Counting the Cost
From Notes of Addresses
There are people who deep down in their hearts would like to be Christians. And what is preventing them? Two or three things are preventing them, but mainly that they don’t think they could live up to it if they started. And what is behind that? Well, probably this; you know what you said when others made a profession of being converted. You laughed at them and then when they broke down you said all kinds of nasty things about them. Now you want to start yourself, and you fear you will break down, and then you will have the nasty things thrown at you!
So the evil suggestion comes, the thing is a splendid impossibility, nobody can live up to it, you have not strength to do it. These are the things that hinder, and Satan keeps all these things well to the fore, and out of sight all the divine sufficiency there is in the One who picks you up at the beginning to carry you through to the end.
Oh, but, you say, you must count the cost. Doesn’t the Bible tell you to sit down and count the cost? Yes, but people begin to count the cost, and they count the odds that come against them, while the enemy keeps in the background all that is for them. Is that counting the cost? You must take both in.
A man wants to build a house. He says to an architect, give me a plan and specification. I want so many reception rooms and so many bedrooms, and so on. Tell me what it would cost. Presently he brings a plan. That is it—how do you like the plan? Very nice indeed, but what is the cost? Well, he says, a house built of this material will cost you about £3,000. Oh, £3,000! He puts his hands in his pockets and takes the money out— £4 17s. 6d.—saying, I can’t do it. Can’t do it! Well, he says, we must count the cost before we begin to build. Is that all the money you have in the world? Have you nothing in the Bank? Oh, yes, he says, I have £30,000 in the Bank. Well, you could build half-a-dozen houses like that.
What would you think of such a man? Would you call that counting the cost? Leaving the great banking account out, and only counting what he had on his person. Yet that is what hundreds of people do, who think they are counting the cost. They have left the great banking account out. Christ is an all-the-way-home and an all-sufficient Saviour to carry them through.
I suppose that few verses more than the 25th verse of Hebrews 7 have been misunderstood and consequently misapplied. When I used it years ago I can tell you what I meant—that He is able to save the vilest sinner that ever lived, no matter how far he may have gone or how foully he may have sinned. Christ is able to save the worst character that ever lived. That is true, but it is not what it means. If you take a look at it you will see. May I ask this question, why is Christ able to save the worst character, the most depraved? Oh, you say, because He died to save him. He is able to save the vilest sinner, because He died for the vilest sinner. Right! But you will find nothing in that verse about dying for sins, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth.” Here is a salvation connected with His life and not His death.
Soon after I was converted I thought I had found a mistake in the Bible. I read the 10th verse of Romans 5, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Saved by His death I could understand; I had often heard and rejoiced in the fact that Christ died for sinners, but saved by his life—oh this is a mistake! I thought the Book was wrong. Just as when I was at school. The Teacher would come round and correct my sum and say, it is wrong there. I don’t think so, Teacher. It is wrong there, add it up again. He comes round and again he finds it wrong. Round and round he comes, every time he finds it wrong, until I say, Teacher it must be the old Answer book that is wrong. But it was not, I was wrong, not the Answer book.
Saved by His life, how can that be? Now I want to show you how it can be. You see the Lord Jesus Christ is not only a Saviour but in Hebrews 2 He is called the “Captain of our Salvation.” He is the great Leader, who has been made perfect through suffering. He is a perfect Leader because He knows every step of the road; He knows all the dangers; He has gone right through the road to the end, so that Hebrews 12 says, “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith.” He is the Beginner and the Finisher of the whole course of faith, and its finish is at the right hand of the throne of God. To that the pathway leads, and He has reached that end and put on His crown. He has gone the whole course of faith. He is qualified to be the Leader, and God has put into His hands many sons to bring them to glory. Get that firmly fixed in your minds. God has furnished us with a Captain, a great Leader of our Salvation, who “became Him,” that is, exactly suited Him.
Well, now what does God want? He wants One to be faithful to His trust. He would not be a faithful Captain if God put many sons into His hands to bring to glory, and He let some of them drop out. The great Captain is going to lead the many sons, not half way to glory, leaving them to scramble over the other half, but He is going to lead them to glory—all the way.
The priesthood of Christ is connected with this. In Hebrews 2 we read, “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest.” What kind of a High Priest? Merciful and faithful. He connects His great Leadership of salvation with His Priesthood, and He is described as both merciful and faithful. It is the Priest who is able to save us because He liveth for us—it is an unchangeable Priesthood, and He is able to save right away on to the end. The uttermost means the uttermost place of the journey. From perils in that journey He delivers, and lands us home, like the shepherd, who, finding the sheep, lifted it on His shoulders and only put it down when He reached home. That is when the great Captain will put us down. He has taken charge of us for God’s glory and joy, and as sons He will bring us to glory.
He is a Captain that suits God. And more than that, He is a High Priest that will suit us. A farmer buys a couple of hundred sheep at a market, and says to Joe, “I have 200 sheep I want you to take to my farm; they are valuable sheep so don’t lose any of them.” “You put the 200 in my hands sir; I will be faithful to my trust; 200 I will bring.” Presently he turns up with the 200. “Well,” he says, “I have had a pretty job with these sheep; one or two of them have turned lame, and I have had hard work to get them here.” Wiping the sweat off his brow he says, “They are all here, sir, I have had a hard job, but you can count them; you see I have been faithful to my trust.” The farmer says, “Yes, you have. You have them all here, Joe, but if what my neighbour says, is true, though you have been faithful, you haven’t been very merciful. He says, he saw you take a big stick out of the hedge and begin to belabour these poor sheep. You have got them here all right, but you have not been very merciful.” What he wanted was one that is faithful—what the sheep wanted was one that is merciful. The Lord Jesus is both; He is a merciful and a faithful High Priest. He is going to carry us through, and He says, “to the uttermost,” to the very farthest end of the journey.