The cost of following Jesus

SERMON TOPIC: The cost of following Jesus

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 29 November 2015


Sermon synopsis: Nowadays in the West there is often not a great price to pay for the act of being baptized, there is of course the risk of being alienated by friends and family but in the 1500’s, when adult baptism by immersion was first practised by those who saw that infant baptism or sprinkling was not Biblical, the price was high.

What is water baptism?

It is the sign of the covenant that the born again believer enters into with the Lord, similar to the engagement ring given to a bride.

The sign of the covenant that God made with Israel in the Old Testament was circumcision. The sign of the new covenant that the Lord has made with the body of Christ, the Church is water baptism.
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The cost of following Jesus.

Matthew 28:19-20.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Luke 6:40

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

1 John 2:3-6.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.

Whoever says, I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

The cost of following Jesus.

What is water baptism?

It is the sign of the covenant that the born again believer enters into with the Lord, similar to the engagement ring given to a bride.

The sign of the covenant that God made with Israel in the Old Testament was circumcision.

The sign of the new covenant that the Lord has made with the body of Christ, the Church is water baptism.

Circumcision is the sign of God’s covenant with Israel.

Genesis 17:7-14.

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. Then God said to Abraham, As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised….

My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

Baptism is the sign of God’s covenant with the Church.

Colossians 2:10-15.

In Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.

Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The outward sign is irrelevant if there is no commitment.

An engagement ring has no value if the fiancé is unfaithful.

Circumcision is of no significance if the Jews were unfaithful.

Likewise water baptism has no value if there is no total commitment to Christ.

Deuteronomy 30:4-6.

Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.

The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love

him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

The outward sign is irrelevant if there is no commitment.

Deuteronomy 10:12-17.

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today.

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

The outward sign is irrelevant if there is no commitment.


Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?

The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

The cost of following Jesus.

Baptism is symbolic of the cost involved in following Jesus, it is symbolic of the death of our life (A funeral, or burial) so that Christ can live His resurrected life through us.

The cost of following Jesus.

Romans 6:1-8.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

The cost of following Jesus.

Nowadays in the West there is often not a great price to pay for the act of being baptized, there is of course the risk of being alienated by friends and family but in the 1500’s, when adult baptism by immersion was first practised by those who saw that infant baptism or sprinkling was not Biblical, the price was high.

The Anabaptists.

By insisting on adult baptism, the Anabaptists were denying the state’s authority in matters of the church and were pulling apart the religious and political threads of Europe’s social fabric. Within months of the first “re-baptism,” the Anabaptists were fleeing for their lives. Driven by persecution and missionary zeal, Anabaptism spread to many areas of Europe. Thousands of Anabaptists were imprisoned, tortured, burned, drowned, and even dismembered by both Protestant and Catholic authorities. The Anabaptists emphasized the authority of Scripture and salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

While giving Luther his due, we do well to remember some historical realities. Luther, as well as Calvin and Zwingli, came to oppose harshly the Anabaptists. In fact, of the 20,000 to 40,000 Anabaptists martyred in the early decades, likely more were massacred by Protestants than by Catholics.

The cost of following Jesus.

The Anabaptists correctly understood the biblical teaching of believer’s baptism and they were willing to stake their lives on this belief, because it was founded on a clear understanding of Scripture’s authority in the life of the church. They followed sola scriptura to their deaths, resting their faith in the Bible and not in church authority and tradition.

Anabaptists were fined, drowned, burned at the stake, tortured, and persecuted in all the manners of the day for such crimes as refusal to pay tithes, refusal to attend church, refusal to refrain from Bible study groups in private homes, refusal to refrain from preaching, and other offences against the church-state. Thousands of Anabaptists were put to death.

The Anabaptists were severely persecuted by the Roman Church. In fact, because many believed in immersion, many were put to death by drowning. The Lutherans also put many Anabaptists to death by one form of execution or another.

The cost of following Jesus. The Anabaptists

1. The Cages.

One of the ways that ruling bodies try to stamp out a new trend is to make an example out of someone publicly. Possibly it would deter someone else from following in their footsteps. One such way this was accomplished was by hanging the Anabaptists up really high on a bell tower in a cage. While in the cage they would be naked and exposed to the elements. They would have no clothes and no food. They had no where to use the restroom except through the bottom of the cages. They would remain hanging there for years, long after they were just bones and dust.

2. The Rack.

As if being drowned or burned alive was not bad enough, sometimes they needed to be tortured and then murdered. One of the favoured methods of that time was putting them on “the rack.” This device bound the ankles and wrists and then slowly pulled them apart.

The cost of following Jesus. The Anabaptists

3. Burned & Roasted At The Stake

Naturally you had to know that some of them got burned at the stake. Perhaps the most discussed execution by burning was that of Dirk Willems. Dirk was imprisoned by the Catholic church for receiving adult baptism and for baptizing others himself. In a miraculous feat he was able to escape his imprisonment. However, after his escape he was pursued and the man who was pursuing him ended up falling threw the ice on a small pond and nearly drowned.

Being the good Christian that he was, he turned back to save his pursuer's life. He was then promptly re-captured and then burned alive.

The cost of following Jesus. The Anabaptists

4. Permanent Baptism

One of the ways the Anabaptists could be both killed and also mocked was by giving them an adult baptism of another kind. In this baptism they would not be emerging from the water. The first Anabaptist to be martyred in this way, and possibly the most famous, was Felix Manz. Felix was one of the co-founders of the Anabaptist faith.

