III. Count the Cost
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Before response is made, prayer must be made about the cost involved. We must not expect to pay nothing for what cost God, everything. It is the written word of God that gives us witness of what the cost will be; as we look at the twelve, we must realize that the cost for them will be the cost for us—everything. We must know this going in; long deliberate prayer is usually not associated with counting the cost, it is usually a means to try to get the Lord to some how let us off the hook in paying it. The cost is there—it is written.
To respond with the whole heart, and pursue total consummation by the Lord Jesus, means several points need to be made about such a life. First any notion about a vague, romantic type Spiritual life, must be abandoned. Those seeking Spiritual experience must be ready to face Reality and Truth and what it will cost to realize the experience. The Lord by His Spirit will truly demand to be Lord of your whole life. You must be willing to have your personality taken over by Another who will expect unquestioning obedience in everything. Self-sins will not be tolerated in your life, although they may be tolerated in many lives around you–but as for you, there will be no self-pity, self- seeking, self-defense, self-glorification–you are a dead man and you will not be allowed to seek that which is dead, among the Living. The direction of your life will be taken away from you. You will find the Lord in sharp opposition to the comforts of the world and the fleshy flexibility in the attitudes of Christianity. He is a jealous God–and that for your good. He will test you, discipline you, and chasten and scourge you for the sake of your soul and ministry. He will strip you of fence-sitting pleasures enjoyed by many other Christians. Your flesh will cry, and the accuser will rail against you. You will enjoy the solemn privilege of suffering injustice and not being able to open your mouth about it, that you may take your part in filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Jesus. As they beat you, you will pray for them. But you will see Jesus, and will be enfolded in Him in such a manner inconceivable to you at the start of this journey. You will enjoy a fellowship and an intimacy with Him that is available to all, but enjoyed by few because of the narrowness of the way, and the straightness of the gate, and the cost of the walk. If all this sounds severe, remember, the true character of the Cross is not one of spiritual compromise–the Way of the Cross is not an easy way, but it is the only Way to the crown.
“………When thou saidst, “Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee Thy face, LORD, will I seek…….” Psalm 27: 8
I may, by the grace of God, become a teacher; but until my life is completely and absolutely laid down to Jesus, I will never Truly learn.
*IT WILL COST YOU EVERYTHING
Luke 14: 25-35
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
These great multitudes were made up now of enemies as well as friends. Curiosity doubtless attracted many; the fame of the Teacher had gone through the length and breadth of the land. The end, the Master well knew, was very near, and, in the full view of his own self-sacrifice, the higher and tougher were the claims he made upon those who professed to be his followers. He was anxious now, at the end, clearly to make it known to all these multitudes what serving Him really signified — entire sacrifice of self and all that caters to self; a real, not a poetic or sentimental, taking up the cross (ver.27). Even His own chosen disciples were yet a long way from apprehending the terrible meaning of this cross He spoke of, and which to him now bore so ghastly a significance. It was this great throng that continued to gather around Him, proving His growing popularity, that prompted the following verses—Jesus, as He was then, is now, very popular among many who claim to be His followers; in the next several verses He lays down the parameters for those who would be His true disciples, separating the true disciples from the mere followers and believers.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
The circumstances under which these words were spoken will explain the strength of the language used. Jesus says that He came “not to send peace on earth, but a sword,” by which he meant that the first effect of the introduction of His truth would be (as He said) to set the members of the same family at variance against one another, and to make a man’s foes to be “they of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36). By honoring
and acknowledging Him as the Messiah of the Jews and as the Redeemer of mankind, His disciples would see their own families coming against them; they would be obliged to act as if they hated them (even though they don’t—the direction and commands of Jesus must be obeyed, and many times, family feelings and agendas must be ignored, leaving the families feeling hated, or, not loved as much as they believe they should be).
Disciples have to hate their own lives as well, for they take a step which removes all comfort and sensual pleasure from it, and make it valueless if not miserable. On the relation of Jesus Christ and His gospel to the families of disciples, Jesus:
I. DISALLOWS PARENTAL TYRANNY. Such total and unquestioning authority as
the Roman law gave to the parent over the child is not sanctioned, but strictly condemned, by Jesus. No human being is wise enough or good enough to exercise such control over the disciple; and to yield such control is to deny the responsibility which Jesus has laid upon us, and which cannot be delegated to parents or anyone else.
II. DISALLOWS MANIPULATION AT THE HANDS OF ONE’S CHILDREN.
Any human in the life of the disciple must not be elevated above his or her rightful level, which is always below the relationship with Jesus and His commands.
