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COUNTING THE COST!

 

 

Dr. Mike Bagwell and Sister Debbie

 

 

 

Luke 14:28-33

"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."   

 

LESSON 1:

I recently learned of a young man who lived in Baghdad, Iraq.  Conditions there were such that he moved to Jordan to live with his sister.  Upon arrival in Amman he learned that she had recently been saved by the the grace of God, putting her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son!

He also, after much initial resistance, trusted Jesus as his Saviour.

Here's where things begin to point to our Bible Text for today. 

The young man had a burden to return to his homeland and tell his Mom and Dad about Jesus. 

He, at great risk, returned to Iraq and told his folks about his salvation.  They (especially his Dad) became infuriated and physically assaulted him, repeatedly hitting him with a broken fence plank on the head, causing critical injuries!

He, hospitalized for quite a while, survived ... but was arrested later for being an "infidel."  His own father had "turned him in" to the authorities!

After being released (somehow) he kept witnessing for Jesus and was later arrested again ... this time to be executed.  Iraq is a Muslim County and allows no religious freedom.

The truck that was transporting him to the execution site had a violent wreck, killing all on board except two ... our brave Christian witness here and one other imprisoned young man. 

Through an unusual and powerful work of God he escaped back to Jordan.  His sisters there (now both believers in Christ) had heard that he had been killed.

There in Jordan he grew in his faith.  He studied the Word of God and was called to preach!

Now, several years later, he plans to return to Baghdad yet again ... to tell his countrymen about Jesus!

He will not be dissuaded!

He believes the Lord has called him to return to Iraq and plant a Bible Believing Church right in the heart of that land!

And, yes, he understands the risks still involved.

He believes the Gospel is the only hope his Country has!

Now, Preacher Bagwell, what Scripture fits this situation? 

Jesus said in Luke 14:28-30 ...

"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."

Our Lord implied that there would be a cost ... if one became His disciple!

Let me add Jesus' words in verse 33 ... "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

Such verses mean a lot to Christians in places where persecution is rampant, but little to us Americans any more!

The young man I've described today has forsaken all for Jesus!  And, counting the cost, has decided to return to a place of sure persecution for the Gospel's sake!

What has it cost us to follow Jesus?

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:

Jesus in Luke 14:28-33 taught a great lesson, using two little "parables."

One was about a man building a tower.  "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." 

The other described a king going to war.  "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."

Our dear Lord, being the Perfect Preacher, would have already applied these principles to His life, His sinless life here on earth.

Do we then see places in the New Testament where Jesus "counted the cost" of His Mission on earth, of dying for the sins of lost mankind?

Yes, we do!

And yesterday morning I saw one place where He beautifully tied both these parables together!

Talking to His Disciples about the Church ... Jesus promised:  "... I will build my church ... and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18

See that?

Jesus will BUILD His Church!  (A Man on a building project, something greater than a "tower" too!)

And the gates of hell will NOT PREVAIL against it!   (This is a term of "warfare!" A man in battle ... against hell itself ... who is assured of victory!)

In Jesus' great life Mission ... establishing His Church (the Body of Christ on earth and the Bride of Christ in the air)  Jesus will build and fight until all is done!

Jesus' redeemed Church, when fully complete, illustrates the "tower" parable!

And Jesus' victory over death, hell and the grave (including the devil) fulfills the "king going to war" parable!

Again let me say that our Saviour is the PERFECT Builder and the SUPREME Fighter of all time!

He surely practiced what He preached!

Praise His Name!

He counted the cost ... and paid it all!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:

Jesus told a little story one day about a man building a tower.

Here are His exact words:  "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."  Luke 14:28-30

The opening pronouns Jesus used in that 28th verse are interesting.  "Which" (in Greek = "tis") is in masculine singular form ... meaning which (one) of you ... would do this, this building without counting the cost?  And "you" (in Greek = "humon") is a personal pronoun in genitive plural form ... meaning "Which one of you all?"

