Daniel 6 “The Cost of Discipleship”

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Introduction

The evil one wants to use the Babylonian culture that we are immersed in every single moment of the day to lead us to compromise our faith so that we are no longer a threat to him. That is exactly what the devil was trying to do in Daniel 6

Read Passage: Daniel 6:1-24

1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared2 to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

We want to follow Jesus and stay comfortable at the same time

Let’s take a moment to recall an earlier story in the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to an idol. Their commitment to God on full display. Regardless of how others interpret this passage they did not know for certain that God was going to keep they from being burned to death. They went to the furnace because they could not fathom the idea of rejecting God and worshipping another a false god.

In chapter 7 we find the same kind of radical faith in the life of Daniel.

Think about this for a moment, Daniel would rather be eaten by lions than stop praying. Prayer is a primary characteristic of a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 16:24 we hear these words from Jesus, “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

What might the cost of discipleship look like today?

We can quickly find the answers to that question in Daniel 7.

  1. Radical commitment to God. Daniel is an older man at this point in time. He might be nearly 90 years old. Daniel has been tempted with great power and money. He has also had his life threatened. In every situation Daniel is committed to God and walks according to the truths found in Scripture. Comfortable Christianity is not Christianity. Jesus is calling us to die to ourselves and to follow him. What is your faith costing you these days? What sacrifices are you making for King Jesus?
  2. Prayerful. The other leaders in the Medo-Persian Empire were obviously jealous of Daniel. Daniel was the favorite of the king and for good reason. Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit and he always sought to be obedient to God. The other leaders are jealous of Daniel so they manipulate Darius so that they can move into positions of greater power. Daniel shows us just how committed he is to prayer in this story. Is there any wonder where his strength comes from? It comes from seeking God continually through prayer. I believe that God is calling all of us to become serious about prayer. If we hope to see great things happen in our church and the six counties all around us we simply must become Christians that are serious about prayer. We now meet 2 times every month for corporate prayer. Will you join us?
  3. Grateful. Verse 10 tells us that Daniel was grateful to God. Really? Grateful? As far as we know Daniel had never married and did not have kids. He is 90 years old and he is on the verge of being fed to the lions. What did Daniel have to be grateful for? Daniel was grateful to God because he based his life on the Word of God and not his circumstances. If we look to our circumstances for happiness we will be on a miserable roller-coaster. Daniel knew that God was sovereign and that even in the chaos of life that God was working out his plan for the good for those who love him. Is you life characterized by gratitude? Are we good or bad advertisement for God? When people look closely at our life do they see joy?
  4. Daniel had a theology of suffering. This is closely related to the last point. A theology of suffering means you know that suffering comes to the righteous and the unrighteous and that God can use it redemptively in our lives and for his glory. Without a solid, biblical understanding of suffering we will never find contentment or peace in this lifetime.
  5. Integrity and personal holiness. Daniel’s enemies were looking hard for areas of sin in his life and they could not find any! Think about that for a moment. Would we come out so clean if we were so closely scrutinized? Do we want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives? We will need to confess and repent of our sins before the Spirit will work mightily in our lives. Are you struggling with any secret sin or strongholds? Will you make the life-changing decision to repent of your sin?
  6. Live as salt and light. Our mission as a church is to make disciples who make disciples. Our vision is to be deeply rooted in the six counties all around us. The vision encourages us to see every day life as our mission field. Are we keeping our spiritual eyes open for the people that God is bringing into our lives?

How does this story point us to Jesus?

We already know that all of God’s Word points us to Jesus. We are incapable of living like a disciple without the life of Jesus in us.

Daniel was sent into a broken and wicked culture, so was Jesus.

Daniel lived with integrity, so did Jesus.

Daniel was unfairly accused, so was Jesus.

Daniel emerged from the lion’s den alive, Jesus emerged from the tomb alive.

Daniel is pointing us all to our daily, ongoing need for Jesus.

10 Reasons Why Discipleship Is Hard

Fishers-of-Men-610x350“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

  1. Getting up at 5:00 AM to meet with people is hard.
  2. Asking questions about marriage, sex and ambition is hard.
  3. Telling a dude in a loving way that there is a serious lack of passion in his life is hard.
  4. Admitting that you are the one who blew it again is hard.
  5. Feeling worthy to disciple another person when you know what kind of sinner you are is hard.
  6. Fighting the idol of success (large crowds) while getting involved in the slow, time-consuming messiness of other people is hard.
  7. Keeping after it when you don’t see much progress is hard.
  8. Not going out of your mind when someone tells you that they are too busy is hard.
  9. Going beyond accountability to creating true fishers of men is hard.
  10. Creating a culture of discipleship in an age of consumerism is hard.

Boomerang Effect of Non-Discipleship in the Church (Bonhoeffer)

What price are we paying in the church today for not calling people to true discipleship?

Bonhoeffer“But do we realize that this cheap grace has turned back on us like a boomerang? The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the Word and sacraments wholesale, we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a nation unasked and without condition. Our humanitarian sentiment made us give that which is holy to the scornful and unbelieving. We poured forth unending streams of grace. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard.” -The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (p. 54)