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It is wisdom to know what you are getting into. For any item that you must assemble, the instructions always have an inventory of the parts and tools needed for the job. It would be foolish to start a job you can't finish. In the same way, Jesus tells us that a builder would make sure he had what he needed to finish the building, that a General would measure if he had the armed forces necessary to defeat the enemy. This Christian walk isn't something that happens with no thought. We don't just repeat a prayer to become Christians. We "count the cost." Jesus never expected "blind faith," but a faith that comes from a thought process. This question and answer forum is the perfect example. Ask questions, get answers, find the truth. He wants you to count the cost.
This question almost answers itself with the way it's phrased. Salvation is free, and discipleship has a cost. "How is salvation free," is the first part. It's free because you don't pay anything for your eternal life. It costs us nothing. We don't have to pray, worship, give, or anything else, in order to live in eternity with God. With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom 10:10). For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16). Someone will say, "WHATABOUT the cost of believing?" Faith is a part of the gift. The whole thing, ALL OF IT, is done by God. Romans 12 tells us we're to not think highly of ourselves, but to think soberly, "according as God has given to every man the measure of faith" that a man has. It's God who redeems our souls from going down to the pit. God works all these things (Job 33:29). By grace you are saved through faith; and that (faith) not of [yourself] : it is the gift of God; Eph 2:8. Salvation is like the bike my dad got me when I was six. He picked it out. He assembled it. (Back in that day the bike came in a box and had to be assembled by the buyer). Then he taught me how to ride it. It was all a gift. I did good in school, but that's not why he got it for me. He loved me and wanted me to enjoy it. It was a gift that made him as happy as it did me. That's salvation. God giving His children His life, the everlasting life. Eternal life is free. There's a cost to discipleship. Jesus says we're to count the cost of discipleship, because there is a cost. (That was never said about eternal life) Anyone who loves family more than they love Jesus is not worthy of being His disciple (His words, not mine Mt 10:37) A disciple is a devotee, a person who is greatly devoted to something or someone. I once thought a disciple was simply a student or a supporter, but that's too mild of a description of what a follower of Jesus MUST BE if that person wants to be an effective agent for the kingdom of God. I don't mean if he/she wants to be accepted. Acceptance isn't contingent upon being a strong advocate. Believers have different levels of talent and durability. There are 15 players on every NBA team. They all wear the same uniform, ride the same team plane, use the same dressing room, eat at the same buffet table. On most teams, only about 10 players ever get meaningful playing time. Being on the team is one small thing. Affecting the outcome of games is something different altogether. If you want to be a starter on Jesus' squad, you have to put in the work. That takes dedication. Dedication is the cost of discipleship. Devotion is the cost of being a follower of the Christ. Again, there is no cost to everlasting life.
We will explore the various aspects of salvation, from its source to its implications for our lives. Ultimately, we will come to understand how Jesus' instructions can be seen as both a warning and an encouragement as we seek out his free gift of salvation. The first point we must consider when discussing salvation is where it comes from. Salvation is a gift that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16). It is not something that can be earned or deserved; rather, it is freely given by God's grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). This means that no matter what one has done or failed to do in their life, they are still eligible to receive this gift if they put their trust and hope in Jesus Christ. As Paul writes in Romans 10:13 "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." However, while salvation may come as a free gift, this does not mean there are no consequences associated with accepting it. When Jesus tells us to count the cost of being one of his disciples he is highlighting the fact that following him requires commitment and dedication (Luke 14:26-27). To accept his offer of eternal life means sacrificing our own desires and ambitions for those which reflect His will—something which often involves hardship and suffering along with joys unspeakable (1 Peter 4:12-13). Therefore, although salvation itself may be free, there are certainly costs involved in living out our faith after. You can feel free to share your Christian testimony at, https://timelessmaze.com/share-your-testimony/
