Some preachers make a habit of trying to talk people out of being baptized. These men believe that baptism is necessary for salvation (as we discussed in The Good News), yet they try to talk souls out of this all-important step. Why would they do such a thing? Because making the decision to become a Christian—to turn your life over to God—is the single most important decision you can make in your entire life. It’s bigger than who you marry, where you live, what degree you pursue or what career path you take. This one decision sets the stage for all other decisions. If you choose to become a Christian, Christ and His Father get to decide whether or not you go to the bar on Friday night (answer is no, by the way). God’s word dictates where you attend church services. Christ—not you—decides whether or not you take that job that will keep you away from Sunday morning worship. God decides what you wear, how you will treat people, who you will hang out with, where you go and what you do when you get there. So why try to talk someone out of being baptized? Because this is no easy road and there’s no turning back. These men try to talk souls out of making the commitment because they’ve read 2 Peter 2:21: “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” It’s not a decision to be lightly made; it’s a life choice. Today, we’ll focus in on counting the cost and making an informed choice as to whether or not the Christian life is what you want.
Let’s look at Luke 14:25-33 to see some of what the Savior has to say. Jesus has large crowds following Him around. Surely some were following from pure motives, but just as surely, some were not. Jesus turns to them and begins speaking, perhaps seeking to dissuade those who were following disingenuously. He tells them that if they do not “hate” their own families and indeed their own life, they are not worthy of Him. Is He telling them to despise their fathers and mothers? Does He mean for us to detest our lives? Not at all. This is a Greek word that means to love less—so much less that by comparison it looks like hate. The big difference is that there is no element of despising or detesting. It’s like when I say I love my son and I love ice cream. I love my son so much more than I love ice cream (though I really do love ice cream) that the difference is as the difference between love and hate. Likewise, we are to love Christ so much more than anything else—even family and our own life—that the difference is as the difference between love and hate. If our love for Him is anything less, Jesus says we cannot be his disciple.
Luke 14:27 is so often referenced and misunderstood that it has become nearly meaningless today. We talk of carrying crosses in reference to back ache and tooth ache and irritating bosses. This is hardly what Jesus was talking about. Think for a moment what the cross represented in His day. This was an instrument of death. Not only of death, but of long, torturous, humiliating death reserved for the worst of the worst. The cross was no mere irritation or even a gnawing pain. It represented utter humiliation and agonizing death. Christ asks us—demands of us—that we be willing to take up our very lives and surrender them to Him even if it means utter humiliation and agonizing death right by His side. Picture yourself not as a bystander along the road to Calvary, but as one in the procession, carrying your own cross that your own wrists will soon be nailed to. If you’re not willing, then you can’t be Christ’s disciple.
Jesus goes on to talk about this in common sense terms. When you’re going to build something, you first sit down and figure out if you can afford it. If you don’t, you look like a fool when you’re halfway through and have to quit. If you’re the president and you’re going into war, you first figure out if you have what it takes to stick it out (let’s not get into politics, though, eh?). Luke 14:33 strikes us as odd. So… um… Jesus? Give up everything we have? Yep. Sign it all over. Oh, you still get to use it, but now you have to use it for God’s purposes, for His glory, for His doings. And if not, you can’t be His disciple.
In this passage, Jesus has said three times that you just might not be able to be His disciple (Luke 14:26, 27, 33). You see, He isn’t desperate for followers. He isn’t the One who needs you… you need Him. There is no other way to salvation (Acts 4:12). Without Him, you’re lost in your sins and transgressions (Ephesians 2:1-2), destined to spend eternity away from God and any and every good thing (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). There’s no question: you need Him, I need Him, we all need Him. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or they’re flat-out lying. So if you haven’t become a Christian, think hard before you make that choice. Don’t undertake it lightly. If you are a Christian, get serious (if you aren’t already) and stay serious. Being a disciple of Christ is no game.
This series is based on evangelistic studies by Curtis Hartshorn.
Author’s note: This series has been designed to help lead someone to Christ. If you are already a Christian, it is my prayer that you will pass these articles on. Maybe you don’t feel like you can lead a study yourself, or you have a friend who doesn’t necessarily seem “open” to hearing God’s word. Print these out and share them freely. Who knows what seeds you may sow.
If you are not already a Christian, it is my prayer that you will take these things that have been discussed, and study your Bible. Consider, pray… act. Most of all, act. Hearing does no good if doing does not follow (James 1:22-25).