Friday 30 August 2019

Luke 14 v25/33 Counting the cost of discipleship.
In my last sermon I spoke of people who were very religious but not quite Christian; but for those who do choose to follow the Lord, it is essential that they first count the cost, for a cost there will be; but the Holy Spirit will give you the strength to face the struggle of those who oppose you.

When a person makes a decision to follow Jesus it is because God has touched their heart and led to believe that Jesus died on the Cross, so that God would forgive you from all that was wrong with your past life.
The Christian gospel is that God loves all people and wants to offer them salvation, to grant them eternal life with Jesus in heaven when their life in this world is over.

There is almost a universal belief that everyone who lives will go to heaven; if they behave well, be honest and kind, but there is no foundation for such belief. God made clear in his Word, that is the Bible, that he hates sin and cannot accept a relationship with people who are sinful.  The only way therefore that we can be acceptable to God is to be forgiven and cleansed from our sins, and for that God calls for a penalty to be imposed on those sins. We as mortal beings are not capable of paying that penalty, for to make such payment one has to be sinless; so God sent Jesus his Son, who payed that penalty for all, by dying a cruel and painful death on a Cross so we could be forgiven. God the receives all who are prepared to accept and believe Jesus was their Saviour, and his death was for their forgiveness.

This is the only way for us to be forgiven, Jesus himself states, he was the only way to God, and anyone who denied this would never be forgiven for there has never been anyone else born into this world who can save them. It was that man’s spiritual need could be met that Jesus came. Salvation cannot be found anywhere else and it is futile to look for it in anyone else or anywhere else.

When we make the decision to so accept Jesus as Saviour, we are committing ourselves to follow his teaching on the way we live our lives. The Bible lays down the way our Lord wants us to live which includes a moral and ethical way as well as a spiritual one. This means abandoning certain lifestyles, and a lot of people are not prepared to do that, they want to carry on as they have been doing.

There is a need for some people to forsake friends whose way of life they shared, and have now become unacceptable to God. Even within families, differences occur as relatives will not accept those who follow the ways of Christ. Jesus calls us to stand firm in our belief and in loyalty to him. This is what Jesus meant when he said if we follow him we have to carry a cross, and acceptance of hardship on his behalf.  Jesus told two parables to help them to understand the need to think before acting on a decision.

A man wanted to build a tower, probably a vineyard tower to enable watch to be kept over his property, but before laying the foundation it would be necessary to assess the cost involved to ensure he would be able to meet it, otherwise he wold look foolish. Then there is a story of a king who if he wanted to make war with another nation, would have to make sure his army was as great as the one he attacked.

It is a Christian’s first duty to count the cost of following Jesus, and should not take a decision lightly but reverently in respect for God.
Many people at the great evangelical Crusades were motivated to take a decision to follow Jesus by the massed choirs creating inspiring music with sound doctrine given by a preacher, and when they returned to attend the local churches where the services were not so well organised and prepared, they fell away.
If you desire to follow Jesus Christ, be sure you realise what it means, and the commitment discipleship involving hostility and sacrifice. Jesus does not make it easy, he always pointed out the cost, saying ‘anyone who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.           
The professing church is full of people who might come to church three times a year who yet claim to be Christians, they were confirmed with the bishop’s hands on their heads, they were baptized by an impeccably orthodox preacher, they joined a lively church and attended more often than that. All seemed good for a while, but then troubles came with trials and testings’; their peer group had no time for Christianity and soon they began to change, they had less and less interest in Christianity until they came to three services in an entire year and never thought about God between those occasions. They had failed to count the cost of coming to Christ.”

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