Jesus said, Blessed are the persecuted and they are suffering big time right now. This is Bible League International and 19-year-old Aria was beaten by her own father and violated by local authorities. You know what her crime was?
Simply that she gave her life to Jesus Christ after leaving radical Islam. They need Bibles in order to endure and persevere. And that's why Truth Network and Bible League are teamed up to send God's Word to 3500 persecuted believers around the world at $5 a Bible, $100 since 20. Call 800-YES-WORD, 800-YES-WORD, 800-YES-WORD, or give at truthnetwork.com. This is Robbie Dilmore from The Christian Car Guy and Kingdom Pursuit, where we hear how God takes your passion and uses it to build a kingdom. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it and share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network.
This is part one of a special two-part episode. Do you feel like you're on a religious treadmill? Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?
I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. I've entitled tonight's message, No Reserves, No Retreat, No Regrets.
We're going to be looking at Luke chapter 9, verses 46 to 52. You may have heard the story of William Borden. He was born in 1887 to one of the wealthiest families in Chicago, the Borden dairy family.
You may remember the Borden milk products. His mother, who was a devout Christian, actually led William to Christ at a very early age, and when he graduated from high school, he took a trip around the world, but it wasn't just a trip of enjoyment. He actually was going to meet with missionaries in different countries, and while he was taking this trip, his heart was drawn to the mission field. In fact, he wrote back to his mother and he said, when I look ahead a few years, it seems as though the only thing to do is prepare for the foreign mission field.
When he returned from his travels, he entered Yale University where he attended a conference during his freshman year that would change his life forever. One of the speakers at the conference was a man by the name of Samuel Swimmer, who was considered the apostle to the Muslims, and he was there meeting with Christians on the campus, challenging them to sign up for the mission field, specifically to reach Muslims in the far east, and he made no attempt to water down the cost. He said, of course it will cost life. It is not an expedition of ease nor a picnic excursion to which we're called.
Did y'all hear that? Following Jesus, it's not an expedition of ease nor a picnic excursion to which we're called. So William began to pray about serving as a missionary to the Muslims in northern China, and in one of his notebooks, he later wrote, in every man's heart there's a throne and a cross. If Christ is on the throne, self is on the cross. If Jesus is on the throne, you will go wherever he wants you to go. So let me ask you, who's on the throne in your heart?
You or Jesus? While at Yale, he received word that his father died. In that moment, he became a very wealthy young man, back when a millionaire really meant something. However, instead of going off and buying fast cars and fancy clothes, he began to give it all away to various Christian ministries. In the back of his Bible, he wrote two words, no reserves. Upon graduating from Yale, he enrolled in Princeton Seminary. Back then, guys, it was a very conservative Bible-believing seminary. And there he prepared for the ministry. When his graduation approached, his family pleaded with him to come join the family business, which was foundering. But he insisted that God's call to the mission had priority. When local newspapers caught wind of his decision to give up such a promising future to end the life of a lowly missionary in one of the darkest places of the world, they could not believe it. The headlines read, young millionaire renounces world to be a missionary.
William wrote two more words in the back of his Bible. No retreat. No reserve. No reserve.
No retreat. He felt called to China to share the gospel with the Muslim population, but first he needed to learn their language, which was Arabic. So he went to Egypt to spend time learning Arabic. And after just three months in Egypt, something happened that shocked the entire world. He contracted spinal meningitis and died within a month.
Borden's death became international news. His short life, his passion for Jesus and missions, and his willingness to risk everything became the subject of sermons. And most people had a difficult time understanding, why would God allow this?
And you have to say, why would God allow that? But another missionary expressed this sentiment, which I think is the truth. I have absolutely no feeling of a life cut short. A life abandoned to Christ cannot be cut short. Cut short implies not complete, interrupted. And we know that our master does no halfway jobs.
After his death, someone looking through his Bible discovered two final words that he had written just before he died while he was in Egypt. No regrets. No reserves. No retreat. No regrets. And this brings us to chapter 9.
We're going to close out the year. Funny, I didn't really plan this, but this is God's providence. When I was just dividing up the Luke, I went through beginning with chapter 1, I knew we needed about 25 blessings, and I just would chop it up into how much I wanted to preach on, which I don't like to cover two chapters, so I've broken it up. And it just happened to end at Luke 9 because I got to 25 lessons. Little did I realize that it's such a major turning point in the Gospel of Luke. It's right here where Jesus turns and heads towards Jerusalem. But first we pick up in verse 46, where we learn that an argument had started among the disciples as to which one of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little boy, and He pulled it up beside him. I imagine He put His arm around that boy, and He said, then He said to them, think a little boy standing right there, probably eight years old, like my grandson, whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the one who sent Me.
