"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:33 KJV
" And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:27 KJV
Jesus said unto him; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment
And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:39
What is Jesus saying in the two verses above? Is he talking about a wooden cross like the one pictured to the left or is he referring to something else? Is he asking us to give up everything including all our material possessions and our families and close friends? I hardly think anyone would think he is saying either thing. We must go deeper to find spiritual truth.
The first verse, in my opinion is telling Christians that we need to have our priorities straight and that Jesus must come first. The second verse about the cross is telling us that it costs something to be a Christian. The Christian's cross sometimes involves the pain associated with doing the will of God. There are times when God wants something from us that we are not ready to give up. Those things are called idols because God will have nobody and nothing taking first place in our hearts but him, and why not? He certainly deserves our first loyalty. Nobody else created a place for us to live, filled that place with all the things we need to stay alive and healthy, gave us incredible colors like those in the sunrises and sunsets and flowers and birds and so many other things of great beauty. Nobody else ever came to earth to live, die and resurrect for our sake, and nobody will keep us safe throughout all the ages of eternity in a place filled with great joy and love in his presence! Jesus is talking about a mindset in both verses above. He wants us to understand that he alone knows what is best for us, and the natural outflow of that knowledge is a life of complete surrender and trust in him. Forsaking all we have is not difficult when our hearts are right because they are only temporary things that we will not take with us when we die. Taking up our cross is not a big issue to the person who has surrendered everything he has, is and will be to the Lord because we know that no matter what he brings out way in life, it is for our good. Even suffering is for our benefit because in suffering we learn to deal with adversity in a manner that is godly instead of carnal, and fleshly. The Bible makes it clear that if we walk in the flesh we CANNOT please God. Christianity then, properly understood, is living as though you believe that God loves you, and that he knows what is best for you both in this life and throughout all the vast ages of eternity.
1 Chronicles 16:29 - Worship the Lord
in the beauty of holiness.
THE CHRISTIAN CROSS
Take up your cross daily and follow Christ! Matthew 10:37-38 Matthew 16:24-25 Galatians 6:14
What did the cross mean to Jesus? Isaiah 53:3-7
The Burden He Bore For Those Who Believe
Mark 15:34The Worst Part!
Luke 22:44The Terrible Agony
Luke 22:42 His Submission
What Does the Cross Mean For Christians?
There are many ideas about what the cross means among professing Christians in this generation. For some it is a decoration for their shelf or mantel, for others it is an emblem on top of a steeple or hanging on the wall in the church building, and for others it is a piece of jewelry that adorns their neck. For some church goers it is even a good luck charm they believe wards off evil or something to cry over without knowing why. For most the belief concerning the cross has no real basis in scripture.
For many Christians and even some cultists the cross is symbolic of what Christ did on Calvary, and rightly so, however that meaning only applies to Christ and his sacrifice for us and doesn't fully express what the cross means in the life of the Christian beyond salvation. There is, however a cross that Christians are supposed to carry daily, and many churches never preach on this most important subject at all. This is a travesty of great proportions and creates pseudo-Christianity in them and leaves the world to rightly mock Christianity as a weak religion! What is the meaning of the cross in the life of those who really want to give themselves completely to the one who gave himself completely for them? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived during the time of Hitler and who wrote in his own book The Cost of Discipleship, "Can we honestly think that what cost the Son of God his life will cost us nothing?" was executed for his refusal to turn from Christ. Evidently he believed his cross was more than rhetoric. I wonder what we would do in his place.
Taking up our cross daily and following Christ means far more than we realize or perhaps more than we want to admit. It involves death to the self life, it means preferring others before ourselves, it means humbling ourselves and living sacrificially so that others might find life in Christ. It may mean sleepless nights drenched in tears for the lost and dying world we live in. It may mean giving up the things that are temporal and focusing our lives on things that are eternal to the point of denying our personal preferences to obey God irrespective or what we might want. It may mean leaving our little world and going out into the highways and byways of life, going to another country to reach the lost, getting involved in prison ministry, coffee house ministry, or street evangelism instead of sitting in front of a television or computer and wasting precious time when time is at a premium and we begin to see things from an eternal perspective. It is in moving past our shallow views and our focusing on this life that we lose sight of the most important thing - preparing for eternity. We are all too easily lulled into fussing about the things on earth including our jobs, recreation, families, and creature comforts and we become ineffective in reaching out to those who are unprepared for eternity, and we make our excuses and go on with life day after day in innocuous bliss or carnal fear of losing what is precious to us while multitudes are rushing toward Hell and eternal hopelessness without Christ. Is it any wonder that those who live around us and observe our lives and hear our words refuse to take us seriously when we tell them about what Christ has done for all mankind? What reason do we give them to think that we are not just another religious nut case trying to push our religion on them?
