Following the Narrow Way to the Glory of God

Following the Narrow Way to the Glory of God

“If I am to be a Christian, what does the Lord require of me?” The answer to this important question ought to be thoroughly understood by both the unsaved hearing the Gospel and those calling themselves Christians. Although work-righteousness (the attempt to get to heaven based on one’s good works) will never result in salvation, when sharing the Gospel, Christians often gloss over how one must be ready to yield to the change God requires in a saved person’s life. Certainly the opportunity to not only have all of one’s sins entirely paid for, but also to gain direct access to the Creator of the Universe is the ultimate of privileges ever made available to mankind. However, the importance of counting the cost (i.e. the cost of surrendering to God’s Will for one’s life) prior to a profession of faith in Christ must not be overlooked, especially in light of the following Scripture passages:

“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Luke 14:2-28

Jesus also stated that “….No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:26

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26

It is surely evident from these passages that careful consideration should be made prior to following Christ. In order to convey this important understanding to the readers, the title of this article and this site’s (Surrenderedlife.com) domain name (web address) were intentionally selected.

The Christian life is to be one of TOTAL surrender to Christ, both because Christ is everything to us, and also because we are now under His ownership!

The idea of “denying” one’s own selfish desires while striving to follow the Saviour in whole-hearted obedience may seem a rather difficult concept for most lost people to accept. This is, however, precisely what Christ requires and has commanded in His Word: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. Everything we own, every goal or ambition, and everyone whom we hold dear within our hearts must be laid in surrender at the feet of Christ. Once we have surrendered our life to Christ, we have forfeited any perceived ownership of our life and now do not have the right to dictate the terms and conditions. We have become the servant of a wonderful and perfect Master and we have the joy and privilege of obeying Him on His terms and conditions, remembering that He loves us and knows what is best for us!

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  1Co 6:19 -20

In addition to the change of ownership, the Christian is promised persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12.  Persecution of the Christian has a purification effect. It can act as a test of allegiance to God for the person who professes faith in Christ. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 1:7 This is an important aspect that should be considered in “counting the cost”, while bearing in mind that persecution does lead to the “storing up of riches” in heaven. “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23

Based then on the understanding that there is indeed a cost involved with following Christ, what then ought to be the motivating factor that causes the sinner to bow the knee to Christ and obey such commands? In conjunction with the work of God on the sinner’s heart through the hearing of the Gospel, the key to this motivation can be summed up by one word – “Gratitude”. When a sinner is confronted with and reaches an understanding of the true magnitude of their sinfulness and the fact that if God were to leave them in that state i.e. alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works” (Colossians 1:23), and that they would inevitably receive their just reward – eternity in everlasting torment – in the place (so many Christians unfortunately seem afraid to mention) called Hell, what more motivation does the sinner need?

This understanding is gained through comparison of one’s life to the ultimate standard…“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16. The standard by which God sees a person having only told one lie, as a liar, one item being stolen to be a thief, and one lustful thought as adultery of the heart  (Matthew 5:28) should be very sobering. Combine this with the fact that “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36), and that on Judgment Day God is not going to compare our lives to those with whom we have lived, worked with, or even the worst criminal in society. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10. Comparison will be made to the perfect standard – the Holy Creator of Universe.  Any honest person who grasps the magnitude of their sinfulness will recognize that they in and of themselves do not possess any way of escaping the Divine Wrath that is their just desert “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

When the sinner has gained an accurate and Biblical understanding, and grasped the depravity of his/her heart, the process of coming to terms with the ultimate expression of kindness demonstrated 2000 years ago on an old rugged cross, during which God of the Universe suffered a cruel death, taking on Himself every kind of sin imaginable for such undeserving wretches, this should drive one to their knees in sincere gratitude. This expression of gratitude is not a fleeting event but should continue past the point of Salvation and even increase as the relationship with God deepens.  Through the diligent study of the Word of God and faithfulness in prayer, Christ reveals Himself, causing the Christian to cherish the Saviour above all else that the world has to offer. The Christian’s life should be solely driven by a passion to know and please Christ.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” Philippians 3:8

So then, why do many in the “church” appear to live like people in the world? In fact, it has often been said by those that are outside of the Christian faith that there are so many ‘hypocrites’ in the church today. Although this statement is unfortunately true, it is not an indictment on the true church of God. Many of these ‘hypocrites’ are actually lost and heading to hell. Although disappointing, this fact should not be surprising. Jesus warned numerous times that there would be pretenders amongst the true followers. They were illustrated in parables as: sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:33), wheat and tares (Matthew 13:38-40), good fish/bad fish (Matthew 13:47-50), wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), even wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). The fruit of a person’s life is pointed to by Jesus as being an effective indication of whether or not a person is indeed a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and not simply a “pretender”. Jesus also warned that “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matthew 7:13) and that “…strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14). What a fearful thing to approach Judgement Day under the belief salvation is yours, to discover on that day that you’re in fact lost, and now headed to eternal torture with no possible recourse.