For He who is least among you all men, He is the greatest in the eyes of God. I talked to a young man today who's struggling with his work. He feels like he's wasted some of his life. I talked to a lot of young guys who feel that way, and he's a strong Christian. He's got a great marriage.
I said, I mean, you're getting caught up in all the wrong things. God said He doesn't look at the outside appearance of a man. That's what we look at.
He looks at the inside of a man. See, God measures success so differently than we do. So what I want to show you tonight is, man, and listen to me first. I told Grant Casseberry this afternoon, I was talking to him.
He's our pastor. I said, this message has challenged me more than any message I've ever given. I don't even feel like I'm worthy to give it.
Somebody's got to give it, and so I want to show you, man, how we can live our lives for Christ and Christ alone. Who wants to live your life? You know, a lot of you guys are getting old. I was telling Jim, we got to get a younger crowd here next September.
They say that an audience ages with its speaker, but there's no way I look as old as y'all. Who wants to live the rest of your life for Christ and turn away from this God-forsaken world? I do. So here's how. There are three decisions that you and I must make, and the question still remains that I shared with you guys a few weeks ago.
Remember from being touchables? What are you prepared to do? So if you want to follow Jesus, here are three things you've got to do.
First of all, you've got to humble yourself. Second, you have to be willing to follow Jesus wherever He leads you. And third, you've got to be willing to pay the price because there's always a price with it.
So here's the deal. To do this, we have to do exactly what Jesus said in Luke chapter 9, verses 23 and 24. If anyone would come after me, this is what He told His disciples, if anyone would come after, he must deny himself and take of his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to lose his life, excuse me, save his life, will lose it. But whoever wants, whoever loses his life for my sake, he says, will save it. But you've got to be willing to lose your life.
I've got to be willing to do this. And think about it, this is exactly what Jesus did. When He left the glories of heaven, He did so because He was willing to submit to His Father's will. And He, think about it, He left the glories of heaven where He was in a resplendent, glorious body. And He came to this earth and confined Himself into a lowly human body, flesh and blood, suffering pain just like you and me. And He confined Himself in that body.
He nearly died Himself. And so ironically, here in verse 46, we find the disciples arguing about which of them will be the greatest. Somehow, see, they missed the message of losing your life for Christ. They were so caught up in all that He was doing.
See, the 12, by the way, at this point, they've been following Jesus for about two years, over two years. And they've seen His power on full display in feeding the 5,000. And they've got their stomachs filled. They liked it. They've witnessed His authority over demons and their joy of being associated with all this power. And three of them have just witnessed His glory on the mountain of transfiguration. And I believe that like everybody else, they wanted to crown Him King right then and right there.
And they were just trying to figure out where they were going to be sitting in this new kingdom. Who's going to be the greatest? How much power am I going to have? John, you're going to have more than me, Peter said?
Probably. Remember, I'm the one Jesus loved so much. You see, they failed to understand the real mission of Jesus.
The crowned men could never come for the cross. It's all about the cross. It's all about the cross. The prophet Isaiah says in chapter 53 verse 10, yet it was the Lord's will, it was the Father's will to crush Him.
To literally crush Him and to cause Him to suffer. And though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, that is the resurrection, and prolong His days forever. And the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
See, here's the deal. No cross, no resurrection. No resurrection, no crown. But it all begins, men, with the cross. The cross is the pinnacle of history.
Everything changed at the cross. You see, this is the way of the Christian life. The way up is down.
Everything is turned upside down in terms of the way the world looks at the things, and the way God looks at them. And so you must be willing to, we got this, we all got to be willing to die. And you know what you got to do to die? You got to get yourself out of the way.
That's hard to do, isn't it? See, Jesus knew what lay ahead for both Himself and His disciples, and He also knew they were not even close to being ready. They had no idea what was coming.
So He had a lot of work to do in them. They were so busy thinking about themselves, and how they would be honored in this coming new kingdom, that they failed to see what lay before them. And the heavy price that Jesus was getting ready to pay, and if they were going to be following Him, they were going to pay it too. Because listen, the closer you follow Jesus, the more you're going to suffer and be persecuted the way He was. The more you identified with the name of Jesus, the more you're willing to say the name of Jesus in public, the more you're going to pay the price, because the world does not want to hear about Jesus. You can talk about God, but the moment you mention Jesus, eyebrows are raised.
