Baptist History Homepage

Have You Counted the Cost?
By Rosco Brong

Towers We May Try to Build Cost too Much – Jesus Paid it All!

      “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 that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28-30).

      “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

      Are you building a tower of refuge and defense for your soul, hoping that this tower of your own building will keep you safe against all your enemies? Do you hope that this tower you are trying to build will protect you even from the righteous judgments of God? Have you counted the cost? Jesus’ purpose in using this illustration of building a military tower or fortress was not merely, as many people suppose, to incite us to earnestness and sincerity of purpose, but to bring us to realize that none of us can pay the price, none of us can bear the cost, of finishing a tower that can save us from divine judgment. When we realize this fact, we are ready to flee for refuge to the strong tower that God has already provided for us.

      Let us look at some of the towers which men try to build but can never finish to the extent that they can save a soul:


      The Bible plainly tells us that we were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold (I Peter 1:18); yet many men vainly hope that worldly riches can buy not only anything in this world, but even a place in the world to come. They will learn better, if not before, after it is too late: “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:20, 21).


      Some people think that if they can acquire sufficient fame or renown in this world it may go with them into a future life. But even in this life, fame is fleeting and fickle: “A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees. But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers” (Psalm 74:5, 6).


      Worldly station or position will gain us no advantage before God. “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Psalm 39:5). The Bible makes it clear that God’s judgments will come upon the high and mighty as well as on the lowly and weak (Revelation 6:15).


      Our modern world especially is characterized by a near-worship of human learning, but, though a man could acquire all the knowledge and wisdom of this world, he still could not stand against the omniscience and the eternal wisdom of God. “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD” (Provebs 21:30).


      Many people have false sentimental ideas about God, and trust in these sentiments, contrary to the plain teaching of God’s Word. So, they suppose that God is too “good,” “loving,” “merciful,” to “send them to Hell.” Modernistic misinterpreters of scripture vainly imagine a difference between the God of the Old Testament and the Christ of the New. But it was the kind and loving but also true and faithful Savior Who exclaimed: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). It is in the New Testament that we read, “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). And in Revelation 6:16 we read of the terrible “wrath of the Lamb.”


      Following and building upon the traditions of men will never build a tower that can stand against God. So Jesus said: “This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. . . And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:6, 7, 9).


      Merely pretending to worship and serve God is another tower of delusion that is never finished and could not stand if it were. Jesus speaks of those who “for a pretense make long prayer,” and declares, “therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:14). We are reminded that “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).


      The religious fashion of the day is so-called union. Religionists, unsure of their positions, seek to strengthen themselves by uniting with others who, likewise, are not sure of anything much. But the only religious union that God will bless is union with and in Christ. As to the union of secular powers and false religions of this world, we may note well Proverbs 11:21: “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.”


      Some people seem to think that they can shed enough tears to wash their sins away. We may well shed tears over our sins, but that tears do not insure acceptance with God is evident from Malachi 2:13: “And this ye have done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.”


      Again, it is vainly supposed that our prayers, if long enough, frequent enough, or earnest enough, can bring us salvation. That a form of prayer cannot avail is evident from many scriptures. To certain ones, God said: “When ye make many prayers, I will not hear” (Isaiah 1:15). And in Proverbs 28:9 we read: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”


      Outward rites and ceremonies of religion can never afford us a place of safety. Of the sacred Jewish rite of circumcision, Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28, 29). So, in our day, even the sacred ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper have no saving virtue in themselves—much less have religious rites or ceremonies of human invention or tradition.


      It is good for us to believe sound doctrine—the teaching of God’s Word. But a mere intellectual and formal adherence to sound doctrine is not salvation. Of the Pharisees, Jesus said: “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:3). To us He says: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”


      It is by faith that we have access “into this grace wherein we stand” (Romans 5:2). Faith, however, is the means, instrument, or channel that connects us with the Savior. Faith has no saving virtue in itself. Sad to say, some people have faith in faith instead of faith in God. A misdirected faith can be a most terrible agent of destruction. Thus, we read of some that “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2:11-12).


      So, with all the religious towers of men’s building we can only say in the light of God’s Word that man is not able to finish the towers that he begins and they would be no help to him in eternity even if he could finish them. But, thank God, there is a strong tower already provided: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov. 18:10). Will you not today say with the Psalmist of old, “refuge failed me” (Psalm 142:4), and then, “I flee unto thee to hide me” (Psalm 143:9).


[From the Berea Baptist Banner newspaper, December, 1998, pp. 461, 466-67. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Rosco Brong Sermons
Baptist History Homepage