III. RESERVES ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE FOR JESUS ALONE.
Disciples most times have to choose between their attachment to the earthly parent and their obligations to Jesus. Then the words of Jesus have a literal application; then the disciple has to pass through the most severe and trying of all conflicts; he has to weigh one authority against another—Jesus against the family.; he will by his decision usually please Jesus, but hurt or anger the family. The Lord who created him (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16); who redeemed him with His own Blood; who sought and found and restored him; who has made him an heir of eternal life; — this Lord Jesus, who has been upholding him by His power, and who is the one Hope and Refuge of his soul, has claims upon his obedience to which even those of a human parent are utterly unequal. And when the choice has to be made, as it sometimes has even here and now, there can be
but one course which the disciple recognizes as right; it is to choose the side and the
service of Jesus; meekly bearing the heavy cross of family severance, yet loving a family that believes he no longer loves them.
The Lord’s teaching throughout, in parable and in direct saying, pressed home to his followers that no home love, no earthly affection, must ever come into competition with our love for and obedience to, Him. All we are, all we have, apart from Jesus, will constantly come into conflict with Him; all that a true disciple has, must be sacrificed to the calling and cause of Jesus. If home life comes in conflict with our duty, home life and those in it, must be sacrificed. We must not water down what discipleship means to Jesus, and His definition of it. The cost of truly following Jesus, is everything. Period. No compromise of any kind, in any area. Before deciding if we want to attach ourselves to Jesus in discipleship, we must be prepared to make a full and absolute surrender of our will in all areas—He will make His will our will out of such surrender. Our lives are totally and absolutely sacrificed for Jesus and His ministry and service.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Satan has crept in our midst, coming to kill, steal, and in this instance, as always, to divide. He divides by stealing the cross from an unaware and most times presumptuous saint. This is always done under the watchful eyes of God, but when we violate God’s word, and give way to doing anything to get what we want, satan will gain access.
The cup offered us by God contains our cross–But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? Mark 10:38. The cross that is commanded of us by Jesus, is the same cross that was commanded of Jesus by our Father—the cross is absolute—there is no arguing with it—the true cross does not compromise—it kills—slowly perhaps, but nonetheless, when its job is done, death is complete and he or she who hangs on it is silenced for good. We are completely alive when first hung upon it, and completely dead when we are finally taken from it. The cross we are appointed slays us in proportion to our obedience to Jesus.
This cross loses its deadly and glorious power in our lives, when we change it from a thing of death, to a thing of privilege. In such a swap, the will of God is no longer the Blood of life and the fruit of our cross; in such a swap, the Blood of Life becomes a means to blessing the flesh and pursing and gaining one’s own way at any cost. The cross of the disciple disappears in the swap, while the cross of Jesus remains, but has been changed to suit the fleshy self-willed ‘benefactors’ of His sacrifice. When this swap is made, the true power of the cross disappears, and religion and ritual take its place, with the would-be disciple seeking his own agenda and his own blessing in the name of the cross. The cross that you may hang around your neck or put as an ornament in your ear, becomes nothing but an empty emblem, if it is not a sign of your crucifixion with Him. Millions who do so today, believe in its magic, but know nothing of its power.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Not ignoring all the wonderful and sacrificial symbolisms of the Cross of Jesus, we move by them into the area of what His Cross accomplishes in our lives. Revelation of the Cross and He who hung on it, right away graces:
1)OBEDIENCE: “Follow me”—they straight away dropped their nets, their tax manuals and whatever else, and followed. It is Jesus who calls, and when He calls, there is no deliberation about current circumstance—a person immediately follows, walking into a life heretofore unknown. Any objection to the call—ie, I have business to clear up, family to see, etc., shows that he who is called is dictating the terms of his call to Jesus. The 12, dropped their lives immediately and followed; in the example of the three would-be disciples that Jesus gives us in Luke 9, shows one who volunteers, one who is called but wants to bury his dad, and one who is called, but wants to bid farewell to friends and family, and take care of current circumstances; Jesus refuses the volunteer’s offer; tells the second man to let the dead bury their dead—you go—NOW—and preach the gospel, and the third is told to go preach, Jesus saying He who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God—in other words, when He calls, the response must be immediate and uncompromising obedience—if it is not, there will be problems when a person finally decides to heed the call. This is what the Cross of Jesus does—it slayed Him, it slays us—immediately when He calls—it kills all but Him in the life; if you receive such a call and compromise it, don’t expect us to use you here. True discipleship is graced to tolerate nothing that comes between the called and the Caller
The Cross is the instrument that cuts the called off from all previous existence; if we stay where we are, and try to work the call into our present circumstance, God will not endorse it. Through the Cross, He who created us, recreates us, and our response to that recreation must be immediate and without compromise. The true call of Jesus, frees the called from all earthly ties, immediately—and binds the person solely to Jesus. The call plunges one from security into seemingly absolute insecurity—all life now centers on He who is invisible. It is in this weakness that the strength of Jesus starts to be realized. Thus the called is placed in the position of believing Jesus, for all else that might be believed in, has been taken. This is the beginning of the road to apostolic faith. Many try to create this situation, but can’t; doesn’t mean they are not called to minister—it means the call to the apostolic road is not there—the evidence being that a man starts to do the external things—he concentrates on the law, he attends many church meetings and seminars, he samples many ministries, he welcomes a multitude of voices into his life—all in search of what automatically comes when Jesus truly calls. Such people would fall under the first disciple category in Luke 9—they volunteer for the apostolic road, but Jesus refuses; they must then find what He is saying about where He wants them, instead of continuing the direction of their ministry calling in vain: 1 Cor 12:28-30
Jesus, uses His cross through His call, to cut off the old existence—it is the internal that is changed, though the external may, for sometime remain the same; I may have a multitude of things to do in my circumstance, but when Jesus calls, I am graced immediately to answer, and in responding immediately to Him, I can be assured that all I was doing, will be taken care of—we must not object in any way to the call, and we must not tie up what we perceive to be the “loosed ends of our lives’—they will be tied up by the Lord, when we obediently answer His call.
