This is Andy Thomas from the Masculine Journey Podcast where we discover what it means to be a wholehearted man. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just seconds.
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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. Well, turn in your Bible, if you haven't already, to Luke 14, and we're going to take a look.
Actually, we're going to look backwards a little bit at the beginning of this tonight. I want to start just as glancing back at verses 12 through 24 because, you know, for several weeks now, Luke has been helping us watch this journey that Jesus has been on. He's been on a journey from Galilee in the north. He's making his way to Jerusalem in the south, and Luke has been teaching us about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
And we start tonight looking back at last week. Now, I hope your Thanksgiving dinner was better in terms of conversation and a pleasant atmosphere, better than the one that Jesus attended in our last session. So, remember, he was at a dinner at the house of a Pharisee, and he had used several stories, parables, to point out the hypocrisy of their religion. He was trying to point his finger at the problem that they had located right about here, and he did that very successfully, but it led to a very uncomfortable situation. Well, he left that dinner party, and he went on his way.
As I said, he's making his way to Jerusalem. But two weeks ago, Jesus told this story as he was about to leave the dinner party of a big banquet. You remember the story. There was a very gracious host who had extended this invitation to a certain group of people. And you remember the first invitation that went out, they accepted, they said, yes, we'd love to come. But then when everything was ready, he had put on this huge banquet at his expense, and he sent out an invitation, again, to the very people who had said that they would come, and they offered up the worst possible excuses, which basically just showed that they really didn't care to come to this great banquet.
Well, the host then got very angry, and he sent his servant out, as you recall. He sent him out far and wide to find people on the outside, and these would have been outsiders. These people would never have appeared at this banquet or this dinner party where Jesus was. They were the lame. They were the poor. They were the blind. They were people just like the man who had dropsy.
They brought this man in simply to make a point, and Jesus saw right through it. But these were the people that the servant went out and invited, and he said compelled them to come. That is, if you think about it, these people were poor. They had nothing to wear. They had no means to pay for their dinner.
People that were blind had no way to get there unless you held their hand. People that were lame, the servant probably had to pick up and actually bring to the banquet. So these people that came to this, first of all, they were undeserving. There was no reason to extend an invitation to them. They were outsiders.
This would have been something not lost on the Pharisees and the scribes that were listening to this. They had nothing that they could bring. They couldn't contribute. You know, I know many of you, when you went to Thanksgiving dinner, probably brought something with you if it wasn't at your house, maybe a side dish or something flavorful that would be enjoyed by the guests, but they could bring nothing.
They had nothing. This gracious invitation, though, this host who had paid all the expense, and he sent out this servant to gather all of these people, and remember, he continued to send the servant out until his house was filled. So he wanted everyone to benefit from this gracious gesture. But we saw that this gracious invitation demanded a response. Now, those that he sent it to had already rejected, but those that came after actually showed up.
So it demands a response. Also, we saw that those who refused the invitation were shut out, and that's important to think about as well. And then we saw that those that he had extended the offer to recognized their need, and for them, nothing could be more important. Well, this parable that Jesus tells actually helps to answer the question that's found in Luke 13, 23, where we remember the question that was given to Jesus, Lord, will those who are saved be few?
Remember that question? Will those who are saved be few? This was kind of almost a sarcastic question because everybody at the dinner party thought, they just assumed they were actually included because they were part of Israel. But Jesus said, yeah, well, actually, yes, there will be many there. He says, in fact, in Luke 13, 29, from east and west, from north and south, they'll all come to recline at table in the kingdom of God. What was in question was not that many people would come, it was just who would come. Anyone who responds to the gracious invitation would be included, but those unwilling to respond would not enter the narrow door and would be cast out. Well, this parable, this story from last time we got together really portrays the gracious invitation of the gospel.
You heard it in there. You probably heard, as I described what had happened in that story, you probably heard echoes of the gospel throughout that description. And we see this gospel of God, we see, first of all, a very gracious host, God Himself, sent His Son to save sinners. He died on a cross for you and me, for our sins, so that we might be forgiven and so we might be justified before God. And we received the gift, the free gift, of eternal life through Him, through Jesus Christ. We respond by renouncing all the efforts, all our efforts at self-justification, and we place our faith solely on Jesus Christ. Then we rest completely in the finished work that He's done on the cross. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. Well, that brings us to tonight's passage, which really talks about the costly call.
