This is Darren Kuhn with the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we search the ancient paths to find ways that God brings light into a dark world and helps set men free from the struggles that we all face on a day-to-day basis. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it.
Share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. 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. You might be interested to know that you were part of what is estimated as 55 million travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday.
55 million. Well, that says something about how much we value friends and family, that we would take that kind of time, all of us, and go to visit somebody for Thanksgiving. And that says something about what we think about those that are close to us. So the question here is, does Jesus really mean that we should hate those that are closest to us? Well, in your reading this past week, you saw that Jesus is actually using a common Hebrew idiom, a love-hate idiom, that is really meant to present an extreme contrast and express an absolute preference.
And so we saw this, we've seen this in Mosaic law, in the case of polygamy, it was used, this idea of love and hate was used to distinguish one wife who was preferred over the other in disputes of inheritance. In Genesis 29, 31, we get sort of the flavor of this, where we see the words, when the Lord saw Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Now remember, Jacob loved Rachel, but he was tricked into marrying Leah first, and then he had to work all those years to marry Rachel. So there probably may have been some hate in there, I don't know, but the wording really here is that Rachel was preferred, the preferred wife. You also see this in Malachi 1, verses two through three, where the Lord says, yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated. So this passage communicates God's preference for Jacob, who would later be known as Israel, to be the father of his chosen people, over Esau. Jesus doesn't expect us to carry bitter, hard feelings towards parents, wives, and children. He uses this shocking hyperbole to make a point. And so this is the point, in this case, he wants to contrast the allegiance and the love that we have for him to that that we have for the people that are closest to us in our lives.
A parallel text helps to reinforce this idea. Matthew 10, 37 says, whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever loves son and daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
So he's kind of flipped it around here, but that's the same meaning. So the idea is to hate, in this case, means to love someone less than the person that you prefer, in this case, Jesus Christ. So far from demanding that we hate our loved ones, the Bible actually says that we're to love and care for them deeply. Take a look at some of these passages.
I know they're in your handouts. So for parents, Mark 10, 7 says, Moses said, honor your father and your mother, and whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. Well, that's a stiff penalty for hating wives. Ephesians 5, 25 says, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Children, remember how much Jesus loved children. Children figure into the New Testament accounts of Jesus quite often.
Mark 10, 16 said, and he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Brothers, here in 1 John 3, 15, everyone who hates his brother, here's that word again, but in a different context. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, it says, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. So if he means hate in the first case, then he means that you don't get eternal life.
So clearly, there's something different here. Also, he says about enemies, excuse me, in Luke 27, he says, but I say to you who hear, love your enemies. If he's telling us to love our enemies, then you know that he's telling us we're not to hate our loved ones.
Following him is not a casual arrangement. Jesus must be preeminent. He must be first in our lives. Jesus Christ must reign supreme in our lives, and nothing else should distract us from him, and so that means that we put aside anything else that would come close to knocking him off the throne. Loved ones can actually be the most significant opposition to a new believer.
Do you know that? You may have experienced this yourself. Sometimes the conversion of a family member can cause others to feel uncomfortable or threatened in some way. Well-meaning family members can actually seek to discourage someone from the call of ministry or from going on the mission field. Even though they think it's a good thing that the person is a believer, they don't want to see the person leave to go far away to serve in some distant land. In some cultures, of course, when a person becomes a Christian, they may be forced to leave home or family or even community, and in extreme cases, a believer may be brutalized or even murdered by their parents, by their family members. That happens today, all around the world. Unless we love Jesus first, our love for others will become distorted.
So here's another point. So not only can it be an opposition within family if we love others first, it can change our allegiance to Jesus Christ, but in this case, unless we love him first, the love we have for our loved ones is actually distorted. It becomes manipulative. It may become something misshapen and very different from what love should be. And so, paradoxically here, the more we hate our loved ones, according to the Bible, the better it is for them.
Does that make sense? Because that means we love Jesus first, and if we love Jesus first, it helps us to love others more. So this is something that is picked up in John 13, 34. A new commandment I give to you. Love one another, just as I have loved you. There's no question God loves you, but we're to love others with the same love that he's loved us. You also are to love one another.
