Sermon by Timothy Williams. This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.
Luke 14:26 In 60 Minutes
Luke 14:26 is central to everything that we are building upon in this body. It is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we were taught correctly about Jesus Christ, then this scripture is our starting point, and we should build on it daily, step-by-step. But Luke 14:26 is the one scripture that is usually left out. We will do everything before it and maybe everything after it, but we leave this part of the Gospel out because it really has the power to require us to die. In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul said, “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” Today we will look at the rules that Jesus Christ has set down. We will look at Luke 14 where it talks about Jesus’ terms of peace. Let’s read the end scripture first in Luke 14:35 so that we know where we are heading as we go all the way through these scriptures.
Luke 14:35-36 – It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
If we don’t have Luke Chapter 14 as a central portion of our Gospel call, if it is not in our life, or in what we share with other individuals, then everything we are doing should be thrown out. Indeed, a lot of people will stand before Jesus Christ having reformed a lot of religious works and brought in a lot of people to “Christianity,” but those works will be tossed out. We have to learn the rules that Jesus Christ has set down, and we need not think that we can run this race if we are not going to run according to the rules. If we are trying to get in some other way, whatever we do will be tossed out. And so, we need to sit down and take a long, hard evaluating look and ask, “OK, what message do I preach? What does my life declare? What does my church preach? Is Jesus Christ going to throw these things out?” If so, then we need to throw them out today that we might have the truth. Backing up one more verse, he says:
Luke 14:34 – Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
We will discover the very essence of what it means to be salty in Jesus Christ, to have the purifying, restoring, healing property that salt has. If we lose this quality, then will miss everything, and Jesus Christ says it will to be thrown out. Sometimes people take hold of this message, then slowly, over a period of time, they begin to compromise, let it go and try to smooth it over. After a longer period of time, they lose their saltiness completely. Some of us have never even been taught about it, and we think saltiness is living a moral life, but not a crucified life. In Matthew 7:13, Jesus Christ says:
Matthew 7:13 – Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Many find that gate. Who is Jesus Christ talking to in the following passage?
Luke 14:25 – Large crowds were traveling with Jesus.
Large amounts of people look for Jesus Christ. They are next to him, and can testify to the truth. They can say, “I’m right here next to Jesus Christ. I am following him. I’m right here speaking to him. I listen to his lessons. I appreciate his miracles. I value the wisdom that God gives him.”
Luke 14:25 – Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said…
Ask yourself, when was last time you turned to a large crowd or to an individual that you were sharing with and began to expound on Luke 14:26? When was the last time the church had a group of people coming forward to receive salvation but the leader stopped them and said, “OK, hang on. This is what it means to follow Jesus Christ.” We need to turn to large crowds and say, “This is the message. This is the starting point of the Gospel. This is what gives you salt. This is where the narrow gate and the narrow road begins.” If we have never done that, then we are not doing it in our own life. The reason I point people to a narrow road or to “This hating thing” is because I have to do it myself and they are not going to be exempt from it any more than I am. Besides, it is good news! I’m pleading that we stop and consider what we are reading. That each of us, would begin to turn to our own lives and to other people and say, “This is what the Gospel is about,” because large crowds of people to indeed follow Jesus.
John 6:22-24 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
Now, does this look like a group of zealous people to you? They are running around looking for Jesus Christ, wondering where went and how he got where he was going. They act like they are concerned about Jesus Christ. Many people that are “spiritual” eagerly look for Jesus Christ. Where is he? Where is his Spirit? So, we see a group of people putting forth the effort to find Jesus Christ.
John 6:25 – When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
They come with respect. They come with awe. Rabbi means teacher. They come with an outward kind of humility as they say, “We are looking for you, teacher. Show us who you are. Where did you go? Why did you leave us? We are hungry for your presence.” And, this is what Jesus Christ says to them in verse 26.
John 6:26 – Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
“You look for me for what you can get out of me. You’re not even really interested in the miraculous things I’ve done. You are not really impressed with anything spiritual that I’m talking about. Oh, you like the miracles, but the bottom line motive, the real reason you come after me and put forth all the zeal is because you will get your flesh fed. You will get some peace out of the situation. You can go to church and sing and feel good. You seek me because it makes you feel full and comfortable.” So large crowds follow Jesus Christ for what they can get from him, for what self can gain from him. This is why we must ask ourselves, “Why am I following Jesus Christ? What do I seek to get from him? Am I really coming to die and lose self?” In our presentation of the Gospel to other people, do we lead them to this place? Do we say that selfishness and sin has to die?
