Saturday, May 09, 2009




27    "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.

28    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

29    Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.

30    But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31    Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32    "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

33    But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

34    "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

35    For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';

36    and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'

37    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.

38    And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

39    He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.


It is a wonderful thing to see when many people respond to the appeals of an enthusiastic evangelist, but sometimes all that glitters is not gold! Converts are counted! But do all the converts continue? No, with some the fall out rate is pretty high! It's not the number of decision cards signed, nor by the kids gathering at the front of the stage. True converts are seen when they in turn try and win others to Christ a year later, two years later 20 years later and more.

Ivor Powell wrote, "The disciples were to go forth into the highways and byways of life preaching this message, and constantly were to watch for four things:
(1) Contrition, (2) Conversion, (3) Confession, (4) Consecration. If any one of these important features were not seen in the life of the convert, then his profession of faith was suspect. Contrition without confession only led to continuing misery. Conversion which did not produce consecration, could be as meaningless as the acceptance of dead dogma. Conversion meant turning from something to Someone, and if the professed convert did not desire to serve the Lord, then, obviously, there was something wrong, either with his eyesight, or with his soul. Good works would never be sufficient unless they were preceded by repentance and regeneration. The entire gospel preached by the disciples revolved around these facets of truth, and even today the same spiritual laws apply."

The coming of Christ stirred the hearts of Israel as they had never previously been stirred, and from all parts of the country crowds rushed to hear the new Teacher. Every miracle gave promise of greater things to come, and the fact that He gave peace to innumerable sufferers, seemed to guarantee that soon He would be able to bring peace to the troubled nation. Then to the consternation of His followers, He said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother... .And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (vv. 35,36).

I. The Courage to Confess Him (V32-33)

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (vv. 32-33).
This probably is one of the most potent of all the sayings of Christ. The disciples were to preach the gospel but, always, the Lord should be the theme of their message. Everything should revolve around Him. Men's moral character; church affiliation and reputation might be important, but these would have little influence upon eternal values. Every listener was to be confronted with Jesus of Nazareth. His words were to be of preeminent importance; His Cross the gateway to a new life; His gift of salvation was either to be accepted or rejected. Men had to be informed that, as they treated the Son of God, so would they be judged when they appeared before God. The salvation of their souls was of paramount importance; it would affect their eternal existence. If they truly confessed the Savior, then He would confess them; if they rejected Him, they had no hope for eternity. That precisely was His message, and it matters not how theologians and others might dilute the message; that was, and still is, the message given by Christ. He described two decisions and two destinies, either irrevocably connected with the other. The message that the Lord Jesus is giving is the same that Paul endorses in Romans 10. This is not another gospel, Some people think, well Paul sways I am saved by faith and Jesus says I am saved by confessing! Listen to what the apostle Paul said in Romans 10. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame.

He is saying that the faith that saves always wants to confess. It always wants to own up and tell others that Jesus Christ is their Saviour and Lord. There is no such thing as secret service saints! No SSS! There are no undercover Christians! A person either owns Jesus Christ as theor Saviour and Lord or they don't. Have you owned Him cheerfully, fully, lovingly? Are you grateful that the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you? One way you tell others is by owning Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord publicly through believer's baptism. That is one place where we tell the world that we are Christians! If you haven't publicly testified to Him that way, why not arrange to do so today! The sooner the better!


II. The Courage To Contend For Him

35    For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';

36    and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'

37    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.

''For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother" (v.35a), and we might add "a friend against his friend.'' The incoming of the gospel message leads to a complete transformation in the outlook of men. The convert's former associates will probably misunderstand his motives; they might even persecute him in his new faith. In order to follow the Lord Jesus, the Christian may have to renounce his old delights and forsake many of his former friends. The business man may find it necessary to revise all his ideas about how business is to be conducted. The husband who comes to know the Lord may be despised by his wife, for his over religiosity. Parents may feel their children have become part of a cult, because they no longer go out drinking, but prefer to go to Bible study instead. My parents were greatly concerned when I stopped going surfing Sunday's with them to go to church instead. I remember talking with my grandmother one day after she came to know the Lord, about a family meeting that was held to kick me out of the family for choosing to go to Bible College. The vote went three to one for kicking me out. Amazingly, she said, my dad voted for me to stay in the family! "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace" (16:33). But He qualified both of those promises, explaining in the first instance, not as the world gives, do I give [peace] to you" (14:27,), and in the second, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (16:31,).

