What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? What is the cost of discipleship?
Even before Charles Darwin, many sought an explanation for human existence apart from an all-knowing, all-powerful God. To admit God’s existence is to accept a moral authority over our lives—something unnatural to the human mind. “Because the carnal [natural fleshly] mind is enmity [hostility] against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Mankind does not want to be told what to do.
Every one of us must make a critical choice. The more we discover about the beginning of our universe—and the complexity and evident design within it—the worse our excuse to reject its Creator:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
How about you? Do you believe in God? Just as importantly, do you believe God?
These are simple questions with straightforward answers, but as the prophet Jeremiah explained, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Surely, though, that cannot mean your heart or mine? Don’t be too sure.
True Christianity is more than an intellectual exercise; when taken seriously, it changes lives. The conscientious Bible student ought not remain unchanged. Hard decisions must be made.
Tomorrow’s World magazine contains biblical content regarding our world and where it is headed. It contains articles covering social trends, history, Bible prophecy, and the purpose of life—all of which, when properly understood, lead to a way of life different from the secular and religious courses of our world. In short, Tomorrow’s World is a call to change.
Our December 2021 issue contained the articles “Uncle George and Christmas” and “Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?” Why were they written? Certainly, to pass along historical and biblical perspectives on this popular holiday—but was that all? Were they merely to educate or entertain? Or were they intended to change minds and behaviors?
Jesus’ own half-brother admonished, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). He then warned that “if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (vv. 23–24).
James went on to explain that benefits come to all who respond appropriately to what they see in the mirror of God’s word: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (v. 25).
Tomorrow’s World points to many uncomfortable truths found in the Bible. When God tells us not to worship Him in the way the heathen worship their gods, He means it. There is no wiggle room. Either we honestly assess the situation, change, and obey God, or we continue following man-made traditions that contradict His instructions (Mark 7:1–9; Deuteronomy 12:29–32; Jeremiah 10:2).
Why is it that so few act on the truth revealed? How can they read God’s word and walk away from the mirror of His perfect law—the law that brings liberty? Jesus’ question is as relevant today as it was in the first century: “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
People may agree with what they hear, but do they change? Usually not. It was the same during the times of the great biblical prophets. “So you shall say to them, ‘This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth’” (Jeremiah 7:28).
God’s words are, to many, comforting—but not a command to change one’s life, especially if it means rejecting family traditions. God told the prophet Ezekiel, “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (Ezekiel 33:32).
Mainstream Christianity is a far cry from that of Jesus and His first-century followers; it is a counterfeit that sets aside a different day for weekly worship, observes annual days different from those Jesus kept, holds out a different reward for those who answer the call, and proclaims a different end for the disobedient. The Apostle Paul warned the Church of God at Corinth that it was following the wrong leaders (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). Its ministers were teaching a counterfeit Jesus, coming to them with a different spirit, and proclaiming a different message (v. 4). And, Paul said, the Corinthians “may well put up with it!” (v. 4).
That brings me to what should be the scariest verse in the Bible. It reaches to the heart of why so many refuse to change. It explains why some recognize that Jesus is the “Lord of the Sabbath”—the seventh day—yet don’t change from the sun-worshipping first day of the week, consecrated by Emperor Constantine in the fourth century AD. It explains why most who know the true origins of Christmas and Easter would rather hang onto these heathen-originated practices than keep the days Jesus and His followers kept. It explains why so few professing Christians are willing to come into harmony with the book they say they believe as the inspired word of God.
What is that scariest of all scriptures? What does it mean for you? Read it. Meditate on it. Here it is:
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate [love to a lesser degree by comparison] his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:26).
This is the scripture where the rubber meets the road. It is not an easy requirement for discipleship—and, oh, how some hate the word requirement—but it is why Jesus tells us we must “enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).
Don’t be as the man who looks in the mirror, sees a problem, and walks away. Be strong, be courageous, and do what Jesus said. While there are those trying to do away with the need for a Creator, others create Him in their own image, fearing family and friends more than they fear the true God.
Christian discipleship is not easy, and the cost of discipleship is great. This should be obvious to any who read the Bible. As you, dear reader, continue to read this magazine and watch the Tomorrow’s World telecast, it is my prayer that God will open your eyes and give you the strength to live by His word—scary though it may seem at first—because the reward is beyond compare.