Archives for : June 2019

Be Honest With God For Your Own Good  0

In everyday interaction and activities, many put much premium on honesty. They desire that others show themselves to be reliable. But oftentimes, the one demanding honesty in others, are not eager to offer sincerity of purpose to those they interact with. This is a double standard which many seem not to give much thought to.

 

The unfortunate thing is that because many seem to get away with their dishonesty amongst humans, they extend it to God. Even, believers in Christ whom one would expect to know better are frequently fraudulent in their relationship with God. This should not be so.

 

The commandments of God demonstrate His wisdom and His love for us. It is in our best interest and for our good to obey them. And so, like many other things God expects or demands of us, to be honest with God is for our own good.

And this piece is offered prayerfully as a timely reminder, and exhortation to believers in Christ to from now, “Be honest with God for your own good.”

 

There is no better place to get encouragement to be sincere in our relationship with the LORD other than the word of God, the Holy Bible. And to the Holy Bible we turn now.

  

We are told concerning God and His word in no uncertain terms. Numerous passages of Scripture give testimony of God and His word. Hear what one of such passages of the Holy Scripture says,

 

12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

 

In Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, we are first informed of the failure of Israel and the reason for their failure (Heb. 3:7-4:13). In the concluding part of the section (Heb. 4:12-13), New Testament believers are now warned to avoid the error of the Israelites.

 

Let us first have a look at the passage. In both these verses, the language is couched in a manner that man can understand. There is metaphor, and even human parts are ascribed to God though God is a Spirit. For we are specifically informed that, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24).

 

12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

 

For: Connects this verse and the next with verse 11, and thus shows the reason why the believers should seek to enter God’s rest. This verse tells us much about the word of God that we do well to note and seriously take to heart for our own good. This is especially important for those who claim to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The word of God: As we are told, in times past God spoke at varied times and in divers manners to the fathers by the prophets. But in these last days has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir over all things (Heb. 1:1). That Son is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The word of God being referred to here is not Christ in person but pronouncements from God. We have a God who though invisible, speaks. This is what is referred to when we are told that, “And God said” (Gen 1:3, 6). We have the spoken word of God in written form now in the Holy Bible. We are informed,

 

“To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, It is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20).

 

Further, the Lord said,

  • “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).

 

  • 48He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12:48-50).

 

Hence, when Christ speaks, God speaks.

 

Some inherent characteristics of the word of God.

The inherent characteristics are embedded in or part-and-parcel of the word. The word of God cannot help but be these because of who God is.

 

We are told, the word of God is Quick, that is, the word of God is living. Our God is the living God. His word has living power as the word of God. Hence God is spoken of as one who smites with, “the rod of his mouth….and “the breath of his lips” (Isa 11:4).

 

and powerful that is, energetic. The word of God is active and energetically efficacious. It is always effective in whatever it does. God’s word never returns to Him void (Is 55:11).

 

and sharper than any two-edged sword:

The sword was a powerful weapon of war then, and often had two edges. The sword was sharpened, oiled and polished to the point that its owner saw his own reflection on the blade as if looking into a mirror. Having a two-edged sword was of a great advantage in war.

 

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). It can harden (like it did Pharaoh of the Exodus) or cause to believe as it does the believer. But this whole section (Heb. 3:7-4:13), speaks of the judgement of the unbelieving Israelites, and warns New Testament believers to beware of unbelief so as not to face similar consequences as their predecessors.

 

Piercing: That is, coming through, breaking whatever barrier is on its way.

 

even to the dividing asunder of: Division so incisive that it results in complete separation.

 

soul and spirit:

The soul is the base or earthly part of man. And it is the seat of fleshly or animal-like desires. It is part responsible for the character traits of the natural man.

 

As we are told,

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor 2:14).

 

Further, we are told,

“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19).

 

The spirit is the higher or heavenly part of man. It is the part that can relate to the Spirit of God. It is the part that when connected to and is receptive of the things of the Spirit ally man to heavenly beings and things.

 

The soul and spirit of man are so closely united that ordinarily man cannot separate or differentiate them. But the word of God is able to differentiate and separate them.

 

and of the joints and marrow: It reaches both the joints and so able to divide them, and the marrow. Christ knew and continues to know what is in man (John 2:25). Hence, the word of Christ is able to reach the deepest and most secret and hidden parts of man including his feelings and thoughts, so as to divide, that is distinguish what is spiritual and heavenly from what is fleshly and earthly.

