Discipleship: Fully Committed to Christ

In Luke 14:25-33 we find a passage that describes what is required to truly be a disciple of Christ.

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘”If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”’

Many would consider this passage as some of the “hard sayings” of Jesus. At the point in His ministry at which He made these statements, He had been attracting great crowds which followed Him everywhere to hear His teaching. Yet many of them were following Him expecting temporal reward or at the very least, reflected glory for themselves. And so, Jesus delivers to them this message in order for them to understand what truly would be required of anyone who desired to be His disciple. Additionally, He shared with them examples of counting the cost of being His disciple.

When Jesus spoke to them in verse 26; “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” the implication was not that they would truly hate their own family or themselves, but in fact, that as much as they loved their families, they must love Jesus infinitely more. And in verse 27; “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple,” He is saying, in order to be His disciple, not only should one be willing to face unspeakable persecution and suffering, but one willingly commits to following Christ even if it means his death. In verse 33 Jesus said; “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Again, the inference is that if we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to put our love and service to Him above all of our material possessions. My friends this is a total commitment that He is requiring. You must follow Him completely or not at all. It is all or nothing. Jesus Christ is either Lord over everything in your life, including your life itself, or He is not Lord at all.

To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ one must count the cost. One must realize that sacrifice is required, suffering and persecution is to be expected, and we very well may be required to forfeit our very lives. In teaching on discipleship I often say it is not for the weak at heart. Again, remember Jesus told us in John 15:20; “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” and they crucified Him.

So, we have looked at what Christ says is required to be a disciple, but how does that relate to being a Christian? Let’s look at Acts 11:28; “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” In this passage, which is telling about Barnabas taking Paul to Antioch, disciple is synonymous with Christian. I’m wondering if that puts a whole new light on your understanding of your relationship to Christ. Let’s look again at the words of Christ, this time in Mark 8:34; ‘“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”’ There are three imperatives here:

  • First, is self-denial. This again is putting Christ before anything, anyone, and everything in your life;
  • Second, is self-sacrifice. Again, being willing to suffer and lay down your very life for Jesus Christ if so required;
  • Third, Jesus said “follow me” and there have been volumes written about the meaning of those two words, but the short version is this, having embraced self-denial and self-sacrifice,
    • commit to the life of a disciple by studying the Word of God,
    • grow more Christ-like by living by the Word of God,
    • share the Word of God with others,
    • and defend the Word of God without fail.

Here then is the bottom line. Jesus, the very Son of God, was born into this world to become the Christ. At Calvary He took on the sin debt owed by all humanity, paid it with His own life, was buried, and resurrected Himself into life. By His victory over sin and death, He has offered to all mankind the free gift of salvation and eternal life for all who will believe in His finished work at the cross and recognize Him as their Savior, and Lord of their life. In understanding this, we comprehend that discipleship as a Christian is voluntary. In accepting Christ’s gift we willingly are giving over our will to His Will. In that respect, becoming a Christian and a disciple is intentional.

Unfortunately, there are many who call themselves Christian, yet have not counted the cost. They never really surrendered their will to His Will. If you take an honest look at your life, can you truly say that you have surrendered your will to Christ? If not, you must seriously question your commitment. Are you truly following Christ? Are you His disciple? Again, if not, there is no better time than now, no better day than today to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and surrender your life and your will to Him.

True discipleship begins at the cross of Christ. It requires sacrificial devotion to Christ without compromise, it requires putting the needs of others ahead of one’s self for the sake of the gospel, it is an absolute commitment to God’s Will in the disciple’s life.

Are you a disciple of Jesus?

Taking Care of His Business in Your Backyard

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

“My Father’s business.” It is a phrase I have used often in my writing and preaching. In my mind it evokes thoughts of sharing the gospel, sharing my testimony or witnessing. (Witnessing, given the circumstances may not be the same as evangelizing. Another story for another day); showing the love of Christ and the face of Christ to an unbelieving world. As Christians, we should want to help solve the world’s problems, help heal the world’s hurts.

However, we should realize that task can never be done in a complete or permanent manner by our  own efforts, even when we are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Total, complete and permanent healing is going to take the Second Coming of Jesus. Nevertheless, we are to work in the world going about our Father’s business. And let us not forget a very important fact: We can reach out to the world and should but our primary responsibility as members of His Church is to other members of His Church.

 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2  Corinthians 5:10).  

With this particular verse, I actually prefer the rendering in the New American Standard Bible:  

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

This makes it clear that the bema seat judgment—the judgment of rewards—is a judgment of deeds done in the body from the point in time when one joins the Body of Christ. Things done before one comes to Christ are not part of our appointed before the bema (for that would make for a works based salvation).

And while I am not saying we would not hear, Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21, 23) for things we may do to minister to those outside of the Church, I believe the clear focus of this passage in 2 Corinthians deals with the Body of Christ; serving and ministering to others within the Body of Christ. Being about our Father’s business should begin at home, within the Body; within the local church we attend, for starters.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10).

In Galatians, the apostle Paul is clear in his instruction that doing “good” is expected and required, especially in the Church. And whether you hold to the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, writing under the influence and guidance of Paul, or even if Paul had nothing to do with Hebrews, the author is stating that ministering to the saints is not something forgotten by God, for He is a just God.

The complaint in the opening verses of Acts 6 is that widows within the local Body were not having their daily needs met. It was a situation serious enough for the twelve apostles to address and resolve. Taking care of His business within the Body of believers is serious, important work demanding immediate attention.

If you are called by the Lord to go serve in some dark corner of the world (it seems dark corners are all we have in the world anymore), by all means be obedient to the call and serve the Lord empowered by His Spirit. But know there is a mighty work of service that probably needs to be tended to right in your backyard.

It may be your next door neighbor who might happen to not be a believer, but it might also be the person sitting next to you on a Sunday morning, someone as faithful and obedient to the Lord as you are. You can seek a mountaintop experience with the Lord, but remember, the gospel accounts had Jesus and His disciples coming off the mountain and getting back into day to day ministry. Jesus wasn’t going to let the three stay on the mountaintop linger and neglect what was next on the agenda. He brought them back down among the multitudes.

If you are focused on the needs of your local church Body, you will most likely come into contact with many neighbors and friends, with people in your local community. It will give you the opportunity to reach others for Christ at the same time you are helping other members of the Body.

It does not have to be an either/or. It can most definitely be a both/and. By seeking to be discerning of needs in the local body of Christ, you will learn to discern the need for Christ locally outside of the Body: because you will be more in tune with those living around and amongst you.

The Lord might give you a mountaintop experience, He might send you far afield from your home. But He has work that needs to be done in your own backyard, and it will please the Lord if you recognize it and step up to do it.

Whatever the Lord has for us to do, and wherever He has placed the work, we should be about our Father’s business and just go do it as He has asked.