Are you all-in?

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 

Praise God
Praise God for his Word and the daily work of the Lord Jesus through his Word to bring salvation to sinners and sanctification to his saints. Romans 10:14-17.
 
Acknowledge Sin
Acknowledge and confess the sin of not comprehending the power of God's Word in your life. Give thanks to God that he is at work in your life through his Word and ask him to be so increasingly.



Please ask for the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Luke 14:25-33
Are you all-in?
 
V25. Jesus says we are to 'hate!'
Jesus is making his way slowly to Jerusalem. He is engulfed in crowds of people who are following. Obviously, we only have a fraction of the conversations that he was having with people. Given what we have in this passage, some of those following him must have expressed a desire to become disciples, so, at some point, Jesus stops and addresses the issue of discipleship. 
 
His opening statement sounds confusing. Surely Jesus taught, commanded, advocated the principle of loving God and our fellow man, Mark 12:30,31.  Yet here he is, speaking of hating those closest to you.  Can we do both? Can we love and hate the same person? Yes. How? By loving them but hating anything in them that rebels against God and his ways. Anything that would hinder us from wholeheartedly seeking first the Kingdom of God must be hated.  Our love for Christ must supersede all other loves in our lives and manifest itself in such hatred. Of course, phenomenal wisdom must be exercised, and care taken, in the expression of this hatred.  That's where the command to love, with purposeful intention, finds its expression.  It is a 'standard' that Jesus expressed in various ways throughout his ministry, for example, Matthew 10:27, 19:39, Luke 18:29.
 
V27. Jesus says we are to bear our own cross.
This requirement to bear one's cross is a command Jesus gave several times, Matthew 26:24, Mark 8:34. We have already encountered it in a positive form in Luke 9:23. As we saw in that verse, the “cross” that must be borne is the suffering that results from faithful submission to Christ and the life that he commands.  If you and I are not prepared to endure the trials that come with submitting yourselves to Christ's rule, he says that we cannot be a disciple of his. It isn't an option. Discipleship isn't a 'pick and mix' thing, take what aspects of it you want, and leave those that don't appeal to you. You are either all-in, or you are not.
 
V28. Jesus says you need to weigh up the cost.
It is the need for people to really think about that, that Jesus now presses through two illustrations. Jesus' teaching was never in the abstract; it was always focused on a call to the heart. We need to know the truth, but it must be declared to the seat of our understanding, motivation, desire – the heart.  Jesus did that time and again. His doing so gave his preaching and teaching such authority when compared with the mindless repetitiveness of the Pharisees.  Good preaching/teaching will always address the heart as it feeds the mind and seeks the Holy Spirit's help to move the will.
 
The illustrations can be read negatively, i.e., not to be too hasty in making such a serious decision as committing to follow Jesus. But I think it is better to view it positively in the sense that following Jesus is to be desired, but with thoughtful and deliberate consideration.
 
V28. The tower builder.
The demands of discipleship are set forth as being distinctly significant because the man in the story is not just building a shed or a house; he is building a tower.  We are surrounded by so much 'Christianity' in our culture, yet much of it is nothing more than shed-like construction or, at best, a two-bed townhouse. True biblical Christianity is 'tower' like, and its building must be approached as such. It can't be thrown up in an afternoon or a few months. Stone towers took lifetimes to build, and you certainly didn't want to start without weighing up the cost, demands on one's time, etc. Just to get out of bed one day and say to yourself, 'I think I'll build a tower today' and to go at it with thoughtless abandon for a few weeks would be the height of stupidity. Failure to research, prepare, get estimates, and see if the financial and other resources needed are available, will result in failure.  And laughable failure at that.  Jesus is not saying, don't build the tower. He wants his hearers, and you and me, to build a tower of genuine following after him.  But he wants us to know that it will require a lifetime of serious, intentional commitment.
 
V31. The defending King.
The second illustration of the king having to likewise think through what is confronting him before making a choice sounds the same, but there is a difference.  In the 'I will build a tower' scenario, the person decides to do something because they want to. They are making a choice based on their desire. Here, the king is faced with a dilemma that he did not go looking for. The other army of 20,000 men is an advancing one. It's coming to his territory uninvited and unwelcome. He doesn't want this war; he hasn't instigated it, but it is coming to him, and he needs to face that reality. So, he has a decision to make as he looks out at his force of 10,000 men.  Will he go out and face the invader, who has twice the number of troops, and seek to fend off their aggression, or will he, before his borders are breached, send a delegation with a white flag to sue for peace on the best terms that can be negotiated.
 
The disciples of Christ, you and I, need to realize that we are in a spiritual war. We don't need to go looking for it, the enemy is already at the borders of our lives, and his march is constant and relentless. He roams the world like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8. Jesus tells us that this is not a proxy war; it is invested with hatred, John 15:18-25. Paul writes in his letter to the church at Ephesus, and he couldn't be more clear –  "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12. This is serious; it's not a game. Are we going to sue for peace? Well, in effect, we do, when we don't do what Christ says, and take the time and effort to employ the means he has given us to engage with.  You and I cannot drift thoughtlessly through our lives as Christians. We need to look up and look out, see the dangers coming our way, and make a decision. We cannot simply neglect the reality of the potential destruction that is stalking us. And that's the point; you can't sue for peace with sin and Satan because they don't know what the word means, it's not in their vocabulary.
 
V33. Jesus says you have to renounce all you have.

This counting the cost, this facing the enemy, will always require the same investment, renunciation of self and all that goes with it. As stated previously, there is only one option, wholehearted, all-in commitment borne of reciprocal love. What blessed freedom. To, by God's grace, get to the point that all that matters is Christ, his truth, his way, his work by the Holy Spirit in one's life. Oh, to be rid of the half-hearted calamitous Christianity devoid of joy, peace, and contentment. It is possible, but you have to sit down and resolve to either be all-in or not; it can't be both.


Sing with joy in our heart to the Lord.
Psalm 72C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung.



Store up the Word in your heart.
Luke 14:11 - "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled," 


Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 103 - What do we pray for in the third request?
Answer - In the third request (which is, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven) we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
 

Thank God.
Thank God that we can, by his saving power, be all-in. Pray that, with the Holy Spirit, we make time to take stock of our lives, and see where we are on the path of delightful obedience.
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC