Count the cost 2


“That is why he warned people to ‘count the cost’ …”

Count The Cost

Sounds ominous – especially considering this came afterwards –

“For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die…”

and

“As you have testified about me in ____, so you must also testify about me in ____.” … “had no idea what that meant … but … decided he would remain with him regardless of the danger.”

The 1st quote above – that’s something I was reading Friday afternoon.
The other two are from something I read Saturday night.


well, they’re actually from a Friday and a Saturday back in December 2010 – almost seven years ago.  At that point, I’d been writing for about a year.  From time to time, I like to go back and update some of the old stuff, especially ones like this that are from an old site that I’m still moving over.  Hopefully, as I do the updates (in text like this) some amount of spiritual growth will be seen.


After reading the 2nd set of quotes – I knew I had to write something about this. It was kind of scary – didn’t know whether this was going to apply to me – or maybe to someone reading this site. I still don’t know.

But – the sermon in church on Sunday reminded me that either way – whoever this is intended for – it’s not scary. Maybe not “easy” – but not scary either.

I do know now, after these past 7 years.  Some of it was for others, based on feedback I’ve received.  Some of it was certainly for me.  The cost has been high.  And yet, looking at the image at the top, I realize that when we’re talking about this particular cost, it’s really not necessary to blow up the budget – because the budget is way bigger than we can even begin to realize.  

So – here we go –

That 1st one is from C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. It comes from Chapter 31 <Counting The Cost>, from which this article title comes –

That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost‘ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake; He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect-until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.’

Yet – this is the other and equally important side of it – this Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty. As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, ‘God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.’

Mere Christianity is C. S. Lewis’ book that gets down to what are the basics of Christianity – the things that pretty much every Protestant denomination believes in – the essence of Christianity, without the things that divide different church denominations.

It’s still one of my favorite books.  Just like it’s important to keep re-reading the Bible, I think it’s good to occasionally reread this book, if for no other reason that to remind us that some of the stuff we hear and read about “Christianity” can maybe be like a series I recently completed – A land flowing with milk and honey, which, in addition to the obvious reference to milk and honey, also talks about yeast – including the yeast to the Pharisees and Sadducees, which Jesus warned about –

Lk 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

This “yeast” can either keep us from experiencing a full Christian life, or in the worst case it could even make us reject Jesus entirely.

The other quotes come from Luke’s Story, a book by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins – which is a fictional (but possible) telling of how Luke came to write both his Gospel and the Book of Acts.

The first quote from Luke’s Story comes from page 204 –

“Paul listened passively, and when they were finished, he said, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Luke had to admit that none of the prophecies said the Spirit was telling Paul not to proceed. They merely foretold what would happen to him.

He did go – was nearly killed, and ended up in custody, when the final quotes came in this sequence on page 208 –

When Luke visited him that night, he was struck to find Paul dejected and in need of encouragement, so he prayed for him. Paul told him later in the night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

Luke had no idea what that meant, when they might go, or how long Paul might be restrained there. But taking heart from Paul, who had become his brave mentor in the faith, Luke decided he would remain with him regardless of the danger.

The quote above is straight out of Acts –

Ac 23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

So if things weren’t bad enough – Paul is being told that he will be going to Rome to also preach the salvation of Jesus. That’s like going from the frying pan into the fire.

Is this for real?

OK – at this point – you may be saying that these are both just books – one a theology book from someone who was at this point in his life a Christian – although after much effort of trying to not be one. And – the other is Christian “fiction” – which although based on history and the Bible – is essentially one possible way that things could have taken place – although not necessarily so at all.

So – as I always say – let’s go back to the relevant verses of the Bible from which these came.
BTW – as you read these – consider this – all of the verses are from Luke – either his Gospel, or the book of Acts (not surprising for Luke’s Story – but even from C. S. Lewis) – coincidence – irony – or Planned?

The C. S. Lewis quote about counting the cost – is from Luke 14:25-35 –

The Cost of Being a Disciple

Lk 14:25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “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. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Lk 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Lk 14:31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Lk 14:34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Specifically, the quote comes from verse 28 – but the whole series is a number of ways that Jesus tells us to be sure that we are truly prepared to pay the cost – that we are really willing to do what He calls is to do.

And what is Jesus asking us to do?

Also from Mere Christianity –

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says `Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’

Both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do. You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, ‘Take up your Cross’- in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light.’ He means both. And one can just see why both are true.

He wants all? Everything? Seriously?

Peter’s Confession of Christ

Lk 9:18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

Lk 9:19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

Lk 9:20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Lk 9:21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Lk 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

All!.  Everything!!  Seriously!!!

And from these statements by Jesus – we can see why Paul is willing to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

One thing to notice here though – Paul is not yet in prison. While he is on his way to Jerusalem, he’s not worried about himself – he’s more concerned that the other Christians are asking him to not listen to God – to not go to Jerusalem.

In case you didn’t notice / realize the importance of Luke’s reaction to this in the book –

Luke had to admit that none of the prophecies said the Spirit was telling Paul not to proceed. They merely foretold what would happen to him.

Was this observation by Luke actually recorded in the Bible? Let’s look at Acts 21, which takes place when Paul is about to travel from Ephesus to Jerusalem –

On to Jerusalem

Ac 21:1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6 After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.

Ac 21:7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day. 8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

Ac 21:10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ”

Ac 21:12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Given what was foretold – many were obviously trying to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

But no – Luke’s observation is not there – not explicitly.
However – that doesn’t make it any less valid.
How can we know this? From another part of Luke – where Jesus was talking to His disciples about things to come –

Warnings and Encouragements

Lk 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Lk 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies ? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Lk 12:8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. 9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Lk 12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

This fits Paul’s situation exactly.
Not only is the Holy Spirit guiding him – it will also tell him what to say when he gets to Jerusalem.
So Luke is right – as we all would be – to listen to the Holy Spirit – and to be led by Him.

But – things change a bit when Paul reaches Jerusalem – is nearly killed – and is now told that he must go to Rome and preach the Gospel as well. After that happens, Luke’s Story says –

When Luke visited him that night, he was struck to find Paul dejected and in need of encouragement, so he prayed for him.

So now the book has Paul being down – and Luke praying for him. Is that in the Bible? Let’s look at Acts 22:30 through 3:11 – where this takes place after a day of Paul testifying before the Jewish leaders –

Before the Sanhedrin

Ac 22:30 The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.

Ac 23:1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Ac 23:4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?”

Ac 23:5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’’”

Ac 23:6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

Ac 23:9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

Ac 23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Nope – Luke praying for Paul wasn’t there either.  So – why do the authors put this in the book – is there a reason for it? Do people like Paul really need encouragement?

From Luke 22:31-34 – which is right after Jesus broke bread and passed the wine at the Last Supper, He had the following conversation with Peter –

Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Lk 22:33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Lk 22:34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Maybe they do! Peter says he’s willing to die for Jesus – but when we have Satan asking to sift us as wheat – that’s pretty hard to stand up to by ourselves.  We need the power of God to be able to hold up against something like that. And sometimes we need others to remind us – and to pray for us.

I believe that’s the message that the authors are trying to give with this sequence of Luke praying for Paul. And people did pray for Paul – as in Acts 21:1 above.

What we have in the end then – we need to listen for the Holy Spirit – God leading us. We need a community of other Christians – to both provide support for and to receive support from. And – we need to be willing to do what the Spirit calls us to do – with the help of both the community and God.  We cannot do it alone – we need God’s power.  We also seem to be really good at getting away from God when we are apart from His people for too long – and apart from His word for too long.

The choice would be which god – the god of “ourselves”, where we think we can do everything on our own – or the God of the Bible who calls us to be members of His church body – to have community. For this one – we leave Luke and look at Matthew 18:19-20 –

Mt 18:19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Which “god” are you choosing?


Given what was foretold for Paul in all of this, if we were in his sandals, would we go?  Would we pray to God that He would tell us not to go?  And if He did, maybe we could try again – saying “how about best 2 out of 3”?  And then, when God still says go – we say “how about best 3 out of 5”?  You know – kind of like Gideon did, asking for sign after sign?

The interaction between God and Gideon started like this –

Jdg 6:11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

Jdg 6:13 “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

Jdg 6:14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Jdg 6:15 “But Lord,’” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Jdg 6:16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you , and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

Jdg 6:17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”

And when God did wait, and Gideon did return, it continues –

Jdg 6:33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

Jdg 6:36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

Jdg 6:39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

But then, God asks Gideon to trust Him –

Jdg 7:1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon ) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

Jdg 7:4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

Jdg 7:5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

Jdg 7:7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

It seems like Gideon is trusting God. 
Well – almost.

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

Jdg 7:13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

Jdg 7:14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

Jdg 7:15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God.

Gideon still needed that one extra sign.
But after that –

He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.

Jdg 7:17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’ ”

Jdg 7:19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

Jdg 7:22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”
So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they took the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb . They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.

As I suggested at the top – Gideon was worried about this, because he thought his “budget” was too low.  In this case, the “budget” was the number of men he had available for the fight.  He asked for sign after sign, hoping to get out of the mission.  After he realizes that asking for more signs is pointless, Gideon agrees to do what God’s asking.  But then, God tells Gideon – your budget is too high!

