The Cost of Following Jesus

I am following a read through the Bible in a year plan. My readings this morning were in the gospel of Matthew chapters 15 and 16. At the end of chapter 16, Jesus begins to tell His disciples He must go to Jerusalem to suffer many things, be killed, after which He will raise on the third day (vs 21). To this news, Peter rebukes Him, telling Him this will never happen (vs 22). Instead of agreeing with Peter, Jesus rebukes him along with Satan. He tells Peter he is being a hindrance to Him and that he is setting his mind on the things of man, not the things of God (vs 23).

The Cost of Following Jesus

After this brief dialogue with Peter, Jesus takes the opportunity to teach his disciples what it means to follow Him. The text says,

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

The cost of following Jesus is to daily take up our cross and follow Him. In other words, we are to be willing to give up our life for the sake of following Christ.

Hard Words

These are hard words to stomach. Even harder words for me to know the true meaning of as I live here in the United States free from religious persecution. We, in the United States, often want Christ and the world, but Jesus tells us we are to set our mind on the things of God, not the things of this world (vs 23). We are to sacrifice for the sake of Christ, even if it means we are uncomfortable, poor, or killed. Again, these are hard words for us, who live in comfort and have plenty. Even so, they are true and what we must be willing to do, if we want to be a follower of Jesus, because to follow Him is to take the road less traveled.

Follow Jesus: It is the only thing that matters

Gaining the world will not profit our soul. No matter how much worldly wealth or fame we have gained. In the end, all that matters is that we have counted the cost of following Jesus, recognizing it is much greater than anything this world can ever offer us, and we followed Him.

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Grace, Hope, and Holy Living

In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter tells Christians, based on the fact that God is a God of kept promises, that they are to confidently and fully set their hope on God’s future grace.

In order to grasp the magnitude of Peter’s command we need to look specifically at two words, which are grace and hope. Then we will look at what hope in future grace should produce in us, namely, holy living.


The context tells us God’s grace will be given to us at the revelation, or return of Jesus Christ. This means God has given us a measure of His grace now, but it is not all the grace He will pour out on us. When Christ returns, God will pour a final measure of grace on us bringing us into a state of glorification. The body of death Paul talks about that hinders him in living completely for Christ will be put away and we will receive our glorified bodies. Sin will no longer reign in our members, rather, we will be perfect.

So we see: (1) Our final salvation is completed in the future, at the return of Jesus Christ. (2) It is God’s grace and nothing else that will provide us with eternal salvation. (3) It is God’s future grace we are to place our hope in.

Now that we understand we are to place our hope in God’s future grace and what that grace will accomplish for us, namely, eternal salvation. We need to look at hope, understanding it from a biblical perspective.


The Bible defines hope differently than our modern secular society. Hope in modern English has the idea of a wish that is uncertain.

For example, if we are going to a ball game this weekend with our family, we may hope it does not rain. We don’t know if it will or will not rain, but our wish is that it will not.

So then, hope in modern English carries the idea of wishfulness, but not certainty.

In biblical terms, hope is defined differently. Instead of a wishful thought, hope is certain. When Peter tells us to put our hope in the grace that will be poured out on us at the return of Christ, he is telling us something we can be confident in. Jesus’ return and the grace that will be poured out on us then is certain. Meaning Christ’s return and the grace we will receive at His return is not a wishful thought, it will happen.

Knowing what God’s grace will accomplish for us, and that He is a God of kept promises, means we should fully place our hope in God’s future grace, knowing for certain His grace will be poured out on us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Hope in God’s Future Grace Leads to Holy Living

Our hope in God’s future grace is not just the key to heaven, but it also is the key to holy living. If we don’t hope in God’s future grace alone, trusting in faith that He will pour out that final measure of grace on us at Jesus’ return, then living a holy life will not follow.

A holy life will not follow because it is pointless. If we don’t believe God will provide us with eternal life, then why would we live according to His commands? In other words, if the promises of God are not more satisfying to us than sin, why would we not sin?

All of this means that before we can live holy lives, it is important that our hope be in God alone, that we believe life with God for eternity is better than sinning now.


So I must ask: Do you hope in God alone, realizing He will provide you with more satisfaction than sin ever will? If you don’t, then you will not live a holy life.

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Thinking Out Loud: How is God a Christian’s Judge?

A perplexing question has had me racking my brain for several days now. In what way are we as Christians judged by God? The text that has motivated this question is 1 Peter 1:17, which says

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,” (1 Pe 1:17).


Verse 17 comes in the midst of Peter telling his readers to place their hope in Christ alone (13), to not be conformed to their former way of life (14), but instead to be holy as God is holy (15-16). So then, the context deals with Christian conduct. More specifically, Peter wants his readers to understand that their profession of Jesus Christ as their Savior should also result in transformed living.

Verses 13, 14, 15-16 provide commands to live a certain way, as well as they provide the motivation for such living. Verse 17 seems to follow suit. It provides a command, “conduct yourselves in fear”. It also provides a motivation, God is both the Father of those who profess Christ to be their Savior and the Judge of all.

How Can God Be The Judge of Christians?

Verse 17 says God judges all impartially according to their works, which should lead to us conducting ourselves in fear during our earthly stay. Commentators and preachers differ in regard to what this judgment on Christians could be.

  • Some hold it is a judgment regarding rewards (Rom 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10-11).
  • Others skip over the phrase, “who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds,” opting only to deal with the word fear. They then conclude fear means we need to live in reverence to God.
  • While others hold a tension between fear referring to reverence for God, and also a fear of God’s judgment.

What I Think

Based on Peter’s mentioning of God as Father and Judge, the context calling for believers to live a transformed life as a result of their salvation, as well as Romans 2:6-11, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, and John 3:36, I think Peter is presenting a tension here. A tension both John and Paul present in their writings and one that is evident in the passages above.

The tension I think Peter is presenting is that our faith in Christ should produce good works (Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). It is these works that are judged, proving that we are Christians. So then, on the one hand, our fear is to be one of reverence and respect for God. On the other hand, we are to fear God as judge, knowing that if we do not finish the race (1 Cor. 6:9-11), we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Even if at one time we did great works for the kingdom, we must continue to live a righteous life throughout our time here on earth. In other words, we must finish the race. God is not a partial judge, no matter how much good we have done for the kingdom.

I don’t believe our righteous living earns us salvation, but I do believe it proves our salvation since it would not be possible to live righteously without the Holy Spirit residing in us. The Holy Spirit would not reside inside of us, if we did not believe Christ to be our Savior.

Final Questions: I Want Your Thoughts

Those are my thoughts. I want to know what you think. To help facilitate that, here are my final questions:

  • Am I on the right track believing there is a tension between God as Father and Judge, or am I missing something?
  • Do you also see a tension between our faith and works, with our works, or obedience, proving our faith?
  • Do you believe fear in 1 Peter 1:17 is referring to reverence only, or both reverence and judgment?
  • Do you believe Peter is talking about our rewards in heaven? If so, how would those rewards motivate us to live holy lives now?
  • What do you make of verses like 1 John 4:18-21, which tells us those who fear have not been perfected?

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