THE BATTLE CRY has sounded and the call to ALL is going forth. The question is, "Will you answer His call? Will you join His universal fighting force? Will you be part of Christ's Royal Regiment?" Christ proclaimed, "FOLLOW ME!" With this He told His disciple-soldiers that the test of their affection for Him was that they keep His commandments.
When Christ went recruiting, He saw Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother fishing at the sea of Galilee. It says in Matthew 4:19 that Jesus would make them "fishers of men." Verse 20 states point-blank that "they straightway left their nets, and FOLLOWED HIM." The narrative doesn't stop there. For Jesus then called James and John, and they also immediately left their occupation, and their father, and FOLLOWED HIM! (vv.21-22). Jesus kept recruiting until He had a small force to train up for His Royal Regiment.
The training for life-service would require the breaking of natural family ties such as we read in Matthew 10:34-39. Read that slowly if you will. In fact, read all four accounts of the Gospel--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Don't stop there. Read the ENTIRE New Testament! It all points to ONE arresting fact:
Discipleship in Christ's Royal Regiment will cost the enlisted soldier
his most valuable possession--his whole life.
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:24-25).
So many professed Christians too often forget how high were the claims Jesus declared about Himself and how very implicit were His orders concerning obedience. Furthermore, the modern churches put forth the asinine idea that we humans, not Christ Jesus, are most worthy. "Christians" forget--accidently-on-purpose, of course--that our Lord deserves the rewards of His sufferings. "Christians" forget that we all were and are sinners saved by His grace and that nothing we do has merited His mercy. We don't deserve salvation!
Christ Jesus was the very King that Israel had awaited for. Unfortunately, the Jews just didn't recognize Him. Still He insisted that He was King, their King, even until the end. When He was clothed with a royal robe as a mockery, He did not recant one syllable of His Kingly claim, though He knew He was facing sure death. Such a King is our need. Such a one we must follow.
Read the accounts in Matthew 26:27-31 and John 18:36-37. Jesus firmly believed in His own Royalty, and, in humble yet fearless majesty, He performed His Kingly functions. John the Baptist also attested to Christ's Kingship by preaching, "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). And Jesus Himself preached in a similar way about His very own Kingdom. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). He established His Kingdom, He proclaimed the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven; in all this, He showed Himself as King. Of course, many mocked Him then just as they do today. However, His claims have long been substantiated.
If Jesus would have set up a natural throne in Jerusalem and fought against the Romans, many Jews would have rejoiced in the flesh. But Jesus was not a man-pleaser. Jesus had a much broader and higher agenda. He brought forth a Kingdom that would embrace ALL nations and be above ALL kingdoms. History bears out this fact, even as I write.
Throughout the world one can find men and women who are loyal to their respective rulers. To respect a worldly ruler is one thing. To honor Christ Jesus above all is something else; and to honor Christ in the face of severe opposition is yet something beyond that. One writer states it like this: "[G]ood citizens and law-abiding men . . . [could] in a day . . . be turned into rebels if the claims of those [worldly] rulers even became antagonistic to the claims of Christ. He is to them [i.e., the dedicated, uncompromising Christians] King of kings, and their allegiance to Him transcends all others."
Should we, as the Lord's disciple-soldiers, not want to declare His Kingship? A former member of the Assembly of the (now compromising) World Council of Churches (WCC) asked these questions: "Is your church willing to declare, as this assembly has declared, that hunger, segregation and discrimination on the ground of race . . . is contrary to the will of God? . . . The Church of Christ is today a worldwide fellowship, yet there are countless people to whom He is unknown. How much do you care about this? Does your congregation live for itself, or for the world around it and beyond? Does its common life, and does the daily work of its members in the world, affirm the Lordship of Christ or deny it?"
Understanding and loyal action are the principles of Christ's Lordship, His Kingship, His Kingdom. He expects OBEDIENCE!! There must not be any diversity in allegiance to Jesus Christ our Lord. The trouble with twenty-first-century Christians is that they want Christ and the world too. Therefore, they cannot bring forth true loyalty that will stand the test of time. Jesus issues His commandments, and . . .
it is only in OBEDIENCE that we can have any valid claim
to call ourselves by His name.
Interestingly enough, it was Napoleon Bonaparte who made this startling, and completely true, evaluation of Jesus Christ the Lord:
I know man, and I tell you Jesus Christ was not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him. In every other existence but that of Christ how many imperfections! From the first day to the last He is the same; majestic and simple, infinitely firm and infinitely gentle. He proposes to our faith a series of mysteries and commands with authority that we should believe them, giving no other reason than those tremendous words: I am God.
Thomas Carlyle also wrote of Him: "Jesus is our divinest symbol. Higher has the human thought not yet reached. A symbol of quite perennial, infinite character: whose significance will ever demand to be anew inquired and anew made manifest."
Socrates died with earthly honor, surrounded by his disciples listening to the most tender words--the easiest death that one could wish to die. Jesus died in severe pain, dishonor, mockery; as the object of universal cursing--the most horrible death that one could fear. Upon receiving the cup of passion Socrates blessed him who could not give it to him without tears. Jesus, while suffering the sharpest pains, prayed for His most bitter enemies. If Socrates lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a God--the only God, the Living God.
So what will we do with Matthew 16:24-25? Jesus' standards have not changed. He is still King. And if He is still King, and if we are willing to be His servants, we must meet His demands. In turn, we cannot deny that our loyalty to Christ Jesus demands that we . . .
DENY OURSELVES, TAKE UP OUR CROSSES, AND FOLLOW HIM.What will you choose? Will you declare Jesus as King? Will you forsake all and be a part of Christ's Royal Regiment? Won't you lose your earthly life in order to gain His eternal Kingdom?
~General James Green
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