 

and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart: Able to judge the purposes of one’s thoughts. It is in the heart we have intents, ideas, concepts and motives that eventually result in actions that may be godly or ungodly. Hence, these things are known and distinguishable by God even before they become real to us.

 

Verse 12: From this verse 12, we are informed of some of the character traits of the word of God and a glimpse of its ability. That is, the word of God is quick (living), powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword (sharper than anything known to man).

 

It pierces through whatsoever it encounters, dividing and separating with precision even the most intricately united entities. The word of God is a discerner (detects and reveals or exposes) even the most secrete intensions and deepest thoughts of the heart of the creature.

 

This verse alone ought to make the genuine believer in Christ to pause and reflect on his attitude towards God and his fellow human beings.

 

But then follows verse 13:

 

“13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

 

Neither is there any creature: Both the visible and invisible, the known and unknown to man. Mankind knows very little about God’s creation, and even very, very and very little about God Himself! God created all without exception and all are therefore known to Him.

 

that is not manifest in his sight: The sight of God is all encompassing. He knows all things, is able to do all things, and is everywhere.

 

but all things are naked and opened: Every creature of God including all human beings are continuously before and are seen by Him all the time, and as they really are and not as they pretend or want to be known. No one of His creatures is able to successfully hide from God. God knows every piece of His creation intimately.

 

Psalm 139 gives us a snap short of such depth of knowledge that God has of humans.

 

unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do: God’s eyes are all-seeing and are always open. All His creatures have to deal or relate to Him. All of us have to relate to God. It is just a question of whether that relationship will be in obedience or in rebellion, whether for blessing or for punishment.

 

Remember:

Heb. 4:12-13 conclude this section of Hebrews 3:7-4:13. And this concluding section is an intensification of the warning given in verse 11. That no one should fall like they did, because of unbelief.

 

Warning believers in Christ not to fall because of unbelief might sound preposterous to a church goer who claims to be a Christian already. But be careful, for that attitude might be because of latent pride. Rather than being self-assured because of your church activities, the humble thing to do is what Scripture counsels:

 

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2Cor 13:5).

 

This is the time of grace when you can amend your ways.

 

Thus, this intensification of warning is to ensure that the seriousness of that warning is understood and that necessary actions needed to avoid the fate of the unbelieving Israelites are avoided.

 

It was the word of God that was preached to the Israelites as well as New Testament believers. It was of no benefit to those amongst those who heard it in the Old Testament but who did not believe (Heb. 4:2).

 

Hence again we see the two edges of the sword of the Spirit in action:

  • One edge convicts and converts as here (Heb. 4:2), and the other edge condemns and destroys those who do not believe (Heb. 4:14; 10:23).
  • The same word of God (sword of the Spirit) that saves the faithful believer (Heb. 4:2), destroys the unbeliever or the disobedient (2Cor 2:15-16).

 

Hence here, the reference is not to Christ as the Word, but as the word (the word) that Christ has and wields. This is why Joshua who took over the leadership of Israel from Moses is spoken of within the passage (Heb. 4:8 cf. Acts 7:45).

 

Do you understand? Or are you still asking, “Why should I be honest with God?”

 

Here are three reasons you should be honest with God:

 

  1. The word of God is powerfully effective (Heb. 4:12):

It does whatever God sends it to do (Isa 55:11). When used by the children of God, it is equally effective in comforting believers, as well as working against the ungodly. And we are told,

 

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect” (2Tim 3:16-17).

 

  1. Everything is open to and exposed by God (Heb. 4:13, cf. 2Chr 16:9; Job 26:6; Ps 33:13-14; and Ps 139:4, 11-12). Even then man tries to hide from God.

 

Why?

 

Because of sin. Sin results in pretention, which is a futile attempt to cover up, so we would not be found out. Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God by trying to get lost amongst the tree leaves. It was a futile attempt at pretending to be alright when they were not. And since then, human beings have continued to pretend.

 

But no matter the subterfuge, God would eventually expose sin. Since He made man, God knows how and when to remove any, and all the masks of pretention man might have put in place. Hence, we are informed that, the Lord,

 

“both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.” (1Cor 4:5).

