Counting the Cost

Heaven and Earth Rework

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

I heard an old preacher say something along the lines of this…When we get to heaven, I believe, we will weep when Christ reveals to us all of the great things that could have been if only we would have claimed them.

I’ve been pondering this image quite a bit lately…me standing before the Lord giving account for how I lived my life for HIM (1 Cor. 3:11-15), and I have to admit that I see myself weeping at the feet of Jesus for all of the things I could have done in this life to point others to Him….for all of the lost opportunities…for all of the times I lived for myself and did only the things that were comfortable for me to do.

And I have to ask myself, “Have I counted the cost?”

Am I willing to boldly proclaim that I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Am I willing to say in the face of the “world’s wisdom” that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, is the answer for all things!

Even writing it out feels unsettling to me because I know that each day that I’m given very well could be my last, and; therefore, I know only that I have today to bear witness of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So, as I was feeling the sting of rejection from a friend because of my faith a few days ago, I sought the Lord for wisdom, and here is where my gracious, faithful, loving Shepherd led me…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (KJV)

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 (KJV)

Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 1 John 2:15-17 (KJV)

And just like that, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords made Himself very real to me in that moment.  He literally reached down and confirmed the struggle that was in my heart…the agony I felt over a friend who found my zeal for the Lord “uncomfortable” and quite literally didn’t know if she could be my friend anymore.  Did I mention that this is a very important friend to me and that this friend also happens to be a Christian?  Ouch.

I struggled wondering, “How can I stay silent, Lord?  I love you so much!  Do I just need to stay quiet?”

And, then, the Lord reminded me of when his disciples were praising him as they were coming down from the mount of Olives, and the Pharisees began to rebuke the disciples, and Jesus reminds the Pharisees that if the disciples don’t speak out, the stones will cry out:

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed [be] the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:37-40 (KJV)

Friends, Jesus doesn’t just want us to go to church on Sundays and read and pray occasionally.  He wants all of us…every aspect of our lives right down to our very wills.  He wants it all, and if you give it all to Him, you will see the literal hand of God move like never before in your life.  He wants us to rejoice and praise Him and let the world know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and returning King!

Don’t you see, dear friend, we are to be a holy and peculiar people.  We are to be different!  And that will make people uncomfortable, but, oh, how it pleases our Saviour.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

But it will cost you…all you have to give.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 (KJV)

This command from Jesus sure flies in the face of the do whatever makes you happy and feel good attitudes of the world, does it not?  It’s a hard truth for all of us, beloved, and yet the truth still stands.  The thing is…anything worth attaining takes discipline and denying one’s self, which is a lesson that the Lord is continually trying teach me.

Further…

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV)

There’s no “or” in this passage of Scripture.  There is a definite “shall.” This verse only applies to all that will live godly in Christ Jesus. You see, there is a cost.  A great cost.  You live on the sidelines in carnality, naturally, there is no cost.  You are no threat to Satan, and, frankly, no use to God.

You and I must engage in the battle in order to participate in the fight.  God’s not going to drag us in kicking and screaming.  He wants our ALL. He wants our full allegiance, and when we give it to Him, He owns it!  He fights it!  And you better believe He wins it!

And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands. 1 Samuel 17:47 (KJV)

BUT to live godly…ah, that is where you find the cost.

Truth be told, God has been so good and so gracious to me that my suffering has been limited in light of many other saint’s afflictions.  Yes, I’ve been hurt and have hurt others.  Yes, I’ve experienced trials and temptations.  Yes, I have poured my tears out at the foot of the cross in heartache over and over again.  Yes, I have faltered and failed.

BUT, no, I have not carried the greatest of costs as have the countless martyrs who have been cruelly tortured for their faith in Jesus Christ and continue to be all over the world today.  Those great martyrs of whom this world was not worthy are a special kind of saint.  You see, they understood something that we have lost site of…they understood what was at stake in eternity, that is…a better resurrection.  They lived not for this life but for the life to come.  They lived for Jesus, and gave Him their all!

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:35-38 (KJV)

And, still, whatever the course may be for you and I, there is a cost to us for following Jesus.

“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.” –Leonard Ravenhill

This sermon is well worth the time to listen.  If it doesn’t challenge you and convict you, I don’t know what will.  What power there is in God’s truth!

Oh, but there is a great reward, far greater than the cost.  There is eternity with Jesus!  There is eternity with the Light of the World where there are no more tears or sorrows.  What a beautiful place heaven must be.  I can’t even fathom it.

So, what will you and I do with that truth today?  With this new day we’ve been given?

