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Bible verses about Counting the Cost
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 19:8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

At this point, the Israelites wanted to make the covenant and to be married to God. But when the reality hit them—the reality of what it was going to cost them in the conduct of their lives—they no longer wanted it except on their terms. Thus, when food became scarce, they wanted to back out. When water was in short supply, they grumbled. Then what did they do? They started accusing Moses and Aaron and God because, after all, they were their leaders.

Unfortunately, this is what happens in many marriages. Two people start off in love. Then the realities of the marriage begin to arise, and one or both of them are unwilling to make the sacrifices to continue the relationship and grow in unity. They begin to want the marriage on their own terms: "Well, I'll continue this IF...."

There are many examples of the Israelites wanting to back out. So God, in a sense, offered them concessions. He gave them meat for their lust. He caused water to gush out of the rock. He gave them manna. He bent over backward to meet their demands. But later on, when their descendents were in the Land of Promise, they too were unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to make the marriage successful. We know what happened then.

Conclusion: We do not want to repeat the same mistakes that they made. We have to learn to accept and adapt to what God provides, both as individuals, and as a body (i.e., the church).

The hardships of their pilgrimage in the wilderness were a consequence of a choice that they made to enter into the agreement with God. They did not have to agree with it; they could have returned to Egypt right away. Yet, they chose to enter into the agreement, and thus committed themselves to God's leadership. So running out of food and water, being attacked, enduring the sun above and the sand beneath—all those things represent the hardships of their entering into this agreement. They were consequences.

For this reason, before someone is baptized, he is advised to count the cost. The ministry has this responsibility, not to try to stop the person from being baptized, but to help clarify that he will have to bear the consequences of his decision. Neither the ministry nor the candidate for baptism can know all that lies ahead. In principle, he declares himself willing to accept the consequences of his decision, just as Israel agreed to the covenant before knowing every detail of what would come.

The consequences of our choices are all too frequently things that we do not want to consider. In regard to sin, we either ignore the consequences and take our chances, or we simply go into denial that the consequences are a reality that we must deal with. If we are that way, it reveals quite a lack of faith and a great deal of immaturity.

Kids are like this. Children, the immature, do not often think about what will happen if they do certain things. They just do it. They act or react, thinking that parents are "old fogies" because we say, "No, you can't do that." They say, "Why not?" "Because," we often reply. "You can't do it because I'm the parent, and that's good enough." It should be, but kids do not consider their parents' wisdom, honed by years of experience, to be valuable. When they are sixteen years old, they do not consider that what they are doing might affect them when they are 55 or 60 years old. They are just passionate about the things that they do, but they rarely stop to think of consequences.

When we do not stop to consider spiritual consequences of the things that we do, it indicates that we are spiritually immature. God just is not real to us, or we would be taking His Fatherly advice about what to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 3)


 

Matthew 10:34-39   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Evaluate yourself against these pressures:

Peer Pressure

Teens tend to be idealistic, and this is good. They often resolve to be serious, "hit the books" and spurn the drugs, sex, smoking, drinking and "hanging out" that they have seen others doing. But if the "right" fellow or girl appears, or if the teen is recognized by the "right" clique, his desire to be accepted by them pressures him to adjust his ideals to conform to them. His ideals or convictions are merely preferences.

A minister may search the Bible for truth and find something interesting that he believes and resolves to do and teach. When he tells his fellow ministers about what he has found, they may say to him, "I don't say you're wrong in this, but don't you think you should tone it down a bit? Make it less offensive, and then maybe we can cooperate with you and work on some of your objectives."

At first he may strongly defend his belief, but little by little, as he sees the reaction of his peers, he may begin to bend. He believes it and resolves to do it, but if he changes, his belief is a preference.

If the Word of God tells us to change something, we must change it! But we must be very careful about things previously proved from God's Word, believed, put into practice and then changed when some form of pressure is brought to bear!

Family Pressure

This is perhaps the strongest pressure. When Jesus advises His disciples about counting the cost of commitment to Him, every person He mentions is a family member. "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).

