“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
Who Becomes a Disciple of the Lord?
My fellow believers, if we are to become the disciples of the Lord, we must first know three things. Our Lord said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). To become a disciple of the Lord, we have to do likewise. Our Lord tells us directly what we should do, if we are to follow Him.
My fellow believes, do you want to become disciples of the Lord? It is easy for you to be saved from all your sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but it is not easy to become the disciples of the Lord. But in here, the Lord speaks of three things that are necessary for us to become His disciples.
First, to become the Lord’s disciples, we have to hate our fathers and mothers, wives and children, brothers and sisters, and even our own lives. What does this Word mean? When He says that we should hate our parents, wives and children, and even our lives, this does not mean to fall into the trap of nihilism, detest the society and the mankind and hate them and kill them. This means that if our own lives or relationships with our family members such as our parents, our wives and children, our brothers, and sisters hinder us from following our Lord, He tells us to hate these relationships and worldly things. This is the first thing that is necessary for us to become the Lord’s disciples.
When we are willing to follow the Lord after being born again by receiving the remission of sins through the Word of God, the first stumbling stone would be our own family, especially our own parents. For example, if we were willing to obey the will of God, we would feel like we are undutiful to our parents; if we were willing to obey the will of our parents, this would make us feel that we are impious to our God. This is the first problem you encounter. In other words, this is the first problem you run into when you truly want to follow the Lord and become His disciple.
But this does not mean to hate all worldly relations unconditionally. Only when something hinders us from following the Lord, we must hate it. Only then can we follow the will of our Lord. Do remember that sometimes we can follow our Lord only when we hate even our own lives.
If It Is So, It Is Not Easy to Become the Disciples of the Lord, Is It?
These are the first troubles we face when we try to follow the Lord after meeting Him. I spent 10 years as a Christian enthusiast before meeting the Lord. But the first problem that I encountered after meeting the Lord was that my parents, my fleshly brothers, and sisters had become the stumbling stone. My adoptive mother ran a huge prayer house at that time and was going to hand it over to me. She told me, “You, my son! You have studied so much, but why are you acting like this now? You have to listen to and obey me. Minister with me in this prayer house as we did before. Why do you have to go out and pioneer a new denomination just because God told you to do so? Does it have to be you who has to go out and proclaim the gospel and act like you are something? If you act like that it may please God but it does not please me. People in our denomination will surely mistake you for something else.” But I forsook her and followed the will of the Lord. When we are trying to follow the Lord as He had told us, only those who can hate every thing that is against His will can become His disciples.
Secondly, to become His disciples, as the Lord told us, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27), we have to bear our cross and follow Him. Only then can we become the disciples of the Lord. Of course, it is better to follow the Lord comfortably rather than in difficulty. But all of us have our own cross when following the Lord. We all have difficulties. We can become His disciples when each of us bears such a cross and follows Him. Thus, becoming followers of the Lord may be easy and difficult at the same time. In conclusion, only those who can follow the Lord in difficulties can become His disciples.
What Do We Need to Become the Disciples of the Lord?
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33). There is an expression that goes, “Out of the frying pan into the fire.” Don’t you feel the same when the Lord said, “If you do not forsake all that you have, you can not become My disciple.” What does it mean to “forsake all that you have?” Just prior to this phrase, the Lord addresses the parable of the tower builder to explain this. What He tells us through this parable is that if we are to build a tower, we have to “sit down first and count the cost,” before laying the foundation and starting to build it. If we do not calculate the cost beforehand, start to build the tower and unable to finish it because we ran out of money, wouldn’t everyone mock us? They will mock us saying, “Those guys began to build a tower without realizing their limit, and were not able to finish it.”
