There comes a point when following Jesus costs us something. Faced with this reality, we are forced to ask ourselves: “Is Jesus really worth it?” In this message on Luke 9:57–62, David Platt teaches us why Jesus is worth following in the face of persecution. Faced with the reality that Jesus is worthy of everything, we can find joy in giving up anything for the worship of Christ.
- Jesus is worthy of all of our trust.
- Jesus is worthy of all of our plans and dreams.
- Jesus is worthy of all of our affections.
If you have your Bible, and I hope you do, I want to invite you to open with me to Luke 9. I’ve had a little accident since my last time with you.
My wife and I lived in New Orleans a few months ago, until our one–story house became inundated with about eight to ten feet of water, and so we moved to Atlanta, and have been living there, and I signed up to play flag football in a city league there, which my wife told me I wasn’t in high school or college anymore. And so last week, I was playing flag football and broke my wrist. And God has given me this clear reminder that men should listen to their wives.
In your Small Groups today, the topic has been the character and nature of God. Thankfully, God has not left this open for us to wonder about who He is; that He has revealed himself not only in His Word, but in His person. And so, what I want us to do is take a look at Christ, and I want you to see His worth in Luke 9.
And you have got to know the context of what we’re about to read, verse 51 says, Luke tells us, that Jesus “resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). And you could underline that in your Bible as kind of a key shift in the whole book of Luke because what’s waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem is a cross, and Luke is telling us that Jesus is headed to the cross, and so everything we read from Luke 9:51 on really needs to be read in light of the fact that Jesus is headed to the cross.
And so, with that in mind, I want you to pick up with me there in verse 57. Luke 9:57 says,
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good–by to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 9:57–62).
I want you to see three characteristics of Christ, and I want us to do something a little different. I want us to see Christ revealed in this passage. Then I want to share some testimony from my own life recently that I think, hopefully, will help us understand exactly what this passage is telling us.
Luke 9 Tells Us that Jesus Is Worthy of all of our Trust
Number one, I want you to see that Christ, that Jesus is worthy of all of our trust. This first guy comes up to Jesus and says, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus says, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). That’s a pretty incredible statement. The hopes of the world resting on the shoulders of a homeless man at this point; this is pretty encouraging, being from New Orleans.
I can almost picture Jesus taking this guy to the side, all of these crowds flocking around Jesus, this man eager to follow Him. And let’s be honest, this does not seem to be Jesus doing what we would expect Him to do. He almost seems to be talking this guy out of following Him. I can picture Jesus kind of pulling this guy to the side, putting His arm around him, and said, “I want you to look down this road I’m on. I want you to look past all those people waving palm branches and singing my praises. Look past that intimate meal with my closest friends, the disciples. Look past that woman who’s anointing my fee with expensive oil. Look past all that, and you’re going to see a cross. And by the way, there are no Inns on the way.”
Jesus is telling this guy that if he follows Him, he has no guarantee of shelter over his head, no guarantee of food, no guarantee of anything regarding the basic necessities of life. If he follows Jesus, all he’s got is Jesus. Jesus is worthy of all of our trust.
Jesus Is Worthy of all of our Plans and Dreams
Number two, Jesus is worthy of all of our plans and dreams. I’ll be honest with you; it’s this next guy that really I struggle with the most. Jesus initiates the conversation, says, “Follow me.” And this guy says, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59). “And then I’ll come and follow you.”
Now scholars who study this passage a lot more than I have kind of debate whether or not this guy’s father had died yet or not. There’s a lot of people who believe that his father was about to die. So, all this guy wanted to do was go back, spend the last couple of days with his dad, and then give him a proper burial, which is obviously something he would want to do. But even deeper than that, it was the highest of religious obligations that a son would give his father a proper burial, a huge obligation.
And so the guy simply wanted to go back, do that, and then he would follow Jesus. Some people believe his dad had just died, and so he wanted to go back, just give his father a proper burial, and then he would come and follow Jesus.
