He who loses his life…
"Has God indeed said…He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matt. 10:39)
When our Lord says things like this, I have, in the past when I have read them, kind of just briefly admired it, and moved right along. I just was not able to grasp His teaching, because I did not want to grasp it. I did not really want to ponder those difficult sayings and truths, because I was not able to receive it. I was too immature in the faith and selfish in my flesh. However, if we are his disciples, we must press forward in the faith, striving for full obedience to ALL His commands.
When the Lord Jesus says something, we ought to listen attentively, carefully, and with a heart to obey. When He sees fit to say it several times, we really ought to yearn to receive it. Jesus gives us this teaching at least two or three times throughout the gospels.
"He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)
"For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it." (Matthew 16:25)
"For whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's, he shall save it." (Mark 8:35)
"For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, he shall save it." (Luke 9:24)
"Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it, and whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." (Luke 17:33)
"He who loves his life shall lose it. And he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal." (John 12:25)
We must ask ourselves, what does He mean to "lose our lives" so that we may "find it, save it, preserve it, keep it"? Well, it seems pretty obvious that the "find it, save it, preserve it, keep it" means that IF we lose our lives, we will enter into, and abide in, eternal life - John 12:25 makes that clear. So we are left at trying to understand His teaching that we must "lose our lives" in order to find Life in Him.
The best place to find that answer is in the rest of the Lord's commands in the gospels. Here are some references for you to seek out - Matt. 4:19; 8:22; 10:28;16:24; 19:27-30; 28:19-20; Luke 12:33, 14:26-33; John 6:27. Unfortunately, we will only be able to receive/understand these commands IF we are seeking the Lord with all our heart - if we are at least willing to truly lose our lives for Him. We have to have eyes to see His Kingdom, and to desire nothing less than to truly serve Him alone, for He plainly says, "No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24) I pray we will be open to the Holy Spirit revealing the meaning of these truths to our hearts.
The Lord has been revealing much to my heart as of late, as I have felt like "Christian" in Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, as they near the celestial city, but must pass through the enchanted forest, where the sleep will swallow and destroy them. I have grown weary because I have been unwilling to receive greater revelation from Jesus. As I have endeavored to follow after Jesus in the past few years, I have realized that I cannot partake in the apostasying thing that calls itself by many labels - evangelical, pentecostal, baptist, fundamentalist, churchianity… I am not welcomed there, and I pray it is because I want the Real Jesus to reign over and lead the people. The horrible truth is that the Real Jesus is not welcomed there (Rev. 3:20). Thus is it a surprise that His servants are not welcomed there either?
Since I have not been received by the churchianity organizations, I have been walking with Jesus alone for some time now, and what a blessing that has been! I pray I will always cherish these days, for they have been the days of no one to lean on but Jesus, and thus I have been able to take His yoke, instead of the traditions of men. The Lord has been able to teach me some very important things during this time - like growing in simple obedience to Him, and a longing for Him to fix all that is wrong (including my own sin) since I cannot do it in my own strength. I have learned that I must be willing to follow Jesus, no matter what, and that no person can follow Jesus for me.
So, here I am, unable to join the religious system (for that would be sin), yet hearing the Lord's voice to move forward and to love His remnant sons and daughters, and in so doing, be a light to the perishing (John 13:34-35). And my heart has been quietly asking the Lord, 'how Lord, can I serve you "full time" without any financial support from the brethren'? I am finally able to hear the Lord's answer to my fearful heart. It has been there all along, since I met Him some twelve years ago, but I could not receive it. I tried it in my own strength, and according to the traditions of men (I quit a "successful career" and went to seminary - see http://www.jesusfamilies.org/preflections/tims_testimony.htm ), but that failed, praise Him!
Here is His answer to all those who profess to be His disciples. Listen to the Master's Words in Matt. 6:24-34:
"No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (25) Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (26) Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are? (27) Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? (28) And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, (29) but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (30) Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths? (31) Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? (32) For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. (33) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. (34) Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things. Sufficient to the day is the evil of it."
