Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

Holiness: The Cost

The cost ought of being a true Christian needs to be counted;  it is folly to shut our eyes to the fact that His way is narrow, and the cross comes before the crown.

Always keep in mind:  it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement, and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary.  But this not the point of discussion at the moment.  We are discussing what a man must be ready to give up if he wants to be a follower of Christ.

What it costs to be a true Christian

  •  It entails self-denial and self-sacrifice, otherwise we must alter the description of the way of life of saving Christianity is and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”  Conversion is not putting a man in an arm-chair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory.
  • It will cost self-righteousness.  Be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another.  Give up all trust in own morality, respectability, praying, Bible-reading, church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.  It might be harder to deny proud self than sinful self.
  • It will cost a man his sins.  He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it, and labour to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced.

    Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them, and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done.

But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. (Ezekiel 18:27–28, NIV)

  • It will cost a man his love of ease.  He must be careful over his time, his tongue, his temper, his thoughts, his imagination, his motives, his conduct in every relation of life. He must be diligent about his prayers, his Bible-reading, and his use of Sundays, with all their means of grace.
  • It will cost a man the favour of the world.  He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted, and even hated. He must not be surprised to find his opinions and practices in religion despised and held up to scorn.

    When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven.

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:20-21,24, NIV)

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12, NIV)

Why  is “counting the cost” of such great importance to man’s soul

  • There are Christians who are not “rooted and ground” in their faith.  It remains shallow, based on superficial experience, emotions, sentiment, or a vague desire to do like others around them.  There is no solid work of grace in their hearts.  This is the opposite of what Paul prays for:

I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, (Ephesians 3:16–18, NIV)

Myriads of the children of Israel perished miserably in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. They left Egypt full of zeal and fervour, as if nothing could stop them. But when they found dangers and difficulties in the way, their courage soon cooled down. And so, when enemies, privations, hunger, and thirst began to try them, they murmured against Moses and God, and would fain have gone back to Egypt. In a word, they had “not counted the cost,” and so lost everything, and died in their sins.

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. (Matthew 13:20–21, NIV)

  • Revival meetings (when it is Biblically unsound)
    • Some people who came to Christ during rival meetings base their Christian live (only) on an extravagant and disproportionate magnifying three things:  instantaneous conversion, the invitation of unconverted sinners to come to Christ, and the possession of inward joy and peace as a test of conversion.
    • The duty of coming to Christ at once, “just as we are,” should be pressed on all hearers. It is the very corner-stone of Gospel preaching. But surely men ought to be told to repent as well as to believe. They should be told why they are to come to Christ, and what they are to come for, and whence their need arises.
    • The nearness of peace and comfort in Christ should be proclaimed to men. But surely they should be taught that the possession of strong inward joys and high frames of mind is not essential to justification, and that there may be true faith and true peace without such very triumphant feelings. Joy alone is no certain evidence of grace.
    • Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor.
    • Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God’s law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to “come to Christ” is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins.
    • Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers!
    • The possession of inward joy and assurance is made essential to believing. To insist on all believers at once “rejoicing,” as soon as they believe, is most unsafe. Some will believe who cannot at once rejoice.
    • Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, and the absolute necessity of preventing grace, are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man’s pleasure.
    • Many humble -minded Christians are totally discouraged and daunted. They fancy they have no grace because they cannot reach up to the high frames and feelings which are pressed on their attention
  • Revival meetings (meeting the test of the Scriptures):
    • Let “all the counsel of God be taught” in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths.
    • Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both.
    • Let the variety of the Holy Spirit’s works be honestly stated and admitted; and while instantaneous conversion is pressed on men, let it not be taught as a necessity.
    • Let those who profess to have found immediate sensible peace be plainly warned to try themselves well, and to remember that feeling is not faithJesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. (John 8:31, NIV)
    • Let the great duty of “counting the cost” be constantly urged on all who are disposed to make a religious profession, and let them be honestly and fairly told that there is warfare as well as peace, a cross as well as a crown, in Christ’s service.
  • Conviction is not conversion, that feeling is not faith, that sentiment is not grace, that all blossoms do not come to fruit.
  • Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay, and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armour, the watching, the marching, and the drill.

 Counting the cost rightly

  • Compare the profit and the loss.  You may possibly lose something in this world, but you will gain the salvation of your immortal soul.

Then He called the crowd to Him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save itWhat good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:34-36, NIV)

  • Compare the praise and the blame.  Your blame will come from the lips of a few erring, blind, fallible men and women. Your praise will come from the King of kings and Judge of all the earth. It is only those whom He blesses who are really blessed.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12, NIV)

  • Compare the friends and the enemies.  On the one side of you is the enmity of the devil and the wicked. On the other, you have the favour and friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (Luke 12:4–5, NIV)

  •  Compare the life that now is and the life to come.  The  present time is not a time of ease. It is a time of watching and praying, fighting and struggling, believing and working. But it is only for a few years. The future is the season of rest and refreshing. Sin shall be cast out. Satan shall be bound. And, best of all, it shall be a rest for ever.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18, NIV)

Compare the pleasures of sin and the happiness of God’s service.  The pleasures that the worldly man gets by his ways are hollow, unreal, and unsatisfying. The happiness that Christ gives to His people is something solid, lasting, and substantial. It is not dependent on health or circumstances. It never leaves a man, even in death. It ends in a crown of glory that does not fade away.

… the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. (Job 20:5, NIV)

an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4–5, NIV)

  • Compare the trouble that true Christianity entails, and the troubles that are in store for the wicked beyond the grave.  A single day in hell will be worse than a whole life spent in carrying the cross.

 … remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. (Luke 16:25, NIV)

  • Compare the number of those who turn from sin and the world and serve Christ, and the number of those who forsake Christ and return to the world.
    • Noah, by faith, counted the cost and held the world’s opinion very cheap
    • Moses, by faith,  counted the cost and forsook the pleasures of the Pharaoh’s palace
    • Paul, by faith, brought upon himself the hatred of men in exchange of following Jesus Christ
  • The same faith must be our helper when we sit down to count the cost of being a true Christian.
  • We need to keep in mind:
    • does our faith cost us anything at present?  If it costs us nothing,  it will not support is in the day of affliction, nor cheer us in the hour of death
    • what it cost to provide a salvation for your soul. Think how the Son of God left heaven and became Man, suffered on the cross, and lay in the grave, to pay your debt to God, and work out for you a complete redemption.
    • persevere and press on; the presence and company of Christ will make amends for all we suffer here below.
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