SO, IT IS THE CROSS THAT JESUS USES TO OFFEND YOU THROUGH HIS CALL—WE ARE OFFENDED BY ITS SEVERITY, BY ITS COMMANDS, AND BY WHAT IT REQUIRES OF US, AND THIS IS WHAT JESUS IS DOING WHEN HE SWEEPS THROUGH THIS MISSION OR ANY OTHER PLACE, IN POWER. HE IS NOT TELLING US TO DEAL WITH OUR ISSUES THEN COME TO HIM; HE IS CALLING US TO COME TO HIM, BE TOTALLY OBEDIENT TO HIM, AND LET HIM WORK THE WILL OF GOD IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES; WE NO LONGER SET UP OUR OWN AGENDA TO DEAL WITH OUR LIVES—WE RATHER WALK THE PATH THAT HE HAS LAID FOR US, AND LET HIM BRING ABOUT THE CIRCUMSTANCE TO DEAL WITH WHAT HE DECIDES NEEDS DEALT WITH, IN OUR LIVES. BUT IN ORDER TO ATTACH OURSELVES TOTALLY TO HIM—WE MUST DROP ALL—EVERY CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCE—AND BE OBEDIENT AND COME TO HIM, UNDERSTANDING THAT IT IS HE WHO HAS DETERMINED THE TIME OF THE CALL AND IT IS HE WHO WILL DEAL WITH OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCE WHEN HE CALLS. WE THUS GET INTO THE RELIANCE AND OBEDIENCE MODE, BY GRACE, IMMEDIATELY. THE 12 HAD ALL THE ISSUES WE HAVE WHEN THEY WERE CALLED, YET WE DON’T SEE THEM DEALING WITH THEM—WE SEE THEM RESPONDING TO THE CALL IMMEDIATELY.
Vers. 28-30.— For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Vers. 31, 32. — Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand! Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
It is not improbable that this simile was derived from the history of the time. The. first of these two little similes rather points to the building up of the disciple’s life in the heart and life. The second is an image of the warfare which’ every disciple man must wage against the world, its passions, and its lusts. If we cannot brace ourselves up to the sacrifice necessary for the completion of the building up of the life we know is Jesus Himself; if we shrink from the cost involved in the warfare against sin and evil — a warfare which will only end with Life — better for us not to begin the building or risk the war. It will be a wretched alternative, but still it will be best for us to make our submission at once to the world and its prince; at least, by so doing we shall avoid the scandal and the shame of not finishing the discipleship which we undertook, only to forsake. This is the spirit with which Jesus’ warriors must undertake the hard, stern warfare against an evil and corrupt world, otherwise it is better to not enter discipleship. The shadow of the cross permanently lays across all Jesus says here; thus the shadow of the cross lays permanently across the life of the disciple.
Ver. 33. — So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
We are told earlier in this Luke passage to “count the cost,” and here, we find the cost is everything–all that we are and all that we have. This is not a mandate to rule against the heart concerning possessions–this is a command to “forsake all you have.” Period. It is the move into discipleship that frees a man from bondage to his possessions, himself, his passions, his desires, and his dead works. It is discipleship that teaches the liberty of worldly poverty. Worldly poverty is not something we voluntarily undertake—it is the fruit of the total laying down of the life to Jesus, and His ministry. When the will of God and the heart of Jesus for His people become the only concern, all else passes away. Lazarus is forever laying at the gate—how dare we step over him to our gratification?
There were great multitudes present when Jesus spoke this challenging word, and many left because of it, just as they do today; Jesus presents to them here, the hardest truth of discipleship–everything but Him must be forsaken. No matter how His message has now been watered down to a seeker sensitive world, here its flesh-shattering reality remains in its absolute starkness and purity. When He spoke this word, as with many others, he knew men would be offended and would desert Him. That did not stop Him from speaking it. We would do well to remember that teaching watered-down Scripture produces watered-down disciples. Such teaching unwittingly and deceptively prohibits the exercising of the senses to discern the differences between good and evil; and when carried to its extreme, such teaching will, in fact, call one the other.
