Lesson 13 March 22-28
Read for This Week’s Study: Luke 12:49-53; Deut. 21:15; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Matt. 18:8-9; John 14:1-3; Heb. 11:32-12:4.
Memory Text: Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:7, ESV)
Throughout history, nameless millions willingly sacrificed their lives for Christ. They were imprisoned, tortured, even executed. Millions have foregone employment, suffered ridicule, endured expulsion from family, and persevered through religious persecution rather than forsake Christ. Only God knows the full extent of the suffering that His faithful ones have endured.
Of course, Paul forewarned,
Indeed, all who desire
to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2
Tim. 3:12, ESV). And Peter said:
For to this you have been
called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example,
so that you might follow in his steps (1
Pet. 2:21, ESV).
Despite the promises of the so-called
preachers, luxurious automobiles and financial gain are not automatic
embellishments afforded to believers.
In the end, we can be sure that whatever the cost of discipleship is, considering the ultimate reward, that cost is cheap enough.
Sunday March 23
Study Luke 12:49-53; 14:25-26; Matthew 10:37. In what way are we to understand these strong words? What is Jesus telling us here?
Modern television newscasters would have concocted a prominent
scandal from these words.
Today, celebrated religious leader
Jesus of Nazareth advocated familial hatred during His afternoon
address. Analysts are comparing these current pronouncements with
previously released statements that promoted loving relationships with
neighbors and enemies. Informed commentators
wonder if this indicates recent policy shifts. Other unconfirmed
quotations suggest selling everything and turning the proceeds over to
the Jesus movement. Stay tuned for further developments.
A closer study of the Bible and the way in which the word hate
is used helps to clarify what Jesus meant. Deuteronomy 21:15 contains
Mosaic legislation regarding men with multiple wives. The King James
Version, following the natural sense, translates thus:
beloved and another hated, concerning those wives. Moses'
point is that if the husband favors one wife above others, he cannot
deprive those less favored. The New Revised Standard Version
and Modern Language Bible change the terminology
rendering beloved with loved and hated with disliked. The Tanakh
(Jewish Bible) and the New American Standard Bible
(Protestant) settle on loved and unloved.
Clearly, the intended understanding was relative affection. Hatred
in this context may indicate
loving less. Matthew
10:37, the parallel passage, certainly lends credibility to this
Jesus' point is simple yet full of deep implications. Whenever family receives precedence and Christ becomes secondary, Jesus relinquishes lordship. Serving multiple masters is impossible. Christ certainly supported strong family connections. Such connections, however, receive strength from unshakable foundations. That foundation means loving God unreservedly, first and foremost. God disallows every barrier, interruption, or distraction. Discipleship exacts the supreme price: undivided loyalty to Christ.
How do we, on a daily, practical level, put Christ before everyone, including family? What does it mean to do just that, and what could be some of the consequences?
Monday March 24
And whosoever doth
not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).
Discipleship means accepting Christ as Savior and Lord. Following Jesus means that you are ready to undergo the same suffering that Christ did. Thus, we must be honest in the way in which we present our message. Certainly the glorious truths of righteousness by faith, Christ’s forgiveness, Jesus' imminent return, heaven’s incomparable wonders, and God’s unmerited grace should be taught.
But should believers desire to proclaim God’s
complete message, they cannot overlook cross-bearing. Sadly, some
believers erroneously think that preaching any message whereby human
beings are called into action is legalistic.
Divine grace has
accomplished all, they proudly exclaim,
human race does nothing except receive it. Jesus, however,
Read Matthew 16:21-25; Luke 21:12-19; John 15:17-20; 16:1-2. What should we take away from these texts about the cost of following Jesus?
