Counting the Cost of Discipleship

Bible Book: Luke  9 : 23
Subject: Kingdom Living; Christian Living

“Not I, but Christ” - “deny himself” – or it will be “I, not Christ.”

As a church, it is my desire to lead us to live out the truth of the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:18-20. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

I desire to see the shaping of individuals through the intentional effort on the part of both leaders and church members. I want to know that the way that I live and lead really helps people to grow in Christ. I desire to lead by exhortation and example.

I passionately desire to see the people of God engaged in the mission of God, through the Spirit of God. Again, I genuinely desire to “make disciples.”

Disciple – pupil or apprentice; a learner or student.

A disciple can be taught (knowledge) without being transformed.

Matthew 28:20, “teaching them to observe” – be careful that our disciple-making is not information without transformation. The end result of discipleship is not merely the knowledge of all Jesus commanded but the obedience to all Jesus commanded us to do.

It’s not the truth we know that transforms us, but the truth we obey.

Not all discipleship is transformational.

“Chris Farley is still regarded as one of the funniest comedians of our generation. From his sketches on Saturday Night Live to the movies he starred in, Farley was a success in the entertainment business.

Chris Farley was impacted by the example and influence of another famous comedian: John Belushi. In a real sense Farley was a disciple of Belushi. Farley famously admitted, ‘I wanted to be like him in every way.’ John Belushi moved from the comedy troupe, Second City, in Chicago to Saturday Night Live to starring in movies. Farley followed the same career path.

Farley’s emulation did not stop there. Both Belushi and Farley struggled with obesity and had a reputation for wild living. Sadly Belushi died of a drug overdose when he was only thirty-three years old. And years later, after a night of partying, Chris Farley was found dead in his apartment from a drug overdose. He was thirty-three years old. While his mentor impacted his aspirations and his behavior, his mentor never transformed his heart.

Not all discipleship is transformational.”

Is it true in the Bible that one can have knowledge without transformation?

2 Timothy 3:7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Context is “last days perilous times…”

The difference in knowledge and transformation is illustrated in the life of Judas Iscariot.

Matthew 26:20-25, “When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.

And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, ‘Lord, is it I?’ He answered and said, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’ Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it.’"

Disciples’ response, “Lord, is it I?”

Judas’ response, “Rabbi, is it I?” (Teacher)

From Judas, we learn that knowledge about Christ alone does not result in true discipleship.

1. Judas knew about Jesus

2. Judas heard every sermon

3. Judas personally saw Jesus confront the religious and

welcome sinners

3. Judas saw blinded eyes opened

4. Judas saw the dead raised

5. Judas saw demons cast out

6. Judas saw firsthand the power and love of God perfectly

displayed in Jesus

James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. You do

well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!”

If information about Jesus equals discipleship, the demons

would be His disciples.

7. Judas learned from Jesus’ teaching but never allowed Jesus’

teaching to transform him.


“I warn you – you will not get help from Him in that way for the Lord will not save those whom He cannot command! He will not divide His offices. You cannot believe on a half-Christ. We take Him for what He is – the anointed Savior and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of lords! He would not be who He is if He saved us and called us and chose us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives.”

I so desire to teach what it really means to be true disciples of Jesus. A true disciple is one that has heard (knowledge) the gospel and is convicted of their sin, and as a result, repents of their sin and surrenders to Christ’s Lordship. The character of a true disciple is manifested in obedience.

Leading a ministry that approaches discipleship as merely information and not repentance devalues discipleship and denies the power of the gospel. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it “cheap grace.”

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without` confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”


Jonathan Edwards, during the first Great Awakening. Many people came to faith in Christ, but several years later many believed that some who claimed to have become Christians during the Great Awakening were not true disciples. There was no change, no transformation. The lives of many of those supposedly converted appeared to be the same as before the Great Awakening. In response, Edwards wrote his sermon, “Treatise on Religious Affections,” to address the issue of deficient discipleship, of authentic faith.

In his writing, he coined the phrase, “holy affections” as the distinguishing mark of true discipleship.

“The supreme proof of true conversion is holy affection, zeal for holy things, longing after God, longing after holiness, desire for purity.”

The distinguishing mark of Christian discipleship is a transformed heart, transformed affections. When someone becomes a true disciple, Christ radically changes the person’s appetite.

Recently, a survey was conducted to learn more about peoples’ spiritual lives and levels of maturity. Eight biblical factors consistently showed up in the life of a maturing believer. These “attributes of discipleship” are:

1. Bible engagement

2. Obeying God and denying self

3. Serving God and others

4. Sharing Christ

5. Exercising faith

6. Seeking God

7. Building relationships

8. Unashamed transparency


2 Corinthians 5:15, “and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

1 Peter 4:2-4, “that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”