Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. A lot of people think becoming a Christian simply means obeying the Ten Commandments and then going on with your usual life and career goals, unless God appears to you in a burning bush or a bowl of Cheerios or something. But that is not true. Following Jesus means accepting His mission as your own and pursuing it. When Jesus told His disciples that they would need to take up their cross to follow Him, He didn't mean that they needed to put on their cross-shaped jewelry to symbolize their faith.
He meant it quite literally. Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer teaches how Jesus wanted His disciples to be willing to give up everything to advance the kingdom of God.
And guess what? He wants the same thing from us today. If you've missed any of this teaching series through the Gospel of Luke called In Step, you can catch up free of charge at jdgreer.com.
But for now, let's jump back in where we left off yesterday in the message titled Take Up the Cross. Today, many people come to Jesus because they know that He can help their marriages. He can bless their finances. He can relieve their burden, sometimes even heal their body.
He can help them be successful. And yes, listen to me, He can do all of those things. But here's the question. What if obedience to Jesus leads you away from all of those things? What if it leads you to a place where you don't even have a place to lay your head down?
Write this down. Are you following Jesus for comfort or for a cross? Jesus says to them in these verses, if following me leads you away from even having a place to call home, is that where you will go?
Is He enough even without a home? Like I told you, Jesus was not into the follow me for your best life now kind of invitation. He was into the I'm enough for you, even if you have the worst life kind of invitation. Luke 9, verse 59. To another, He said, follow me. But this one replied, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, leave the dead to bury their own dead.
But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God now. That seems kind of harsh, doesn't it? Can't even get my dad into a decent grave? Scholars say this wasn't about going to his dad's funeral to pay his respects or any kind of grotesque thing where he's supposed to leave his dad unburied. It was about going home to obtain his inheritance. This man wanted to follow Jesus, but he didn't want to give up that inheritance because that inheritance was something he'd been looking forward to his whole life.
It was his security for the future. And Jesus says, are you willing to follow me if it means giving up that inheritance? Here's a question for you. Are there any limits to your obedience? Is there any place where you would say, I will not, I cannot walk away from that? More practically, is there anything that he's told you to stop doing that you're still doing?
Some relationship you're in, some habits. Is there anything that he has told you to start doing that you're not doing yet? Think tithing, think generosity, think getting baptized, think obedience to some call, maybe engaging in some ministry. It could be as simple as joining the church. A follower of Jesus has forsaken all that Jesus has forbidden and commenced all that Jesus commanded.
It's like I just said, you got to put your life down as a blank check and say, Lord Jesus, all that I have, all that I am, all that I ever hoped to be, I give now entirely forever to you. My oldest daughter is 17. My second daughter is 15, about turned 16. And so we're in those driver's ed years. And I'm not sure if they do driver's ed the same.
I'm assuming they do. I didn't actually get a look inside the car, but when I took driver's ed, it was a really cheap little car. Didn't have much to do with it. It was a really cheap little car.
Didn't have much power in it, but it was like a normal car, except for one thing. And that was in the passenger seat where the driver's ed instructor sat, there was a break. That's still how they do it. It's just one breath. That's all it was, just one break. And so we drive around and who was in charge of the car?
Well, I was mostly, except for whenever my driver's ed instructor wanted to veto what I was about to do, because I don't know, it was about to be dangerous or something. And so I was kind of in charge of the car, but anytime that man wanted, he just pressed on that brake. We'd come to a stop. Override, veto.
No, you cannot do that. Question I think for many of us when it comes to Jesus is, I'd say for the majority of you, you put Jesus in the driver's seat of your car. The question is, who owns the brake pedal?
There's still a brake pedal. There's still like, I'm going to follow you, I'm going to let you influence, but there's a few places where I'm like, nope, put the brake on. Any limits to your obedience? Luke 9, 61, yet another said, I will follow you Lord, but let me first say farewell to those in my home. And Jesus said to him, no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Now again, that seems a little harsh, doesn't it?
No, but this was not just to let me run home and tell my mom that I'm not going to be home for dinner so they don't turn in a missing person report on my behalf. Verse 62 shows you that there was hesitation, sinful hesitation. Here is the question for you, are you delaying any area of obedience? You in high school, college, and you're thinking, well, when I get older, I'll follow Jesus fully after I get settled in my career, when I'm out of this situation. Jesus could not say it more clearly. You cannot have me and delayed obedience.
