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Lose or Save?
Luke 9:23-26 ESV

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

If we want to come after Jesus Christ, to make him Lord and Savior of our lives, to have eternal life in him, forgiveness of sins, and the hope of heaven when we die, then we need to die with him to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness. We must die daily to sin and self and follow (obey) him. But, this is not something we do in the flesh, nor is it something we do to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

Basically, faith in Jesus Christ is God-given. It means to be divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. Convinced that Jesus Christ died on the cross, not only to forgive us our sins, but to put sin to death in our lives, so that we might live for him to his righteousness, we, of the Spirit of God, are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created of God to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Jesus died on that cross, in other words, to deliver us from our addictions to sin, not just to free us from the punishment of sin. He died, not just to save us, but to transform us in heart and mind away from sin to God and to his holiness. He died that horrible death that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. He bought us back for God with his blood so that we are now his possession, so that we now serve and honor him with our lives, instead of living to please our sinful flesh.

If, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we do not leave our lives of sin behind us to follow Jesus, we will lose our lives for eternity, and not have the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will have eternal life with God.

For, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap corruption. But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life with God (Gal. 6:8; cf. Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21). So, if you are living to please the flesh and not the Spirit, then know the truth of this, for God’s Word is true, and it will not return empty, but it will accomplish what God desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Is. 55:11).

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

What does it mean to be ashamed of God? of Jesus Christ? It means we are embarrassed by him, and we are unwilling to follow him in obedience, because we are afraid of what others will think of us, or we fear their rejection of us. We are more concerned with human approval than we are with God’s approval. We are more interested in fitting in with our friends than we are with fitting in with our Lord and with his plan for our lives.

It means our Lord does not have our hearts. We give lip service only, but our hearts are far from him, for we are still the ones in control of our own lives, and we are the ones calling all the shots, not God. He is not truly Lord of our lives. We call him “Lord,” but that is just a title we give him. For, if he was truly our Lord, it would mean he is our owner-master and we are his to do what he says, not what we want or even what we are willing to do for him in our own timing, and in our own way, fitting him in to our plans.

So, if we are ashamed of him now, he will be ashamed of us when he returns for his bride. He will disown us as we disowned him (2 Tim. 2:12). For, if we walk (in lifestyle) to please our flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we live to please the Lord by our lives, we will have eternal life with God. For our salvation from sin is not a one-time experience or an intellectual assent to who Jesus is and to what he did for us, but it is a life change of the Spirit of God, turning us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God that we might receive forgiveness of sins (See: Acts 26:16-18).

Following Jesus
Luke 9:57-62 ESV

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Jesus never once sugar-coated the gospel message. He never once lied to anyone or gave them the impression that following him was going to be one big party. He never short-circuited (bypassed) the truth of what it means to be one of his followers in order to attract people to him. He never gave false hope nor told half-truths so that people would accept him. He was completely honest and forthright all the time, so that people who were interested in him knew the deal, so that they could decide if they wanted in or not.

He always told anyone expressing interest in being one of his followers the cost of being one of his disciples. He always told them it meant death to self and it meant totally abandoning themselves to Christ, to do what he says, to go where he goes, to say what he says to say, and to be who he created us to be.

We are not saved from our sin just so we can be with him in heaven one day and not have to face hell. We are saved so that we can be free from our bondage to sin, so that we can walk in righteousness, and so that our lives are now given to the Lord, to serve and obey him.

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

If we truly want to follow our Lord with our lives, it means that we follow the Lord with our lives. We don’t fit him in to our lifestyles. He becomes our lives. We don’t choose what we will do or not do for him. He chooses. He gifts us. He assigns us what he wants us to do. And, we are to do what he says when he says to do it, and not resist him or go our own way. And, he will lead us, empower us, equip us, strengthen us and give us all we need to be the people of God he created us to be for HIS purposes.

We don’t tell him, “Wait!” He tells us, “Wait!” We don’t tell him, “Not now.” He tells us, “Not now.” When he says “Go,” we are supposed to “Go.” So, when he says “Now is the time,” we need to take that seriously, and not put him on hold while we do what we want to do first, even if what we want to do may be a good thing, and not a bad thing.

We are not put here on this earth for our own pleasure, but to be pleasing to God and for his service, and to take his gospel message to the ends of the earth. This is not saying we can’t ever do anything fun or recreational, but it is saying that Jesus needs to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and not us, and that we must let him lead us and direct our lives and then we must follow him in obedience and not resist him, and we must consider his will and purposes for our lives and do what pleases him.

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

To follow Jesus is to leave our old lives of living for sin and self behind us and it is to be who he wants us to be, to go where he wants us to go, to say what he commands us to say, when he wants, as much as he wants, and to no longer live to please our sinful flesh or to live for self-pleasure.

We are not fit (suitable) for our Lord’s kingdom if we say we love him, and if we say that we want his salvation from sin and for him to be our Lord but then we don’t follow him, but we go right back to living just like we did before we made a profession of Christ as Savior of our lives. Being in Christ, by faith in Him, means he is the boss and we are to follow Him, not the other way around.

Americans, especially, in general, have the wrong idea of what it means to be a Christian. And, this wrong idea is promoted by the institutional church. Much of what is being presented today as the gospel of Jesus is a false grace gospel which demands nothing of us and which expects everything of God. It is an entitlement gospel, not the one that Jesus taught.

He taught death to sin and living to righteousness, and abandoning our lives to him, being willing to suffer, to be persecuted, to be hated and rejected, and to even die for the sake of his name and for the sake of his gospel.

Only in Him
An Original Work / February 19, 2014

Based off Isaiah 30

Woe to those who look to man’s help;
Who turn away from Jesus Christ;
Forming an alliance not in step with God;
Making their own plans, and praying not.

Willing not to listen to truth,
They close their ears to what is right.
Pleasing words are all that they’ll hear;
Feel good messages that bring cheer.

Trust in your Lord; turn from your sin.
Put your faith now ONLY IN HIM.
Do not turn to idols. They’ll not satisfy.
Jesus will save you. That’s why He died.

Your Lord will be gracious to you.
He cares all about you, ‘tis true.
He forgives you all of your sin
When you give your life up to Him.

Oh, how truly gracious He’ll be
When you bow to Him on your knees;
Turning now from your sin; walking in his ways.
He’ll lead and guide you all of your days.

Now you will sing praises to Him.
He delivered you from your sin.
You’ll tell others now of His grace,
So they may see Christ face-to-face.

April 12, 2018, 3:33 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. Make it real to our hearts and lives, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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