Count the Cost

Luke 14:27 And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.

It is important for us to give attention to what the Lord is saying in this verse of Scripture. First of all, He is saying that He wants us to become His disciples. Just accepting Him as Savior without becoming His disciples is not enough. So the first thing we must do is to determine whether we really want to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many do not; but for those who do, this verse is for them.

Anyone that wants to become a disciple of the Lord must (1) take up his cross and (2) follow after Him. However, Jesus states it negatively, letting us know that there is no other route to becoming disciples: Whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.

Crucifixion on a cross was a slow and painful death. Jesus died on the cross, shedding His blood that we might receive salvation. He also had to bear His cross up the hill to Golgotha, where He was crucified. We must also take up our cross and be crucified on it. Our crucifixion, though, is not a literal death to our physical bodies but a death to our self-life; self-centeredness and all its ramifications must be exterminated.

The initiative to take up our cross and bear it to Golgotha is ours. Golgotha, by the way, means "place of the skull" (Matthew 27:33). And that is where our crucifixion must take place – at the place of the skull. It is the carnal mind that must die. Our headship over self must be removed, and He must become our Head. It is those who are beheaded, so to speak, for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God that will reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4). Jesus once said, The Son of man has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20); that is, the many-membered Body of Christ was not yet created for Him to be Lord over. It is when we die out to self by the work of the cross, that He becomes our Lord. When we are beheaded, in that sense, then He has a place to lay His head.

To bear the cross means to crucify the self-life, and to come after Him means to become as He is (Matthew 10:25). We must appropriate His life, so that we can say like Paul, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20). This is what it means to be a disciple: dying to self and His life taking its place. There is no other route to becoming a disciple: and whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. And I might add, Jesus didn't shed His blood so that we could be saved without becoming disciples. He bought us! We are His possession! Refusing to become a disciple is a sin against His Lordship.

Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he, has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

We're talking about discipleship, so do not regard the tower as a personal endeavor. Rather, regard it as the task that the Lord has given you to do. View it as a commission that He has laid upon your shoulders.

Luke 14:31-32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace.

Anytime you set about to do the will of God, there is going to be opposition. Our enemy, the Wicked One, does not want the will of God accomplished. And he not only comes against us with greater forces, but the Lord allows Him to do it.

"Well, the Bible says: Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4).

That is true for those the apostle John is speaking about, but it is not necessarily true for every Christian. The first part of that verse says, You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the antichrists of verse 2 and 3), because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. Now if you are of God (not just a Christian, but His life in you because you have died to self), and have overcome those antichrist spirits he is speaking of, then you have overcome because greater is He that is in you. However, every Christian cannot claim that when their self-life is greater than His life in them. The life of the Lord is not greater in you than your self-life until you die to self by taking up your cross and becoming as He is.

"Well, I just don't believe that God will allow a force greater than we can bear to come against us. After all, the Bible says that God will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able" (I Corinthians 10:13).

Let's take a look at that verse of Scripture. There has no temptation taken you but such is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. Look at the verse carefully. God doesn't say we won't be tempted above what we are able. On the contrary, we will always be tempted above what we are able within ourselves, but He is faithful having provided a way of escape beforehand. And that way of escape is His ability. The work of the cross and becoming as He is gives us access to the way of escape. The way of escape is provided for disciples, not for Christians who maintain lordship over their lives.

The Lord is not telling us to count the cost and then if we have sufficient to finish the building of the tower or to overcome the greater force coming against us, then we are to go forward. We will never be sufficient in ourselves. The key to sufficiency is being aware of our inability and appropriating His ability. It is not by our might or our power, but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). The Lord will never give us a job that we will be able to accomplish. He will never send us against a foe that we are able to conquer. John the Baptist had the key to every victory and accomplishment – He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). The world tells you to believe in yourself, but God say to believe in Him. The moment you begin to trust in your own abilities is the moment you fail. Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. I Corinthians 10:12.

Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be My disciple.

You cannot be His disciple until you forsake all of your abilities. For example, you will never move in His wisdom as long as you feel your wisdom is sufficient. Even Jesus said, The Son can do nothing of Himself (John 5:19); again in John 8:28, I can do nothing of Myself. He was called the Son of man because He took on our limitations.

Jesus is our example; we are to function in the same manner as He did. Believe not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works. John 14:10. The Father could not have worked through Jesus if Jesus had been self-sufficient and did everything of Himself. Instead, Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself, and that opened the door for the Father to have free access to do His works. We must learn to do the same thing. The Lord will only be able to move through us when we can do nothing of our own selves. The apostles had learned this truth. When the people marveled because of the healing of the lame man at the gate Beautiful in Acts 3, Peter and John said, Why look you so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? (Acts 3:12). Then they explained how God glorified His Son Jesus in healing the lame man (verses 13-16). Peter and John were only channels for the Lord.

By forsaking all of our abilities the door is opened for the abilities of the Lord to function through us. Paul said, When I am weak, then am I strong (II Corinthians 12:10). Then he said, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). So when the Lord says to count the cost to see if we have sufficient to complete the work, He is saying that accomplishment begins with the awareness of our inability, for only then will we have access to His abilities.

Copyright 1997 by Henry DuBose