A lot of people like to take out this shocking element of what Jesus Christ said, but let me tell you something, if we take the shocking element out, it loses its power. If we take the offense away from what Jesus Christ said, we remove the offense of the cross and its power to deal with people. Large groups of people travel along with Jesus Christ as they enjoy the free food, the miracles, and the teaching, and everything seems to be fine. They think they have found their Messiah and he will deliver them. Then, all of a sudden out of the clear blue, he says this:
Luke 14:25-26 – If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifehe cannot be my disciple.
Now, I’m doing something that Jesus Christ did not do. Jesus Christ did not explain what he said. He did not take the crowd aside and say, “Now, I don’t really mean hate, and I don’t mean worldly hate, and I don’t mean destructive hate. What I really mean is…” and spell it all out for the people and try to smooth it over . He simply turned to them and said, “This is what it means to follow me, and this kind of hatred has to be in your life before you can get started.” This is the starting point. This is not the final goal of the Christian life. You should not get to the point of death and say, “OK, I finally learned to hate my own life.” It is the beginning process where a person has counted the cost and said, “OK, I want to follow Jesus Christ and I am willing to do so right now.” If we have not presented this message to people, we have not preached the Gospel. So, what does hating one’s life mean? Real quickly it means a complete and total rejection of all except God. It means a complete and total focus on the will of God and not our own desires and pleasures. Let me give you one example. We will not have time to look at every single aspect of this, but you can see the “hating thing” ringing out of what Paul says. We are so self-absorbed that we have to hate our own life, and so Paul says:
I Corinthians 7:29 – What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none.
This means that you get up in the morning and say, “I don’t care what my wife demands of me. It doesn’t matter at all what she wants me to do today or what her opinion is. I only want to know God’s will today.” Now, the will of God might include doing some things for your wife, but first there is a hatred there is a wall that says, “I’m not here on this earth to please you, wife, I’m here to please Jesus Christ. Pleasing Jesus Christ, might lead to pleasing you and it might not lead to pleasing you.” But, we should live and conduct our life in such a way that we are in total complete devotion to Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 7:30 – …those who mourn, as if they did not…
We must hate our own life so that we do not walk around self-absorbed like, “Oh, I’m sad and I’m depressed today. Nothing is going right. Yes, you can mourn but don’t be so self-absorbed in the mourning process that you become self-centered. Mourn as if you did not mourn. It is not permanent or fatal. It will not last forever. You have the cross of Jesus Christ. There is hope, and so we come out of ourselves. We hate our own lives and our own petty concerns. What if you get ready to do something today, and something goes bad in the morning, does it ruin your whole day? Do you mourn as if that one incident affects the whole day because you are so self-focused in your own little needs and your own little problems and you don’t hate your life enough in the small things?
I Corinthians 7:30 – …those who are happy, as if they were not…
How many Christians have a goal to just to be happy, be at peace, to feel the presence of the Lord and to have a smile on their faces? Those who are happy should live as if they are not, because happiness will pass also. I must have a hatred of my own life that is not in touch with my own feelings and emotions. I am not to live for, desire, or be in tune with myself. A lot of times people ask me, “How are you doing?” and I say, “It doesn’t matter. It will change in ten minutes.” I am only concerned about the emotions of Jesus Christ. What will his life produce in me? What is the mind of Christ? Whatever Tim feels at this moment will disappear within a flash. It will change in an instant. It doesn’t mean anything! But, what does mean something is Jesus Christ living in me. If I have his thoughts, his love, his grace, that lasts for eternity.
I Corinthians 7:30 – …those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep…
I am not excited about any particular item in this world. I could care less about it. I hate my life.
I Corinthians 7:31 – 32 – Those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs how he can please the Lord.
Paul gets back around to marriage again. Do you see how he mixes all of this hatred together? We are to come out of our own little lives, our own worlds, our own celebrations, our little pains, and all the things we think are just the most important things going on. This is just a small sample of what it means to hate our own lives. When was the last time we turned to a married couple that is considering the salvation of the Lord and said, “You know, you will to have to live as though you are not married. You must hate each other.” We are ashamed and embarrassed that Jesus Christ would talk this way. And, we’re not so sure what he means by it, let alone to present it to somebody else. Yet, this is the saltiness. If we lose this quality, then our Gospel call needs to be thrown out. While all of this leds to the purest kind of love a person can demonstration. Namely, selfless Godly love poured out through a person’s life the only way to have God’s loving flowing through your life is to first hate your selfish, sinful tainted power to love.
Now, Jesus Christ just said we have to hate our father and our mother, our wife and our children, our brothers and sisters and even our own life. But, that is not the end of it. Look at what he says in verse 27.
