Calvary Road Baptist Church


Luke 14.26


Ever wonder why some people are not saved when they seemingly come to Christ? Ever wonder why, when the explicit instructions given to sinners seem to be so simple, that so many who express a desire to be saved from their sins end up remaining lost?

While it is not at all necessary for a sinner to be a rocket scientist in order to be saved from his sins, it is both important and necessary that a sinner be thoughtful in order to be saved from his sins. Isaiah 1.18 (“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”) shows that an unreasonable and an unreasoning sinner’s sins will not be forgiven him. Isaiah 1.18 does not suggest that God requires you to be well educated. Isaiah 1.18 does not suggest that God requires you to be an intellectual. However, Isaiah 1.18 does clearly show that when a sinner does business with God concerning important spiritual issues, God does require that you bring to bear the faculties of your mind. You do have to think.

It would stand to reason, then, that when a sinner comes to Christ, he must be a sinner who is thinking. He need not be smart. He need not be educated. He need not be sophisticated. Such characteristics might even sometimes be liabilities, since they may foster pride. However, the sinner must at that time be thinking. Are you willing to spend the next few minutes thinking about issues related to the salvation of your eternal and undying soul? It is perfectly reasonable that since God’s holiness is one of His most prominent and active attributes it would display itself by moving against sin, especially against sins committed against His august and glorious person. It is also perfectly reasonable that God’s long-suffering willingness to stay the execution of His punishment of sin can be understood in the light of Him receiving the greatest possible glory.

Thus, God is glorified when sinners are rightly punished for their sins by an outpouring of God’s wrath. However, He is more greatly glorified when sinners are delivered from His wrath by the saving work of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. In dying on the cross for sinners, being buried, rising from the dead in demonstrable victory over sin, death, Hell, and the grave, and ascending to His Father’s right hand in glory until His enemies are made His footstool, Jesus greatly glorifies His Father. To restate the matter more concisely, God will be glorified by your just punishment of eternal torment in the lake of fire for the high crimes you have committed against Him by your sins. However, He will be more wonderfully glorified by your salvation from His wrath on the basis of the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for your sins on the cross of Calvary.

Your reception of the Lord Jesus Christ’s salvation is accomplished by means of faith. Faith has always been the means by which God has worked in the lives of His children. Abraham was saved through faith.[1] David was saved through faith.[2] Gentiles are saved through faith.[3] The fact of the matter is that all of God’s gracious saving dealings with sinners are by means of faith.[4] If that be the case, and if salvation is by grace through faith, why is it that we so frequently discover that sinners who thought they had the salvation Jesus provides through faith were not, in fact, saved at all? That is a valid and important question.

Three considerations to help you see this matter more clearly in order to answer that important question:




In Matthew 11.28, we are told what the Lord Jesus Christ said to a multitude of people:


“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”


It should be observed that the call was narrow in its scope. When the Lord Jesus Christ cried out to the multitude and said, “Come unto me,” He was not urging everyone who heard Him to come to Him. He qualifies His call by narrowing its scope to those who were laboring and heavy laden. This greatly parallels what the Lord Jesus Christ said in the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem on one occasion. Listen carefully to what He said in John 7.37: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Does He suggest that everyone who heard Him come to Him and drink? Not at all. His challenge was directed only to those who thirsted. In like manner, Matthew 11.28 is not a call to everyone to come to Him, but is rather a call to anyone who labors and is heavy laden by his sins.

So, you see, the call sent forth by Jesus was restricted in its implication. I submit to you that many sinners respond to the call to come to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. However, those who responded as I once responded, without any awareness of sins, without laboring under the load of my sins, without being weighed down by the guilt of my sins, are perhaps emotionally or even physically coming to Jesus, but are not spiritually coming to Him as an act of faith. You see, faith is the right conclusion drawn from the evidence that is presented about Jesus. It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Hebrews 11.1. However, if that individual sinner has no awareness of his own sinfulness, no consciousness of his condemnation in the sight of God, he cannot see Jesus for who He is, the savior of sinful men’s souls. After all, the angel said, “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” Matthew 1.21. As well, Jesus Himself said that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19.10. Therefore, many who think they have come to Christ, only to later discover they are still unsaved, are sinners who had no appreciation of their sinfulness and real need of a savior. They may have been heartbroken and felt thoroughly crushed, but such feelings do not always constitute conviction of sin. Sometimes heartfelt tears and a torrent of emotion results as much from frustration due to circumstances as the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. So you see, saving faith is not only about Jesus as the Object of one’s faith, the savior of sinful men’s souls. It also accepts and embraces the reality of that sinner being in desperate need of saving, which is evidenced by laboring and being heavy laden.