It's either full surrender or no surrender. Let me use marriage as an example. Imagine after dating Veronica, my wife, for a while, I'd said to her, hey, I want to marry you. There is no other girl I want to grow old with, but I am also having fun right now playing the field. So here's the deal, let's get married so I can have you locked down for life because I don't want to lose you. And I know a girl like you that if I don't lock you down, you're going to get taken up by somebody else. And so I want to lock you down, but I don't want to live together at first, because I'd like to have my nights free to keep doing what I do and play in the field.
I'll settle down with you when I'm older. Of course, she's not going to respond positively to that. To have somebody as special as Veronica, I had to give myself fully to her. Here's the point.
Is that Veronica over there? Here's the point. Many people think they already belong to Jesus. They're like, well, I prayed the prayer except for Christ when I was 12. But they think following Him fully is going to happen only later. And what I'll tell you is, nope, just as Veronica would not have put up with two years of our marriage with me where I just ignored her, Jesus will not have followers who do not submit to following Him fully, immediately.
When Jesus commands you to do something, are you the kind of person who asks questions like, is it safe? How much will it cost? What will these people think? What is it going to do to my relationships at school? What is it going to mean for my college life?
What's it going to mean for my bank account? For a true follower of Jesus, there are no such questions. There are no hesitations. What Jesus commands you do. So take up your cross means total self-surrender. It means death to any control you claim over your life. It also means, number two, a personal embrace of the Great Commission. A personal embrace of the Great Commission is not just passive surrender Jesus is after. As if you come to a point where you say, okay, I obey any commands that you give me. Right? You speak to me audibly from heaven.
I'm submitted to do that. And then you just go on about your life. The cross, think about it, was Jesus' instrument of world salvation. So to take up the cross meant actively, proactively devoting your life to his mission. I point this out because a lot of people think becoming a Christian simply means obeying the 10 commandments and then going on with your usual life and career goals unless God appears to you in a burning bush or a bowl of Cheerios or something. But that is not true. Following Jesus means accepting his mission as your own and pursuing it. It's like I said a few weeks ago, there is no such thing as a follower of Jesus who is not devoted to the mission. No such thing.
Let me give you two very practical questions here. Number one, have you embraced the Great Commission? Have you personally embraced the Great Commission? What is the Great Commission? A number of places in the Bible spell it out.
Let me just highlight one for you. Second Peter 3.9, the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. You all, people talk about finding the will of God. I got good news for you this morning. It's not lost.
It's right there. The Lord is not willing that any should perish and he wants to use you to bring them to repentance. What is God's will for my life?
It is God's will to use you to bring people around you to faith in Christ. Do you know what God's word says about the lost? Second Thessalonians 7, 1 verses 7 through 9. When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels and flaming fire, he will inflict vengeance on those who do not know God. And on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
Revelation 20, 15, and if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, anyone from any place on earth of any background, he was thrown into the lake of fire. How could you and I believe that gospel and do nothing? Listen, yes, God did not make all of us the same and he's got lots of roles for us in the body of Christ. You're not all supposed to be like me doing what I do full-time.
By the way, some of you are. And I pray that God raises up lots of men and women for full-time ministry from this church. But we don't all have the role that I have, but all of us, regardless of our role, have got one thing in common. And that is it is our personal responsibility to tell the people in our lives about Jesus. The cross demands something of us.
If you believe that, it has to change your priorities. The story I always think of, in fact, I spoke a couple of days ago at North Raleigh Christian Academy and I told them this story. It's like a story I heard years ago about a man who was a true story of a guy that was driving outside of Los Angeles about 20 years ago when there was an earthquake. Seemed like a pretty severe earthquake, but it didn't seem to the man like he'd done it that much damage. He pulled his car off the side of the road, went out the earthquake.
The earthquake was over. He pulled the car back on the road and started to cross one of those big bridges that goes over those body of water out there. And so he said, he's just driving along and going across this bridge just minutes after this earthquake is done. And he notices the taillights of the car in front of him just disappear. So he stopped his car and he got out and looked. And he said to his horror, he saw that one of the sections, evidently in the earthquake, and this bridge had just fallen out and he'd seen the car just plunge off into the water below. So the man turns around and there's other cars coming down this bridge. So he starts to wave, try to get their attention.
Now it's 3.30 in the morning outside of Los Angeles and there's a guy on the side of the road waving his arms. He said, he watched. He said, not one, not two, not three. He said, I watched four cars drive right by me at 55, 60 miles an hour, all of them plunging to the death below. He said, I saw a bus coming across the bridge and I just made up my mind. If this bus goes off this bridge, it's going to have to take me with it. So I stood right there in the middle. He says, I took my shirt off and I was waving my arms. And he goes, that bus was flashing his lights and honking his horn. And I just wouldn't move. I stood there, bus driver gets out, he's cussing and yelling and I show him, I show him about the bridge.
