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Counting the Cost

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2022 1:00 am

Counting the Cost

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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These words of Jesus that I read earlier in the service, fall on the ears of many people today is strange and for some very, very hard. My fear is that so many people in our day have made a decision for Jesus and yet have not counted the cost of what it means to be a Christian.

I think living in the South, it might be easier to find somebody who hasn't had COVID than to find somebody who doesn't profess to be a Christian. Some wrestle with the words of Jesus and say, well, he's talking about a super Christian. He's talking about another level of a Christian. And I'm just content not to be a disciple. I'm a Christian, I'm on my way to heaven, but there are those who want to follow Jesus and take up their cross and that's for the super Christian. That's a misunderstanding of the scriptures. A Christian is a disciple. A Christian is a follower of Jesus.

There is no such thing as a Christian who doesn't follow Jesus. Amen? All right. Tonight I'd like to consider with you the subject of counting the cost. Counting the cost. Jesus said in verse 28 of our text this evening, Luke 14 verse 28, for which of you intending to build a tower does not sit down first and count the cost whether he has enough to finish it. What's the immediate context?

Well, the immediate context is verse 25 and 26. Now great multitudes went with him. Great multitudes following Jesus for various and sundry reasons. Curiosity, he's a miracle worker. He turns a few loaves of bread and fish into enough to feed a multitude. A lot of people following.

Some genuinely wanting to follow the Savior. Great multitudes went with him and he turned and said to them, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Cannot. No ifs, ands, or buts, or perhaps. He cannot be my disciple. You say, well that word hate is a very strong word.

Well, it's used in the way of comparison. You remember the first great commandment? We're to love the Lord our God with what?

All of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength. He's to have first place. He's to have the place of preeminence in our life.

He's not an add on. He has saved us. We belong to him. He's first.

Doesn't mean we can't love mother, father, wife, husband, but we love him first and foremost. That's what he means. In circles like ours, it might sound strange to say that there is a cost to being a Christian.

You say, now wait a minute here. A cost to being a Christian? What we've been told and preached, a gospel of free grace, a gospel of sovereign grace, that there is nothing a man can do to earn merit with God, that God is under no obligation to save any man, that there are no works that I can perform or you can perform sufficient enough to satisfy the justice of God. Yes, salvation is free, but it's very, very costly. So we need to count the cost tonight.

That's what I'd like to do. Count the cost of being a Christian. Salvation is free, but remember one thing and never forget it. Though we have received freely of his mercy and grace, it was not without cost. Who can calculate the cost or fathom what was paid to secure our redemption? Peter tells us we've been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.

Our condition was such that it required God blood to rescue us. So, with that introduction, let's think this evening about counting the cost. What is the cost of being a true Christian? A Christian in the Bible sense of the word. Not a nominal Christian, but a real Christian.

There are four things I want to draw to your attention. Number one, to be a Christian, to be a real Christian, to be a disciple, to be a follower of Jesus will cost you your self-righteousness. It will cost you your self-righteousness. Nobody has ever come to Christ holding on to their own righteousness.

We must have no confidence in the flesh. There must be a forsaking of all self-confidence, a repudiation of self. We must be able to say and be helped by the grace of God to say with Paul, I know that is within me dwelleth no good thing. Titus chapter 3 and verse 5 says, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he has saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Christ said, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. It should be alarming to us to draw some parallels between the times of Christ and our own times. The people who were the most deceived, the people who had the greatest animosity and hatred for Christ were the religious people, the Pharisees who felt so self-righteous that they didn't need what Christ offered.