Jesus would have us make the true way of discipleship known to men, there-by challenging them to accept or reject the Truth. They must be taught that they will not wrestle against flesh and blood; that the battle does most times truly seem like we are outnumbered 2-1, that hardness will come and must be endured; discipleship– a closer and deeper walk with Him, is a walk of death, for Jesus commands that we pick up our cross daily–a sure sign of our crucifixion: a man must lose his life to truly find it; we must not forget that on that Day, many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. Let us not be numbered among them.
Vers. 34, 35. — Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned! It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out.
Here “salt” stands for the spirit of self-sacrifice, self-renunciation. When in a man, or in a nation, or in a Church, that salt is savourless, then that spirit is dead; there is no hope remaining for the man, for the people, or the Church. The lesson was a general one–— it was meant to sink into each listener’s heart; but the Master’s sad gaze was fixed, as He spoke the somber truth, on the people of Israel whom he loved, and on the temple of Jerusalem where his glory-presence used to dwell. Men cast it out—Were it not for the self-sacrifice of souls, the world would become utterly corrupt. Only by the martyr-band, whose pure self-sacrifice was unmistakable, has the world been kept from utter selfishness and corresponding corruption and destruction. It was mindful of this martyr-spirit which his gospel ensures, that Jesus told His servants they were “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Suppose that Jesus’ servants make a lip-service-profession of self-sacrifice, and do not carry out the spirit of their Master, then they become but savorless salt, which can only be trodden underfoot of men on the highway, where nothing is meant to grow. In other words, the disciples who are not genuine are sure to be fruitless. They are trodden down by a world whom they have vainly tried to deceive.
* ‘CROSS’ DISSERTATION
Noun: stauros ^4716^ denotes, primarily, “an upright pale or stake.” On such, criminals were nailed for execution.
The method of execution was borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians. The stauros denotes (a) “the cross, or stake itself,” e. g., (Matt. 27:32); (b) “the crucifixion suffered,” e. g., (1 Cor. 1:17-18), where “the word of the cross,” stands for the gospel; (Gal. 5:11), where crucifixion is metaphorically used of the renunciation of all that is contrary to Jesus, which characterizes the true disciple’s life; (Gal.6:12,14; Eph. 2:16; Phil. 3:18).
The judicial custom by which the condemned person carried his stake to the place of execution, was applied by the Lord to those sufferings by which His faithful followers were to express their fellowship with Him, e. g., (Matt. 10:38, Luke 14: 27).
stauroo– signifies (a) “the act of crucifixion,” e. g., (Matt. 20:19); (b) metaphorically, “the putting off of the flesh with its passions and lusts,” a condition fulfilled in the case of those who are truly “disciples of Jesus,” (Gal. 5:24);
sustauroo– “to crucify with” (sufor,” sun, “with”), is used (a) of actual “crucifixion” in company with another, (Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32; John 19:32); (b) metaphorically, of spiritual identification with Jesus in His death, (Rom. 6:6), and (Gal. 2:20).
anastauroo– used in (Heb. 6:6) of Hebrew apostates, who as merely nominal disciples of Jesus, in turning back to Judaism, were thereby virtually guilty of “crucifying” Jesus again.
prospegnumi–“to fix or fasten to anything”– used of the crucifixion” of Jesus.
These descriptions of the cross are taken from the original Greek language in the New Testament; these words reveal to us what a ‘cross’ really means. When Jesus calls us to pick up our cross, we are in essence, picking up His—it is a call to crucifixion, a complete and total loss of our lives that we might live unto God; no one ever enjoyed a cross—the cross that saves me, must also slay me. We must beware that we do not pick up the cross that is popular in the church these days—a golden cross that says “Jesus has died, let’s see what we’ve won;” The cross of Jesus does not guarantee health, wealth, prosperity, or popularity; the cross of Jesus guarantees that we will inherit salvation, if we pick it up, and are crucified with Him, walking in obedience to Jesus in executing the will of God until we die.
It is the cross that slays the old man, that the new man—Jesus Himself, might resurrect in our mortal flesh; the real cross, enforces all that Jesus commands; beware of modern teaching that says the cross of Jesus simply sends us in a different direction—in other words, it caters to the wants and whims of the world that it might win the world; The cross that Jesus refers to is a symbol of death—not a guarantee that now we can receive God’s ‘blessings’ to gratify our fleshy desires. The cross that Jesus refers to, takes one’s life, violently, and slowly, yet abruptly. When Jesus picked up his cross and headed toward Golgatha, He didn’t look back, nor was He coming back—He was on His way to die; His cross and the cross we are appointed to, does not compromise anything, and it spares nothing—death is agonizing, painful, and complete—the cross makes no deals with anyone, it only kills the flesh—that is all it knows how to do, and it does it completely, without one shred remaining—and when its work is finished, its victim is no more. We are saved through our death on our cross—-without this death, there can be no resurrection of Jesus in us—the born again experience is impossible.without this cross.
