When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "Lord, I Want to be a Christian in My Heart."


 ​​​​Are We Disciples of Jesus?
Luke 14:25-35

Last week we mentioned that Jesus followers in the New Testament were called disciples until they began living, talking and ministering like Christ. It wasn’t until the 11 chapter of Acts that they were called Christian.

According to Merriam Webster a disciple is someone who accepts and assists in sharing the doctrines of another person.

A disciple of Jesus therefore is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ.

If we were to go up to any person who calls themselves a Christian and ask them if they believed they were a true disciple of Christ, the majority of the people would stand up and raise their hands and say, “Yes, I am a true disciple.”

They would do so without giving a second thought to the requirements that Jesus set forth for those who followed Him. They would be insulted if you challenged their claim.

But according to Jesus there is a cost to being a disciple of His, a cost that most people do not understand.

The main job Jesus left us to do was to make disciples. There is a difference between a professing believer and a disciple. To begin with there is no such thing as an instant disciple; like the word, it takes discipline.

Someone talked about when he first moved to America, he was amazed at the variety of instant products he could buy in the store. There’s powdered milk: just add water and you have milk. There’s powdered orange juice: just add water and you have orange juice. Then he saw Baby Powder and thought, “What a great country! If you want a baby, just add water!”

Some people think that’s how discipleship works. You take a believer, add a little baptism water, and “poof” you have a fully-devoted follower of Jesus–a real disciple. But it takes more than water to make a disciple. Disciples are made, not born.

In Luke 14, Jesus was getting closer and closer to the cross. People who wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal from Him were mobbing Him. The crowd is about to become much smaller because He started setting forth the cost of discipleship, and it’s not a popular message. It requires total commitment.

Let’s read Luke 14:25-35 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.

Let’s pray:                                                                    

Father, open our eyes to see Your Word.                               

Open our ears to hear.                                                

Open our mind to understand.                                             

And open our hearts so we may receive Your Word today.  

In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

A hog and a hen sharing the same barnyard heard about a church’s program to feed the hungry. The hog and the hen discussed how they could help. The hen said, “I’ve got it! We’ll provide bacon and eggs for the church to feed the hungry.” The hog thought about the suggestion and said, “There’s only thing wrong with your bacon and eggs idea. For you, it only requires a contribution, but from me, it will mean total commitment!”                

That’s the cost of discipleship.

1 Peter 2:9-10a 9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:

The Believer’s Calling: chosen by God.

The Believer’s Occupation: a royal priesthood. We represent man before God.

The Believer’s Nationality: Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Believer’s Morality: peculiar (holy) a special treasure.

The Believer’s Identity: A worshipper.

We are obedient because we love God. In the Old Testament they obeyed God because they had to; we obey Him because we want to.

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.

We are zealous because we want to see the Kingdom of God increase.

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

We seek to be productive because the love of God constrains us.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We are declared by God to be Holy and so we seek to be holy in our actions.

Deuteronomy 28:9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

1 Peter 1:16 This is written: `You must be holy because I am holy!’’ Peter literally said, You are holy because I (God) am holy.

Holiness means that we are set apart for sacred use. What are the things which make us special or peculiar?

RIGHTEOUSNESS: We are declared righteous by the Father. And then He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to do righteous deeds.

HOLINESS: We have become like the Lord having been fathered by Him at our new birth.

SACRIFICE: We live out our lives a living sacrifice; we die to our selfish and carnal desires.

We are not special because we try to “outdo” others. We are special because we “look” to the things of others. We are motivated by the Lord God the Holy Spirit and through His Word.

Why are we to be different?

1 Peter 2:9b that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light;

Romans 10:8. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Others can only know the truth by the Word of Faith which we share with them. It must be proclaimed by both word and lifestyle.

When we proclaim the words others will believe and confess and be saved.

Romans 10:13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

All can come… salvation is for all, rich and poor, young and old, good and bad.

Romans 10:14. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

They need to hear the Word of Faith or they are without hope.

It is the task of every believer. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

Large Crowds followed Jesus but He set the discipleship bar high. Many believers in the church assume that they are Christ’s disciples. They are not… at least by Christ’s standards.”

Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-26 take us to the heart of the matter. What is really needed to be a disciple of Christ?

23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him

when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Jesus said almost the same thing again in Luke 14:25-27.

25Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27

The point Jesus is making is that we must place Him above all other relationships. In order for us to be Christ’s disciples we must put Him first. He must be Lord of all.

If He is not Lord of all, He may not be Lord at all.

He must be the Lord of our marriage, the Lord of our family, the Lord of our friendships, the Lord of our job, the Lord of our finances, the Lord of our recreation; He must be Lord of all.

Makes me wonder if an armed gunman stood before anyone who calls themselves a disciple of Christ questioning their commitment what would they do? Would we be a martyr or not?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, 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. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.

Is it possible that the gate and the road are narrower than people thought?

That is why Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. “Away from me, you evildoers!’” 

That is why John reports in John 6:66, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”

And that is why the rich young man in Matthew 19 would not follow Jesus.

If He is not Lord of all, He may not be Lord at all.

For some reason, this is one of the most difficult accomplishments for any of us. Throughout the history of mankind we have failed at putting God first.

Why is this so difficult?  Because since the beginning of time man has wanted to fulfill his own personal agenda and meet his own interest and needs and take care of his own welfare.

While we are seeking our own will God is pleading with us to seek His will.

Too often we want to think about what I want, what I am, what I will.

This way of thinking is the opposite of what Jesus taught both in words and in actions.

When we become consumed with I, me, it becomes impossible for God to work in us and through us.