Luke 14:27 – And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
He adds one more thing upon another, and the two are totally separated. You see, hating prepares us for the cross. A man unwilling to hate will not pick up the cross of Jesus Christ, because dying on the cross makes us holy. In other words, if I worship my marriage and God comes along and says, “Look, you must crucify your fleshly love for this relationship and what you get out of it. I’m going to put it to death,” if you don’t hate it, you will not allow him to take it from you. You’re not going to allow him to deal with it. It is the cross that actually does the crucifixion unto death. The hating process is an attitude that prepares me for the cross, so can I look forward to death. I want Jesus Christ to take my marriage, my emotions, my life, the things that I buy, and all of the things that I have, and put them to death. I am eager for it to happen. But, if I worship somethinga car or a truck, whatever it isif I don’t hate it, then when Jesus Christ comes along to use it for his glory, I will not give it to him to be put to death. But, if I hate it, I’m already running into the prayer closet and saying, “God, I hate that truck and I want you to crucify it.” It is never an attitude that sits back and says, “Well, if God wants to use my truck, that’s fine with me. I don’t care.” God is waiting for me to say that I hate the truck. Therefore, I come before him and say, “OK, here are the things you have given me. I demand of you to take them and get rid of them. I do not want them. I want you to crucify them.” And, God says, “Why would you want me to do that?” I respond, “Because I hate all of it! And, I want you to take that which I hate and put it to death and use it for your glory.”
I Peter 4:1 – Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
This is not some intellectual conversation or something we read in Bible study. This is something you will feel, that you will experience and you will understand if you give yourself to Jesus Christ. Here’s an example: I come in before the Lord with my truck. I have all my noble words down. So guess what? God begins to apply the cross and then my flesh kicks in. I don’t want to loan it out to so-and-so because it always comes back with an empty tank and always comes back wrecked. The battle starts when you begin to surrender things to God. It is the cross that does the work. “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his own body,” you will feel the pain and the struggle, and there is no way out. In your marriage you may want to do something together and God says, “I need one of you to go do this today.” The struggle will be there. “Arm yourselves also with the same attitude.” In other words, be prepared and be ready. Don’t be casual about it. Don’t sit back and say, “Well, if God wants to use our marriage for his glory…” He wants to do it! Prepare yourself because he will do it. “…because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”
If you have a sin that I know you have been wrestling and struggling with, and you want it to be gone, don’t run out here for all kinds of gimmicks. Don’t try the praise routine. Don’t try all the different 15,000 steps to overcoming sin. What does scripture say we need to do? We need to suffer in our body with sin. It is very, very simple. If I have a lust problem, I go in before the Lord and say, “I lust and it needs to be dealt with.” He says, “OK.” Now I am going to begin to suffer and to deal with it. I don’t need a gimmick. I need the cross if I want to overcome it. But, we don’t want to suffer, so we find another Gospel call that doesn’t have anything to do with suffering. You may be thinking, “This is too simple. This is too easy. You mean to overcome whatever sins are in my life I just have to suffer and deal with it?” That’s right! You have to begin to do the things you don’t want to do. There are a lot of commands in Jesus Christ that I don’t particularly like. But, if I will suffer in my body, if I will wrestle with it, if I will let the Holy Spirit do the work, then I can rejoice in it, “because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” You ought to be able to turn to people and say, “I’m done with sin because I’ve suffered in my body. I’ve felt the effect of the cross. I have hated everything about my life, and I was willing it to let Jesus Christ to put it death.” That is why verse 2 says:
I Peter 4:2 – As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Here is the victory. Here is the resurrected life. You can never experience the resurrected life without crucifixion. “As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” But, you have to go through the crucifixion process first. I find all kinds of people saying, “Oh, I heard the Lord in this, and I’m doing this in the Lord,” but when I look at their lives I have to ask, “Where is the suffering? Where was the crucifixion process?” And, even if I pose the question, they can’t answer it because they have never experienced it. Yet, how can they know all of the things that God wants them to do? It can’t be! It will never happen. They are following Jesus Christ for the bread that he gives them to eat. They are not following Jesus Christ for the righteousness that he came to bring. Now, remember, he said you have to carry your cross, so we arm ourselves with the attitude that says, “OK, if I suffer in my body, I will be done with sin.” Then he says, “You have to follow me.” You can’t just pick up a cross and say, “OK, I’m going to carry it in this manner.” You have to follow him.
Romans 8:12 – Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
A battle takes place between the sinful nature within me and the holiness and righteousness of God in me. The two will be in conflict with each other every hour of every day. And so, I have an obligation, of course.
Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.
