by Mike Ratliff
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 ESV)
One of the most tragic aspects of the growing apostasy of the Church, with its roots in Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, is the viewing of salvation as “easy” or something that can be planned or manipulated by men. Along with this, those who are its proponents must necessarily view God as somewhat less than Sovereign. They also do not teach that those who come to Jesus must necessarily become subject to the Lordship of Christ. What did Jesus say about this?
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:21-26 ESV)
Our salvation was costly to our Lord. First He had to become a Man, live a perfect, sinless life, suffer many things, be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, be killed by crucifixion, and on the third day be raised from the dead. After telling His disciples this, He then tells them that all who follow Him as His disciples must deny themselves, take up their own cross daily and follow Him.
The word “come” from v23 is in Aorist tense, Infinitive mood, and Active voice. This means that the coming after Jesus is a punctiliar action. It is done once and it is done. Interestingly, the word “deny” from the same verse is Aorist tense, Imperative mood, and Passive voice. This means that it is a command to do something immediately, at that very moment. The word “take up” is also in Aorist, Imperative, but the voice is Active. Again, this is a command for something to be done immediately. The word “daily” is actually two Greek words that when put together this way simply means “every day.” However, the word “follow” that our Lord used in this verse refers to going with another within a spiritual or moral relationship in obedience and service. It does not mean a temporary or occasional relationship or one that can be terminated. This is a permanent relationship. The verb structure here is Present tense, Imperative mood, and Active voice. This means that this is a command by our Lord to His disciples to follow Him with continuous or repeated action.
I believe that our Lord is describing here what those whom He saves will actually do. They will come to Him once, and never leave. They will take up their crosses and deny themselves everyday. They will also be marked by their faithfulness. They will follow their lord continually. This does not mean they are perfect or that they don’t stumble and fall, but those who are genuine will repent and move forward with their Lord.. All of these verbs except “come” are commands. Those who come to Jesus obey His commands because He is Lord. Those who are genuine believers lose their lives by dying to self for Jesus sake. Those that do this have eternal life. Those who want a relationship with our Lord that they can walk away from when it is inconvenient are actually ashamed of the Son of Man. They show their disingenuousness by doing this. Since they have no part with our Lord they also will forfeit themselves eternally.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 ESV)
In this passage our Lord shows us that the “coming to Jesus” that is punctiliar, once and done, is not something that can be done casually. It can’t be conditional or on the terms of the person. It is unconditional and on our Lord’s terms. Those who are truly saved come to Him and are New Creations who do not look back to the world or anything else as more desirable than eternal life with Him.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)
I remember when I was about 8 or 9 that our church bulletin one Sunday Morning had a picture on the front showing a road with an innumerable number of people on it. It divided into two roads, one narrow and the other broad. The broad way had saloons and movie houses and mansions and all sorts of worldly things on it. Most people went that way. The other way was called the Narrow Way and had churches lining both sides of it. Only a few went that way. That picture has stuck with me for nearly 50 years now. However, I believe that it is not entirely accurate. I contend that there are many people who think they are on the narrow way that leads to life because they are religious. However, they have been sold a bill of goods. Jesus said that the way that leads to life is hard and the gate to it is narrow and that few find it. The description He gave us earlier about denying self, taking up our crosses and following Him as a way of life is this narrow way that few find.
I’m sure we all know someone who thinks that he or she is a Christian because of their religiosity; however, their lifestyle does not bear the marks of authenticity. What must we do? We must pray for them and share the truth with them as the Lord leads. We are fast approaching a point of no return. Our Lord is returning soon. We must put our own houses in order. We must be right with Him by denying our selves and taking up our crosses daily and following Him. We must live this way and let the Holy Spirit use our walks, our living testimony, as a witness to those lost people all around us. Along with that, we must be ready to give an account of God’s grace and His working in us. I deeply desire the salvation of many of my friends and coworkers who know not our Lord, but I also have an even deeper desire to be with Him. His will be done. Soli Deo Gloria!