Before baptism, every candidate should understand that Christ Himself has assigned him or her a cross, without which they absolutely cannot become His disciple. Does this dampen the joy of conversion? Would unrealistically promising them carefree lives somehow increase this joy? Conversion releases believers from the burdens of sin, not from the responsibilities of discipleship. By taking the name of Christ and by publicly revealing that choice through baptism, every believer must be aware that discipleship comes with a cost. What, though, does this world offer that makes what Christ offers not worth it? Nothing.
When was the last time that you took up your cross? What was the experience like? What did you learn from it that could help someone else struggling with a similar challenge?
Tuesday March 25
Analyze the following passages: Luke 14:31-33, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, Heb. 12:1-4, 2 Pet. 1:5-11. What are these texts telling us about the life of a disciple? How have you, yourself, experienced the reality of what the Bible tells us here?
The cost of discipleship involves discipline. Every impulse, every imagination, every ambition, and every desire must be submitted to Christ. Every possession, physical or invisible, every talent and ability, and everything of value must be under Christ’s command. What we don't surrender to Him can, and inevitably will, become an idol, with the potential to lead us astray.
Christ indeed offers us the power to overcome our character defects. Every appetite, emotion, and intellectual inclination can be under the guidance of His Spirit.
Notice the athletic example that Paul used in some of the
texts for today. No athlete conspires to run slower, jump lower, or
throw shorter. No believer should look backwards either, especially
when that which is at stake in the
something that’s eternal, as opposed to whatever prize an
earthly runner might win as a result of all his or her diligent effort
The runners put aside every indulgence that would
tend to weaken the physical powers, and by severe and continuous
discipline trained their muscles to strength and endurance, that when
the day of the contest should arrive, they might put the heaviest tax
upon their powers. How much more important that the Christian, whose
eternal interests are at stake, bring appetite and passion under
subjection to reason and the will of God! Never must he allow his
attention to be diverted by amusements, luxuries, or ease. All his
habits and passions must be brought under the strictest discipline.
Reason, enlightened by the teachings of God’s word and guided
by His Spirit, must hold the reins of control.-Ellen G.
Acts of the Apostles, p. 311.
Wednesday March 26
Corporations explore the viability of proposed projects through cost-benefit analysis. Do specific proposals contain the ingredients necessary for bringing successful returns on investments? Does benefit outweigh outlay? Another frequently used measurement is durability. Does the proposal offer sustainable returns?
The rewards of discipleship may likewise be measured through comparison with costs. Those costs may include emotional suffering, social rejection, physical torture, financial deprivation, imprisonment, and death itself. Everyone who undertakes discipleship should first consider carefully the investments involved.
What do the following texts tell us about some of the costs of discipleship? Matt. 18:8-9, Luke 6:35, Phil. 2:3.
What do the following texts say about the benefits? Luke 18:28-30, John 14:1-3, Rev 22:1-5.
There is no question that the cost of following Jesus can be high, perhaps the costliest thing that anyone can do. Indeed, we should question the reality of our faith and our commitment if following Christ hasn’t cost a lot, maybe even everything.
But one thing is sure: whatever we gain in this life, whatever we accomplish, whatever we make for ourselves, it is only temporary. It is something that will not last. It will vanish and vanish forever.
In contrast, what we gain through Jesus-eternal life in a new heaven and new earth-is by far worth more than anything and everything that this world could ever offer us.
Think through all the pleasures, all the joys and good things of this world here and now. What are they in comparison to eternity with Christ? How can we learn always to keep this contrast before us? Why is it important that we do?
Thursday March 27
Read Hebrews 11:32-12:4. What do these verses say to you, personally, about the cost and the reward of discipleship?
What a powerful concept this passage reveals, especially in
the verse that says:
Women received their dead raised to life
again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might
obtain a better resurrection (Heb.