And so of course the bus driver took his bridge and parked it there so he cut off access and people couldn't keep doing that. When I think about that story, the question I hear is, is that an abnormal reaction? The thing about you, if you had been the first person there, would you have done something similar?
I would think so. I can't see you saying, well, I'm just going to stand here on the side of the road and try to show people by my example what the right thing to do is here. No, you would say, hey, people are about to die and I see something they don't see.
Would you have cared that they thought that you were a little bit out of your mind? No, because you would say, I see something they don't see that demands something. How could you and I understand what the Bible says about eternity and about people without Jesus and just say, I'm just going to go on about my life.
It just doesn't make sense. Have you embraced the Great Commission as your own? Following Jesus means reassessing your talents and your resources in light of the Great Commission. We challenge all of our students here to put the mission of God first and where they pursue their career. We challenge them to give at least the first two years after they graduate college to go and explore a career just in tandem with somewhere we're planting a church. We're like, you got to get a job somewhere. Why not get a job at a place where God's doing something strategic?
By the way, if you're a college student, one of the best practical steps for that is do city project. It's one of the best things you do around here. I'm making sure the applications are still open, but let's just say that they are. This summer, it's a great way for you to engage in what God may want to do with your life. But see, that kind of thinking is not just for students. You, at whatever age, need to reassess your gifts. Why did God give you the talents that He gave you? Why did He give you the resources that He gave you? Are you using those for the Great Commission only when life to live will soon be past?
Only what's done for Christ will last. Follow me, Jesus said. I'll make you a fisher of men. Not follow me and I'll make a handful of you fishers of men. That's what He has for you. There's no such thing as a follower of Jesus who is not devoted to the mission.
Here's the second practical question on this one. Are you obeying His command to care for the poor? Let me do this quickly. Jesus said repeatedly throughout the book of Luke that if we do not act on behalf of the poor, our faith is not real. Jesus came to set the captive free and to relieve the burden of the suffering. If we're not doing that, we cannot call ourselves His followers. In fact, Luke 16, Jesus describes a rich, religious man who had everything right.
Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to get into this story in this series, I don't think. But this man believes all the right things. He lived by all the right morals. He was super involved in religion.
He was on every committee there was in the synagogue. But he ignored the suffering of the people around him. It's not my responsibility, he said. I didn't steal from them.
Everything I've gotten, I've earned, honestly. One of the most shocking twists in any of Jesus' stories, that uber religious man ended up in hell. His lack of engagement with the poor was the indication that his faith was not real.
By the way, that story is not a fluke. Proverbs 21, 13, whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. Look at that. You pray, you go to church faithfully, but you shut your ears to the poor. And so when you pray, it doesn't matter. Proverbs 28, 27, whoever gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes from them will get many a curse.
You will be cursed by God. You say you're a disciple, but haven't you asked how is my life supposed to lift others up and how is it supposed to relieve suffering around me? Are you thinking about your career only in terms of how it can help you accomplish your goals? How it can gain for you the house you've always wanted, the vacations you want, the retirements you want? Where have you asked how God is supposed to use your talents, your resources to lift up others? Well, let me say it like this. Is the trajectory of your life going toward human suffering or away from it? Many of us are using our privileges and our ability to make money to isolate ourselves from human suffering. Jesus said, my followers will go toward it.
Here's the bottom line. When Jesus called people to follow him, he did not mince words. He said, take up your cross, hate your father and mother, renounce everything. It was almost like he wanted to turn people away, but of course that was not his goal. He wanted us to count the cost. He wanted us to think about exactly what he was asking and not attempt to use Jesus as just a fire escape or a divine genie to help us through our problems.
And that's what I want today also. I want you to carefully count the cost because praying a prayer or raising your hand or getting baptized or getting involved in a small group, none of those things is the essence of discipleship. Total surrender and a personal embrace of the great commission is. Is that what you're ready for? Is that what you committed to? If your answer to that is yes, does your life demonstrate that kind of radical obedience now in every area? You willing to stand where he tells you to stand, even if it's unpopular and you got to stand alone? Are you willing to testify to Jesus and say you belong to him and that he's most important thing in your life, even if others make fun of that? You're willing to be generous where he tells you to be generous, to go where he tells you to go, do what he tells you to do?
Don't tell me you're ready to go all the way with Jesus if you're not obeying him in obeying him in the areas where he's already spoken. Why do so many so-called Christians stop following Jesus when it gets hard? John R. W. Stott, one of the great Christian leaders, Billy Graham's friend from a previous generation, the Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict half-built towers, the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called nominal Christianity. Christians get somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great soft cushion that protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life but doesn't transform their lives in radical ways.