Jesus is talking to a group, but wants to know which one of them would be so foolish as to start something ... without first making adequate preparation.  The group to whom Jesus is preaching is described in verse 25: "And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them ...."

The "tower" (in Greek = "purgos") being built is just a common watchtower. At least that's the only way it is used in the New Testament, where it appears four times. 

And the verb "intending" (in Greek = "thelo") suggests that the man is building his tower because he desires to, because he wishes to, because he likes to do so!  ("Thelo" means to will or even to desire!)

Early this morning I was thinking.

Why would Jesus want to tell a story (an "earthly story" with a "heavenly meaning") about a man building a tower?

Surely this "tower" has some spiritual implications for us today!

It does!

In the Bible the tower often speaks of alertness or vigilance!  A farmer would want a tower in his vineyard ... where he could go to see far away ... and deal with any foxes or large animals approaching his tender grape vines!  He cared enough to be aware of what dangers might be lurking nearby! 

We Christians today also need to build a tower of awareness, of alertness, of vigilance!  Watch out for the devil!  And this old world with its whole system of wickedness!  And anything else wicked that might spiritually attack you or your loved ones!

The tower also speaks of protection!  It would be from that tower that the landowner could throw great heavy rocks down on the heads of anyone approaching to harm him or his family!  In the Psalms, our great God is three times said to be our Tower of protection!  (Psalms 18:2 and 61:3 and 144:2)  And Proverbs 18:10 adds more information --- "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."  Friend, be sure you have such a Tower in your life!

Then a tower was often used for storage purposes!  The vinedresser or farmer would keep his tools there.  It was a great help to him in his work.  It gave him quick access to all he needed to complete his job! 

Jesus in Matthew 13 implied that the more of God's Word we learn and "store" in our hearts and minds ... the better servants of the Lord we would become!  "Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."  (Matthew 13:52)  Hiding God's Word in one's heart is always a wise occupation!  (Psalm 119:11 --- "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.")

Three reasons why we Christians would desire to build a tower in our lives! To indicate perception (looking out) ... and protection (looking around) ... and preparation (looking within)!  Doing our best for the dear Lord Jesus!

Such an attitude (such a lifestyle) may cost you something as you "build" it ... but the rewards are astounding!

Anyone interested in being Jesus' disciple?

"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."  Luke 14:33   (Note that this verse ends the paragraph of Scripture we are now studying.)

Salvation is the free gift of God!

But ... Discipleship costs!

Have I written to any "tower builders" today?

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

Believing in Jesus is one thing.  But being His "disciple" is quite another!

However, I do want to say that step one (belief) always in time leads to step two (discipleship)!

To be a disciple (in Greek = "mathetes") means to be a learner, a pupil or a follower. This Greek noun gives us our word "mathematics."  Math is something that students learned by sheer practice, by repetition, by following (and memorizing) theorems and tables and formulas!  To be a mathematician, one must become a disciple of numbers!

Listen to the Lord:  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."  Luke 14:33

In becoming a believer in the Lord Jesus ... we learn that salvation is the Gift of God!  It is by grace through faith!  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  It is in no way tainted by human works ... lest we should boast that we earned it!  Jesus' Blood bought (redeemed) us from sin!  It (the Blood) also washed that sin away!

However ... in becoming a disciple of Jesus ... we soon learn that there is a price to pay!  It costs to follow Him fully!

Jesus once compared it to a man setting out to build a tower.  "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."   Luke 14:28-30

Now these verses have absolutely nothing to do with getting saved!

But they directly apply to becoming one of His disciples!

After all, it is verse 33 that concludes this paragraph about discipleship: "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

"Count the cost!"  says our Lord!

The verb He used there ("count" = in Greek, "psephizo") is found only one other time in all the Bible (Revelation 13:18).  It is related to the Greek noun for "pebbles" or small stones ("psephos")!  It means to count ... with the ultimate goal of figuring out a specific number! (In its "figuring out" motif, the Revelation verse is especially enlightening:  "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.")