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1 (KJV)

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 2 Corinthians 6:2 (KJV)

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: Hebrews 3:7-8 (KJV)

Lately, I’ve been listening to sermon after sermon from an old English preacher named Leonard Ravenhill who has since gone home to be with the Lord.  He was a revival pastor, and his sermons carry an incredible anointing and power.

Leonard Ravenhill’s sermons are so powerful, in fact, that I will be sharing several of his quotes that I pray will grip your heart as they have mine and challenge you while there’s still a today to get something done for Jesus Christ.  (Side note: Remember, we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).  We tell people about Jesus because WE LOVE HIM and because Hell is a horrible and terrifying way to spend eternity.)

Okay, then.

I think what sets apart the great saints in history like Ravenhill from the present day lukewarm church of today is that they truly walked with Jesus and knew him intimately.  They were firmly grounded in God’s Word, so much so that they knew immediately when confronted with a false teaching and, ultimately, they were able to keep their eyes ever set upon eternity and the Judgement Seat of Christ.

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You see, Ravenhill would spend hours every day in prayer, and he would have prayer meetings with other pastors that would last for hours, and the Holy Ghost would move in an incredibly powerful way through those prayers, and the Lord would bring sweeping revival.

“No man — I don’t care how colossal his intellect — No man is greater than his prayer life.”

“If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.”

“A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning.” –Leonard Ravenhill

As I listen to his preaching, I find myself scribbling down quote after quote from this great man of God, who also firmly believes the King James Bible to be the living Word of God, and his passion and fire for the Lord continues to encourage my own desire to know and truly walk with Jesus.

One of the comments he made that I found particularly insightful was this one:

“The measure of your unyieldedness to God is the measure of God’s unyieldedness to you.  God won’t force you to submit to him.  He stands.  He isn’t sitting.  He stands waiting for a response.  You don’t let Him in, He turns and walks away.” -Leonard Ravenhill

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 (KJV)

“Be the overcomers!”

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:21-22 (KJV)

What’s interesting about the passage above is that it is often used as an evangelical tool for salvation, but in the context of this passage in Revelation, Christ is speaking to the CHURCH (not unbelievers).  He is speaking to the lukewarm church of Laodicea…the present Church age in which we find ourselves living in today.

What is happening here is that Jesus Christ has been locked out of His own church!  He’s standing outside of the door to his own church knocking and giving them one more chance to let Him back in at the end of the last Church age.

“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the
United States are truly born again.” –Leonard Ravenhill

The Lord only knows if this statement is true.  However, I hate to say it, but if you’re offended by that statement, you’re probably not in that two percent, and it’s time to get right with the Lord.  It’s time to give Jesus Christ the rightful place in your Church.  It’s time to stop making excuses for sin and start calling it what it is: SIN, so that you can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus and get something done for Him while there’s still time.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165 (KJV)

I heard a preacher say that it’s usually Christians who aren’t living for the Lord as they should be who are easily offended when confronted with conviction.  I would agree.  I’ve been there myself.  I know that in the past at the times when I have been offended over someone confronting my faith, it absolutely meant that I wasn’t living for the Lord as I should have been.

Change was, indeed, needed in my heart and in my life.  I just needed to be willing to be obedient to the Lord and lay my heart before Him that He may do what needed to be done.

“You don’t need more light, you need more obedience.” –Leonard Ravenhill

There’s no doubt that God can do mighty things through one man or woman totally surrendered to Him.

“One man with God is a majority.” –Leonard Ravenhill

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139-:23-24

All that to say, conviction is a good thing, friends, it is what the Holy Spirit uses to bring about change in our lives and draw us closer to Jesus.  Please don’t be quick to run away from it and be offended by it.  It is a great tool in our loving Heavenly Father’s toolbox.

If you are truly abiding in Christ, conviction and challenges to your faith should be a welcome part of self-reflection.  Look at what the Apostle Paul tells Timothy here (note that he’s speaking to Christians):

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (KJV)

Here’s the thing, I’ve been quietly pursuing Jesus, hiding away in His presence and seeking Him through prayer.  I desire to walk with Him, to abide in Him and to claim victory through Him, but I also know that it comes at a great cost as I mentioned above.

I know that it means losing friends and loved ones and being vastly different in a world slowly falling over the precipice of worldly lusts and desires in the name of “whatever makes you feel good.”

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Galatians 5:7-9 (KJV)

I also know that it means being the oddball, the reject, the fool (in the world’s eyes) if you will, and, yet, I gladly take my stand amongst the saints of the Living God running after the Author and Perfecter of my faith: Jesus.