It might be a religions sinful nature, but if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die. There is no way around it. Those are the facts of Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:13 – …but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
“…if by the Holy Spirit.” Listen! The world tries to clean up its life all the time, doesn’t it? The world has its organizations, groups, psychotherapy, counselors, and all its wisdom in order to put a life together, does it not? But, they gain nothing. If by the Holy Spirit I put to death the misdeeds of the body, I will live. A lot of people try to put to death the misdeeds of the body by their own power, by their own religion, or by their own effort, and it will never happen. “But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,” and this is what hating for Jesus is aboutbeing alive.
Romans 8:14 – Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
So, you get up in the morning and God says, “Today we are going to deal with this sin and overcome it. We are going to put it to death a little bit more. Today is the day. The talk is through. The intellectual discussions are done. The miracles are finished.” Jesus Christ is showing you who he is. It is time now to do the work. Usually, we like to talk and discuss just a little bit more. The famous statement is “I just don’t know why I do what I do. I don’t know why I commit the sin.” And so we spend fifteen years trying to figure out why. I’ll give you the answer right now so that you don’t have to waste any more time trying to figure it out! It is called the Garden of Eden. We sinned back then and now we have a sinful nature. You want to do what you want to do, and you are a wicked sinner. So, let’s get on with putting it to death. There are no more “whys.” The only question is whether you will surrender to God to have your sinful nature put to death.
Romans 8:15- For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Everybody loves this passage, and it is a grand passage. “Abba, Father” or “Dad” contains an intimate communion in relationship with Jesus Christ, but in what context? In the context of the cross and preparing ourselves to suffer with sin and of putting to death the sin in our lives. I can say, “Abba, Father,” when God says, “Tim, we have to deal with this sin. It has to be put to death.” Let me tell you this process brings close communion and communication. Now, I’m not always saying the best things to God, and I’m not always praising him. Many times I am whining and complaining, and he says, “We are going to have to talk about that, too.” But, we are in communication. We are in fellowship, and it proves that I’m his son, I want to die, I want to learn to be in submission, and I want the resurrected life. This rich fellowship exists in the context of putting to death sin and preparing for glory so we can cry “Abba, Father.” It is not this loose Gospel out here that says, “Just claim this passage but completely ignore the rest.” Verse 16 says:
Romans 8:16- The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
And so, I hear God whispering to me as he deals with me, as he disciplines me, and as I hate my own life. I hear him saying, “You belong to me, and that’s why this is happening. If you didn’t belong to me, then it would not be happening.”
Romans 8:17 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” and here is the important part, “if indeed.” He’s not talking about just having a small portion or a small taste. It’s not just a matter of having a few little sufferings. If indeed I have these things in abundance, it proves that I am an heir with Jesus Christ “…if indeed we share in his sufferings.” No wonder I have to hate my own life. If I don’t, I will not rejoice in the suffering that Jesus Christ brings into my life. He will try to take my life and use it for his glory, but I’m going to want to do other things and I won’t give it to him. I must begin with an attitude that says, “I hate my own life. God, take it and do with it what you want!” If I don’t begin there I’m not teachable and cannot be shown anything. I will rebel and start a discussion as to why I should not have to hate my own life. Most people I meet want to discuss why it’s necessary to hate their own life. You can’t even get on to matters of righteousness and holiness and God’s will because they constantly debate whether Jesus Christ really said this and what he meant when he said it. “If indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Again, “if indeed”not just a little taste, not just enough to make us feel spiritual, but a crucifixion that involves all of man nails in his hands and his feet, the whipping, and the crown of thorns. There isn’t any part of your body that is comfortable. No part of you can say, “OK, I’ll give Jesus Christ everything else, but do I have to give this up, too?” The cross demands completely all.
Romans 8:18 – I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Verse 19 goes on to talk about the condition of the universe. As we look at the condition of the universe, I want you to ask yourself why you think you are exempt from the universe.
Romans 8:19 – The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
So, all of creation looks to see who willing endures the cross out of love for Jesus Christ. Even the universe would have had something else done besides this! So, when you start complaining, that’s normal. That’s natural. The universe didn’t even want this to take place.
Romans 8:20 – …but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope…
What is he hoping for? He hopes for a few individuals willing to spend eternity with him in fellowship. People willing to come out of themselves enough to be in love with him and with others.
Romans 8:21-22 – that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Do we really know? When we look at the stars and the moon and the creation of the world do “e know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up until the present time?” The universe is groaning! The universe is, so to speak, carrying its cross, and that is why he says in verse 23 not only so, but we ourselves! So, why does the church thinks it should be exempt from this suffering and carrying the cross in Jesus Christ, when the universe is not exempt from it? Why does the church always claim to be overcoming and always victorious but the universe itself has not even been liberated yet?