Usually no one can motivate you like a deeply loved mate. A husband may resolve to commit himself to a strong belief, but on telling his wife, she replies, "Please don't, honey. Do you realize what this will do to us and our family?" His resolve begins to melt because he knows he will feel responsible if, because of his belief, he inflicts discomfort or pain on an innocent bystander.

Fear of Lawsuits

Living in perhaps the most litigious society ever on the face of the earth, we are aware of the expense and hassle of going to court, even for the innocent. We may say, "I'm all for this, but I'm not going to get sued over it! You can't ask me to be sued—that's going too far! The news media will make me out to be a villain. They'll publicly hang me! At the very least I'll lose my hard-earned reputation, maybe my job and all my property because of attorney and court costs." This daunting pressure causes many to change their beliefs.

Jail

You may have never really been in a jail, but they are not pleasant places. Most prisoners want to get out as quickly as they can. In fact, some will risk life and limb to escape, knowing they will probably be unsuccessful. If they do make it out, they will most likely be apprehended and returned to "serve" even longer sentences. Jail is very damaging to a person's liberty and reputation.

Most people who go to jails never get past the visitor's area. I have been into the deepest bowels of several maximum security prisons to visit violent inmates on death row. They are horrible places.

In contemplating what it would be like to be in prison, remember that virtually every move an inmate makes is programmed by his captors. You would be isolated from your dearest family members and friends. You are told when to get up, when to eat, when to exercise, when you can read, watch TV, bathe or shower, and occasionally even when you can talk, go to the bathroom or sleep.

Additionally, the people around you have made a living of not playing by the rules. You would be stuck on their turf. Some are quite violent. It is a crazy, frightening environment for one accustomed to the comforts and control of home.

Would you really be willing to go to jail for your faith? Even when no one seems to understand why you would do such a thing? Would the pressure of facing jail make you change your beliefs? If so, your beliefs are preferences.

Maybe some of you men are saying to yourself, "Yes, I'd go to jail." But would you be willing to stand by and watch your wife go to jail? Some have faced that. Would you then pressure her to change her mind?

Do your beliefs mean so much to you that both you and your wife would go to jail, knowing your children would be taken by the state and raised by foster parents you do not even know?

The Pressure of Death

This final test is obvious, yet some have learned through experience that there is a fate worse than death. When a person's resolve over a belief fails, his guilt can be crushing. Luke 22:34, 59-62 shows Peter in such a circumstance.

Do you see the common factor in these? What does your belief mean to YOU? What are you willing to sacrifice in exercising your belief? If you feel you should do something but have the right not to do it, it is merely a preference.

A belief that is God-ordered is a conviction. It is not merely a matter of resolve or dedication, but a matter of believing with all our heart that God requires it of us. If we hold our beliefs as God-ordered, we will withstand all the above tests.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Are Your Beliefs Preferences or Convictions?


 

Luke 9:62   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Our salvation hinges on a lifetime of repentance from dead works and overcoming in faith. Thus, we are counseled before baptism to be sure we have counted the cost before we take on the awesome opportunity of eternal life. Once we take hold of the plow, we cannot turn back.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Repentance


 

Luke 14:25-33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Self-renunciation is an indispensable condition of following Christ, required for accurately counting the true cost of allegiance to Him. This condition of full and selfless service to God demands our hearts and minds, not just our bodies. In Luke 14:25-33, two parables and an exhortation urge us to forsake all that we have as a mandatory condition to becoming Christ's disciples. One main lesson is emphasized in these scriptures: the nature and influence of true discipleship.

Three times (verses 26, 27, 33) the commanding assertion is "cannot be My disciple." One who faithfully follows Christ must be prepared to hate—or more accurately, "love less"—his father, mother, wife, and children, as well as his own life. Loyalty to Jesus Christ and God the Father must be above even the highest loyalties of earthly love, that is, all our love of self must be subordinate to our love for God, who must be first in our life.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Counting the Cost


 

Luke 14:25-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

That which costs nothing is not worth anything. When King David needed to build an altar to the Lord, he would not accept the free gift of the threshing floor because it cost him nothing (II Samuel 24:21-25). To David, a sacrifice was worthless if it cost the offerer nothing. The discipleship to which Christ calls us means a life of surrender to God's will and sacrifice for His cause. If we count the cost of a full submission to Christ's claim on us, we also must count on His grace and help to become one with Him. His disciples do not make the journey to His Kingdom for free—it costs them their lives.