Perhaps the most important word in the Lord's answer to me and to all who are seeking Him with all their heart, is found at the beginning of verse 25. It is the word, "therefore". You see, dear brethren, that word "therefore" is a connective word that connects the truth in verse 24 to the truths following verse 24. And what does He say in verse 24? He plainly says, "you cannot serve God and mammon." For those unaware, the word "mammon" means wealth or material things - it encompasses money and the material things money can buy. So, the Son of God says that His disciples cannot serve both God and mammon. In contemporary words, His disciples cannot have two employers or bosses - we will either be working for God and His Kingdom (those eternal things which do not spoil), OR we will be working for mammon and its system in the world (that which perishes).
Don't let Satan's voice place fear in your heart as he says, "so, you think you can survive in this world by just working for God? Hah, you'll be out on the street in a matter of weeks, starving and destitute. You need to be properly trained and educated (see "Are Seminaries Biblical?" at http://www.JesusFamilies.org ), or you need to continue to spend 40+ hours per week working for my world's employers so that you can have the material things that you 'need'". Who are we going to listen to, Satan or Jesus? I pray we will listen to Jesus, because He follows this potentially fearful truth in verse 24 with the promises after the word, "therefore", in verses 25 and following. Don't you see dear brethren? He gave all the 'don't worry about material things' teachings right after He gave the truth that we must choose who we will be completely devoted to, God or mammon (Satan's greatest false god), for He plainly says we cannot serve both.
Now, the more subtle attack to the truth revealed above will come from your "Christian" leaders or friends. They will say, "oh, it is a spiritual truth only, it does not mean that all Jesus' disciples have to work full time for God. It just means that you must not love money. You can spend the majority of your waking hours working for the world and for mammon, just love God in the process, and support the pastor or leaders, who are the ones called to work for God full time." Dear brethren, here is the heart of the clergy-laity system. It is the lie that Jesus' commands apply only to a select few, and the rest of His sheep can ignore those of His commands that interfere with our loving the world and the things of the world. Those leaders in the churchianity system are only too eager to have you support their vocation, and thus to feed their pride. In return, they promise to assure you that you are following Jesus. But are we? He says that we must "lose our lives" or else we will not find the eternal life we so desire. He says that we must "forsake all" in order to be His disciples (Luke 14:33). Dare we pick and choose which commands of the Lord we will follow, and which ones we will not? Dare we invent fancy, complex intellectual theories under the guise of "sound theology", which theories nullify the commands of Jesus? Just how many dispensations need we create to nullify the commands of the Lord Jesus?
Some will say, 'Oh, but there are special giftings and callings, like those listed in Eph. 4:11'. So those verses nullify Jesus' commands? Asked another way, because some sheep have a different function in serving him, means that the vast majority of His other sheep need not follow His voice? It is lies like this that prevent those seeking him from manifesting real Families that are full of His Life, and thus a true light to the nations. It is the clergy-laity lie that prevents the called out ones from truly coming out of the world and truly coming into Jesus' family - to walk after Him together as His family of servants, truly living in community to agape one another and to serve Him with all we've got. It is the clergy-laity lie and all the principles therein (along with an unwillingness to stop serving mammon), that stands between churchianity and its organizations, and the called out ones living in community as Jesus' family.
The same clergy-laity lie is used with Jesus' command to His disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…". We are told that the "great commission" only applies to "missionaries", and not all of His disciples. What a sad perversion, as the world all around us perishes while we wait for others to obey His commands. Or worse, we pay others to obey Jesus for us. No, let us rather each obey Jesus, and support each other as we lose our lives for His sake. Just where are the Scriptural quotes to justify the concept of just a few disciples being "missionaries" anyway?
I am sure many will raise objections to the truths uncovered in the scripture contained in this article. The problem is that we have read into the scripture what we have been taught and experienced - namely the traditions of men and churchianity. For example, in Acts 6:2, we have had in our mind the apostles working at some restaurant, instead of serving the saints at the community eating house. If we would just look a little closer, 6:1 would make it plain that it was among the believing community.
