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FORSAKING ALL - THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 16, 2003


"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).


Last Sunday night I added a story to my sermon at the last minute. I think it's worth repeating. I know a woman who keeps the bodies of dead dogs in her refrigerator - sometimes for weeks on end. She can't bear the thought of getting rid of them. She needs to open the refrigerator and throw those dead dogs out. Get rid of them! Abandon them! Forsake them! Throw them out! What good are they? How do they help her? Throw them out!

That's what Jesus is saying here.

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Dr. Ellicott tells us that this verse means "Whosoever renounces not all that he hath cannot be my disciple." He says, "This, then, was the immediate lesson…to say good-bye to their 'all,' whatever it might be. Fishing nets and hired servants, or great possessions, or ease and safety, or besetting sins, or fancied righteousness - all had to be renounced" (Charles John Ellicott, Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Zondervan, 1954 reprint, volume VI, p. 313).

Whatever it was that kept them from Christ, they had to forsake, renounce, and leave behind. Throw it out! Like those dead dogs - throw it out! Leave it behind! Abandon it! Don't let it pollute your heart, and destroy you, and keep you from Christ! Forsake it - whatever it is that holds you back from Christ!

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

This is a good text. It is full of meaning. It will help you come to Christ and be converted. Listen carefully while I draw three lessons from it.

I. First, who Christ is addressing.

Who is He speaking to in the text? Notice the first five words,

"Whosoever he be of you …" (Luke 14:33).

So, these words were spoken originally to the entire group Christ was addressing. Look back to verse 25,

"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them" (Luke 14:25).

This whole passage, from verse 25 to verse 35, was originally spoken to a large crowd of people, who came to hear Him preach. These people were not Christians. They were unsaved people. What did Christ say to this great multitude of lost people? He said,

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

"He cannot be my disciple." The word "disciple" translates the Greek word "mathētēs," which means "a learner…it denotes one who follows one's teacher," according to W. E. Vine. And Vine tells us that the word "disciple" is used in the New Testament "of those who believed upon Him and confessed Him" (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Revell, 1966, p. 316).

Some have made a distinction between a "believer" and a "disciple." But I believe that this is a false distinction, not supported by the New Testament. The New Testament often speaks of true believers as "disciples." "Disciple" doesn't speak only of the twelve Apostles, or a special group among the "believers." The word is often used in the New Testament to describe anyone who is a real Christian. The old commentators made this clear. For instance, Alexander Cruden, writing in the 18th century, said this concerning the word "disciple,"

Most often the word is used with reference to the believers in Christ, both those who believed during His life, and those who later joined the early Church (Alexander Cruden, Cruden's Complete Concordance, Zondervan, 1968 reprint, p. 151)

Cruden was exactly right. Again and again, the word "disciple" is used of all true believers in Christ. For instance, in Acts 6:1,

"And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied…"

Again, in Acts 6:7, we read,

"And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly…"

And again, in Acts 11:26, we read,

"And the disciples were called Christians…"

An unbiased study of the word "disciple" in the New Testament shows that a disciple and a Christian are the same thing, not two different things, as some modern writers wrongly tell us. A Christian is a disciple. If he is not a disciple, he is not a Christian!

"The disciples were called Christians" (Acts 11:26).

So, Christ is telling us that we cannot be Christians unless we are willing to forsake the things that keep us from trusting Him.

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

The word "whosoever" goes beyond the multitude to whom He spoke that day. "Whosoever" refers to all mankind.

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Christ is speaking to you and me.

Matthew Henry said that the application of Christ's sermon is here, in verse 33. He said,

But the application…is to the consideration that ought to be exercised when we take upon us a profession of religion [i.e. when we consider becoming Christians]…so with good advice enter upon a profession of religion, as those that know that except you forsake all you have you cannot be Christ's disciples; that is, except you count upon forsaking all and consent to it… (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, volume 5, p. 595).