 

From this passage then, we see that the instrument with which God will carry out His divine exposure is His living and active word (Heb. 4:12).

 

  1. The examination will be carried out by God Himself (Heb. 4:13):

So, there will be no miscarriage of justice. We live in a world and era in which numerous people are running away from responsibility. They are doing all they can to not be held accountable. And so, choose not to believe in a God “to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13).

 

But whether man likes it or not, the God of Holy Scripture is the righteous judge of all His creation. He judges all His creatures.

 

Though He is love and loving (1John 4:8, 16), and it is this aspect of God that most people trumpet on. They seem to forget, ignore or are ignorant of the truth of the severity of God (Rom 11:22) as recorded in numerous instances on the pages of Holy Scripture. And we are warned that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31). There is goodness and severity of God (Rom 11:22). It is for our good to bear both aspects of God in mind without attempting to create artificial disharmony between them.

 

Thus:

  • God judged His creation on earth with the destroying flood (Gen 6:11-7:24).
  • He judged Sodom, Gomorrah and the surrounding cities (Gen 19).
  • Though Christ is the good shepherd who “giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, John 10:15),
    • He is the one who will, “sever the wicked from among the just” (Mat 13:49), as well as separate “his sheep from the goats.” (Mat 25:32).

 

Again, remember:

  • The heart is scrupulously examined by God.
    • This is because the heart of man is the seat of human will and intellect.
    • It is where all crucial ideas, concepts and decisions are made.
    • It is the place God demands to be the sovereign ruler.
    • It is also the place man is capable of such high degree of pretence and subterfuge, that his heart would not always match his habits.

 

  • Human exposure
    • Though in ordinary life, when a person is exposed to be a fraud, it can be painful, embarrassing and lead to judicial penalty, all of these are temporal.

 

  • Divine exposure
    • But when God comes forth and removes every mask of pretence behind which a person hides, it enables such a one to present his true self as already known by God, even unto that God.
    • He comes to God as he is truly known to God.
  • In contrast to human exposure, exposure by God will even be more painful.
    • But the good thing about exposure by God is that it can lead to redemption and the gift of eternal life.
    • It is thus of eternal value.
    • Hence, the first step towards your forgiveness and redemption by God is the honest admission of the problem, that is your sinful state, and need to repent.
    • Do it now!
    • For sooner or later you will be exposed, and it may be too late then to avoid condemnation with the wicked.

 

There is nothing that can escape the attention of God, and God as He has done in the past, will judge unbelief wherever and with whomever He finds it.

 

Remember that:

  • The word of God is powerfully effective (Heb. 4:12)
  • Everything is open to, can be, and will be exposed by God (Heb. 4:13).
  • The examination will be carried out by God Himself (Heb. 4:13).

 

God will find you out! So, determine that from now, you will be honest with God in your life

 

One crucial question to ask you

However, there is still one crucial question to ask you who is reading this piece:

 

“Are you born again?”

 

Put another way,

“Have you made peace with God through the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ?”

 

Those God considers His own are those who have put their trust or faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

 

  • Essentially, they believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came, not to teach us how to live a good life, but that He came to die for our sins, and the sins of the whole world.

 

  • That Christ came physically into the world through the virgin birth, lived a sinless life, though He was tested in all points like any man, but He did not sin,

 

  • He was falsely accused with trump up charges, denied justice, beaten and scorched, and nailed to the cross on Calvary.

 

  • Christ was crucified, He died on the cross and was buried, He rose again from the dead on the third day.

 

  • After His resurrection, Christ showed Himself to and taught His disciples over a period of forty days,

 

  • and in plain sight of them ascended into heaven, where He is now at the right side of God.

 

  • As He rose to heaven, Christ reminded His disciples what He had told them repeatedly, That He is coming the second time in power and glory.

 

These are those described as being born-again or saved.

 

Again, I ask the crucial question, “Are you a born-again child of the Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ being your Saviour and Lord?”

 

If you are not please, make amend now. The bible says,

 

8 …The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Rom 10:8-13).

I pray that as you pray, seek His face, the living God will grant you repentance unto salvation in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Be a true disciple of Christ and not just one of the multitudes  0

Many Christians are self-certified and self-satisfied with their Christian life. This often despite a lifestyle that is obviously not in line with the word of God. Some excuse themselves by claiming that they are followers of Christ who are yet to become Christ’s thus creating artificial categories amongst the disciples of Christ.

