This is the ninth installment in a series of posts from Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots(Hardcopy/Kindle). J. C. Ryle’s classic book on Holiness.
Last time Ryle helped us consider the cost of being a true Christian. But the question might arise, why is it necessary to count the cost? Ryle seeks to explain why doing so is of such great importance.
In doing so he has this target audience in mind:
The persons I speak of are not thoughtless about religion: they think a good deal about it. They are not ignorant of religion: they know the outlines of it pretty well. But their great defect is that they are not ‘rooted and grounded’ in their faith.
He then proceeds to explain the great importance of such people counting the cost by showing the result when the cost is not counted:
1. For want of ‘counting the cost’ myriads of the children of Israel perished miserably in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan.
2. For want of ‘counting the cost,’ many of our Lord Jesus Christ’s hearers went back after a time, and ‘walked no more with Him’ (John 6:66).
3. For want of ‘counting the cost,’ King Herod returned to his old sins, and destroyed his soul (Mark 6:20).
4. For want of ‘counting the cost,’ Demas forsook the company of St. Paul, forsook the Gospel, forsook Christ, forsook heaven (2 Tim. 4:10).
5. For want of ‘counting the cost,’ the hearers of powerful Evangelical preachers often come to miserable ends. They are stirred and excited into professing what they have not really experienced (Matthew 13:21).
6. For want of ‘counting the cost,’ hundreds of professed converts, under religious revivals, go back to the world after a time, and bring disgrace on religion.
7. For want of ‘counting the cost,’ the children of religious parents often turn out ill, and bring disgrace on Christianity.
He then offers some clarifying and concluding remarks:
Let no one mistake my meaning. I thoroughly approve of offering men a full, free, present, immediate salvation in Christ Jesus. I thoroughly approve of urging on man the possibility and the duty of immediate instantaneous conversion. In these matters I give place to no one. But I do say that these truths ought not to be set before men nakedly, singly, and alone. They ought to be told honestly what it is they are taking up, if they profess a desire to come out from the world and serve Christ. They ought not to be pressed into the ranks of Christ’s army without being told what they warfare entails. in a word, they should be told honestly to ‘count the cost.’
Have you counted the cost?