The Lord also explained this by another parable, the parable of a king preparing for war: A king is going to make war against another king. Before starting the war, the king sits down first and counts how many soldiers another king has and how many soldiers he has, and if there is no chance his army will win, he should send a delegation and ask conditions of peace, while the other is still a great way off. Then He said, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Then what does He mean by “all that we have”? The Lord is not referring to material things when He speaks of this. Indeed, the Lord provides us with materials. But the Lord said that, as a third condition to become His disciple, no one could follow Him if he or she does not forsake all one’s possessions; that is, one’s pride and righteousness. My fellow believers, all people have their own self-respect even though they are born again, and they have many things to boast about themselves. They do not like to give up their respect for themselves and to forsake their own righteousness. They want to keep these things. But no one can follow the Lord if they do not throw away these things. They cannot become His disciples. My fellow believers, I say it again; if we cannot stop having respect for ourselves and do not throw away our pride for our Lord, we cannot become disciples of the Lord. An arrogant servant, a disciple that follows the Lord but who has his own strong opinion, and a person who cannot give up his assertions, even if threatened with a sword by the throat, such a person can never become a disciple of the Lord. Even though our personalities are like that, the Lord tells us to give these all up as the third command. To become a disciple of the Lord after we are saved, this third battle is the fiercest battle. Should we insist on our own righteousness, our faithfulness, and our pride even after receiving the remission of sins? Or should we surrender before Him as it is written, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:31-33). “Our Lord, I don’t have my own righteousness. Nor am I somebody. Even though I claim that I am great, I am nothing but an old, weary rag before You. I have nothing to boast. What is great in me is nothing compared to You, my Lord. You alone are majestic and only Your Word of Truth, salvation, and Your righteousness are upright.” Just like this, only those who have given up respect for themselves and given up all their own righteousness can become disciples of the Lord.
My fellow believers, what do you feel when you see brothers and sisters who are being trained as servants of God after receiving the remission of sins? It is hard for us to become the disciples of the Lord when we have too much righteousness of our own. Do you understand what I am saying? Instead, it is easier for a person with nothing to boast to become a disciple. Why? Because these people have nothing to boast, nothing to be proud of, when the Lord tells them to do one thing, they will follow Him, saying “Yes, Lord.” When our Lord tells them to do another, again, they will follow with “Yes, Lord.” Just like this, they can only answer “Yes, Lord.” to Him.
But a servant who has much righteousness of his own will act in a different way. If the Lord tells him to do one thing, he will ask Him, “Why, Lord?” If the Lord tells him to do another, he will again ask Him, “Why, Lord?” “Why? What? What for? How?” He will stand against the Lord and provoke a quarrel with Him at everything. If the Word of the Lord is true, and He tells us do something, we should be obedient as a good servant saying, “Even though I have another idea, Your Word is always true. Yes, Lord. Your Word is right. Yes. I will follow You.” But a servant of the Lord who has many things to boast will insist on his ideas and will stand against the Lord at everything saying, “Why did our Lord give this Word? If I were Him, I would not have said like that. I would have said otherwise.”
This third test is much more difficult and harder than the first and the second tests. A person who is well prepared with the first, can still follow the Lord, even though he may face some difficulties bearing their own cross as the second test. But a person who is full of his own righteousness is prone to give up following the Lord during the third test.
My fellow believers, if you are to become servants of the Lord, His disciples, you must pass all the three tests. The first thing is, when our family is becoming a stumbling block in following the will of the Lord, we need to be able to hate them, even though they may be our fleshly parents, wives, children, and brothers and sisters. We need to be like those who can hate all things that hinder us from following the Lord. Secondly, even though we may face many difficulties while following the Lord, we need to be able to bear them all. Thirdly, we need to be able to give up all our own righteousness.
In this whole earth, there wouldn’t be a single person who has nothing to boast about themselves. We all have many things that we are proud of ourselves, not just a couple things. In our own thoughts, we would probably have at least a dozen things that we are proud of. “I am good at this field. I am honest. I am diligent. I am polite. I never lie. I rarely commit sins. I am so bold no matter what happens to me. Even if someone threatens me with a sword by the throat, I will never sin before the Lord.” My fellow believers, would our Lord be pleased with such a person? In fact, the Lord does not like that kind of person. He would probably say, “Yes, you are great. You can become a teacher yourself. So you do not need to be My disciple. Get away from Me. I cannot be with you.”
When Two People Meet, One Must Be a Teacher
When two people meet, one must be a teacher while the other becomes a student. We must be students ourselves. But if we are trying to become disciples of the Lord, trying to follow Him, and trying to accompany Him with many things to boast, we would cause too much trouble for the Lord. Also, it will be too hard for Him to use us as the servants for His work. The Lord would say to us, “You are so proud! I cannot be your teacher. I have no qualification for being your teacher. I would rather be your follower. How can you be My disciple? Graduate! Graduate from Me. Then I will be your student and you can teach Me. I will follow you. If your word is the truth, I will follow you.” But He cannot become our student, because our words cannot be the truth. Thus, He will say, “Stop following Me. You go your way, and I will go My way.” Among the born again, there are many people who think they are smart and who have many things to boast. But these people cannot serve the Lord. They cannot become His disciples.