 

However, there is only one group of Christ’s disciples in Scripture. Hence, those who claim to be followers while waiting to become disciples are drawing conclusions are erroneous and possible delusions from their own minds that have no bearing with the true word of God.

 

Thank God that we live in the time of grace. A time when we can encourage ourselves. And if anyone is beginning to fall asleep at his duty post rather than being awake to his responsibilities as a disciple of Christ, we can nudge him back to wakefulness.

 

Truly, there were multitudes who followed Christ about during His earthly ministry. But such ones were just faceless crowds who saw Him more as an entertainer. They were never considered nor confused with the disciples of Christ.

 

If going off course and into this error, it is required you retrace your steps and go back to your first love, that of being true disciple of Christ.

 

So today, I want each person who claim to know Christ to honestly answer this question in the deepest part of his heart:

 

“Are you a true disciple of Christ or just one of the multitudes?”

 

I say upfront that I desire and want to encourage you to “Be a true disciple of Christ and not just one within the faceless multitudes that followed Him.

 

As a form of help, I encourage you to read and reflect of Luke 14:25-35 as you attempt to answer that question. Please, this is not an attempt to bring you under condemnation. Rather, it is an attempt to remind you of what the Holy Scripture teaches: That those in Christ should appraise themselves regularly to ensure that they are still walking according to the light of the Lord.

Here is that passage of Scripture as in the King James Version of the Holy Bible:

 

25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:25-35).

 

While you do your own reading and reflection, consider the following:

 

Background

The Lord was by now used to the crowds that followed him around. He had become so popular that He could hardly go anywhere unnoticed or unaccompanied. Many of these that followed Him were there just for the entertainment, free food or just to witness the miracles and not because of any desire to know the truth and get closer to God.

 

And now, another Passover was coming. Most of the people within these multitudes were Jews who had come from the Jewish diaspora. They were headed to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover as commanded them in the law of Moses.

 

Many of them had spent much money and time to be there. Hence, they were religious. They came because they apparently believed in the law of Moses and the God who gave that law through him. They had come to perform their religious obligations.

 

However, the Lord knew that many amongst them were not committed nor did they know the God of their fathers whom they had come to pay religious homage to as much as they claimed.

 

So He spoke to them as to what is required to be His disciple, and by implication, members of the kingdom of the God they claim to be worshipping. He did not want them to be in any doubt as to what God required of them. What the Lord spoke to them He spoke to all including the one who wrote this piece and you reading it.

 

The Lord spoke to the multitude

25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,

 

A multitude is a large number of people gathered together in one place. They are often fickle-minded. People within the multitude are faceless. They are uncommitted to anything. No one could be held responsible or accountable for anything. They are excitable and are easily roused and since they often are on a short fuse can do much damage when they engage in mob action.  

 

The multitudes that followed the Lord were there for the entertainment or whatever they thought could be of benefit to themselves and thus caress their need for instant gratifications.

 

At the sight of any trouble or problem, they will disappear or go away. When angry or in disagreement, they could become very vicious and destructive as they go into mob-action mode.

 

An instant that comes to mind is the multitudes that hailed the Lord and usher Him into Jerusalem as King turned against Him as they shouted, “crucify Him, crucify Him!” few days later.

 

The Lord recognised their core characteristics. He also recognised that committed ones could be drawn out of the multitude. He wanted such ones that would be willing to commit to following God to hear the truth. Hence, the Lord addressed them.

 

What the Lord demands of His would-be disciple

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

 

It is a very big if. It suggests that there is a choice, a decision to be made by people within the great multitudes following Him. It is conditional upon the person who makes such a decision to fulfil the condition. He wanted them to have the needed information so that they will make an informed decision.

 

And what He said applied to any man, that is, anybody, whoever so choses or desires. There is no exception. There are no special circumstances or situations that could be the grounds for exception. No special privileges for anybody man or woman. All are to fulfil the same conditions.

 

To come to me is another way of saying, believe in and commit to follow the Lord as a disciple.

 

The crowds already had come from their various locations to him and were following Him. But their following Him was superficial and temporary as they followed Him to just enjoy whatever they could get from Him. To many of them, He was just a teacher working miracles which they were enjoying as a form of entertainment.