And Jesus says these words, and they seem pretty bold and pretty brash to me, in my own life, a little over a year ago, my father, my dad, best friend, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. And I cannot imagine hearing Jesus say, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” What does that mean?
I think what Jesus is saying here, is that there is a responsibility, there is an obligation that supercedes every other responsibility and obligation in life, and that responsibility, that obligation is for you to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God. It is more important than anything else that you would want to do, or that you would need to do. “I am worthy of all of your plans and dreams.”
Jesus Is Worthy of all of our Affections
Jesus is worthy of all of our trust, all of our plans and dreams, and number three, Jesus is worthy of all of our affections. Last guy says, “Let me go back and just say goodbye to my family. Then I’ll follow you.” And Jesus says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
You see, Jesus knows that if this guy goes back to his family, then one of two things, maybe both, will happen. That once he gets back there, tells his family, “Hey, I’m going to pack my bags and move. I’m going to be gone. I don’t know if I’ll ever come back. I’m going to follow this guy Jesus,” that there’s a good chance that those who care about him, those who love him, whether it’s parents, brothers, sisters, whoever it may be, will look at him and start asking questions, “Well, do you think this is a wise decision? Do you think it’s a safe decision? Do you think this is a good financial decision? What about marriage? What about all of these other things in your life?”
Same kind of questions that if a college student was to go home to his or her parents and say, “I’m going to pack my bags, and I’m going to move to Thailand. I’m going to give my life to serve Christ there.” There’s a good chance those parents aren’t going to look at that college student and say, “Well, let us help you pack your bags. When are you going to get out of here?” Maybe you might say that, but most likely not. Jesus knows that there are some strong family ties there.
And the second thing that might happen is that guy might get back around his family, around the people that mean the most to him, his friends, the comfort zone that he has, and he might start to think, “You know, I could follow Jesus from here. I don’t really have to leave and go.” And Jesus says, “I am worthy of all of your affections. You follow me. I am more important than any other love in your entire life. All of your affection belongs to me.” Jesus is worthy of all of our trust. He’s worthy of all of our plans and dreams, and He is worthy of all of our affections.
During the month of June, I had the opportunity to go to a country in Asia, and I’m not going to name the country, not because I think there are any spies in here or anything, but just because there are security issues in that country because it’s illegal to share the gospel in this particular country. It’s illegal for believers to gather together like we’ve gathered together and sing praises to Christ with a passion to proclaim Christ.
So, I went into this country, and the first two weeks, I had taken a team there, and the first two weeks we were backpacking in some villages that had no exposure whatsoever to the gospel, not even heard the name of Jesus, very remote villages. And we took some materials, CDs and tapes that were written in the language of those people, and we would put them in places in their villages where they would hopefully find them a week or two after we were gone so they wouldn’t know that we were doing that.
And this was a great time, a very challenging time for me. I’ll be honest with you; I am a city boy through and through. Hiking at 10,000 feet in the air, I think the last time I had been camping out was in my backyard, and my mom brought us popcorn. So, this was a real stretch for me, and God did some incredible things in my life during that time.
The next two weeks, took another team into a college campus, and our whole goal was to build relationships and share the gospel in that college campus with a lot of people who had never heard of Christ. And that was the plan. And that’s what the rest of the team ended up doing, but God kind of turned things upside down for me, in a way that I really never could have imagined.
We had gotten there on a Friday night, and kind of recuperated on Saturday. And Sunday, our contact came to me; we’re going to call him Tommy. That’s not really his name, but just to protect what he’s doing there, and the fact that if he were found out, that he would be kicked out of that country, and it’ll just be a little more fun this way, alright? So, we’ll call him “Tommy.”
