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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 Evening, November 30, 2008

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


I know an elderly woman who keeps the bodies of dead dogs in her refrigerator, sometimes for months on end. She can’t bear the thought of getting rid of them. She should open the refrigerator and throw those dead dogs out! Get rid of them! Abandon them! Get rid of them! Bury them! What good are they? How do they help her? Throw them out! That’s what I say she should do with those dead dogs!

That’s what Jesus is saying here about getting rid of the things in life that keep you from full commitment to Him.

“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,” given up to be a real Christian (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, the Disciples had to forsake, renounce, and leave behind. Throw them out! Like those dead dogs – throw them out! Leave them behind! Give them up! Don’t let them pollute your heart, and destroy you, and keep you from Christ! Forsake them – 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 of people 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 Christ preach. These people were not Christians. They were unsaved people. What did Christ say to this great crowd 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 just mean 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! Acts 11:26 tells us that “disciples” and “Christians” are exactly the same.

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

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

“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 before 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 goal. You must direct your life in a way that pleases Christ. Christ must become the very center of your life. Your goal must be to please Christ in all you do. It means that you must be willing to forsake anything that prevents you from coming to Christ, and then following Him as His disciple.

Dr. Albert Barnes said,

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! You must agree to make Jesus Christ and His work the most important thing in your whole life! 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, or non-Christian 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? Are you afraid of what they may say if you become an all-out, dedicated Christian?

“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 thinking about 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,

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

Yet, sadly, when Asians come to America they tend to be swallowed up in materialism, which blinds them to the futility of the false godlessness of most Americans.

Cho Seung-hui murdered 32 college students at Virginia Tech a few years ago, and then killed himself. It was all over the news that week. But here is the untold story. Cho was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1984. His family was poor in Korea, living in a rented basement. Their former landlord in Seoul said, “They lived a poor life [in South Korea].” He also said Cho’s father told him, “They were going to America because it is difficult to live here [in Korea].”

Cho’s family immigrated to the United States in 1992, when he was 8 years old, with his parents and an older sister. The parents worked at a dry cleaner to put their daughter through Princeton University and their son through Virginia Tech. They worked long hours, from early morning until late at night, to give their children all that money can buy. But they were so busy earning money that they had little time to spend with Cho. He became a loner. Then he flipped out. Now he and 32 other students are dead.

There is a lesson in Cho’s death for every Asian who comes here to “the Golden Mountain,” as the Chinese sometimes call America. The lesson that Asian parents should learn from this tragedy is this:

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

American parents should learn this lesson also. And you should learn that lesson yourself!

Young people, the tragedy of Cho Seung-hui should make you rethink the whole direction and purpose of your own life. Make money a secondary thing in your life, or you will lose your soul, in one way or another, amid the baubles and toys of American materialism. Decide now to make the accumulation of money a secondary pursuit. Put Jesus Christ first in your life! Be in church every time the door is open. Make lots of time for Jesus Christ in this local church. Let your parents and friends call you a “fool” for doing so. They will be wrong when they do. Come fully into the church. Commit your whole life to Christ. Give a tithe, a tenth of your income, to the Lord’s work in and through the local church. Go to evangelism every week, to bring in the lost to hear the Gospel. And remember, full commitment to Christ ought to mean that you will be in church at Christmas and New Year’s, instead of running off to that sinful Hell-hole of Las Vegas, or to do some other foolish and wicked thing. Give those things up and become a real Christian – a real disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Non-Christian friends and relatives may say you are spending too much time in church, and they may discourage you from coming. But they will be wrong – and you will be right for giving Jesus Christ first place in your life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Germany who preached Christ and resisted Hitler during the Second World War. A few days before the end of that war Hitler’s Nazis strung him up by the neck, and he became a martyr for Jesus Christ, at the age of 39. He was tortured and murdered for his faith, which is the highest calling a Christian can attain, one whom God counts worthy to die for His Son. In a book he wrote just before the war, titled, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote these now famous words, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, Collier Books, 1963 reprint, p. 99). Let’s say that out loud, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Why did Bonhoeffer believe that, and literally do it, by dying for Christ? He did it because he said that commitment to Christ “is nothing more than bondage to Jesus Christ alone, completely breaking through every programme, every ideal, every set of [human] laws. No other significance is possible, since Jesus is the only significance. Beside Jesus nothing [else] has any significance. He alone matters” (Bonhoeffer, ibid., p. 63).

Come to Christ by faith! Surrender to Him! Trust Him! Come to Him no matter what it costs! For nothing but the Blood of Christ can wash away your sin and make you fit for God's Kingdom. Christ alone matters in the end, and “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” For it is in dying to the pleasures and profits of this world that we are born again to eternal life in Jesus Christ. And, in the end, Christ alone matters!

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Come to Christ. Throw yourself upon Him by faith, and His Blood will wash away your every sin. Come to Christ by faith. Surrender your heart to Him. He has risen from the dead, to the right hand of God the Father in Heaven. Die to the pleasures and sins of the world and come to Jesus, for it is in dying and rising with Him by faith that we overcome the world and are born again to eternal life! That is real conversion! Let us stand and sing number seven on your song sheet. Sing it with full fervor!

Give of your best to the Master;
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw all your zeal and fire 
   Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example;
   Fearless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion,
   Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master:
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
   Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
   Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
   Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
   God His beloved Son gave.
Eagerly seeking to serve Him,
   Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master:
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
   Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
   Less will not honor His love.
He gave Himself for your ransom,
   Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
   You from sin’s ruin to save.
Give Him your life's consecration;
   Give Him the best that you have.
Give of your best to the Master:
   Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
   Join in the battle for truth.
(“Give of Your Best to the Master” by Howard B. Grose, 1851-1939;
      altered by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.).

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?  Will you promise Christ that you will be in every church service?  Will you promise Him that you will go to evangelism every week?  Will you promise Christ that you will give a tithe, ten percent of your income each Sunday?  If that kind of consecration is what you desire, I want you to come forward and kneel in front of the pulpit.  I want you to get out of your seat and come and kneel here in front of the pulpit while Mr. Griffith sings that old hymn, “Living For Jesus.”  While he sings, you come. 

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
   Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free,
   This is the pathway of service for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to Thee,
   For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, I bow before Thy throne.
   My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
   Bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
   Follow His leading and give Him my all.
O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to Thee,
   For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, I bow before Thy throne.
   My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.
(“Living For Jesus” by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960;
      altered by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 14:25-27, 33.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Living For Jesus” (by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960).


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

II.  Second, what “forsaking all” means, Philippians 3:8.

III. Third, why forsaking all is essential to conversion, Matthew 16:26.