1. Hello, listening friends.
2. It’s a delight to have you join us today;
3. and, today, we’re going to begin a series of three messages on the marks of discipleship,
4. and I want to begin by drawing your attention to a certain phrase in Luke, Chapter 14;
5. and, if you have your Bible, you can turn to it;
6. so, what is that phrase in Luke, Chapter 14?
7. It was repeated by the Lord Jesus several times,
8. and it can be a very daunting phrase for the serious Christian;
9. so, what is that phrase?
10. “…cannot be My disciple.”
11. “…cannot be My disciple.”
12. Why would Jesus use such negative language?
13. Oh, the answer is very important,
14. because Jesus did not want anyone to follow Him for the wrong reasons.
15. Jesus did not want anyone to follow Him under false pretenses.
16. Jesus was deeply concerned about those who were merely interested in Him because of His power.
17. Jesus was concerned that some would follow Him, only because He performed miracles.
18. Jesus was concerned that some would follow Him, only because He could raise the dead.
19. Jesus was concerned that some would follow Him, only because He could heal the sick;
20. so, Jesus looks at the multitude of people, who were pressing, pushing and straining to follow Him, and said the following:
21. Jesus said "…unless you are willing to carry your cross everyday and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.”
22. What did Jesus mean by this?
23. Jesus meant that, in order to be a disciple of Jesus,
24. you have to be loyal to Him.
25. In order to be a disciple of Jesus,
26. you have to love like Jesus loves.
27. In order to be a disciple of Jesus,
28. you have to live like Jesus lives.
29. In fact, these are the three topics that I will be addressing today and in the next two messages.
30. Some of you might be thinking, "Why did not Jesus have the multitudes follow Him anyway?
31. Why didn’t He wait to tell them the truth about Himself until after they had committed to Him?"
32. Isn’t that the essence of religion, to get more people in?
33. Isn’t every religion competing to bring more people into its fold?
34. Oh, but that’s not so with the true Christianity.
35. Look at Jesus in Luke 14:25.
36. He gets a huge crowd, which is just what any leader would want,
37. and, then, what does Jesus do?
38. Jesus challenges the great crowd who have gathered around Him.
39. He says, “Unless you carry your cross everyday and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple.”
40. I am sure some of today’s clever leaders would have advised Jesus this way:
41. “Jesus, first, let them see how wonderful You are; and, then, let them know the cost of following You.
42. Jesus, let them realize gradually that eternal life should mean everything to them.
43. Jesus, first tell them about all the good things that come out of following You.
44. Tell them about the forgiveness of sins.
45. Tell them about the peace of mind.
46. Wait awhile before You tell them about the importance of being loyal to You."
47. Because of Jesus’ blazing integrity, He gives no misleading subtleties.
48. His integrity compels Him to spell out all warnings upfront.
49. My listening friend, do you know what the word "integrity" means?
50. Integrity is the integration of what you claim to believe with the way you conduct your life.
51. There is no discrepancy in one’s beliefs and one’s behavior;
52. and, when discrepancy occurs, as it does on occasions for all of us, we are ready to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness;
53. and, so, Jesus said, "You cannot be My disciple without total loyalty to Me."
54. Loyalty to Jesus requires a blazing integrity,
55. and integrity, today, seems to be waning.
56. There seems to be dishonesty in every profession.
57. We are seeing a lack of integrity in every field.
58. We are seeing dishonesty in business.
59. There are some students who cheat on their exams, and they see nothing wrong with it.
60. There are some television programs that are designed to glorify deception, and they see nothing wrong with it.
61. We see dishonesty in advertising.
62. We see dishonesty in schools.
63. Lack of integrity abounds in our modern world;
64. yet, in the midst of that, Jesus tells us to place loyalty to Him above all else.
65. Jesus tells us that it is wrong to place pleasing people ahead of pleasing God.
66. It is wrong to place the accommodation to sin ahead of the condemnation of sin.
67. It is wrong to place popularity ahead of God’s precepts;
68. and, so, today, we see the consequences of misplaced priorities.
70. Because we no longer value integrity as we once did.
71. Some people are afraid to tell the truth because they are afraid it may cause them suffering;
72. but, if I lie to you in order to avoid suffering, I have already hurt you.
