For my research for Sunday’s lesson, I dug into some Bible dictionaries to learn more about the biblical idea of discipleship. Many provided a small entry, but a couple of them had much more to say. What was interesting was this portion from The Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Part 1:
- “Discipleship was based on a call by Jesus (Mk. 1:16-20; 2:13f.; Lk. 9:59-62; even Lk. 9:57f. presupposes Jesus’ invitation in general terms). It involved personal allegiance to him, expressed in following him and giving him an exclusive loyalty (Mk. 8:34-38; Lk. 14:26-33). In at least some cases it meant literal abandonment of home, business ties and possessions (Mk. 10:21, 28), but in every case readiness to put the claims of Jesus first, whatever the cost, was demanded. Such an attitude went well beyond the normal pupil-teacher relationship and gave the word ‘disciple’ a new sense. Faith in Jesus and allegiance to him are what determine the fate of men at the last judgment (Lk. 12:8f).”
Isn’t that interesting? Jesus redefined discipleship to mean a total, sold-out, wholehearted commitment to Him no matter the cost!
In Luke 18:18-27; Mark 10:17-27; and Matthew 19:16-26 we see the story of the Rich Young Ruler. Notice he came to Jesus and asked how to have eternal life (as we find out reading this, he just wanted a ticket out of Hell and a pass into Heaven). Jesus knows everyone’s heart, so he starts with the commandments to which this young man states he has kept them from his youth. So, Jesus now digs into his heart and tells him to let go of his personal god—the god of possessions. The young man left sad because he didn’t want to forsake wealth to follow Jesus (remember Matthew 6:24 & Luke 16:13 where Jesus states you cannot serve God and money?).
After the Rich Young Ruler left, Peter tells Jesus that they have left everything for Him, and then asks what their reward will be. Jesus tells them in Matthew 19:28-29:
- “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”
Becoming a disciple of Jesus means letting go of ourselves, our identity, and ultimately our gods (remember God said He will have no other gods before Him?). When you give up the god of family, of status, of power, of position, of possessions, of yourself, for the name and sake of Christ, you receive eternal life. That’s a part of the Gospel that is often underplayed. We’ve been taught to seek quick decisions for Christ without telling people the cost of discipleship—complete allegiance to Christ!
Now, money is not bad in and of itself (the question is not if you own money, but does it own you?). Families are definitely not bad, and in fact are designed by God. But when anything becomes our god, then we tend to sacrifice for it and serve it.
Jesus demands full allegiance and worship.
Have you ever heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? He was a German pastor who stood against the evil of Hitler. His writings on discipleship are famous as he was arrested and hung in 1945 for his stand. Look at some of the statements of this man who gave all for Christ:
- “The life of discipleship can only be maintained as long as nothing is allowed to come between Christ and ourselves, neither the law, nor personal piety, nor even the world. The disciple always looks only to his master, never to Christ AND the law, Christ AND religion, Christ AND the world. Only by following Christ alone can he preserve a single eye.”
- “The followers of Jesus for His sake renounce every personal right… If after giving up everything else for His sake they still wanted to cling to their own rights, they would then have ceased to follow Him.”
- “Cheap grace is grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession… Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
- “Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.”
- The human sin condition is characterized by our extremely excessive self-centeredness. When we visited Genesis 3 last Summer we saw that the goal of every human is to become his own god. Heck, the Mormons have created a whole religion around this idea. But, Christ calls us to deny ourselves, to give up any rights we have to ourselves, to sacrifice all to follow Him:
- The more you read the Bible the more your sin is exposed. If you are a child of Christ, you will welcome the Light of the Word exposing your wickedness, convicting you so that you can lay it all at the cross. Ask God now to show you areas of your life that have not been wholly given to Him; those sins (gods) that you are holding onto that need to be repented of and turned away from: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What parts of your life do you recognize are hardest to give up for Him? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Confess those now as well.
- True freedom as a Christian comes when we give up our slavery to sin and become slaves of Christ. A slave of Christ does whatever his Master commands, and goes wherever He sends Him. Ask God now to show you what He wants you to do for Him, and where He wants you to go.
- And the difference between a slave of sin and a slave of Christ is that in Christ we are not only free, but become His children with all the rights and authority vested in us as sons and daughters of Him! Reflect on how great this blessing is: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- If you’re rich, make sure you use everything you have for the Kingdom of God. If you’re middle class, make sure you use everything you have for the Kingdom of God. If you’re poor, make sure you use everything you have for the Kingdom of God. God loves a cheerful giver!
- Sadly, middle-class and lower members of churches give a larger percentage of their income than rich members do.
- Sadly, the majority of people who are members of churches give very little time to the work of the church (that’s any part of the church’s work, from evangelism to teaching to serving, etc.).
- John Maxwell (well-known pastor and leadership guru) discusses the Pareto Principle in churches wherein 20% of the members do 80% of the work and give 80% of the monies.
- What can you do to regularly serve Waikoloa Baptist Church and our community for the Kingdom of God, both physically and monetarily? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What can you do to serve the Southern Baptist efforts to reach our State, nation, and world, both physically and monetarily? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- “The kingdom of heaven is worth infinitely more than the cost of discipleship, and those who know where the treasure lies joyfully abandon everything else to secure it.”—D.A. Carson