That's what this command is. By this, in John 13, 35, all people will know that you're my disciples. So this is a mark of discipleship if you have love for one another. So we must love others. So the best thing that we can do for others is to love Jesus Christ first.
When Jesus is first, you become a better husband, a better son, a better friend, a better, you name it. And so Jesus says we must love him first. Unless we can do that, he says we cannot be his disciple. So discipleship means a change of allegiance.
It also means a change of status. So as we take a look here at verse 27, we see this very shocking description of discipleship. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. We've seen a parallel passage to this in Mark 10, 38. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Luke 9, 23, which we've already covered this year, said that, and he said to them all, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. So discipleship, according to these verses, means putting self to death. Many people think wrongly that to carry a cross just simply means to carry a burden or inconvenience, right? You've probably heard people say that. Well, you know, I spent the afternoon with my brother, it's kind of my cross to bear, right? You've heard that before.
Yeah, so, but that's not what's being said here. That's not what Jesus, it's not just an extreme inconvenience. It's not just a hardship. In ancient times, the cross meant the most humiliating and torturous method of death known to man. Romans compelled condemned criminals to carry their crosses or at least a portion of their crosses through the streets. And as they did it, as they went through this burden of carrying the cross, they were spat upon.
They were mocked and ridiculed mercilessly as they walked under extreme duress to the place of their own execution. I mean, we've seen this picture depicted on movie and in pictures of what Jesus went through. This is what they were doing to condemn criminals. This was not an unknown thing when Jesus said it, and it was shocking as they heard it.
It was considered so shameful, in fact, that Romans very rarely used it on Roman citizens. Remember Paul, when he was executed, he was beheaded because he was a Roman citizen. Well, thus far, the multitudes that had been following Jesus had a very distorted view of who Jesus was. And they had a very distorted view of what he was here to do. Remember, Luke has been helping us all along to identify the true identity of Jesus Christ. And he's been helping us all along to identify Jesus' mission.
Jesus is on that mission right now as he makes his way to Jerusalem. And he's told his inner circle, his disciples, about that. He said he's going to die. And so this would have been shocking for them.
It was shocking for the inner circle. When Jesus started talking about his death, they didn't understand what it meant. Jesus was telling them, though, that if they wanted to follow him, they must be willing to die. And not just die, but be humiliated, to suffer the same kind of shame and ridicule and pain and suffering that he would undergo. He wanted to ensure that those that were following him, again, as he's looking at this large crowd, I'm sure that he may have had tears in his eyes as he thought of how many would not be following him after these messages. But he wanted to ensure that his followers knew that discipleship demanded sacrifice.
And he never hid that cost. Dying to self is a call to absolute surrender. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a German theologian, wrote, When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Bonhoeffer knew well of what it meant to give your life for the cause. He was executed in Flossenburg by the Nazis in 1945 for his beliefs and for his stand. Being a disciple means taking your cross up daily.
Remember, 923 said it's daily. Sacrificing your hopes, sacrificing your dreams, sacrificing your possessions, even your life. Everything about you, you are willing to say, hang it on the cross.
I'm yours. I am dead to this life, and now I live a new life in you. It's easy to follow Jesus when everything is going well in life, isn't it?
It's easy to say you're a Christian when you're among Christians. But life is going to be filled with trials and tribulation. Who told us that? Jesus.
That's right. And so he wants to ensure that those that follow him are ready to die, if necessary. But he also wants to make sure they're willing to die to the life that they already have.
That's the point. Paul said it like this in Galatians 2.20. He said, I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
In the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. So we see Jesus sacrificing his life for us, and we're being called as disciples to live sacrificially. Paul tells the Romans about living sacrificially. He says, I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, according to God's mercies. Without God's mercy, without God's strength, we could never do this. But according to God's mercies, it says, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
Again, we're sinners, men. There's no way that we can be acceptable to God unless we are living anew in Christ. Unless we have the righteousness of Christ around us, the righteousness that he puts on us like a robe, we can't approach the holy God. We can't even think about coming close to God the Father unless we have died to self and we have lived in Jesus Christ. Dying to self is never presented in the scripture as something optional in the Christian life. So discipleship then means a change of allegiance.