There are a lot of religious people in our day, a lot of religious people. I was at a funeral this past week or so ago and I didn't know the man well enough to really know whether he had a relationship with Christ or not but the preacher sure wanted everybody to know that he was okay because he came into Christ at his baptism when he was a baby. And I sat there thinking to myself, if that's his only hope, there is no hope. There is no hope for Christ. No, all of our righteousness is as filthy rags. And he who sees no sin in himself will feel no need of a savior. No man has ever been saved that has not been convinced by the Spirit of God that he is lost, that there's nothing he can do to secure favor with God. John Calvin said in his institutes, quote, whoever is utterly cast down and overwhelmed by the awareness of his calamity, poverty, nakedness and disgrace has thus advanced farthest in knowledge of himself. What I love about the hymnody that we sing here at the church is how almost without exception what we sing reinforces what we believe the Bible teaches.

Augustus top lady's hymn, Rock of Ages. Nothing, nothing in my hands I bring simply to thy cross I claim. So to be a Christian, we're counting the cost of what it means to be a Christian, to be a disciple, to be a follower of Christ, to be a Christian in the biblical sense will cost you your self-righteousness. It'll cost you something else. It will cost you your sin. It will cost you your sin.

You remember? You shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins, from their sins. You remember what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount as he was talking about the narrow way and the broad way. He said, enter, enter by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and there are many who go in thereby because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it. We cannot, we cannot love our sin and love Christ at the same time.

That's mutually exclusive and I know that's a difficult thing to say but that's the truth of the matter. We are saved unto holiness. Paul said in Ephesians 1 where he's dealing with those great doctrines of predestination and election. He chose us in him before the foundation of the world so that what? So that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

We find good company and our honesty and our wrestling with sin when we read the scriptures. Paul came to the end of his life and had not ceased fighting and battling with inward corruptions. He said, I have fought a good fight. I've often wondered, what are you referring to Paul? How broad is that?

What fits under that? I have fought a good fight. Well, he fought the enemies of Christ. He fought the enemies of the church but don't you believe he fought his own flesh? He fought his own corruption. He fought his own sinful desires. I have fought a good fight.

I have finished my course. I have kept the faith because he said later in life, this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance that Christ Jesus came in to the world to save sinners of whom I am the least. Is that what he said? No.

Of whom I am chief. Is that well Paul really? You really mean that?

Yeah, I think you really did mean that. Listen to what Martin Luther had to say on this subject. He said, I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals because I have within me the great pope self. So said Martin Luther. I'm amazed when I read about Jonathan Edwards and the resolutions that he made at a very young age. Listen to some of these resolutions. Number eight, resolved. Resolved to act in all respects both speaking and doing as if nobody has been so vile as I. And as if I had committed the same sins or had the same infirmities or failings as others, and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Resolution number 25, resolved to examine carefully and constantly what that one thing in me is which causes me in the least to doubt the love of God and to direct all my forces against it. Resolution number 56, resolved never to give over nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions however unsuccessful I might be. Is that your resolve tonight? To be fighting sin, pushing back against sin, saying no to sin? Number 65, resolved very much to exercise myself in this all my long life with the greatest openness I am capable of to declare my ways to God and lay open my soul to Him, all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and everything and every circumstance.

So that's what he said. Being a Christian is costly business. It will cost us our self-righteousness. It will cost us our sin.

And I probably should say something here. I come from a background that I don't know if you lived the theology that was taught where you could ever have any joy because you could be saved a day and lost tomorrow, saved this minute and lost five minutes from now. Well, what do you mean? The teaching was that if you died with unconfessed sin, you went to hell. Now, is that true? Is that true? Well, let me say something to you tonight.

If that's true, a lot of us are in serious trouble tonight. We might be saved and we might be redeemed, but we are redeemed sinners. And this idea of sinless perfection, of attaining perfect holiness in this life is a lie.

It's unattainable. Now, we need to be striving for holiness and making progress in sanctification. And that's why we refer to our understanding of sanctification as progressive sanctification, as opposed to a second work of grace where you come to a crisis in your life and pray a second prayer and immediately you're sanctified. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I was in a church and that's what was taught and my wife and I both wrestled with that. Something's not right here.

