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Discipleship #16: Christ’s Terms of Discipleship

From the beginning of Jesus public ministry, Luke 4:22  and John 7:46 record  that  the crowds were continually drawn to Him because of His gracious words, kind deeds and miracles.  Most of the previous  messages in this series on discipleship came from our study of Jesus’ teachings about discipleship in Luke 12.

Now in Luke 14:25-35 we learn of Jesus’ terms of discipleship. In this passage before us, the crowds are continuing to follow Jesus.  Will He capitalize on His success and show them more miracles to capture their attention?  Will He flatter the people by giving them what they want to hear? 

No, Jesus throughout His ministry on earth always offered severe conditions for those who wished to follow Him as disciples.  His teachings then were as unpopular as they are for those who are confronted by them today.  We learn in Luke 9:57-62 that the crowds faded away then as they do today wherever His terms of discipleship are presented.

Before we get into the terms of discipleship, let’s differentiate among the terms of Salvation, Apostleship and Discipleship.  

Salvation  

First, understand that the door of salvation is open wide by God’s grace to all who will come by faith to Christ  and receive Him as Saviour.  See John 1:12  Romans 10:13  

Apostleship

Understand that the Apostles were 12 men Jesus chose to invest His time teaching them and training them to lay the doctrinal foundation for His Church after He was gone. Read  Ephesians 2:19-22, Acts 2:41-42.   In Jude 3 we learn that the doctrine of Christ was delivered to the saints (the Church) once for all.  It is the Body of doctrine given by Christ through His twelve Apostles, that we are to contend for its purity throughout the Church Age.

According to II Corinthians 12:12 these twelve  Apostles were given special gifts and signs, such as performing miracles, healing the sick and raising the dead, as evidence of their calling.  With the passing of the Apostles, those special gifts and signs disappeared during the first century.  We no longer need these signs as evidence of the Truth.  We have the completed Bible which we accept as God’s Word.  It’s true that God still works miracles today, including healing the sick; but those miracles come in answer to the prayers of the Church.

Discipleship

Becoming a Disciple of Christ remains open to anyone in any age who qualifies.  A Disciple of  Christ and a Christian ought to be synonymous, but in reality it is not. 

We can be saved from sin by admitting we are sinners and putting our trust in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection for our sins. We are justified by faith alone; but we bring shame to Christ’s name, when we as believer refuse to submit to Christ’s Lordship and become His disciples.

A disciple is a believer who has come to Christ for salvation and who follows Jesus, patterning His life after Jesus and living that life in Christ’s strength.  He is a born again believer who has been justified by faith and is surrendered to the indwelling Holy Spirit, and is progressing in sanctification and spiritual maturity. He  is a learner; not one who simply learns facts about Jesus;  but one who is learning to know Jesus personally.

We are aware that salvation is received on Christ’s terms; not ours.  But are you aware that becoming a disciple of Christ is also on His terms?  What are Christ’s terms of discipleship?  What does He require?

I. UNRIVALED AFFECTION  Luke 14:26  Matthew 10:34-37

In these verses  Jesus is not telling us that we should have an angry, hostile attitude towards our family or others. Rather, He is speaking of contrasting preferences for God over our families and loved ones.  God must be first.   After Jesus’ resurrection, He pushed the issue with Peter at a breakfast on the shores of Galilee. See  John 21:15-17

In Luke 14:26 Jesus presses the issue further.  We must not only prefer Christ to our families, but we must also prefer Him to ourselves.  Again Jesus is not teaching that we must have a self-destructive, morbid, suicidal attitude towards ourselves.  Rather, we consider our wills, our desires, our ambitions in life to be unimportant in contrast to doing the will of God.  Paul summed it up well in Philippians 1:21  “For to me to live is Christ; to die is gain.”

Years ago someone shared a short anonymous poem with me that has blessed me.

“Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me

A living, bright reality,

More present to faith’s vision keen

Than any outward object seen;

More dear,  more intimately nigh

Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.”    

II. UNAVOIDABLE CROSS Lk. 14:27  

Our cross is not a physical infirmity, a temperamental weakness, or some misfortune. These are the common lot of all humanity.  Rather, bearing our cross is voluntarily accepting  the suffering and shame that comes with identifying ourselves with Christ as His disciple and witness.   Bearing His cross is a matter of our choice.  Beware when you refuse to stand for Christ in order to avoid suffering for Him. Luke 6:26  As Christians we are to expect unpopularity and reproach and rejoice in it. Matthew 5:11-12, and Hebrews 13:13

Vance Havner, a preacher of a past generation said, “As long as the church wore scars, they made headway. When they began to wear medals, the cause languished. It was a greater day for the church when Christians were fed to the lions, than when they bought season tickets and sat in the grandstand.”

With Paul we should long to experience and share in Christ’s sufferings. Philippians 3:10. In fact, it is impossible to follow Christ as His disciple and avoid the cross. We are crucified with Him. Galatians 2:20   Matthew 16:24 teaches that discipleship involves self denial.  It is not a once time emotional experience. It is a daily taking up of our cross. It is putting ourselves in a position where we experience the pain and suffering  of being identified with Him in a holy walk. Luke 9:23   It is losing our rights for Him. Matthew 10:38-39

Paul does not ask us to be irresponsible and fool-hardy, but he challenges us to follow him as he follows Christ.  In so doing the world sees the true follower of Christ as a fool, as weak and as despised.  I Corinthians 4:9-16   This is what it ultimately means to be a true disciple of Christ.  There  is quite a difference between us soft  American Christians  who crave for ease, popularity and a successful self image in contrast with the terms of discipleship Jesus taught.

III  UNSELFISH DEVOTION TO CHRIST  Luke 14:33

The true Christian disciple belongs exclusively to Christ, as do our possessions,  our homes, our cars,  our bank accounts, investments, our time, talents and abilities.

For Abraham, Moses, Paul and all the other faithful men and women of the Bible, it meant forsaking all to follow Him.

Do you remember the rich man in Matthew 19:16-22  who came to Christ desiring  to follow Him, but went away sorrowful. It cost him more than he was willing to pay. To learn more about the cost of discipleship  read Jesus’ conversation with Peter  in the same chapter, verses 27-30.

Discipleship also includes taking joyfully the wearing out and the spoiling of our material things  in our service for Christ.  Hebrews 10:34

Though we have other relationships, such as husband, wife, children, parents, and job, etc. yet our relationship and loyalty to Christ must be our first priority.

Though we own property, a home, a car and other material possessions necessary for life in this age, our attitude towards it all is that Christ is our Lord.  We hold our possessions loosely, knowing that the God who gives can also take them away. We seek to use our possessions only for His glory.  When Christ is first, then everyone and everything else falls into its proper priority. We do not become irresponsible  towards our lesser responsibilities.   We recognize that all we are and all we possess is subject to His sovereignty.

This kind of total surrender results in a life of powerful influence for God.  Inversely,  the Christian who lives primarily for himself has an insipid, tasteless testimony that attracts no one to Christ. You have trusted in Christ as Saviour. Have you gone any further?  Will you pray with me, “Lord, all I am, all I have and all I ever hope to be, I sacrifice to  You.  Direct me. Use me as  You will.  I’m Yours unconditionally now and forever.” 

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August 24, 2006 - Posted by | Discipleship

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