No wonder cynics dismiss religion as escapism. Friend, I need you to choose nominal Christianity or real Christianity. I need you to choose Jude, Jesus as a comfort, or Jesus as a cross.
So today I'm going to ask you to make a very simple decision in that direction. I'm going to ask you to recommit to the five essential identities of a follower of Jesus, but before I walk you through that, I want to speak one last word of truth into you, okay? Listen, the context into which Jesus made these demands of discipleship, to renounce everything and to become so dedicated to Jesus that compared to your commitment to him every other relationship would seem like hate. The context was in response to his incredible offer to us. You see, the verse is leading right up to Luke 14 25. You can read it later. Jesus had compared the offer of salvation to this wealthy powerful king who threw this gigantic feast and invited a bunch of honored guests. Shockingly, however, a lot of these guests started to make excuses for why they couldn't come and these excuses range from the lame to the absurd. Well, I just bought a piece of property.
I need to go out check it out. Or I just got married and my wife and I really want some alone time. So the king says to his messenger, he's like, all right, well, if these people won't come, then I want you to go out to the ghettos. Go find the poor and the homeless and the diseased, those who are living in ditches and under bridges, and I want you to tell them to come. The whole point of the story is how absurd it would be to turn down an offer like that from the king, especially if you were one of the homeless and the diseased. Friend, do you realize what you're being offered?
What excuse could possibly justify rejection or even hesitation in the face of so great an offer? And so I would say to you, yes, the demands of Jesus are severe, but do you know what Jesus offers to you? He that has the son, 1 John 5 12, he that has a son has life. Whatever does not have the son will never see life, eternal life, eternal adoption into the family of God, forgiveness, the power of resurrection and work in you to heal and restore you, both you and those around you, his presence inside you that will never leave you or forsake you, a divine inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, a home and an eternity of joy, of delight and blessedness with the family of God and God's presence.
For right now, the promise that a sovereign good heavenly father watches over you so carefully and so tenderly that he knows when even a hair falls from your head and then pledges to work all things in your life for good, that he will lead you beside still waters of fulfillment and make your cup of joy overflow even in the midst of pain and that in his presence, even in the presence of your enemies, he'll prepare for you a feast of satisfaction, that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, they'll literally stalk you, you couldn't get away from them if you tried and then you'll dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That's a God who, in your worst moments, and your worst moments, didn't despise you but had mercy on you and came after you and then even after you spurned him, he kept coming. He never gave up. He never looked away. He loved you faithfully and consistently. Even in your worst moments, he loves you right now. He is pursuing you no matter what a mess you've made of your life.
No one's love for you has ever been as constant or consistent or as fervent as his. He's a Jesus who promised to bear this discipleship burden with you, who will forgive and support and restore you when you struggle even to get out of bed in the morning, much less live successfully as a disciple, who has promised to walk with you and sustain you and pick you up when you fall in light of all that. What possible excuse could you have to stay away?
What reason could you manufacture that could justify even the slightest hesitation? Nothing is excluded from Jesus' rule over our lives, and in exchange, He gives us life, forgiveness. Take Up the Cross has been our subject today from Pastor J.D.
Greer. If you missed any part of this message or if you'd like to catch up on the rest of our series from the book of Luke, you can listen free of charge at jdgreer.com. This month, we've created a resource that the whole family can use together.
It's a set of 50 memory verse cards. Encourage one another as you hide more scripture in your heart this year than ever before. Even though it seems like a kid's activity to work on memorizing scripture, there are dozens of reasons why this is such an important thing for us to do throughout our lives.
But for the sake of time, I'll hit just a couple. First, Jesus memorized scripture. Jesus quoted the Old Testament frequently in His life and ministry. I mean, He quoted 24 different books of the Bible 180 times.
It's clear that He thought the word of God was the ultimate authority in His life. Perhaps the most compelling reason for us to memorize scripture is that we are called to do it. Colossians 3 16 tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. This set of cards comes with our thanks when you donate today to support this ministry so that more people can dive into the message of the gospel with us on a daily basis. Give and request your Rejoice Always scripture memory cards when you call 866-335-5220.
One more time. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can request the set when you donate online at JDGrier.com. By the way, if you haven't checked out Pastor JD's newest podcast called Ask Me Anything, you'll want to do that today. Pastor JD gives quick, honest answers to tricky questions, and you can find it online at JDGrier.com or through your favorite podcasting app. I'm Molly Vinovich. Next week, we'll cover the most famous parable Jesus ever told, the story of the prodigal son. So be sure to come back Monday and listen to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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