Take up Your Cross and Follow Me
Have You Taken up Your Cross?
It is important to test our faith to see if we are true disciples of Christ as the apostle Paul tells us to do in 2 Corinthians 13:5 ...'Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves.' ... If someone was to ask you if you were a Christian, what would you say? Would you say yes? If so, my question (or test) to you is, what makes you a Christian? Have a really good think about that. I pray that you will prove your faith right now as you read through this page. Let me give you Jesus' command to anyone who wants to be a true Christian:
Matthew 16:24 ...'Then Jesus said unto His disciples, if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.'
So, can you honestly read this Bible verse, apply it to your life and still say that you are a disciple of Christ? Have you taken up your cross? Many professing Christians today think that all they need to do is simply "believe", which Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9 says. But if that is right, then what Jesus said contradicts those verses. But does the Bible contradict itself? No, so what must we do? We must take in the WHOLE council of God to get to the Bible truth, rather than just select a few verses here and there to support what WE WANT to believe. If you study the Bible you will find out that believing is just the first of many steps in being a Christian. Afterall, the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19), but are they saved? Of course not.
So let's look at what Jesus commanded to anyone who wants to be His disciple. First He said that we must deny ourselves. Well, this certainly destroys the false prosperity gospel for starters. So many of us are still living for ourselves and holding onto worldly things because we "like" them, but Jesus said that we need to deny ourselves. In other words, any worldly pleasure that we have in our lives that has no benefit for our faith or for the furtherance of God's kingdom on earth, we need to turn away from and deny ourselves that worldly pleasure. And we must always be looking to put others first, by reaching out to those who are lost and helping those in physical need. "Oh but God wants me to be happy and not live a miserable life". Yes, God does want you to be happy, but IN HIM, not in worldly stuff. Just look at the disciples in the New Testament, they rejoiced at being persecuted for their faith and they devoted their lives to Christ Jesus, rejecting worldly pleasures. There isn't any examples in the New Testament of Christ's TRUE disciples giving their time to worldly things, all their time was spent on growing with Christ and furthering God's kingdom on earth. This is how we should be.
Second, Jesus says that we must take up our cross. How do we do this? What was it that put Christ on the cross? Our sin! Now what did Paul say about sin?
Romans 6:1-2 ...'What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, that are DEAD TO SIN, live any longer therein.'
Do you see what he is saying? He is saying that anyone who has come to Christ and truly has Christ dwelling in them, they have died and risen with Christ, symbolized by baptism and have left the "old man" behind and are DEAD TO SIN. Think of it this way, if you are dead can you sin? No, and that is what Paul is saying, those who have TRULY accepted Christ have crucified the flesh and should no longer live in sin. Does that mean we will never stumble and sin again? No, that could still happen, but we should be actively TURNING AWAY from sin and worldly things, because we no longer live for the flesh, we should now be living in the Spirit. So to take up our cross, we need to DIE TO SIN and live no longer in it.
"A righteous example, so contrary to the policy of the world, surprises worldlings, and leads them to bow at the cross of Christ." (E.G.White. Manuscript 127, 1905)
Now this second command will be a problem for many professing Christians, because they believe that we no longer need to keep God's Commandments, and that we are free to continue to sin under grace. But as I have pointed out above, this is not the case. We need to take up our cross as Jesus commands us, and live no longer in the sin that put our dear Saviour on the cross in the first place!
Lastly, Jesus says, "follow Me". How do we follow Jesus? We read and study what He said and did in the New Testament and we DO as it says. If we are just hearers of the Word only, then we deceive ourselves (James 1:22). We must be DOERS of the Word. Rather than being lukewarm Christians that Jesus will spew out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16), let us be NO COMPROMISE Christians, standing on the truth of God's Word, not being deceived by every wind of doctrine that passes by.
"Without an entire transformation of character, human beings cannot enter the Holy City. Amidst the abounding iniquity, we are to receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. Only thus can we receive power to become the sons of God. The striving soul, cooperating with Christ becomes a partaker of the "divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:4)." (E.G.White. Manuscript 127, 1905)
Friend, the end of all things is at hand! Jesus is at the door!! It's time to start living as true disciples of Christ. It's time to deny ourselves and turn from the things of this sinful world. It's time to take up our cross and follow our Lord and Saviour into eternity!