Have you carefully counted the cost?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted January 23, 2017

Have you carefully counted the cost of being one of the Lord’s disciples? Before you answer that question, consider the following passage in which He discusses what is involved in discipleship:

[Jesus said] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost , whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (KJV Luke 14:26-15:1)

Here the Lord lists three requirements:

First, a disciple must put his allegiance to the Lord above all other attachments – attachments to his family; even attachment to his life:

[Jesus said] If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (KJV Luke 14:26)

Second, a disciple must be willing to suffer:

 [Jesus said] And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (KJV Luke 14:27)

Third, a disciple must be willing to relinquish all that he possesses:

[Jesus said] So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (KJV Luke 14:33)

But there are other requirements as well:

A disciple must declare his allegiance to the Lord – openly and without shame:

[Paul wrote] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (KJV Rom 10:9-11)

A disciple must evangelize others – that is, declare the Gospel (good news) to all those who have not yet heard and not yet responded to it:

And [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (KJV Mark 16:15-16)

Now, what can a disciple expect if he meets all of the above requirements?

Alas, a disciple can expect to be hated and persecuted.

[Jesus said] If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world , the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world , but I have chosen you out of the world , therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. (KJV John 15:18-21)

What forms does this persecution take? The answer lies in Revelation 6, which describes what happens on the earth as the Lamb who sits on the Throne of God – that is, Jesus the Messiah – opens the book[1] in His hand, one seal at a time.

1st seal – White horse = Gospel is preached and conquers (6:1-2).

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

The opening of the first seal reveals a white horse, and sitting on the white horse is Him that has been crowned and is setting forth to conquer. Now common sense tells us that the rider of the white horse is the Lord Himself. Furthermore Revelation 19:11 states, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, …and his name is called The Word of God….And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” What we have here is the preaching of the gospel. As soon as believers perceive that Jesus reigns, they must go forth and proclaim that good news to the nations, they must make disciples of all men. Note: the rider carries a bow. In Psalm 45, which speaks of the Lord, verse 5 says, “Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.”

2nd seal – Red horse = Saints are killed (6:3-4).

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Following the white horse is a red horse whose rider is given a great sword (of sacrifice) and “granted” the power to make war against and kill the saints. Wherever and whenever the gospel is preached, saints are sacrificed. The preaching of the gospel produces martyrs. The world hates the saints, persecutes the saints, and kills the saints. All this is part of God’s plan; the saints must expect it. How many new believers discover that, after they were born again and became disciples of Jesus, their acquaintances, friends, and even families rejected them? We in America can be thankful that we have not experienced worse – or perhaps we should wonder if we are preaching the gospel clearly enough.

3rd seal – Black horse = Saints are persecuted (6:5-6).

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 

Following the red horse is a black horse whose rider carries a pair of scales in his hand, and a voice proclaims that a measure (quart) of wheat cost a penny (or dinarius), and three measures (quarts) of barley cost a penny (or dinarius). A measure (or quart) of wheat or barley met one person’s food requirements for a day; and a dinarius was a day’s wages. So a working man could feed himself with fine food or three people with coarse food. In addition, luxury items like oil and wine were available to him if he had money. So what is this saying to the saints? If they preach the gospel, they may meet the red horse – that is, lose their lives – or they may meet the black horse – that is, lose their jobs, in which case they will not have money for food. The black horse is economic persecution.

4th seal – Pale horse = All men suffer from certain troubles (6:7-8).

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Following the black horse is a pale horse whose rider is Death, accompanied by Hell. To Death was given the power to kill a fourth of the earth with war, famine, death (perhaps pestilence), and wild beasts. The connotation here is of natural disasters. There are certain troubles (the famine, disease, destruction, and death that follow war, the predation of wild beasts, and such natural disasters as fire, flood, wind, and rain) that always plague mankind (believers and unbelievers alike). They are symptoms of the Wrath which God visits on a sinful earth.

Less dire, but nonetheless hurtful and unpleasant are some of the other consequences which a disciple may experience.

A disciple may find himself in the company of King David – that is, despised by his spouse.

And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.

And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. (KJV 2 Sam 6:12-16)

A disciple may find himself rejected by his father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (KJV Matt 10:34-38)

Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. (KJV Ps 69:7-9)

A disciple may find himself in the company of Job – that is, rejected by everyone whom he holds near and dear.

He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth. My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body. Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. (KJV  Job 19:13-19)

Judging by the above, one of the Lord’s disciples must expect to lose the following: his possessions; his livelihood; the love and respect of his parents, his siblings, his spouse, and his children; the affection of his friends; his standing in the community; and even his life – in a word, EVERYTHING.

Count the cost!

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] Here is a book – actually a scroll – overflowing with words, and it is sealed with seven seals – that is, its seal is spiritually perfect. Moreover, it can be opened only by someone who is worthy – that is, by someone with a certain character – and John wept much because there was no man among the men in heaven, on earth, and under the earth that possessed the necessary character. Note: John does not weep anywhere else in the Book of Revelation, and there is much to weep about here. Clearly this book is of supreme importance. Whatever is in the book is vital to John and to all other believers. It is in God’s right hand, the hand of power: whatever is in this book deals with God’s exercise of sovereignty and power over his creation. This book contains the purposes of God: the decrees of God, the will of God, the plans of God, the methods of God in the exercise of his absolute sovereignty.  But the book is sealed. When God created man, he made him steward over the earth. Whatever man decided, that is the way things would be on earth. Alas, man decided to disobey God and follow Satan. By doing so, man gave Satan sovereignty over the earth, and the book of God’s purposes for man and the earth was sealed. A man’s sin sealed the book; only a man’s righteousness can unseal the book. But, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12). Thus, there is no man that can open the book!



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