And he said, “I want you guys to meet this couple,” we’ll call them Peter and Mary. You see, this is fun, you feel like you’re inside of something. Okay? And so, Tommy said, “I want you guys to meet Peter and Mary.” Peter and Mary are native to that country in Asia, and they are the leaders of the house church network there. You see, because believers can’t gather together like this, they gather together late at night, in secret in their villages to worship Christ. At the risk of imprisonment, or even worse, they worship His name.
And so, he said, “I want you guys to meet this couple.” And I had read enough about house churches to know that it’s pretty rare for Westerners, particularly Americans, to be associated with those kind of people, just because many times overseas, Westerners, especially Americans, are associated with Christianity and missions. And so, to be able to spend time with those types of people would put into jeopardy their security.
And so, I’d read enough to know that it was pretty rare to be able to even meet those people. So, I was pumped. I couldn’t wait. We went over to their apartment that night. We walked in, sat down, and this couple, amazing couple, they look at us and they start sharing about how their churches gather together late at night in secret. How when they worship, they have different people stand guard at different places in the villages in order to watch out, just in case anybody were to come, they would be able to alert those who were worshiping, and they would be able to scatter before they were arrested, or even worse.
And they talked about how their churches were growing, how people were coming to know Christ. My jaw was just on the ground. I couldn’t believe I was hearing this first hand. We were asking them questions, and at one point, I asked them, I said, “How do you train up new leaders in your churches, new believers. As your churches are growing, how do you train them up?”
And they looked at me, and they said, “Well, that’s one of our weaknesses. We’re really struggling with that right now.” And I didn’t see it coming, but about ten minutes later, they turned to each other, they started speaking to each other in their own language, and they turned back to me, and they said, “Would you be willing to train some of our house church leaders during your time here?”
You know, there are some things you just don’t need to pray about before you say yes to. I looked back, I said, “I would be honored. I don’t want to put you guys in any greater risk to your security, but I would love to do that if you think it would be helpful.” They said, “We’re going to our worship service tonight.” And they worship from about 8:30 to midnight, and they said, “We’re going to worship. We’ll see if some leaders are available, and basically if they’re willing to risk it, and we’ll let you know tomorrow.”
So, the next morning, I was sitting there praying and journaling. Tommy comes in and he says, “Dave, training starts today at 2:00.” So, at 2:00, I walk into this apartment. All of the blinds are closed, very dark, and there in a circle are about 20 or 25 house church leaders from this country, sitting on the floor or on little stools, with their Bibles open, ready to study God’s Word. And so we started. I can’t remember where we started. All I know is that eight hours later, we were still going strong. They were just eating it up. It gets to about 10:00 that night and they said, “We want to do this some more. Can you do this some more?” “Yeah, I can do this some more.”
And so, the next morning, we get together, and the next morning, and to make a long story short, for the next two weeks, from 8 to 12 hours a day, I was in underground locations in this particular country, training house church leaders in God’s Word. I would like to give you a little bit of a glimpse of some of the things that I saw.
Luke 9 Reminds Us that there are People Hungry for God’s Word
I want you to see their hunger for God’s Word. These people, most of them uneducated, sitting on little stools for 8 to 12 hours a day, just writing down everything I said. I remember there was one point, two or three days into it; I was walking through the book of Nehemiah. I was giving them the background and the history of the Book of Nehemiah, showed them some different passages that show them the importance of the Word of God and the people of God.
And afterwards, we took a break. And they were sitting in small groups, and I could tell they were talking about something pretty intensely. Finally, they sent somebody over to me. They said, “We have a question for the teacher.” I said, “Okay.” They looked at me, and they said, “All this stuff from Nehemiah, this background and the history, we never knew that stuff before.” And they said, “We really liked hearing it. Would you be willing to do that for us with all the books of the Old Testament?”
That’s exactly what I did. I laughed in their face. I said, “That’s ridiculous. That will take forever.” They said, “We’ll do it.” These are farmers. They left their fields completely unattended for two weeks, and that’s what we did. We started out with a history of the Old Testament and the background of the Old Testament, started in Genesis, walked all the way through Malachi for the next two weeks. Just imagine trying to teach the book of Song of Solomon to a bunch of Asian believers, okay, and trust praying that they won’t ask you questions, alright?