Jesus just makes people uncomfortable, particularly religious people. So how could Jesus best get the point across to these 12 men? Well, that's when He pulled aside a little boy. He said, come here, son.
Let me, I want to teach these men a lesson that I know you already know. Pulls them over there, and He says, whoever welcomes this little boy in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One who sent Me. For He who is least among you, He's the greatest. What did Jesus mean by this? What is it about little children that God so loves? Well, there are two things.
Think about it. Children are totally unpretentious and unassuming. You see, they're not out to impress anybody like, well Mike coming in and out, y'all get me okay? You see, they don't care what people think. They have no sense of selfish ambition or pride. Secondly, children possess humble trustfulness. They believe whatever you tell them. You see, they haven't reached the age where they begin to question everything. And that's what happens when you get really educated.
You think you know so much. But see, most people are not like this. The vast majority of people are prideful, particularly the elite of society. Who are the elite? I'm talking about the wealthy, the educated, and the religious. That's the group that's the most hardest group in the world to reach.
Welcome to the Research Triangle part. And people say, Rush, why do you try to reach some of these rich people? Guys, my ministry is not to the rich, okay?
Just look at us. But I will say this, God wants to save rich people too. They're just hard to save.
It's the hardest mission field on planet earth. If I really want to have a whole lot of fruit, I'd go to a third world country where people are hungry. But to be honest with you, I tried that. I didn't measure up. Why is pride such a stumbling block? Because pride blinds a man from seeing who he really is at his core. Pride is the sin from which all of the sins grow. Kent Hughes writes, self-importance, think about it, is a cancerous sin.
It's just hard to get self out of the way. Self keeps growing. And the more you get, the more you consume with self.
The more you get, the more you want, right? What does God want to see in a man? He wants to see childlike faith and childlike humility, just like that little boy.
This is always manifested to men. And I'm getting ready to step on our toes in the way we treat others, particularly those who are considered little people. What do I mean by little people? People who are lowly in the eyes of the world. Poor, needy people. Unattractive people. Unpopular people.
Unsuccessful people. You talk to somebody who's been real wealthy and they lose everything and at one time they had a jet or whatever and a plane and a boat and they lose all that. Guess what happens to their friends? They go find somebody else who's got planes and boats.
You find out who your friends are when you lose everything. You're the people I'm talking about. I'm talking about the lowly people. It's the same people that you and I, if we're honest, avoid most of the time. We would never allow them to join our fraternity, would we? You've got to be cool to be in our fraternity.
And they will never be in our little clique, will they? Just think about it. You see, here at this stage the disciples, they associated greatness by the company you keep. And think about it. The great love to associate with the great and deal with matters that they think are of great significance.
Really? Have you ever noticed that? I can't think of a more accurate picture of this than the Hollywood Elite.
If you watch the Oscars, I hate to pick on them, but they're an easy target. But what about us? Who do we tend to associate with? Are all of your really close friends well-to-do, successful, and attractive? Do you have any friends who are poor and unpopular and successful? Are we not all guilty of avoiding the little people of the world? When you go to a room, who do you migrate towards?
Somebody who's very popular, somebody who's not fun to be with. First, listen, I'm guilty, okay? Everything pointing out I'm guilty. 1 Corinthians 1, 26 through 29 says, brothers, and I'm talking to you guys now. The apostle Paul, speaking through me, is addressing you. Brothers. That's why you're believers.
Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards. Not many were influential.
Not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before Him.
Aren't you glad God loves little people like you and me? The disciples, you see, they were really beginning to think they were somebody special. Look, Jesus chose them out of all the people to be His special emissaries. But Jesus is getting ready to rot their little world.
They don't know what they're in for. And that brings us to verse 51, which, guys, is a major turning point in the gospel of Luke. You see, everything really written thus far has been all about Jesus' ministry in primarily Galilee, where He's out there speaking to the masses. He's feeding them and healing them. But He's pulling the disciples aside every now and then and pointing out some hard truths just to try to... He's planting some seeds because He knows that when He gets to the real truth, it's going to be very hard to handle. So He, bit by bit, He's teaching them a little bit more, just like you do with a little child. He's teaching them a little bit more, just like you do with a little child. Verse 51 literally reads like this.