So we saw the gracious invitation, and now we see the costly call. And Jesus is teaching on discipleship, what true discipleship means, as He explains what it means to strive to enter through the narrow door. In verses 25 through 35, we see that Jesus is explicit in about the cost of following Him and the cost of not following Him. So the question here is, maybe this was a question you had as I looked at this, well it seems interesting that we have on one hand a free gift, and on the other hand Jesus is saying we have a cost, there's a cost involved. So which is it?
Is it free or is it a cost? Are we saved by grace alone, and if so, why must we strive to enter the narrow door? Are the gracious invitation of the gospel and the cost of discipleship somehow contradictory? Well, some actually believe that the gracious offer of salvation is received by faith alone, but it's somehow separate from the cost of discipleship. They insist that first we can believe, and that we can be saved and justified, and then sometime later in life that we can grow, we can respond to Christ's call to discipleship, and through our own self-effort we can grow to be more Christ-like and to become His disciple. So you can see this two different things, two different separate areas of salvation they're talking about. But the problem with this is their idea of discipleship is considered optional. And the problem is that when we emphasize the benefits of the gospel, that we talked about before, being forgiven and eternal life, when we emphasize the benefits of the gospel without discipleship, then we have what's called cheap grace.
Anybody heard that term before? So cheap grace is when we want to enjoy the gifts, but we don't want to enjoy the costs that are associated with that. We want to reject the second part of Jesus' message here.
And so what I want to do tonight is just talk about how we should view this call, this gracious call and the costly call as being harmonic, not contradictory but working together. So we see salvation doesn't end with our conversion and forgiveness of sins. God's purpose actually is not just that we're converted, not just that we're forgiven for our sins, but also that He wants to restore our fallen nature. Remember, we're fallen creatures. He wants to give us new life. He wants to recreate us. And so if that's the case, and He also wants to conform us to the image of His Son. So if that's the case, then the gospel that says that we're forgiven and we're justified can't stop just with conversion.
He has more work that He's talked about doing in our lives. The gospel promises salvation not only from the penalty of sin, but it also promises salvation from the power of sin in our lives. And ultimately it promises freedom from the presence of sin in the world to come. Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning without sin? I mean, just the first five minutes of the day without having some thought go through your mind.
That's what's going to happen one day. Salvation means that we're going to be free from sin, the very presence of sin in our daily lives, in eternal life. Well, the other thing that we know is that we're not only saved from sin, but we're saved for God's glory. God created us to glorify Him.
Well, as sinners, it's impossible to glorify Him. If we are not saved, there's no way that we can glorify God. When we become saved, when we become His people, His disciples, then we have an opportunity to work in places like this, this church, when we gather in the church as a family, as His family. Remember, He chose us for adoption into His family. When we're saved, we become part of His family.
And what do we do as part of His family? We gather together and we do the work of the gospel. And so that is how we glorify God. The gospel message is a call to discipleship. That's what Jesus is talking about here tonight. And because of the gracious enabling of the Spirit, we can respond.
Because the Spirit lives in us, He gives us all the power and all the ability to do what He has commanded us to do. Well, discipleship then is the necessary outworking of the new life that we've received by God's grace. Christ calls us to discipleship when He says, Come, follow Me. Well, what does it mean to follow Jesus? So looking at verse 25, I want you to just take a look at that real quick. We're going to start and then we're going to stop because I want to explain something. Verse 25 begins, Now great crowds accompanied Him.
Stop. So this crowd, this is their followers. They've been following Him from Galilee, this huge crowd. And it tells us, Luke tells us, these crowds continue to get bigger and bigger. So you would look at that and you would say, Well, it looks like Jesus has lots of followers.