And they sit there, and they just eat it up every single day. We got to the next to the last day, finished Malachi. I was thinking, “Wow.” Got up, they said, “We want to do training 12 hours tomorrow since it’s the last day.” So, we got up early in the morning, went over there. We got there, I’m thinking, “Lord, I don’t have any clue what else to say. We’ve been through the whole Old Testament.”
So, I start talking about something, got about an hour into it, and somebody raised their question, they said, raised their hand and said, “Teacher, this is helpful and all, but we got a problem.” I said, “What’s the problem?” They said, “You gave us the whole Old Testament. But we haven’t done the New Testament yet.” I said, “You’re kidding.” They said, “No, we want it.”
And so, we walked from Matthew to Revelation in the next 12 hours. These people loved the Word of God. They sat on little stools for 12 hours every day and just listened. And their hunger for God in prayer, I’ll never forget, they liked to sing before we began to study God’s Word. And one day, we were singing, and Mary kind of stopped things. She said, “Before we continue singing, I need to share some things.”
And tears began to stream down her face, and she begins to talk about how in that room there were two main house churches represented. One of them had had some of their leaders recently confronted by some government officials who had come to their door and said, “We know something’s going on. You better stop what you’re doing,” and then made threats against them. “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, this will happen to you. This will happen to your family, or this will happen to your land.”
And she said, at the same time, this other house church has been attacked and hit really hard by a cult in that area. It goes a lot deeper than Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is a horrible cult in that area that will basically kidnap believers, take them to different places, and torture them in ways that I just won’t describe, but horrible ways.
And she’s got tears streaming down her face, and she said, “With these things happening, our churches were growing, but now this happening with the government, this is happening with this cult,” and she said, “I’ve begun to wonder if God has forgotten about us, or if God still loved us.” And she said, “It’s at this time that God has chosen to bring His servant from the other side of the world to us to encourage us from His Word.”
About that time, another guy, sitting in front of me, speaks up. I wish you could meet this guy. He’s kind of the head of security, real teddy bear like guy. This guy, you can imagine sitting in a small room, knowing that the next minute could be your last, learning God’s Word in this setting. Every time there’s a noise outside, or a knock at the door, everybody kind of tenses up and looks at each other, and this guy’s the one who will go and check things out.
He’s got tears pouring down his face. He said, “I’m a part of this church that’s been attacked by this cult.” He said, “I was almost pulled away by them myself.” He goes on, and he said, “I’d basically come to the end of my spiritual rope, and I went into an extended fast. I fasted and prayed for days, and I broke my fast on Sunday night. And that’s the night I found out that God had brought a servant here to encourage us from His Word.”
You do not program that. You don’t plan that. That’s just something the Holy Spirit of God does. And I look around the room, and they’re all in tears, and they say, “We need to pray and sing some more.” And before I knew it, in a circle around that room, they fall on their faces, weeping audibly. And I’ll be honest with you, I was right there with them. I lost it. And for the next 45 minutes or the next hour, we were on our faces, just weeping before the Lord, praying and singing. You know what they were praying? They were praying, “God, thank you for not forgetting about us; God, thank you for loving us; God, thank you for still being with us.”
I know preachers have a tendency to exaggerate, and for that I apologize. What I’m about to say is no exaggeration. When we would get up after times like that, I would look around the room, and literally there would just be puddles of tears in a circle around the room. Visible puddles of tears by people who love their God. And they know the cost. They know the cost.
We had been doing the training in the city the first two or three days. But they came to me and they said, “Dave, we’re going to have to move the training to different places in order not to draw attention to what’s going on, which means we’re going to have to leave the city and go into the villages.” And that’s a greater security risk for them, because it’s common to see a foreigner in the city, but not very common to see a foreigner in the village, a lot more suspicion with that.
