The Cost of Discipleship
Why is our organization named Disciplers? I have often thought about that, wondering just why Pearl Hamilton, who began Disciplers, chose that name. Obviously “discipleship” was important to her. The word “disciple” is literally a “follower”, so a disciple of Christ is one who follows Christ. Disciplers Bible Studies provides a means of learning how to follow Christ through the study of God’s word, for how can one know how to be a disciple of Christ without knowing who He is and what He demands of those who follow Him! A disciple must know the cost of discipleship and that is found in the Bible.
A few weeks ago I began editing Pearl’s lessons on the Gospel of Luke, preparing them for download on our website. As I was pondering our blog for this week, I was beginning the edits on Luke Chapter 14. The introduction to that lesson begins, "God has two basic requirements, both of which are in Luke 14: to accept His invitation, and to take up His Cross. The first is evangelism, the other is discipleship.” In this blog, I want to share with you from the notes on Luke 14, the section on discipleship. I want you to hear about what discipleship and Disciplers is all about in Pearl’s own words.
Discipleship demands choosing God’s will: In Luke 14 -- Jesus told his disciples and the crowds a parable about God’s gracious invitation to a great supper, a banquet, a wedding feast in the kingdom of God. Ultimately, everyone is invited and it is free. Jesus paid the price to put us on the guest list, being justified freely through His grace by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). We receive the invitation just as we are, but once on the guest list, guests must dress and be prepared for banquets. God Himself begins to prepare every believer for the great banquet by beginning to make us look less like sinners and more like His Son. This happens through His work in each one of us. It is a work of sanctification through the process of discipleship. Discipleship involves your will in every circumstance of your life in choosing His will over yours.
Discipleship demands loving God above all else: 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). This stringent requirement for discipleship is explained by Matthew 10:37 where “hate” becomes “love less”, He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Disciples must begin by keeping the first commandment to love the Lord God above all else. You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3). Our loved ones are most likely to take God’s place in our lives unless we make a deliberate choice to put God first. He will bless that choice, by the way. After all, it was God who gave you loved ones to you, was it not? Is Jesus first in your life? If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.
Discipleship demands taking up your cross: And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:27). The cross we are to take up is the counterpart of Jesus’ cross, an instrument of death. Jesus carried His cross to His death. To carry one’s cross means to die to self. It does not mean having poor health, enduring a bad relationship, or doing things we do not like to do. It means to deny self (Matthew 16: 24-25). It means identification with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-8). Will you take up your cross today and give your life to Christ, trusting God to use you for the purpose for which you were created?
Discipleship demands counting the cost: No one begins to build without counting the cost! And the cost of discipleship is everything! So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:33). This is the bottom line of discipleship. Forsake all you have and you qualify to be Jesus' disciple. Like Abraham offering up Isaac, we must put it all on the altar and leave it with God. Isaac represented all of Abraham’s hopes and dreams, and the fulfillment of God’s promises to Him. But Abraham believed that God, who gave him Isaac, could miraculously keep His promise somehow. Abraham did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (Romans 4:20-21). Do you believe like Abraham that you cannot lose with God? Can you make Jesus Lord of everything in your life? Can you give back to God your family, your home, career, appearance, desires, health, future? He can take them any time He wants you know. Why not give them to Him while you can give them in faith, knowing and trusting that He will do what is best?
Discipleship demands saltiness: Counting the cost and taking up your cross does not mean the end of everything. But rather it is the beginning of real life in Christ, of meaning to life, of zest, and reality. Believers who are not disciples are like salt without flavor. What does that mean? Salt without flavor is good for nothing, absolutely useless. (Luke 14:35) It might as well be thrown out.
“Will you exchange your life for His and take up the cross? You can only experience the new life He bought for you by giving up the old one. If anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Will you put your name in that verse now, today?
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I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.