A: Counting the cost was in relationship to Jesus counting the cost when it came to the cross. The disciples told Him that they were willing to partake of the cup He was about to drink when it came to Him drinking of that great cup of sorrow during His trek up Calvary. In essence He told them that they would not at that time drink it, but eventually they would taste the sorrow of it (Matthew 20:20-23 Luke 14:25-35).
When it comes to the believer counting the cost, it also entails a cross. Jesus paid the price for our sins that we could not pay without losing our soul. The cross represented the great altar where all sin would be judged in order to satisfy the requirement of the indictment of the law against all of us. After all, the wages of sin is death. The Law required our death, and Jesus took our place on the cross and paid it with His life. It is known as propitiation and redemption (Luke 9:56; Romans 3:19-20; 6:23; Hebrews 13:10; 1 John 2:1-2).
When it comes to believers Jesus established the cost in a couple of ways. First through examples. He became a servant of all, which means He had to give up His sovereignty to reign in order to serve. We likewise must give up our independence to walk as we desire to truly become His servant. The other example is that of suffering. It is through suffering that comes out of obedience that perfected Jesus in His humanity. In order to obey, we must suffer loss as well. It could be our families, reputation, worldly comforts, and etc. (John 13:7-17; Romans 8:17-18; Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 5:8-9; 1 Peter 2:21-25).
This is one of the problems we struggle with as believers. We have no concept what the Christian life will cost us. It will prove different things for each of us. We are given glimpses into the possible cost by Jesus Himself in Luke 9:57-62. It may cost us normalcy of the world which will put us into the category of being a bit radical. It could cost us the family and cultural traditions and practices that will result in us being misunderstood and falsely accused of being in some cult or false movement. Ultimately, it might cost us our family relationships which will leave behind insulted, hurt, and wounded family members that will wonder if we have lost our minds and gone absolutely mad.
These two examples of servitude and suffering culminate in Jesus’ call to discipleship. We must count the cost of this present life to gain the heavenly life by denying our right to live it. In a sense, it means presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice so we can know what the acceptable, good and perfect will of God is. We must pick up our cross and bear it until the old man has been completely crossed out in order for the new man to be resurrected in us. However, Paul was clear that the application of the cross was a daily exercise. It is when we deny self and pick up the cross that we can follow Jesus into a new life (Matthew 10:32-39; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 6:14; Philippians 3:7-14).
As the cross disciplines us, it will become a yoke that allows us to walk side by side with Jesus instead of always lagging behind because we can’t see how it will serve our purpose, or try to run ahead of Jesus because things are not going as fast as we desire. As you can see, such service is about self and not Jesus. It has nothing to do with doing God’s will and bringing Him glory.
The question is why pay the price of true discipleship? It is simple: it comes down to knowing God. God is holy and He can’t touch, come into agreement, and make Himself known if the unholy is present. The depth in which we can know God comes down to how far we follow Jesus into the life He is calling us to, and how deep we are willing to wade in the Water of the Spirit in order to come higher.
There are many Christians that try to skip over the water of a deeper life to avoid the testing of their faith, some kick the water about with their feet to give themselves the impression they are deep enough, others will wade out to their knees so they can convince themselves they have actually experienced the deeper life when in reality they haven’t even dipped in it; and, then there are those who risk going out a little further in the water until they begin to lose their footing, and then they will back away as a means to control what they encounter. (See Ezekiel 47:2-5.)
However, the deeper life can only be discovered in the current of the Holy Spirit. We can’t control how deep, how wide, or how far we are taken by the current. We must learn to rest in faith, grab bits of greater revelations as they come, while holding onto the promises.
This journey is all about knowing God. We can’t know Him unless the Father draws us to His Son, Jesus is lifted up by the great work of redemption, and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth about Jesus, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (John 6:44; 12:32; 16:13; Colossians 2:9). As Jesus said to Philip in John 14:9, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”