Salvation is a gift to all who call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13), but there is a cost to becoming a disciple (or follower) of Christ. In all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), we read the words that Jesus spoke regarding the cost of being His disciple. This cost involves three things. You must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).
Denying oneself means to set aside your own selfish interests. It means living your life for Christ, putting Him and His kingdom first. When you deny yourself, you are no longer making yourself the object of your life and the things that you do, but rather making Jesus the object. All that you do is done for Him. It means a total commitment to Christ.
When you take up your cross, you are saying that you are willing to suffer and even give your life for Jesus' sake. The cross is a symbol of suffering and shame. As a follower of Christ, you may be subjected to suffering, you may be ridiculed, persecuted and rejected by the world. Taking up your cross is something you must do on a daily basis as you follow in the footsteps of Christ (Luke 9:23). You must be willing to endure whatever comes on any given day for the sake of Christ.
To follow Jesus means to believe in Him, to allow your life to be conformed to His, living your life by His example, and to be willing to suffer or even lose your life because of your faith in Him. One day, Jesus will return in glory. When He does, His promise is that He will repay each of us according to what we have done here. Those who have truly followed Him, denying themselves and taking up their cross daily, will be rewarded for their faithfulness to Christ and His kingdom (Matthew 25:23).