The costliness of commitment to God's will is seen in the example of Jesus. He requires nothing of us that He Himself has not done. Christ lived with the humiliation and agony that often accompanies living according to the will of God. Both the Father and the Son counted the cost before proceeding with their plan for the salvation of humanity. In being sent into the world, Jesus knew ahead of time what it would take to accomplish the divine goal. He left His Father's house to build His church so that the gates of Hades could never prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Counting the Cost


 

Luke 14:25-30   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the warnings of possible costs in Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-30, He says we must expect the loss of the respect and association with those we feel the most affection for, family members. They are not going to appreciate the changes we have made in our lives. They are yet blinded because God has not removed the veil covering their spiritual perceptions. This happens to many of us. It occurred in my relationship with my parents.

Jesus warns that our lives may become seriously unstable, as outsiders might judge it. He suggests that the convert may become somewhat itinerant, seeming to have an unsettled existence. He also suggests that following Him would put demands on our lives and time that might cut close family members to the quick, perhaps even turning them into enemies. Christ makes plain that, despite God's well-known mercy, He wants our wholehearted, unreserved loyalty with no yearning ever to turn back to our former lives. It is in meeting challenges like these that the potential costs become realities.

Though not mentioned directly here, Hebrews 11 reminds us of those who were tortured by mocking and scourging, by imprisonment, by stoning, and even by being sawn in two. Others were forced to flee for their lives, wandering destitute and tormented, barely able to clothe themselves. This may not happen to many of us now, but as matters intensify, Jesus warns that people will eventually kill Christians, thinking that they are glorifying God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Love


 

Luke 14:26-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Before baptizing anybody, the ministry almost invariably urges the person to "count the cost" of giving his life to Christ. While counseling the candidate, the minister expounds Luke 14:26-27.

The cross we bear may be any potentially long-lasting trial that persistently affects our liberty to submit to God. However, very often at the base of this chronic resistance to submission is our desperately wicked heart with its deeply engrained baggage of proud, self-centered, anti-God habits of thinking and conduct. Despite our being baptized and having God's Spirit, pride remains a fellow traveler, stirring resistance to the knowledge of God. Satan's pride separated him from the Creator, and if permitted, it has the power to separate us from Him as well.

Without really stopping to evaluate why, we are proud about what God describes as nothingness, vanity, a vapor. Pride resists the sovereign Almighty God and greatly hinders us from fulfilling our responsibility to submit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Luke 14:28-33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In this passage, Jesus explains the principle of "counting the cost." The candidate for baptism must be able to discern the terms of God's offer for salvation before making such a monumental decision. He must be mature enough to understand what God desires of him, to repent and to believe the gospel. A new believer should be baptized as soon as possible after he has come to this point in his calling (Acts 8:35-38; 9:17-18). The apostles' example in Acts 8:12 shows that they baptized only adults who had met the qualifications of baptism. Thus, this would rule out children and—obviously—the dead (I Corinthians 15:29; Paul is ridiculing the practice).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Water Baptism


 

Luke 14:28-30   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This parable contains three principles: 1) The truth is a costly thing; 2) before we enter into God's way of life, we should estimate the cost; and, 3) whatever it costs, it is worth it. Although it pleases Jesus when a person is called and responds with zeal (II Corinthians 7:11), He is far too humble and wise to pride Himself on the numbers of converted. Instead, He cares for quality rather than quantity, and He promotes truth and loathes counterfeits.

A builder who does not count the cost before laying the foundation is humiliated as a disgraceful failure, yet an unfinished life is far more tragic than a rock foundation without a building. Jesus warns, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Thus, failure to count the cost of following Christ results in an incomplete life. "Holding fast to the word of life" is part of the solution for finishing one's life successfully (Philippians 2:16).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Counting the Cost


 

Luke 14:31-32   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The parable of a king going to war continues the theme of the previous parable: Both must count the cost. The king has to estimate men's lives, as well as money and equipment. He knows he must have resolve and fortitude to enter the battle. The king represents Jesus, who has already counted and paid the cost in His flesh, setting us an example. As King, Jesus must choose just the right people for the battle—those who will listen and obey with determination. He must test the quality of His potential soldiers to determine whether they can be used for such an important task.