Romans 8:22-23 – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
The Christian life is one of groaning, one of saying, “Come on, God, deal with me and take this flesh and the sin. I give you everything.” Hatred comes before God on its own and says, “This is yours. I’m tired of this junk!” You would think with all the failed marriages within our country that somebody would hate marriage enough to go before God and say, “We give this garbage to you! What is the problem?” But, we don’t want to give up our little bitty pleasure. Whatever we want to get out of the relationship we want it, and we do not want to give it to him. You would think that with all of the pain and all of the materialism, that we would eventually go, “God, I hate this stuff! I want to be out of this world. I give it all to you to use for your own glory.” But, we don’t do that! We keep grabbing on to whatever little thing we want. We have our little opinions about what we think the scriptures say and so we don’t hate those either, even though they cause us all kinds of pain and turmoil and division in the church. Nobody ever says to God, “I hate my opinion. I don’t even know what the truth is anymore. Give me your grace and show me what the truth.” You can’t even find two brothers perfectly united in heart and mind who hate their opinions enough to get God’s heart. Instead, you find two brothers who keep fighting just to have their own opinions.
Romans 8:24- For in this hope we were saved.
Our salvation is found in this kind of hope. “Come on, God, deliver us. Take this! I give it all to you. I hate it. I despise it. I don’t want anything to do with it. I want you to refine and purify me. Here are my thoughts. Here are my emotions. Here are all these things, Lord. I hate them. Put them on the cross. I will follow you.” In that hope we are saved because then he can deal with us. He can say, “OK, I’ll do the work and I’ll give you the victory. I’ll crucify you and give you the resurrected life.” Because a man willing to hate is willing to be crucified, and a man willing to be crucified will follow Jesus Christ anywhere.
Romans 8:24 – For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
I know we all want perfect joy in Jesus Christ right now, but that takes time. I’m not telling you he doesn’t give you joy, he certainly does, but so much of the joy is ahead of us, not right here today.
Romans 8:25 – But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
He will give us the victory. We must wait on him to do the work. We must wait on the cross until he tells us it is finished, and we must wait in the tomb until we are resurrected. A man not willing to hate his life will not wait. He is ready to get on with his life.
So, let’s go to Luke 14:28 because we have just touched on this a little bit, and this is why Jesus Christ says, “OK, now look. I’ve laid this out for you. You’ve really got to sit down and think about this.” In the past, I’ve laid this out before some individuals who have said, “OK, I agree to it.” How can you agree? You don’t understand! How can you agree to something that you take so lightly? “OK, I’ll hate my life. Where is the fear and trembling?
Luke 14:28- Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For, if he lays the foundations and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”
What if a man wants to build a tower? Jesus just gets down to worldly basic things. I plead with you to sit down, get out a piece of paper and write down what you love and what you like to do. Write down how you like to conduct your life and your opinions. Write down what you treasure and all your pleasures. Now, do you want to give up each and every one of them? Are you willing to hate every single one of those things? Sit down and think carefully about what it means to follow this man called Jesus Christ. Now, again, do our churches preach this? Do you preach it when you share with other people? The nonsense of “Just ask Jesus in your heart” doesn’t require people to count the cost! They haven’t sat down to consider anything. They haven’t even been driven to a point where they realize they need to sit down and consider it. Our gospel calls are not worth the manure pile! They should be thrown out. We must lead people to this point. We must turn to large crowds and say, “Look, sit down and consider what you are about to do. You are about ready to give yourself to the living God and ask him for holiness in your life. Do you understand what it means to ask the living God to make you holy?”
Luke 14:31 – Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
If a lot of you would have done this in your first beginning steps of the Christian walk, you would have spared yourselves a lot of trouble. If you had sat down and said, “OK, I had this opinion about scripture but God says this, and he comes to oppose me in my religious activities. Can I win against God?” You would have spared yourself lot of pain because you will come to the realization that God means what he says. He is who he is, and no matter how many different religious opinions we have or what we want him to be, he will not conform to that. He will not be anything but who he is and his demands are all the same. Instead, some of you have spent five years or ten years running around trying to find something easier to live. Can you really beat God? Of course, I want to rephrase that. Do you want to? And, that is really the question. Do you really have a better plan than he who is love?
Luke 14:32 – If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.
We talk about the peace of Jesus Christ and it is a grand peace, but we leave out an important part. We don’t teach anyone to ask, “What are the terms of peace?” We come to people and see a little bit of conviction in them, a little bit of desire for something new and we immediately offer them the peace of Jesus Christ. When really, they are a long way off from considering what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. They are a long way from what it means to be a Christian. They should already know that Jesus really will demand everything.
Luke 14:32- If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.
Let us teach people the right questions to ask. Let us teach them to turn and to say to God, “Well, what are your terms of peace? What will it mean for me to have peace?”