These verses ought serve a warning to the “hypocrites” mentioned above who exhibit “a form of godliness” but in actual fact deny “the power thereof” 2 Timothy 3:5. They say “…yes I’m a Christian”, but then through their lifestyle, they deny the power of God in changing a person’s life to conform to His Word and Will.   They adopt a careless attitude toward sin, thinking that because they prayed a prayer one time, they’ll have nothing to fear on Judgment Day. They then live a life marked by the arm of the flesh being extended to the nth degree (nth being that unknown number), while at the same time attempting to remain on the safe side of some imaginary line that they can supposedly retain their “saved” status and still be called a Christian.

Jesus clearly warns that “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22-23. Although man can be fooled at times, God is not fooled or mocked by such foolishness: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” Galatians 6:7.  On Judgment Day, Christ will not be deceived by our ability to use “churchified” language and the ability to say all the right things in an attempt to sound spiritual. He will be looking at our heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  The Christian life should be synonymous with having a Surrendered Life. Becoming a Christian is not simply a lifestyle adjustment that encompasses the concepts that I express and language I shun, works I carry out and activities I forsake (while at the same time I’m still the master of my life). No, in contrast, the Christian is one who gives their life to the Saviour to be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2), a sacrifice whose will has been totally submitted to the Will of another. It has been said that the degree to which we surrender our lives will be the degree to which we will be used by God, and the degree to which we refrain from surrendering, will be the degree to which we limit the work of God through our lives.

Those who profess to follow Christ should, by the Biblical definition, have a life that is characterized by a turning away from sin, and be in a continual process of laying down their own wants and fleshly desires. There is no place for half heartedness and compromise. On what basis can Christ require such obedience of the Christian? As previously stated, it is due to the fact that if we are truly saved, we do not possess ownership of ourselves. We, through the death of the Son of God, have been bought with His blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Those considering becoming Christians must BEWARE: If you, dear friend, become a Christian, you are coming under the authority/ownership of a new Master. You will no longer have the right to follow whatever your sinful heart desires (nor will you want to). Yes, the Christian will be waging a constant battle against the flesh, and may at times fall into sin, but the Christian does not continue to play the “hypocrite” and continue to revel in the sin. The thought of displeasing his Master deeply grieves the Christian, and causes him to fall on his knees in repentance. If continued disobedience occurs in one of God’s children, then he promises to discipline his disobedient child, bringing them back into line (Hebrews 12:6-7). In fact, if no disciplining occurs despite a person’s disobedience to God’s Word, then this may be a sign that the person is in fact not a child of God.

Now, it should be pointed out that living a separated life for any purpose other than for obedience to and the glorification of Christ is of little or no eternal value unless we are separated unto Christ, no matter how admirable it may seem.

“For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” Rom 14:7 -8

So, if you are yet to bow your knee to Christ and become a Christian, please first seriously count the cost of being a disciple, and evaluate whether or not you are prepared to have your whole life changed, and suffer the promised persecution. This is in no way intended to de-motivate you in your desire to know and be in right relationship with the Creator of the Universe. As previously stated, having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe can be considered the ultimate of privileges ever made available to mankind, and should be joyfully and gratefully received! The purpose of this article is purely intended to insure that you don’t come to Christ based on the wrong motives. If you would like to be shown the “plan of salvation” please complete the “Good Person Test”. Also feel free to contact us; we’d love to talk to you more about your thoughts and concerns.

If you consider yourself a Christian, firstly, please let this article be an encouragement to examine your own life to insure that you are in the faith “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5), and secondly to make certain that Christ is your central focus and “first love” (Revelation 2:4), remembering that He should be the “Preeminent One” and not just “prominent”. Psalm 42:1-2 should be an effective description of our thirst to know more of God. Adopting such an approach should naturally result in living the surrendered life which the Scriptures require.

Please note that this article is in no way intended as a suggestion that the author of this article has arrived at perfection. On the contrary, the more this author studies the Scripture, and learns of the holiness and perfection of his Saviour, the more he realizes his deep need of Christ’s help to continue be conformed to His image. This lack of perfection on the part of the author does in no way dismiss the high standard required by Scripture, but confirms the words spoken by Jesus in John 15:5  “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Praise be unto God for his amazing patience which He demonstrates towards His children in that He continues to work in and through them. May Christ receive all the glory for all His suffering!

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” Phil. 2:12-15

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