And so they said, “Dave, when we go into the villages, we’re going to need you to wear pants and a jacket with a hood on it. We’re going to put you in the back of our car. You’re going to put that hood on and just kind of ball up some when we drive into these places. And once you get out, we’ll get as close as we can to the place for our meeting. Somebody will escort you inside. We’ll put you inside in a place where nobody can see you through windows or doors. You’ll do the training, and then we’ll sneak you out the same way.”
And so that’s what we did the next week–and–a–half. These people who would come in shifts at different times, who would bike or walk to that place where they would be trained in God’s Word, knowing the cost, knowing what they were getting into.
I remember one day, I was talking about disciples–making and talking about the importance of baptism. And there were two guys in there that had not been baptized. One of them had recently become a believer. The other was a 15–year–old kid. A 15–year–old kid that had come there with his uncle wasn’t even a Christian. Well, he got saved that day. Then the next day, they said, “We want to be baptized.” And so, they asked me to do some more in-depth teaching on baptism. And so I did. I talked about how in baptism we publically identify with Christ and with His church.
And I got to the end, and I said, “I realize that in your culture, in this country, that this is something that might cost you your life.” So, here’s what they did. They brought those two guys out in front of the whole church, and they looked at them one by one, and they said, “Are you willing to be baptized today, knowing that it may cost you your life?” The first guy they bring out, the new believer, “Are you willing to be baptized today, knowing that it may cost you your life?” He looks back at them, and he says, “I have already sacrificed everything to follow Jesus. I want to be baptized.”
The second guy a 15–year–old kid. Teenagers hear this loud and clear, 15–year–old kid brought in front of the whole church, got in his face and said, “Are you willing to be baptized today, knowing that it could cost you your life?” And this 15–year–old kid looks back at them and says, “Jesus is my Lord. Whatever He says, I’ll do it.” And so we take these two guys into the bathroom in the back and baptize them in the bathtub. They know the cost. Jesus is worthy of our trust.
Just imagine with me, you’re going to a worship service. You get some pants and a jacket with a hood on it. You get into the back of the car, where you kind of ball up. You drive up into the darkness into this village. You get out, and an Asian believer, holding a flashlight, escorts you down this long path. You round the corner and come into this small room, nowhere near the size of the room we are in here, maybe just the middle part right here.
You come in there, all of these people crammed in, about 60 believers crammed in one little area with one light bulb hanging in the middle, and they look at you, and they say, “We want you to preach for at least two hours.” That’s a preacher’s dream. Okay?
And so, I do. And they sit there, 60 believers crammed in on little stools; uncomfortable little stools or on the floor. Old, young alike, just sitting there, listening to God’s Word, singing His praises. I know what you’re thinking, “Dave, how can we help out those believers? That room they’re crammed in, one little light bulb hanging in the middle. Let’s get together some resources. Let’s get together some things that we can send over to them. How can we help them?”
I’m here to tell you this morning that the Holy Spirit is doing just fine in that country without all of the resources that we surround ourselves with.
I became so convicted that we are a people that are so dependent on machinery, and programs, and methods, and resources, that somewhere along the way, there is a dangerous temptation for us to completely lose sight of our power that is found only in the Holy Spirit of God.
I’ll never forget the end of that first night. It’s getting late. There’s a girl, a lady sitting in front, a little more educated and lives in the city. She says, “Teacher, I have a question.” And she has so much sincerity in her heart. She said, “I watch TV, and sometimes I see worship services from churches back in the United States on TV.” And she says, “The preachers are dressed in very nice suits. Everyone is dressed very nicely, and they’re in very, very nice buildings.” And she said, “Some of them even tell me that if you have enough faith, if I have enough faith, that I too can have all of these things, that I’ll have wealth, and I’ll have abundance if I have enough faith.”