 

Hence, “come to me” here means to come to the Lord with the intention of wanting to become His disciple. It applies to anyone who would venture to commit to following Him the Son of God, as Saviour and Lord.

 

Hate here is a very strong word, demonstrating the seriousness of what was at stake. It is a figure of speech referred to as hyperbole or exaggeration.

 

Father, mother, wife, children, brethren and sisters are all blood relations within the nuclear family. It speaks of the closest and most important relationships known to all his hearers, and indeed, all mankind in all cultures and traditions. These are relationships that are the products of the family as ordained by God. That any normal person would hold above all others and would do anything they can to keep and to nurture at great expense.

 

Christ is to be held up supremely above all else.

The effect of true commitment to Christ will have an effect upon the person’s (the disciple’s) other relationships as to seem like he hates those other relationships. It is not hatred in the sense of doing harm to these blood and close relations. For in numerous places, the believer is commanded to take good care of such relationships.

 

Examples include:

  • The marriage relationship is to be life long and spousal responsibilities and obligations are to be fulfilled.
  • Fathers and mothers are to be honoured and taken care of.
  • Children are to be properly trained and cared for.
  • Nowhere in Scripture is it said that becoming a disciple absolves a person from such obligations.
  • Rather, neglect of such obligations could be a sign that such a one is really not a believer.

 

In addition, the would-be disciple is to “hate his own life also.” Self-love seems to be in-born and universal amongst all of mankind. Every normal person loves himself or herself more than anybody else. This self-love propels each person in all his endeavour in life. Hence, everyone wants the best for himself/herself. This ingrain self-love must be jettisoned by the would-be disciple of Christ. Failing to adhere to this demand of the Lord, the would-be disciple “cannot be my disciple” says the Lord.

 

Dealing with these important and sometimes crucial relationships is according to Christ, an all-or-none process that the would-be disciple must deal with not as one-off event, but as a continuous, on-going process all through his life as a disciple. Each of these relationships must be treated as prescribed by the word of God.

 

Verse 26 echoes a somewhat similar command of God to the people of Israel in the OT not to allow any close relations to entice them away from their God (Deut. 13:6-8).

 

This tells us that it is the same God with the same commands for His people all the time in all places and eras. As in the days of old, so also should be down the ages and down to us, the confession of the saints:

 

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.(Ps 73:25).

 

Jewish understanding of discipleship

The Jews understood what it was to be a disciple in their religion and tradition. Jewish disciples followed their masters or rabbis. They frequently imitate them literarily.

 

Their goal was to one day become masters or rabbis themselves having their own disciples. In contrast, the disciples of Jesus Christ were and still are to remain His disciples, and to follow Him only. They were and still are expected to point or lead others to Christ.

 

The disciple of Christ must carry his cross and follow the Lord

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

 

The command is to an individual. For it is an individual and not a group decision. It is “whosoever” and not “whatever group.”  Personal responsibility is what is called for. Each person will answer to his/her name.

 

Does not bear or carry his cross suggests that there are crosses to carry. Though some may which they don’t have to but each person is to carry his own cross.

 

But what is the cross?

The cross is not some disease, mental anguish or physical infirmity as some suppose. Nobody decides to become sick or acquires a disease of himself. But the cross has an element of choice in it.

 

The cross is what you suffer because you are a true disciple of Christ. Hence, the content of the cross includes a pathway of reproach, persecution, suffering, loneliness, tribulations, and even death if need be voluntarily for the sake of Christ, and of the word (Mat 13:21; Acts 14:22; 2Tim 3:12).

 

It is not just to carry his cross, but such a one must in addition, come after or follow Christ. To come after or follow Christ is to submit to Him and to obey Him. It is those who obey Him that love Him.

 

A person not willing to carry his cross and follow cannot be a disciple of Christ.

 

Refusal to carry the cross and follow the master tantamount to a rejection of the Lord. The carrying of the cross is not a one-off event, but a life-time commitment carried out every day of the disciple’s life. For the command of Christ is:

 

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.(Luke 9:23).

 

This level of commitment by a true disciple of Christ was alluded to by the apostle Paul. For the apostle Paul made reference to all the afflictions and troubles he had had, that still awaited him, when he said concerning himself:

 

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.(Acts 20:24).