At the second coming of Christ a perfect kingdom of peace on earth will be established, ushered in and sovereignly sustained by the Prince of Peace. But for now, during the interval between His two comings, the gospel that brings inner peace to those who believe will also be the cause of their being misunderstood, maligned, and mistreated by those who do not believe—including those nearest and dearest to them. The most heart-rending divisions are always among those who are closest to us. Nowhere can feelings be hurt more deeply than in the home.

Because the intervention in history by the Son of God was going to split and fracture human relationships, Jesus determined that His disciples be prepared for that experience. Martin Luther said, "If our gospel were received in peace, it would not be the true gospel." Luther's preaching and teaching produced the greatest rift in the history of religion, challenging the unbiblical teachings and practices of the Catholic Church and shattering its millennium of complacency and political power.

Becoming a Christian requires affirming the lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake everything else. It is not simply raising a hand, signing a card, or walking down an aisle and declaring love for Jesus. Salvation is by faith alone, apart from any works at all; but faith that is genuine will be manifested in a commitment that cannot be swayed by any influence. The Christian is to love his family with self-sacrificing love. Christian husbands and wives are to love each other and their children with unreserved devotion. Christian children are to love, respect, and care for their parents as unto the Lord. But a believer's commitment to Christ is so profound and far-reaching that any relationship that endangers that relationship must be sacrificed if necessary.

I discussed this at length on Friday with Vince Wall. He spoke of what it cost him in his family life to depart from the Catholic church, the church of his family, to stand out for Jesus Christ. It can cost you too!

John Bunyan was told to quit preaching or be thrown in prison. He knew that if he went to prison his wife and children would be left destitute. They had little enough to eat and wear when he was free; but if he were imprisoned they would be totally impoverished. Yet he knew he must preach the gospel God had called him to preach. Because he refused to stop preaching, he was imprisoned; and from his cell he wrote,

The parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I would have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I have besides. Oh, the thought of the hardship I thought my blind one might go under would break my heart pieces. But yet, recalling myself I thought I must venture all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet thought I, I must do it. I must do it.

When Hugh Latimer was preaching one day in the presence of King Henry VIII, he reports that he said to himself, "Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the king is here; be careful what you say." Then he said to himself, "Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the King of kings is here; be careful what you do not say." For such unflinching faithfulness Latimer was eventually burned at the stake. But He feared failing God more than he feared offending men.
Over a period of some 300 years of terrible persecution, ten generations of Christians dug nearly 600 miles of catacombs beneath and around the city of Rome. Archaeologists estimate that perhaps a total of 4 million bodies were buried there. A common inscription found in the catacombs is the sign of the fish, the Greek word for which (ichthus) was used as an acrostic for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." Another common inscription found there is "The Word of God is not bound." During the most prolonged period of persecution in the history of the church, those believers revered God more than they feared man. Since that day, many more millions have given their lives for the cause of Christ. Perhaps as many as 50 million believers were martyred during the Dark Ages, and millions more have been martyred in our own century, largely by communist regimes in Europe, Asia, and Africa. As is said of Lord Lawrence on his memorial in Westminster Abbey, they feared man so little because they feared God so much.

III. The Faith To Forfeit For Him

38    And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

39    He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.


Jesus requires superior love. In comparison to Christ, we hate the people we love.

This changes our perspective.

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" In Luke's account, a little word is added. Luke 9:23 (NKJV) "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'" It is amazing how people misunderstand this passage. Many see painful and uncomfortable circumstances as their cross. "This bad back is just the cross I have to bear." "My mean husband is the cross I have to bear". That is not what Jesus meant.

Jesus requires exclusive loyalty. Through the cross of Christ, we die to the life we live.

