(Lk. 14:27-28) How does this passage square with justification by grace apart from works?

CLAIM: Jesus says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Lk. 14:26-28) Lordship theologian John MacArthur writes, “The idea of daily self-denial does not jibe with the contemporary supposition that believing in Jesus is a momentary decision. A true believer is one who signs up for life… It means nothing is knowingly held back, nothing purposely shielded from His lordship, nothing stubbornly kept from His control.”[1] Does this passage support Lordship theology?

RESPONSE: We should latch onto the phrase “he cannot be My disciple” (v.26). Jesus is referring to discipleship here—not justification. While we come to Christ in a moment at justification, we walk with him over many years in discipleship. While Jesus does have hard calls like this, he also has simple and easy calls, too. Elsewhere, he says, “Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (Jn. 6:28-29). He also says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).

[1] MacArthur, John F. The Gospel According to Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan House, 1988. 202.