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THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 2, 2013

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).


Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young Lutheran pastor in Germany before World War II.  As Hitler rose to prominence Bonhoeffer fled from Germany.  However, after spending time in Great Britain and the United States, he felt that God wanted him to go back to Germany and preach to his own people, which he did.  In 1943 he was arrested by the Gestapo and put in a Nazi prison.  A few days before the Allies liberated Germany from Hitler, the Nazis took Dietrich Bonhoeffer, handcuffed him, put a piano wire around his neck, and hanged him.  He was only thirty-nine years old when he died a martyr's death.  Bonhoeffer's most famous book is The Cost of Discipleship.  I do not agree with Bonhoeffer on some things, since he was a Lutheran.  Nor do I agree with his Barthian view of Scripture.  But Bonhoeffer transcended his liberal background and produced a great Christian classic, The Cost of Discipleship.  I have borrowed the title of his book as the name for this sermon.  May God bless you as you hear it!  But before the message, Mr. Griffith will come to sing for us.  (Mr. Griffith sings, "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826). 

Please stand for the reading of God's Word. 

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

You may be seated. 

I love the honesty and forthrightness of Jesus. Modern preachers often think they can get people to be good Christians by a slow process. Get them to make a “decision” first. Then teach them the Bible year after year. These preachers think that is the way to make strong disciples, and good Christians. But that is not the way the Lord Jesus Christ got His Disciples!

In the passage Mr. Prudhomme read a few moments ago, it says,

“There went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them…” (Luke 14:25).

So this is what the Lord Jesus Christ said to lost people, to people who had never been saved, who had never yet become His Disciples. Right away, the very first thing that Christ said to these multitudes was this:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26, 27).

Wow! Can you imagine a modern preacher like Joel Osteen, or even Franklin Graham, saying that?

And yet there is something refreshing about Christ’s method – something clean and fresh about it. Commenting on those verses, Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

These verses are simply saying that we should put God first. A believer’s devotedness to Jesus Christ should be such that, by comparison, it looks as if everything else is hated (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 311; note on Luke 14:25-27).

In a similar way, our main text says,

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

It doesn’t mean that you have to go and live in a cave without any clothes. It does mean that you must surrender unconditionally to Christ as your Lord and Saviour. It does mean that you must be willing to forsake whatever Christ calls you to forsake. This principle was given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Notice that Christ spoke on the cost of discipleship to a great crowd that followed Him. “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them” the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25). Christ’s purpose was not to gather a big crowd of uncommitted people. His purpose was to gather a group of highly committed people – disciples who would risk their very lives to take His message to the ends of the earth! Dr. John R. Rice said,

Throughout the Bible is this solemn teaching, that those who serve the Lord should count the cost. All those who would be good servants of Jesus Christ, acceptable preachers or missionaries, or soul winners as lay Christians, all who would give a good testimony, must give and suffer and toil and be persecuted…If you expect a “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” when you meet the Saviour, you must be prepared to suffer for Him. The kind of service that does not cost anything is not worth anything and will not receive a reward when you meet the Saviour! (John R. Rice, D.D., What It Costs to Be a Good Christian, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1952, p. 10).

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

There are at least three applications of this text.

I. First, Christ must be loved more than our relatives.

It may be that you will never have to choose between Christ and your family. But some have had to do that. Many young Muslims have to forsake their families to follow Christ. Many Orthodox Jewish young people have had to choose between their families and Jesus. One man, when he was only a youth, was cast out of his Orthodox Jewish home for trusting Christ. He did not see his parents for many years. Finally he heard that his mother was dying. With a heavy heart he went to see her in the hospital. When she saw him coming into the room she screamed at him, “Get out! Get out with your Christ!” He never saw his mother again. I knew this man well. He was a great Christian. His name was Moishe Rosen – and he performed our wedding ceremony. How glad my family and I were to have lunch with him, and have sweet fellowship with him, shortly before he died! Hundreds of Jewish young people have been saved through Jews for Jesus, the ministry he founded. But it cost him his beloved parents to become a Christian!

Great Spurgeon said, “You, perhaps, heard the story of the martyr [John Rogers, 1500-1555 A.D.], who was going to be burned [at the stake] for Christ; and as his enemies had failed to move him from his steadfastness, they made one more attempt to do so as the good man was on his way to [be burned]. They brought out his wife and his eleven children to meet him; and they were all weeping, and kneeling down before him, and begging him to recant. His wife pleaded, ‘My husband, be not so willful; do not go to the stake’…and each of the children [said to him], ‘Father, live for my sake,’ ‘and for mine, father.’ This was a trial which the good man had not expected; and as he stood there, surrounded by his loved ones, he said, ‘God knoweth how dearly I love you all, and how gladly, for your sakes, I would do anything…with a clear conscience, to make you happy; but compared with Christ and his gospel, which I love with all my heart and soul, I must give you all up…and I must go and yield up my body to be burned for the truth of Christ; therefore, do not weep and break my heart.’ It was grandly done on his part; and you can probably get a better idea of the meaning of my text from that incident, than I could possibly convey to you by any words that I might use” (C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1977, volume XLV, p. 567).

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

“I Surrender All.” Sing it!

I surrender all, I surrender all.
   All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.
(“I Surrender All” by Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1855-1939).

II. Second, Christ must be loved more than our own lives.

As Spurgeon spoke on this subject he read from a letter by Pliny the Younger (61-112 A.D.) who wrote about the early Christians. “He said he knew not what to do with them, for they were men of good character, but they had this one peculiarity, that they must in everything follow Christ. They actually came with calm confidence, even to the Roman judgment-seat, well knowing that, if they were convicted of being Christians, they would be put to death; and they seemed as if they were eager to die, so anxious were they to put their love to Christ before any thought of freedom from pain or escape from death. What tortures were to which they were put…I scarcely dare to tell you. Think of one of them forced to sit in a red-hot iron chair; and of others dragged at the heels of wild horses, or tossed to and fro by bulls, or torn in pieces by savage beasts…But did the martyrs flinch or turn back? No, they stood fast for Christ’s sake, and threw their lives away…rather than be found traitors to Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour” (Spurgeon, ibid., p. 569).

