#5 – A Call To Follow Christ Means A Call To Discipleship, Not Just Conversion.
A disciple is simply a person who learns from another, more mature person. Back during Jesus’ time, a disciple would follow (literally) his master around, take in every view that his master taught, learn everything his master taught and go out and preach whatever his master taught him. He would suffer what his master suffered.
He would suffer what his master suffered.
Well, Jesus calls those who claim to believe in Him not just to be converts, but to be disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). There is no ‘following Jesus’ without discipleship. Jesus never called folks to simply be ‘converts’. He always called for folks to be His disciples – and the cost of discipleship under Jesus was high. Jesus said:
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
” ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ [Micah 7:6]
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
High demands, aren’t they ?
But they are real. And no amount of emotionalism, cultural conformity, or attempts to change the nature of what Jesus said to ‘soften it’ and ‘make Christianity seem more inclusive and open’ will change it. There are many people sitting in church pews today who have a false sense of what it means to be a Christian. They either gloss over or ignore Jesus’ requests here for total surrender to Him. But His demands don’t change just because our culture has changed. Count the cost as you step into this thing called a Christian life. The path of the Christian isn’t always one of prosperity, happiness and no more cares….in this life. But the payoff is
#3a – Beware of False Hope.
A number of you reading this have probably heard the gospel message before. Some of you may look back to some ‘decision’ you made many years ago, when you were told to walk down someone’s ailse and publicly confirm your ‘decision’ for Christ…..and think that this particular decision has ‘sealed the deal’ for you. You haven’t been to a church since then and show no real interest in the things of God and your outward life….or you may still attend the church you do, attend all the social events, get involved with helping people, etc…etc..etc…but outside of the occasional interest in a bible-related topic, isn’t much different than regular folks around you who don’t profess Christ as Lord and Savior.
May I suggest you take time and EXAMINE yourself and what you really believe. In 1 John 2:1-6, the apostle John tells writes to believers and says:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1-6, NIV)
We’re not advocating sinless perfectionism here – John knows his ‘children’ will sin (hence Christ as advocate for the believer, so that they will not be condemned for their sins). Believers have a constant struggle against sin all their lives, as Paul illustrates in Romans 7. This struggle against sin will continue through the rest of our natural lives.
We are not saying that you will be saved if you do all of the things listed above…. what we ARE saying is that if you do not have a desire to do any of the things listed above, no desire for growth, holiness and knowing and loving Christ more daily…. you should examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5) to see if you truly are a Christian. Examine yourself by measuring your life against the testimony of scripture as to what a believer should look like. As 1 John 2:29 says, we know who true believers are by the fact that they practice (that is, generally and consistently walk in) righteousness. As a believer in Christ, if His Spirit truly dwells in you, though believers do sin (sometimes for extended periods like David), the attitude toward sin, our heart’s response and the overall direction of our walk will always be toward righteousness (like David again). Those who esteem their sin worthy of hanging onto live under presumption, not salvation.