73. If I tell you half-truths in order to avoid suffering, I have already hurt you.
74. If I only tell you what I know you want to hear, I have already hurt you.
75. In fact, I would have greatly sinned against you.
76. The Lord Jesus Christ always told the truth.
77. "Anyone who does not carry his cross," He said, "and follow Me cannot be My disciple…"
78. but, please, my listening friend, listen to the verse preceding that one,
79. in Luke 14:26.
80. Many people have misunderstood this verse through the years.
81. Let us read it together.
82. What did Jesus mean by, “…unless you hate your father and mother,…” etc.?
83. My listening friend, please listen carefully. This is important.
84. Jesus was making a clear distinction between redemptive love, which is divine, and possessive love, which is human.
85. Jesus was saying that our relationship to our loved ones must grow out of redemptive love.
86. If our love for our family does not grow out of redemptive love, it will not last.
87. If love between marriage partners does not flow from Christ’s love for them, it is a possessive love;
88. and redemptive love will outlive possessive love every time.
89. Jesus is saying that possessive love is selfish love,
90. and, selfish love is doomed to fail.
91. Love that flows out of total loyalty to Christ is deeper and higher than selfish love;
92. so, when Jesus is first in your life,
93. your love for others will be real and genuine.
94. Your love will no longer be selfish and possessive.
95. Jesus said, "You cannot be My disciple without total loyalty to Me."
96. Jesus said, "You cannot be My disciple when you keep your mouth shut about Me."
97. Jesus said, "You cannot be My disciple when you habitually practice deception."
98. Jesus said, "You cannot be My disciple when you worship money more than God.
99. You cannot be My disciple when you pursue happiness more than holiness.
100. You cannot be My disciple when success is more important to you than surrender.
101. You cannot be My disciple when you spend more time watching television, than reading the Bible.
102. You cannot be My disciple when power is more important than prayer.
103. You cannot be My disciple when truth means far less to you than worldly treasure.
104. If you want to be My disciple, then, your loyalty to Me must be above everything else."
105. Oh, my listening friend, I want to be realistic.
106. That loyalty may cause you embarrassment.
107. That loyalty may cause you to sacrifice.
108. That loyalty may cause you to carry a large cross.
109. That loyalty may cause you to be misunderstood.
110. That loyalty may cause people to attack you and criticize you.
111. That loyalty may cause you to be hated by others;
112. but, be loyal to Jesus anyway.
113. In comparison with the privilege of discipleship, all of these hardships are of little importance.
114. Maybe Jesus sensed the crowd asking Him these questions.
115. “Why are You making it hard for us to follow You?
116. Why do You have to talk about crosses that we have to carry?
117. Why should loyalty to You be above loyalty to everybody else?”
118. And, so, Jesus goes on to tell them something very important.
119. He said nobody of his right mind would build the tower without first counting the cost;
120. and no military leader goes to war without an assessment of the army’s strength.
122. Because buildings that are half-built and left unfinished invite ridicule.
123. Half-built structures invite all sorts of attack.
124. Half-built structures invite bandits and squatters.
125. In the same way, if you claim to be Jesus’ disciple and have no loyalty to Jesus, you will be ridiculed.
126. If you claim to be Jesus’ disciple without true loyalty to Jesus, you will be defeated in your spiritual battles;
127. and so, my listening friend, as I bring this message to conclusion,
128. I want to answer some questions that you may be asking.
129. Some of you probably are asking, “What does loyalty to Jesus look like?
130. Can you only be loyal with half a heart?
131. Is loyalty to Jesus only outwardly?
132. Can you be loyal to Jesus only on certain occasions?
133. Can you only be loyal to Jesus when you need Him?”
134. And, the answer is "No;"
135. but, today, you can say to Jesus,
136. “Jesus, I want to be Your disciple.
137. Jesus, I will be completely loyal to You regardless of the cost.”
138. My listening friend, Jesus’ love for you took Him to the cross;
139. but don’t ever forget that the cross was not the end of the road for Jesus,
140. for He rose again on the third day;
141. and the same thing with us.
142. Carrying the cross and following Jesus is not the end of the road for us;
143. but, rather, it is the road that will lead us to singing and rejoicing with Christ.
144. Are you loyal to Jesus?
145. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.