 

Discipleship is costly, can you pay what is required?

 

Three illustrations from everyday activities

 

  1. A would-be tower builder (Luke 14:28-30):

 

“28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” (Luke 14:28-30).

 

 

A person wanting to build a tower would start with planning. He would sit down and count or estimate the cost of the project. He would then check his resources to see if he has enough to start and complete the tower project. This wise planning would prevent him from starting a project he may not have enough to complete.

 

Not starting a project for which he does not have enough to complete will prevent him from being the object of derision to be mocked for an otherwise uncompleted tower building project.

 

The Christian must assess himself and be willing to fully commit to Christ. It will not be acceptable to accept to become a disciple, be enthusiastic for a while, and then fizzle away. Even the people of the world will mock such a failure and hold such a one in contempt.

 2. A king going to war (Luke 14:31-32):

 

“31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:31-32)

 

The king planning to go to war with another king would first appraise his arsenal of soldiers, weapons and other resources beforehand. If he discovers that he would not be able to win the impending war, he would quickly make arrangement for peace with his would-be adversary.

 

For example: The Gibeonites did this with the Israelites during the early stage of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites (Jos. 9:3-16)

 

The would-be disciple must be willing to and must forsake all

33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

 

This links back to what has been said in the previous verses about the would-be tower builder and the king about to go to war (vv.28-32). Just as the tower builder, and the king going to war had to use all their resources, failing which each would not pursue his respective project, the would-be disciple would go through the same process of evaluation of ability and willingness to become a disciple.

 

The would-be disciple must determine if he will be willing to forsake all and follow the Lord wherever He may lead and whatever He may demand of him as His disciple.

 

The conclusion to be drawn for him to be a disciple is:

“I am willing to, and I will forsake all that I have to become a disciple of Christ.”

 

If the conclusion of the would-be disciple of Christ is short of this, then like the tower builder who would not start building a tower because he does not have enough to complete it, or the king who lack enough soldiers and other resources to prosecute a war, and therefore sort terms of peace from his opposing king, this person cannot be the disciple of Christ, and has to turn back from becoming a disciple of Christ.

 

Others before left all to become disciples of Christ

We could see the demonstration of “forsaking all to follow Christ” in the:

  •  Life of Abraham (Gen 12:1-5), who left all to follow God, and in
  •  The lives of the apostles:
  • Simon, James and John (Luke 5:1-11, esp. v.11),
  • the publican, Levi (Luke 5:27-28).

 

Some others could not forsake all and could not become disciples of Christ

There were also others who could not forsake all, and therefore could not become the disciples of Christ.

 

Examples:  

  •  The rich ruler (Luke 18:15-24, esp. vv.22-23),
  • Ananias with Sapphira his wife (Acts 5:1-5).,
  • Hymeneus and Alexander (1Tim 1:19-20),
  • and Demas (2Tim 4:10).

 

Note that it is not that a person must be willing to, but that he must forsake all.

Many so-called Christians try to explain this passage away. But there is no explaining away what Christ Himself said was His demand of anyone who would want to be His disciple.

 

Christ knew what His disciple would face, and what the job would entail, so He wanted, and still wants people who will esteem Him above everything else in the world.

 

Same planning and diligence in the affairs of this world is called for in spiritual affairs too. It is common sense and normal practice amongst men to plan and ensure they have all the resources they would need before they start any meaningful and worthwhile project.

 

Why would any right-thinking person suppose that a matter of eternal consequences like becoming a disciple of Christ would require anything less?

 3. Salt, a common item of food (Luke 14:34-35):

 

“34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.(Luke 14:34-35).

 

Salt is good because of its flavour which is inherent in it. That flavour accounts for its usefulness in the various ways and purposes for which it is put. If the salt should loose its all-important flavour, it cannot be re-flavoured.

 

And if it has no flavour, it becomes useless to everybody. It will not even be good for the land fill or the dunghill (rubbish dump). The useless flavourless salt will therefore be thrown away.

 

This paints the picture of the disciple who starts his Christians journey with enthusiasm and zeal. But along the line, he begins to lose his zeal and begins to renege on his vows and promises.

