family will seem as hate by __________
Luke 12:53 – the cost for following Jesus could be ____________family division, ridicule, rejection, hatred
Being a disciple of Christ demands loving and living for Him _________ even if that upsets your family
The Cost to Self – Luke 14:27
They understood that to carry a cross meant ___________by a tortuous means of execution
A gospel that does not include calling people to take up their cross and follow Jesus does not ________
The price of salvation has already been paid by Jesus, but there is a _________you to being His disciple
Calculating the Cost to Finish – Luke 14:28-30
A significant and _______________ construction project
The point is to avoid wasting resources on what will be _________with embarrassment adding to the failure
The danger to starting to follow Christ and then _____________ away is great – Hebrews 6:6
True believers risk God’s ____________ (Hebrews 12:4-11) and being miserable
Considering the Cost of Defeat – Luke 14:31-32
What will it cost to have peace compared to being ______________?
The cost of being Jesus’ disciple is high, but the cost of ________His disciple is a lot higher – 2 Thess. 1:8-9
God’s army ____________ be defeated
The Cost to Materialism – Luke 14:33
This is not a call to make a vow of poverty in order to be saved – good works ____________ save you
Jesus is demanding a yielding of all your possessions to their rightful owner, ___________
You have been purchased with His blood and are a _______of what is entrusted to you the years of your life
Being of Value – Luke 14:34-35
Tasteless is mwraivw / m rain (“moronic”), a description of foolishness, something _________of meaning
Dead Sea salt was a ___________of different salts out of which what was desired could be leached
If something loses its ability to accomplish your purpose in having it, then it is _____________
Being a disciple is something that is _____________ and not for just a moment in time
______________ to continue as a disciple poses great risks including being set aside as worthless
It costs a lot to be Jesus’ disciple, but the ___________ is infinite
The price you will pay depends on whether you exist to serve yourself or exist to serve your __________
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “cost” is used. 2) Discuss with your parents what it will cost you to be a follower of Jesus.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Where was Jesus and what was He doing? What does it mean to be a disciple? Why would some Christian leaders differentiate being saved from being a disciple of Jesus? What fundamental Biblical truth is missed by those that claim you can be saved and make Jesus Lord of your life later when you become a disciple (Romans 10:9-10)? What is the meaning of the word for disciple? Why did some of the “disciples” in John 6 withdraw from Jesus and not walk with Him anymore? Did they continue to be disciples after that? Explain. How is the term disciple used throughout the book of Acts. What were the disciples called in Acts 11:46? What would those hearing Jesus have understood Him to mean by referring to His disciples? Does Jesus require you to have hate – intense hostility and aversion, extreme dislike or antipathy – toward your family members? Why or why not? What insights does Genesis 29:30-31 give on the idea of hate as expressed in this passage? What other commands has Jesus given regarding loving family members, neighbors and enemies? How can being a disciple of Christ cause division within a family? Explain with examples. What does the Lord want you to do if following Him is upsetting your family? What would they have understood Jesus to mean when He said to “carry his own cross”? What does Paul teach about sacrifice of self in order to follow Christ? What was his attitude about his own life? Can a gospel that avoids calling people to be a disciple of Jesus save people from either sin or Hell? Explain. What is the point of the illustration in Luke 14:28-30 about counting the cost to finish a building project? What danger does a non-Christian have in starting to follow Jesus and then turning away (Hebrews 6:6)? What danger does a Christian face if they are not diligent to continue as disciples? What is the point of the illustration in Luke 14:31-32? What is the cost for not becoming a disciple of Jesus? Can man defeat God? Does Jesus require a vow of poverty in order to be His disciple? Why or why not? What then is the meaning of Luke 14:33? What is the proper relationship between you, the Lord and your possessions? What is the meaning of Jesus’ illustration in Luke 14:34-35? How can a Christian lose their value? What is the danger of that? In what ways are you pursing being a disciple of Jesus?
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