The king also represents the saints battling against spiritual enemies (Ephesians 6:12). In preparation to be kings in the Kingdom, the saints must also count the cost of their lives. Solomon says, "By wise counsel wage war" (Proverbs 20:18), so with good advice we must enter upon religious dedication. We must be willing to be driven to triumph over Satan, the world, and our own human nature. Perseverance, endurance, willpower, and willingness to sacrifice are all traits of a king in time of crisis.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Counting the Cost


 

Luke 14:33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Not only must we count upon forsaking all, we must also be willing to run the full distance to arrive at the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 12:1). In the two illustrations, Jesus teaches that discipleship must include planning and sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). In the first, He instructs that, before a person begins to build, he should be sure he is willing and able to pay the full cost of the project. Similarly, Jesus' followers must be sure they are willing to pay the full price of discipleship.

In the second, He explains that we must be willing to sacrifice pleasures, distractions, material possessions, even family, if we are unable to prevail with them—that is, if they would prevent us from serving God. This principle of sacrifice is essential in the realm of discipleship: One must be willing to give up everything for Jesus. Many professing Christians have been unwilling to renounce former, false beliefs. They syncretize God's truth with doctrinal baggage brought from their previous religious fellowships, never quite forsaking the traditions of men (Colossians 2:8; Galatians 1:13-14).

The first parable represents deliberation and adequate preparation, and the second calls for stamina and fighting strength to face a foe with greater strength. In this war against our powerful enemies—Satan, the world, and our human nature—we must be willing to count the cost and to sacrifice. We cannot enter the fray hastily or carelessly, but we must exercise self-control. Paul writes, "Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (I Corinthians 9:26-27). We will overcome them only with the help of the Spirit of our King.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Counting the Cost


 

Philippians 3:7-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

If we desire to walk as Christ walked, we have to strive with all our being to meet the requirements of the sacrifices that will arise in our lives. Christ personified the intent of the biblical sacrifices; they were an integral part of His life.

Did Paul follow Christ's example when sacrifice was required to confirm his devotion to Him? He says of himself that he was "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Philippians 3:5), a man of proper pedigree. He was instructed at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), so he was likely a rabbi, an honorable and exalted position he had to jettison. He may have been a member of the Sanhedrin, and thus a man of eminent authority and respect. If so, he would have had to be married, yet Scripture makes no mention of a wife. Did she leave him or die? Perhaps he had to give her up too. Apparently, he left no children. II Corinthians 11:22-33 gives an overview of the many sacrifices he made to serve the church as an apostle.

Our Savior gave more of this kind of sacrifice than anybody did. He gave up many of His prerogatives as God to experience life as a human. Abraham had to leave his home country and wander as a nomad for the rest of his life. Moses had to give up any dreams he may have had to sit on the throne of Egypt. What have we had to sacrifice—anything comparable to what these men gave up? Have we sacrificed houses, lands, families, or jobs? Paul says he lost everything! Philippians 3:8 records, "Yet 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 count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ."

Many of us are similar to the rich young ruler of Matthew 19, who asks Jesus what he needs to do to be saved. When Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor, he cannot do it. We see that wealth was a major idol in his life, his high tower that he looked to for security. In like manner, we also consider wealth to provide security, and we try hard to keep it from slipping away. If this were not so, idolatry would not be such a major problem, but it is the most common and serious of all spiritual sins. It comes between God and us, greatly hindering us in conforming to His image.

When counseling a person for baptism, a minister almost invariably takes the candidate through Jesus' teaching in Luke 14:26-30:

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. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 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 has 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 not able to finish."

This discourse lists many possibilities that may require sacrifice, but none is so common or costly as "yes, and his own life also." Though it may be a heavy condition and require deep soul-searching, we may give up an inheritance, job, title, or status with little regret. One can regroup from these losses and life goes on, but a person can never get away from himself. A person takes human nature and its enmity against God with him everywhere he goes. At all times, he faces the challenges and demands of bad attitudes, tempers, weak resolve, and weak character engrained in the past.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Nine): Conclusion (Part Two)


 

 




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