The Cost of Following Christ

costThe Bible clearly teaches that followers of Christ will have to endure some sort cost for doing so. We understand that the cost will vary depending on the culture of the follower. Some will lose their lives for following Christ. In Western culture, we are probably not doing to have to physically die for our faith. But still, our walk with Christ will have some type of cost to us.

In Luke 14:25-28 we are reminded of the cost of following Christ, “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,  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.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”

The glaring understanding is that being a disciple of Christ will cause divisions in our families, especially among those who haven’t come to Christ. Although we might not be required to die physically, some death is indicated by the need for followers of Christ to “bear his cross.” We are to count this cost and be willing to pay the price so that we will have the will to finish.

Here is the question, Looking back on your walk with Christ, What has your following Christ actually cost you? What have you lost or what have you been forced to leave behind because you are following Christ?

It may be that the absence of cost means you are not really following Christ at all. It could be that you are following Him but at some safe costless distance to minimize the loss.

The individual cost of our following Christ is something worth considering today.

Experiential Exegesis

EisegesisExegesis is when a person interprets scripture from what is in the text. Eisegesis is when a person interprets and reads information into the text that is not there. Exegesis is what we are supposed to do and Eisegesis is what we are to avoid. What I have noticed is that preachers often interpret scriptures based on their experiences. People often receive this eisegesis because they have had the same experiences.

It seems that there is a tendency to justify our decisions and lifestyles, good or bad, from the Word of God. Instead of admitting our sin and our moral failures, we manufacture, in scripture, that which would give approval to our conduct.

One of two things must happen for this to come about. The first is that we must reduce the fact that we are as bad as the Bible says we are. In other words, we must deny our total depravity. We must deny our failures and faults. The second is that we must reduce the demands of God. We must deny that God requires absolute obedience, righteousness, and holiness. Instead of God’s will being accomplished despite our sin and failures it sounds as if God’s will is done because of our sin and our failures.

It is too easy to justify our moral failures and unbiblical decisions as God enlarging our territories instead of it being God’s grace and goodness in spite of our sinfulness. They are not the same. It would be hard for us to say that when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and refused re-entry it was really God simply enlarging their territories. The consequences, results, and God’s gracious response are not the same as God’s giving His approval to our unrighteousness. God working all things out for good does not mean that what we did was good. We cannot remove the responsibility.

What is often said is that God can do what God wants to do. That is true! One time, he spoke through a donkey but that is not His normal avenue of communication. God overcoming our sinfulness is not God celebrating our sin. God making good come out of a sinful situation does not mean that God approved and orchestrated the sin. We must be careful that we are not making God the author of sin.

The Bible does not justify my sin, it convicts and condemns my sin. He is gracious and He is good as He makes the good result even in our sinfulness. Our sin is still a sin even when God makes good come from it.

Naked and Hiding

fig leavesAnd the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 

The promise of the deceiver was that the eating of the fruit would result in the opening of their eyes. And indeed, their eyes were opened. But, it was only to see their own nakedness. They knew they were naked. Naked of God, naked of everything that was holy and good. Naked of the innocence they enjoyed before. Naked of the glory of God. They were naked in both body and soul.

How do they behave now that they know their nakededness? Do they run to God for forgiveness? Do they seek God to cover their nakedness?  Nope! They were now dead to God and became earthly and sensual and instead of asking God for mercy, they sowed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons or coverings.

This is a accurate representation of all mankind since. We see that we are naked. We in some measure confess it. But instead of looking up to God for salvation, we patch up a righteousness of our own making, hoping to cover our nakedness by it. But our righteousness will not stand the judgment of God. It will do us no better service than the fig leaves did Adam and Eve.

Later they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Before this destructive decision, Adam and Eve fellowshipped with God, praised and glorified God. But now, instead of rejoicing at the voice of God, instead of meeting him with open arms and receptive hearts, as before, they now hide themselves in the trees of the garden.

By their fall, they had become an enemy of God. They now hated and were afraid to even speak with God their maker. And the same is true of us. We know our nakedness and we labor to cover it with the fig leaves of our own righteousness. We hide ourselves from God and we will not come and never will come to God on our own.

Notice God seeks Adam and Eve. God calls out to Adam, Where art thou? Adam does not call out to God. Where are you Adam? They were not with God as usual. They were not praising God as usual. They were not exalting God as usual. They were not fellowshipping God as usual. They withheld their presence, they withheld their attendence, they withheld their worship. Why? Because of their sin, their nakedness and their pitiful fig tree religion. A tri-fold embarrassment.