There is none greater.  There is no greater name on heaven or earth or under the earth (Hell).

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ isLord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11 (KJV)

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68 (KJV)

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)

Praise God that He uses the “foolish” things of this world to confound the world’s wisdom.  As such, I gladly take my position as a fool in the eyes of the world that I may take hold of the power of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 (KJV)

I know that it means dying to myself that I may live in Christ.

We all talk about the battle we fight to live godly lives, and we “know” there is a cost to that kind of walk of faith, and, yet, most of us think that the cost doesn’t apply to us…that we can kind of, sort of skirt around it.

Many do just that, and, yet, they wonder why they never experience the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the power of God in their lives.

But, again, there is a cost…a cost that I have never experienced until recently.

Then, again, I don’t think I’ve ever had the passion and fire in my heart that I now have for my Lord Jesus Christ.  I thought did, but I didn’t, not like I do now.  Praise God that He’s still willing to recycle old news like me!  What was once broken, the Lord, in His indescribable grace, has pieced backed together in what one could only call a new creation as only He can do.

Which begs the question: Why are so many self-professed Christians still that same old overwhelmed-with-sin, victory-less creations that they were before their profession of faith?

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)

Is it because they hadn’t truly counted the cost?  Perhaps, they were never told that the Christian life goes beyond salvation…that salvation is only the beginning?

That we must press on and in towards Christ Jesus in a constant, mindful vigilance to not give up and to keep seeking His presence through fervent prayer and study of His Word…that we must abide in Him.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Philippians 3:12-16 (KJV)

As Ravenhill put it, “You might lose some of your friends…they might think you’ve become fanatical.  You might be kind and good, but when you become holy and zealous, they think you’re crazy.”

Indeed.

“If you’re going to be a true Christian, I’ll tell you one thing amongst others: it’ll be a lonely life. It’s a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” –Leonard Ravenhill

“Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord. Jesus didn’t die to save us from Hell. That’s a fringe benefit! He died to get total occupation of us. To be holy in speech…in actions…in everything. We want to give God our lousy sins. What do you think He does with them? He wants your will…He wants that career of yours…He wants that selfish heart not to live in selfishness.”  –Leonard Ravenhill

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16 (KJV)

If you are going to be zealous for Christ…if you are going to pursue holiness…if you are going to die to yourself and to the things of this world in keeping your eyes on eternity, you will lose friends.  No matter how loving you strive to be, holiness will equate with legalism to them, purity will equate with prudeness and a turning your back on the world’s entertainment and moral degeneration will equate with you being high-minded.

But, press on, beloved!

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV)

Remember the power you have been given in Jesus!

It is the name of Jesus that Satan hates and trembles at.  It is the name that the world tries with all its effort to stifle and wipe away from the history books.

But the name of Jesus Christ cannot and will not ever be contained.

Oh, the peace, the hope, the power we have in Jesus!  I would rather spend one day on this earth with Jesus than live 100 years without Him.  I can hardly fathom a willful choice to spend an eternity apart from him.

People often tell me, “Look, Nik, I know you’re passionate…” about my faith, that is, “But…”

I continue to be baffled every time I hear that statement because it always comes from another Christian.  It’s like they want me to shut up already about Jesus, or like yea, yea, He’s old news or whatever.

BUT I got to tell you, beloved, Jesus has been good to me, and I can’t stifle it!  I can’t shut up about Him!  Has He not done anything for YOU?

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16 (KJV)

I’m telling you, beloved, the heavens and earth will be shaken when Christ returns, and your opportunity to count the cost and act upon it will be gone.  Actually, any opportunity will be gone.

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:6-7

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.  1 John 5: 13 (KJV)

 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 1 John 2:27 (KJV)

Is the Holy Ghost moving in your life today?  Have you given Him your all?

“Wherever the Holy Ghost goes, there is movement.” –Leonard Ravenhill

Take up your cross while you still have time.

To Jesus Christ be all glory, honor and praise!

Editor’s Note: As with all teachings you encounter in matters of spiritual things, including the posts you read here, I urge you with all diligence to test everything you read under the light and authority of God’s Holy Word…the King James Bible.  Open your Bible and follow along, and see for yourself what God’s Word has to say.  While I strive to be thoughtful, careful and ultimately prayerful about what I share on this site, I am still human, so should there ever be anything that isn’t in line with the Bible (which I pray doesn’t happen), then God’s Word is always right, and I am wrong.  God’s Word is the final authority in all things.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:10-11 (KJV)

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