He engaged in great scholarly debate with the reformed leaders of his time about adult vs infant baptism. Unfortunately, the councils having these debates came to the conclusion that infant baptism was the only acceptable practice and demanded that Felix and the Anabaptist baptize their children.

Felix refused and was then drowned as were many other Anabaptists. To make this even more repulsive the council led by Zwingli was a reformed movement.

The cost of discipleship.

Luke 9:21-26.

Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

The cost of discipleship.

Jesus didn't hide the cost when he called people to follow Him.

Luke 14:25-33.

Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

The cost of discipleship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945)

He was one of the few church leaders who stood in courageous opposition to Adolf Hitler and his policies. He was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi resistant, and founding member of the Confessing Church. In his role as a theologian, his view of Christianity's role in the secular world has become very influential. Bonhoeffer became known for his resistance against the Nazi dictatorship strongly opposing Hitler's euthanasia programs and the genocide against the Jews.

He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945, 23 days before the Nazis' surrender.

The cost of discipleship.

The Cost of Discipleship is a book by the German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, considered a classic of Christian thought.

The original German title is simply Nachfolge (Discipleship). It is centred around an exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Bonhoeffer spells out what he believes it means to follow Christ. It was first published in 1937, when the rise of the Nazi regime was underway in Germany and against this background that Bonhoeffer's theology of costly discipleship developed, which ultimately led to his death. One of the most quoted parts of the book deals with the distinction which Bonhoeffer makes between "cheap" and "costly" grace. But what is "cheap" grace? In Bonhoeffer's words:

"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.“

The cost of discipleship.

Or, even more clearly, it is to hear the gospel preached as follows: Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness. The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to this is costly grace:

“costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Bonhoeffer argues that as Christianity spread, the Church became more secularised, accommodating the demands of obedience to Jesus to the requirements of society. In this way, the world was Christianised, and grace became its common property. But the hazard of this was that the gospel was cheapened, and obedience to the living Christ was gradually lost beneath formula and ritual.

The cost of discipleship.

Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defence in Flossenbürg concentration camp. He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp.

Like other executions associated with the 20 July Plot, the execution was particularly brutal. Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard, where he was hanged with thin wire for death by strangulation. The camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed.

His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

The cost of been chosen by God.

Mary the mother of Jesus.

Luke 1:26-31.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.

V 28 (KJV)

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

The cost of been chosen by God.

The Angel Gabriel told Mary that she was blessed among women and highly favoured but look at the cost of her being chosen by God.

Her own plans for her life had to be laid aside.

She lost her reputation. Joseph wanted to break the engagement.

She had to go to Bethlehem on a donkey, a 3 day journey for a pregnant woman.

There was no room in the inn. (Couldn’t God have planned better?)

Jesus was born in a stable.

They had to flee to Egypt when Jesus was not even 2 years old.

Finally Mary had to stand at Calvary and see her son naked, spat upon, whipped and beaten beyond recognition.

Luke 2:34-35. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.

The cost of been chosen by God.

The Apostles chosen by Jesus to accompany Him in His earthly ministry and to whom He entrusted the early Church once He had been crucified, resurrected and ascended to heaven, all paid a high price for been chosen vessels.

The Greek word for witness is martur or martus, whence our English word martyr: meaning one who bears witness by his death.

It is only as men and women are empowered by the Holy Spirit that they can be this type of witness for the Lord.

All the Apostles barring John died a martyr’s death and he was exiled after according to tradition, being burned in boiling oil.

James: Beheaded by Herod.

Philip: Was ministering in Hieropolis (Phrygia). He was Imprisoned, scourged and then crucified. He was buried by Bartholomew who nearly suffered the same fate.

Bartholomew: Killed with a sword or beaten with clubs (conflicting accounts)

The cost of been chosen by God.

Peter: Was imprisoned by Nero for 9 months and then crucified upside down.

Mathew: Was put to death with the sword.

Mathias: Was stoned and beheaded.

Thomas: Was thrust through with a spear.

Simon the Zealot: Was crucified

Thaddeus: Was crucified.

The cost of been chosen by God.

Andrew: Preached against idolatry in Patrae (Greece) annoying the Governor, who had him crucified on an X shaped cross.

His words when crucified were recorded by a bystander.

“Oh cross, most welcome and oft longed for, with a willing mind, joyfully and desirously I come to thee, being a scholar of Him who did hand on thee, because I have always been thy lover and have longed to embrace thee”. It took Andrew 3 days to die, during which he preached and souls were converted.

The cost of been chosen by God.

Early Church Christians were killed in the arena in Rome to entertain the crowds.

But more Christians have been martyred in recent history than in the infancy of the Church, to be a Christian in many countries today comes at a high cost.

The cost of been chosen by God.

John Hus was burnt at the stake.

On July 6, 1414, Hus's hands were tied behind his back with ropes and a chain was placed around his neck. Wood and straw were placed all around him. Wycliffe's writings were used as kindling for the fire. Before the fire was lit, Count Palatine gave him one last chance to recant. He responded, "God is my witness that the evidence against me is false. I have never thought nor preached except with the one intention of winning men, if possible, from their sins. Today I will gladly die." As the flames began, he sang in Latin, "Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me."

The cost of been chosen by God.

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.


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