My fellow believers, I also have something I am proud of. In my own opinion, I have things that I am good at. I believe you have these things, too. In our own opinions, we all are great. If we think about it, we are always at the top of other people, not below or behind them. People are all great in their own thoughts, but the Lord tells us otherwise: “Do you want to become My disciples after giving up all that you are proud of? Or do you want to become a teacher yourself, since you are so great? Should we go the other way? Choose between these two.” This is what the Lord is telling us; “You can keep being proud of yourself, and I know I am great. So both of us are teachers. We cannot sustain this kind of relationship anymore. Let’s go the other way.”
The Lord is tired of such people. So I think of this: “Should I insist on my own righteousness, or give it up.” Of course, it is not easy to give up our own righteousness. But what the Lord wants from us who want to live the lives of disciples is this: “Give up your own righteousness. Let go of all your pride. Get rid of your own righteousness and bear My Righteousness, and be obedient to My Word, and follow Me only.” My fellow believers, do you understand the will of the Lord? This is what pleases Him.
Women and men alike, all people have respect for themselves. Humans boast about themselves, whatever little things that they are proud of. But the Lord wants us to forsake this. The Lord does not want us to brag about ourselves and our own righteousness in front of Him. Instead, the Lord truly wants us to reveal our shortcomings in front of Him and our brothers and sisters. He wants us to proclaim, “I lack so much. I need more and more of You, my God. But I want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and follow God throughout my whole life.”
But if God tells me that He cannot use me because I am too proud of myself, this is not good. Not only myself, but all of you need to give up your own righteousness. I believe that if we have too many things to boast, if we are full of our own righteousness, and therefore, if the Lord tells us that He cannot use us, we need to give up everything that hinders us from becoming His disciples. What our Lord wants from us is for us to give up our own righteousness, things that we are proud of, things that we think that are right, good, and true on our own.
It Is Not True That We Cannot Become the Disciples of the Lord Because We Lack Much
Rather, we cannot become the disciples of the Lord because we are too proud. We cannot become His followers because we think we are so great, so smart, know everything, so stubborn, and so kind. Instead, if we were not that bright and slow in learning, it would have been better for Him to use us and make us His disciples. But He feels uncomfortable because we think we are so great. We must say to God, “My God! I have nothing to boast!” He tells us to consider whether we are able with ten thousand to meet an opponent who comes against us with twenty thousand. If we think that we cannot win, we should send a delegation and ask conditions of peace quickly.
We need to think before the Lord. We need to consider how righteous we are in front of Him. We must carefully observe how righteous we are, how great we are and how kind we are. My fellow believers, are you absolutely sure that you can be perfect throughout your whole life? Can you keep things that are good inside you until the end? If you cannot do this, you should surrender before God ahead of time and confess to Him, “Oh Lord! I am not righteous. I am not perfect. My Lord, I lack so much. You alone are true and Your Word is the only truth. You are right, Lord. I believe in You.” You have to surrender before Him and follow Him only. After a quick calculation, we need to surrender before God saying, “Even though I have lived by Your Word so far, oh God, I have nothing that is great in me, I have no righteousness and I have nothing proud in me.” If you are to become the disciples of the Lord, you need to surrender before Him quickly. Do you understand this?
My fellow believers, I have something that I want to share with you about me. In fact, I have nothing to be proud of. Only when the Lord came into me, I have something that I can be proud of; only when He gave me His righteousness, I became righteous; only when He gave me His salvation, I was saved, and only when He made me His servant, I became God’s servant. I can assure to all of you and in front of God that I am not God’s servant because I am great, that I am not doing this ministry because I am righteous and have many talents in every field.
My fellow believers, I am not righteous, indeed. I am not righteous by myself. I am not telling you this theoretically. I really don’t have anything great in me. But sometimes I feel comfortable because I have nothing great in me. I am sharing with brothers and sisters about my shortcomings honestly, and I am living comfortably, revealing myself wholly, without deceiving people hypocritically. I am so comfortable in Lord.
