By – For the Love of His Truth
Throughout recent years, men and women of true saving faith, followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, have loudly voiced opposition to the grossly erroneous teachings of Rick Warren and, of course, many others who preach a gospel of humanism and free-willism contrary to the Gospel of Christ.
The social media is a-buzz with talk about the suicidal death of Rick Warren’s 27 year old son. To be sure, discussion surrounding this story is not only limited to social media, but is the focus of international news feed on many levels. Rick Warren has, according to some sources, been regarded as one of the ten most influential religious speakers in the world. His books, programs and other influential instruments have become prized household items throughout the secular world, while at the same time they have also been regarded as despicable by true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. A published statistic says that only the Bible has been translated more times than his most popular book to date, “The Purpose Driven Life”.
Many requests for prayer have been made via Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools, for the family of Rick Warren to be comforted by the Lord, during this extremely difficult time following the tragic suicide of their son. The loss of a child, whether by suicide or by any other means for that matter, brings with it an almost overwhelming sadness and unbearable grief for those left behind in their families. It would be inhuman of us if we did not feel a sense of grief for those who have met with such tragedy. We have great sympathy for any family who has suffered such loss.
However, these requests pose a concern for the believer: is the comfort of Warren and his family really what the church should be praying for? Throughout preceding years, it has been the opinion of many of those who are now making these requests, that due to the false humanistic doctrine which Rick Warren has become famous for preaching, he simply should not have been regarded as a brother in Christ.
Should saved Christians, true followers of Jesus Christ, be praying for Him to bring comfort to those who preach a gospel in opposition to God? Is it the duty of the Christian to pray for those who are lost, who are spiritually dead, to be comforted by the very God whom they willfully reject? Yet our Lord Jesus Christ said in this regard in (John 17:9-10) I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
Rick Warren teaches a gospel of secular humanism, aimed at the material and spiritual self-improvement of his followers, he is a worshipper of himself and exalts the things of worldly nature above the teaching of Scripture. The tragic loss of a child cannot temporarily change the fact that Rick Warren has not repented of being of ”the carnal unbelieving part of the world, which lie in sin, and will be condemned; as Jesus died not for them, so he prayed not for them; for whom He is the propitiation, He is an advocate; and for whom He died, He makes intercession; and for no other in a spiritual saving way.”
A commentator on Facebook stated that now is not the time sort out the theological differences one may have with Rick Warren. What an absurdity such a comment represents! A statement such as this is in perfect keeping with the carnal predisposition of fallen man, a gospel of tolerance above truth, which the world proclaims along with the likes of Rick Warren, with such great enthusiasm.
Those who agree with that Facebook commentator, believe a gospel in which the truth has been adapted to serve the interests of men. The divinely inspired words of the Apostle Paul teach clearly that we are to preach the truth in the Word at all times. We must preach the doctrine held within the Word, reprove, rebuke, exhort and we must do so consistently and instantaneously at ALL times.
No provision is made for times in our earthly life, during which we are excused from this explicit instruction by circumstance or event, no matter how tragic or important it may seem, (2 Timothy 4:1-2) I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Therefore, are we to pray for the comfort of those who oppose the explicit Will of God when they are tested by God by means of circumstance in their lives? Scripture gives us the following:
(57) And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
(58) And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
(59) And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
(60) Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
(61) And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
(62) And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
What follows is an exposition on Luke 9:57-62 which deals with a fake disciple and two misguided preachers:
The first two of these men are mentioned by Matthew as well (Mat_8:19-21). The third is mentioned by Luke alone. The fact that Luke was inspired to give us these three men and our Lord’s conversations with them in this particular place, and the fact that the three are lumped together is not accidental. The Holy Spirit has given us these three, brief conversations; and he has given them to us in this particular context for specific reasons, to teach us specific lessons.
If we would understand the lessons taught in this short paragraph, we must not fail to see the context in which it is given and keep it in mind. The Lord Jesus had just finished instructing his disciples about serving him (Luk_9:43-50; Luk_9:55). Then we are told that he set his face stedfastly to go up to Jerusalem to die as our Substitute (Luk_9:51). The Lord Jesus had just announced his mission in this world, saying, “The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luk_9:56). And he was about to send out seventy of his disciples to preach the gospel (Luk_10:1). But just before he sends out the seventy to proclaim the gospel of his grace, Luke tells us about the Master’s conversation with these three men. His purpose in doing so is obvious: If we would follow Christ, if we would serve him, we must do so wholeheartedly, with singleness of mind and clarity of purpose.
