The Four C's of Fellowship Part II
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?"
"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. "But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God." Luke 9:23-27
Jesus expects the same commitment to be made by His followers that we require of our spouse, until death do we part. When we commit our life to the Lord Jesus in this new covenant relationship we are acknowledging our total allegiance to Him forever. When He called the twelve to follow Him they left all: family, livelihood and possessions, knowing that they would receive the kingdom of God, being of far greater value than anything this world had to offer.
Jesus came to fulfill basically two things on this earth, to make a way of salvation for all of mankind and to establish His kingdom which is His body, the community of believers left to carry out the work of service until He returns. While He ministered to the twelve He taught them all they would need to know, being the very foundation and pattern for this new church that would be raised up after His death and resurrection.
Becoming a follower of Christ involves changing one's lifestyle to fit the desires of the One you are following. Just as a new bride gives her life to her new husband in matrimony, she has to give up her life, her family name and follow her spouse wherever he leads. Out of love for her life partner she becomes obedient to the one she has given her heart to. So it is with following Jesus, one becomes obedient because of this new found love relationship, not because of law or ritual, but out of a pure desire to please Him.
JOINING THE ARMY OF GOD
Another example of becoming a disciple is like joining the armed services, upon signing up one becomes the property of that which he has joined. When one enters the service he is immediately trained and equipped for service and whether for peacetime, or battle, the new recruit is expected to go and perform whatever duty that is asked of him. It is no different in following the Lord Jesus Christ and becoming a soldier in His army, although there may be difficulties and hardship one must be expected to give all for Him.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier. II Timothy 2:3,4
Jesus was approached by a lawyer that asked Him what he had to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus responded with a question by asking him what was written in the law. The lawyer answered and quoted the word of God and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Jesus told him that he answered correctly and said to the man, "Do this and you will live."
Eternal life involves building a love relationship with God and with man. Cultivating such relationships is costly and involves much time from both parties in order to have a sustainable bond that will last forever. If Jesus had only seen the disciples at church on Sunday for an hour He would never have had the time to prepare them for the ministry that lay ahead of them. This is where the cross of Christ comes into the believer's life, having to die to one's self in order to establish a relationship with God instead of doing what you want to do.
Throughout your lifetime you will be tested over and over again and given a choice to choose God or self. Please God, or please yourself, its all about obedience and obedience involves making a choice. The disciples could have said no to Jesus and gone back to business as usual, but instead chose to give up all to follow Him. Many today are willing to commit an hour a week or maybe thirty minutes to fellowship and worship, or maybe prayer but to give up one's life, now that's another story.
Giving one's life in obedience to follow the Savior is the greatest sacrifice that one can make in his life, although one might think that dying for one's country is honorable, yet dying for Jesus is the supreme act of total surrender. In today's fast paced world of microwave everything we don't have time for God and especially laying down our life, we don't even have time to go to church and if we do, it better only be for an hour. How would you like for your spouse to say that to you? "You've got thirty minutes buddy!"
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1
ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE
The Musketeers pledged their allegiance to the king to serve and protect him at all cost, even giving up their own life if necessary. Such valor still exists in America's armed services as they lay down their life for their country. The Christian on the other hand must also give his life for his country, the Kingdom of Heaven and it's sovereign leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, King of all Kings.
Down through the ages thousands have given up their very lives for Jesus being tortured and killed for the gospel. All of his disciples except John were martyred and it is even believed that he was boiled in oil before being exiled to the isle of Patmos where he penned the book of Revelation. Crucified, burned at the stake, stoned and killed for sport by wild animals to the amusement of the Romans, thousands succumbed to a horrible fate. All for One!
Jesus said, "No greater love has anyone than to lay down his life for another." Giving up your dreams and hopes and maybe even your life is a stretch of the imagination for most who claim to be Christian today. Most of today's Pilgrims just trudge off to church on Sunday, write a check to the preacher, tip their hat to God, and the rest of their life is spent accumulating wealth for themselves. Following Jesus is in most cases a life of sacrifice and death to self and selfish ambition for all willing to commit to follow Him in obedience.
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. II Corinthians 5:14,15
COMMITMENT FOR LIFE
The committing of one's life to another in marriage is no less serious than committing it to the Savior, the commitment is the same. The gospel of Jesus Christ commands obedience and diligence to give all to follow Him. Most believe that reciting a little prayer and making Jesus their personal savior without commitment will get them to Heaven but they are in for a very rude awakening. Churches are filled with lost people believing that the little prayer they prayed at six years old will suffice when they stand before a risen Lord at the judgment.
A rich young ruler came to Jesus asking him what he must do to receive eternal life. A very important question, asked by a man who had everything. Jesus responded by saying that if the young man wanted to have eternal life that he would have to sell all of his possessions, and give them to the poor, and come and follow Him. Jesus didn't lead the boy in some prayer or confession like many of today's preachers, He told him, straight up to get the greed out of his heart by selling his stuff and lay down his life and come follow Him.
Sadly, the boy couldn't make the commitment required to save his soul, and give him eternal life because he already had a god: his wealth. Jesus was also grieved by his choice and saddened by his decision not to give all to follow Him. In today's religious world of "Mega Churches" and hyper prosperity the call of the Savior has been drowned out by the noise of self help gurus and get rich schemes to deceive men into a false sense of hope and eternal security that will ultimately send them to hell.
The requirement of the gospel is very plain and relatively simple, give all and follow Jesus. The confession of sin and the turning away from a rebellious lifestyle will ultimately save your soul and by the cleansing power of His shed blood your heart will be purified and your mind renewed to a new and living way. The"Sinner's Prayer" that the evangelical church has used to fill their buildings was actually derived from the book of Deuteronomy and is in fact an oath of total allegiance to God, a giving up of one's rights and a confession of commitment forever.
"See I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess."
"But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess." I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:15-19
ARE YOU WILLING TO MAKE THE COMMITMENT?