Jesus knew the importance of knowing and doing the will of God. He and the Father were one.

And here is something that is really cool. We and the Father can be one as well. Jesus even prayed that for us in John 17.

It is Jesus’ desire, His heart’s cry for you and me is to become a physical, emotional, and spiritual conduit of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

That is what Jesus was. He was so totally surrendered to God the Father that He went to the cross to give His life as a ransom for ours.

Jesus was so totally surrendered to the will of the Father, and we are supposed to be totally surrendered to the will of the Father as well.

But there is a problem. Surrender is not a popular word. When we think of surrender, we think of weakness, we think of giving up, we think of losing.

According to Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, it is a paradox of Christianity that true strength is found in weakness.

Jesus Himself embodied the world's idea of weakness, even to the point of surrendering to an excruciating death.

God’s power is often most visible in the midst of suffering, humility, weakness; especially when we are surrendered to His will.

How can we get to that point in our lives when we are totally surrendered to God?

How does one become a disciple of Jesus Christ?

A common response from many who claim to be Christians is that "all you have to do is believe." The Bible clearly teaches that faith is essential to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6), but it never says, "all you have to do is believe."

There are many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that teach that we must also be obedient to be accepted by God.

We cannot ask God to make it any plainer when He put in His Word that Jesus, "became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).

In spite of this and many other passages, multitudes of preachers continue to tickle their listeners’ ears by telling them that all they have to do is believe and they are guaranteed a place in

Heaven. Even the demons believe.

Instead of telling them they must, "Pursue... holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14), they lull their listeners into a false sense of security by telling them their lifestyle does not affect their salvation.

The practical result of this teaching is that churches are filled with people who, "profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. That’s according to (Titus 1:16).

The common teaching that we are saved by faith alone may be comforting according to the creeds of men, but that’s in contradiction with Jesus Himself.

Try to imagine someone teaching in a modern Protestant church in America today and claiming that you must attain a certain level of righteousness to be saved. That person would immediately be branded as a false teacher who is teaching that we are saved by works rather than grace. Yet, that is exactly what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount!

Think carefully on the words of Jesus when He said, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20).

Is there anyone who wants to accuse Jesus of teaching salvation is by works rather than grace?

After saying this, Jesus continued teaching on the need of obedience for salvation. In Matthew 7:21, He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

Jesus never taught that we must only believe the Father’s will, but he taught that we must also do it. He finished this sermon by warning us,

"whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matthew 7:24-27).

Does this sound like Jesus was teaching that all you have to do to be saved is believe? In the last two verses of Matthew 7, we are told that the people were astonished because Jesus didn’t teach like the scribes they were used to hearing.

If Jesus was teaching in many churches today, people would still be astonished. Jesus wouldn’t be teaching "all you have to do is believe" like the modern preachers they are used to hearing!

In order to have the crowds follow them, many modern preachers go to extreme measures to convince people that Christianity requires minimal commitment.

They soothe the people with pleasant words by telling them all you have to do is believe, all you have to do is repeat Romans 10:9-10 one time and the blood of Christ will take care of everything else.

Although it is true that the shedding of the blood of Christ provides the only way we can be forgiven by God (when we obey), the blood of Christ does not cleanse everybody!

To be a blood-bought disciple of Jesus Christ, we must be obedient to our Lord and conform our will to His. When Jesus had multitudes of people following Him, He did not try to comfort the crowds with easy and pleasant words to make sure that the large numbers continued.

He told them the truth so those who loved the truth, and were willing to obey the truth, could be saved.

In Luke 14:25-27, we are told, "Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, if anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

In Luke 14:33, Jesus continued by saying, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."

How often have you heard these requirements of salvation? A person can claim to be a disciple of Jesus all they want, but the proof is in the life they live.

If we do not follow the teachings of Jesus in our everyday lives, it doesn’t make any difference what we say we believe, or how many times we go to church, or how many times we may pray, nor how many times we have been baptized, we are not true disciples of Jesus Christ!

To have Jesus as our Savior, we must also have Him as our Lord. When Jesus sent the twelve apostles to go through Israel, He told them, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37-38).

Does this sound like Jesus taught the modern doctrine that all you have to do is believe to be saved?

In the parable of the talents, Jesus told the story of a master who gave his servants some money (talents) to use while he was away. He gave one servant five talents, he gave another servant two talents, and to another he gave one talent.

When the master returned from his journey, he found that the servant with the five talents earned five more talents. The master told this servant, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21).

When the master found out the servant who was given two talents had earned two more talents, he said the same thing to him (Matthew 25:23).

Do you remember what the master said to the servant who buried his talent and did not bear fruit? He said, "Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:30).

The problem with the unprofitable servant was not a lack of faith in believing in the master. His problem was that he did not bear fruit for his master.

In the same way, those who claim to be disciples of Jesus, but do not bear fruit, will also be rejected by God. Jesus taught this time after time in the gospels.

In Luke 6:46-49, Jesus asked a simple question that is addressed to all who claim to be His disciples but are not obedient to His will. He asked, "Why do you call Me ’Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?" 

This is a valid question to which we must all pay attention. Why do many call Jesus "Lord", yet refuse to make Him the Lord of their lives? 

Are we going to follow the popular deception of the 20th Century and think these people who do not submit to the Lordship of Christ are going to be saved anyway because they have "made a profession of faith"? 

It does not matter how many preachers teach that all you have to do is believe to be saved. It doesn’t make any difference how popular this doctrine may be or who believes it. 

Jesus still said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). 

According to the standards taught by Jesus, are you and I a true disciple, or just a cheap imitation? 

Just asking, In Jesus’ Name Amen!