This will be my last post on this question. We have been talking about John 3:16 and how the first step in mentoring a new believer is to confirm their understanding of conversion. The last issue I want to raise relative to this discussion is that of counting the costs of following Jesus.
John 3:16 does not raise this issue, so I am a bit hesitant to raise it at all. But elsewhere Jesus clearly does ask future disciples to count the cost (Lk 14:28-33).
So there are two questions here. (1) Should we, I some way, make this part of our offer of salvation? (2) How do we do it? Here is one way I have explained it.
On the one hand, salvation is totally free. Paul tells the church in Ephesus, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (2:8-9).
But the life of discipleship costs you everything. There is a path on the other side of the gate, and at the end of the path is eternal life. That path is the path of discipleship. Paul tells the church in Galatia that he has been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer he who lives but Christ who lives in him (2:20). He is saying that in going through the gate, he has become so united with Christ that he died to himself and he lives only for Christ. Jesus tells the disciples that if they want to follow him, they “must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The path of discipleship is about dying to yourself and living for God.