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August 15, 2017

In Luke 14:33 it is written “So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Now read that verse carefully. Got it? Now read it again and to see if there is a mistake in that verse? Anything? If you listen to many pastors, bible teachers and theologians there is a mistake. These people would tell you the words “does not” should actually be interpreted as “not willing to.” As in “any of you not willing to forsake…” That alters the very pointed statement Jesus is making. Why is that? Why are these so-called teachers trying to change the Scripture to make it say what it clearly does not say?

A long time ago Wanda and I attended the small church in New Sarepta where a man named ‘Matthew’ pastored. At this time period in our life God was starting to call us to give up our idols. The big one for me was my big screen TV. Since we wanted more of God, and less of the rot that was television, we decided, as a family, to give up the TV. Strangely enough, ‘Matthew’ the pastor wanted the TV so we gave it to him. One Sunday night, not soon after this, I felt led to speak in the service about how God was leading us to give up our television. After I sat down ‘Matthew’ got up and said basically that God wasn’t calling everyone to give up their TV, it was God’s leading just for us. Now why did ‘Matthew’ say that?

When we were in Pennfield, New Brunswick at the Smiths Motel some ladies we met at Zion House of Worship came to visit us. One lady, ‘Sarah’, had been very kind to us and helped us out a great deal when we were in St. Stephen. In return we testified to her about our story; how we had given up our home to follow Jesus and we were going through homelessness. Her response to us was that she was very moved by our story but said that she couldn’t do that because although she was willing it would be just too hard for her. Now why did ‘Sarah’ say that?

At our time in Wilton Standard Church ‘Moody’ came to pastor after ‘Lacey’ had left. We testified to the believers there quite freely about our journey thus far and let people know clearly what He had called us to. We spoke about our journey privately to individuals who were interested and publicly to the Bible study group and Sunday School class. It was in one of these meetings that I mentioned about giving up all to follow Jesus. Just after I spoke ‘Moody’ piped up and said that we didn’t need to literally give up all, we just needed to be ‘willing’ to. Now why did ‘Moody’ say that?

This is a question that bothers me to this day. The first injunction about not changing Scripture is bad enough but there is a far more sinister plot afoot in all of these questions I raise. At the very root the comments these three people made reveals that they do not believe the words of Jesus and will not live by them. Luke 14:33 does not say ‘anyone not willing to forsake’, it says ‘anyone who does not forsake’. The imperative is clear. Jesus is expecting anyone who follows Him to act on their commitment. What these people we met were doing was moving this verse solely into the realm of an intellectual exercise. Something that would not cost themselves, or anyone else, anything. They wanted the ‘comfort’ of feeling like they were following Jesus without any cost. Just how successful will they be when they have to face a God who watched their every movement of every second of their lives? Will they be sneaky enough to be able to justify their inaction and lack of sacrifice before Him? Yet this is the trick we try and play on God every day. We go about our lives without thought to this most poignant and significant Scripture, hoping that God will look the other way as we indulge our ‘self’ nature once again.

We have discovered that God is serious about His Word. We have found that He doesn’t say things unnecessarily. He only says what needs to be said, no more and no less. So for Jesus to say this and then have it recorded in our Bible it must mean that God takes this word seriously. In Revelations 13:8 God tells us of the ‘willingness’ of Jesus to be a Lamb slain in sacrifice from the foundation of the world. Jesus’ ‘willingness’ then ‘became’ the physical cross on earth. Jesus went from ‘willing’ to ‘becoming’. Now think about this, what if Jesus was only just ‘willing’ to go the cross? Would we have salvation? Would we have a path to the Father to allow us to spend eternity with Him? No, we wouldn’t. So how come we see Jesus give up all and somehow think that God expects us only to be ‘willing’ to give up all. That just doesn’t make any sense. In order for real change to take place ‘willing’ must turn to ‘becoming.’ Jesus proved this by His actions so why don’t we move from ‘willing’ to ‘becoming’? Is it uncomfortable? Of course it is because it directly leads to death of ‘self’ but many don’t want that. We don’t want to give up anything or do anything that costs because we want to preserve ‘self’. I am sorry but being ‘willing’ will not change anything in your life or anyone else’s.

Let me give you an out as I feel you may possibly be squirming right now. Read Luke 14:33 carefully again. What is the result that comes from not giving up all? See it? It means you cannot be His disciple. Please understand that Jesus is saying nothing about your salvation. He is talking about something completely different. What Jesus means is that if you don’t give up all you will simply miss out on being a disciple. No big deal, right? I mean after all isn’t being a believer and being a disciple the same thing. At least how I see it presented in churches today the words are interchangeable but this is not the truth. The truth is that a disciple is simply someone who gives up all to follow another. Plain and simple. So if you look at Luke 14:33 again you will see that Jesus was simply stating a fact. He knew, as well as those who listened to Him, what a disciple was. They knew the cost and those wanting to be disciples did indeed give up all to follow Him. Fact. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you want to be just a believer that is your choice and God will respect your decision. If you want to be a disciple in Luke 14:33 Jesus simply states the condition to become one, nothing more. It is your choice if you want to be a disciple or not. God will certainly not make you become a disciple nor will He punish you if you choose not to become one. Simple as that. There is one small point, however, that I must make clear. If you choose to remain just a believer, you will never be the Bride of Christ. Period. God the Father will only wed His Son to ones who follow Him in character. Jesus gave up all. That is His character. I am sorry to inform you that the only route to this character is to start by becoming a disciple. Which means to give up all. There is no other way. Whatever you choose, believer or disciple, please just be honest about your choice OK? If you aren’t willing to give up all, please don’t say that you are a disciple because that just makes all the sacrifices other disciples have made just look foolish.

Now don’t think for a moment that God will not ask for your ‘all’ if you choose to become a disciple. I have no idea what your ‘all’ is and I am convinced you don’t know. We never know until God asks for it. For us it was our home and all our belongings but not our daughters. For others ‘all’ means something completely different but mark my words God will ask for your ‘all’ if you want to follow Him to become a disciple. He was clear with this in the 10 commandments when He said, “You shall have no other gods before Me or besides Me.” Exodus 20:3.

In the days ahead I am convinced it will not be safe to be just a believer but that is the choice many will make. To be a disciple will cost you everything and it is a hard life. That is a promise from me to you but the reward of gaining Him is worth it. That I will also promise you. So believer or disciple, what will it be? Are you ‘willing’ to be a disciple or are you ‘becoming’ a disciple? It is up to you to decide now that you know.


Homer and Wanda