What cost is there to "count" ... in becoming Jesus' disciple?

Why, it may cost you some so-called friends!

It has cost some their very families.

Others have paid with their lives.

All of us will have to mortify (meaning "to put to death") our fleshly desires!

It will cost us time and leisure too.

There's no telling that you'll have to "give up" and "put off" and "leave behind" on your Christian journey!

(In the meantime ... think what it cost Christ to die on that old rugged Cross to save our wretched souls from hell!)

What's the goal of all this costing and all this discipleship?

Verse 28 again has our answer:  "... whether ye have sufficient to finish it?"  The goal is finishing the tower!  Completing the race!  Winning the fight!  Earning the crown (not of salvation but of faithfulness)!

The goal is successfully FINISHING the course!

This verb "to finish" is so interesting!  "Apartismos" is a fused word, being derived from two Greek terms!  "Apo" (meaning "from" or "away from") and "arti" (meaning "just now") combine to suggest the idea of rapid or quick completion of a project!  It is a "hapax legomena!"  That's a word that occurs only once in a whole body of literature!  Apartismos is only used here in all the Bible.  This is some kind of unique "finishing" that Jesus is describing!  (Maybe He's in reality describing the Price He Himself paid as He built the Tower of salvation for lost souls like we once were!  He FINISHED that Job in a quick and perfect and unique way, didn't He?)

By the way, yesterday I learned that the word for "tower" can also mean a building or a house (and occasionally it's used of a castle or mansion)! "Purgos" also gives us the English word "burg."  (As in Spartanburg or Pleasantburg or Hamburg, the German city)  The tower we're building may indeed be more elaborate than we've ever imagined!

Is anybody busy today?

Busy ... building for Jesus?

Yes, it well may cost you to live such a disciplined life!  (See the relationship between "disciplined" and "disciple" or discipleship?")

But such resources are not wasted ....

No!  No!

They are invested"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."   Matthew 6:19-21

Seems like I today hear "noise" in the background!

What's that?

Sounds like hammering and sawing and building?

Disciples ... on the job ... for Jesus!

Amen!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:

Today I want us to study one word! It is found in Luke 14:29. Jesus was teaching about a man who set out to build a tower. But he failed to achieve his goal ... and the unfinished project drew laughter and criticism and mockery from those who saw it!

Here's the word:  "mock!"

When the man's tower stood unfinished ... "all that beheld it began to mock!"

Here are the exact words of Scripture:  "Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him."  Luke 14:29

That Greek verb for "mock" is "empaizo."  It comes from their noun for boy ("pais") and means to sport or laugh as a boy (or any child) does!  Hence, to jeer at or to deride something or someone!  To make fun of!  Even in an immature manner!  Also the verb here is expressed as a present infinitive, telling us that the action described is on-going and continual. 

Get the picture now.

A man whose work is unfinished ... being mocked for his failure!

I next looked to see how the Holy Spirit uses this word elsewhere in the Bible. (That's one of the best ways to determine the real meaning of a Scriptural word anyway! Use the Holy Spirit as your Dictionary!) Of its 13 occurrences ... all are in reference to Jesus except this one!  (Once when He was a Baby ... the rest dealing with His Crucifixion!)  Unless this one, Luke 14:29 here, is about Jesus too!

Could that be?

Could Jesus be speaking of Himself here?

He came to build a Tower for sure!  The Tower (which remember, can mean a building or even a palace or mansion) of Salvation!

(Just to prove that a tower can symbolize some great truth, read Proverbs 18:10.  "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.")

Jesus even once spoke of His death, burial and resurrection in terms of a building project!  That's found in John 2:18-22.  "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?  But he spake of the temple of his body.  When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."

This man in the parable who started to build and got mocked is Jesus!

Seeing Him dying on that cruel Cross, folks thought He had failed to complete His life work.  He had failed to build His Tower/Temple!