 

The reason for the disciple’s existence is to live true to his Lord. As he begins to lose focus, he begins to live a life that is miserable and therefore, pitiable. As in the case of the salt, men, not God threw out the useless salt.

 

In the case of the disciple who is not living true to the demands of Christ’s discipleship, God does not cast him it, for that would never happen to a true believer.

 

But this believer that has lost his flavour would have men trample underfoot his testimony, as men hold him in contempt and mock him as someone who started well but is unable to finish.

 

What testimony do people have concerning you and your faith of Christianity?  

 

Finally, the Lord said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”

This is not talking of physical ears and physical hearing as important as those are. This is because all his listeners had physical ears, and they could hear his voice as He spoke, otherwise, the whole exercise would be pointless if they were all earless or physically deaf.

 

Rather, those who have ears and would hear are those who could understand the spiritual truth He was teaching, and to go ahead and obey them.

 

In Conclusion

This was Christ informing His would-be followers of the standard required of His disciples.

 

The leaders of the world, and many Christian leaders today crave, cultivate and are excited by large crowds. They just love the crowds, especially when they are gullible and are easily exploited for the benefit of such leaders. This is contrary to Christ.

 

The Lord was not interested in the crowd just for having a large company of people around Him who were there just for the entertainment, who would not commit to any enduring thing, and would run away at the first sign of trouble or any problem.

 

But Christ was looking for committed people, who would prove reliable and endure to the end what the kingdom of God demanded.

 

So, He spoke to them in plain language, so that, such ones as were hoping to become His disciples, as we say in our day, “would make an informed decision.”

 

And contrary to what many think, being a disciple of Christ is costly to the disciple. Becoming a disciple of Christ is a life-long commitment to him. The apostle paul surveying his life in relationship to his life in Christ said,

 

7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil 3:7-8).

 

The disciple must prioritise Jesus Christ above ALL Else (family, his own life) bear his own cross, counting the cost, and live with purpose of being salt in the world, consistently all through his/her life.

 

There is no place or time for laxity. The Lord Himself made it clear when He said to all:

 

“No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

 

  • Are you a true disciple of Christ or just one of the multitudes of people?
  • Have you resolved to follow the Lord Jesus Christ anywhere He leads you?
  • Have you counted the cost of being a disciple of Christ?

 

I encourage you today to commit to a life of discipleship under the Lordship of Christ.

 

When you do, you will receive the grace to be sustained in your journey of faith, service and ministry to the risen Lord. 

 

To the unbeliever

But this has been about the believers in Christ. Those who have made peace with God through the propitiation of Jesus Christ. They are the one being exhorted to live true to their calling in Christ as they wait for His second coming.

 

But what if you are an unbeliever? What if Christ is not yet your Saviour and Lord? What if you are not yet born of the Spirit? Then the above does not yet apply to you. You are yet outside the fold of believers in Christ. And you cannot be expected to please the Lord and to do things that are only possible with the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

 

Perhaps you are saying you what to be part of the wonderful people of God who are the disciples of Christ. You want an end to the enmity between you and God.

 

And having read this piece you see the possibility but are wondering how you can change your situation.

 

You are asking, “How do I come into the fold of believers in Christ seeing I do not yet know Christ?”

 

Truly, there is a way out for God has made provision for you too. 

 

How?

 

By becoming a born-again child of God as demanded and provided for by God: 

 

The invitation has gone out to all human beings including you reading this piece.

 

Accept God’s verdict concerning human beings:

 

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

 

That is, in the opinion of God, we all fall short of His standard. Further, our sin has earned a deserved wage which is death or separation from God in hell.

 

But while we are still in our sin, God took the initiative to reconcile us with Himself as we are told:

 

But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8).

 

Yes, while we were all still in our sin, God showed His love for us by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. God gave Jesus Christ to the whole world (John 3:16). So, all we need to do is to accept that Christ has died for our sin by standing in place of us.

 

We do this by doing what the word of God commands all would-be believers:

 

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.(Romans 10:9-10). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved(Romans 10:13).

 

Everyone who appropriates the sacrifice of Christ is acceptable to Him. And He Himself extended the invitation to all:

 

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.(Matthew 11:28-30).

 

So, I encourage you to appropriate the finished work of Christ and confess Him as your Saviour and Lord NOW!

 

I prayer that God will accept you into His household through Christ in Jesus’ Name, Amen.