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Lesson 13: The Cost of Discipleship *

Introduction: In Luke 14:28 Jesus told of a man considering whether he would build a tower. The prudent thing, according to Jesus, is to figure out whether you have enough money to finish the tower before you begin pouring the foundation. Jesus told this story to illustrate the decision that we have to make when becoming disciples. Have we counted the cost? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what kind of accounting we need to do when deciding to follow Jesus!

  1. The Call

    1. Read Luke 12:4-5. Who can kill just the body? (Humans.)

      1. Who can throw us in hell? (God.)

    2. Read John 3:16. God loves us so much that He gave us His Son so that we might live. How do you explain Luke 12:5 which tells us to fear God because He can throw us into hell? (Jesus is talking about authority in our life. If we logically look at life, we should respect the authority who has the most power. God has power not only over life here, but life eternal.)

    3. Read Luke 12:6-7. Right after telling us to fear God, Jesus tells us "don't be afraid." What is going on? (Jesus tells us to look at the practical side of things first - God is the One with all of the weapons. Then Jesus tells us that God is the One who loves us intensely. He has all the weapons and all the love.)

    4. Read Luke 12:8-9. What is Jesus' message to us here? (We have a choice to make. Will we choose ultimate power and ultimate love?)

      1. Is this one of the "costs" that we have to consider when making the choice on discipleship? (It is not a true "cost," for it says that if we acknowledge God, He will acknowledge us in high places.)

    5. How is this choice made? Is it just a verbal matter? We turn to this practical question next.

  2. The Choice

    1. Read Luke 12:10. If you believe in the Trinity, as I do, how does this make any sense? How is insulting one part of the Godhead any worse than insulting the other? (According to John 16:13, the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. If we lose our Guide, we are forever lost. Jesus is teaching us a practical truth. Rejecting the Holy Spirit rejects the source of truth. You are rejecting that which draws you to God.)

      1. Read Luke 12:11-12. What else does the Holy Spirit do for us? (Helps us at extreme times when we are under extreme pressure to have the peace that He will guide our words.)

      2. What is another practical aspect of making a choice for God and not the world? (We must choose who will be our guide. That guide must be the Holy Spirit. This is not a cost.)

    2. Read Luke 12:13-15. Is this just an odd question that, like a home video, gets recorded along with everything else? (No. Jesus is teaching us that choosing to follow Him is not a choice about money. In Deuteronomy 28 God tells us that choosing Him brings prosperity. But, Jesus tells us that we are entering a new, more mature, relationship with God.)

    3. Read Luke 12:16-20. What is the point of Jesus' parable? Is He telling us not to retire? Is He teaching us not to save for retirement?

      1. Why does this parable follow the question about help in dividing an inheritance? (Jesus points out what is important. This is not advice on saving or retirement. Jesus says that if we focus our life on our own pleasure, we may unexpectedly die - and then how does that focus benefit us?)

    4. Read Luke 12:21. How does this speak to our choice about being disciples? How does this speak to the cost of becoming a disciple? (If you focus on being rich, as opposed to advancing the Kingdom of God, you might prematurely die. Jesus' point is that advancing the Kingdom of Heaven is not necessarily a cost.)

  3. Living the Choice

    1. Read Luke 12:22-26. My daughter tells me about "negative calories." She means food that requires more calories to eat than it adds to the body. Is Jesus speaking of "negative calories" when it comes to counting the cost of discipleship? (Yes. We have seen this theme before. Jesus says that we can put worry behind us. God will be sure our needs are met. The "cost" is not really a cost.)

    2. Read Luke 12:27-28. What, specifically, does God promise? (He promises us wonderful clothes.)

    3. Read Luke 12:29-31. When you consider what we have been reading so far in this chapter, do you think Jesus is talking about food and clothing? (This is the issue faced by the farmer who retired and died. God says that His followers are not focused on things. They are focused on advancing the Kingdom of Heaven. The retired farmer story made the point that focusing on money and self is no guarantee of money. The point here is that focusing on the Kingdom will not deprive you of food or clothing.)

    4. Read Luke 12:32. Afraid of what? (Given the context, the answer must be poverty.)

    5. Read Luke 12:33-34. Recall the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:20-21) who was told to sell his possessions and give them to the poor. When we went over that story, I suggested that Jesus was teaching this young man that he could not earn his way into heaven. Selling all he had was a work he would not do. Because Jesus was speaking to him, we were able to dodge the bullet of thinking that we had to sell everything that we had, right?

      1. Can we dodge this new "bullet" - that we are now told that selling our stuff is the cost of discipleship? This is not just a command to the Rich Young Ruler. What do you say?

    6. Consider Luke 12:32-34 in context. What does it teach us? (Jesus continually tells us that the "cost" of discipleship is no cost at all. He will build our reputation, feed us and give us great clothes. Jesus tells us do not be afraid that giving to the poor will cause poverty. Just the opposite! Jesus says that not only will He make sure we are taking care of here, but He is giving us "the kingdom," a "treasure in heaven" that cannot be exhausted, stolen or destroyed.)

    7. Should we sell everything? (I will leave that to you to answer for yourself, but I don't think that is Jesus' point. The theme of the chapter up to this point has been to focus on advancing the Kingdom of Heaven, and not to focus on advancing your own wealth. Jesus says we cannot impoverish ourselves ("do not be afraid, little flock") by helping the poor or using our wealth to advance the Kingdom of God. We cannot out-give God. We can only enrich ourselves with deposits in the Bank of Heaven.)

    8. Read Luke 12:35-36. What other cost is being discussed here? (The cost of being alert and ready.)

      1. From time to time I run into pastors whose teachings give me indigestion. One "indigestion pastor" wrote that he had spent enough time promoting the gospel, he was getting older, and it was now time for him to turn to making money for himself. How does that plan fit with these verses? How does it fit with what we have been learning in this chapter so far? (Our focus should always be on advancing the Kingdom of God. This is a life-time commitment, and we need to be "on task" all the time.)

    9. Read Luke 12:37. What happens to the diligent servant? The one who is constantly "on task?" (God serves them! This is another "no-calorie" cost. God constantly promises in these verses to give to His servants who give to Him.)

    10. Read Luke 12:38-40. Those of you who are deep into prophecy. What is the message here? (Diligent followers of God will be surprised at the timing of Jesus' Second Coming. That is why they should always have their eyes open. They should always be prepared. If you think you perfectly understand the steps to the Second Coming, beware!)

    11. Read Hebrews 11:39-40. The prior verses in Hebrews 11 reveal that the cost of discipleship varies among disciples. For some it is extreme, for others it does not seem so extreme. Regardless of the cost in our life, what is God's universal promise? (We will not receive all that God promises to us here on earth. But, God has planned something far better for us in heaven!)

    12. Friend, considering the cost, will you decide today to follow Jesus? The reward is far greater than the cost, but the full extent of the reward is in the life to come!

  4. Next week: We start a new series on one of my favorite topics, lex rex! Lex rex is Latin for the "law is king." The role of the law in those saved by grace is a fascinating study.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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