Luke 14:33- In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Giving up everything is not the end goal or finished product of what it means to be a Christian. You can’t get started unless you are at this point. We should not make these decisions quickly, lightly or easily. Do I really want to give up everything? Everything! Let’s just start with something easy! Let’s start with our opinions. Do you really want to give up your opinion on everything? On anything and every issue, are you willing to surrender every opinion you have, so you might have the mind of Christ? Well, Proverbs 18:2 tells us:
Proverbs 18:2- A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
Sometimes, it is just a matter of people not wanting to give up their own thoughts and ideas about what it means to follow Jesus Christ. Men have opinions about everything, and when God says, “You have to give up everything,” he means it. I’m using the example of opinions because we tend to think of that as a minor point. But, I can’t tell you how many times my opinions have kept me from fellowshipping with other people in Jesus Christ or even fellowshipping with my neighbor. I’m supposed to reach out to my neighbor and he says something worldly. I don’t know why I’d expect him to do anything else, but he says something worldly that my opinion doesn’t agree with, and so we spend time debating that issue, and I can’t get on with loving him the way Jesus Christ would have me love him. So, an opinion keeps me from loving somebody. It comes down to some very small things, and we don’t ever run back into the prayer closet and ask, “God, is this my opinion or is this the mind of Christ?” Because we don’t hate our own thoughts enough, we don’t even hate our own emotions enough to go in before Jesus Christ and to say, “Here it is. Put it to death.” The first church was perfectly united in thought and mind perfectly! Not just in mind, but in terms of the heart. Where do we see that today? Instead, everybody agrees to disagree. Nobody sits down to consider that God will crucify every opinion, every thought and every action.
I will repeat it again that we have to ask God to burn in our hearts that hating our lives is not an option. We cannot leave it out of our gospel calls. It is not something we can leave out when we are sharing with other people. Really, it is the essence of the good news! We are like people running around with a baggie full of something terrible but we think it is the grandest thing in the world, and God says “You’ve got to give it up.” But we say, “No, I like this stuff!” The good news is, I get to give up Tim! Fantastic! Take him! Get rid of him! He is a piece of junk. He is a jerk!
John 12:25 – The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
We have to follow Jesus, but a man not willing to hate will not go where Jesus Christ tells him to go. If I get up in the morning and I have an agenda about what I want to do and how I think the Christian life should be lived, I will not follow Jesus Christ. It is that simple.
John 12:27 – Now my heart is troubled…
This will trouble you! I make no apologies for it and I will help you be troubled in it because it is the good news.
John 12:27 – Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”?
That’s what most people say. “Save me from that church and save me from that message. Find me some place else that’s a lot more comfortable to live.”
John 12:27 – …No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
If I hate, then I come into the prayer closet before God and say, “God, I am here to give you all of my life.” Is that why we go into the prayer closet? No, usually it’s, “Bless me. Give me that. Give me some more food. Pay my bills. Do all these things for me. Make me feel comfortable. Grant me your peace.” We do not go in and say, “Here is my life. I hate it. Do with it whatever you want. Here is my checkbook. All of these things I give to you willingly. This is why I am here. It troubles me and it causes me turmoil, but it is why I’m in the prayer closet today, God.”
John 12:28 – Father, glorify your name!
Hatred purifies our motives. No longer am I trying to get anything for myself. What begins to burn within me, because he puts it there, is a desire to glorify his name. He is worthy, he is love, and he is selfless.
John 12:28 – …Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
The cross is the glory of God. It is the power that delivers us. This hatred is the good news. That’s why I don’t run or shy away from it. That is why when I sit down with other people I’m not hesitant about it. If they will surrender these things they will have the glory and the peace, and they will have what they say they want. And, if they don’t want it, that’s just tough! I’m not going to alter the good news to fit their little opinions.
John 12:29 – The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered.
So, there are two different kinds of people here.
John 12:29 – The crowd that was there had it and had said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
Some people hear this as just thunder. “Ah, this is a mean, scary message!” They can’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense to them, but it is mean and scary. They think of it as hard and legalistic, narrow and unloving.
John 12:29 -…others said an angel had spoken to him.
Others know it is special and holy, but they don’t understand it. They think it is for special Christians or just for Jesus Christ. They know it is holy and comes from the Lord, but they don’t really understand. They are travelers with Jesus, and travelers never come to a place of understanding or enlightenment. Travelers think it is either thunder or an angel. Which one do you think it is? Do you clearly hear him saying, “This is why I have come. This is the glory of God. This is the good news”?
John 12:30 – Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.”
