Lose your life and gain everything

Lose your life and gain every good thing {Week 4}

As we now come to the end of our Surrender Bible Study, we understand that we must first make the decision to surrender ourselves to Jesus. Once we understand why this decision is crucial as a disciple of Jesus, we must be willing to deny our own sinful nature, take up our cross and follow Jesus. All this needs to happen for the purpose of dying off our old self – sinful and full of blame – and so that we can take on the nature of Jesus.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

In our last post, we discussed that following Jesus entails directing our hearts towards God’s will and living our lives in the same way Jesus set the example for us while he was here on earth.

When we study Matthew 16:25 we find the definition of surrender to Jesus: to lose our life. This does not mean to physically die, but to die off everything that prevents us from becoming holy like Jesus. Thus, we must overcome our sinful nature. If we try to hold on to our own will and sinful desires, we cannot call ourselves followers of Jesus (whoever wants to save their life will lose it). But if we lay our sinful nature at his feet and hand over control of our lives in his hands, we will find eternal life with Jesus (whoever loses their life for me will find it.) In our plans, our relationships and in our decisions Jesus must be our first priority (Matthew 10:37-39). Not even our nearest and dearest can be more important to us than our relationship with him.

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:20

In this letter to the congregation of Galatia, Apostle Paul explains that when we die off (crucify) our tendency to sin there is space for Christ’s nature, through his Holy Spirit, to take root in our hearts so that inwardly we become a new creature. It is only by faith in the power of the sacrifice of Jesus that we can live as this new creation. What is so beautiful about this verse is the emphasis on Christ “who loved me”. Christ died for everyone, but he also died for each one of us individually. He wants to restore the relationship between each one of us and God, the Father.

I have been crucified with Christ

With this concept of Christ living in me and you, we understand that following Jesus is more like him living in us, or us being part of him than us as disciples just walking behind him. This is illustrated beautifully by Christ himself in the gospel of John:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this is my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

John 15:5,7-8

John 15 serves as a vivid illustration of the connection between Jesus and his disciples that followed him while he was here on earth and those who want to follow him for all eternity. Jesus explains that he is the life-giving vine, and his followers are the branches who cannot do anything “apart from” him. Therefore, there can be no separation and we have everlasting fellowship with Jesus now and for the future. Jesus Christ is the only way to have access to God because he is the true God. As the branches, our only way to bring forth “fruit” of any value is through a connection with the vine, Jesus Christ. Everything we do and strive towards must be motivated by this connection with our Saviour.

I am the vine and you are the branches

Verse 7 is often used out of context to prove that God will grant us whatever we pray for. What is often omitted is the fact that we must abide in Jesus, the vine, as a prerequisite. It is important to understand the meaning of the word “abide”. The Oxford dictionary defines abide as to accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation). If Jesus rules our hearts, decisions, and emotions then we abide in him and his words abide in us. This must cause a change in us such that our thoughts and desires will be filled with the words of Jesus and His will reigns supreme in our hearts. As a result, our prayers are aligned with his divine will too and our will won’t feature, therefore our prayers are heard.

Through abiding in Jesus, we bear fruits of love which should motivate our every action and by reflecting this love to others we glorify the Father. Subsequently, the closer we abide in Jesus, the more fruit we will produce and the more we will glorify God. The mark of true discipleship is then to love God above all and our neighbour as yourself – the most important and most difficult command Jesus gave on earth. When we follow Jesus with our whole being to such a degree that we lose our own will to have his Spirit rule our every thought and action we can affirm that we truly abide in him and he in us. When this happens, we lose our lives gladly so that we can bear fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (Galatians 5:22-23) to the honour and glory of our Father in heaven and as an example to all we encounter.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit

This everlasting connection between us and Jesus Christ is the mark of a true disciple. This is no easy feat. The process we need to go through, and the expectations set for us by Jesus Christ goes against everything we are taught in popular culture. We are called to follow the example Jesus set for us while he was on this earth. He taught us to rebel against our human nature and our broken, evil society so we can follow his laws and teachings by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following him to everlasting life.

Here is the link to our Facebook Live discussion of Week 4:

Facebook Live Surrender Bible Study week 4 follow Jesus

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