This can't be correct. And the pastor was the most joyful person and we scratched our heads thinking, wait a minute, if he really believes what he preaches, that smile and that jovialness is a farce or he has a different understanding of sin than the Bible. And that's what it turned out to be.

We had a conversation with him, talked to him about some hypothetical situations. We're together with some folks and we're drinking and we get drunk and we're on the highway and we're driving up the road and we go off the road and we die. Where are we at? Oh, you went to hell. You went to hell? Okay.

Another hypothetical situation. We're with the same people. We're not drinking but boy, we are having a heyday, gossiping and slandering and same scenario, same accident. We're dead.

Where'd we go? Well, it's just not being honest, is it, with sin? No. It'll cost us our sin. It'll cost us our love for sin. It'll cost us our tolerance for sin because if the Spirit of God dwells within you, he will not allow you to make peace with your inner corruptions. They will trouble you.

You will be convicted by them. Yes, there'll be times in your failure and your hopelessness you'll say, there's no hope. I've struggled against this for so long and you just kind of give up for a while but the Spirit of God won't let you give up forever. Fresh grace will come to you, renewed commitment.

You're gonna fight the good fight. That's the characteristic of a Christian. So I'm not saying that when I say it'll cost you your sin that once and for all, you're gonna be done with it.

It'll be over. You won't have any more struggle with sin because that would not be being honest with the Scriptures. And someone has asked me, well, why is God arranged salvation to be in the stages in which it is? That we can be justified, declared righteous, have a confidence we're going to heaven and yet at the same time we're gonna struggle our whole life with the residual effects of Adam's fall in us, our sinful nature, corruption.

Why is that? Well, that's another sermon for another day but one thought that comes to my mind is to wean us away from this world, to create a longing in our hearts for heaven. One of the things that's gonna be wonderful about heaven is this desire and this temptation for sin will be gone.

Gone. No longer, no ever be able to sin. Can you imagine such a state? Outside of Christ we were slaves. We had no power to push back against sin. All we could do was sin. As a Christian now we can say no to sin and yet we can still indulge in sin. But that day is coming.

And that's why I say what God has done for us in Christ the second Adam is far greater than anything he could have done in the first Adam. Had Adam, Adam was on probation, wasn't he? Who wants to be on probation forever? I don't.

Some say what? You put me in a perfect garden and give me one prohibition, I'll tell you what, I can stay away from it. Oh really?

Oh really? Yeah, you stay away from it just like a two year old stays away from a fresh baked dozen chocolate chip cookies, right? And that two year old or three year old is a loser particularly not only does he smell the chocolate chip cookies, all it takes his mother to say don't touch the chocolate chip cookies, right?

He's got a bent toward chocolate chip cookies. I certainly don't want to trivialize sin by talking about chocolate chip cookies, that was just an illustration, but you know what I'm saying. So when I say it's going to cost you your sin, you're going to have to resolve. Sin is not your friend, sin is your enemy. Sin disrupts your communion with God. You're going to have to value communion and fellowship with God enough to fight against sin and fight against it your whole life long. That's what I mean about it will cost you your sin. Number three, the cost of being a Christian. It will cost you a life of ease.

It will cost you a life of ease. Jesus said and whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, he cannot be my disciple. That's riveting language. And that day when you saw a man carrying his cross, he was a participant in his own death. He was on a death march to the end of his life. That's what was going on. I remember a number of years ago we had featured a book in our book room, Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said by Victor Cooligan.

And I want you to listen to what Victor Cooligan has to say. He says, crucifixion is painful. Many believers today envision the Christian faith as more of a picnic or a walk in the park than a bloody sacrifice of the self. But the former is not the biblical portrait. The biblical portrait is of a person being nailed to a cross. Nails pierce the flesh and the body is hoisted whole upon the wood where it is left to perish slowly. It is this crucifixion of the self that is necessary to draw us closer to God. That's the truth.