But ... they mocked too soon!

It just looked like He was a failure that day on Calvary!

Never was He more of a Success ... and a Saviour!

He did finish His Work of Redemption.  (John 19:30)

He finished paying for our sins on Calvary's Cross.

And He finished the whole Plan of Salvation with His glorious Resurrection! 

Yes, they mocked too soon!

Jesus completed It All!  Perfectly so!

And you know what?

Those who fail to see the great Salvation Jesus has built and those who continue mocking Him will one day have to face His judgment!

And ... then ... Someone Else will be mocking and laughing!

Here's the way David put it in Psalm 2:1-5.  "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure."

Or read the Lord's words in Proverbs 1:26.  While speaking to such scoffers He says:  "I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh."

The last laugh will be on the mockers!

God will mock at the reprobate rebels!

Jesus' Work is complete.

There are no unfinished aspects in His great salvation plan!

And while some are still mocking today ... they do so at their own peril!

Friend, get serious about your soul's salvation!

It's NOT a laughing matter!

This Thursday morning, I'm not going to mock the precious Saviour.  I'm going to worship Him!  And adore and thank Him ... because He did finish the Tower or the great Plan of Salvation!  Bless His holy Name!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:

Jesus is the Master Teacher!

Just as no one ever spake like Jesus (John 7:46) ... also no one ever taught like He did either!

Here's a little parable Jesus used one day.  It is seldom studied and almost never listed on the miracle/parable lists.

"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."   Luke 14:31-32

Let me today give you just one thought about this passage of Scripture.

The encounter Jesus described here is between two men, two kings really.

But one is much stronger than the other.  (The approaching king is commanding twice the soldiers ... indicating superior assets.)

Jesus' point seems to be that it is useless to fight such a battle!

The weaker one should seek peace immediately!

A situation much like this actually occurred in 2 Samuel 8:9-10.  A weaker king (Toi, king of Hamath) made peace with King David (the Strong King) ... lest he be crushed in battle!

I believe the Stronger King is a picture of our Lord God!

And He is coming to every man and woman on earth some day!  Each individual who ever lives will have to account for himself before God the Saviour ... and Judge!

If someone meets this great King (God) to fight, to rebel, to contend with Him ... sure defeat and death will result!

He will crush him or her to pieces!  It's just like Jesus said in Matthew 21:44 --- "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."

The wise thing for mankind to do ... since he is obligated to face God anyway ... is make peace!

Peace with God!

But how can a man or woman make peace with God?  Only through the Lord Jesus Christ!  Paul, in Ephesians 2:14, says of Jesus:  "He is our Peace!"

Listen also to Romans 5:1 --- "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Hey, folks, the King is coming!

Get ready!

Make peace (through Jesus and His shed Blood) today!

Remember John 3:16.  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

Jesus in Luke's Gospel is always on a journey!

One that leads to Jerusalem!

As a Baby He goes to the capital City to be dedicated to God!  He was only 30 days old as He was taken into the Temple!

Then when 12 years of age, there was another trip to the City of Peace!  This time He astounds the doctors of the Law with His questions and answers concerning the Scriptures.

Finally as an Adult He goes again!  This is His "Trip of Trips."  He goes there to die as the Saviour of mankind!

Yes, friend, the old rugged Cross was His Goal, His very purpose for coming to earth, God's means of redeeming sinners!

It was while on this last journey into Jerusalem that Jesus told the story about a man who build a tower and a king who fought a war.

"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."  Luke 14:28-33

I believe Jesus may have been describing Himself in this little double parable!

He was about to embark on His great Calvary Crisis .. and He sure wanted to finish the Task!  What a Tower of Salvation He built! 

Was Jesus successful?  Did He build anything that day on the Cross?  Well, He cried "It is finished!"  (John 19:30)  That sounds like success to me!  And He also began the great Job of building His Church!  Paul once called the Church a Body ... then later a building ... then even later a temple!  See Ephesians 2:20-21. (The word used for tower can mean a building or even a palace!) 

