Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
One of our leaders at the ministry gave a devotional a little while ago and he mentioned that he had been looking at the words of Jesus. If you have a “Red Letter” Bible, that would be a pretty good study…just read and meditate on the words in red. Lately, in my own study, I have been concentrating on what it means to be a follower, or disciple of Jesus.
If I were to take a guess on what the most memorized verse in the Bible is, I would guess it would be John 3:16 , “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It’s a great verse of God’s grace and it is no wonder we like it so much. But in another book, the same Jesus uttered these words, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up His cross daily and follow me” Luke 9:23. I wonder how many of us can quote that verse.
Why does Jesus make it so hard to follow Him. On one hand he says “believe on me,” but then He says in order to follow Him we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross. What does that mean to us practically? One commentator I have read says this, “to deny self means willingly to renounce any so-called right to plan or choose, and to recognize His lordship in every area of life. To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life he lived.”
To live as Jesus lived involves:
- the opposition of loved ones
- the reproach of the world
- forsaking family, house, lands and the comforts of this life
- obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit
- a pathway of loneliness
- suffering for righteousness’ sake
- death to self and the world
While this all sounds pretty negative and we naturally want to avoid such things, dying to our self and taking up our cross also has a positive side. By doing so, we have the privilege of living life as it was meant to be lived and finding the reason for our existence. It also means eternal reward.
I read recently that the church in America has a problem. We basically give half of the true Gospel message. We say “believe” on Jesus and you will be saved (John 3:16). that is a true statement but it is only half of the message. There is also Luke 9:23 to consider. Jesus wants to be Lord of our lives. To believe means more than just giving credence to something or someone. It means to rely upon and to put our trust in someone. We need both parts to really live the Christian life. We need to believe in Jesus, but we also need to surrender ourselves and live for him. Now before I am accused of throwing “works” into salvation, please let me dispel that. I fully believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, with nothing added. But we are not saved so we may go on living as we please.To do so is evidence that we are not truly saved in the first place. Jesus wants to have every part of our lives. I fear there are many people who go to church every Sunday, give money, and maybe even serve a little in church who are not truly saved, and will hear those dreadful words “depart from Me, I never knew you.” (Luke 7:21-23).
My prayer is that by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will take what Jesus says regarding being His disciple seriously. We have been given a commission by Jesus to make disciples out of all nations. How can we ever meet this commission if we are not disciples ourselves?