That's it right there. He concludes this chapter by saying this. He concludes with a prayer. O Lord, help me to endure the pain of the nails as they pierce my selfish desires, the crown of thorns as it penetrates my selfish pride, and the sword as it is thrust through my selfish motivations. With each pang and spasm, help me to recognize that you are creating good out of what is evil. You are reforming my sinful body, mind and heart. You are transforming me into a new creation. You are conforming me more to the image of your perfect son. Give me faith to trust you in this painful but necessary process. Yes.

The Christian life will cost you a life of ease. Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote a book answering questions. It's a collection of questions and he answers them. The title of the book is Now That's a Good Question. So here's a question that Dr. R.C.

Sproul posed and then here's his answer to it. If I'm happy with my life, why do I need Jesus? If I'm happy with my life, why do I need Jesus?

He says, I hear that from a lot of folks. They say to me, I just don't feel the need for Christ. As if Christianity were something that were packaged and sold through Madison Avenue. That what we're trying to communicate to people is, here's something that's going to make you feel good and everybody needs a little of this in their closet or in their refrigerator. As if it were some commodity that's going to add a dash of happiness to our lives. And then he says this, if the only reason a human being ever needed Jesus was to be happy and a person is already happy without Jesus, then they certainly don't need Jesus.

See the logic to that? The New Testament indicates however that there's another reason you or somebody else needs Jesus. There is a God who is altogether holy, who is perfectly just and who declares that he is going to judge the world and hold every human being accountable for their life. As a perfectly holy and just God, he requires from each one of us a life of perfect obedience and of perfect justice. The problem is simply this, if God is just and requires perfection from me and I come short of that perfection and he is going to deal with me according to justice, then I am looking at a future punishment at the hands of a holy God. If the only way I can escape punishment is through a Savior and if I want to escape that, then I need a Savior.

I love the man and how he reasoned and he had such a mind. Yes, to be a Christian is costly. It will cost you your self-righteousness. It will cost you your sin. It will cost you a life of ease.

And do you see just that language? It will cost you a life of ease. For those who have responded to Jesus and have prayed to receive Jesus and believe because of that they are a Christian, but they responded to Jesus with the idea that coming to Jesus will make life so much more meaningful. You will be so happy. You will have a peace the world knows nothing of. Now is that true? Will you have a peace the world knows nothing of?

Yes. But it does not mean that you will have a life of ease. Jesus said, if they hated me, they're going to hate you.

In this world, you're going to have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I've overcome the world. Too many people have signed up to something that's not biblical. I had a friend who was very aggressive in evangelism and I admired him for that. And yet he was also of a persuasion along the lines of the seeker-driven mentality. So get people to church, whatever it took, whatever you had to do to get people to come to church. So we had a conversation one time and I said, well, you know, I'm not against, so he was fussing at me about my theology. And I said, well, listen, I'm not against drawing a crowd. Draw a crowd? But when you draw a crowd, at some point, you're going to have to get to the place Jesus got to. So I said to him, are you going to sneak up on him?

When are you going to tell him that to be a Christian requires repentance, a turning from sin? Because in that culture, in that easy believism, that seeker-driven mentality, you don't say anything that's going to offend anyone. You'll run people off.

Well, yes, you will. Because lost people don't want to hear. It's an offense. The gospel is an offense. The cross is an offense.

So why are we trying to remove the offense? But there's an awful lot of people today, and you may know some of them, who claim to be on their way to heaven, but they have a misunderstanding of what it is to be a Christian. No, the Christian life is not a life of ease.

Now, comparatively, life is a whole lot easier for us than it is in a lot of places in the world. But let's not be complacent. Let's not be naive. Hardness and harshness may come. Life for a Christian may get harder than it's ever been for us. And if it does, Jesus told us that it would be like this.

So let's not be surprised. The cost of being a Christian will cost you one more thing, at least as far as this sermon goes tonight. It will cost you friendship with this world.

