The Cost of Discipleship

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

“I am crucified with Christ…” – that’s the EXECUTED life! As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his excellent book, The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” We are to die to self, that Christ might be enthroned in our hearts and lives. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Those who heard him understood full well what that meant, because the cross was an instrument of death. Paul could say, “I die daily” (I Corinthians 15:31b). When a person trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation, he spiritually participates with the Lord in His crucifixion and His victory over sin and death (see Romans 6:1-14).

“Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” – that’s the EXCHANGED life! The believer’s old self is dead, having been crucified with Christ. The believer’s new self has the privilege of Christ indwelling him and living through him. Paul wrote, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27b). That’s what Peter was referring to when he spoke of people asking “a reason of the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). Paul also wrote, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9b). People today need to see the evidence of Jesus living in us!

“And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…” – that’s the EMPOWERED life! We do not have the power in our selves to conquer the old nature, and we don’t have to. That’s why God has given us His Spirit if we are saved. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). It is not by our power, but by His power. Paul wrote, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29).

“Who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – that’s an EXPENSIVE life! This speaks of the high cost Jesus paid to save us from our sins; the manifestation of Christ’s love for the believer through His sacrificial death on the cross. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Here is the great secret of a Christ-honoring Christian life. There is a cost of discipleship; are we willing to pay it?