Session Two

Call to Decision, Counting the Cost, Radical Response


We welcome your comments and questions about this session in the comments section below.

5 replies
  1. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Good morning, Pastor John,

    Above is a link that I found on YouTube that relates to the Bible Study on Parables. It is a video of the Gaither group
    singing the beautiful song “The Ninety and Nine”. This is a song that a grew up with as my sisters and I sang as a trio at
    church and this was one of our most favorite selections. I never hear the song without being brought to tears. Just wanted to
    share it with you. Sorry for the ads that are attached. The tempo is slower than what my sisters and I chose to sing but the lyrics and melody are very much the same.

    I love how you are presenting the Bible study on line and I want to share it with others. You have a special gift
    in how you are teaching the class—excellent! You should do more of this—you have a new calling!!!

    Have a wonderful and blessed day!

  2. John Willis
    John Willis says:

    Sometimes I wonder that the cost I need to consider also and maybe more importantly be about the cost to those close to me. If I am making a God driven action but don’s consider impact on them what may be good for me would be hurtful for them. If I can take the time to talk and reveal how God called me to do this action not only might it be less painful for them but if God is calling them in a similar path it could also help them to hear God’s voice more clearly and allow them to make their own God called action.

    • jhart
      jhart says:

      John – If I’m reading you correctly, I hear you asking the question, “When I hear God calling me to take a specific action of faithfulness, I don’t only need to asses what the cost will be for me, but also for the people I’m already in committed relationships with (e.g. family, colleagues, neighbors).

      If that’s what you’re driving at, you’re absolutely correct. It is easier being a monk, since one’s Christian action can happen independently from family, economics, etc. We all dread being the wife or child of the man who suddenly feels called by God to quit his job, sell his house, and start a faith ministry!

      In Christian ethics, it is typically understood that our Christian actions always take place within the framework fundamental relationships that we’ve made prior commitments to – I have a marriage commitment to Becky, I have a fatherhood commitment to my three children, I have a pastoral commitment to Liberty, I have a citizenship commitment to Delaware, Ohio, and the US. So as I respond to a prompting by God that is going to involve a serious cost, it is right for me to consider how my faithful decision and its cost will impact these other relationships.

      So your insight is exactly correct. I specifically like three things about your insight:
      1) You understand your discipleship in the context of your community
      2) You have the faithful hope that, in your following God’s call, it may prompt those close to you to respond with an equivalent faithfulness in their walk with God.
      3) Also, that you don’t use these other relationships as a cop-out, e.g. “God could NOT be calling me to do this, because it will end up costing me $_______, and that’s not fair to me wife & kids (or my business partner).” Hear me clearly: there are clearly times when this is not a cop-out but it is acting faithfully within your pre-existing relationships. But I think many of us (certainly me!) can hide behind these relationships, failing to trust that the God who calls me to costly action already knows the relationships I’m committed to – God will be faithful both to me and them as I am faithful to God.

      Thanks! John

  3. John W Brenner
    John W Brenner says:

    The parables of the Treasure in the Field, and The Pearl: I have also been exposed to the interpretation that we are the treasure and we are the pearl, and that the message is about God’s willingness to pay any price to “bring us home”. I’m sure you’ve heard that explanation as well. Any comments?

    • jhart
      jhart says:

      John — good question!

      I have never heard this interpretation of these two parables, that the “man” in 13:44 and the “merchant” in 13:45 represent God, such that the meaning of the parables is that God is searching for us (who He values highly).

      When I first read this, I was pretty skeptical. But here are some thoughts:

      1) Context is in your favor! These two parables are in Matthew 13, which is Matthew’s “parable chapter” (Matthew has parables in other places, but the entire content of chapter 13 is parables). And in every single parable in chapter 13, the main character (the sower in 13:3; the sower in 13:24, the mustard-seed planter in 13:31; the woman in 13:33; and the fishermen in 13:48) all clearly represent God or Jesus (or angels in 13:48). So context strongly argues in favor in interpreting 13:44 and 13:45 in the same way — the “man” and the “merchant” represent God finding something of great value.

      2) Certainly, this interpretation fits well with other parables where the point is that God is searching for us, like the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin (Luke 15:3-10).

      3) On the other hand, it is common to read in the Gospels statements or encounters where one gives up everything in order to obtain the surpassing value of God, or the kingdom of God, or Jesus: Matthew 6:33; Mark 1:16-18; Luke 9:23-25; Luke 9:57-62; Matthew 19:16-29.

      But well done — you’ve made me re-think my understanding of these two parables.

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