And did our Lord fight any battles the day He died?  Any wars against some other king, a strong king?  Yes!

He fought king death ... and ultimately won!

He fought king grave ... and overcame him too!

He fought king devil  (the "prince" of the power of the air) ... and stripped him of his power as well!

He fought the forces of hell ... and they did not prevail against Him!

So ... in all His fullness ... Jesus is THE perfect Disciple of verse 33!  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." 

Jesus forsook all ... to obey His Father's Will, to die on the Cross!  He built His Tower ... and fought his enemy King ... proving His love and loyalty and willingness to follow His Father ... at any cost!   What discipleship!

What a wonderful Saviour we have!

Praise His Name today!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:

Jesus, the world's greatest Teacher, used parables so effectively!

In fact, He spoke so many of those little stories (parable = an earthly story with a heavenly meaning) that it's hard to count the exact number.

For example, who really remembers the example Jesus gave about a man who started a tower, but couldn't finish it? 

Or the unnamed king who went to war before he assessed the enemy's strength ... consequently having to surrender in shame?

Really the two little parables I just mentioned occur together ... almost as a "double parable" it seems!  And on top of that ... only Luke records them!

Keep in mind, Jesus is talking:  "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."  Luke 14:28-32

The first member of this unit of thought is a man on a building project!

The second is a man at war!

Surely a spiritual lesson is to be found in this Text of Scripture!  All Scripture is promised to be "profitable" for the growing Christian, leading to his or her ultimate maturity!  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Putting together both sections of this sermon Jesus preached, we get the concept of building and battling!    (Building a tower and fighting an enemy!)

Isn't that the essence of the Christian life?

Some things are to be built up (building) ... other things are to be torn down (battling)!

Some things are to be put on (building) ... other things are to be put off (battling)!

Some things are to be believed (building) ... other things are to be denied (battling)!

Some things are to be loved (building) ... other things are to be hated, things like sin (battling)!

This reminds me of something Nehemiah said back in the days when the Jewish people (just returning from 70 years of Babylonians captivity) were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  If you remember, there were enemies all around the city, seeking to destroy what God's people were building day by day.  (See the picture here?  Building the walls and fighting the enemy!)

Here was Nehemiah's advice to the godly workers:  "And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people (the wall builders), 'Be not ye afraid of them (the enemies): remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.'"

Then the wise leader adds:  "And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.  They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon."

Here's that summary verse again ... "They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon."  In one hand a hammer ... in the other hand a sword!  (Scripture taken from Nehemiah 4)

Isn't that building ... and battling?

Isn't that one of the main goals of the Luke 14 "double parable" ... a finished tower and a defeated king?

This whole picture ... building and fighting ... prompted the well-known Baptist preacher from England Charles H. Spurgeon to start a godly magazine called "The Sword and the Trowel!"  Get it?  The sword for fighting and the trowel for bricklaying/building!   His publication indeed for many years encouraged many believers (building) and additionally fought the devil (battling) as well!

And lastly ... Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, practiced this building and battling concept Himself!  Listen to Him in Matthew 16.  "And I say also unto thee, That ... upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

I hope you see what Jesus just did!

He will build His Church (building)!

And the gates of hell will not defeat that precious Church (battling) either!

So ... there's the point of Luke's double parable!

Christian friend, today grow in the Lord as you hear the preaching of God's precious Word!  But also, be on the lookout for the devil who lurks nearby and must be defeated!  Have in your hands at Church today both a hammer (for building) and a sword (for battling) please!

Come to think of it ... that Bible you own ... and will literally hold in your hands today at Church ... is indeed BOTH a hammer and a sword!

Listen to the Lord in Jeremiah 23:29 --- "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?"

And then Paul adds (when discussing the Christian armor we are to wear) ... "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God!"

Amen!

Your fellow builder and battler,

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:

Jesus was talking to a great multitude of people.  "And there went great multitudes with him: and He turned, and said unto them ..."  Luke 14:25

He was teaching about discipleship. And in doing so He illustrated with two little stories.

One was about a man who started a building ... but did not finish it!  ("For which of you, intending to build a tower ...."  Luke 14:28) This unwise builder was mocked and ridiculed by those who saw his failure.

The other was about a king who was at war ... but failed to complete his battle plans!  ("Or what king, going to make war ...." Luke 14:31)  In fact, our monarch just might have to surrender!

In both these short parables (so short they are hardly ever mentioned in the official parable "lists") there are individuals who failed to finish their tasks!

The Bible generally and Jesus specifically place great emphasis on finishing the task!

Paul's lifelong goal (as a Christian) was just that.  He said in Acts 20:24 --- "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."   And the good news is that he, by the grace of God, did so!  Just before his death, the Apostle was able to write ... "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."  2 Timothy 4:6-8

And think about Hebrews 11.  There one Believer after another is mentioned, all having in common this trait:  faithfulness!  The world has its halls of fame!  But the Lord God has His Hall of Faith (which produces faithfulness)!  "Who through faith (faithfulness) ... subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment."  Hebrews 11:33-36

And in Revelation 2:20 Jesus said to the Church at Smyrna ... "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."  It sounds like our Lord puts a premium on such faithfulness!

Remember our Text verses!  Those two little parables or stories Jesus gave in Luke 14.  There He taught us:  "Do not be like the man who started building ... but did not finish!  Neither be like the king who in war was unable to achieve final victory!"

In other words ... FINISH THE TASK!  COMPLETE THE JOB!  BE FAITHFUL TO THE END!

Remember that perhaps Jesus' best known statement ... uttered just before laying His Life down on that old rugged Cross ... was "It is finished!"  (John 19:30)  Isn't that the essence of Faithfulness?

In reality Jesus loves faithfulness (finishing the job) so much that One of His very Names is FAITHFUL!  (See Revelation 3:14.  There our Lord is called the "Amen and the FAITHFUL and true Witness!")  We are told numerous times in the Bible that our God is faithful!

Fellow believers, let's finish the course He's given us all!  Let's fight the fight we've been assigned!  And let's do so (with His Help) ... to the very end!

Maybe Jesus put it best (as always) in His few short words recorded by Luke. "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  (Luke 9:62)  In other words, finish the job!

Lord, help us all to just remain faithful!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

I have noticed something about the Parables Jesus taught.

This thought first came to me while studying the "double parable" of the man building a tower and the king going to war. That Text is located in Luke 14:28-33.

The first half of our Lord's "parable" sermon that day, the part about a man building a tower, just may have a Biblical background!

"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."  Luke 14:29-30

We all remember the account of the tower of Babel recorded in Genesis chapter eleven.  That tower also did not get finished!  Could Jesus have had the general outline of such earlier Scripture in His Mind as He taught in Luke 14?

And the second half of His Luke 14 Lesson, a king going to war, also has Bible precedent! 

"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."  Luke 14:31-32

Almost the exact thing happened to King Amaziah (of Judah) in 2 Kings 14!  He failed to count the cost of battle ... and lost!

I say to you ... Jesus knew His Bible!

Even His Illustrations may have been Bible based!

If so, He indeed was a Man of one Book, God's Book!

And while many other parables could be mentioned also, let me just suggest one more.

That is ... the Luke 15 "classic" of the "Prodigal Son!"

A certain man had 2 sons!

So did Isaac!

One son left home, the younger one!

So did Isaac's son Jacob!

The older son stayed home and was bitter!

So did Isaac's son Esau!

The older boy, as far as we know, never got right with God!

And neither did Esau, as far as we know!

See what I mean?

Jesus may have fashioned a lot of His parabolic teaching around the Scriptures themselves!

And wouldn't that be just like Him?