A Fake Disciple
Here is a man who volunteers to become one of Christ’s disciples (Luk_9:57-58). Matthew gives us just a little bit more information about him than Luke. Matthew tells us that this man was a scribe (Mat_8:19-20).
He was a very religious man, a scribe, a man who spent his life in the scriptures; but he was a lost man. Judging purely from the Lord’s reply to his bold, confident declaration, this man had the idea in his head that it would be to his advantage to be numbered among the Lord’s disciples. He seems to have thought to himself, “If this man is the Christ, if he is going to Jerusalem to establish his kingdom, I don’t want to be left out and miss the great opportunity of being a part of his royal court.”
He made a big, presumptuous promise. “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way”, going up to Jerusalem, where it was commonly thought the Messiah would first appear in his glory, “a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
At first glance, this would seem to be a very good thing. After all, this is what all believers must do. All who are Christ’s are people who follow the Lamb wherever he goes (Rev_14:4). They willingly follow him. Whether through rain or fire, whether into prison or into death, they follow him. They are resolutely determined to do so.
The poor man, blinded by his religion, as well as by his own depraved heart, had no idea what is involved in following Christ. He did not ask. He did not care. He was not concerned about what it means to be a follower of Christ. He was only concerned about what he could gain by following him. Besides, he was quite confident that he was up to the task, whatever it might be.
Frequently, we meet with men and women just like this scribe. They are very quick to declare, “I will”. They will make their declaration publicly and confidently, just like this scribe. “I will follow Christ, no matter what.” But like this scribe, they speak rashly, without consideration, and speak amiss. They stand up and say, “I now give my heart to the Lord.”
How often we hear preachers urging people to give their hearts to Christ. Indeed, we must give our hearts to him; but salvation does not come by us giving our hearts to him. Salvation comes by him giving grace to us, by which we are constrained to give our hearts to him. Salvation comes by Christ giving you something, not by you giving him something.
This poor scribe, like all men are naturally, was a will worshipper. He thought salvation could be his by the mere exercise of his will. He thought his decision to follow Jesus would make him part of the Kingdom of God. He thought his decision would open the door of heaven. He made a big promise. He was very confident that he could keep his promise. But he was totally ignorant of the things of God. Like Nicodemus, he could neither see, nor enter into the Kingdom of God, because he had not been born again.
The fact that this man was a fake disciple is obvious, because those things that are both essential to and vital parts of faith in Christ were missing.
It is a fact, plainly revealed in scripture, that no one can come to Christ until Christ first comes to him (Joh_6:44). This man came to the Lord physically, but not spiritually. He came in word, but not in heart. He came outwardly, but not inwardly. I will make no attempt to say whether he was sincere or purely hypocritical. The fact is, he could not come and did not come to Christ in saving faith. He had no divine call. He was not taught of God. There is no indication that he had experienced any conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment. He made no confession of sin, no cry for mercy, no plea for grace, and expressed no need of Christ.
This scribe simply decided he would join the “Jesus’ club”, become a “promise keeper”, and get in on a good thing. He did not need grace. He was very confident he could follow Christ anywhere, through anything. After all, he had made his decision! But his decision could not change his heart (Rom_9:16).
Look at our Lord’s answer to this scribe and learn the lesson taught in it. The path of faith in Christ is the costly, painful path of self-denial. “And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luk_9:58).
Foxes have holes in which to bear their young, and birds have nests in which to lay and hatch their eggs; but the Lord Jesus had not even a place in which to lay his head. Though he is Lord of all, in order to save us, the Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed his very life, laid down everything (2Co_8:9; Php_2:5-8). If we would follow him, we must count the cost; and, counting the cost, we must willingly lay down our lives, lose our lives to him (Luk_14:25-33).
“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luk_9:59-60). Here is a preacher with misguided loyalty. If we only had Luke’s account, we could not be certain about the fact that this man was already one of the Lord’s disciples; but Matthew tells us plainly that this man was already a disciple (Mat_8:21).
