What It Will Cost You To Follow Jesus Christ
I started Cerebral Faith for 3 purposes; 1; to convince unbelievers that Christianity is true. 2; to help believers struggling with doubt. And 3; to equip believers with information so that they will be more effective in witnessing to unbelievers. Let's say that you're someone who's been exploring this site reading various articles I have written defending the truth of the Christian worldview. You've read all the posts on the "Arguments For God's Existence" page, the "Answers For Atheists" page, the "Historical Jesus" page, and after such thorough studying and investigation, you come to the conclusion that Christianity is true.
Or maybe you're new to this blog, but have been convince that Christianity is true by reading my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods.
In any case, before you take that next step and commit your life to Christ, I'd like you to know what you're getting into. Following Christ is a costly decision. It will cost you.
Jesus Christ said "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." - Luke 14:28-33
Just as the builder should have counted the cost of the building project before he actually proceeded to build the building, in the same way, you should count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus before you actually decide to follow Him. Otherwise, you -- like the builder -- will disgrace yourself. So, what will it cost you to follow Jesus Christ?
It Will Cost You Your Popularity
It's overwhelmingly obvious that people don't like Christians. Christians are portrayed negatively in Hollywood (as stupid, bigoted, and arrogant). Christians are being murdered overseas by radical Islamists. Christians are mocked and ridiculed on the internet. And it's rare that I talk to an atheist who doesn't treat me like a simpleton and who doesn't verbally abuse me. People hate Christians.
This shouldn't be surprising. Jesus Himself told us that this would happen. He said "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:19-20).
And He said "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:22). And in the context of the previous verse I quoted, Jesus mentioned some specific things that would happen to His 12 disciples. He said "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:16-22).
Jesus then proceeded to say that His coming would bring about a man turning against his father, and a daughter turning against her mother, and a daughter in-law against her mother in-law (see Matthew 10:36). What He meant in Matthew 10:36 is that there would be strife within families between the unbelieving and the believing. This has definitely been played out. How many news stories have I heard of a Muslim man killing his daughter (i.e an honor killing) because she converted to Christianity. In ancient Greece, when a Christian refused to worship Caesar, sometimes he would be turned in by a member of his own family, which of course resulted in the person's death! In non-lethal cases, you'll be treated differently. Nabeel Qureshi's family, after he converted out of Islam to Christianity, shunned him completely. They would have absolutely nothing to do with him.
You will lose your popularity. People who aren't believers will not like you. Friends you hung out with will abandon you.
It Will Cost You Your Favorite Sin
Repenting of your sins is a requirement of following Jesus. If you do not repent of your sins, you can't follow Christ. Unfortunately, unbelievers all have some sin that they enjoy committing and have no desire to give up. Watching pornography is a sin, and many guys love watching videos of naked women. How do I know this is a sin? Because in The Sermon On The Mount, Jesus said "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28).
It is also a sin to have sex outside the bounds of marriage. God has no problem with sex between a husband and wife. After all, He told Adam and Eve "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it," (Genesis 1:28, ESV). However, sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman is a no-no. The Bible says "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." (Hebrews 13:4, ESV). I know that a lot of people are in romantic relationships and sex is a part of that relationship. The boyfriend and girlfriend enjoy coming together in sexual intimacy. However, The Bible says that this is sinful. You would have to stop having sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend if you give your life to Christ. However, there is a way around this though. The Bible says "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:9, ESV). Unfortunately, some people want to keep having sex but don't want to get married!
If you are currently in a sexual relationship with someone to whom you're not married, then you'll have to stop if you're going to follow Christ, or else marry this woman/man. But, the latter is also problematic. For 1 Corinthians 7:9 was aimed specifically at Christian couples. If your girlfriend/boyfriend isn't a believer (and she/he probably isn't if she/he's having frequent pre-marital sex), then The Bible says you can't marry her/him if you yourself decide to become a Christian. The Bible says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,” - 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
The cost of following Jesus Christ will be A: for you to stop having sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend, and the marriage loophole probably won't apply if she or he is an unbeliever. This is too much to ask for many people.
Do you like going out to the bar and getting drunk? Can't do that anymore if you give your life to Christ. The Bible says that getting drunk is a sin. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”. Galatians 5:19-21 mentions drunkenness as one of the “works of the flesh”.
Maybe you're a homosexual. The Bible condemns homosexual behavior (note: I said behavior, not attraction). “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
If you give your life to Christ, you'll have to stop having homosexual sex.