What's He on about? Well, the crowds have been intrigued up to this point. You'll see this and I remember as I did my lesson, I know this is in your lesson, why did people continue to follow Jesus? Well, I know a lot of them came because they wanted to see, as somebody said tonight, the show, right? The show and the entertainment value of what He was doing was probably worth the price alone. But there was more to it than that. I'm sure that many people wanted to follow Him because they did think that He might have been either a great prophet, He could have been the Messiah, but they had kind of an odd view of what that might have meant. They wanted to see what He was going to do. Some of them may have wanted to come just because it was a big group and they wanted to be part of a bigger thing. Some of them probably considered Him a good man and worth listening to, although they probably didn't agree with everything that He said.
But nevertheless, they found themselves drawn to Him. Well, while the crowds followed Jesus on the journey weren't His true disciples, I want to make a point, and this is a point that we can carry with us even today. There are lots of churches that have lots of people attending every Sunday, but there's a difference between being associated with the Christian faith and being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Although the crowds were accompanying Jesus, Jesus was not really interested in the big numbers of people that were following Him. You see, Jesus is not interested in these great crowds.
In fact, what we'll see here in a minute when He turns to them was designed to thin the herd. And see, this is a problem I think that a lot of churches have, the idea is that we want to fill up our churches with lots of people. The problem is we're not trying to fill up the church with lots of people.
We're trying to fill up churches with specific kinds of people, right? So what we want to look at tonight is Jesus, when He turns to the crowd, He's going to lay out some cost to following Him. What does it mean to be a true follower of Jesus Christ?
Not part of the crowd, but a true follower of Jesus Christ. He's going to give us four truths about discipleship, and then He's going to give us two parables that help us to understand the critical need of sitting down and considering the costs of discipleship. So let's go back now, take a look at the next part of this passage here. First, discipleship requires a change of direction. And He turned to them, it says, and He said, if anyone comes to Me, okay, stop again.
If anyone comes to Me. You know, to follow someone means, by definition, you are no longer going your own direction. That make sense? So if you're going to follow someone, that means that the way you were going, you have to stop and change direction to follow that person.
So you change direction. Anyone that wants to be a disciple of Jesus must come to Jesus. Many people were coming to Him. They were attracted to Him for all kinds of reasons, and they may have even enthusiastically participated in some of the ministry efforts. We see that in church all the time. People may come to church, and they may be enthusiastic about the ministries that they get involved in, soup kitchens and outreach to the inner city. A number of different good things that churches do.
There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is one of the primary roles of the church. But while they get involved, they never actually come to know and to follow a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, they don't actually turn from the way they were going. He's over here, and they keep doing what they're doing over here.
They continue to live on their own terms. Well, what is a disciple? A disciple just basically is a follower.
We've talked about that before, a learner, someone who follows. But a disciple in the Bible, a Christian in the Bible, let me make a point, too. The word Christian only appears three times in the New Testament.
Do you know that? The term for believers that's used most often is disciple. Disciple, over 250 times it appears to describe believers.
So, disciple, this is kind of a big deal, right? So, a disciple is someone, a follower is someone. We've all actually been disciples. We may not have been disciples of Jesus, but we've all been disciples. As a little kid, you probably became a disciple of somebody, right?
So, a disciple simply admires a person. They see somebody, that person is the ideal of something that is missing in your life. And so, you turn and you admire that person, and you want to know everything about that person. Can you think of a hero that you had when you were a child where you spent all kinds of time learning about that person?
It may have been a sports star, it may have been a movie star, it may have been someone in your neighborhood, somebody at your school, but you wanted to know everything you could about that person. You started to emulate that person to the point where you actually started to adopt that person's purpose for living on your own. Anybody like that? I know, we took some NC State guys to the hockey game last week, and as I was looking out at the crowd, I thought it was interesting to see how many grown adults were wearing jerseys with somebody else's name on it.
I don't have anything to say about that other than I just thought it was interesting. But we still have people that we admire that we want to emulate. We might put on their jersey with a name on it. Well, the difference here is that as a Christian, we want to put on a jersey that has Jesus' name on it.
And we want to get in the game, okay? We're not observing anymore, we're actually taking the ice, okay? So that is what a disciple is, and that disciple then is someone that follows another person, and then discipleship also means a change of allegiance, a change of allegiance. So take a look now at the rest of verse 26. It says, If anyone does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Discipleship means putting Jesus above all others. Well, for those of you that traveled this week, 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 2 through 3, 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. So 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. 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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