Now, I am living like this, but I used to have so much righteousness of my own. Even if someone threatened me with a sword by the throat, I did not yield myself up to something that I didn’t agree with. If I thought something was right, I obstinately argued that it was right. I was also really stubborn. In Korean saying, “Chois are so stubborn that grass does not grow on the places they once sat.” So I thought Chois were the only ones that are stubborn. But someone told me that Kangs are also stubborn. But Jongs, which are my family, are really stubborn, too. I have never found anyone who is more stubborn than a Jong. These stubborn people are the ones that lead the demonstrations. They are hot-tempered people who stand in the front at demonstrations or sacrifice their lives for their own righteousness. Now to think of it, Ahns are also stubborn. Brother Hong Gyu Ahn told me once that Ahns are really stubborn. I did not know that they were that stubborn. I only thought Chois, Kangs, and Changs are the only stubborn clans, but I found out that Ahns were also very stubborn. Are Kims stubborn or not? They are very stubborn. Are Lees stubborn or not? Are Parks stubborn or not? All these people are stubborn, indeed. I thought Chois were the only clan that is stubborn but people are all stubborn equally.
My fellow believers, we have to give up our own stubbornness before God. We have to throw away all the things that make us think we are great. We have to get rid of our own righteousness, our honesty, our good deeds, and so on. Only then, can we hold fast to the Lord’s will and become His servants. Before the Lord, we have to give up all things that we are proud of that seem to be right in our sight. Some people never give up their own virtue. My fellow believers, if our virtue is in the way of God’s virtue and is against His, we are becoming enemies of God. It is a great vice and a grave sin. Our virtue is prone to commit a high treason against God.
I have told you that we need to think about three things if we are to become the disciples of the Lord. Whether the people of the world bother us, or our family stops us, if they don’t agree with the will of God, we need to be able to hate them boldly. This is why the Lord said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
Secondly, whatever difficulties we may face, we need to follow the Lord consistently bearing them as our crosses. Thirdly, we need to give up our own righteousness. We need to throw away our own righteousness in Jesus Christ. This does not mean to ruin our life. We only give up things that we are proud of. You have many things that you are proud of, don’t you? Do you have these or not? I know you have many of these. I just can’t figure out how many. But you did not know that your pride and your own righteousness are the things that are standing against the Lord, right? Pride and our own righteousness are the things that are standing against Him.
That is why Pharisees did not believe in Jesus. Pharisees are the ones that followed the Law fervently. Whatever Word God may say, they tried to follow God’s Word. Why then did Jesus hate these people the most? Why did Jesus call the scribes and Pharisees as “the brood of vipers?” They could not accept Jesus’ salvation because they were full of their own righteousness and self-conceit saying, “I am righteous, and I live only by God’s Word. Other people may not do so, but I live according to God’s Word even if someone threatens me with a sword by the throat.”
Only when we give up our own righteousness can we be saved from all our sins. When we are saved from our sins, we need to give up our own righteousness. Even after we are saved, we need to give up our own righteousness. This is the most difficult part. Satan the Devil provokes us to maintain our own righteousness saying, “You are really righteous.” But the Lord says, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33). My fellow believers, only those who can forsake all that they have are worthy of becoming the disciples of the Lord. Do you believe this?
Until now, we have lived by the grace of the Lord. My fellow believers, do we have our own righteousness? Try a little calculation. Do you think you can keep your righteousness, which is so small like a pea, throughout your whole life? You cannot. If you think you can keep it, brag about your own righteousness to the end. But if you know you cannot keep it, surrender to the Lord saying, “Oh Lord, I lack much. I have nothing to boast.”
Give up your own merits. Admit in front of God that you are only a human being who lacks so much. You have to confess, “My Lord, even though I lack much, I will believe in your Word and follow You. I may not be able to follow you 100% but I believe following You is right. I will follow You. Even though I have no righteousness of my own, I will follow You to the end. Even though I lack so much, I have nothing to boast, and I am insufficient in front of God’s Word, I will follow You amongst these shortcomings.” Only those people can become the disciples of the Lord and God will use these people essentially. Through them He will receive all the glory.
Do believe this. You must remember these three things if you are willing to become the disciples of the Lord.