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Sabbath School Lessons on Discipleship
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- The Call
- Read Luke 12:4-5. Who can kill just the body? (Humans.)
- Who can throw us in hell? (God.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Luke 12:8-9. What is Jesus' message to us here? (We
have a choice to make. Will we choose ultimate power and
- 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.)
- How is this choice made? Is it just a verbal matter? We
turn to this practical question next.
- The Choice
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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?)
- 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.)
- Living the Choice
- 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.)
- Read Luke 12:27-28. What, specifically, does God promise?
(He promises us wonderful clothes.)
- 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.)
- Read Luke 12:32. Afraid of what? (Given the context, the
answer must be poverty.)
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Luke 12:35-36. What other cost is being discussed
here? (The cost of being alert and ready.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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,
- 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!)
- 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!
- 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.