This cross stands between the ways of God and the ways of men—it does not justify the ways of men before God; This cross does not accommodate the world, it divides the world quickly and powerfully, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit of the world , and of the joints and marrow; this cross cares nothing about the thoughts and intents of the world, it only serves to discern and reveal the heart of the world. This cross brings not compromise to the world, but rather brings it ultimatum—“accept me, embrace He who hung on me, hang on me yourself and die, if you hope to live.” The life of salvation springs from death on this cross—yours and mine; It is the acceptance of this cross, the picking up of it unto the obedience of Jesus and the will of God, that commutes the eternal death sentence against us. We no longer seek to come to terms with God, we come to Life on His terms, with nothing covered, nothing defended—we consent ourselves to this death, our sin being our worthiness for it. The cross that crucified Jesus, now crucifies us; it is the power of the resurrection of Jesus in us that raises us to newness of Life.
“………O cross, most welcome and longed for. with a willing mind, joyfully and desirously I come to you, being the scholar of Him which did hang on you, because I have always been your lover and yearned to embrace you…….”
The Apostle Andrew upon seeing the cross he was to be crucified upon at Patrae, in Achaia.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
*EVIDENCE YOU HAVE A GRIP ON YOUR CROSS
The dominant desire in your life is Jesus in all things; The want and desire of Him becomes sufficient by grace to literally control every aspect of your life. Holiness unto God rather than happiness unto self, becomes your lifestyle—you would rather be holy than happy. Holiness is the purpose behind our redemption—that we may be transformed into His likeness—into Him. Evidence that your cross is doing this? “let your communication be yea, yea, or nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Mt. 5: 37; “I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” Mt. 5: 44; “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and, come and follow me.” Mt. 5: 37, 44, 48. “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.” Mt. 6: 7; If ye love me, keep my commandments, John 14: 15
You are willing to suffer dishonor or loss that Jesus and His commands be honored. Any undertaking which means glory for God is automatically undertaken—there is no debate—the choice has been made even before the matter becomes an issue. God’s glory through Jesus and at His direction, is your life motivator.
You must remember that your cross is defined as adversity that comes to you as a result of obeying Jesus. You take this cross up voluntarily when you decide to become a disciple of His, and be in absolute obedience to Him. When you consistently choose to love and obey Jesus, your cross will consistently come.
When you decide you will let God determine your length of days on this earth, you have picked up your cross. Somehow we have been duped into believing that to live this temporal life is gain, and to die and be with the Lord, is loss. But it is written—“for me to live is Jesus and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1: 21)
You have picked up your cross when you would rather be useful than noticed; you would rather serve than be served.
If you live in much conflict and interference, chances are you are picking up your cross regularly. If your life follows the true teachings of Jesus, and not much of the current church teaching which just makes the world a more attractive place, your cross will find you. The cross to which Jesus assigns us means death. It stands for a violent end to your and my flesh. This cross neither compromises nor spares, anything. It does not befriend its victim as man would have us believe, providing health and wealth; it instead slays its victim—the life is lost—totally for the sake of Jesus—that it might be found for the sake of Jesus. It is the cross that separates the ways of man and the ways of God. Our cross offers life as the fruit of death.
Except and corn of wheat—you, me,–fall to the ground in death—our cross– we will bear no fruit. We first repent and forsake our sin, the cross does its deadly work, and we pursue Jesus with all our being; it is in this pursuit that we find self increasingly denied.
Every man loves his own life, no man ever yet hated it; and we cannot be Jesus’ disciples if we do not love Him more than our own lives. When tribulation and persecution arise because of the word and ministry, then we will find which we love more—Jesus or our lives:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matt 16:24-25
He shows by these words that, to will to come after Jesus and to follow Him, springs from no ordinary manly courage, and that it is in the draw of our Father to Jesus that we find ourselves denied, as we drop our nets and follow Him. And the man denies himself who wipes out by his absolute pursuit of Jesus, his own former life which had been spent in wickedness; he who was once an idolater and fornicator with the world, seeks the face of Jesus with his whole heart, thus opening the Way for the sacrificial life; On this account let every thought and every purpose and every word and every action
become the fruit of our apprehending Jesus and He us; a testimony about Jesus and in Jesus—when our words and actions become perpetual testimonies for and about Jesus, it denies our testimonies about ourselves; for I am persuaded that every action of the person who consumes Jesus, is a testimony to Jesus, and that abstinence from sin is a denial of self, leading him after Jesus. And such an one is crucified with Jesus, and takes up his own cross, and follows Him. It is our resolution to grip our cross and follow Jesus that crucifies life as we knew it—we lose it for His sake; but in the losing of that life, we find He who is Life; we will find that the cross loses its deadly power in our lives, when we change it from a thing of death, to a thing of privilege. In such a swap, the will of God is no longer the Blood of life; in such a swap, the Blood of Life becomes a means to blessing the flesh and pursing and gaining one’s own way at any cost. The cross of the believer disappears in the swap, while the cross of Jesus remains, but has been changed to suit the benefactors of His sacrifice. When the swap is made, the true power of the cross disappears, and religion and ritual take its place, with the believer seeking his own agenda and blessing in the name of the cross. The cross that you may hang around your neck or put as an ornament in your ear, becomes nothing but an empty emblem, if it is not a sign of your crucifixion with Him. Millions who do so today, believe in its magic, but know nothing of its power.
