Some people never ask this question while others wish they asked before it committing their lives to Him. Sometimes we only find out later in life that we should have asked this question, but did not.
I would like to answer the question with the following statement: A faith that costs you nothing, costs your life, while a faith that costs your life, costs you nothing.
What do I mean with this statement? I wonder how many people I have met that really wants to serve the LORD, and some actually believe they do, but yet they have never asked this question. Some even do not think that this question has any relevance.
In other articles I spent a lot of time on saying we must die and be born again. If you find that I am repeating myself, bear with me, as I have to state some of those truths again.
Let us start by looking at what the LORD told Adam and Eve in paradise. Gen 1: 28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This scripture informs us that Adam and Eve had to be fruitful, subdue the earth and rule over creation.
It is actually very nice to see that the LORD did not give them the Ten Commandments, but told them to rule, or have dominion over creation. The price they had to pay was to be obedient to the LORD. But we also know the history. Did they obey the LORD? No, they did not. They decided to listen to creation rather than the Creator. This act cost them their lives. Gen 3:1 “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
“Do we differ from the way they reacted? I do not think so. We will listen to everybody who has an opinion on the subject, but we will not listen to GOD, the Creator. So we are actually not any different than Adam and Eve. We want to follow our own logic, but do not look at the Word of God. The Bible tells us that we cannot know God except from His Word, but still we follow our own heads.
What punishment was meted out to Adam and Eve? Gen 3:22 “22 ¶ And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” What does this mean to us today? Firstly, that we cannot use the argument that we did not know, as we now have the ability to distinguish between good and bad, and secondly, that we have to turn to Him for answers.
As we now know that we have to turn to God for our answer, and as we know that He and His Word is the same, we have to look at what the Bible says about our subject. I might have to do a study of relevant scriptures, as the answer might not be as straightforward as we would want it to be, but I have to examine His Word to find the answer I need.
Where are we today? We have to remember that Adam and Eve were no longer allowed in paradise. They did not die physically, but they were spiritually dead. The LORD retracted His Spirit from them. Now we all know that when we are reborn, His Spirit comes and lives in us, and the original relationship with God is restored. But the big question of course is: When does rebirth take place? We can phrase it in a whole lot of different ways like: When does the Spirit of God become alive in us? Or: How do I know that the Spirit of God is alive in me? And then the final question: What price do I have to pay for the Spirit to come and live in me?
These are just some of the questions we can ask, but eventually it all boils down to the same question: What does it cost to become a Christian?
What does the Bible say on this subject? As we have already indicated that we have to find the answer from the LORD, and the Word of the LORD is expressed in the Bible, let us look at what the Bible says. Oops. Now we find some very confusing entries in the Bible in that one passage declares that it is by grace that you are saved, while another passage declares that you have to take up your cross and follow Jesus. Which one is applicable?
I assume that to get to the correct answer, we have to look at Jesus as our example. He asked us to make people His disciples, and a disciple is someone who does the will of his Master. If we do this, we will find the right answer.
When Jesus came to earth, He was obedient to His Father in that He left His perfect place in heaven, to become sin for us in order for us to live. So the first thing that I have to learn is obedience. The lack of obedience was also responsible for Adam and Eve to lose paradise. So I order to rectify the situation, I have to learn to be obedient. Jesus had to be completely obedient to come to earth and exchange His life for ours. If He did not do it, we would still have been under the Law of Moses. He had to be totally obedient to the Father to reconcile the relationship Adam and Eve severed in paradise. So to you and me, we have to start with obedience. We have to learn that without obedience to the LORD, it is impossible to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
How do we define obedience? I would like to define it as follows: Obedience is to lay down my own ideas and ways, and to accept the ways and ideas of the LORD as my own, to crucify myself. I must disregard my own selfish nature, and follow Jesus. This also fits in with what the Bible actually says. Let us look at a couple of scriptures.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
Ps 103:20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Ro 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Ro 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Ro 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2Co 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
1Pe 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
One scripture that tells us exactly what it means to be obedient, and that is worth repeating, is as follows: “Ro 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Paul declares that we are either obedient, which leads to righteousness and life, or disobedient which leads to death. We also read in Hebrews 5 that Jesus had to learn obedience himself through the things He suffered. I am so sorry that I learnt this passage so late in my life as I would have known earlier that to follow Christ, meant that I also had to suffer as He did. Certain scriptures only come to life when we are in a situation, and that was what Matthew 10 verse 24 did it to me. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” Only once I read this scripture, did I understand the situation I found myself in, one of being rejected by most church going people, as they only believe in bargaining with the LORD.
Jesus himself also gave us some pointers as to what it will cost to follow Him:
Mt 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Mt 16:24 ¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mr 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mr 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Lu 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Ga 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
“The one verse that I want to repeat again is Mark 10:21; “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”” Jesus is talking to a rich young man. He does not only tell him to sell everything he owns, but He tells him to take up his cross, and then only can he follow Jesus.
But what does it mean to take up my cross? Philippians 2 verse 8 gives us the answer : “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus had to humble Himself and go to Calvary to die. The same way you and I have to take up our cross and go to the cross of Jesus, and put it down at His feet, and die, in order for me to be resurrected with Jesus. We have to take our very being, our finances, our self-righteousness, our haughtiness, our proud ness, our health, our hate, and our relationship with our spouse, and subject it to the light of Jesus. This is what it will cost to follow Jesus.
In summary, we have seen that we must be obedient, and that we must take up our cross, in order to receive everlasting life. But how sure am I? Paul gave us the answer in 1 Cor 1:18; “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
We can also look at what Jesus told His disciples to expect when they were sent out. Matt.10: 32 “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Jesus declares that to be His disciple, it will cost your life. But in return, we will receive His life.
But how do I go about losing my life? Gal 5:19 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
What do I have to do? I have to crucify my old life by taking it to the cross, and leaving it at the feet of Jesus. I have to ask Him to heal me from these afflictions. He will do it if you ask Him in all honesty and humbleness. But you will have to decide yourself that you do not want to continue in your old life. You have to turn around and walk away from your previous life.
How did Peter define it for us? 2 Peter 1:5 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
What did Jesus himself say? Matt 16:24 “¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
What will it cost me to be a Christian? A faith that costs you nothing will cost your life, but a faith that costs you everything including your life, will cost you nothing. Amen.