A Moment with the Bible
Most people do not realize the critical position in which Jesus placed His apostles. Look carefully at the words, “He who receives you receives Me.” The apostles would preach the words that Jesus gave them. When people accepted those words, they accepted the apostles, and when they accepted the apostles, they were accepting Christ. The implications of this are important for all generations. In order to accept Christ, we must accept the teaching of the apostles because their teaching came from Christ. Many religious people believe that they are accepting Christ when they simply accept that He is the Son of God who died for their sins. After that, they will disregard many of the teachings of the apostles in the New Testament as being unimportant to their salvation or to their relationship with Christ. But according to this text, accepting the apostles and their words is necessary for a person to accept Christ. To reject the apostles’ teaching is to reject Christ because the apostles’ words are the words of Christ.
Consider the words of Jesus to the apostles in John 16:13: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” Sometimes I hear people saying, “I only read the ‘red letters’ because that is the words of Christ. What they do not understand is, the “red letters” are the words of Christ while He was on the earth, but the black letters are the words of Christ that He sent back to the apostles from heaven. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit back to the apostles so that they could reveal the rest of His words. Therefore, we must not be deceived; anyone who rejects the apostles’ teaching is rejecting Christ Himself.
A Moment with the Bible
What is the vision for your life? What are your plans and goals? Where do you imagine yourself being in ten, fifteen, or twenty years? What possessions do you hope to have? All of these questions are a normal part of our lives. But if we are not careful, we will “lose our life” in the process of trying to find it.
A parallel passage to this text reads, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25). At first glance, it may appear that Jesus is saying that if we give up any kind of enjoyment in our present life, then we will receive the enjoyment of eternal life. This view is typical of how the world sees Christianity. To live as a Christian, it is believed, would mean sacrificing all that would be fun and pleasurable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We are all searching for the best in life. We want to live our life to the fullest and make it everything it can be. What is interesting is, God wants exactly the same thing for us and in this verse Jesus gives us a prescription for just that kind of life. Since God is our Creator, He knows exactly what will give us the best life possible. Therefore Jesus states that the key to true living is to lose our life for His sake. This is true because this is how He designed us. We were designed to experience the greatest joy when we devote our lives to serving Him.
An old beer commercial once said, “You only go around once in life, so get all the gusto!” That is the world’s prescription for living. That is Satan’s lie. The sure way to lose true living, true joy, is to go and get all the gusto. Satan wants us to believe that devoting our lives to finding happiness in recreation, entertainment, and possessions will give us the ultimate happiness. Jesus says it will not and our experiences prove it will not. Each of these areas of life provides us a temporary pleasure at best, but afterward it is empty. As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes states as he describes a life from a purely earthly perspective, “All is vanity and striving after the wind” (Ecc. 2:11). Don’t make that mistake. Lose your life for His sake, and you will find it.
Join Us for Upcoming Lectureship
Please join us as we host a lectureship beginning Sunday, September 11th - Thursday, September 15th. The meeting times will be Sunday at 9:30am, 10:30am and 5:00pm. Monday - Thursday will be at 7:00pm.
Sunday - Taylor Ladd, Scott Kercheville and Erik Borlaug.
Monday - Berry Kercheville and Andy Cantrell.
Tuesday - Nathan Combs.
Wednesday - Brent Kercheville.
Thursday - Ross Oldencamp.
A Moment with the Bible
Those who desire to follow Christ often have discussions on what is necessary for salvation. Questions like, “What is involved in repentance?” or “Is baptism necessary?” are typically part of the exchange. We all are rightly interested in the specifics of what the Lord requires of us in order to have our sins forgiven. But rarely do the requirements of this text come into view. A person who does not take up his cross and follow Christ is not worthy of Him, and a person who tries to “find” or “save” his life will lose it. These may be more generic statements, but they are more important than a discussion on the specifics of salvation. When these statements are understood, all other parts of the salvation process will fall into place.
The “cross” is a symbol of death, not just any death, but a painful, agonizing execution. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live…” (Gal. 2:20). In other words our life is no longer our own. We live it for Him and we crucify any part of our life that conflicts with that mission. There are times when I do not want to pray, study my Bible, or worship. There are times when I do not want to love my neighbor as myself or try to share the gospel with someone who is lost. Those are the times I must take up the cross. Those are the times when my own desires must be crucified.
The words, “follow after Me” should not be taken lightly. Our whole goal is to become like Jesus. We are to imitate Him; follow His pattern of life. If we expect to live in heaven with the Lord, we must live like Him now. It is foolish and unscriptural to believe that we can live a sinful, fleshly life now and expect God to clean all of that up in heaven. No, His expectation is that we use our time here on this earth to grow to be like Him. We are to be a prepared people for a prepared place. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus expressed this principle clearly: “Therefore be perfect [complete] even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
A Moment with the Bible
Jesus continues to prepare the apostles for the violent reaction they will encounter when they preach the gospel. Possibly the most surprising of all His warnings is that He did not come to bring peace but a sword. Obviously, Jesus did come to bring peace between God and man, but what He did not bring was peace among men. The Greek word for “sword” is a short sword or dagger that was commonly used to sacrifice animals. This indicates that the “sword” was the sword of persecution as Christians were sacrificed for the cause of Christ. Even more surprising is that this sword will come from a person’s own household. This is further proof that Satan is the force behind the strong negative reactions to the gospel. What else in this world would create this type of division within one’s own family?
Verse 37 offers one of the most difficult commands Jesus ever gave. If a person loves father, mother, son or daughter more than Him, they are not worthy of Him. The violation of this command is one of the most common sins committed. When a person first becomes a Christian, he invariably faces the challenge of whether God or family will come first in his life. Unbelieving family members repeatedly encourage the new believer to forsake worship or make other compromises for family activities. If the believer decides to put the Lord first, the reaction of his family members is one of betrayal and accusations that he must have joined some type of cult. The disciple who caves in to this pressure not only loses his own soul, but also loses any opportunity of winning his family to Christ. No one will be won to the Lord by a weak and compromising believer. But a believer who stands strong provides for the only possibility of gaining the respect and attention of those around him. It is this strength of faith that causes others to realize that there are worthwhile reasons for considering a life serving God. This is the faith by which Satan is defeated. As Revelation 12:11 states, “They loved not their lives even unto death.”