It will cost you friendship with this world. John said in 1 John 2, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it. But he who does the will of God abides forever, abides forever. Now we must be certain as we're trying to help people and keep our own minds clear about what a Christian is to limit ourselves to the biblical distinctions. There is this biblical distinction of either being of the world or belonging to Christ. You can't belong to Christ and at the same time be of the world.

They're at enmity with one another. That's what Jesus is saying. That's what John is saying. Now, Jesus' high priestly prayer recorded in John 17, listen to what the emphasis that Jesus placed on these distinctions of being in the world, being of the world, being brought out of the world, listen to what he says. John 17, 6, he's praying to his father, I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours. You gave them to me and they have kept your word. Verse 12, while I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you gave me, I have kept and none of them is lost except the son of perdition that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to you and these things I speak in the world that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. Verse 14, I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. Then he says in verse 16, they are not of the world. That is a biblical category.

Christians, Bible Christians are not of the world. Now is that confusing? Is that hard to understand?

Isn't that pretty much straightforward? Hard to confuse what Jesus is saying here. Now do you see churches that adopt a methodology to attract a crowd under the guise of preaching the gospel to them, try and bring as much of the world into the church to attract lost people. How is that strategy biblical?

Do you see how convoluted that is? Jesus said they, who are they? Those whom the father gave to him, those he kept, those who are his followers, they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. So what does it mean to be of the world? I think we make a mistake when we confine our understanding of a worldly person or being of the world to behavior and action.

It does affect our behavior and our action, but it's first and foremost something else. To be of the world is to have a certain mindset, have a certain posture that you view life, you view your own life, you view this world not in reference to God. You don't see God. You're not interested in God. God doesn't intersect in your world. You're of the world.

That's the world. And we're to be opposed to that. We need to fight against that, this idea that we're to live our lives with no reference to God. Whether you eat or whether you drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the what?

Glory of God. It's kind of hard to think of anything you might do that doesn't involve that simplicity of things. Whether you eat or whether you drink. Those are pretty mundane activities, right? Too often people think, well it's what you do on Sunday that defines whether you're a Christian or not.

No, whether you eat or whether you drink. Your whole life has been reoriented around God. You're living your life in reference to God. You're trying to understand the world in reference to God. What he has said about his ownership of the world and our stewardship of the world and his coming to judge this world. That's what it means. And I thought this was an important message to bring because if you can be a Christian and it doesn't cost you your righteousness and it doesn't cost you your sin and it doesn't cost you a life of ease and it doesn't cost you your place in the world, then why in the world did Jesus come?

Why would he come and give us life to redeem you and to make provision for you to be saved if you could be saved without any of that? Now you know I'm not an Arminian, right? You do know that, right? I've been here long enough I think that shouldn't even be on the table. I'm a Calvinist. I believe in sovereign grace. So salvation is free, but it cost our Savior his life. And had he not been willing to come and bear our sins and to die in our place and to shed his precious blood, there'd be no salvation for us. So when we come to the table, it might be good.

Those four points aren't hard to think about and reflect upon. When we come to the table, give thanks to the Lord Jesus for his righteousness that grants you acceptance to the Father. It's not your righteousness, it's his. Give thanks that God has dealt with your sin in his Son that Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the tree. Give thanks to the Spirit of God that's striving with us and helping us on our way to God in sanctification. Give thanks to God that you understand you're not deceived. The Christian life is not a life of ease.

There are demands upon us. And you're not looking for the easy way. You're not looking to just hook your wagon up to Jesus so that you have a guarantee to go to heaven.

That's not what Christianity is. So give thanks if you know different. And give thanks that God has rescued you out of the world. You're not of this world anymore.

You used to be. Cause us for thanksgiving. Let us pray. Father, thank you for the Word of God and for its instruction and for its admonition and for its correction. Lord, we ask that you would take your word and use it in our lives to help us on our way to heaven.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-28 07:44:30 / 2023-06-28 07:56:35 / 12

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