The man had been called. He was one of those like Matthew, Peter, James and John to whom the Lord Jesus had come, to whom he had said, “Follow me.” Being called, he was a believer. He was a true disciple. He was, in fact, one of those whom the Lord Jesus was about to send out as a gospel preacher. It seems that he was willing to go, and wanted to go; but he desired deferment for a while, because he had another, more pressing, more important responsibility. Before he could go out preaching, he must first take care of his family’s needs. He said, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.”
Perhaps he was, as many think, saying, “Lord, let me first take care of my aging father until he dies. Then I will go.” Perhaps, as our version suggests, he was saying, “Lord, my father has just died. Let me go home and bury him, and I will go.” Either way, his request seems very honourable. After all, a man is responsible to honour his parents. Funerals are important. It is always proper to show respect for others. It is always proper to take care of personal responsibilities.
Why, then, did the Lord Jesus respond to this man’s request the way he did? “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”
The Lord was simply saying this: There are others who can and will take care of that matter. You have more important things to do. There are other people to bury your father. I have called you and sent you to preach the gospel.
Many good men, men who know, believe, and preach the gospel spend far too much time and energy burying the dead instead of preaching the gospel. Without question, there are lots of dead people who need burying; but there are plenty of dead people to bury them. Those who have been called of God to preach the gospel must never be turned aside from their calling. Family, friends and neighbours may not (almost certainly will not) understand such devotion to Christ and his cause. But those who are called and sent of God to preach the gospel must not allow concern for the welfare of their families to interfere with obedience to God. If I am God’s servant, serving the interests of his Kingdom and his glory, he will take care of those things that concern me concerning my family and its welfare.
No man can serve God on his terms. Sadly, there are many who attempt to do so, and pretend to do so; but the fact remains: no man can serve God on his terms! There are many who attempt to serve Christ with divided loyalties, like the man in our text, attempting to be part-time preachers, attempting to both follow Christ and pursue the cares of the world. They are willing to be preachers. They are willing to serve Christ. But they put off their service to Christ, dividing their time and energy between Christ and other matters of concern and responsibility. They fail to understand, or refuse to obey the scriptures. Those who are called of God to preach the gospel must give themselves entirely to the work of the gospel ministry: to prayer, to study and to preaching (1Ti_4:12-16).
If the Lord God has called me to preach the gospel, if Christ has sent me to serve his Kingdom, he will take care of my affairs. He is honour bound to do so (Exo_34:23-24; Luk_22:35). Matthew Henry wrote, “The way of duty is the way of safety. If we serve God, he will preserve us; and those that venture for him shall never lose by him. While we are employed in God’s work, and are attending upon him, we are taken under special protection, as noblemen and members of parliament are privileged from arrests.” If I feed God’s family, he will feed mine. If I serve his house, he will serve mine. If I protect his children, he will protect mine. If I provide for his, he will provide for mine (2Ti_2:4).
“And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luk_9:61-62). Here is a preacher who put his hand to the plough and looked back.
This man’s conduct stands here as a warning to all to whom God has given the privilege of preaching the gospel. Because of the context in which this is found, I am confident this man, like the one before him and those following in chapter 10, was a man sent out by the Lord Jesus to preach the gospel. The lesson taught in these two verses is to be applied in its strictest sense to all who are sent of God to this blessed work. The lesson is clear: We cannot serve Christ with divided hearts!
This man appears to have had a divided heart. He wanted both the ease and joy of other men and the nobility of preaching the gospel. He seems to have looked upon the work of the ministry as a sacrifice rather than a privilege. He seems to have been willing to expose himself to the strongest temptation possible to turn him aside from the work to which he had been called.
This man’s conduct stands as a warning to all who follow Christ. We cannot serve Christ with divided hearts! Those who look back to the world, like Lot’s wife looked back to Sodom, betray something in themselves that wants to go back! Be warned. Christ will not share his throne with anyone, not even with our dearest relatives. He requires our hearts. He must be first. Abraham had to leave his father and his father’s house, for Christ’s sake. When he tried to both follow Christ and stay with his father, God killed his father. Moses had to forsake the woman who raised him as her own son, for Christ’s sake. God forced him to choose between pleasing his wife, or obeying him (Exo_4:24-26; Pro_4:20-23; Pro_23:17-18; Pro_23:23; Pro_23:26). We cannot serve Christ with divided hearts!
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house”
 from Gill’s Bible Commentary on John 17:9
 from Don Fortner’s Discovering Christ In Selected Books of the Bible (12 vols, commentary)
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