So what did Jesus teach concerning following Him? In the fourteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel account, Jesus told a large crowd of prospective followers what it would take to become His disciples. He certainly was not emulating the attractional, ear-tickling models of the modern church:
“Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:25-35)
There is a lot here. First of all, Jesus commands total allegiance. Nothing is sacred: your family, your comfort, your possessions, even your life! He demands it ALL! He likewise wants His followers to persevere to the end. He demands that we count the cost. No half-way or fair weather followers. He only wants followers who will follow for better or for worse.
Next, He tells an interesting story about a king who is at odds with a much more powerful king. I want to share some vital insight from this brief parable. The logical course of action in this scenario is to pursue terms of peace. That is unless you prefer certain destruction. Well, this matches our predicament with God quite strikingly. In our sin, we are enemies of God, lovers of self, the world, and Satan’s allures, and our flesh is “king.” We are pitted against insurmountable odds facing off against an omnipotent King. However, reality differs from the story just a bit—the powerful King has extended peace terms to us, rather than the other way around. We simply need to accept His terms and live at peace with Him.
You see, when the weaker force faces certain destruction, they have no bargaining chips. The powerful King sets the terms. God’s terms are He will set us free from Sin and Death and empower us to walk in freedom from sin. We just need to surrender everything unconditionally and obey Him hence forth. Compliance leads to eternal life; failure to comply leads to Hell.
However, this is where it gets interesting, because the reformers did not accept His terms, but rather established terms of their own. Reformed theology goes something like this: we will accept His pardon, but we can not (and will not have to) obey His commands or necessarily surrender our lives to the King. What folly!
Throughout history, when people are subdued in battle, they are enslaved, their possessions are looted, and they are lucky if they keep their lives. Yet some think they can surrender to God and set their own terms of peace. All this while He has offered us peace with very clear, and I will say, very agreeable terms. God is not a tyrant, but He can (and will) subdue us either way. Yet He is offering us the choice to surrender voluntarily and be adopted as sons, or be subdued involuntarily and be punished as enemies of His Kingdom. Unfortunately, many haven’t a clue what the terms of peace are, because false “terms” are promulgated by false messengers, as if they themselves were sent from the King’s court. Yet all the while the King’s true messengers have disseminated His true terms for all to see in the Holy Scriptures.
In the final verse of this passage, Jesus goes on to describe salt that loses its flavor. If Christians are salt and light, and some can lose their flavor, and it is called useless and to be thrown out, clearly this is reference to someone losing their salvation. I don’t know how one could conclude otherwise.
– Marc Carrier