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by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, July 28, 2019

“And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:19, 20).

This man was a scribe. The scribes were the paper-people of their time. They could draw up legal documents such as contracts and marriage papers. The scribes copied the Bible on scrolls. They were very careful and copied each letter, one at a time. That’s why the Hebrew Bible we have today is an exact copy of what the prophets said. The scribes studied the Bible and knew it well. These men were respected. They had money. They had nice houses.

This man came to Jesus. He called Jesus “Master,” speaking to Christ with respect. He offered to follow Jesus. He said, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” But he didn’t!

Jesus said, “The Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” If the scribe followed Jesus, he would have to go from place to place. He would not have a nice house to sleep in. No doubt he would lose money if he followed Jesus. Certainly if he followed Christ, the man would be rejected and persecuted.

Jesus was saying, “Will you trust me? Or will you follow me only if you can have it your way?” In other words, “Will you really trust me?”

There is no record that the scribe followed Jesus. He counted the cost and went back. He had offered himself to Jesus as a disciple. “I’ll follow you, Jesus. But of course, I am a scribe.” When Christ told him he would have no place to lay his head, this was too much for him. He might have said, “Doesn’t He know I’m a scribe?”

This scribe, like so many others, was willing to take on the name of Jesus and in some way “follow” Him. He would call himself a believer. He would fit that into his life, and even make some changes. But when Jesus put him to the test, the man backed away. He said he would follow Jesus, but he didn’t. He failed the test.

Many people say they’re following Jesus. But will they? You may say you’re following Jesus. But will you? Many tests will come. Some will be tests you aren’t expecting. You won’t even think they’re tests. But they are the real tests of whether you trust Jesus. Today I want to talk about the different kinds of tests you will face.

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I. First, the test of schedule.

Jesus explained what that test is like. He said,

“A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come” (Luke 14:16-20).

The men made excuses. What were the excuses? “I have to go see my land.” “I have bought some oxen.” “I got married.” This is the test of schedule and priorities. Will you change your schedule for Jesus? Will you put your friends and your video games second, and Jesus first? I hope you will.

All of these men seemed willing to come to the supper. But they wouldn’t change their schedule. Thousands of people have visited our church over the years. They talked about Jesus, but they didn’t want to change their schedule and priorities. They had time for everything else, but they had no time for church. They had no time for Bible reading and prayer. They had time for Jesus only when their schedule was free. They put Jesus last, not first. They didn’t really trust Him. What about you? Will you arrange your schedule and make time for Jesus?

II. Second, the test of friends.

We bring lost people from the world into our services. They have friends in the world. They spent time with their friends. They listened to them. But those friends don’t want to be Christians. The people have to choose between Christ and their friends. The Bible says,

“The friendship of the world is enmity with God...Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Many of them fail that test. They might say they wanted to trust Jesus. But their friends are more important. So they turn back. We know they didn’t really trust Jesus.

You may say, “I’m past all that.” But are you? Don’t be too quick to answer. What if your friends turn back and stop following Christ? What will you do? What if you feel bad when your friends walk away? What will you do? This is a test of your trust in Jesus. Some people failed that test. What will you do?

III. Third, the test of money.

The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus. He said to Christ,

“Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16, 17).

He thought he was keeping God’s commandments. He said to Christ, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20).

He was interested in Jesus. He called Him “Good Master.” In his own mind, he was a believer, following God, keeping the commandments. He was willing to listen to Jesus. But Christ had more to say. Jesus said to him,

“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21, 22).

The young man went away rather than give up his money. He may have thought, “Doesn’t Jesus know I have business going on in my life?”

I have a saying, “Money is the universal language that everyone understands.” People say this and that, but if you want to find out what they really think, look at how they treat their money. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Now let me apply that saying. Instead of “money,” think of the word “career.” Yes, get a job. Of course, make money. Buy a house if you can. Live your life. But don’t make your career the number one thing in your life. If your career is your guiding star, the one thing above all else that you cannot risk, you are not a true disciple of Christ. I know people who made shipwreck of their lives by following the guiding star of their career. Yes, get an education. Yes, get a job. But your life on this earth is not that important. It will all pass away. My favorite Bible verse says,

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

What is your guiding star? Is it your career? Or is it Christ?

IV. Fourth, the test of comfort.

You may pass the tests I have already given. You may change your schedule. You may not worship money. But what about the test of comfort?