That means you should think carefully about this as you consider becoming a Christian. You should "count upon forsaking all and consent to it," as Matthew Henry said.

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

II. Second, what "forsaking all" means.

It means there must be a new direction in your life, a new center, a new path, a new goal. It means that you must be willing to forsake anything that prevents you from coming to Christ.

Dr. Albert Barnes says,

Religion [Christianity] is a work of soberness, of thought, of calm and fixed purpose, and no man can properly enter on it who does not resolve by the grace of God to fulfill all its requirements and make it the [main] business of his life. We are to expect difficulties in religion [Christianity]. It will cost us the mortification of our sins, and a life of self-denial, and a conflict with our lusts, and the enmity and ridicule of the world. Perhaps it may cost us our reputation, or possibly our lives and liberties, and all that is dear to us; but we must…be prepared for it all…No man can be a Christian who, when he makes a profession, is resolved after a while to turn back to the world; nor can he be a true Christian if he expects that he will turn back…he cannot be a disciple of the Lord Jesus (Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament, The Gospels, Baker Book House, 1983 reprint, comments on Luke 14:32-33).

If you want to become a Christian, you must count the cost! The Apostle Paul said,

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

What is it that keeps you from trusting Christ? Are you afraid that you won't make enough money if you don't work during the hour of worship on Sunday?

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

What is it that keeps you from trusting Christ? Are you afraid that your Catholic or Buddhist parents will be angry with you?

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

What is it that keeps you from trusting Christ? Are you afraid of what they will say if you don't pray the rosary, or offer incense and say a Buddhist prayer for your dead relatives?

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

What is it that keeps you from trusting Christ? Are you unwilling to give up lost friends? Are you unwilling to change your hours of work so you can be in church? Are you unwilling to tell your parents that you are considering becoming a Christian? Are you afraid of losing the approval of your non-Christian parents or friends?

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Don't hang onto anything that keeps you from Christ! Hanging on to something that keeps you from Christ is like keeping a dead dog in your refrigerator! Throw the dead dog out! Throw that stinking dead thing out of your life! Throw out the dead dog and come to Christ!

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

I am resolved no longer to linger, Charmed by the world's delight;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler, These have allured my sight.

I am resolved to enter the Kingdom, Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me, Still I will enter in.
I will hasten to Him, Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, Greatest, Highest, I will come to Thee.
     ("I Am Resolved" by Palmer Hartsough, 1844-1932).

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

III. Third, why forsaking all is essential to conversion.

"Forsaking all that [you have]" is really just another way of saying "repent." A person who repents lets go of the things that keep him from trusting Christ. That's what it means to repent! Jesus said,

"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).

"Repent" is translated from "metanoeō," which means "a change of mind" - "to change one's mind or purpose" (Vine). That is what Christ is telling you to do - change your mind, change your purpose, and your goals in life - repent!

You will not trust Christ until you change your mind, until you change your purpose. You will be focused on something in this world. You will not focus on Christ. You will trust something in this world. You will not trust Christ.

Take parental approval, for instance. That's a real hang up, a real hindrance, for a Chinese person. Through centuries of Confucian ethics, parental approval has become a dominant trait of the Chinese character. The young person thinks, "I must not make my parents upset with me. I must not go against their wishes." He wants to know Christ and be saved - and yet he is afraid to tell his parents. They are Buddhists. They want him to bow before the idol and pray for dead ancestors. His parents want him to do that - and yet he knows Christ does not want him to do that. There is a great conflict in his heart. He does not want to anger his parents. What should he do?

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

He must lose the approval of his parents and renounce Buddhism entirely. He must come right out and tell his parents, "I cannot pray those Buddhist prayers. I must trust Jesus Christ alone." I am not saying that you have to give up your parents! But you will have to give up their approval, if they are Buddhists, or Catholics, or of some other religion.