This changes our priorities.

The cross He spoke of was one that was voluntarily picked up. In the New Testament context, a cross meant one thing only: death! Just a few years before Jesus spoke these words, a zealot named Judas led a revolt against the Roman occupation forces and the Roman General Varus ordered the crucifixion of 2000 Jews. The crosses lined the roads of Galilee for all to see. When Jesus spoke of taking up the cross, the original hearers knew immediately that He was referring to their death. What exactly was Jesus referring to when He said that He expected every one of His disciples to take up their cross? It had one meaning on that side of His crucifixion and it has an additional meaning on this side of Jesus' crucifixion. First, it means that we must be willing to follow Him to physical death. Do you have that kind of commitment to Christ – a commitment that you are willing to die? Church history is filled with people who chose death in following Christ. Even today, many of our missionaries are putting their physical lives on the line to obey God's appointment sending them to dangerous places to make disciples of every people group. Instead of putting their own safety and comfort first, they lose their life daily to glorify their Savior and calling out that general call to those who do not know Him to come to Him. In many countries today, believers are risking imprisonment and death just to gather together with other believers to worship.

Florence Nightingale wrote in her diary: "I am thirty years of age, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now, no more childish things, no more vain things." Years later, near the end of her heroic life of service, she was asked the secret of her ability to accomplish so much for the Lord. She replied, "I can give only one explanation, and that is this: I have kept nothing back from God." That is exactly what Jesus is talking about in this passage—keeping nothing back from Him.

Jesus requires total loss. For the cause of Christ, we give up everything we have.

This changes our possessions.

When the famous surgeon Howard A. Kelly graduated from medical school he wrote in his diary: "Today I dedicate myself, my time, my capabilities, my ambition, everything to Him. Blessed Lord, sanctify me to Thy uses; give me no worldly success which may not lead me nearer to my Saviour."

Jesus is supremely loving. He is worthy!

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. (10:29-31)
Jesus assures the twelve, and every person who would ever trust in Him, that they are dear to their heavenly Father. With divine intimacy and intensity the Lord loves and cherishes those who belong to Him, and He will not allow any permanent harm come to them.
An assarion (cent) was the smallest coin in circulation in Jesus' day and was worth one-sixteenth of a denarius, the average daily wage for a laborer. One such cent would buy two sparrows, which were as common and relatively valueless in New Testament times as they are today. Roasted sparrows were often served as cheap finger food, as a type of appetizer or hors d'oeuvre.
Yet not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from your Father, Jesus says. This most insignificant of little birds cannot even fall without God's knowledge. In some Greek usages, the word for fall is translated as "hop"—in which case a little sparrow cannot even hop on the ground without God's knowledge!
Jesus is supremely loyal. He will be faithful!

Jesus sacrificed the supreme loss. He is our reward !

Soon after graduating from college, Jim Elliot wrote in his diary: "God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like You, Lord Jesus." God answered that prayer, and in the flower of young manhood Jim Elliot's life was cut short by the spear of an Auca Indian is he and several other ynLlflf', iieil 'oti',lit I the gospel deep into the jungles of Ecuador.
Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher and theologian whom God used to bring revival to colonial America, wrote:
I claim no right to myself, no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me. Neither do I have any right to this body or its members, no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears or eyes. I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own. I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him, I have given every power so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect. I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace 1 will not fail. I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness. His law is the constant rule of my obedience. I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh and the devil to the end of my life. I will adhere to the faith of the gospel however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be. I pray God for the sake of others to look on this as self-dedication. Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own. I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business. If I murmur in the least at affliction, if I am in any way uncharitable, if I revenge my own case, if I do anything purely to please myself or omit anything because it is a great denial, if I trust myself, if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me, or if I am in any way proud, l shall act as my own and not God's. But I purpose to be absolutely His.

G.D.Watson (1845-1924) was a Wesleyan Methodist minister and evangelist based in Los Angeles. His evangelistic campaigns took him to England, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Korea.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:24-25)
If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.
Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.
The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.
God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.
So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.
God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.

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