Many of you are familiar with Matthew 19.16, in which the rich young ruler ran through a crowd of people to Jesus, kneeled before Him, and said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” As well, you are aware that when the young man left Christ’s company, after a brief conversation with the Lord, he was still lost, even though by all appearances He had complied with the requirement that he come to Christ.

A careful consideration of the details provided for us in the gospel accounts reveals two things about that young man:

First, there was a misapprehension of Christ’s nature. We know this to be the case because the Lord Jesus Christ challenged the young ruler on precisely that point. “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” The young man did not recognize that Jesus is God. Sometimes it appears that sinners come to Christ, when in fact they embrace someone who is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible, but someone else entirely. Just as that rich young ruler physically approached the Lord Jesus Christ without grasping the essence of His divine nature, so there are many these days who think they are responding to the gospel, but are instead coming to another christ altogether. My friend, you do not have to know everything the Bible shows about the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. However, it must be Him, the savior revealed in the Bible that you come to and not another, in order to be saved.

As well, there was a misapprehension of his own sinful nature. We recognize this from the young man’s own words: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” He did not recognize that he could not save himself. “What good thing shall I do”? This young man was not looking for a savior, but a coach. He did not see himself as a helpless and hopeless sinner, but as someone who was thoroughly competent, but ignorant and in need of instruction. Jesus clearly declared that He had come to seek and to save that which was lost, yet this fellow does not see himself as lost. The angel told Joseph that Jesus would save His people from their sins, but that is not what this man wants at all. He only wants help. Therefore, many who seem to come to Jesus actually come to someone, but he is not Jesus. Still others, come, but not as sinners who are lost and in need of salvation. They think they only need a bit of help. Do you not recognize that only the Jesus of the Bible is the proper Object of faith, and real faith trusts Jesus to do all the saving. So, this second point, with the rich young ruler, is not an example of coming to Jesus. Perhaps this is a case you are familiar with, when someone does not actually come to the Jesus of the Bible, #1, or does not seek salvation, but help, #2. In either case, the sinner obviously remains lost.




Turn to Luke 14.25. When you find that verse, please stand and read through verse 27 with me:


25     And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,

26     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.

27     And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.


Three explanations are necessary to ensure a proper understanding of this passage:

First, what does Jesus mean by hate? It must be understood, in light of Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself, what He means by hating your father, your mother, your wife, your children, your brethren, and your sisters.[5] The Lord Jesus Christ obviously did not intend for His followers to literally hate their family members while literally loving their next-door neighbors. What is meant by our Lord’s terminology is that He is to have first place over all, including family. Some of you know what it is like to have unsaved family members who constantly tug at your heart strings when they schedule all family functions on Saturday nights, or Sundays, and erupt with indignation when you choose service to Christ over a birthday party, an anniversary celebration, or a supposed family time.[6] It is when such things as these occur that family members will think, and may even accuse you, of hating them. They will almost certainly challenge your love for them. It is not that you hate them, so much as you now have a savior who means more to you than they ever will mean to you. After all, your mother did not die on the cross for you, did she? Oh, what venom and acrimony spews forth from the mouths of unsaved family members when you dare to demonstrate a greater allegiance for Jesus than for them. However, if you do not demonstrate the allegiance Jesus demands, you deny showing your family members that there is a savior who is worthy. Notice Matthew’s account of this same event, in Matthew 10.32-37:


32     Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33     But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

34     Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35     For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36     And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37     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.