Sin had driven a wedge between man and God. God did not change, he showed up at the cool of the day just like normal. But Adam and Eve were not just late, they were absent. They were no-shows, hiding in the trees ashamed of their nakedness and ashamed of their coverings. Naked, hiding, and separated from God.

The serpent failed to disclose all of this, didn’t he? Adam and Eve begin to discover that they were mistaken. The seprent was a liar and this fruit was not good but it was bad, very, very bad.

Ye Shall Not Surely Die


And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

There are dual truths to consider. The devil is a liar and we are so very gullible. The devil is always shading the truth, giving just enough truth to make it worth considering. We are mostly an undescerning lot that gives little thought beyond the present.

The serpent says, “Ye shall not surely die.” God will not be so cruel and inflexable that he would damn you only for eating a piece of fruit.  It is the play of the devil to convince us that God did not really mean what he said. God is only making idle threats to keep us in under His subjection. What a false hope that we can go on in our sin and not surely die.

The serpent adds, “God doth know that in the day ye eat therof, ye shall be as gods’.” So the grand temptation was that she would hereafter no longer be under control and woud be equal, if not superior, to God that made them, knowing good and evil. Satan points out a way which seems right to sinners but does not tell them the end of that way is death.

The Bible says, that when Eve saw that it was good for food. I am guessing here that the reason she saw that it was good for food was that the serpent MAYBE had taken a bite of this forbidden fruit and remarked how delicious it really was.

Satan had now gained quite a bit of ground with Eve. She saw that it was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise. What she saw conceived lust in her heart. She saw and she desired. Her eyes were connected to her heart. The longer she looked at this fruit with her eyes, the more she began to long after it with her heart.

Then we have one of the most disturbing sentences in all the Bible. “She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband, and he did eat.”If we ourselves are good, we will stir others to goodness, but if we are evil, we shall entice others to do evil as well. There is a close connection between doing and teaching. How needful it is for us to take heed that we do not sin, lest we should become instruments of the devil to ensnare, perhaps, the very ones we love.

What Does The Word Say?

SERPENT IN THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

I imagine Eve was near the tree of good and evil maybe looking at it and wondering what there was about this tree that made it differ from the others. While there were many trees in the garden, for some reason this tree demanded her attention. What about this tree made it forbidden for her and her husband to take of it.

As she considers this tree, Satan, possessing the body of a serpent, speaks to her. He asks her to remember the words of God. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Satan tempts her to think not about what God has given but what God has withheld. He focuses her what is forbidden.

The first error is having a conversation with the devil at all. She was not obligated to give him an answer. But answer she did. Eve responded, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

She begins recounting God’s words correctly, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it.” That is exactly what Jesus said. Her second error was that she adds something that God did not say, “Neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” God did not say that.

Eve may have easily supposed that she would have to touch the fruit to eat it and therefore it would be forbidden to even touch this fruit. However, that is not what God said. The question was about what God said and not what she supposed. Eve had altered the word of God.

This is still a danger today. We have people attributing their thoughts and ideas as if they were the very words of God. God has spoken clearly and completely in the Bible. We must learn and obey what He said but we are not obligated to believe nor obey what man adds to it. We must be careful not to mix our assumptions in with God’s words.

I imagine that the serpent has a piece of the fruit of this tree in his hands. It seems that he was in a different form than serpents today since the fall confined them to slittering in the dust of the ground. So what Eve sees is someone touching the fruit of the tree and not dying. In Eve’s mind, there is the planting of the seed of doubt, not based on what God said but based on what she assumed.

We must be careful to know, believe, and tell only what God has said in His Word. Only His Words are inspired, inerrent, and infallable.


I have spent part of the morning reading reactions to the removal of Perry Noble as senior pastor of NewSpring Church. I understand the necessity of the leadership of the Newspring to move based on the apparent refusal of their pastor to repent of his growing dependence on alcohol. Now before you say, “But he did repent, he said he was guilty of sin and was sorry” let me remind you that there is a difference between saying I am sorry for your sins and repenting of your sins. Repentance is a turning from your sin. According to the churches announcement the leadership has been dealing with this issue for some time and Noble had refused to deal with the problem. That is not repentance. What we heard is Noble being remorseful because of being caught and reprimanded. True repentance is granted by God and does not originate with man. An apology is not repentance.

