“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Phil. 3:7-8
Paul speaks very plainly in this verse that he counted the cost to be saved. If Paul counted the cost, then every person that is saved also has to count the cost, because the Word of God says Paul is a pattern to all who are saved. I Tim. 1:16: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” This being so, I wanted to look at three things involved in counting the cost--What? When? And Why?
What did Paul count loss?--all things as our text states. “Count” means to consider, deem, and think. The “all things” refers to the things of the flesh. Phil. 3:4: “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.” These were things he had counted gain. They refer to his social pedigree or status in the Jewish world listed in Phil. 3:5-6. “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” He counted all these things (plural) as loss (singular) for Christ.
The tense of “counted” in our text is a perfect tense verb in the Greek. This means a past completed action in past time with existing results. When was this point in past time? In Acts 9 the Lord revealed Himself to Paul (Saul) and told him what to do after he asked “What wilt thou have me do?” (Acts 9:6) He obeyed and went into the city of Damascus and lodged for three days on the street called Straight. It was during these three days that Paul counted the cost and came to the conclusion that all the things he had gained in the flesh was but “dung”--refuse, rubbish, that which is thrown to the dogs, something thrown out as worthless. Phil. 3:8: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” When he came to this conclusion, he needed more instruction and the Lord sent a human instrument, Ananias, to tell him what to do. Paul testified of this in Acts 22:16. (“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”) His sins were washed away by calling on the name of the Lord not by the baptism water. Paul was saved when Ananias came to him on the street called Straight after three days of counting the cost.
Why did Paul count the cost?--that he might “win Christ.” (Phil 3:8) “Win” means to gain, to acquire, or simply put means to be saved. When an accountant takes inventory, he gets rid of those things that would not do him any good in the long haul. Paul just junked all things to be saved.
Again I ask why? Because he was under Holy Ghost conviction. The reason being three fold: 1) He had heard Stephen preach, 2) He had heard Stephen pray, and 3) He watched Stephen die. (Acts 7) This caused Paul, after the Lord revealed Himself to him, to take inventory for three days and he came to a point he chose to junk all things--all of his self-righteousness, all of his pedigree--just to have Christ who is eternal life. John 1:4: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” He had the Word before and being a Pharisee he knew it backward and forward. But life is not in the written Word. John 5:39-40: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” I John 5:12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. The written Word is a pointer to the Living Word. John 1:4: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” He had works but said “What must I do?” John 6:28-29: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” He had not believed on the Lord Jesus. He knew there was a price to pay and He counted the cost that he might be saved.
The Lord told us to count the cost to be His disciple. Luke 14:26,27,33: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” These verses are not talking about some second work of grace after one is saved but they refer to being saved, being His true disciple.
Sometimes service is connected with salvation. It was with Paul as he testified before Agrippa in Acts 26:16-18. (“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Paul knew what he would face if he carried the gospel to the Gentiles--the scorn of the Jews just as he had done to others when he was kicking against conviction. But after three days he came to a conclusion. Phil. 3:8: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”
In Paul’s life, we can see clearly that he counted the cost for three days. But sometimes I believe there is a gradual yielding and submitting in one’s life even long before they are saved. It is so gradual that you may not even think of it as counting the cost but it is. Counting the cost is necessary for one to be saved and it is worthy of all the time necessary to do so.
Let me add this. If you ever count the cost and are willing to count all things loss for salvation, there won’t be any problem of yielding to the service of the Lord, because He is Lord. I’m referring to His call on your life whether it be preaching or a homemaker, whether He is telling you what to wear or how to live. There is not a problem yielding because you have already counted the cost. I have heard some say, “I fought the call to preach for years.” That is not scriptural, for if one counts the cost for salvation then preaching is not a problem when the Lord calls.
Count the cost. He’ll enable you to do so and enable you to be willing to pay the price, and you will not regret it.
This article is a shortened form of a message preached on this subject. If you would like a cd of this message, please let me know. If we can be of help in any way, please feel free to contact us.
THE PERSUADER - OCT.-DEC., 2008