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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship Chapter 19

Sermon on the Mount Continued

Matt 7:13-23

“Never let a disciple of Jesus pin his hopes on large numbers.” 

Narrow is the way and few find it. 

Not only is salvation hard for many to grasp…but following Christ down the path of discipleship can be lonely and dangerous. 

“But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray. But if we worry about the dangers…if we gaze at the road instead of at him who goes before, we are already straying form that path. For he is himself the way, the narrow way and the straight gate.” 

But keeping our eyes solely on Christ is hard. Our journey is full of doubts and fears, frustrations and failures. Sometimes we wonder if we’re on the right path, especially if fellow Christians aren’t suffering as we.

 But we can have confidence we are going the right way by this: “…the very narrowness of the road will increase our certainty.”  

As our nation braces for the next four years under the current administration, I can’t help but find this chapter timely. 

The road is going to get narrower…few have found it at this point…hard times will weed out the pseudo-Christians from among us…but our faith will grow as we embrace the Cross with everything we have (fix our eyes solely on Christ). 

It can be tempting to want to seclude ourselves from the madness of the world. But we can’t.
For even if we were to cut ourselves off from the world, the world would still seep in.

Jesus warns in verses 15-20 that there will always be wolves in sheep clothing. 

“He looks like a Christian, he talks and acts like one. But dark powers are mysteriously at work…It is not faith in Jesus Christ which made him one of us, but the devil.” 

This could make us paranoid. We could start “witch trials” if we allowed our imaginations to run wild. 

“Who’s a wolf?” 

But we don’t have to fall prey to this paranoia.

For by their fruits we will know them.

Darkness cannot hide forever.

And a tree can’t help but bear fruit. 

“There is no need to go about prying into the hearts of others. All we need do is to wait until the tree bears fruit, and we shall not have to wait long.” 

Bonhoeffer goes on to say, “We may have to decide, not in some spectacular matter, but in quite trivial, everyday affairs. And then we shall see and discern the good from the bad.”

How someone lives day in and day out will tell us what we need to know about their dedication to Christ as Lord.  

We only have to look at fruit. Someone can disguise themselves for a while, but eventually their hearts will show them. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NIV

But it’s not just others fruits we need to look at.

We need to look at our own.

What are we producing?

Satan can deceive us all. When trials come, our own hearts will be revealed to us…and we may find we, ourselves, are pseudo-Christians! 

If that happens, how will we respond?

Will we come into a true relationship with Christ or find that following Him costs too much and join the world? 

God tests our hearts because He loves us. He wants to reveal Himself to us and sometimes trials are the only way to get our attention.

In the coming days, we will see changes in our church. Some will leave, some will stay and new members will emerge.

Trust in God. Look solely to Him and He will reveal His will and your heart to you.
What you do from there is up to you.

Remember, “God will not ask us in that day whether we were good Protestants, but whether we have done his will.”

So I ask you: Are you doing HIS will…or your own?
I encourage you to not feel lonely as you follow Christ.

Take comfort in knowing Christ warned us of this narrow road. 

Our journey…the aches, pains and trials we face are known by God. They haven’t caught Him by surprise. 

He is the author and finisher of our faith! (Heb 12:2)

People can’t make you secure…ONLY God can. 

Fix your eyes SOLEY on Him. 

Don’t worry what fellow Christians are doing or aren’t doing. 

Don’t fear the wolves among you…Look at their fruit…trust the Bible…and cling to God ALONE.

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