SOME RELUCTANT DISCIPLES Luke 6:12-16 ( ) & John 6:60-70 ( ).
JESUS WARNS OF THE COST OF FOLLOWING HIM Luke 14:15-24, Luke 14:25-33, & Luke 9:23-25.
WHAT IS GENUINE FAITH? Luke 9:57-62, Mark 1:14-15 ( ), Isaiah
55:6-7 ( ), I Thessaslonians 1:9 ( ), Romans 10:9 ( ), John 10:27-28,
Luke 6:46-49, Matthew 7:21 ( ),
Luke 18:26-27, & II Corinthians 13:5.
1. From what group of people did Jesus call His twelve apostles
(vs. 13)? Were all of the twelve considered disciples? Was Judas
considered a disciple (vs. 16)? Was Judas a believer? (In order
to better answer this question please refer to the following Scriptures:
John 12:3-6, John 6:70-71, & John 17:12)
In John 6:60 many of Jesus' disciples object to a certain teaching of Jesus. Read John 6:60-70. In talking to them in John 6:64 what does Jesus acknowledge about some who were called disciples? Upon hearing of Jesus' more difficult teachings, what did some of His disciples do (vs. 66)?
2. The word translated as "disciple" literally means
"taught or trained ones". When the gospel writers use
the word "disciple", they are using it in a broader
context to mean "one who is interested in Jesus' teachings
and wants to hear more". When Jesus uses the word "disciple",
He is using it to mean "true believer". Jesus' use of
the word is in connection with salvation. In Luke 14:15-24 Jesus
tells the story of a man who gives a large dinner. Read this section.
How do those who are invited to the dinner respond to the invitation
(vs. 18)? What excuses do they use (vs. 18-20)? Which takes a
higher priority with these men described in verses 18-20--their
own self-interests or the man giving the dinner? Who do you think
the man giving the dinner represents? What happens to those who
gave a higher priority to their own self-interests (vs. 24)? What
do you think the dinner represents?
In Luke 14:25-33 Jesus sets down very difficult conditions to the multitude who were interested in following Him. Read this section. What is the first statement Jesus makes about being His disciple (vs. 26)? What does Jesus mean by this? John MacArthur has written: "We must be unquestionably loyal to Him even above our families--and especially above ourselves...unless He is the number one priority, He has not been given the rightful place." 1
What demand does Jesus make in verse 27? What do you think this means? What did a cross represent in Jesus' time? MacArthur continues: "He (Jesus) wants disciples willing to forsake everything. This calls for total self-denial...It is unconditional surrender, a willingness to do anything the Lord demands." 2 "The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He is willing to have Christ on any terms." 3
After making these first two statements, Jesus tells a story about a man building a tower (vs. 28-30). What is Jesus calling for each person to do before becoming His follower?
Another tough demand is made by Jesus in verse 33. What does Jesus say there about becoming His disciple? "Do we literally have to give up everything we own to become Christians? No, but we do have to be willing to forsake all, meaning we cling to nothing that takes precedence over Christ...He (Jesus) is saying, 'Are you going to do what I want you to do? Who will run your life, you or I?...Unless I can be the highest authority in your life, there's no salvation for you." 4 Jesus is talking about priorities. If allegiance to and love for Jesus is not the highest priority in our lives, above family relationships, self, and possessions, Jesus says we cannot be His disciples. Most people honor themselves as the supreme authority over their lives. Their own pleasure and good is far more important to them than the glory of God. Jesus is clearly warning people that clinging to such a lifestyle will automatically exclude us from God's Kingdom.
Jesus makes the issue very clear in verses 31-32. Here He tells a story about a king who is thinking about going to battle against a much more powerful king. The first king (the one with 10,000 soldiers) represents us. The second king (with 20,000 soldiers) is God. The natural man is in rebellion against God. He is fighting God for control of his own life. Control of our lives rightfully belongs to God as our Creator; however, sinful people do not wish to throw down their weapons of warfare against God and surrender their lives to Him. What does Jesus urge each person to do since God is much more powerful than we are (vs. 32)?
3. On several occasions Jesus turned away potential converts
because they were unwilling to submit to His difficult demands.
