What does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus?
Johan Oscar Smith
“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.” Luke 14:26.
Note what is written: “Cannot be My disciple.” “If anyone comes to Me …” In other words, it is possible to come to Him without becoming His disciple. It is possible to have your sins forgiven without having victory over sin, and this is the state most Christians find themselves in. But Jesus never sinned. No one could convict Him of any sin. It is easy, however, to convict religious people of sin since many of them lie, do not pay their debts, are proud, backbite their neighbors, are partial, etc. None of these can say, like Paul, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
The goal of disciples, on the other hand, is to follow their Master. Disciples listen carefully for the Spirit’s guidance and hate all well-meaning but human advice from father, mother, siblings, wife, and children. They even hate their own lives in this world, and therefore they live in constant self-judgment. This way they conquer sin and Satan. They have the joy of always keeping themselves pure in the liberty of Christ.
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27.
Human nature would rather sin than suffer. If a person has done something wrong in their daily life, the easiest thing is to save their honor with a so-called white lie. But the fact is that we have no honor to protect with white lies, because honor belongs to those who believe. And we believe in our hearts that we should speak the truth, each one with his neighbor. If we follow this way of obedience to the faith, we take up our cross and become disciples of Jesus. This is our attitude regarding all sin, and without this radical attitude we cannot conquer sin and be Jesus’ disciples.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” Luke 14:28-30.
This is the way it goes for thousands of Christians. They begin in the Spirit and finish in the flesh. A man may have begun by confessing Christ and rejoicing in the revival meetings, but as soon as it comes to his daily life, his colleagues notice that he still lies, backbites, pilfers, etc. Then they say to each other, “He is supposed to be a Christian,” and they mock him. That man did not count the cost and, of course, did not become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes with twenty thousand. Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.” Luke 14:31-32.
Christianity is warfare. You have to sit down and calculate whether with ten thousand men you are able to overcome the king who is coming against you with twenty thousand. If you find out from your calculations that you are not in a position to have victory, then you send out a delegation and ask for conditions of peace. That peace is a horrible peace. Jesus did not come to give such a peace to His disciples; He conquered sin, Satan, and all the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places alone. He trod the winepress alone, and no one was with Him.
So likewise, whoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be His disciple. In Hebrews 10:34 it is written, “For you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”
It is possible to come to Jesus to get rid of the burden of sin. This is almost a pleasant experience; but considerably more is required of disciples. They have to forsake all that they have. That does not mean that we are to give away every single thing we own, but rather that all we own should be at the disposal of the Spirit’s prompting and leading, so that nothing comes upon us unexpectedly. We can then, as it is written in Hebrews 10:34, joyfully accept the plundering of our goods.
When we have made all these calculations and concluded that it is possible to stand the test, we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ.
This article was first published in BCC’s periodical “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) under the title “Disciples,” in February 1942.
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