What does it take to be Jesus’ disciple?

In Luke chapter 14 Jesus highlights key ideas we must be willing to forsake to follow Him and be a part of His kingdom. He tells several parables in this section. These parables help us to see a number of things.

Jesus wants us to see that those who enter the kingdom must not immediately expect that they are kingdom people (vs 7-24).

The Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, believed themselves to be kingdom people because they sought to keep the law. They believed they pleased God through their works and deserved to be a part of the kingdom as a result. But Jesus flips the script on them. He reveals it is not those who believe they are deserving, but those who are humble, who recognize they are not deserving that are invited into the kingdom.

Jesus also wants us to see that those who enter the kingdom are willing to forsake all for Him (vs 25-33)

This is the point that landed on me this morning as I read the Bible in my devotional time. At the end of His teaching on the cost of discipleship, Jesus wraps the section up by saying:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:33)

I have read this Scripture a number of times in the past, referred to it in conversation, and even included it in my preaching and teaching. Though I am familiar with the passage, today it landed on me differently.

How did it land on me?

Jesus reveals that His disciples must be willing to renounce all that we have in order to be His follower. I am afraid that those of us who live in the West hear those words, champion them, preach them, teach them, but don’t take them to heart. We want to add Jesus to our comfortable lives, to the American and cultural dream of what it means to be happy and successful. I am not saying we shouldn’t be successful, we shouldn’t work hard, or that we shouldn’t have things that make life more comfortable. If the Lord blesses us in that way, praise God. Instead, what I am driving towards is that we can’t make those things ultimate. They can’t be those things that define us. Our relationship with Jesus should define us. It should be what makes us happy and joyful. It should be what gives us meaning and purpose, as well as peace in life.

We must not add Jesus to our cultural idea of success.

Instead, we must allow Jesus to define success. I am afraid that is where many of us fail, myself included. We chase after the things of the world as if they are ultimate. We get frustrated when they are not manifested in our life. We believe Jesus has abandoned us. Jesus, however, hasn’t abandoned us. He is right there with us, teaching and guiding us. He wants us to see that He is the One to whom we should look to for ideas of success, not the world.

If we are going to be Jesus’ disciple, we must renounce all worldly ideas and be willing to live according to biblical ideas and convictions, regardless if they are popular or not.

“All things” is all things.

We must be willing to forsake, to abandon and renounce all things, pledging our full allegiance to Jesus. But more than that — we must find our life and being in Jesus. As believers, our kingdom is not of this world. We must live as if that is true.

Once we are able to renounce all things, living in the world, no matter how blessed or how difficult life might be, we will be joyful and peaceful because we will be living as Jesus’ disciples, allowing Him to dictate and determine what should and shouldn’t bring us joy, meaning, and purpose in life.

There is no escaping the Lord’s Judgment

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

There is a day coming from which no one can hide. One day the fabric of the cosmos as we know it will roll back like a scroll to reveal the Creator and Judge of all the earth (Rev 6:14). A time of judgement will come. A time where the Lord’s wrath will be poured out.

What, when, and how this will take place is hotly disputed, but the most interesting aspect of the Day of the Lord is that no one can escape. Notice the text highlights “everyone” from those who are in power to those who are slaves. Kings and wealthy oligarchs and influencers will face the same wrath as those who are enslaved, used, and abused by those who wield power.

At the judgment seat, as well as at the foot of cross the ground is level. The ground is level because all are sinners. Sinners are not just those who miss the mark from time to time, or those who fall short of God’s commands, even though that is true. Sinners do fall short of God’s commands. We fall short because we are rebels. Not just because we messed up at that moment. No, we are rebels. We want to call the shots. We want to be King. We want to be Creator. We are rebels. As rebels, we all deserve God’s wrath.

Thankfully, there is a Lamb who was slain for our rebellion. The precious blood of Jesus was spilt on our behalf. Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are united with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. The Father’s wrath passes over Christians, not because we are better or more righteous than another, but because Jesus is better and more righteous.

There is a judgment coming. The only way to prepare for it is to believe in Jesus. We cannot build a bunker or run far enough away. There is no escaping the Lord’s judgment.

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith?

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 1:20

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith? We talk a lot about God building us up. The Spirit working monergistically in us and on us. How are we to build ourselves up in the faith?

One way in which I believe Jude, the author of this short letter, has in mind that we build ourselves up is by understanding that their are false teachers whose desire is to destroy our faith. We build ourselves in the faith as we not only understand their teaching and why it is false, but when we grow in our understanding of our own faith. We will never guard against false teaching if we do not know our own faith.