It means a change of status. That is, we die to self and we live in Christ, and discipleship means a change in priority. Look at verse 33. We're going to skip down past the parables for a minute.
Let's take a look at 33. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. This saying causes many of us to squirm a little bit, doesn't it? So the question is, all right, is Jesus telling me I need to give up all of my possessions and take a vow of poverty?
I mean, after all, that is what he told the rich young ruler who asked him, what must I do to have eternal life? You remember? So this causes us to sit up a little straighter in our chair to find out what in the world is going on here. But what about you and me? Do we need to take a vow of poverty? Well, maybe some of us might. I mean, there are those that have.
They've been called to do that very thing. But Jesus went on to tell his disciples in Luke 10 23, he said, how hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. Discipleship means that we are making Christ, not things, our priority. Jesus' words here emphasizes the narrowness of the door to salvation, the door to the kingdom. It is impossible to enter this narrow door carrying all of our things, all of our possessions. We have to put it down and we have to come with nothing. Just like those that the servant in the banquet parable, they came with nothing. They had nothing to contribute, nothing to give, nothing to take.
All that they were thinking of was that door. This is the picture that's in the Bible of how we are to follow Jesus Christ. The idea is when we say that we're going to give up our life, we're going to give up those loved ones in our lives, we're going to give up our possessions.
The idea is it's a done deal. It's as if I have already done it. That's the idea of discipleship. You might continue to be stewards of the things that God has given you, but the idea is, Lord, if you want to take it, it's yours.
It came from you in the first place. That is the picture of true discipleship. How can we follow Jesus if we're chasing after the things of this world? This is convicting, isn't it?
It's convicting to me. Because I know what it's like to turn on the television and see stuff advertised that I really would like in my house. I know what it's like to think about retirement one day and how nice it would be to be comfortable, maybe at a place at the beach or a place in the mountains, but God hasn't given that to me.
If he does, well, I hope I'll use it wisely. But what discipleship means is that everything that I have right now is given to him, and I say, Lord, use this however you want me to use this, and then help me to do it with an open hand. Discipleship means that we recognize that everything that we have in life, everything that we have in life, we are called to be responsible stewards. With everything we have and everything that we are, we are meant to glorify God.
That's the point. So what must you be willing to give to be a disciple of Christ? Everything. The call to discipleship is costly, and therefore it demands very careful consideration. Jesus shares two parables that talks about this point. It requires very careful, are you really willing to do this and be a disciple of Jesus Christ? In both stories that we saw, we saw a story of a builder and we saw a story of a king.
In both stories, Jesus stresses the importance of sitting down first and carefully thinking about what it means to follow him. First he describes this man who desires to build a tower. This is probably a tower in a garden or over a crop to sort of keep an eye on the land, make sure that intruders didn't come in or wild animals didn't come in. We might think of it in terms of a home improvement project. So before you add a master suite or renovate that kitchen like your wife has been asking for all these years, you may sit down and think about how much money you actually have to spend. You may have really grand ideas, but you may have a relatively tight budget.
And that's the point. If the money runs out before the job is complete, then the work comes to a screeching halt. Because the costs weren't considered, the unfinished project that you started simply becomes a monument to rash and hasty thinking. So that's the builder.
The king is a little bit different. The first example, the builder has a choice, right? Just like we have a choice to build or to renovate our kitchen, the builder has a choice. Might do it, might not.
If the money's not there, won't do it. And the second, the king has no choice. You see, he is facing a superior force that is making its way towards his kingdom. He has to make a quick decision, but he has to make a very reasonable and thoughtful decision. He has to decide whether or not to muster his small army to go out and meet the larger army in the field of battle. To act rashly or hasty in his case, it's not just money, but it's lives, and it's his kingdom, and it might be his life itself. So Jesus here in this story tells us that he demands nothing less than total surrender, and that's the reasonable decision. You see, the king in this story, the superior king, is likely Jesus Christ himself. Jesus is coming, folks.
He's coming back. We can either make that decision now, or we can make it when it's too late, but he is coming, and he is going to have people bow knees before him. So the reasonable decision, as it says in the parable, is to send a delegation, make terms, and live in peace. Well, that's what we get to do through Jesus Christ. Not our terms. He sets the terms.
