Whatever it Takes
August 9, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Walk By Faith Verse: Luke 14:25–14:35
Theme: True salvation must be of God as it exceeds any human ability.
Introduction: The saving of a sinner from their sin is a miracle. It is not something that should ever be expected, and certainly it isn’t something that is attainable through the will of man – cp. John 1:13 which speaks of those who are born again were “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” The call to salvation is one that is absurd – often considered too simple – yet when so described betrays a complete lack of comprehension. The gospel calls a sinner to the complete denial of everything that used to be of importance – relationships, possessions, and your very life in order to follow Jesus. It is something that will never be embraced if one’s priority is on the ease of life now – it can only be embraced when the priority is on one’s eternal destiny.
In a demonstration of the lack of confidence in the power of the Gospel to actually save, people have sought to make “converting” as easy as possible – emphasizing a man-centered, psychologically pleasing path to self-fulfillment. This counterfeit gospel seeks to lure sinners through the baiting promises of a “best life now” – a Christianity that will give you everything you want. Do you want to be entertained – come to church; want riches – come to church; want to shed guilt – come to church; want a nice family – come to church; want a better job – come to church. For them, participating in church isn’t about being something greater than the individual, its about the individual – about enabling me to have what I want or think I need and if I don’t need anything, I don’t need church.
There is a complete ignorance of the fact that following Jesus cannot happen if a person retains a “self-priority.” Christianity calls sinners to absolute surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ – the total abdication of autonomy. It calls on us from the day we are born again to allow our temporal lifespan to be momentary in light of the eternal life that we have received.
Our text today does not provide us the objective facts of the Gospel – that Jesus died for our sins, rose from the dead, convicts us of sin, and then forgives those who come to Him in faith and repentance. Rather, Jesus is addressing here the subjective attitude of the radical, extreme faith provided by God’s grace in every person who is born again. Otherwise, a person is merely “going along” with Jesus without ever “coming to” Jesus in saving faith. “True salvation must be of God as it exceeds any human ability.”
I. Saving Faith Requires Absolute Surrender – 14:25-27
A. The Tendency toward a Convenient Faith – v. 25
- As we have been observing, Jesus is moving to Jerusalem and is preaching with very little time left before His earthly ministry is completed.
- As He heads toward Jerusalem – many people were attaching themselves to His group – “Now large crowds were going along with Him …”
- “large crowd” [πολύς] – refers to many without a specific number
- It is likely that they were pilgrims also heading to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast Jesus Himself was attending and during which Jesus would be sacrificed.
- These people would stop when He stopped, listen to His words, witness His power, and then continue with Him as He continued.
- They were casual, convenient followers – without any real thought of persevering with Him, serving Him or suffering for Him.
- Because of what Jesus says to this crowd, it is likely that there were those expressing a desire to become disciples – similar to people today who want the benefits of Christianity: virtue, social standing, self-respect, and a sense of community without the thought that it is all about Jesus.
B. The Tests of a Certified Faith – vv. 26-27
- As a result of what Jesus clearly understands about their interests in Him, He halts, turns to the crowd and begins to communicate what all of them would have considered unreasonable and unfulfillable expectations – “… and He turned and said to them …”
- First, He declares that true, saving faith is characterized by a Priority Relationship – “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.”
- There seems to be a distinction made by Jesus between those who are “going along with Him” (v. 25) and those who “come to Me” – in a genuine sense of truly following Him.
- A person who truly “comes to” Christ strips anything and anyone away from Jesus so that their love for Him becomes the clear priority.
- In this sense, Jesus uses the term “hate” to describe the comparative preferring of God over all others – cp. Matthew 6:24; 10:37.
- The term used by Jesus here “hate” [μισέω] – ought not be diluted – it means to “have a strong aversion to” or “to detest” – cp. Psalm 5:5; 11:5; 45:7.
- When a person truly “comes to” Christ, there is such a loathing of wickedness and sin, a “hate” for what violates the honor and glory of Christ, such contrition and abandonment of affection for sinful things that anyone who would advocate for those things becomes the object of one’s disdain – Romans 12:9.
- If you are going to follow Christ, no one who would lure you away from Him, who would corrupt you by dragging you back into your sinful perspectives or practices can be tolerated – cp. 1 John 2:15-17.
- This applies to even the closest of relationships that must be denied if they will hinder your desire to follow Christ – whether “father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters …”
- Despite this “hate,” God Himself still cares for them and desires to bring them into a loving relationship with Him if they will repent.
- Likewise, our desire is to see them saved – and it is in this sense that we “love” our enemies – cp. Luke 6:35-36.
- We must even hate that aspect of our own – our flesh – that draws us away from faithfulness to Christ – “… yes, even his own life …” – a reference to the hatred for what is inconsistent with Christ Jesus and what must be sanctified to become like Him – Philippians 3:7-11.
- Second, He declares that true, saving faith is characterized by Personal Resignation – “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
- To “carry his own cross” did not have some allegorical or symbolic meaning when Jesus said this – it meant willing to actually suffer the most heinous death imaginable in the day.
- It was to be condemned as guilty, punished & tortured for a crime, and completely shamed by the community.
