Becoming Disciples of Jesus Christ

Luke 14:25-33 ESV

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

“’Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.’”

The word translated here as “hate” can mean either to “love less than” or it can mean to detest, which is usually acted out with spite, meanness, cruelty, bullying, harassment, false accusations, and evil deeds. But, in this case, it means “to love less than” (see Matthew 10:34-39). And the reason that we know this is that Jesus taught us not to hate anyone, so then he is not going to turn right around and instruct us to hate other people. And to love is to prefer, so to love Jesus is to prefer him above all else, and that is the point.

And then this becomes obvious that this is the intended meaning as we read further, and especially as is compared to other similar Scriptures. For what Jesus is talking about is the cost of following him with our lives, of becoming one of his disciples. And becoming a disciple of Christ is not optional for one who truly believes in Jesus. For the Scriptures are very clear that those who believe in Jesus with genuine faith are those who walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.

So, when he says that whoever does not bear his own cross and come after him cannot be his disciple, he is saying basically the same thing as he said as recorded for us in Luke 9:23-26. And that is that if we want to come after Jesus we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we die with him to sin that we might live to his righteousness, then we have life in him.

So, we are being instructed here as to what it means to believe in Jesus Christ and to be one of his followers. And again we need to understand that Jesus Christ did not teach once saved always saved. He did not teach that we can profess faith in him, have our sins forgiven, and be on our way to heaven regardless of how we live our lives on this earth. He and the New Testament apostles did not teach that a one-time decision to believe in Jesus secures us heaven for eternity regardless of how we live.

And this is why he spoke here on the importance of us counting the cost of being one of his disciples. And we can’t be a true believer in Jesus Christ and not be a disciple of Christ. For the Scriptures are clear that genuine faith in Jesus Christ involves repentance (turning away from our sins), dying daily to sin and to self, and walking daily in surrender and in obedience to our Lord and to his commands. They don’t teach we have to live in sinless perfection but that sin should not be our master and we should not be its slaves.

So, genuine faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin. For we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Now we have been set free from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we can now walk in holiness and in righteousness in obedience to our Lord in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us. Now we are to live for Jesus and no longer for ourselves. And now we are to honor God with our lives.

And this is the path that we are to continue on. For the grace of God which is bringing us salvation trains and instructs us to renounce (to say “No!” to) ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await our Lord’s soon return. For Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10).

So, please know here that a mere verbal profession of faith in Jesus Christ is not enough to save you from your sins and to guarantee you heaven as your eternal destiny. If you do not die to sin and live to God and to his righteousness, but you continue in deliberate and habitual sin, and sin is your practice, and righteousness and obedience to the Lord are not your practice, then you will not inherit eternal life with God. On the day of judgment Jesus will say to you, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23; cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10).

So, if our anchor in Christ will hold in the storms of life, and if it will remain in place, and not drift, depends on us daily dying to sin and to self and us daily walking with our Lord in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). Again, this is not about sinless perfection, but it is about what we practice. If sin is what we practice, and if righteousness, holiness, and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, then we will not inherit eternal life with God. For if our lives are still ours to do with what we like, then we are not true disciples of Jesus Christ. We need to surrender our all to him.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

We Have an Anchor

By Priscilla J. Owens, 1882
Music by William J. Kirkpatrick, 1882

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

It is safely moored, ’twill the storm withstand,
For ’tis well secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, through strength divine.

When our eyes behold through the gath’ring night
The city of gold, our harbor bright,
We shall anchor fast by the heav’nly shore,
With the storms all past forevermore.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
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