COUNTING THE COST
by George Kirkpatrick
Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give
For years, the church has sung the old song, "Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow". At the end of the song, the words proclaim, "I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.".
Even as people sing this song, in their hearts, they are not willing to give up the simplest things to serve our God. There are always many things that come first before their service to our Lord; bingo, bowling, golf, sports, picnics, family reunions, racing, friends, boating, flying, meetings, the list is endless..
I have heard many say, "If I could have only walked and talked with Jesus, I would not have denied Him like Peter, or ever doubted like Thomas, and certainly would not have betrayed Him like Judas. I would have walked right to the end.".
Sometime back, I did some research on what happened to those who walked with Jesus and were responsible for starting the early church..
We are taught in the Bible, before we do anything, we should "Count the Cost"..
In *** Luke 14:28, we are asked the question,.
"Which of you, intending to build a tower (castle), sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost?".
Verse 31 poses the same question,.
"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?".
The question Jesus asked His disciples was to make them consider the cost before they began to do a work in His Name. Were they willing to pay that price to accomplish the task He had set before them?.
Jesus said if we do not forsake all, we cannot be His disciples, *** Luke 14:33. If we want to be His disciples and make that complete walk with Jesus, let us first COUNT THE COST..
Jesus' disciples forsook all. Peter, James and John were in business as fishermen. Matthew was a publican, or a tax collector; probably a very rich man. The rest of the disciples gave up homes, families and jobs to follow Jesus..
If we were called upon to leave our job, our source of income, our livelihood, (as most call it), would that be too high a price to pay to be His disciple?.
"But God would not expect me to do that!".
He might!...what would be your answer?.
Or if your call was as Abraham's, to leave your family and go to a strange land, what would be your answer?.
I firmly believe we live in the day when God's people will be called upon to make some very hard decisions about their relationship with God. The disciples forsook all to follow Jesus..
When many read the book of Acts, all they can see is the big church, the adding of 3000 one day and 5000 another. Many believe this is what the church is meant to be; where the pastors have 15 to 20 people taking up collections so they can live in big houses with servants; in the lap of luxury..
I know there are not many who do this; but unfortunately, all too often, this is all that is seen. When they do this, we are lead to believe it is all for the glory of God..
God does not want us to be poor. But by the same token, He does not want us to make gods out of what He has given us. Are we willing to give it back if He asks us?.
To those who have a heart-felt desire to have walked with Jesus and say, "I would never have denied Him like Peter or doubted like Thomas," I would pose this question: Which of these men that walked and talked with Jesus would you choose to change places with?.
Maybe John? John, the beloved disciple, lived to be over 100 years old. He died in Ephesus. He was the only disciple that died a natural death. This was after many years on the Isle of Patmos. Patmos was a barren island with no trees. He slept in a cave with an uneven floor. He could not use leaves for a mattress; there were no trees. He had a bed of rock. At this time John was 70-80 years old..
James, his brother, was beheaded by Herod. This is recorded in *** Acts 12..
Stephen was stoned. *** Acts 7.
Phillip was stoned, then crucified. James the Less was stoned..
Thomas was martyred, probably stoned or beheaded..
Have you picked out a favorite one yet? The one you want to replace?.
Maybe Paul or Andrew. They both were beheaded. John the Baptist was also beheaded..
Jude and Thaddaues were shot many times with arrows and left to die..
Matthias and Luke were crucified. Those being executed were always beaten with the "cat-of-nine tails"; 39 lashes or 351 stripes..
Crucifixion was one of the most inhumane forms of execution ever used by man. Crucifixion was the most horrible death anyone could suffer..
Nero, the Roman Emperor, devised new ways of torture that man cannot imagine. These were used to torture and kill God's people. The persecution of the Christians was not only in Rome, but throughout the whole Roman Empire, covering the entire known world..
Have you picked a favorite yet; the one you desire to replace? If not John, James, Stephen, Philip, James the Less, Thomas, Paul, Andrew, Matthias, Luke, John the Baptist or Jude, maybe Simon?.
Simon was sawn asunder, alive! (sawed in pieces).
If that does not appeal to you, maybe you would want to be Mark. They tied a rope around his neck, dragging him through the streets until he died..
Or maybe you would rather be Matthew. Him, they wrapped with papyrus, soaked him in Dolphin oil, poured brimstone, asphalt and pitch upon him, surrounded him with wood and set it on fire..
If that does not appeal to you too much, maybe you would like to have replaced Bartholomew. Him, they flayed alive! Took a knife and cut his flesh from his bones..
"If I could have only walked with Jesus, I would never complain. I would follow, I would tell everybody about Him. It would be so much easier if I had seen Him face to face and would have had a chance to talk to Him.".
But you say, "That doesn't happen today. You can't compare now to then. That is not happening in the U.S. ...yet." But what about Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia, China, South Africa, and others?.
The stories the missionaries tell are unbelievable..
If you did not find one in the prior list to change places with, maybe you would like Peter better..
Peter went to Rome when Nero and the Roman Government were killing multitudes of Christians. Their main target was the leaders of this new sect. Both Peter and Paul, the main leaders, were probably in Rome at the same time..
Peter was imprisoned in what is called the "Mamertine"; cut out of solid rock, one room above the other, the lower room was called the death cell. It had no light and was never cleaned. The human waste created a poison that was fatal to its inmates..
The stench of the human waste had to be unbearable. They ate and slept in those conditions..
The inmates were starved and would eventually go mad. Multitudes of Christians met their death in this place. But because Peter was a leader, he got special treatment. They dug a hole 9 feet deep, stood Peter in the hole, with his hands tied over his head, and left him there for nine months. He never was allowed to lay down, his body waste ran down around his feet and he was never given a change of clothes..
Peter caused the Roman Empire problems. Peter witnessed and converted every guard they put to watch him. He was about 70 years old at this time. After this, legend says, they crucified Him upside down on a cross..
Which one of the apostles do you want to change places with?.
When we walk with Jesus, there is a price to pay. In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he related,.
"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." *** II Timothy 3:12.
This is a promise. A promise of persecution. Maybe the United States has escaped, so far; but how long before God fulfills His Word in His people in this nation, also?.
When we sing "Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow", in the not- too-distant-future, we may need to consider the cost and if we are willing to pay the price..
Most would say, "But God doesn't expect me to go through such things." But what if He does? Have you counted the cost? Have you sat down or kneeled down to say, "I'm yours, Lord"?.
God is looking for oxen. In the Old Testament, the ox was the only animal used for sacrifice or service. Many today are not even willing to be IN His Service. What would their reaction be if God called on them to be a sacrifice?.
The church always grows in the time of persecution. Do you want to see the church grow? Not in numbers, but in Spiritual maturity?.
Are you willing to pay the cost when persecution comes? And it will come!.
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some men count slackness." *** II Peter 3:9.
Is your life in order that you may hear the Father's Voice? Have you severed all ties to the world? Are you prepared to go all the way?.
Most of the men I mentioned before, died in a foreign land, alone, spreading the gospel. They had no earthly comforts..
We have the New Testament today because of these men. And yet, most will not give one hour a day to the reading of His Word. They have comfortable chairs with good light, with all the creature comforts and will not take time to know their God..
The day is coming and now is, when we had better know the Word of God. Not as the man up front in the pulpit has explained it, or by some religious doctrine, but KNOW THE WORD as it is being revealed by the HOLY SPIRIT..
When you say, "I'll go with Him all the way"..... will you?.
Now is the time to "Count the Cost!".
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