My concern is not that the leadership removed him for his unrepentant behavior but why they did not feel the same way about the way he over and over again mishandled the texts of Scripture and as he mangled Biblical doctrine. From performing secular songs in a church worship setting, to allowing women to preach from the pulpit, to bringing in a Church of Christ Duck Dynasty baptismal regeneration proponent, to changing the Ten Commandments to something they are not, to the twisting of the Word of God every time he stood before the church. Why was the leadership not appalled by his preaching a different gospel than the one that Bible proclaims to the same degree they were about his behavior? Why where they not concerned that a false gospel was being given to thousands of people week in and week out for sixteen years?

My more personal concern is people that I know who sit under Biblical preaching have rushed to the defense of a false teacher on social media. It reveals their lack of discernment, Biblical ignorance, and their inattentiveness. It indicates that doctrine does not matter and the proper handling of Scripture is of no great concern. It proves that they don’t fully understand what the Bible describes as the gospel. This lack of Biblical understanding is terribly disappointing.

Should we pray for Perry Noble? Absolutely! We should pray for him physically and spiritually. Todd Friel posted a tweet desiring that salvation would become a reality in Noble’s life. He was promptly blasted for his judgmental attitude toward a person’s salvation. However, are not those people making judgments about Noble’s salvation being a reality? Are they not making assumptions as well? We can’t know anyone’s heart, whether they are saved or not but the Bible says by their fruits you will know them. Just examine the spiritual fruit. I pray that God will lead Perry Noble to look away from himself, that God will destroy his pride, that God would crush his self-reliance, and cause him to look to Christ alone as his only hope in this life and the life to come. I also pray that the leadership of NewSpring will look for a pastor that will be doctrinally sound, Christ exalting, and gospel centered and not entertaining, cool, and relevant. I pray that God will be glorified in and through all of this.

The Three Greatest Words In The Bible!

it_is_finishedWhat would you think would be the three greatest words in the Bible? Perhaps, “In the Beginning.” In these three words, the Holy Spirit communicates the eternal self-existence of God. The Scriptures begin with the truth that God has always been and thus will always be. God does not depend on anything for his existence.

You might say the three greatest words in the Bible are, “God So Loved.” We are reminded of the unconditional love of the Father toward undeserving sinners. This love for both Jew and Gentile caused the Father to move toward the objects of his love by sending his Son, Jesus, to come and to save His people from their sins.

I am sure there are many other answers you could name and all are very good and convincing. But the three words that I think that are the greatest in the Bible are these, “IT IS FINISHED.” These were the last words Jesus spoke before he gave up his life. And the greatest piece of communication to us, who are so often trying to complete that which is already complete.

What is IT? The it is the work of salvation. Everything that is required and needed for a sinner to be saved. Righteousness performed, the law fulfilled, the good news proclaimed, our sins taken, and wrath appeased. That is what IT is. It is everything needed for the salvation of mankind.

What does FINISHED mean? It means the activity or process is complete or is brought to an end. There is nothing left undone and there is nothing left to do. There is no further work that needs to be tended to. Jesus is saying that He has done every bit of that which is needed for the justification and salvation of man.  It is finished.

Of course, three days later when Jesus is raised from the tomb we have the visual evidence that it is truly finished. For God has accepted the sacrifice and his anger and wrath has been propitiated by Jesus Christ.

I guess I need to make a clarification. In the Greek there are not three words but just one, “Tetelestai”– “FINISHED.” That is what Jesus said as he takes his last breath. FINISHED! Praise God and the Son for this blessed truth! FINISHED!


Christ Pleased Not Himself!

christ-cross1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2– Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.    Romans 15:1-7

This is our standard when we have disputes over third-level issues in the church— not to defend our own freedoms or to impose our own strict rules on others, but to “please [our] neighbor for his good, to build him up” (15: 2), and to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed [us], for the glory of God” (15: 7). J.D. Crowley writes, “We win by losing; we live by dying; we gain by letting go.”

Christians with a strong conscience have two options (eating or abstaining) while the weak have just one option (abstaining), and since the strong consider themselves to be more knowledgeable than the weak, the strong are the ones with an obligation to give up their rights so as to not lead their weaker brothers into sin. This does not mean that the strong have to agree with the position of the weak. It does not even mean that the strong can never again make use of their freedom. On the other hand, neither does it mean that the strong only put up with or endure or tolerate the weak, like a person who tolerates someone he doesn’t like. To bear with means that he gladly helps the weak by refraining from doing anything that would hurt their faith.