- Essentially a person when they are saved completely dies to self and is willing to “come after Me” – to follow Jesus even into the valley of the shadow of death.
- Paul models this when he said “I do not consider my life of any account …” – cp. Acts 20:22-24.
- These are supernatural achievements – not things a person can muster from within themselves; we cannot overcome our selfishness in our relationships or in the protection of ourselves and our personal interests.
- However, a person who is truly born again does have the ability – through Christ to do these things.
- This is what Jesus emphasizes through the next several verses ...
Why did Jesus address this particular crowd with these statements?
Many today attempt to make salvation as convenient as possible, why do you think that Jesus described it as so demanding?
For Jesus, it is an “all or nothing” equation … in what ways do you attempt to “dumb it down” and why?
II. Saving Faith Relies on Supernatural Resources – 14:28-33
A. The Resources Needed to Produce – vv. 28-30
- As those listening balked at the height of the bar Christ sets for being saved, Jesus provides illustration of how a person is dependent upon resources outside of himself.
- He begins with a positive reference – “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
- This is not merely a managerial principle of “counting the cost” as is traditionally assumed.
- The point of the story is that the man doesn’t have what it takes to build the tower.
- Likewise, a sinner does not have what it takes to abandon all other relationships to follow Christ, nor to abdicate the self-serving desire to avoid hardship associated with following Christ.
- Building a “tower” can be applied to constructing a life of faithfulness to Christ.
- Only through the grace provided by God and faith in Christ Jesus are the resources provided to produce a positive structure.
- Attempting to build a Christian life based on one’s own abilities and resources would result in disaster – but where will the “enough to complete it” come from?
- It comes from grace alone which furnishes us all who turn to Christ in genuine saving faith – cp. Ephesians 2:8-9.
B. The Resources Needed to Prevail – vv. 31-33
- Jesus’ second illustration likewise demonstrates a grossly outmanned army staring directly at defeat – “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.”
- This king doesn’t have what it takes to win – likewise, we possess an enemy greater than ourselves – 1 Peter 5:8.
- However, the ability to defeat this enemy is not innate or dependent upon our own resources – but is something that we rely upon God to accomplish – cp. 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
- Jesus is not advocating that we seek terms of peace with the enemy, but that we overcome Him because of divine power and grace.
- The only way a person can be an overcomer is dependent entirely on our faith in Christ Jesus – cp. 1 John 5:4.
- Jesus summarizes these illustrations by saying – “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
- “possessions” [ὑπάρχω] – in this context refers to one’s own resources or natural abilities.
- The ability to be a disciple is preconditioned on the setting aside of self-dependence and the absolute dependence upon the Lord.
- One commentator stated that Jesus “did not call for a makeover but demanded a takeover.”
- He calls upon us to abandon all of our self-reliance and completely rely on Him – to BE saved by Him without trying to save ourselves.
From where do the resources come that enable you to live the Christian life?
If your life can be lived without a constant dependence on Christ, do you think that it is really the Christian life?
Have you settled for “terms of peace” with the enemy or are you pressing for victory spiritually? How would life be different if you more consistently pressed for victory?
III. Saving Faith Realizes Sustaining Grace – 14:34-35
A. The Perseverance of Saving Faith – vv. 34-35a
- Jesus concludes His confrontation by a reference to the persevering qualities of salt – “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?”
- The principle qualities of “salt” are that it checks corruption and enhances the flavor of food.
- The reason that salt checks corruption is that it does not itself corrupt – nor does it lose its ability to enhance food.
- There was a salt that came from the Dead Sea that is corrupted to start alloyed with a type of gypsum that cause the salt to not possess the qualities of genuine salt that would not properly preserve or enhance flavors.
- Such “salt … is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”
- There simply is no value whatsoever to salt that isn’t real salt.
- Jesus point is that there is no salt for salt – true salt is something that keeps its quality – for someone to be saved and then turn away demonstrates that they were never truly saved – never became the “salt of the earth” as Jesus describes the genuine believer.
- Those who do not persevere demonstrate that they are worthy of nothing except being “thrown out” into eternal judgment - cp. Luke 13:28.
B. The Perception in Saving Faith – v. 35b
- This last phrase: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” is a frequently used call for people to heed what is being said.
- Jesus calls for us to listen, understand, and then embrace what He is saying.
- He is calling for people to respond to Him before it is too late.
- The most important thing that the your “ears” will ever “hear” is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His invitation to you to believe.
How is a half-hearted Christian like salt that has lost its saltiness?
Why is unsalty salt useless?
Are you a “self-made” Christian or are you a work of God? How can one tell the difference?
- Following Christ is not about a path to an easy life – it is about seeking to glorify Christ regardless of what it costs you.
- Certainty of a right relationship with Jesus is known in supernatural achievements of submission to His lordship; Jesus is not interested in a “make-over” but only in a “take-over.”
- No one “has what it takes” to follow Jesus through natural ability – there is no such thing as a “self-made” Christian; it is only possible through grace.
- Each of us must pause and seek to discern if our faith is a work of God or merely an exertion of our own virtue ...