He's setting them right here. We get this free salvation. We have free life, eternal life by grace through faith, but there's also a cost. He says there's also a cost involved because it's not just about your salvation. It's not just about your freedom from the penalty of sin right now. It's also freedom from the power of sin as the spirit works in you to help conform you to his very image.
That's the picture that is being painted here. Well, followers must be wholeheartedly devoted to him. They must use their possessions, their people. Everything about their life needs to be done wholeheartedly, and that's what we see in this last little image here, the salt.
Take a look at verse 34. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall the saltiness be restored? It's of no use either to the soil or the manure pile. It's thrown away.
He who has ears, let him hear. In the ancient world, salt was very important. It was very valuable. Salt had many uses. It was used as a flavor enhancer. It was used to preserve food, kept it from decaying.
It was an aseptic. It kept wounds from becoming infected. It was also used as a fertilizer.
It was harvested from the Dead Sea most of the time, and so it had lots of impurities, and over time, it could lose its saltiness. Jesus uses this illustration, though, to warn against the empty and worthless religion of the Pharisees, and he wants to warn those that are unwilling to follow him wholeheartedly. Regarding their usefulness, in the kingdom of God, they were fit for nothing. They were fit only to be thrown out and trampled upon. Well, for many in this crowd, the cost was too great, and they would turn away. Jesus seems to follow, or they seem to follow Jesus for a time, but many of them would become distracted by the worries and the riches and the pleasures of this world, and the cost that he was demanding was too high.
Is that you and me today? Are we distracted by those things, the worries, the riches, the pleasures of this world, to the point that we're of no use to the kingdom? Well, I wanna be clear, a true believer doesn't lose his salvation here. He says in John 10, 28, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them from my hand. But a true profession of faith will be backed up by evidence of that faith.
It will be backed up by fruit. A disciple cannot stop living faithfully to Christ in the world, right, and continue to be a disciple, or at least one that is worthy, one that is worth his salt. It's not about loss of salvation, but about loss of purpose here. Now, there are those who will follow Jesus and turn away that never truly had a conversion in the first place. There are those who will reject him outright, but there are those that will settle for something less than what he wants us to, the life that he wants us to live, and that's sad because we don't have a purpose then.
We're not kingdom building anymore. A true disciple will produce saltiness. Well, this week we've learned that justification by grace alone, through faith alone, we also learned that God has given us everything that we need for life and for godliness. While salvation is free, it's a free gift from God, the call to discipleship is very costly. True faith demands a personal element of trust and sacrifice and devotion each day. We must entrust ourselves to the care and submit ourselves to his lordship. Well, to truly follow Christ requires that we have a change of direction, a change of allegiance, a change of status, and a change of priorities. So the question of tonight is, have you responded to this gracious invitation of the gospel and to the costly call of discipleship? Listen, without question, when we die to self, we're gonna miss out on things in life, but here is a question that I want you and I to think about tonight as we leave. For however long we're here on this earth, are the earthly pleasures of 70, 80, maybe more years, maybe less, are they really worth it when we consider what is being offered us, an eternity at the banquet of the king?
Is the cost really so high if we consider that everything that we have, everything that is dear to us, is a gift of a good God? And as we think about this, as we think about who is Jesus Christ who is Jesus Christ to demand this of us? Well, Jesus Christ is God who gave himself for us, who died on a cross for the sins that you and I are guilty of so that we might have forgiveness, so that we might be reconciled to him, and that we might have eternal life.
He who has ears, let him hear. Lord Jesus Christ, we hear your warnings and your loving call to follow you, and we ask you to forgive us for our half-hearted way that we've tried to live out our lives. We've loved ourselves, and we've put other things before you, and for that we are sorry, and we ask your forgiveness. Lord, you gave up everything when you laid down your life on the cross to pay for us, to fill us with your Holy Spirit. Father, revive us now with your life and the Spirit's power. Today we commit our lives to you afresh. Father, to be your disciples in the work of the gospel, and we pray all honor and praise and glory would be yours now and forevermore.
Amen. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would 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.
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