Reference to the Saying of Paul About Crucifixion with Jesus
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20
Moreover in regard to the saying, “Let him deny himself,” the saying of Paul who denied himself seems appropriate, “Yet I live, and yet no longer I but Jesus liveth in me (Gal. 2: 20); “”I live, yet no longer I,” was the voice of one denying himself, as of one who had laid aside his own life and taken in himself resurrection and the life of Jesus, in order that Jesus might live in him as Righteousness, and as Wisdom, and as Sanctification, and as Peace, and as the Power of God, who worketh all things in him. Self denial is the fruit of picking up the cross Jesus has designated for you. Self denial is not something you can accomplish yourself, but is the work of grace, orchestrated by the Master Himself. Again, it comes when we truly say yes to His call, drop our entire lives, and become totally and absolutely obedient and submissive to Him.
The Son of God was crucified, being hanged on a tree, in order that all who die unto sin may die to it, in no other way than by the way of the cross—the cross slays the old man within me, making way for the resurrection of the new Man within me; the new Man has as His only meat, obedience to the word and will of God, forsaking absolutely all else. Wherefore they will say, “I have been crucified with Jesus,” and, “Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of the Lord, through which the world has been crucified unto me and I unto the world.” Each of those who have been crucified with Jesus gains power over principalities and the powers, and makes a show of them and triumphs over them in the cross, Jesus resurrecting in their mortal flesh, and performing the ministry of deliverance and healing, Himself.
The Loss of Life; And the Saving of It
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
A man loves his own life, and thinking that the present life is good, ends carefully his own life with a view to living in the flesh, being afraid to die; possibly believing that through death he will lose all—still not convinced of the words of the Master; this man, by the very willing to temporally save his own life will lose it eternally, placing it outside of the borders of the true Spiritual walk, living instead in the carnal. But if any one despises this present life because of the word of Jesus, which has persuaded him to strive even unto death for the Master, loses his own life, surrendering it for the sake of the will of God and service to Him unto death, this man saves his life eternally. If any one, who has grasped what salvation really is, wishes to gain the salvation of his own life, let this man lose it temporally and he will find it eternally. God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Gal 6:14.
If we are bent on saving our lives–our will, our disposition toward others, our ungodly behaviors, we shall surely lose our lives, for to be bent on saving them is a walk in the flesh and no flesh will gory in His presence; Note here that Jesus is speaking to all within hearing range, not just the disciples; The original language for ‘deny’ here is to ‘reject’; All natural affection must be put away–Jesus pleased not Himself; Our cross must be taken willingly, that is, we must take the trials and afflictions as coming from the hand of God, and only the Resurrection and the Life can take them in such a manner. Our Father seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth–the flesh profiteth nothing–it must be nailed to the cross; again, God gave us flesh so we would have something to sacrifice.
It was God who empowered Jesus to pick up His cross, and Jesus will empower us to pick up ours; We have talked about our response to reproach being a measure of the Resurrection and Life manifesting in us; We must remember: Jesus has done what He wants us to do, and He is what He wants us to be; We must not chose the way of the world–the perversion of our own nature; all ways of judging, regarding, thinking, loving–all things related to our emotional being, must flow from He who lives in us; The Law of the Resurrection and Life in us, is the will of our Father–that is all, it is nothing more nor is it nothing less; What is acceptable by the times is at definite enmity with God; We must not seek this self denial for the flesh will gladly deceive us into thinking we have conquered ourselves; this then gives way to the pride of self-conquest, and the demon is unleashed; True self denial can be successfully worked by Jesus alone, that is why we seek Him and nothing else–if our life’s pursuit is Jesus and we find intimacy with Him, self-denial will be among the many Kingdom fruits that will manifest; when we put ourselves up to self-denial, we are playing God, and the self-satisfaction that develops will prove a foundation for much sin; We must not become law-givers to ourselves; we thus become one who commands, not one who obeys; We must avoid putting burdens on ourselves, for when we do, we are serving self, not letting Jesus subdue it; We must remember, we are not our own schoolmasters; Our resolution must be to let Jesus work in us and through us all the time, for denying self is nothing more than yielding all to Him–it is also nothing less;
Remember: God gave us self, so it could be sacrificed; self gives us something to offer, just as Jesus offered Himself; Jesus will grace you to a point where only the will of God will matter–Jesus will see to it that the self be not its own minister and master; The will becomes motionless unless put into gear by Him; Consciousness of unworthiness will not cloud motivation; Jesus thus powers and orders our entire lives–friend, family, brother, sister, will be put in their rightful place; We forego our reception, that at any cost, His will be done; True Joy becomes the Life of the Son and the will of the Father–we must seek Him who never sought His own; we must see self only as our consciousness, our awareness of life; I t is not our being; Our life is hid with Jesus, in God from whom it came, and where it is returning.