I have been reading a terribly frightening book. The author said he thinks Christians will have to go through such trials again – right here in America, and in the West. He may be right. It is necessary for us to be prepared for it now. An evangelical who is too lazy to be in church on Sunday night will not remain faithful to Christ when those trials come. An American church member who misses the mid-week prayer meeting will not be able to stand in that evil time. Christ said, “If any man come to me, and hate not…his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). May God give us the strength to follow the example of the holy martyrs of the ancient Church – and the martyrs of Muslim lands today. Mr. Griffith, come and sing that song again. 

A noble army, men and boys, The matron and the maid,
   Around the Saviour’s throne rejoice, In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heaven, Through peril, toil and pain;
   O God, to us may grace be given, To follow in their train.

A glorious band, the chosen few, On whom the Spirit came,
   Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew, and mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, the lion’s gory mane;
   They bowed their necks the death to feel: Who follows in their train?
(“The Son of God Goes Forth to War” by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826).

Father Andrew M. Greeley (1928-2013) died last week. He was a liberal Catholic priest who attacked traditional morality and based his ideas on sociology rather than the Bible. For instance Greeley said his sociological studies showed that Catholics see God as “a lover, a spouse, a friend and mother,” and this made them more liberal in their political views than Protestants, who regard God as “king, Lord and Master” (Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2013, p. A11). When I read that I thought, “Does that explain the Inquisition?” I learned to ask needling questions like that in the two liberal seminaries from which I graduated. Tens of thousands of Protestants were burned at the stake, had molten lead poured down their throats, and were tortured on a rack, during the Inquisition, by those Catholics. That doesn’t sound to me that those Catholics saw God as “a lover, a spouse, a friend and a mother.” Nor does it sound like the gentle Son of God. Jesus was firm, but He was not mean! He wept over those who refused to follow Him, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). "I Surrender All."  Sing it again!  

I surrender all, I surrender all.
   All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.

III. Third, Christ must be loved more than anything else.

“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27).

Spurgeon said that the teaching of this text can be summed up as “Christ must be loved better than anything else or we cannot be His disciples.” If we were given the chance to have either the whole world or Christ, “Thank God, there are many of us who would not wait a minute [to choose Christ].” “So the meaning of [those verses] is that Christ must have whole-hearted servants; and if you come to him to be his disciples, you must bring your whole being with you.”

Andrew M. Greeley, the liberal, sociologist priest, said that Christ should be seen as “a spouse, and a friend.” He was right as far as he went. But Father Greeley rejected Christ as “king, Lord and Master” (Los Angeles Times, ibid.). Greeley was wrong – Christ is both a friend and a King. But that requires Biblical insight that Father Greeley never had. Only in a real conversion can anyone find that Jesus loves us, and that He demands our full loyalty as our Lord and King – both at the same time!

Spurgeon said, “The devil is quite willing to share his kingdom with Christ...But Christ will not have it so; if we are to be his subjects, he will rule over us from the crown of our heads to the sole of our foot, and he will not permit Satan to have a single stronghold within us that he may call his own. [Satan must go and Christ must be on the throne of our hearts]. He has come who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The crown sits on his brow, nor will he allow [a rival] even for an hour. Come then, what do you say? Are you whole-heartedly for Christ? If not, you are not one of His disciples. Listen while I read that text again, ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple,’” Luke 14:26 (Spurgeon, ibid., p. 570).

And I would encourage every new believer – above all else, never be ashamed of Jesus! The Son of man Himself said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory” (Luke 9:26).

Ashamed of Jesus! that dear Friend
On whom my hopes of heaven depend!
No; when I blush, be this my shame,
That I’m afraid to speak His name!
   (“Jesus, And Shall It Ever Be” by Joseph Grigg, 1720-1768;
     last line altered by the Pastor).

Stand up for Christ wherever you are! Never let any skeptic or scalawag like “Father” Andrew Greeley tear down Christ. No! Stand up for Jesus! Sing it!

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross,
Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss;
“Ye that are men, now serve Him,” Against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, And strength to strength oppose.
   (“Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus” by George Duffield, 1818-1888).

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

The real application of our text is this – are you a disciple of Christ? Do you love Jesus more than your own family and your own life? Do you love Him better than anything else in this world? Have you submitted to Christ wholeheartedly? Do you prove your loyalty to Him by the way you live? Are you a real disciple of Christ? If not, I urge you to submit to Christ at once! Remember, Christ said,

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37).

Fling aside everything that displeases God! Come wholeheartedly to His Son! Stop trusting this world, and put your trust completely in Jesus, who is called the Christ! He will cleanse you from all sin with the Blood He shed, when He died in your place, to pay for your sins, on the Cross.

If you would like to speak with us about becoming a real Christian, a real disciple of Christ, leave your seat and walk to the back of this auditorium now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk and pray. If you are here for the very first time, and you have a question, just leave your seat and go to the back right now. Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who responded. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Luke 14:25-33.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Son of God Goes Forth to War” (by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826).

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF "THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP"

THE OUTLINE OF

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

(Luke 14:25, 26-27; Matthew 6:33)

I.   First, Christ must be loved more than our relatives.

II.  Second, Christ must be loved more than our own lives,
Luke 19:41.

III. Third, Christ must be loved more than anything else,
Luke 14:25-27; 9:26; Mark 8:34-37.