According to Scripture, those who call themselves “the church” fall into three basic categories: 1) Those who claim to be God’s people but refuse to obey Him, thereby excluding themselves from His true church, 2) those who are part of His true church but who refuse to obey Him, and 3) those who prove that they are His true church by obeying Him. The first group is comprised of the Institutional Church which rejects most of His Word outright. Having never heard His Truth they are governed strictly by the commandments of religious men (Mk. 7:7). This highly religious group, known as Catholics and Protestants, numbers over two billion at the present time. The second group know and claim to believe God’s Word but have found a “better way” to serve Him. These are Biblical tares among the wheat and goats among the sheep (Rev. 3:14-17). The third group is comprised of those who know, believe and obey God’s Word (Mat. 12:48-50). These are they whom Jesus calls His “little flock” (Lk. 12:32) who have entered His strait gate and are walking His narrow way (Mat. 7:13,14) by obeying the words and writings of His original tiny flock–His prophets and apostles. It is to this group that the following postings are written. Those in groups one and two must follow the same rules of behavior should they decide to embrace the Biblical God and His Christ. Sadly, the Lord tells us that only a “few” of them will “find” His strait gate, “strive” to enter it and walk His narrow path to salvation. There would be “many,” He said, would “enter into” Satan’s wide gate and walk his broad path to destruction.
In Luke 14:26-28 we find Jesus preparing the hearts of all who would thereafter follow Him by knowingly and willingly entering His strait gate and walking His narrow way until “the end” (Mat. 10:22). Only those who do so, Jesus noted, will receive eternal life. Note that in the Luke 14 passage He is speaking to “ANY MAN,” then and now, not just to His original apostles. “If any man comes to Me and does not hate (value less by comparison) his father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, and even His own life, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE (one who obeys the teaching of another). And whoever does not bear his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.” Jesus goes on to say that before making this life and death decision, one must “count the cost” of doing so. The remainder of this series involves cost counting in this life and how it relates to the next life. As we enter into this very important subject let us remember that we are studying the Words of the Lord Himself, Words that must be believed and obeyed in order to reap the rewards of discipleship. There are no exceptions. No amount of religiosity will substitute for strict obedience to God’s Holy Word. Jesus, Who Himself had to qualify for His appointed Messiahship, tells “any man” how to qualify to be His disciple (spiritual brother) in Matthew 12:46-50.
Here we find Him speaking inside a house when his mother and His siblings came to Him secretly. They were ashamed of Him and did not want to publically associate with Him. Trying to remain anonymous, they asked a man to go inside the house and tell Jesus that His mother and brethren were outside wanting to speak with Him privately. Jesus asked the man the ultimate question: “Who are My mother and My brethren?” Notice in verses 49,50 that He did not mention His physical relationship with them. As we will see, His physical relatives meant no more to Him than strangers. Pointing His finger at His disciples, he said: “Behold My mother and My brethren. For WHOSOEVER will do the will of (obey) My Father in heaven is My (spiritual) brother, sister and mother.” That those outside were His blood relatives was irrelevant. He operated only in the spiritual realm when it came to relationships. Here He is telling us that it is the condition of one’s spirit/mind/heart that determines one’s relationship with the Father. Blood relationships mean nothing to Him, which introduces us to the remainder of this series. L.J.