Are You Ready?: Part 2
In Part I, we discussed the general topic of “getting ready” – preparation, training, practicing.
Jesus provided some practical illustrations about “getting ready” in Luke 14:
28b “…For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away.”
On their own, these specific verses can easily be interpreted as applicable to the topic of intentional planning. I’m relatively certain that at some point within the past 2000+ years, at least one “Christian” financial planner has segregated the first half of this text to support their pitch for fiscal responsibility and retirement planning. Perhaps a “Christian” relationship counselor has pilfered the second half of this text when mediating between two parties that are contemplating (figuratively or perhaps literally) going to war against each other.
When taking the text within the entirety of its framework, it is obvious that Jesus is speaking about being His disciple. It was His intent to make it clearly known what that meant – there are specific requirements.
At the beginning, verses 25-28a of Luke 14:
25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28a But don’t begin until you count the cost.”
To properly set the stage for comprehending what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, it’s important to understand fundamentals of salvation. The Bible is explicitly clear about the means of salvation: it’s all about the finished work on the cross by Jesus Christ.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
5 Therefore he [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
Mankind has the ability to accept or reject the free gift – it is offered to all and made known to all. But not only is the ability granted to all, but there is ultimately an obligation to decide – scripture is clear that all mankind will either accept or reject.
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18
When one truly contemplates the levity of these collective statements, it can be quite daunting. These are not implications – they are clear and factual statements. We have no means by which we can be saved on our own. Without Christ, we are hopelessly lost. If we choose to reject Him, we are condemned before the righteous and holy God Almighty. But if we choose to accept Him, we must give up everything else.
I have to wonder – how many new believers really understand? When they arrive at a gathering with the condition of their soul hanging in the balance, are presented with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, stand and profess Him as lord and savior – do they get it? When they finally reach the end of themselves, surrender their will and lay it all down – do they truly have any idea what is required? Are they ready for everything that can, should and will happen? If it was clearly explained, how many would walk away, just like the rich, young ruler in Mark 10?
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:17-22
Frankly, how many long-term believers really understand what is required and are ready and willing to live accordingly?
ARE YOU READY: TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
Ephesians 4:20-24 instructs us to put off our old self with its corrupted, deceitful desires and to put on the new self which is created to be like God. Let that sink in for a second. Conduct an inventory of the last 24 hours of your life. Group everything – every action, every word, every thought, every motive – into either the “old self” or the “new self” bucket. Ouch. Are you ready to give up so many things and truly be transformed, renewed, regenerated?
ARE YOU READY: TO GIVE AN ACCOUNT TO OTHERS?
1 Peter 3:15 advises us that if someone asks about our hope as a believer, we must always be ready to explain it. Not simply a half-hearted “I’m just so blessed” statement. The “on my own, I’m a wretched sinner destined for hell – but by the grace of God and the work of Jesus, I’m made clean by the washing of the blood” proclamation. How will that go over with the guys in your Thursday evening golf league in the clubhouse surrounded by beers and brats? Are you ready for the spotlight in a silent grill room and dozens of witnesses?
ARE YOU READY: TO STAND BOLDLY?
2 Timothy 4:2 charges us to be prepared to preach the word, whether the time is favorable or not. And not only that, but to use it to correct, rebuke, and encourage. How does it look when you apply the holy standard of God’s word to your secular workplace? Are you ready to “correct” or “rebuke” your boss for their bending of the truth or turning a blind eye?
ARE YOU READY: TO PROCLAIM CHRIST?
2 Timothy 1:8 exhorts us to never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. Who are “others”? They’re your buddies who like to revel in worldly pleasures. They’re your brand new girlfriend/boyfriend whom you’ve dreamt of for years but doesn’t follow Christ. They’re your teammates who use foul language and tell crass jokes. They’re your co-workers who play such a significant role in your career and job success. They’re your family members who know all about your past and all the garbage it contains. They’re your neighbors who couldn’t be more obnoxious or annoying. How receptive will they be when you finally gather enough courage to whisper “Jesus” in their presence? Are you ready to face the proverbial firing squad?
ARE YOU READY: TO GIVE AN ACCOUNT TO GOD?
Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. Romans 14:12
God has clearly communicated His expectations for us. Salvation is a free gift – nothing we can do or say will ever make us worthy on our own merits. But there are clear requirements when receiving that gift. Here’s how Jesus described it in Mark 8:
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Jesus gave His life – all of it, in brutal fashion – in exchange for ours. He did so of His own free will (John 10:18). He subjected Himself to the will of the Father in obedience for us (Philippians 2:5-8). He endured unspeakable pain and incomprehensible shame on the cross – for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). What joy is that? Us. All of us. All of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, all of our strength (Mark 12:30).
If you claim Christ and the free gift available from God through His Son, you are compelled to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him – lose your life for Him and for the gospel. If you’re not ready to do those things, Jesus continues in Mark 8 to describe the result:
36 “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Be assured – all of us will die and all of us will give an account (Hebrews 9:27). And when we stand individually before the judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10), our life will fall into one of three categories:
- Those who reject (1 John 2:22)
- Those who project (Matthew 7:21-23)
- Those who accept (Matthew 10:32-33)
Believer in and follower of Jesus Christ – contemplate these words and answer the question: ARE YOU READY?