Now, God knows Gideon isn’t too sure about this budget reduction thing, so He gives Gideon one more sign, even though none was asked for – at least not in spoken words.

Gideon’s feeling pretty good after that, because he realizes that his budget just went up dramatically.  In fact – it’s unlimited!  God’s going to take care of it.  The cost to what Gideon thought was his budget turned out to be zero – and on top of that Gideon’s budget went up to unlimited!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if that was the case all the time – that the cost to us would be zero, like it was with Gideon?  Unfortunately, the cost can be very high.  As we’re going to see with Paul, it could be his life.  In reality, while it wasn’t his life, yet – it would be eventually.  In fact, 10 of Jesus’ original 11 disciples (not counting Judas Iscariot) died horrible deaths for their involvement in spreading the Gospel of Jesus.  Only John died of old age.  Did they consider it “worth the cost”?  We’ll answer that later.

Now – back to Paul and Counting The Cost

To me – the big unanswered question here – who is this message for? Specifically – why do I feel I need to be writing this now?

I don’t know – but it’s a feeling I can’t ignore.

It made me really nervous Saturday night – feeling like something’s going to happen to someone.

But then Sunday – part of the message in the Sermon was something that I know – and have written about – but needed a reminder – that no matter what happens here in this life – it IS for God’s glory – and it’s such a short life compared to eternity with God in Heaven – and no matter what else –

Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

At least part of the answer for me, has to do with being willing to accept the cost.  Without actually knowing what the cost would be.

I want to go back to one of the paragraphs from Mere Christianity –

That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake; He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect-until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.’

Ever since I was very young – like first or second grade – I wanted God’s peace, and I wanted a father who would care for me the way The Father promised.  Part of that really describes how I feel now –

But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until …

I’ll write more about this at some point – soon.  If you’re interested, use one of the ways at the top of the page to follow this site, or use the email subscription towards the top right.  

For the first time in my life – I feel the peace that God promised, and I have the Father I’ve always wanted.   

Conclusion

Earlier, we read – Gideon’s feeling pretty good after that, because he realizes that his budget just went up dramatically.  In fact – it’s unlimited!  God’s going to take care of it.  The cost to what Gideon thought was his budget turned out to be zero – and on top of that Gideon’s budget went up to unlimited!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if that was the case all the time – that the cost to us would be zero, like it was with Gideon?  Unfortunately, the cost can be very high.  As we’re going to see with Paul, it could be his life.  In reality, while it wasn’t his life, yet – it would be eventually.  In fact, 10 of Jesus’ original 11 disciples (not counting Judas Iscariot) died horrible deaths for their involvement in spreading the Gospel of Jesus.  Only John died of old age.  Did they consider it “worth the cost”?  We’ll answer that later.

It’s time to answer it.  

If we look at life, we see there are actually two parts to it.  The first is the life we have now.  The second is what happens after we pass on from this life.  In this life – we’re all going to die.  Period.  End of discussion.  It’s going to happen.  The next life – it’s gong to last forever.  I submit that therefore, dying in this life isn’t really a true cost of following Jesus.  Whether we follow Jesus while on this earth or not – death in inevitable.  To keep this thought going then, the true cost is in whether we end up in Heaven or in Hell in the next life.  

I don’t really like to get to this point – it tends to turn people off.  But since we’re talking about counting the cost, there’s really no avoiding it, is there?  

While we’re alive, the cost feels high.  I know that.  I’ve lived it.  I’ve lost a lot in this life and was even willing to put my life or death on the line for Jesus one night in a hospital while my kidneys were failing, my lungs were filling with fluid, and my liver was beginning to have problems as well.

The cost has been high, no doubt.,

And yet – in a very real sense, the true cost is much higher for those who reject Jesus.

Because this is the real choice – the real potential cost –

Rev 7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

Rev 7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

Rev 7:16 Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.

Rev 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Hunger. Thirst. Scorching heat.
or
Living water.  No more tears.

No matter what happens in this life, no matter how high the cost appears to be at the time,  the cost of forever in hunger, thirst and scorching heat is infinitely higher.

No matter what happens in this life, no matter how high the cost appears to be at the time, it is a very, very tiny price to pay, infinitely smaller than what we receive – the living water and no more tears that come with eternity with Jesus.


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2 thoughts on “Count the cost

  • Lisa Fulkerson

    I had been praying all day to talk to Jesus…REALLY talk, as if He hadn’t ascended yet and I read this e-mail from you and I felt like He was answering my questions and encouraging me on. Coincidence??? NO!!! Thank you!!

    • c wgsu Post author

      You are most welcome. I always feel like when I write something good / useful, it’s from the Holy Spirit, so I’m sure that “Your Welcome” is from Him as well.