Yes, I know, they will be extremely upset. Yes, I know that very well. But I also know that

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Throw the dead dog out of your refrigerator! Renounce anything that keeps you from Christ - family, friends, false religion! Be willing to lose their approval! Jesus said,

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Jesus, the Son of God, died to pay for your sins on the Cross. Jesus, the Son of God, rose physically from the dead. He is alive, at the right hand of God, in Heaven. When you trust Jesus, the Son of God, He washes your sins away with His Blood, and gives you eternal life.

The most important event in all human history was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The authorities had him arrested for preaching the truth. They dragged Him before the governor. He was beaten until the Blood ran down His back. They kept screaming, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" The governor finally gave in to them. They made Him carry a heavy cross to the top of a hill. They stripped Him naked. They drove nails through His hands and feet. They lifted Him up on the cross, and Christ hung there bleeding and dying. The Bible tells us that He died to pay the penalty for your sins. If you trust Christ, His crucifixion pays the price for your sins, and His Blood cleanses all of your sins from God's record in Heaven.

They took the dead body of Jesus and put it in a tomb. Roman soldiers stood guard. A large stone sealed His dead body in that sepulchre.

But on the third day, Almighty God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. He came forth from the tomb and appeared to the Apostles. He said to them,

"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39).

Jesus is alive today. You can come and trust Him now. He will forgive your sins and you will have eternal life.

Will you come to Jesus, the Son of God?

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Will you renounce whatever holds you back? Will you come straight to Jesus and trust Him no matter what happens - no matter what it costs?

Remember what Dr. Barnes said,

No man can be a Christian who, when he makes a profession, is resolved after a while to turn back to the world…If he comes not with a full purpose to always be a Christian…without turning back, he cannot be a disciple of Christ (ibid.)

Pliable, in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, made a hasty and thoughtless "decision" to become a Christian, but his "decision" was superficial. It didn't last long. Bunyan tells us that

"Pliable became offended, and angrily criticized his fellow traveler: 'Is this the happiness you have been telling me about? If we have such miserable misfortune as this at the beginning of our journey, what can we expect before we reach our journey's end? If I can get out of this mess alive, you may have the heavenly country and all its glories, and enjoy it alone, as far as I am concerned.' With that, he gave a desperate lunge and got out…of the slough which was [close to] his own house. ['So he left, and Christian never saw him again' - original]" (John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress in Today's English, reworded in modern  English  by  James  H.  Thomas,  Moody  Press,  1964,  page  17).

Many people make a rash "decision" to be a Christian without thinking about what it will cost them. Like Pliable, they become offended and angry when they find that the way to Christ has obstacles. They want to "get out of this mess alive," and so they leave, and go back to the city of destruction, back to the world. "He left, and Christian never saw him again." This will be your sad fate also, if you do not resolve, at the beginning, to take very seriously those words of Christ,

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Will you resolve to come to Christ no matter what it costs you? That is what it means to trust Christ. Will you trust Him alone? Will you repent and believe on Jesus? If that is your purpose, then I want you to get out of your seat and come and stand here in front of the pulpit while Mr. Griffith sings that old hymn, "God Calling Yet." While he sings, you come. And after you have come, we will go to my office and discuss the serious matter of you coming to Christ and being cleansed by His Blood, and saved by His life.

God calling yet! Shall I not hear?

Earth's pleasures shall I still hold dear?

Shall life's swift passing years all fly,

And still my soul in slumber lie?

God calling yet! I cannot stay;

My heart I yield without delay;

Vain world, farewell! from thee I part;

The voice of God hath reached my heart.

("God Calling Yet" by Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697-1769,
      translated by Jane L. Borthwick, 1813-1897).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 5:39-47.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"God Calling Yet" (by Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697-1769).


THE OUTLINE OF

FORSAKING ALL - THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

I.   Who Christ is addressing, Luke 14:25; Acts 6:1, 7; 11:26.

II.  What "forsaking all" means, Philippians 3:8.

III. Why forsaking all is essential to conversion, Luke 13:5; John 14:6;
Luke 24:39.

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at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."