Salvation for Israel required faith in who Jesus Christ was (their Messiah) (John 3:16), along with works and keeping the commandments (James 2:18-26) (note in James 1:1 who he is writing to). Jesus is also speaking to Hebrews in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Matthew 10:5-7, Matthew 15:24, John 4:22), which are all in regard to the gospel of Israel's promised earthly kingdom. We today, as outsiders of God's covenant promises with Israel, are not under Mosaic law, but under God's dispensation of grace, which is key in understanding God's Word (Ephesians 3:2, Romans 6:14). Not only does this greatly assist us when studying scripture, it is how we are commanded to do it (2 Timothy 2:15). God's instruction to Israel and the gospel of their kingdom, while Jesus lived on Earth and prior to His death, burial, and resurrection, is separate and apart from the 'mystery' gospel of God's grace and instruction for us today as given to Paul from Christ ascended into Heaven (Romans 16:25, Galatians 2:7-9, Ephesians 3:2-5, 1 Timothy 1:11, 2 Timothy 2:8). We are not made aware of the significance of the cross until learning of it through our apostle Paul (Romans 16:25). Salvation for us today requires faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing of ourselves (Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16). This is how it is the free unmerited gift offered by God's grace and accepted by us through faith in Him and HIS FINISHED WORK performed on our behalf (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation by faith in Christ does not mean to simply believe in who He is (God in the flesh), but also to believe that what He did on the cross completed all requirements of God for us. It is what HE did, not what we do, otherwise we could boast about our own self-righteousness (Ephesians 2:8-9), and fail to submit to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). God was in Christ no longer imputing the world's trespasses (2 Corinthians 5:19). Our sins were forgiven through the blood of Christ and salvation occurs at the moment of belief in this, the gospel of God's grace through Jesus Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). The gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4): "15 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" Paul's thirteen epistles (Romans through Philemon) are where we find OUR instructions on how to live as believers during God's age of grace. We have faith in our savior Jesus Christ being perfect on our behalf, taking the punishment on the cross that we deserve, being killed, buried, and resurrected for our justification, and by our belief we are then MADE the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are to follow God's instructions to us through our apostle Paul as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Corinthians 4:16, Philippians 3:17). We are sealed with the holy Spirit immediately upon our belief into the church, the body of Christ, which remains with us until Christ returns for our redemption (Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, Colossians 1:24)! The contradictions (as implied in the question) and confusion will cease when we study as we are instructed in 2 Timothy 2:15, and separate God's Word to Israel (the gospel of the circumcision), from God's Word to us (the gospel of the uncircumcision) (Galatians 2:7). -All scriptural references were taken from the KJV.
I think that it is important to define 'disciple' as Jesus did, which does NOT include most born again believers in Christ. See if you agree with me after reading our Lord's description: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26-27). Jesus goes on to give two illustrations. One is of a builder constructing a tower who is careful to calculate the costs and materials in order to avoid being ridiculed for failing to complete his work. The other is of a king who carefully considers the strength of his military forces versus his opponent who outnumbers him considerably, reasoning that his best course of action is a peace envoy instead of war. Jesus concludes with this observation: “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luke 14:33). Make no mistake about it, precious few of us are 'disciples' or ever will be. This title has NOTHING to do with salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, other than the fact the every true 'disciple' of Christ also happens to enter through the same exclusive 'Door' to eternal life that we all do when we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that GOD raised Him from the dead, (Romans 10:9-10). Salvation from eternal damnation is indeed a 'free gift,' but earning the right to 'reign with Christ' is far from 'free.' "If we endure, we will also reign with Him." (2 Timothy 2:12). "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6). “And you will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Mark 13:13). “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14). There are countless multitudes coming to salvation, not 'few.' So the 'narrow path to life' is also about something else. In fact, all of these verses are about the same thing. We often place so much emphasis on eternal salvation, (rightly so), that we forget that there is an earthly competition underway that is even described as having only one winner! "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." (1 Corinthians 9:24). This may even be literal. Listen to this description from Revelation: '‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." (Revelation 3:21). Are you grasping the implications here? Jesus is offering just one of us the opportunity to experience what it is like to actually be GOD Himself! Granted, we won't actually be GOD, but our 'highest possible reward' includes being able to fully appreciate GOD's personal power, wisdom and glory right there by His very side! What do you think the 'personal cost' of that might be? If you look carefully in Revelation, the 'seven churches,' (which are seven spiritual conditions recurring throughout Church history that resemble the seven literal churches to whom the actual book was addressed), each are described as having 'overcomers' who receive specific 'prizes,' (Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26-28, 3:5, 3:12). There is clearly a 'cost' to being an 'overcomer' from within each of these spiritual systems, whenever they manifest into history. Given the Church's 'supersized' condition in the modern world, it is likely that every single one of these 'spiritual systems' is operating right now.
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