In our total resolution to pursue and apprehend Jesus, and be apprehended by Him, the sheer test of it and the shattering of self, will be our response to reproach and persecution.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
As we grow in our lives of daily worship at His feet, we will find that grace moves the cross to do its deadly, painful work on us, exacting the cost of discipleship. Jesus demands that we take up our cross, and come after Him—it is in the whole-life seeking of Him that we pick up our cross and it crucifies us that He might live within us; we are to be crucified with Him, letting the Resurrection and the Life come alive in our mortal flesh, that we might live unto the will of our Father by the faith of our Savior and Lord. And we do not serve a Master who did not do all that He commands us. Whatever discipleship costs you, you will come to learn, it is worth it. I tell you of a truth: Jesus gave His life for us; discipleship demands that we give our lives for Him. We notice that this hard speech of the Master did draw unto him all the publicans and sinners to hear Him. There is something in a man that hates discipline but at the same time desires it. That desire is the draw of God to Jesus.
“The disciple must live in this world as though the soul was already in heaven and the body rotting in the grave” (St. Francis de Sales). There was much unreasoning, possibly not a little sentimental enthusiasm, among the people who crowded round Jesus in these last months of his work. The stern, uncompromising picture of what ought to be the life of his real disciples, was painted especially with a view of getting rid of these useless, purposeless people, who thought they wanted to be disciples on Jesus’ terms—but most, as many do today, wanted to be Jesus’ disciples on their own terms.. The way of the cross, which he was about to tread, was no pathway for the lukewarm.
1. At the entrance into discipleship. There is no room for any compromise here. When God calls us to Himself, when Jesus invites us to come unto Him, Should not our response be immediate, instantaneous? There is no step any man can take which is comparable in importance with that which is taken when a human soul obeys Jesus and enters the kingdom of God: on that decision hang eternal issues. Let men, therefore, diligently and reverently count the cost until they understand what it means to have a living faith in Jesus Christ, to enter his Spiritual kingdom, and become one of his disciples and lay their lives absolutely and completely down in obedience to Him; let them understand, among other things, that it means the willing and full surrender of themselves to the Saviour Himself, with all that such surrender involves, which means forsaking all they are and have (ver. 33).
2. At the entrance on a public profession of Jesus. Here is a visible “Church” which we are invited to join, taking upon ourselves the Disciple name, and openly avowing our attachment to our Lord; thus honoring Him before men. This is a step to be taken deliberately. Before taking it, a man should certainly ask himself whether he is prepared to act in accordance with the profession of Jesus everywhere, in all circles and in every sphere; not only where he will be encouraged to do the right, but where he will be solicited to do the wrong thing; not only in the midst of friendly influences, but in the throng of dangerous temptations. But while these things are to be carefully taken into account, we must always remember that it is Jesus who is calling us into discipleship, and if we answer the call, we enter the walk of death with Him—He is our Guide and Master and is always with us, directing, comforting, chastising and encouraging. If we go forth in the Person and Strength of Jesus to do that which He commands, we may confidently count on Him; and with Him resurrecting in us, we shall not be moved from the path of obedience, integrity and consistency. Look the facts in the face, but include all the facts; and do not forget that among these is the faithful Friend who calls us.
At all times, when we are thinking of the disciples’ work, we must carefully consider our desire for the Person of Jesus—who He is, what He has done, what He requires, and trust in where He might lead. The idea of cross-bearing is often interpreted as if it simply meant enduring those “crosses” to which happen to all in life. But much more is meant than this. In the Revised Version it is put, “Whosoever doth not bear his own cross.” Now, as Jesus carried his cross to die upon, so must we take our lives in our hands, and be ready at any moment to sacrifice them for Jesus. He was crucified for us: are we ready to be crucified for Him, or to die in any other way He wishes? It is the ‘martyr-spirit’ which Jesus here insists upon. He is surely worthy of such self-sacrifice.