Turn to Luke 9:57-62. In verse 57 a man indicates an interest
in following Jesus. What does Jesus say to him (vs. 58)? Why do
you think Jesus responded this way? The men spoken of in verses
59-61 have excuses for not following Jesus. How does Jesus (who
knows the hearts of all men) discourage the third man (vs. 62)?
What does Jesus imply about the length of the commitment He asks
from those who would follow Him (vs. 62)?
We will now examine the things which must be present for true faith. Turn to Mark 1:14-15. These are some of Jesus' first recorded words. What does He say? In order to become a true believer in Jesus Christ you must first be willing to repent of your sins. So it is very important that we understand what repentance is.
Look at Isaiah 55:6-7. What is the first thing God tells us to do (vs. 6)? Repentance is illustrated in verse 7. What does God command the person who does not know Him to do? Repentance is a complete turning away from all sin (this includes sin in both thoughts and actions) and a turning to God with all of our hearts.
I Thessalonians 1:9 also is a beautiful example of repentance. Turn to it. What had the Thessalonians turned away from? What had they turned to? What was their desire toward God as a result of their repentance? In order to come to God, you must first be willing to repent of all your sins; not just a few of your sins, but all your sins. A truly repentant person hates all sin, particularly his own sins. Repentance is a willful turning away from all sins and a deliberate turning to God. "Repentance is not a command to make sin right before turning to Christ in faith. Rather it is a command to recognize one's lawlessness and hate it, to turn one's back on it and flee to Christ"5 purposely desiring to pursue a righteous life. The Kingdom of God will not belong to people who want Jesus without any change in their lives.
Believing in Jesus also involves surrendering to Jesus as Lord and submitting to His authority over your life. The word "Lord" means ruler or master. A master is someone who has authority over us. When we surrender to Jesus as Lord, we are denying our right to rule over our own lives anymore and willingly submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ. We have talked about what surrendering to Jesus as Lord means when we looked at Luke 14:25-33. Turn to Romans 10:9. What does Paul say about being saved? Confessing with the mouth that "Jesus is Lord" is much more than just repeating or speaking words. It is the attitude of the heart that God is concerned about. Confession with the mouth here assumes that the words from the mouth and the attitude of the heart are in agreement. Many people are willing to accept the benefits offered in the gospel (i.e. receive Jesus as Savior from the punishment of their sins), but they are wholely unwilling to bow before Him as Lord of their life. Concerning this error Joseph Alleine wrote: "The unsound convert takes Christ by halves. He is all for the salvation of Christ, but he is not for sanctification. He is for the privileges, but does not appropriate the person of Christ. This is an error in the foundation. Whoever loves life, let him beware here. It is an undoing mistake, of which you have been often warned, and yet none is more common...They divide what God has joined, the King and the Priest. They will not accept the salvation of Christ as He intends it; they divide it here."6 Thomas Shepard, a 17th century American pastor wrote: "For Christ doth not immediately offer himself to all men as a Saviour, whereby they may be encouraged to serve Him as a King; but first as a King commanding them to cast away their weapons, and stoop unto His scepter, and depend upon His free mercy, acknowledging, if ever He save me, I will bless Him; if He damn me, His name is righteous in so dealing with me."7
Believing in Jesus also involves a willingness to obey Him. Turn to John 10:27-28. What does Jesus say in verse 27 that His sheep do? What does Jesus do for His sheep (vs. 28)? Following or obeying Jesus is a natural result of believing in Him. A person who says they believe in Jesus, but who does not follow or obey Him, is called a liar by the Scriptures (I John 2:4).
Turn to Luke 6:46-49. In this section Jesus speaks about two people who had both heard his words, but responded to them in a very different way. What question does Jesus ask the group He is talking to (vs. 46)? How does the man in Jesus' first example respond to His words (vs. 47)?
What happens when the storms of life burst against his house (vs. 48)? How does the man in verse 49 respond to Jesus' words? With what result? You cannot separate faith and obedience. A person who has genuine faith will follow Christ in obedience. I don't mean to suggest that faith results in the believer living a perfect life in sinless perfection. Pursuing righteousness does not mean that we can never fail. It means that when we do fail, we repent of our sin, confessing it to God, seeking forgiveness from Him. A true Christian is a person who desires to obey God through an obedient life.