In a sense, being both a disciple and disciple-maker can be
boiled down to one thing:
a better resurrection. We
follow Christ because we have the promise, the hope, of redemption of a
new life in a new world, one without sin, suffering, and death. At the
same time, because we have been given this hope, this promise-made
certain by the life, death, resurrection, and high-priestly ministry of
Jesus-we seek to point others to the same hope, the same promise. In
the end, before the great controversy is over unless we're alive at the
second coming, we will face either the first resurrection or the second
resurrection with the wicked. We know, for sure, which is the better
one. What else matters other than not only being in that resurrection
ourselves, but doing whatever we can to lead others to it, as well?
The harvest has ripened; millions await the call to
discipleship. We have been blessed not only with the gospel, but the
gospel in the context of the
three angels' messages of Revelation
14, God’s last warning message to the world.
What are we going to do with these truths that we love so much? Thus, we ask: where are the reapers? Where are those willing to come alongside Christ and share the risks? Will you accept God’s invitation not to only be a disciple but to make disciples, regardless of the cost to yourself?
Think through the
implications: the first resurrection, the second resurrection. In light
of these options, what else matters other than being in the
one and helping others to get there too?
Friday March 28
Study: Ellen G. White,
the Regions Beyond, pp. 219, 220;
and Athens, pp. 241, 242; in The Acts of
Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is
broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth.
Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on
fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt
with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are
burned up. Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10. The earth’s surface
seems one molten mass-a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of
the judgment and perdition of ungodly men-
the day of the
Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the
controversy of Zion. Isaiah 34:8.
The wicked receive their recompense in the earth.
Proverbs 11:31. They -Ellen
G. White, The
Great Controversy, pp. 672, 673.
shall be stubble: and the day that
cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts. Malachi
4:1. Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days.
All are punished
according to their deeds.
The old life is left behind, and completely
surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into
a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute
security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus).-Pages 62, 63.
If we would follow Jesus we must take certain
definite steps. The first step, which follows the call, cuts the
disciple off from his previous existence.-Pages 66, 67.
The cross is laid on every Christian. The first
Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon
the attachments of this world. . . . When Christ calls a man, he bids
him come and die.-Page 99.
Some tools lived together in a carpenter’s shop. They were having some problems getting along, and some complained that others were not doing their share of work. They met to discuss their issues.
The Hammer spoke first, for he served as the chairman. “Brother Drill,” he began, “you and your family are so noisy. And you seem to spin in circles, but go nowhere.”
The Drill quickly spoke up. “It’s true that I go around in circles, and my work makes noise. But at least I’m sharp. Pencil is small and often so dull that he makes a bad impression. He needs to be sharpened a bit if he expects to be of any use around here.”
Pencil felt defensive and spoke up. “Yes,” he began, “I a little blunt at times, But it’s because I work hard at my job. At least I’m not rough like Sandpaper here. It seems all he does is rub things the wrong way!”
That remark made Sandpaper really angry. “Hey, what about Ruler here? He measures others by his standards, as though he is the only one right around here.”
Ruler surveyed the group and said, “I’ll go if I have too, but then so must the Screwdriver. He’s so annoying, always tightening here and loosening there.”
Screwdriver angrily spat out, “Fine with me! I’ll go, but Plane must go, too. His work is superficial; there’s no depth to it!” he said.
To this, Plane leveled his terse reply, “Saw’s cuts hurt. She divides instead of unifies.”
Saw rose up to answer these accusations when suddenly a noise at the door stopped all conversation.
The Carpenter walked in, ready to begin the day’s work. He put on His tool belt and stepped to the workbench. He picked up the pencil and ruler. Carefully he measured and marked the wood before him. He sawed along the marks and then planed the cut edges of the wood to smooth the rough edges. He hammered joints into place and drilled holes for screws to make the piece sturdy. Then he sandpapered the wood to a silky smoothness. All day long He worked, using first one tool and then another.
At the end of the day, He gave a hearty blow and blew the dust from the finished product. And then He said, “Beautiful! I couldn’t have done it without my tools. Each one had an important role to play. No one tool could have done all the jobs. They’re all important.”
When we work together, going, praying, and giving, we are the Master’s tools to finish His work.