The cross that satan offers us is the golden cross that says rise up and play, for Jesus has died and all shall be well. This cross brings life without interference from He who died for that life. This cross lives for its own, refusing to lay down its life for spouse, friend or foe. This cross says pick up the vodka bottle daily if you choose—after all, you have accepted Jesus, so all shall be well. This cross says your body is your own—you make the consequence-free decision to kill the child within you. This cross says that Jesus makes no demands on you, He died only to bless you, and your blessing should be the sole focus of your life. This cross says leave the homeless, the raped, and beaten—God will care for them; you get to the church and be with God’s people, serving happily with them, in peace and tranquility. This cross offers the world on a religious level—whatever the world wants, this cross tailors the gospel to meet the want and improve upon it. This cross does not slay us, it picks us up and carries us in whatever direction we are heading, saving a man’s self respect and anything else that caters to self. This cross says take the scripture and run with it in faith that God will jump through the hoop when we speak, and we shall have what we ask, for Jesus has died and all is there just for the asking and taking if we but believe. This cross puts a spin on the word of God so it will conform to the world and thus become acceptable to the world. This cross does not offend, but offers temporal safety and prosperity in the name of He who was beaten, spit on and had the hair plucked from His face.
This cross misses the whole point of its existence and its meaning. The old rugged true cross is a symbol of death—it stands for a very painful ending to the life of a man. Yet Jesus tells us that if we cannot pick it up daily, we cannot be His disciple. The old rugged cross spares nothing or no one. It is designed to slay a man once and for all, and those who pick it up, don’t look back, lest they be found unworthy of it or unfit for it. God uses the old rugged cross to slay the old rugged man, and raise him into a newness of life—the resurrection of Jesus in him. We live because we first die, and then are resurrected in He who is the resurrection. There are no friendly or safe parallels drawn between the ways of God and the ways of man. Salvation is not the raising of the old life to a higher level—it is death of the old man, that the highest level of Life might manifest in the carcass—a corn of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it will reproduce.
The old rugged cross is not a public relations piece, and we are not here to promote good will between the gospel and the world; we are here to pierce the world with the gospel, and this piercing will create pain and conflict, unless of course we choose the cross without cost. Our message is not one of diplomacy, but one of ultimatum. God is a killer—He does not offer to improve our lives, but to take them, and by the death of them, make them His own. The life offered by God comes only out of death. It stands on the other side of the cross, not before it peering blessingly happily at it. The cross is the rod we must pass under to gain this Life of which we speak. Instead of giving lip service to our vileness and then claiming blessing, we must agree with God and His death sentence upon us, forsake our sin, and then ourselves. We defend nor excuse nothing of us or in us. We do not seek to compromise with God over His Son—the rule has been laid by the hand of God, and we must adhere to Him for He is the rule. The scriptures warning the suffering of those who undertake a life with Jesus are too numerous to mention; but they are not preached—they went out the church door with the old rugged cross. Satan has duped millions into believing all they have to do is believe; ‘believe’ in the original language is much more than just believing. It is a trusting adherence to the Person of Jesus that the believer be transformed into the Resurrection and the Life. The demons believe, and you’ll not see any of them receiving reward or salvation on that day.
The cross that Jesus hung on awaits us that we might hang on it; that the life of sacrifice that He teaches and gives, might become our very own. His cross graces us to work unto eternity and His glory, as opposed to the self-centered, temporal blessing seeking many say it stands for. The cross that slayed Him will slay us, and the power that raised Him will raise us into newness of He who is the Resurrection and the Life within us.
It is a willing, grace-filled grip on the old rugged cross, that will bring the power of the early church.
Seek and set out your daily time to be alone with Jesus—time for the written word, much time for the Living Word. Leave curiosities alone. Contemplate such matters as bring sorrow to the heart rather than matters that merely occupy and thus possess the mind. If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary meetings and the like, you will find enough time that is suitable for the Person and presence of Jesus to occupy your whole life.
It is best to avoid the idle company of men wherever possible and choose to worship the Lord and serve Him out of retirement and rest. “As often as I have been among men,” said one writer, “I have returned less a man.” We often find this to be true when we take part in long conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and spiritual life must go apart regularly, with Jesus, from the crowd. Its hard to carry your cross in a crowd.
Holy silence is the foundation of holiness in speaking. It is out of our absolute submission to Jesus that the anointing to minister and serve is born. Security is the fruit of our fear of God and reverence for Him.
Temporal security is never promised by Jesus, but temporal tribulation is. The afflictions of the righteous keep them from succumbing to manifold temptations. The resolution to detach self from all that is contrary to Jesus, is the aid of grace. It is in silent contrition that the still, small voice is heard. What we lose to the world, Jesus fills in our prayer chamber, in silence before Him. The shadow of the Almighty falls over the feet of Jesus, and if that is where you reside, it will fall over you.
The hidden secrets of scripture are revealed in solitude and silence at the feet of Jesus; it is there that the Sacrifice is revealed and holy tears thus shed, washing, bathing and cleansing the soul unto inexpressible love and gratitude for He who is the Sacrifice. Anything short of Him muddies the conscience and the heart—the pursuit of carnal joy always ends in unholy sadness. To see all that is in and of the world is to see nothing, for all that is there is at enmity with God—vain glory must be left to those who are vain. It is the flint of your forehead that will carry out your obedience at the direction of Jesus, unto the will of our Father; the flint is found, and the forehead set and sustained, at the feet of Jesus.