Paul is not instructing us to be man-pleasers here. The choice is not between pleasing men and pleasing God, but between pleasing others and pleasing ourselves. It means pleasing others for their good, not pleasing others in order to escape persecution or opposition.

We cannot even begin to imagine the freedoms and privileges that belonged to the Son of God in heaven. To be God is to be completely free. Yet Christ “did not please himself,” but gave up his rights and freedoms to become a servant so that we could be saved from wrath.) Over and over scripture commands us to follow the example of Christ in pleasing others instead of ourselves. Compared to what Jesus suffered on the cross, we are making a small sacrifice indeed when we give up our freedom for a fellow Christian.

Crowley again nails this truth when he says, “We must keep the big things big. God does not allow us to have unity with Christians who reject the major doctrines of the faith, such as salvation by grace, the resurrection of Christ, and the infallibility of scripture. And… We must keep the small things small. God does not allow us to break unity with Christians who disagree with us on minor matters. Both errors are serious sins against Christ and his church.“


By lakeviewbc Posted in Unity

If You Got It, Don’t Flaunt It!

Keep It To Yourself22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.   Romans 14:22-23

Often people with freedom like to show off that freedom to those who are strict. Paul forbids this. If your strong conscience allows you to eat meat or drink wine, don’t flaunt those things in front of those with a weak conscience.   Also, those who are strict often like to “police” others to pressure them to be strict like them. But Paul says we are to keep these decisions between the Lord and us.   “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.” This shows us again that the word faith in this passage is limited to faith in the realm of conscience. You are most certainly not supposed to keep your faith in the gospel “between yourself and God,” but spread that faith to everyone everywhere. But we are to keep our decisions of conscience between the Lord and us. Go ahead and use your freedom, but don’t flaunt it. Go ahead and be strict, but don’t expect others to be strict like you.

To live your life without faith in God is to live your life like an unbeliever. An unbeliever constantly sins against his conscience until it is seared. If you live this same way, you will destroy your heart. You are not the lord of your conscience; God is.

How do you know the difference between training your conscience and sinning against your conscience? You are sinning against your conscience when you believe your conscience is speaking correctly, but you still go against it. You are training your conscience when Christ teaches you through his scripture that your conscience has been wrong in a particular area, so you decide to not listen to your conscience in that one area. This is called adjusting your conscience, not sinning against it.


By lakeviewbc Posted in Unity

When Good is Bad!

Righteousness_Peace_Joy_20120715 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.     Romans 14:14-21

No Christian would want to insist on eating meat if he knew that his eating would embolden another believer to sin against his conscience, fall into sin, and maybe fall away from Christ. Why? Because “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In other words, what kind of food we eat is not important in God’s kingdom. What matters is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”! Our goal is not to defend our own freedoms, but to pursue peace in the church, and to build up other believers in their faith. This kind of life is “acceptable to God and approved of men”

Perhaps Paul saw that both the strong group and the weak group were beginning to make big things out of little things. Maybe they were forgetting the really important things like “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” To argue over inconsequential things like food and drink and special days is to forget that the Holy Spirit has ushered in a new age of life and love and peace. If you don’t care about how your freedoms are affecting others, you are not practicing righteousness, and you are in danger of destroying the peace in the church, and sucking out all the joy as well. Although the strong wanted to believe that the Holy Spirit was on their side in this dispute, and the weak wanted to believe that the Holy Spirit was on their side, neither side was being led by the Holy Spirit.

The Christian who emphasizes “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” is the true servant of Christ.

Love for fellow Christians is the sure sign of a Christian. Disagreements about small things do not lead to “mutual upbuilding,” but rather a tearing down and destroying of God’s work.

Paul does not advise against all eating of meat and drinking of wine, but only that which “causes your brother to stumble,” that is, causes him to sin against his conscience and be in danger of falling away from Christ. Paul adds the words “or do anything” to include any other possible disagreements. Every age of the church and every location will have different disagreements about what Christians are allowed to do and not allowed to do.

Something considered good can be bad if it causes a brother to sin. Don’t let your good be evil spoken of.


By lakeviewbc Posted in Unity