Counting The Cost Of Discipleship
John 15:18-16:4 March 16, 1997
Scripture: Page #1677 - 1678 Pew Bible
Last week we saw in the message, “D’Vine Dissertation On Discipleship,” that Jesus’ disciples needed to look to him not only for their own source of life, since Jesus had said he was the way, the truth, and the life, but that they were to stay connected to him as the vine, a source of life for others, as they bore fruit for him. Apart from him they could do nothing, and in him they were to reproduce. The sap, so to speak, of this vine is love. It is this sap which is to flow through us, as it flowed through him from God. This love is to flow through us to others, resulting in complete joy, even at the cost of our lives, since he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We are a friend of Jesus if we do this in love. It is for this purpose that we were chosen and appointed because only the fruit of love will last. We can be confident of God in this. He will enable us to reproduce. To reproduce what? To reproduce the love of Jesus to others through us, thereby making disciples for him. Our love is to draw others to him as his love drew us to himself. To be a disciple is to love.
But let us ask a hard question, perhaps a number of hard questions. Is there a cost to discipleship? Will everyone receive us joyfully as his disciple? Will everyone react positively to our message of him? Is it easy to love others, especially those that have no concept of love and will not readily love in return? Lu 6:32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.” What is the cost of discipleship then? I suggest to you that the cost of discipleship is love. Therefore, the same quality that produces the most abundant fruit bears the greatest cost. But that makes sound economic sense, doesn’t it? What is most valuable costs the most. Again, that is why Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The cost of love is the giving of ourselves. So the cost of discipleship is love. People will test our love to see whether Jesus has real value. Let us look at today’s passage beginning in John 15:18 to see what Jesus has to say about reckoning on or counting the cost.
I. The Cost To The Disciple (vv. 18-21)
A. The cost of our discipleship is that it can produce hatred toward us. (vv. 18-19)
1. This hatred from the world should not surprise us (1Pet. 4:12).
2. It should not surprise us because the world hated Christ first and we are his disciples.
3. The world hates anything that is different than it is.
4. Christ’s disciples are different than the world is.
5. We are different because we belong to Christ and Christ is not of this world (John 8:23).
6. If we belong to Christ, we do not belong to the world because we have been chosen by him to come out of it.
7. The world hates whatever it cannot own and control or understand.
B. The cost of our discipleship is that it can produce persecution toward us. (vv. 20-21)
1. A servant is not greater than his master.
a. If the master is persecuted, the servant will be also.
b. If the master is obeyed, the servant will be also.
c. The master and the servant share the same destiny.
d. The point of this teaching from Christ in John 13:16 is that we must be willing to share his destiny, and do as he has done, whether or not we are accepted or denied.
2. Persecution comes because the world does not know God.
a. The world does not know God because it is hostile to God; it does not desire to identify with God.
b. Because the world is hostile to God, it is hostile to whatever comes from God or belongs to God.
II. The Cost To The Sinner (vv. 22-25)
A. The cost of our discipleship toward the sinner is that it does produce guilt within them. (v. 22)
1. The testimony of Christ to the world through his coming renders the world inexcusable regarding sin and godlessness.
a. They are inexcusable because they have now seen, heard, and experienced God through Christ.
b. Every generation has the opportunity to see, hear, and experience Christ through his disciples.
2. The lack of acceptance of truth in Christ causes guilt because the world is now responsible to act upon what it has seen, heard, and experienced.
B. The cost of our discipleship toward the sinner is that it can produce hate within them. (vv. 23-25)
1. Unresolved guilt produces hate.
2. Hate becomes focused on whatever produced the guilt.
a. The world hates God because he sent Christ to deal with man’s sin.
b. The world hates Christ because he successfully performed miracles of righteousness that no one else could ever do and exposed sin for what it was.
c. The world hates disciples because they faithfully reproduce Christ’s testimony.
3. Hate is compounded because the world is now responsible for what it knows of God in Christ and refuses to believe.
4. The world has no reason for what it does; that is, no good, proper or rational reason.
5. Rejecting Christ and the testimony of his disciples is irrational hatred.
III. God’s Provision For The Cost (vv. 26-27)
A. God’s provision for the cost is the testimony of Christ through the Spirit. (v. 26)
1. The Spirit testifies to sinners.
a. The Spirit works within some sinners to lessen the cost of guilt and hate to them because of our discipleship by preparing the way of hope.
b. The Spirit is resisted by other sinners who will continue to carry the burden of cost to themselves because of guilt and hate due to our discipleship.
2. The Spirit testifies to disciples.
a. The Spirit works within disciples to make the cost of hate and persecution toward them more bearable by reminding them of Christ’s testimony.
(1) Christ preceded us in paying the cost of hate and persecution.
(2) Some of the cost of hate and persecution paid by Christ was due to our own sin nature.
(3) As sinners, then, we should be able to have patience with other sinners.
b. The Spirit works within disciples to encourage and enable them to give Christ’s testimony regardless of the cost of hate and persecution toward them (Mt. 10:19-20).
B. God’s provision for the cost is the testimony of Christ through his disciples. (v. 27)
1. It is not enough for sinners to just receive the testimony of the Spirit in lessening the cost of guilt and hate and opening the way of hope, they must actually receive the hope of salvation by word and deed through disciples who are willing to bear the cost of hate and persecution.
