by Bill Jackson

(Part One)

 "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things

which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."

(Hebrews 2:1)

A study of the context, together with a basic understanding of

the eternal nature of salvation and the reality of rewards, must bring

us to the conclusion that, while as redeemed people, our position in

Christ cannot be altered, there are goals in the Christian life that

can be forfeited.

If the desire to realize these goals were purely selfish it would

be understandable but unforgivable. Working for Christ for the

satisfaction of the rewards He has promised cannot fit into a

Christian ethic of love. The fact of rewards is plain; the striving

toward them for selfish reasons cannot be condoned.

What is our reward? Basically, we can relate to them in

conjunction with our Lord's statement to the rewarded servant, "Well

done, thou good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of thy


This should be a prime motivation of our Christian lives. We

have been once and for all delivered from a life where the only moral

restraint was fear. We are now living a morality based on love, and

our love for Him - if it is real - can only cause us to obey and

desire to please Him. Having already responded to the gracious Gospel

invitation, "Come unto Me", and rejoicing in the words of finality,

"It is finished", we now look forward with eager anticipation to those

last glorious words, "Well done."

However, those of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ know He does

not lie. If we have not been good and faithful servants He will not

pretend that we were. He must tell the truth about us (Titus 1:5) and

He wants to make it a pleasant truth. That is why He had so much

written in the Word to chastise, encourage and help us to be what He

wants us to be.

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed - to what? To

the things which we have heard.

In reference to Paul's letter to the Hebrews, what things had

they heard? It is clear from the context that they were things about

our Blessed Savior. These things were from the lips of those who were

obedient to the Great Commission of our Lord.

The Apostolic message was clothed in power, and was responsive to

all that Jesus had said. We can safely conclude that, included in

"the things we have heard" was not only the Gospel message of

salvation, but the truths about Baptism, discipleship and obeying all

the commands that Jesus Himself had given.

One of the saddest commentaries on teaching ministries today is

that so little time is spent expounding the blessed commands of our

Lord. Ultra-dispensationalists have relegated these commands either

to a past age or a future age, so that many of today's Christians have

no reality of being taught all things He commanded.

Yet, we must ask, who is the prime teacher of Christian truth if

not the Lord Jesus Christ Himself? It is true that some of His

teachings are hard to follow; some are given in parable form and speak

clearly of a future age. But the basic commands are still valid and

must be taught and obeyed. If not, how can we give earnest heed to

the things we should be being taught?

Some assume the epistles somehow supersede the commands of Jesus

as the curriculum of Christians. It is true that as local churches

are being established, concrete rules had to be laid down, rules which

could not have been detailed by Jesus. Also, situations arose that

had to be dealt with at the time, and a salvation now complete could

be presented in a more analytical formula than would have been

possible before the Cross. (Of course, Jesus did make general

references to the scope and plan of this salvation, e.g., Matthew

20:28 and John 3:14, to name two instances.)

Careful study shows us that the truths governing the moral

behavior patterns and ministry thrusts of local churches found in the

epistles are based solidly on the commands of Jesus. How could we

seek a different foundation?

In this brief study I will bring to your attention two of

Christ's commands; the first two that are recorded as being given to

believers. They are "Follow Me" in Matthew 4:19 and "Rejoice" in

Matthew 5:12.

Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

When we view present day fundamentalism in relation to this command,

we find three unfortunate groupings into which Christians can be


First, we find those that want to follow Christ, but whose

theology is so hyper-Calvinistic that they cannot bring themselves to

actively fish for men. They don't mind (in fact they are usually

happy) if some fishes get caught, but they are afraid to use any bait

in case the fish, swallowing the bait, should do a work to contribute

to his being caught. If our Lord said He would make us fishers of

men, there must be some fishing techniques that He would teach us. We

really cannot blame the friends who eschew all techniques, as they are

often repulsed by the second group of Christians.

This second group are the expert fishers. They have mastered

techniques. The statistics they give for their catches seem to make

them very successful. Some of the gimmicks they employ leave much to

be desired, but to them the bottom line is all important -- GET

RESULTS. Such are those who want to be fishers of men, but their

motive is not to follow Christ but to go forth with one aim - get

folks to make decisions. Often they have no conscious thought of real

devotion to Christ; indeed, they are often willing to deliberately

keep the message shallow so more will respond. However, we can even

understand this position, as it is often adopted as a natural turning

away from the third group of Christians.

The third group are saved, satisfied and asleep. They can

respond very well to popcorn testimonies and even have some scriptures

stored in their heads to bring forth as a foundation for their claims

of being ready to have a happy eternity. They are regulars Sunday

morning, sparse Sunday evening and missing on Wednesday. They are the

strange type of Christian who never leads a soul to Christ. They

"love Jesus", but often didn't really know that He called His

followers to follow Him. If they are well-to-do, they are generally

fairly generous (but seldom sacrificial) in their missionary giving.