She said, “I come to our churches, and I look around, and we’re dirt poor, and the government’s coming to our doors.” And she looked at me with all sincerity, and she said, “Teacher, does this mean that we do not have enough faith?” I wanted to weep. I was sad. I was angry. I started to get really angry.
Health and wealth preachers, name it/claim it, if you follow God, if you trust God, you’ll have all these things. But it was one of those times where God kind of turns the tables on you and He said to me, “Dave, this is the system of which you are a part.” You say, “What do you mean?” Well, let me give you an example.
A little over a year ago, I was preparing to go to a trip into the Sudan. Sudan is a country where a million of our brothers and sisters have died over the last 20 years in a horrible persecution of the Church. As I was preparing to go into that place that was famished, people starving, people’s lives literally blown apart, I got a Baptist state paper sent to me in the mail. And I won’t say what state it was from, but there were two articles on the front of this paper.
And I don’t know if the editor did this intentionally, or if he just missed it really, really bad. But on the left was an article. The headline was, “First Baptist Church ” fill in the blank, “celebrates new $23 million building.” And the article that went on for a few pages talked about how this church had built a new $23 million sanctuary for them to worship in; and talked about all the amenities and all the things that this building had.
On the right, I looked, and there was an article that talked about Sudanese refugees. And I thought, “Wow, this is great.” And it talked about how in the western Darfur region of Sudan at that time, there were 350,000 people who were literally dying of malnutrition, could die in the next month or two. And it talked about the starvation and the needs that were there. And then it said, the article said that Baptists had raised some money to send to the Sudan. I thought, “This is great.” But then I saw how much.
Don’t forget, on the left, First Baptist Church celebrates new $23 million building. On the right, it said, “Baptists had gotten together and given an offering of $5,000.00 to the Sudanese refugees. Five thousand dollars is not enough to get a plane into the Sudan, much less one drop of water.
Now please hear me loud and clear. Please do not miss this. My goal, please hear me, in using this illustration is not to say this or that about church buildings. That’s not my point. Not to bring an indictment against building church buildings. That’s not my point. My point is certainly not to bring an indictment against that particular church. That’s not the point.
Luke 9 Calls us to Repent
My point is to bring an indictment on you and me. We need to repent. What kind of faith have we created for a people who claim that Jesus is worthy of all of our trust, and He’s worthy of our plans and dreams. Those people are passionate about telling people about Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. They worked from sun up until sun down hard, working hard in their fields. But at the center of their lives is a passion, is a responsibility that supersedes even putting food on the tables of their children. There’s a responsibility that drives them, and that responsibility is telling people about the good news of Christ. It drives them.
I went back in December, six months later. Within six months, they had grown from two house churches to eight house churches, quadrupled. When I was there in December, I walked them through some tools that might help them as they share the gospel. And then what I did is I walked them through, “Okay, when you lead somebody to Christ, here are 25 truths that you can teach a new believer, a new disciple, a new follower of Christ. Here are 25 truths that you can use to begin teaching them how to follow Christ.”
So, that’s what we did. Two weeks later, just a few weeks ago, I got an email. Two weeks after I’d gone back, they said, “Teacher, we took good notes, but we want everything that you said to us, because we want to translate it all into our own language. You know, we’ve got this problem. We’ve led 20 people to Christ since you left, and we need to start teaching them these truths.”
And I wrote them back and I said, “If you guys would stop leading people to Christ, I could actually get something done that I need to get done here in the United States.”
They are passionate. There is a whole movement. Check this out, a whole movement in this country. It’s called “Back to Jerusalem.” Their goal is to go from their country to Jerusalem. Their goal is to mobilize 100,000 believers in house churches, to go from their country to Jerusalem, and hit all the unreached peoples in between. They believe that God has given them persecution in their country as a gift to prepare them to go into places like the Middle East.
In order to be a leader in this movement, you have to have spent some time in jail. I had the opportunity in December to do five days of training with that group. Guy picks me up from the airport; he’d spent five years in prison for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I go and I talk to these people. Many of them have their parents in prison. Many of them have told their families they’re not coming back. They’re going into India. They’re going into Thailand. They’re going into the Middle East. They’re going to make the gospel known.
