January 17, 2014

Part 2 - Humble thoughts about "Forsaking All"

This week a group of us gathered to watch the new film about the life and ministry of Heidi Baker entitled Compelled by Love (available at: https://www.compelledbylovethefilm.com)

It was a powerful film to say the least.  To see the level of devotion of this woman, and those involved in her ministry to the poorest of the poor, the most broken of the broken, the most abused of the abused, challenged me the core.  

Now you will see why I did a "Part 1" (http://joel2generation.blogspot.com/2014/01/part-1-are-we-expected-to-obey-jesus.html) post referring to the commandments of Jesus and His teachings.  You see Heidi & Rolland Baker surrendered EVERYTHING to follow Jesus – they gave their lives, their resources, their health, their families – EVERYTHING to follow Christ into the poorest regions on the planet.  Why would they have done something like this?  Here is most likely one of the passages that they have based their entire lives upon – get ready, Jesus taught and commanded this.  It came BEFORE the Cross and yet, devoted Christians have always understood that this passage to be applicable to New Covenant believers.  

Luke 14:25-27, 33 - Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,  If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. …So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. (NASB).  The older translations called this last verse - "forsaking all" to follow Christ.

Heidi and Rolland Baker have inspired thousands upon thousands to do exactly what they have done.  To give up their own lives, for the sake of Christ and the expansion of God's Kingdom.  The first disciples did the same thing, they "dropped their nets", and left their families to follow Christ.  What is interesting is that once Jesus died on the Cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, these disciples didn't stop obeying Christ's command as if it no longer applied as being "Old Covenant".  No, they continued to obey his teachings and the Great Commission until each and every one of them, except the Apostle John died a martyr's death.

I am reminded of what Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  the German Lutheran pastor who was martyred by Hitler, wrote in his famous book The Cost of Discipleship, "When Christ calls a manhe bids him come and die." 

It was also Bonhoeffer who likened much of the the Christianity of his day to "cheap grace".  Also from The Cost of Discipleship, he put it this way, "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 

In a day when teachers who claim to be teaching the true message of grace are in fact teaching what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace", we would be wise to reject any teaching that waters down or neglects the centrality of Christ's own words.  They weren't put in red letters for nothing!

Thank you Heidi and Rolland Baker for showing us all what it looks like to forsake everything to follow Christ.  We are challenged, we are humbled and we are called to examine our own lives once again before the Lord and recommit ourselves to His Lordship.

Part 1- Are we expected to obey Jesus?

Before I get to the blog post that was on my heart to post, I realized I needed to do a "Part 1" wherein I would address an issue that tragically is sweeping across much of the Church today under the name of "The Grace Message".  An important book has just been released entitled Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message by Dr. Michael Brown that addresses the errors being taught by a number of well-known Bible teachers today.

I will only address one of the errors which is the teaching as Christians we don't need to follow/obey the teachings of Jesus because they are a part of the Old Covenant having come before the Cross.  They consider this some kind of "new Reformation" that will bring freedom to Christians in bondage to commands (which they call "the Law") that they believe we were never intended to obey.  This is foolishness.  The entire Early Church believed that as followers of Jesus, they were to obey His teaching.  The Great Commission (given AFTER the Cross by the Resurrected Christ) was given to the Apostles to teach the world to "obey EVERYTHING I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20).  

There are literally dozens of New Testament verses that I could cite here that contradict and disprove the false teaching that we don't have to obey Christ's commands.  In a previous blogpost, I surveyed the entire New Testament focusing on the commandments that the Apostle Paul gave to believers many of which directly reflect the teachings of Jesus.  Don’t forget it was the Apostle Paul who wrote, "Imitate me AS I imitate Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1)

In addition to the verses I have just shared, here are 4 more that should settle the question/issue for any believer who is committed to the authority of the Scriptures.

Jesus said this, "If you love me, you WILL OBEY my commandments" (John 14:15)

John 3:36 - "…but he who does NOT obey the Son will not see life…

The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:3 - "For this is what love for God is: to keep His commandments…" 

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 7:19 - "…but what matters is keeping the commandments of God"

Do we find the Church in the 2nd Century teaching that the Sermon of the Mount and Christ's other teachings were not to be obeyed because they were essentially "the law" coming under the Old Covenant?  Absolutely not.  Just the opposite.  They took His teachings quite literally and it wasn't until several centuries later, when a nominal Christianity became dominant, that Christ's teachings began to be ignored, but even then they were NEVER considered to be part of the Old Covenant!

To be clear, and let no one deceive you.  If you are a Christian, you follow the teachings of Christ.  If you are fulfilling the Great Commission, then you too are teaching your disciples to "obey everything" that Christ commanded.

Now for "Part 2 ("http://joel2generation.blogspot.com/2014/01/part-2-humble-thoughts-about-forsaking.html)