You say you’ve trusted Christ. You come to church. But then you graduate from college. You get a job and move ahead. You may get married and have children. You’re comfortable. Now you don’t have much time for Jesus. Jesus said,

“That which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14).

These thorny-ground people say they trust Jesus. They know the plan of salvation. They have a Bible. They know how to dress in church. But they are wrapped up in the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. So they step back. Don’t be too quick to say, “I won’t do that.” I’ve seen people do exactly that. What about you? This is the test of “do you trust Him?” Do you trust Him on your terms, or do you trust Him completely? In other words, do you really trust Him?

V. Fifth, the test of children.

Christ is more important than your parents. Jesus said,

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

Many people fail that test, especially Chinese and other Asian people with a traditional culture. I heard a person 29 years old say, “My non-Christian parents don’t want me to trust Jesus. So I won’t.” That person failed the test.

Most of you know about the test of parents. But there is also the test of children. This test is harder than the test of parents. It hurts more. It is a test of whether you trust Jesus or not. Christ said,

“He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

Will you follow Jesus even if your son or daughter does not? It happens! Some people step back because they love their son or daughter more than Christ. They say they are trusting Jesus. They know the plan of salvation. They know about coming to church, praying, and reading the Bible. They think they are sincere. They would say, “Of course I trust Jesus. But this is a special problem.” The test of children is a big test of life. Some have failed it. People who looked good have failed it. What will you do?

VI. Sixth, the test of the sinking ship.

There is another test. Will you be faithful to Christ when you think His cause is lost? Don’t be too quick to say “yes.” You won’t think of this as a test, but rather a special problem. But it is a test.

Judas followed Jesus for three years. He listened to Christ. Judas preached, did miracles, healed people, and cast out demons. Judas was willing to follow Christ. Look at the miracles He did. Judas thought about his own future. Jesus would become the King of Israel, and Judas would manage the money. It looked like a good bet.

But then Jesus started talking about being crucified. The Bible says,

“Jesus [began] to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (Matthew 16:21).

Jesus wouldn’t become king! Judas wouldn’t get rich! It seemed like Jesus was losing his mind. It was time to get off the ship, for it was sinking. That’s what Judas thought. Judas considered himself a believer. But he was also a “sensible” man. Jesus just wasn’t sensible. So Judas went out to betray Christ.

This is a test of “do you trust Him?” Do you trust Him on your terms, or do you trust Him completely? In other words, do you really trust Him? Judas did not. Neither did Chan the Apostate. The apostate Chan and his followers got off the ship. They wanted easier sailing. Time to get off the ship. But this ship is still here, and we’re going to start a new church! The new ship will sail forth!

I used to think there weren’t many tests in later life. You may think that all you have to do is coast to the end. But there are tests all through life. The tests never stop coming. The Apostle Paul faced them. As an old man he was put into prison by Nero. Paul knew he would soon die. But he never thought of denying his Saviour. He said,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).

In the second century a preacher named Polycarp was arrested for being a Christian. He was over 90 years old. The Roman official offered him a way out. He said, “All you have to do is put a pinch of incense on the altar for Caesar. Then you can go and believe in Jesus.” Polycarp could have done that – but he didn’t. Christ was his only Lord. He said, “For eighty and six years have I been His servant, and He has done me no wrong, and how can I now blaspheme my King who saved me?” Polycarp was burned at the stake and went into the arms of Jesus.

Polycarp finished his course. Paul finished his course. Many times I have prayed, “Lord, help me to finish my course.” I’m not young anymore, but there are still tests to face. So I pray again, “Lord, help me to finish my course.” And may you finish your course too.

Some of you have not trusted Jesus. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. But you have not trusted Him. Christ said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). You cannot come to God unless you trust Jesus. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come to the front of the room now. Amen.



by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:19, 20).

I.    First, the test of schedule, Luke 14:16-20.

II.   Second, the test of friends, James 4:4

III.  Third, the test of money, Matthew 19:16, 17, 20, 21, 22;
Matthew 6:21; I John 2:17.

IV.  Fourth, the test of comfort, Luke 8:14.

V.   Fifth, the test of children, Matthew 10:37.

VI.  Sixth, the test of the sinking ship, Matthew 16:21; II Timothy 4:7;
John 14:6.