Now, I want you all to listen to this. This is a literal translation of verse 51. Now, it came about that as the predetermined days... How about that?
That's probably not your translation, is it? The predetermined days. As the predetermined days before His ascension.
That's when it says taken up. It's referring to the cross taken up, but it's really referred to His ascension. As the predetermined days before His ascension were running out... See, the clock's ticking. Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
Why? Because He's on a divine mission. He has an appointment with the cross, and guys, it's going to take place on the exact day, on the exact hour that God the Father intended, and nothing will get in His way. That's why He kept saying, my hour has not yet come.
My hour has not yet come. That's why at the Last Supper, He said the hour is here. So Jesus steadfastly set His face.
You know, when it says a man sets his face on something, that means he is determined. So Jesus turned His attention away from the world, and He focused on His one mission in life. The very purpose for His birth, which was what? To die. He had an appointment with a cross, man.
If He had not kept that appointment, we would not be sitting here. That cross was going to be humiliating. He was going to be shamed before the world, stripped naked and beaten. And the only crown that He was going to be wearing was a crown of thorns. And so from this point forward, most of the people following Him, which they were called disciples, but most of them began to turn away.
Do you know why? They thought that the kingdom was coming, and they were going to be fed every day by the King. And all the diseases will be healed. You know what we call that today? The prosperity gospel.
You see, nothing much has changed. The reason people flock to Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen is because they promise something that they cannot deliver. They promise prosperity.
But listen, they never mention any cost. It's all about you can have your best life now. Really. Hey disciples, come on. You know what we call that today?
What kind of... The prosperity gospel. You see, nothing much has changed. The reason people flock to Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen is because they promise something they cannot deliver. They promise prosperity.
But listen, they never mention any cost. It's all about you can have your best life now. Really. Hey disciples, come on. You're going to have your best life now. That's why I came to give you your best life now. Did Jesus ever say that?
No. In His last letter before His death, Paul wrote to Timothy. Paul is literally getting ready to die. He's in a Roman dungeon. Literally, I saw a picture of it recently. J.D.
Greer was over in Rome and he posted a picture. He was in the cell and there was a hole up above him and he's underground in a dungeon and you literally drop a person down into the dungeon. No windows. The only way out is that hole. You can't climb out. You can't get out. That's where Paul was when he wrote this letter to Timothy and he's passed the baton to Timothy and he says, Timothy, preach the word.
Was Joe not doing that last week? Preach the word, men. I wish I could do it. I can't do it.
I need stilts and longer arms. By the way, we're going to have him back. He loved being here.
Could you tell? He'll be back here next fall. We'll get him back at least twice next year because he loved and I love having him here. But preach the word for the time will come men will not put up with down doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, Timothy, you men, I'm telling you this, keep your head in all situations. Endure hardship. Do the work of an evangelist.
All the duties of your ministry. So what about you? Do you want to hear myths, fairy tales, or the unadulterated truth? So what is the truth?
Here it is. If you're really willing to make a commitment to follow Christ no matter the cost, if like William Borden, you want to live with his motto, no reserves, no retreat, no regret. Here's what you have to do men. Here's what Russ Andrews has to do.
And here's what we have to expect. First, to follow Christ requires men 100% focused all the time and 100% commitment. In other words, you have to say, I'm all in. When Jesus says climb in the boat, you got to jump in the boat. Second, we got to be willing to pay the cost, which will involve rejection and all at varying degrees depending on where you are on the globe.
But varying degrees of rejection and discomfort. And so to prove at this point, Jesus sent a delegation to a little Samaritan town to get things ready for his appearance. And he knew ahead of time they were going to be rejected.
But he wanted to teach his disciples a lesson. As part of their background, you know the Samaritans were the descendants of the Jews who had been captured when the Assyrians came in and captured the northern kingdom, the ten tribes of Israel known as Israel. And they took them back as slaves to Assyria.
In other words, they uprooted them. And they began to live in Assyria. And they began to intermarry with the Assyrians who were Gentiles. And so the Samaritans were half-breeds, half-Jewish, and half-Gentiles. And the Jews despised them. In fact, to get to Galilee, they would walk around the Jordan River and take a much longer route just so they didn't have to walk through Samaria. But not Jesus. And so the disciples said, Hey, Jesus, why don't we just call down Pharaoh? Isn't that what Elijah did? also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net. This is the Truth Network.
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