Back to Matthew 6. Jesus drives home the plain truth of verse 24, in verse 33, where He plainly says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." He commands that we "seek first the kingdom of God". We must examine our lives and answer the question, how much of my time, resources and energy is spent obeying Jesus' plain commands to go, preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations? On the other hand, how much of my time, resources and energy is spent working for the mammon system - the world's employers making more widgets that will perish? Which is truly "first"? Is "seeking" only a mental exercise that I fit into my worldly schedule, or does it entail action and obedience to His commands - commands like "go, preach the gospel, make disciples"?
Let us approach this critical truth from a different perspective. The question we must ask ourselves is, do our lives look truly different since we were called by Jesus to follow Him? Have we left our nets and all other things to follow after Him (Acts 1-8)? Or are we still fishing for fish (John 21:3) - even after our first meeting the Master and trying to follow Him in our own strength (Matt. 19:27; 26:74-75) - due to our unbelief? Perhaps we have not let the Holy Spirit have His way in our lives, and thus we have not let Him empower us to live and speak as our Master commands? Perhaps the Jesus we were first introduced to in churchianity was not the Real Jesus, but rather a "good" counterfeit? Well, are we pressing forward in the faith, and finding the Real Jesus, and starting to truly consider ALL His commands? Are we willing to have the world hate us due to our consistently speaking Jesus' words and living as he commands?
Are we a holy nation, a royal priesthood, the called out ones (church), Jesus' family of servants, shining His bright light to a perishing world? If we look at our unbelieving neighbors, are our actions and words (our lives) TRULY, measurably, visibly different? Or is our faith actually only a matter of head knowledge and a little higher morality? Is our faith a matter of fitting in with others who remain in the world (looking for a version of churchianity with which we share the most intellectual/doctrinal agreement), or is it an all consuming passion to follow after Messiah Jesus no matter what the cost? Do we continue to seek after the Lord primarily through the intellect, or are we humbling ourselves and seeking to obey His commands as a little child, from a pure heart (one that is washed by ALL of His Words)?
Oh, brethren, we must fear lest we fall asleep, or have fallen asleep (Matt. 25:1-12). The world IS growing more wicked and the "church" IS growing more deceitful by the hour. Jesus says plainly, that we are not of the world, and thus the world will hate us (John 15:19-20). As we read the New Testament we see that the persecution was always the worst from the existing religious establishment. Nothing has changed if we have eyes to see, and hearts to speak the truth in love
Jesus commands, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (John 6:27). Do we dare equivocate with the plain command of "do not labor for the food which perishes"? Exactly what type of food are we laboring for, for 40+ hours per week? He tells us in Matt. 6 that we cannot serve both God and mammon. He tells us here to not work for material things. He tells us, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…" (Matt. 6:19). Are our deceitful hearts saying, "oh, Lord, I'm not laying up treasure, I'm just trying to provide well for my family" (see "Mis-Focused on the Family" at http://www.JesusFamilies.org ); or, "oh, Lord, I'm not laying up treasure because I barely have enough to get by on right now". But, dear person, what ARE you laboring for? We are commanded by the Lord of glory to neither store up NOR labor for mammon.
I will close with these glorious words of the Savior of the world.
Luke 12:32-34, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (33) Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in Heaven, where no thief comes nor moth corrupts. (34) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Once again, He surrounds His call to leave the world's mammon system - and instead to work for, and trust in His provisions - with a command to not worry about it, and a promise that He will give us the kingdom of God. Oh dear saints, can we not hear His Words? We must step out in faith, and we must do so clinging to Him and to His promises. Let us obey all His commands, even the ones we cannot fully understand. Let us sell and walk away from those possessions which are keeping us back from obeying Him and from serving Him with all our time and resources. What more of a glorious and gracious comfort and promise can He give us than, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."?
"He who loves his life shall lose it. And he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal." (John 12:25)
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