2. Present day disciples are in a long line of disciples who have preceded them and have directly received their testimony of hope in Christ through others (1John 1:3).
a. Others have born the burden of cost in hate and persecution for us.
b. We must bear the burden of cost in hate and persecution, if necessary, for others.
IV. Christ’s Purpose In Counting The Cost For Us (vv. 1-4)
A. Christ’s purpose in warning us of the cost is so we won’t go astray when it must be counted. (vv. 1-2)
1. Christ’s desire was not to discourage us but to prepare us.
2. We may be tempted to quit when we are excluded because we are hated.
3. We may be tempted to despair when we face death because we are persecuted.
a. Persecution may even come from those who believe they are serving God.
b. Persecution from those who believe they are serving God is likely to be the most discouraging.
(1) It is most discouraging because it is unexpected - we don’t understand it.
(2) It is most discouraging because it is the most deceptive - they don’t understand it.
B. Christ’s purpose in warning us of the cost is so we will remember him when it must be counted. (vv. 3-4)
1. Sinners will count hatred and persecution toward disciples because sinners do not know the Father or the Christ.
a. They have chosen not to know (believe).
b. They then act out of their willful ignorance.
2. Disciples must count love toward sinners when hatred and persecution comes because disciples do know both the Father and the Christ.
a. Our remembrance of his command to love (John 15:17) will enable us to carry it out (1Pet. 3:15).
b. Our remembrance of his example of love (John 3:16) will enable us to carry it out.
(1) The fullest example of his love was yet to be seen by the disciples (‘when the time comes’ - cross).
(2) The fullest example of his love is to be lived by all his disciples who follow (Php. 2:5-8).
(3) It is in his example that we help make him known to those who want to know
(4) It even makes him known to those who refuse to know, because in refusing to know, they in fact testify that they know.
(5) Our knowledge must be applied in practice (1John 3:18).
c. Our remembrance of his warning will enable us not to be surprised that our love may not be accepted.
d. Our remembrance of the power of his love in his presence will enable us to apply the power of his love in his absence (he is still with us in Spirit).
(1) God reveals information to us on a need-to- know basis.
(2) Christ told his disciples at the proper time what they needed to know until he returns.
(3) We can be certain then that he has told us everything we need to know until he returns (John 13:34-35).
The cost of discipleship is to love regardless of the cost - the cost of love that overcomes even hatred and persecution (1Pet. 4:8). The cost of being a disciple is that not everyone will receive you as a disciple, that is, to react positively to you. Having the light that is within expose the lies and the secret and sacred sins of others, even if it is only in their own minds, causes them to hate the source that makes them see themselves as they truly are. We know that what we are trying to do is for their own good. But the hand that feeds can often get bitten. Why does the world hate us when we are merely carrying out the command to love? We cannot expect to be loved because we love. True love is not a reaction, it is initiation. Love and hate are opposite reactions, but not equal. Love is the highest emotion known to man. The only truly unconditional love comes from God, but that is what we are to strive for.
The world hates true love because it is from God. The one characteristic that sets us apart as disciples is love. It is also the characteristic that sets us apart from the world. Love is from God (1John 4:7-8). Love is free to us from God but the world puts a price on it. The world says, in effect, “If you want to love, we will make sure it costs you.” The cost of love is hate, even among Christians at times because we are still in the world. Freely receive - freely give (Mt. 10:8). It costs to give what we received for free. Again, this is Christ’s example to us in what it cost him to give us his love. The world doesn’t receive well what doesn’t have value, so they put a cost on it (love). They do not yet see the value of Christ’s love which is free to them but costs God, so we must be the ones who pay to bring them to Christ just as Christ paid to bring us to God. When they come to Christ they will see the value of the free gift of God. Disciples are ambassadors.
Timeless Truth: The more love costs, the more valuable it becomes.
Be a big spender; Christ is.
Illustration: “The Confessions of a Three-Week Missionary in a Not-so-Foreign Field,” by Tim Glover.
Counting The Cost Of Discipleship
John 15:18-16:4 March 16, 1997
I. The Cost To The D _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (vv. 18-21)
A. The cost of our discipleship is that it can produce h _ _ _ _ _ toward us. (vv. 18-19)
B. The cost of our discipleship is that it can produce p _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ toward us. (vv. 20-21)
II. The Cost To The S _ _ _ _ _ (vv. 22-25)
A. The cost of our discipleship toward the sinner is that it does produce g _ _ _ _ within them. (v. 22)
B. The cost of our discipleship toward the sinner is that it can produce h _ _ _ within them. (vv. 23-25)
III. God’s P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ For The Cost (vv. 26-27)
A. God’s provision for the cost is the testimony of Christ through the S _ _ _ _ _ . (v. 26)
B. God’s provision for the cost is the testimony of Christ through his d _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . (v. 27)
IV. Christ’s Purpose In C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ The Cost For Us (vv. 1-4)
A. Christ’s purpose in warning us of the cost is so we won’t go a _ _ _ _ _ when it must be counted. (vv. 1-2)
B. Christ’s purpose in warning us of the cost is so we will r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ him when it must be counted. (vv. 3-4)
Timeless Truth: The more love c _ _ _ _ , the more v _ _ _ _ _ _ _ it becomes. Be a big s _ _ _ _ _ _ ; Christ is.