“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)
“Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,” (Luke 14:29)
“Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” (Luke 14:30)
There have been many pastors, teachers and brethren who have referred to the above scriptures in an almost cliché fashion, as in: “There’s a price to pay in following Christ.”
But how many have actually “sat down” and “counted the cost”?
We know from the letter of Paul to the Corinthians that the “foundation” is none other than being born again by the spirit of Christ:
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 3:11)
And thus, having laid the foundation, the Christian is now to “build” upon that foundation in his daily walk with the Lord:
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1Corinthians 3:9)
So, we see from scripture that our relationship with God involves a “building” process that is not static, but active!
“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)
However, there’s an exhortation (warning) which comes with this “building” process:
“But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” (1Corinthians 3:10)
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1Corinthians 3:12-13)
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1Corinthians 3:14-15)
Why such a stern and solemn warning?
Because we have an adversary called the devil (Satan), who hates us with a pure hatred. He will stop at nothing to “sidetrack” a Christian in his walk with the Lord and try to “drag” him off into deception, error or just outright sin!
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
And not only so, but we also “wrestle” with those in the natural realm who are either influenced, controlled or possessed by these “principalities”, “powers” and “rulers”!
That is why Jesus went on in his analogy to speak of a king facing an enemy greater than himself:
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31)
“Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:32)
You see, we are just like this king. In the natural, as human beings, we are actually facing another king (Satan) who has an army (of demons) which outnumber our ability to fight against!
However, as Christians, we wage a spiritual war … not a natural war. And though we know from scripture that “greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world”, Satan is still a formidable foe. That is why the Word of God exhorts us to “gird up”:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
Christians like to refer to themselves as “kings” in the Kingdom of God: but, how many have actually “sat” down and “counted the cost” like this king in the parable did?
What usually happens to the average American Christian is, when he sees the enemy approaching, he sends out a spiritual message to the invading “army” that he desires “conditions of peace”!
In other words, when confronted with a “fiery trial” designed to purify his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the modern Christian does everything he can to “escape” the pain of his trial, affliction or persecution which has engulfed him. Instead of being clothed in the armor of God, trusting in His Lord, and preparing to stand in the battle, he throws away his sword (the Word of God) and begins to lean upon the “arm of the flesh” (i.e. money, relationships, entertainment, pleasures of this life, ear-tickling fables, etc).
When a Christian does these things in the face of a fiery trial, he’s actually “making peace” with his enemy.
But if the same Christian would “gird up” and “face” his trial, he would receive the power necessary in the Holy Ghost to endure and eventually overcome his enemy. This is how one comes against an army of 20,000 when only possessing 10,000. It’s called GRACE!
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
The key word here is “boldly”. One cannot come boldly to the throne of grace unless he has first counted the cost and decided to stand, by faith, against an overpowering army.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
How can a Christian come to God in faith, believing to be rewarded with the grace and power he needs to stand, when he is constantly trusting in his own ability to “escape” out of all those “fiery trials” which confront him on a daily basis? It’s impossible!
Rather than try to escape a fiery trial through our own ability, or try to find relief from it through indulging in the pleasures and distractions of this life, we should “embrace” it:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:2)
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
In other words, let the patience of the Lord Jesus Christ dwell in you to such an extent that the fiery trial which Satan intends to destroy you with, actually becomes the very circumstance that God uses to perfect your faith! Let God complete the work in you! Let Him add another “brick of gold” to your building instead of you adding some more “wood, hay and stuble”!
As Peter once said:
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:” (1Peter 1:6)
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1Peter 1:7)
But unfortunately, too many Christians infected with the Americana Gospel of wealth, pleasure and materialism are unable to “lay hold on the hope set before them” and have become like those recorded by Jesus in his parable of the sower:
“And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” (Luke 8:14)
So, what is it to really count the cost? To understand this, we need to know what the “cost” is and then determine within ourselves if we are willing to “pay”!
Jesus, when warning about the last days, told his disciples a startling fact:
“Then (towards the end) shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10)
Read those scriptures again … slowly! Let them sink down into your ears, because they declare where your Christian faith is eventually going to take you!
It’s already taking place in other parts of the world and will eventually take hold in the United States as sure as the sun rises in the east, and continues rising, until it shines even unto the west!
And the cost does not stop there. Jesus himself defined the “cost” of just being his disciple:
“And there went great multitudes with him …” (Luke 14:25)
As it was in Jesus’ day, so it is now. Great multitudes supposedly follow after Christ … but how many are really committed to him? How many are really preparing to be totally identified with him when it starts to get super “hot in the kitchen”? Jesus, of course knew this, so:
“… he turned, and said unto them,” (Luke 14:25)
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
Again, read those scriptures over and let them sink into your heart.
Are you a true disciple of Christ according to His definition, or do you think Jesus didn’t really mean what he said?
If you can relate in your heart to the above scriptures, then you’re in good company:
“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.” (Matthew 12:46-47)
“But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” (Matthew 12:48)
“And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!” (Mark 3:34)
“For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:35)
You see, Jesus’ only purpose on earth was to do the will of his Father on this earth as it is in heaven and not to please himself. Though we are still in our mortal flesh and are subject to the “vanity” of this world, our heart-felt desire should be the same! Though we stumble and fall at times, we don’t stay there:
“The steps of a good man (one who seeks after Christ) are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” (Psalms 37:23)
“Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (Psalms 37:24)
“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:” (Proverbs 24:16)
In these last days, have you counted the cost to follow Christ? Are you willing to “pay the price”? If so, then God will grant you all the grace, mercy, peace and strength to go on and “complete” the building which you started with Him. You’ll be able to go out and meet your enemy, the devil and his cohorts, and overcome them even though you’re outnumbered. You’ll find no place for compromise or seeking conditions of worldly “peace”! You’ll be like Paul in your own sphere of influence which the Lord has deemed worthy to place you:
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2Corinthians 4:5)
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Corinthians 4:6)
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2Corinthians 4:7)
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;” (2Corinthians 4:8)
“Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” (2Corinthians 4:9)
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2Corinthians 4:10)
“For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2Corinthians 4:11)
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