Don’t we need it? We always need something besides the truth. When we start looking at the truth, by itself, it is never enough. Never mind the fact that Jesus Christ said it. We always need something else, something flashy, or something to confirm it. Isn’t it enough that Jesus Christ said, “This is what it means” and we should take him at his word? He said it is “for your benefit, not mine.” He said, “I know this is the truth. I didn’t need an angel to tell me. I didn’t even need thunder. I don’t need anything external. But you need confirmation in everything you do.” Now, God in his mercy, sends confirmation of his word for a while, but he can’t do it with the crucified life every single day of your life. That’s not faith or surrender or being in communion with God. If I have to tell my wife every hour of every day that I love her, something’s wrong with our relationship. She will have no peace in that relationship if I have to constantly confirm that everything I do is really my love for her or assure her that the marriage is just fine. There is no rest in that kind of relationship. There has to come a time where there is communion, faith and a real walking in understanding. I know when I go before God to pray, that I have come to this hour to die and glorify his name.
John 12:31 – Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
Do you want Satan out of your life? Do you want those things gone? Then start by hating your life. There is no other way. These are the rules of the game. These are the terms of peace. You can find other gospels that say all kinds of things. Indeed, we do it to ourselves and to others all the time. Verse 32 says something about our evangelism.
John 12:32 – But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
When we try this saltiness and we don’t like it or are a bit embarrassed by it, we smooth it over for people. We no longer lift up Jesus Christ. We say, “Well, we don’t want to be too hard on people or drive them off.” What if Jesus Christ had said, “Well, I don’t want to go die on the cross because it seems a bit radical and involves too much suffering. That will drive people away, rather than attracting them.” If we will stand where he stands, if we will not be ashamed of the Gospel, he will draw those who are of him to himself. But, we must lift him up and crucify him. We must preach to people as he directs, and our opinions about how that should be presented must go. We must not smooth this over or manipulate it. This is who Jesus Christ is and this is what it means: You must hate your father and mother, your wife and your children, your brothers and sisters, yes, even your own life. Then, you have to carry the cross and follow Jesus Christ. You have to enter a narrow gate and walk down a narrow road. And, guess what? That’s all good news. That’s the Gospel, and that’s what we lift up to show other people. If we show anything less than this, then throw it out. It is worthless. It is not even salty. We hinder the work of Jesus Christ. Some come and listen to this and say, “Well, that’s not it,” and then they run out to hear something else. He who does not gather, scatters. There is no middle ground with this cross. Either this is really the truth and really correct, or we are really wrong.
In Acts 5:13, look at what it says about the first church. Let’s ask if this scripture is true in the churches that we’ve known in the past and that are around us. I say that not to point out their faults (although I’d be glad to so that they might repent) but that we can see ourselves what God is leading up to, so that we may not be ashamed of the Gospel.
Acts 5:13 – No one else dared join them…
People were afraid to join the church. When was the last time you were in any church that you were afraid to join? Churches beg people to join. They entertain and go through all these gyrations to get people to belong. They make it as easy and simple as possible. They talk soft and meekly, and nobody judges anybody. Nothing is said negatively, nothing is really dealt with. There is no cross. Since you are not afraid to join them, then it is a just a matter of who will bribe you the most so that you will join. You just stand back and wait for the offers to roll in. Look, if you don’t want the cross, there is the door! Good-bye! I hate to see you go, but if you’re going to turn your back on God, then I will say with Paul, “A curse be on you.” I don’t have time to play games. He is a holy God. He is worthy of everything. “No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.” You see, we are back to the lightening and thunder that they can hear, but they can’t take it in, and so they are scared to death to join this church. Let us not be afraid to lift Jesus Christ up, because God will do the work anyway. Look at verse 14:
Acts 5:14- Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
This shows the pain and the turmoil of the cross. It drives people away and causes confusion. People get mad at us all the time because of the cross. Then, they go back and sulk and go through the pain and turmoil. But a few people come back and say, “You know, it is the truth. Yeah, that’s right.” The Lord adds to the number. When you don’t find people afraid to join because of the cross, then who is adding to their numbers in their church? Who is doing the work and really bringing in the people? Certainly not God! “No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.” Have we lost our saltiness? Do we know that the people God brings into our church are there only because God brought them in? Anything else would have driven them away. The road is too narrow and the gate is too small. The demands are so high that we know the people are sitting there only by God’s hand. He had to open their eyes to draw them in. That is the nature of what Jesus says in Luke 14. He turns to these people and looks them square in the eyes. He is not ashamed of it. He doesn’t explain it or smooth it over. He says, “This is what the cross is about.” We, however, want to be understood. We don’t want to be rejected or to have people mad at us. We don’t want people to wrestle with anything, so they don’t!
Jeremiah 3:21 shows us the good news. This is the power. If you will go back and suffer with sin in your life, you will overcome! But, if you deny it, try to justify it, excuse it, or don’t wrestle with it, you will never overcome. You will stay in the same place you are at right now and become worse over time.
