Sunday we began a series entitled "Follow Me" an examination of what it means to follow Jesus according to Luke’s gospel. The sermon on Sunday was an overview of where we are going for the next nine Sundays. My basic point was that when Jesus says "follow me" it is a call on our lives to "be like Jesus". Being a Christian = being a disciple/follower = someone committed to being like Jesus.
It seems that some are experiencing some tension in that formula. Many evangelicals have been conditioned to equate "Christian" with a person who has made a moment in time decision to "accept Jesus" or "ask him in their hearts". With that many have placed a great emphasis on whether someone is "in" or "out" and making an initial decision (praying the sinner’s prayer, etc). I certainly see value in a decision being made and the sinner’s prayer as being instrumental to many in leading them to follow Jesus and even the importance of talking about wanting to be in "heaven with God and not in hell without God" (although I prefer the New Heaven and New Earth imagery).
The problem is, however, when being a disciple is something that happens next but is not equal to, that somehow following Jesus is not an imperative. It is important just not essential to salvation. This is a total separation of Jesus as Saviour and Jesus as Lord (Zane Hodges all over again). And from my point of view unbiblical.
My point is simply Jesus’ point, "if you don’t leave everything you can’t follow me".
Salvation by God’s grace that demands total life change, complete obedience, and passion for Jesus’ ministry.