It is obvious that Jesus does not mean hatred toward family members in our modern sense. Rather, He refers to preference for Him over family members. Will it create conflict? Matthew 10.34-36 clearly shows that conflict is the predictable and typically unavoidable consequence of Christ’s ministry in the families of His disciples. Thankfully, the angry responses of our unsaved family members sometimes gives way over time to a new appreciation of the savior. In most cases, a new relationship with family members is hammered out, and sometimes those family members end up coming to Christ. They may never rejoice in your love for your savior, but they will come to understand that you do not really hate them.

Second, what relation does this have with the Law of Moses? There is no possible way to understand the implications of preferring Jesus over your mother, your father, or other members of your family, unless you keep in mind what the Law of Moses righteously demands. Consider the first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Since Jesus is God, to prefer any member of your family before Him is to violate the very first commandment. That is not good. To be sure, the fifth commandment says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” However, there is no conflict between the first and the fifth commandment. Jesus takes precedence over your family. My friends, the only reason anyone might object to Jesus taking precedence over your family members is if they do not acknowledge in their hearts and minds that Jesus Christ is God. As well, that so-called Christian who does not prefer the savior over family is actually denying Him before men. Therefore, you show your loved ones the preeminence of Christ by your willingness to prefer Him to them. Think of it as a process of training your loved ones so they will gradually come to accept the new order, the right set of priorities.

Finally, what is meant by cross bearing? It is frequently overlooked in our modern era that faith does not stop with a decision for Jesus Christ; it commences a life of discipleship. Thus, coming to Christ is a step of obedient faith that is only the first step of a lifetime of faithful obedience as a disciple of Jesus Christ. As the Lord Jesus Christ bore His cross to Calvary, so His plan for each of His disciples is for us to bear our own unique cross in our lives. The implications of this cross bearing are shown in verse 27, where Jesus said, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” This shows continuance and perseverance in one’s relationship to Jesus Christ. It is so much more than a decision for Christ that shows nothing afterwards. It is a coming to Christ that results in a coming after Him. This explains so many who seem to come to Christ, or who think they have come to Christ, but without a real and convincing transformation taking place. There was little thought to the implications. This means Jesus over family, Jesus over loved ones, Jesus over all. This is because Jesus, as God, occupies first place in the lives of His creatures who know Him in a saving way. It also means that Christianity is so much more than a single decision for Christ; it is coming after Him while bearing your cross as much as it is coming to Him.


The implications of coming to Christ are staggering, are they not? Yet, when a person sits under gospel preaching, or is witnessed to, the faith that comes from God, that is based upon Bible truth, and that results in coming to Jesus in a saving way, is a faith used by God to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Jesus.

For example, I was not thinking of my family when I came to Christ. They were a thousand miles away. However, had they been on my mind, it would have been necessary for me to consciously choose Jesus over family. And if my family had proved to be more important to me than Jesus? It would have shown that my faith was not genuine.

So you see, coming to Jesus is simple. Salvation is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to God’s mercy. In mercy, God puts us in the place where we hear God’s Word as a means of imparting faith to us. By means of that faith, we come to Jesus Christ and are saved from our sins.

If it turns out that the sinner was not actually saved, does not prefer Jesus over immediate family members, and such as that, it is because the sinner did not really come to Jesus. He did not have saving faith, as evidenced by some misapprehension of his own sinfulness, or he did not have the proper Object of faith, as evidenced by him coming to a false christ who is not the Christ described in God’s Word.

Sometimes a sinner is disheartened because the whole matter seems terribly complicated. I understand your frustration. Just keep in mind that the complications are not God’s doing. The gospel is simple. Jesus saves sinners who come to Him. What is complicated is the blindness of the sinner and the confusion introduced by the false christs that Jesus predicted.

Seek the Lord while He may be found. Know that the only true savior is the savior who needs no sinner’s help to save him, but who has already accomplished everything necessary to procure your salvation. Come to Him by faith alone and He will save you and keep you.

[1] Genesis 15.5, Romans 4.1-5, Galatians 3.6

[2] Romans 4.6-8

[3] Ephesians 2.8-9

[4] Habakkuk 2.4; Romans 1.17, Galatians 3.11, Hebrews 10.38

[5] Matthew 22.36-40

[6] Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 2: 9:51-24:53, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), page 1284.

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