You know what their training involves? Listen to this. Their training involves how to break out of handcuffs once you’ve been arrested. Anybody talk about that in your Small Groups? Their training involves how to jump out of a second or third story building without breaking your ankle, in order to free imprisonment. They said, “You come to our seminaries, you’ll see people jumping out of buildings.” Anybody jumping out of windows today? Small Groups? Good. I don’t think that’s a good thing. These people are passionate. And they’re getting the job done.
It’s the passion, the center of their lives. It’s the same thing I saw when I was in Indonesia in October. I was teaching at a seminary, college and seminary, teaching about the Biblical preaching. Listen to this, in order to graduate, and you’re going to love this, in order to graduate from this college or this seminary, every student has to plant a church in a Muslim community with at least 30 new baptized believers; in order to graduate.
I speak at their graduation the end of that week. Every single person sitting in front of me has planted a church in a Muslim community with at least 30 new baptized believers. Two of the students had died in the process. And what I am saying to us is that if our brothers and sisters in Asia, and our brothers and sisters in Indonesia have this at the center of their lives, it is high time for you and I to put this at the center of our lives.
What happens when the ultimate central priority and passion of the church and the members of that church, what happens when there is one thing that is driving them day in and day out, and it’s telling people about Jesus Christ? What happens when that takes hold?
You know, I find it interesting. Jesus is worthy of our plans and dreams. I find it interesting, one of the most common questions in the Church today, one of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How do I know God’s will for my life? Dave, what is God’s will for my life?” You ever struggle with that. Ever thought through that question?
Well, if you’ve struggled with that, or maybe you’re struggling with it now, I want to free you up a little. “How do I know God’s will for my life? What is God’s will for my life?” Well, first of all, the majority of God’s will for your life is right here. It’s in Scripture. You’ve got 66 books that you know are the will of God for your life.
I’m convinced that 95% of God’s will for our life is right here. Sure, this Book doesn’t tell us who to date in high school, or where to go to college, or who to marry. It doesn’t tell us what financial decision to make or what career decision to make. It doesn’t give us the specifics on that. But I’ve got a feeling that if we would start taking God at His Word and give our self to the 95% that He has shown us, maybe, just maybe, He would be faithful enough to show us the other 5%.
So, what is God’s will for your life? Well, I think it centers around making disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:19–20. I think that is the heart of the New Testament. Telling people about Christ and teaching them to follow Christ, that is, I guarantee you, every single one of us who is a believer, I’m standing before you today saying, “You give yourself to making disciples of all nations, you will be in God’s will.” Mark it down, guaranteed.
You give yourself to telling people about Christ, and showing them how to follow Christ in your workplace, in your school, in your community, in your neighborhood, in your home with your family, you’re going to be a part of God’s will, and I believe we’ll see the blessing of God when we give our self to His plan. And not just to stop there. Make disciples of all nations.
What is God’s will for my life? Almost like we’re saying, “What do you want me to do, God? Just show me what to do.” How about the Dongxiang people group in the northern provinces of China? Three hundred and ninety–four thousand of them; 394,000 with 595 mosques. That’s one mosque for every 30 families. No Christian, no missionary, no witness, no Gospel. And we’re sitting here saying, “What do you want me to do, God?”
Luke 9 Calls Us to Serve the Lord
God, raise up a church that will no longer be content to sit back and wait for a tingly feeling to go down our spine, to cause us to get up and do what we have already been commanded to do. God, raise up a church that is passionate about making the gospel of Jesus Christ, no, God, raise up a church that can hardly sleep while there are still people on this planet that haven’t heard His name. He is worthy of our plans and our dreams.
