By Pastor Israel


In continuation of our messages on the theme: ‘Leaving all to follow Jesus’ we want to discuss the cost of following Him in today’s message.

I wonder if we have ever paused to consider the reason the cross is chosen as the symbol or the banner of Christianity. The reason is contained in what the cross stands for. We all know that it stands for death. It was on the cross that Jesus, our Master, and Saviour died such a shameful and cruel death for us that we may be saved. There is a price to be paid for every success and every good thing. For Christ to be the Saviour of the world, He had to taste death for everyone even though He never sinned. The story did not end there: He rose triumphantly from death the third day to give us justification.

Following Jesus too is not without cost. He told the people who wanted to follow Him: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mk. 8:34 NKJV). What cross was He speaking about? He was speaking about the persecution that His true followers will suffer because of Him. They would face tribulation and be hated by all nations for His name’s sake; and some of them would be killed, and those who kill them would think they are doing service for God (Matt. 24:9; Jn. 16:2).

There are other costs that He mentioned. He said: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:26 NKJV). This was a hard saying; but He did not mean that people who follow Him should hate anyone. What He was saying is that the love they should have for Him must be greater than their love for their parents and siblings. This is worth considering because many followers of Jesus have relaxed or even abandoned their faith in Christ to please parents, siblings or friends.

Jesus did not just call us to follow Him but He warned us beforehand, what following Him would involve. He advised that we should count the cost of following Him before we embark on the journey lest we go back when we realise we can no longer continue. He said: “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 – lest, after he had laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was unable to finish?’” (Lk. 14:28-30 NKJV).

Of course, this is true, because it is not all who start the Christian race run it to the end. If you are one of those who think that the race is too tough and are contemplating to withdraw, I want you to take the courage and comfort from Jesus’ parting word to His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33 NKJV). Our faith in Christ enables us to endure hardship and suffering because He has promised to be with us to the end of the age.

As we take our cross to follow Jesus we also have death to die. We have to die to self, to the flesh and to the world. To die to self is to put to death the sinful promptings of the flesh like evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, theft, false witness, lying, and blasphemies, that Jesus said come from within the heart (Matt. 15:19).

We can do this if we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us of these defiling elements. To die to the flesh is to mortify the lusts of the eye. We should rid ourselves of all covetousness and be content with what God gives us and be thankful. We are not to crave for what He has not given us.
Jesus Christ should be enough for us. To die to the world is not to allow the things of the world to draw us away from following Jesus – fashions of the world, craze for recognition, world’s system of doing things, friendship with the world, and unequal yoke (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
We are to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. When we do this, He will supply us all that we need.

From all that has been said so far, following Jesus may be costly but we have the examples of the heroes of faith (as recorded in the bible) who went before us to follow. They left everything to follow Christ. They went through imprisonment, hunger and thirst, and even death because of their faith in Christ. Apostle Paul mentioned many things he suffered because of his faith in Christ in his letters, and yet he could say: “For me to live, is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21 NKJV).

He also wrote: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and counted them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8 NKJV). What a faithful apostle of Christ! He has set us a good example to follow as Christians.

If I may ask you my brothers and sisters in Christ, what have you lost for Christ? Or let me put it this way, what have you sacrificed for Him – your relations, time, convenience, or your money? Many people take Christianity very lightly and nonchalantly. They want easy Christianity that will cost them nothing. This is absolutely not true Christianity. Christianity involves a lot of sacrifice. Our Master Jesus walked the way of the cross and carried His own cross.
Let us remember that once you are a true follower of Jesus, you have a cross to carry. It is not your parents, friends or your pastor who will carry it for you. You have to carry it yourself. Know that without the cross there is no crown.

What then should you do in the light of these things? Don’t bargain for easy Christianity. Be ready to serve the Lord when it is convenient and when it is not convenient. Take your Christianity very seriously; it is your life. Tarry in prayer and in the reading of the word. Worship God in spirit and in truth. Be always in fellowship with other children of God whether at church or in house-fellowships. Spend your time, money, and talent in the service of God. Make the word of God a lamp to your feet and a light to your paths.

Always remember that it is God you are serving and not man. Above all, struggle to enter through the narrow road, because narrow is the way that leads to God’s kingdom; and few are those who find it. But broad is the way that leads to everlasting regret and many are on this road. It is not your church that will give you salvation.
No church can give any one salvation except the Lord Jesus.
Apostle Peter told the religious leaders that there is no name under heaven given to man by which we can be saved, except the name of Jesus. Salvation is only in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Therefore, establish a very close relationship with Him.

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