It Could Possibly Cost You Your Life
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12, ESV).
Martyrdom is a real possibility. It isn't likely to occur if you live in The United States Of America, but if you live in some place like Iraq or Afganistan, being a born again Christian is a crime punishable by death. History gives us countless examples of Christians who gave their life rather than deny Christ. Even the original disciples of Jesus (Peter, John, James, Matthew, etc.) had their blood spilled because they would not abandon their relationship with God. If you're reading this in an area like that, know that this is a real possibility. Jesus said "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24, ESV).
What It Will Cost You Is Nothing Compared To What You Will Gain
If Jesus Christ were a product and I were trying to sell Him, I probably would be fired by the CEO of my company. Because if I told every potential customer what I just told you, no one on Earth would possibly buy this product. However, everything I've just told you is biblical truth.
Why then, would anyone decide to follow Jesus? Because what you gain outweighs what you'll lose. First of all, you'll gain entry into Heaven.
The Bible says we're all sinners (Romans 3:23, Psalm 14:2-4, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Job 9:2-4, Proverbs 20:9), and because of that, we deserve the death penalty (Romans 6:23b) which is eternal torment in a place called Hell. Hell is a place of “Everlasting Fire" (Matthew 25:41), it's a place where "the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44-49). Hell is a "lake of fire and brimstone" where the wicked are "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). It's a place of eternal separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). God must punish sinners because He is holy and just (Psalm 9:7-8, Psalm 9:16, Psalm 10). However, God doesn't want to punish anyone because He loves us (John 3:16). Therefore, He took on human flesh (John 1:14, Philippians 2:5-8), and endured the punishment on our behalf (Isaiah 53). Anyone who repents of their sins, placing their faith in Christ (John 3:16), confessing faith in Christ (Romans 10:9), and repenting of their sins (Isaiah 55:7) will be forgiven of their sins. Jesus' blood will wash away their inequities. However, if one doesn't repent, then Jesus will not be registered as their substitute. They will have to pay the penalty themselves. John 3:36 says "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (ESV). And the wrath of God is an eternity in Hell.
Being forgiven of your sins is infinitely more valuable than anything. Jesus rhetorically asked "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26, ESV). The implication is that nothing could equal the value of your soul. "Losing your soul" is just another way of speaking about being condemned to Hell. What, Jesus asks, could possibly be worth being "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10), in "everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41)? You could give me a trillion dollars, with a mansion, a garage filled with sports cars, and all the women I could ever hope to be with. In addition, you could give me several different kinds of talent, so that I become a rock star who could play any instrument and a widely adored actor. However, none of these things would be worth ending up in Hell for all eternity. I would rather be unknown and in poverty than face an eternity of agony. "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?". If a man loses his soul in the process of gaining everything he could ever want, then he has really gained nothing.
By contrast, as horrible as Hell is, Heaven is that wonderful. Psalm 84:10 says "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." (NIV). The Bible says that spending a single day in Heaven is better than to spend one thousand days anywhere else! The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, lived a life of incredible suffering. Yet he wrote, “We do not lose heart. For this slight, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). The Christian philosopher William Lane Craig commented on this passage, saying "Paul imagines a scale, as it were, in which all the sufferings of this life are placed on one side, while on the other side is placed the glory that God will bestow on his children in heaven. The weight of glory is so great that it is literally beyond comparison with the suffering."
The Bible says, in the book of Revelation, "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’" (Revelation 21:4,5).
"Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." (Psalm 32:1).
Getting into Heaven and staying out of Hell is infinitely more valuable than anything you could keep in this life by choosing not to follow Christ.
There are also benefits to following Christ that you'll experience even in this Earthly life. For when you are hurting, or are lonely, you have a friend in Jesus. The Bible says "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:10, ESV). The Bible says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV). This means that God will be there for you. You can cast your worries upon Him rather than worry yourself. When you do so, He will give you peace which "surpasses all understanding". In Philippians 4:12-13, the Apostle Paul wrote that he is able to be content no matter what circumstance he finds himself in because it is Jesus Christ who is giving him the strength.
And remember how I said people would hate you just for being a Christian? Jesus said "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12, NIV). You will be rewarded for whatever abuse you endure.
Although becoming a follower of Christ will cost you, what you will gain is worth it! This is why The Apostle Paul said "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8, ESV).
I will end this blog post with a promise from Jesus. "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." (Matthew 19:19, ESV).