Knowing our own faith is where many Americans, and Christians, struggle. Many are not able to answer simple questions like, “What is the gospel? Who is God? How were Old Testament saints saved?” We must, however, have a simple understanding of the Bible, its doctrine and theology. We must know how to answer our critics and why a particular teacher’s teaching is false. If we don’t, we open ourselves up to deception.

Christian, build yourself up in the faith!

Your walk must match your confession

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 Jn 1:6)

Not as much today, but certainly in days past, cultural Christianity was dominate, especially in the Bible Belt. As time has progressed, cultural Christianity has waned, even in the Bible Belt. While that might mean Christians don’t experience as much favor in society as we once did, I don’t believe the death of cultural Christianity is a bad thing. For one, it has actually strengthened the church. Those who profess the name of Christ are actually believers and churches operate less like Country Clubs and more like, well, the church.

While Christianity has begun to lose its pull on culture, another form of Christianity, one just as detrimental, has increased. Progressive Christianity is filling the vacuum of cultural Christianity. But while cultural Christians were still exposed to the true gospel, progressive Christians are not. The true gospel is replaced in progressive churches with a different message.

While the difference between cultural Christianity and progressive Christianity is stark, neither represent the truth and neither provide true life change. Both are false gospels that keep one walking in darkness.

As we learn from our verse this morning, those who continue to walk in darkness, even if they say they have a relationship with Jesus, are liars and are not practicing the truth. Those are strong words, but they are true. Those who adhere to progressive Christianity and cultural Christianity need to hear those words. As well as those who attend a gospel-centered, Bible believing and preaching church need to hear those words. Our life much match our confession. If it doesn’t, we do not have fellowship with Jesus. We are not Christian. We don’t have hope.

In saying our life must match our confession, I am not saying we should live a legalistic lives. That is one of the major mistakes of cultural Christianity. The idea that we can clean ourselves up is a false one.

If we can’t clean ourselves up, how can our life be a test of our faith?

Our life can be a test of our faith because a life lived for Christ springs out of a heart changed by Christ.

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our heart has been changed. Our heart, in biblical language, refers to our will, wants, and desires. Those have been changed to match God’s. When our heart is aligned with God’s heart, we live in manner consistent with the light. We won’t want to walk in darkness. We will instead desire the light. We will desire the things of God.

Whether you are on the more liberal or legalistic end of the spectrum or right in the middle, your walk must match your confession or your confession is not true.

We have more than we deserve, bless the Lord all His saints

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pe 1:3-5)

We are such a blessed people. Not only has the Father given His only Son so that we might experience salvation from His wrath. But He has caused us to be born again to a living hope. A hope that will not perish or be defiled. It will not fade. Instead, it is kept in the most secure place possible — it is kept in heaven.

When Jesus returns, He will bring His kingdom with Him. A kingdom that is perfect. One that will never be defeated. One that will last for all eternity. Finally, when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, we will be able to experience life as God designed. There will be no sickness, no death, no disunity, no racism, no winter storms. There will be nothing that hinders our ability to live as God has designed.

We can trust that will take place because Jesus was raised from the dead. After three days in the grave — there was no way He was just faking it — He rose from the dead. After interacting with well over 500 people for 40 days, He ascended into heaven in front of the disciples. He promised to come back. His promise is guaranteed because we have been sent the Holy Spirit who works in our life day in and day out.

We are a blessed people. As blessed people, we should bless God. We should praise Him. We should submit our lives to Him giving Him His due worship by allowing Him to guide and direct our lives instead of trying to guide and direct it ourselves.

Blessed the Lord all those who have experienced God’s blessing. We have much more than we deserve.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)

There are no Lone Ranger Christians. We cannot live the Christian life on our own. We need one another. If we believe we can live the Christian life alone, we are sadly mistaken. Jesus and our Bible is not all we need. We need one another.

Not only do we need one another, but we need others who will be honest with us. We need brothers and sisters in Christ who will speak the truth in love into our life (Eph 4). If all we surround ourselves with are people who refuse to stick their neck out to tell us the truth, we are no better off than living the Christian life on our own.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

In saying that we should prioritize community, I’m not saying it will be easy. Living in community with others is difficult. It is even difficult to prioritize the time to be with one another. We must be intentional and purposeful. Community doesn’t just happen it is planned and fought for.