We must wake up! We must pray that God will clear our vision so that we might begin to live and think of eternal things and put the temporal things in their rightful place! Christ didn't die and resurrect so that Christians may hoard materialistic possessions and live comfortable without pain or suffering. He died that we might live unto him and die to ourselves so he might receive the reward of his suffering. He suffered and rose again so that we might have eternal life and share that life with everyone within our sphere of life that we possibly can. We have been thoughtless and selfish to believe that we can bask in the light of God's love while never telling others of the grace and mercy that is available to them and excusing our ignorance in one way or another. God is not pleased! He has been calling those who know him to cast off the shackles of this world and begin to act as if we believe what we say we believe. There are millions of souls at stake and the day of reckoning has come for millions already, and we have never cared enough to warn them of their impending doom. We must die to self that others may live. We must take up our cross and follow Jesus even if it means dying physically that others might find eternal life through Christ working in and through us for his glory and honor and praise! Let's not just say we love Jesus with words but let's prove it by our obedience to him! Millions of souls are lost and thousands die every second of every day, and so many have never heard the gospel that can send them into eternity filled with joy and confidence of eternal life! We must take up our cross "daily" and follow Jesus!
If you decide to pursue this kind of life, be prepared for those from within the church who will call you self-righteous, bigoted, holier-than-thou, and other such names. Be prepared to suffer persecution from those who you once believed to be friends and family. Be prepared to be misunderstood and maligned by many who are carnal rather than spiritual and who love comfortable Christianity that costs them nothing while they want to suck up all the blessings of God and in some cases feel entitled to them for some twisted reason or the other. Be prepared to face the wrath of unbelievers in and out of the church circles who love the things of this life more than they love God. Be prepared to be lied about, cursed and even hated because you are solidly convinced that Christianity takes everything you are and ever will be. Jesus made it clear that "If the world hated him, it would also hate those who are his, because they are not of this world even as he was not of this world. We are in the world but not of it, and those who truly believe that will echo the word of Hebrews 11:13-16 from their hearts with joy and expectation! In these verses we see that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and we seek a country to come, and that we desire a better country that is heavenly and that God is not shamed to be called our God for he has already prepared for us a city. YES! Our hearts will leap with joy and expectation that no words or threats can dampen because we serve a God that is holy and perfect and cannot lie. We will understand that from deep within our souls and trust in God in the face of everything and everyone and at any cost!
Do we understand this? Is it real to us in the innermost depths of our being, or is it head knowledge and not heart knowledge? The Bible calls us to be careful to "examine ourselves" whether we be in the faith or not. In Revelation, speaking to the church of Laodicea Jesus says some horrifying words that have been deeply etched into my heart for years as a call to walk circumspectly as wise and not a fool. He said, "So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Are we cold or hot or lukewarm? That is something that we all must understand for ourselves, and the sooner the better for all of us. Would that we were all living Leviticus 6:13 which says, "The fire shall ever burn upon the altar; it shall never go out." The fire of God should forever be burning upon the altar of the hearts of every genuine believer, and it should never go out. How can we be less than filled with desire to serve the God who delivered us from our spiritual blindness and eternal death? I hope and pray that those who read this will examine themselves as I have over and over again so that we can keep the fire of our zeal for God burning in us forever! The world is looking for those who have been in the presence of God and have heard from him and have a message to bring to them as they search in every avenue but the right one to deliver them from the things that press upon them every day. We who have believed are commissioned to bring this message to a sin-filled and dying generation without hope and desperate for relief! God help us to do what is right!
Pray without ceasing
I Thessalonians 5:17
Sadly, it is true that many churches have abandoned the old hymns in favor of what is called Christian Contemporary music in this generation. When I think of this message one old hymn comes to mind that should be a challenge to us!
"Like a mighty army, moves the church of God, Brothers we are treading, where the saints have trod, we are not divided, all one body we; one in faith and doctrine, one in charity. ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS, marching off to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before." We hardly resemble an army in this wicked and perverse generation, but sadly a group divided by doctrine and unwilling to move beyond our differences and unite in one common cause; the promotion of the gospel and the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation of millions who are lost and dying daily without hope! We are desperately in need of repentance and revival in this generation and it must start within individuals before it will spread to the body of Christ across the globe. Will you and I join together in this or will we continue on as we have for far too many years and refuse the call of God while multitudes die around us passing into eternity without Christ?
C R Lord, Webmaster