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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.
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