The Hour In Which We Live
We live in an hour where the commands of Jesus Christ and the conditions of entering into (and continuing in) discipleship with him are almost altogether excused or explained away. Christ said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26), and he did not apologize for it! Christ said again, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:37) - how will you refute the sinless Son of God! It's high time that the professed church of our day stops criticizing Christ's words and lets Christ's words start criticizing them!
The Claims of Jesus Christ
Beloved reader, a day is rushing upon us wherein this man Christ Jesus, who came from heaven to show us the way to the Father, shall return in flaming fire taking vengeance on them who know not God and obey not the gospel (II Thess. 1:7,8). Are you obeying him? Christ once commanded a man to follow him, but this man's father just died, so the man replied, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father" (Luke 9:59). Did Christ not know that this man's father had just died? was this an appropriate excuse to not obey the Lord Jesus Christ? Christ responded, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:60). Did Christ not know that this man was now (most probably) the head of his home and the present head of his mourning mother? Of course! Mark my words, it was not and never will be easy to follow the commands of the Lord Jesus. IT MEANS DEATH. Death to our desires, death to our own way, death to our carnal thoughts of what is seemly or right in a given situation. We must follow Christ full-stop.
Again, Christ calls another, and he is met with this excuse, "I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house" (Luke 9:61). Did Christ have no knowledge of who was back at this man's home? his father, mother, sisters and brethren? Would this excuse avail before the perfect and altogether righteous claims of Jesus the Son of God? NO! Christ, without a stutter, answers the fool, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). I say "fool" because that is precisely what a man is who would hear the voice of the Holy God, and still be willing to turn back around because of the carnal obligations he feels to his natural relations!
"How can Christ lay such a claim upon me," you may ask? "Does Christ not know that my parents are professing Christians?" "Does he not know that the scripture says to honor your father and mother?" Yes and yes. Nevertheless, the Lord still says, "Follow me." Christ can say this to you regardless of whether he experienced it himself, or not, because he is God; nevertheless, for your sake, he suffered the hardship himself. When Christ was just a child of 12 years, we find him (without asking permission of his earthly father and mother) in the temple discoursing with the doctors of the law - three days separated from his parents! When they finally find him, Mary asks in amazement, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing" (Luke 2:48). Was Christ wrong in his dealings with his parents? Why would he deal with them in such a way, making them sick with sorrow? Christ did not say he was sorry, nor did he in the least bit budge that he could have been in error, but on the contrary turns it to a rebuke of Mary and Joseph, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business" (Luke 2:49)? Christ makes it plain that Joseph (his earthly father, and God-appointed authority in his life) did not claim of him his foremost allegiance, but his true heavenly Father alone did. And so may every regenerate child of God say.
Later when Christ had entered into his ministry, an instance occurred where his mother and brethren had come calling to him to come out of the house where he sat preaching to the multitudes, and come to them. Can you imagine this? His family (who just earlier in the chapter said that he was crazy - v. 21, see the margin) interrupting the pure words of God! They knew not what they did. Thus Christ asks, "Who is my mother? or my brethren" (Mark 3:33)? Would not this be dishonoring to the woman who bore you?! And thus was fulfilled the scripture, "Who [Levi] said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant" (Deut. 33:9). This is precisely what Christ did - he did not acknowledge his own mother or brethren, but rather acknowledged those about him who were hearing the word of God and doing his will.
Reckless abandon: this is the way in which we must follow God, there is no other way. God will not have half of our hearts, or allow us to serve him according to our own way that seems right in our eyes. Because this is what God requires from ALL of his disciples - not one excepted - often times he will cross us in the most inopportune times and in the most painful, searching ways. Have you made excuses to the Lord when he called? When he told you to leave parents, home, friends, plans - what did you say?
Dr. Vlado Fajfr was a preacher in Czechoslovakia during Nazi Germany as well as under the iron curtain of Communism's rule in Czechoslovakia, post WWII. He was beaten, put in prison, separated from loved ones, interrogated – he was, in essence, a persecuted saint of God. Thus he knew things of Christianity that many in the easy West have no clue about, and, consequentially, we are offended at the ways of Christ on every hand. Listen to the testimonies from the children in the youth meetings they were having in Communist Usti:
" Often in the youth meetings the young people made tearful requests. “Please pray for me. My parents have forbidden me to come. They think I am at my ballet class, but I can't stay away from the youth meeting,” one young girl said.
I need wisdom to know what to do,” another added. “My parents are upset with me because they want me to go to the university. Now that I am a Christian, it is obvious I won't be allowed to go. I wanted to be a teacher, but it's not possible now. Perhaps I can find work on the railroad.”
“I won't be here next week. My parents told me if I continued to come, I would have to leave home. I have nowhere to go,” exclaimed one.
Despite persecution of the young people, they attended the meetings in greater numbers. " (“I Will Fear No Evil” pg. 115).
“Doth this offend you?” (John 6:61).
On the other hand, you have one of the foremost leaders of conservative, Christian America, Bill Gothard, that teaches the opposite. Sad to say that such a man as he should err in such a grievous way; seemingly disregarding such a prominent doctrine (as was just laid out very briefly in the few foregoing paragraphs) when he states in his Basic Seminar that a converted daughter should obey her unconverted father's will even when it is contrary to the will of God. This doctrine, which is an affront to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ, has spread like a pinch of leaven abroad among the conservative, home-schooled, Christian America; consequentially, there are doubtless multitudes of children held in bondage to the will of their fallen head, because they think this is honoring to a holy God! Lord, have mercy! Does this mean forsake longsuffering, patience, waiting upon God, etc. Absolutely not! Nevertheless, this is not the hand on which conservative Christian America is erring. They are erring in coming dangerously close to holding hands with the antichrist and parlaying with the devil - all under the guise of biblical subjection! God, raise up more men and women with the heart of C.T. Studd! Who of you can sing with a good conscience, "Though none go with me, still I will follow!"?
Very fitting testimony from the Church of Wells:
"The Testimonies of Francis Florentino - The Reconciliation of a Former Persecutor Turned Friend"
"Setting the Captives Free: The Testimony of Badriyyah Florentino's Refusal to Deny Jesus Christ"
This is of the utmost importance for you because the scripture teaches, in no uncertain terms, "Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (II Pet. 2:19). That is to say that you will most certainly follow the course of the man that you choose to subject yourself to spiritually, whether that be in a course of righteousness unto salvation, or of defection unto damnation. God have mercy on you, my reader, in this darkened generation we are living in, when, "The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge" (Mic.7:4). O! how, like Peter, I would like to, with many other words, testify and exhort you to save yourselves from this untoward generation (Acts 2:40), but time does not permit me! I implore you, with all that in me is, to please listen, watch and read the attachments in this post, and may God grant you much understanding and clarity in these precious, saving, God-honoring truths. Amen!
Another related sermon on this topic:
Praying For the Peace of Jerusalem and All of God's Remnant,