Receiving Christ Includes Suffering

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 the 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, whoseover he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

It is necessary to our being Christians, or followers of Christ, that we should give ourselves to him unreservedly, to be his wholly, and his only, and his for ever. And therefore the believer’s closing with Christ is often, in the Scriptures, compared to the act of a bride in giving herself in marriage to her husband; as when God says to his people, “I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies” (Hos. 2:19). But a woman in marriage gives herself to her husband to be his, and his only. True believers are not their own, for they are bought with a price, and they consent to the full right that Christ has in them, and recognise it by their own act, giving themselves to him as a voluntary and living sacrifice, wholly devoted to him.

But they that have not a spirit to suffer all things for Christ shew that they do not give themselves wholly to him, because they make a reserve of such cases of suffering as they are not willing to bear for his sake. In those cases they desire to be excused from being for Christ and his glory, and choose rather that his cause should be set aside for their own ease or interest and indeed should entirely give way for it.  But making such reserves of cases of suffering is certainly inconsistent with truly devoting themselves to God. It is rather being like Ananias and Sapphira, who gave but part and kept back part of that which they professed to give to the Lord. To give ourselves wholly to Christ implies the sacrificing of our own temporal interest wholly to him.

But he that wholly sacrifices his temporal interest to Christ is ready to suffer all things in his worldly interests for him. If God be truly loved, he is loved as God; and to love him as God is to love him as the supreme good. But he that loves God as the supreme good is ready to make all other good give place to that; or, which is the same thing, he is willing to suffer all for the sake of this good.

The sufferings that are in the way of our duty, are among the difficulties that attend religion.* They are part of the cost of being religious. He, therefore, that is not willing to meet this cost, never complies with the terms of religion. He is like the man that wishes his house was built, but is not willing to meet the cost of building it; and so, in effect, refuses to build it. He that does not receive the gospel with all its difficulties does not receive it as it is proposed to him. He that does not receive Christ with his cross as well as his crown does not truly receive him at all.

It is true that Christ invites us to come to find rest and to buy wine and milk: but then he also invites us to come and take up the cross, and that daily, that we may follow him; and if we come only to accept the former, we do not in truth accept the offer of the gospel, for both go together, the rest and the yoke, the cross and the crown: and it will signify nothing that in accepting only the one we accept what God never offered to us. They that receive only the easy part of Christianity and not the difficult at best are but almost Christians; while they that are wholly Christians receive the whole of Christianity, and thus shall be accepted and honoured, and not cast out with shame at the last day.


Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, p. 256-259

*What Edwards means by “religion” here is faith and worship in its purest and truest form, one that can only be found in Biblical Christianity. This is because we find within Biblical Christianity that all acts of faith, life, and worship are directed toward and fulfilled in Christ, who is the sum and substance and is therefore true religion.

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