And He’s worthy of our affections. And I believe with all my heart that this is the core. This is where it starts, and this is the spring from which everything else flows. What I’m about to say is in no way an offense, I pray, to churches I’ve grown up in, or churches I’ve been a part of in the past, churches I’ve served with. But in those times, when we would fall on our faces in those underground house churches and weep before the Lord and pray and sing, I realized that there has never been a time in my life where I was a part of a community of faith where love for Christ was so real and so authentic.
And I know what you’re thinking, “Well, those are just emotional people. That’s just the way they respond to God. That’s just the way they do it, and we’re really not like that as much.” On the contrary, these people live in a country where everything is about saving face. The last thing you should do is cry in public. These are simply a people that are overwhelmed by grace, church. They’re overwhelmed by it.
They’re not praying big, theological prayers. They’re praying, “God, thanks for not forgetting my name. Thanks for loving me.” And I know what you’re thinking, “Well, you’re just advocating emotionalism. We can’t get so carried away in our emotions that we forget about truth.” Oh, and I agree wholeheartedly with that. You know, I looked around that room, and there was a lot of Bible knowledge that was lacking in some of their minds. But I had to realize that what they lacked up here, they had right here.
As I got on a plane to come back, I had to realize that I had to confess, God, what I have got up here, what all of us have got up here, I guarantee you, the majority of us have a lot more up here than they do. But what we’ve got up here, somewhere along the way, we’ve missed out on completely right here. And I am not advocating emotionalism, and getting so carried away in our emotions that we are devoid of truth. But I am saying this, if we know God, we will be a people who feel for God. And if we love God, it will show in the way we express ourselves to Him.
In the middle of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards looked at the church, and he said, “We should be utterly humbled that we are not more emotionally affected than we are.” And I believe it’s the key.
One of my favorite guys from history is a guy named Andrew Murray, prayer warrior. He said, “As we seek to find out why, with such millions of Christians, the army of God that is fighting the host of darkness, is so small, the only answer is lack of heart.” And he went on, and he said, “The enthusiasm for the Kingdom is missing in our churches, and that’s because there is so little enthusiasm for the King.”
He said, “Much may be done of careful organization and strict discipline and good generalship to make the best of the few troops we have, but nothing absolutely nothing can so restore confidence and courage in God’s people as the actual presence of a beloved King to whom every heart beats warm in loyalty and devotion.”
So, what I ask you church: is there the presence of a beloved King that is at the center of this church family? And what I ask every single individual who is listening to me, I ask you, is this King the one for whom your heart beats? Does this King have your heart? Does He have your affection?
And I think the best way for us to conclude our time in God’s Word is for us in this room to have some heart time. And here’s what I mean by that. I believe that there is a beloved King. I believe He is worthy of all of our trust, and I believe He is worthy of all of our plans and dreams. And I believe He is worthy of all of our affections.
And I want to invite you to do a heart check, and to ask, “In my life, am I showing Him to be worthy of these things?” And I want us to have some heart time. It may take place in different ways. After I pray in a minute, I want to invite many of you to say, “God, here’s my trust, here’s my plans and dreams, here’s my affections. I pour it out before you.”
Let’s be honest. There are some of us who have been through the church thing for a long time, but somewhere along the way, our hearts grow cold. And I want us to have some heart time. And I know that there might be a child, a teenager, adult, college student, who you’ve never given your heart to this King. You’ve never surrendered your heart to Him. And I want you to know that He’s worthy. He’s completely worthy.
These words are tough; they’re thick. But days after that, this King walked to a cross, and He gave His life there so that you and I could be forgiven of all of our sins, could be cleansed of all the things we have done that separate us from God. And we don’t have to sit here and wait anymore, because we can be united to a relationship with Him right here, right now. We can give Him our heart.
And I want to invite you, if you’ve never come to the point in your life where you’ve done that, He is worthy. He is worthy. And I want to invite you to say, “I want to give Jesus my heart.” And I guarantee, I promise you based on the authority of a sovereign God in the universe, that He will show Himself worthy in your life.