Turn to Matthew 7:21. What does Jesus say about those who call Him Lord? Right now you may be thinking that Jesus' demands are impossible. The disciples had a similar reaction in Luke 18:24-27. After hearing of the difficulty of getting into the Kingdom of God, what do the disciples ask about (vs. 26)? How does Jesus answer them (vs. 27)?
The only hope for man's salvation is found in God. If left to himself, no man could be saved. Before we examine this more fully, let's look at one final verse. Turn to II Corinthians 13:5. What does Paul tell us to do in this verse? After going through this Bible study, self-examination is extremely important. At this point in time, considering what we have studied, do you feel you are a true believer in Jesus Christ? Let's look at three more very important questions:
ARE YOU WILLING TO REPENT OF ALL YOUR SINS, TURN WHOLEHEARTEDLY TO GOD, AND WILLFULLY PURSUE A LIFE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS INSTEAD?
ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP THE RIGHT TO RUN YOUR OWN LIFE AND SUBMIT TO THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST AS LORD OF YOUR LIFE? THIS MEANS TO HE BECOMES THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY IN YOUR LIFE--AHEAD OF FAMILY, POSSESSIONS, AND EVEN YOURSELF.
ARE YOU WILLING TO BE OBEDIENT TO JESUS CHRIST IN ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE AND BECOME HIS FOLLOWER FOREVER?
The only hope anyone has for salvation is found in the Person
of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect righteousness
in obedience to God's holy laws, then willingly died for sinners,
taking the punishment for whom he died upon Himself; but Jesus
did not stay dead. He came alive from the dead, ascended into
heaven, and is now exalted as Lord of all and seated at the right
hand (the position of supreme power and authority) of the Father.
Only He can save you. Unless God performs a miracle of regeneration
in your life and heart, you have no hope. Your only hope of salvation
from sin rests in God's mercy and power.
Seek God earnestly in prayer, begging for mercy, asking Him to change your heart and life, to show you the magnitude of your sins in His eyes, and to enable you to hate all sin and repent of your sins. Read and meditate on these verses very carefully: Romans 3:10-18, Psalm 51:1-17, Luke 18:9-14, Isaiah 53:3-12 (these verses speak of Jesus Christ), and Luke 5:12-13. Continue to call upon the Lord to have mercy on you and save you.
THINGS WE CAN LEARN ABOUT GENUINE FAITH:
1. Some people are friendly to Jesus, but are not committed
to Him. Friendliness without true commitment is not genuine faith
and does not result in salvation (John 6:60-70).
2. Jesus demands that His true followers be unreservedly committed to Him--even more than to their families or to themselves (Luke 14:26).
3. A person who is not willing to forsake all for Christ cannot be His follower (Luke 14:33).
4. The true believer in Jesus must deny his right to run his own life anymore and surrender himself to Christ unconditionally (Luke 9:23).
5. If the temporary things of this world (money, education, success, etc.) take priority over Christ and eternal riches, then we forfeit the right to eternal life (Luke 9:24).
6. Not everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus really is (Matthew 7:21).
7. Jesus called on people to repent of (deliberately turn away from) all their sins (Mark 1:15).
8. Repentance is turning away from all evil, even those sins which we formerly loved the most, and turning to God to serve Him (Isaiah 55:7 & I Thessalonians 1:9).
9. When we turn to Christ, we submit to Him as Lord of all (Romans 10:9).
10. The person who claims to know Jesus, but does not obey Him, is deceiving himself (Luke 6:46-49).
11. We must examine ourselves to see if our faith is genuine Biblical faith (II Corinthians 13:5).
1 John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Gospel According to Jesus,
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), p. 201.
2 Ibid., pp. 201 &140.
3 Joseph Alleine, An Alarm to the Unconverted, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1964), pp. 45-46.
4 John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Gospel According to Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), pp. 86-87.
Copyright © 1990 by William C. Nichols.
Distributed by International Outreach, Inc., PO Box 1286, Ames, Iowa 50010
5 Ibid., p. 163.
6 Joseph Alleine, An Alarm to the Unconverted, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1964), p. 45.
7 Thomas Shepard, The Works of Thomas Shepard, Volume 1, (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1853), p.49.