Jeremiah 3:21 – A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God.
Haven’t we forgotten this commandment? Haven’t we forgotten what it means to hate our own lives in presenting the Gospel? Aren’t we drawn to things that are not of him? Don’t we follow the gospel calls that leave the cross out? Some people talk about the cross and dying to self, but the offense of the cross is removed. We can see that the offense has to remain if there is to be saltiness. Look at what he says in verse 22. Look at his grand promise.
Jeremiah 3:22 – Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.
Do you just want to be cured of backsliding with the sin in your life? Do you gain three steps only to lose ten more later on? Do you really want cured? He says:
Jeremiah 3:22- Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God.
He says, “I will cure your backsliding.” Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 3:17, because the Christian life should not be one of backsliding. It should not be in vain that Jesus Christ died on the cross. Did he come to bring us this life so that we continually fall back in the same sins and go deeper and deeper in other sins but never gain any more wisdom or insight than we started with?
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 – Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
He will cure our backsliding. The Christian life should be increasing day by day, with more and more of the glory of God. No, I will never reach the point where I can say I am perfect, but nevertheless my whole life, my whole Christian walk should be one of continual, ever-increasing glory. This is supposed to happen, but we have removed the cross and taken the hatred away. We don’t understand how to hat and then we wonder why we keep backsliding. Now let’s look at Psalm 84:5. The Christian should move on to more and more power, more and more insight, always being more crucified, and gaining more discipline. 1 Peter 4:1-2 says that he who has suffered in his body is finished with sin and as a result he does not live for sinful pleasures, but for the will of God. It’s an ever increasing thing!
Psalm 84:5 – Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
This describes hating. This is what following Jesus Christ means every day. You never know where he will direct you or what he will deal with and do in your life. You are losing your life, so you have no idea what he will do.
Psalm 84:6 – As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
People who hate their own lives really are an honest blessing to other people around them. Wherever they go, no matter what the circumstances, they leave a blessing behind. Most of us are so dry and empty, we’re looking for all of the blessings we can get! But Christians who hate their lives overflow with power. They have more wisdom than they know what to do with. They can walk into the deadest church and they leave pools of life, if the congregation will lift up Jesus Christ, talk about the hating, and live it. There might be one or two people that will leave pools behind that others can drink from. They will have abundance because they have ever-increasing glory. They have more righteousness than they know what to do with.
Psalm 84:7 – They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
Every day there is supposed to be greater and greater strength in Jesus Christ. How does Paul end his life? “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” That is how I want to die. I want to know from his voice. I want to hear him say, “You ran the good race. You fought the good fight.” I don’t want to die just hoping and having some abstract faith that somebody told me about. I want strength upon strength and ever-increasing glory. This is to be the crucified life. Even God humbles and breaks me, even when I feel there is nothing good in my life left, I know that I am increasing in strength. I know that he is working more righteousness. I know he is doing the work even when he is breaking me.
Jeremiah 3:23 – Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.
This hating message is salvation. It is the grace and the glory. Let us learn it, plead for it, preach it, and live it. All the commotion and running around on every single hill in the name of the Lord is not the salvation of God. The last thing the church needs is fifteen more steps to deal with sin. You just have to go home and wrestle by the Spirit of God. It is that simple.
Jeremiah 3:24-25 – From our youth shameful gods have consumed the fruits of our fathers’ labor their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both our fathers and us; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.
Let us admit that we haven’t preached it. In fact, we have compromised it and have tried to smooth it over. Let us confess and begin to admit we have failed. Then, there is salvation and mercy.
Jeremiah 4:1-2 – “If you will return, O Israel, return to me.” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.”
We just need to be honest that we have not preached the Gospel, that we have perverted it and that we have loved messages that get close to it, but remove the offense of the cross.
Jeremiah 4:3 – This is what the Lord of Judah and to Jerusalem says to the men: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”
Level it all off. Stop holding on to anything that you think is worthwhile, even if it seems good. I love to go before the Lord and just wipe the slate clean by asking him to teach me again and show me anew. To make the cross alive again and give me a first love. It is always new and always fresh.
Jeremiah 4:4 – Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done burn with no one to quench it.
We are looking at the very essence of what it means to call upon the living God. Salt is good, Jesus said, “…but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” If he blesses us with insight into this and if he begins to work it, don’t let go! Don’t be sidetracked by any man, any other gospel call, or any opinion you have. Don’t let go. You get one chance. You can’t be made salty again. “It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to ear, let him hear.” Let him hear it!
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional. The original audio tape can be ordered free of charge by contacting Sound Doctrine Ministries.