After all, He IS The Living Word of God!

Think about it!

All this should challenge each of us Christians to be more diligent students of the precious Word of God!

Amen!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11:

Let me show you something Jesus taught one day that is absolutely amazing!

It is a "back to back" truth that yet needs to be emphasized today.

First comes this lesson.  There is a COST to following Jesus!  To being a Disciple!

Then ... immediately ... a follow-up lesson is given!  There is a cost to NOT following Jesus!

Wow!

The whole text is found in Luke 14:28-33.  That last verse reveals that we are at least on the right track in our thinking.  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

The cost of Discipleship is expressed in terms of a man building a structure.  He of course is expected to complete the task and also to prepare for any obstacles in finishing the job!  It would be humiliating and embarrassing not to do so!  In fact, it would invite mockery.

The cost of NOT following the Lord is illustrated in verses 31 and 32.  Our awesome God is pictured as a King (The Great King), Who is advancing toward another so-called ruler, a small vassal of a man!  One truth the paragraph is teaching just may be this. The little man is outnumbered, outclassed and unable to overthrow the advancing Power.  The BEST thing he can do is ... "give up!" Just surrender!  Yield to the advancing Mighty King!  Not to do so is certain death!

And ... yes ... the cost of rebelling against the Lord is the same!  He is all powerful.  We are nothing in comparison! Give up!  Submit to His advancing grace and mercy and love!  Or ... you will be crushed by His mighty wrath! 

Jesus once expressed it this way:  "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."  (Matthew 21:44)  Fall on the Lord ... and be "broken" into submission to Him, conformed into His Image ... or He will some day fall on you, grinding you to powder!"  I say again ... submit to the Saviour!

And Jesus beautifully placed these two thoughts side by side in one little "double" parable!

The cost of following Him ... when compared to the cost of NOT following Him ... is a real bargain!

Thank God for all Jesus said and did ... especially Luke 14's unique teaching about "costs."

But let me close with this statement.  The cost of Discipleship and the cost of not being saved are both insignificant ... when compared to the Price Jesus paid so sinners could be born-again!  Jesus paid with His precious Blood!  He gave His All that we might be redeemed!  And that's the greatest cost ever paid for anything in all eternity!

Praise the Lord!

What a Teacher Jesus was ... and still is!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12:

Here is all Jesus says about two Kings going to war.

"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."  (Luke 14:31-32)  Only Luke records these words of Jesus.

Now get the picture.

One king, obviously with meager resources, has a much greater King "coming against him" in war!

The weak king's best course of action seems to be ... rather than losing ten thousand good men ... the sending of a peace offer to the opposing King!

In other words, logically, if the first king can't amass any more than ten thousand men  ... it would be best not to fight the King with twice the Power!

Seek peace!

And the implication is that peace would be granted by the stronger Man!

I believe Jesus is here teaching us something other than a tactical principle of military warfare.

It looks like the first king might represent folks just like you and me, created in God's image but fallen into the weakness and chaos that all sin brings!  In other words, rebels at war with God (the mighty and powerful King).

And if any one of us today is at enmity with Almighty God ... here's the best advice you will ever be given!

Do not fight Him!

Seek peace!

Give up!

He outclasses you in every way!

And He will listen and be merciful to your calls for peace!

"And, having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."  Colossians 1:20

Yes, God's Peace comes through the Cross of Jesus Christ!

I have even found a two-verse Text in the Book of Job that I think Jesus may have had in mind when He spoke the brief words of this parable.  (He taught this to the crowds ... as He journeyed to Jerusalem to die on that Cross!)

"Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle. For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty."    Job 15:24-25

It looks to me like the New Testament Parable perfectly illustrates the Old Testament Passage!

Jesus and His Bible!

Jesus as an Expositor!

Amazing!

Friend, do NOT fight with God!

Submit ... trust ... believe ... and live eternally!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

 

There's just nothing like the Word of God!

 

 

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