They seem to imagine that if they help a missionary to be a "fisher of

men" nothing else will be required of them. It never occurs to them

that Jesus' commands were directed at them. The cares of this world

and the deceit of riches have indeed choked their Christian influence

and made them unfruitful.

We must hope there is a fourth group -- those that seriously

consider that their Lord was talking to them. We come to His basic

command, "Follow Me." Other men have been inspired by the Spirit to

write commands for consecration. In Romans 12:1, Paul penned the

immortal words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of

God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice..." In Colossians

3:1 we are admonished to "seek those things which are above." But

none of these commands can approach the simplicity and majesty of the

beautiful words of Jesus, "Follow Me."

In following anyone, going in the right direction is fundamental.

If you are following a friend to his home and he turns right, you turn

right. He may be going slowly, but you do not pass him. You do one

of the simplest acts - you follow him.

You may have had the experience of trying to follow a car that

was going so fast you had to struggle to keep up. You were not always

sure the way he was going to turn, and you tried to glue your

attention upon something distinctive about the rear of his car so that

you could follow. What a hazardous experience this can be, and how

empty you feel when he loses you and you are lost. Or perhaps you

have almost lost the friend you are following and have seen a car that

looks like his - but it is dark so you aren't sure. So you follow,

hoping you are following the right car!

What a blessedness to know the faithfulness of our Lord. When He

says, "Follow Me", He determines to make the path so clear that the

only reason not to follow is because we want to go in a different

direction, or we want to pass Him. He will never lead where we cannot

follow, although He may lead where we do not wish to follow. We must

realize that the success of our Christian lives will be determined not

by how many results we get or how large our Sunday School is or how

many people we preach to. Our success, as He counts success, is

determined by how faithfully we follow Him.

It is always helpful, when following someone, to know the general

direction they will be taking. We will therefore study two passages

of scripture to see the clear direction the Lord is taking so that we

cannot fail to follow if we want to. We will then know the

realization of His second command, "Rejoice". A life of following

Jesus must lead to a place of rejoicing. It will not be experienced

necessarily on every bend of the road, but it is the only divinely

appointed end.

The passages we will look at are Matthew 4:19 to 5:12 and

Philippians 2:5-11.

In the Philippians passage, we have the co-relative of "Follow

Me" in the words of verse 5, "Let this mind be in you which was also

in Christ Jesus." Now we have very clearly spelled out the direction

He is going.


(1) He knew His equality with God.

(2) He made Himself of no reputation. This is a difficult step

to understand, and harder to emulate. He was the world's Creator, Who

fashioned things that are out of that which was not. By any standard

of what is right, His entrance into the world should have been

heralded by Divine proclamation to all His subjects. It is only right

that all should know Who He is, when we really realize Who He is. But

He made Himself of no reputation - unheralded, unsung, unannounced,

unknown - so was His mind.

The admonition is clearly, "Let this mind be in you", and it is

so easy for us to mouth platitudes that indicate we are willing to be

unknown. But it is not quite that simple, for as soon as we go

unrecognized our human nature stands on its hind legs and demands

recognition. It is so contrary to all that we are for us to be of no

reputation that, when we allow this thought to search our hearts we

must conclude that we are scarcely following Him. Yet this is only the


(3) He took upon Him the form of a servant. To put any human

being in the caste of servanthood is to do that which befits our

fallen nature. He is sovereign Majesty, yet He took upon Him the form

of a servant. It would do well to ask ourselves with as much honesty

as our deceitful hearts will allow - do we ever willingly take the

servant's part? Yet this is what He became.

(4) He was made in the likeness of men - a step far down for Him

Who made man in His image and then watched while that man fell to

disgusting depravity. Yet this is the direction He has set His face,

like a flint, on.

(5) He humbled Himself. "Lord", you might cry, "not another step

down. When I said I would follow You I was willing to go as you

directed, but is it not time to take some upward steps? Must I

continue to go down?" The fact is, that if we would follow Him, we

must take the same direction He took - down, down, down - even if

there is no human expectation of ever reversing the downward trend and

being exalted in this life.

(6) Just when we think He must have reached bottom, He goes down

- and the King of Life becomes obedient to death. "Lord, how can this

be? You promised abundant life to those who followed You, and now the

shadow of Calvary darkens my pathway. Certainly You mean us to go to

the foot of the Cross and then to call upon God's legions for instant

deliverance. No, Lord, You can't be nailed there - You can't die - I

don't want to die."

(7) ...even the death of the cross. "Lord, I guess I can put up

with dying, but can't you make it instant and honorable, like a firing

squad? As Kevin Barry said, 'Shoot me like a soldier, don't hang me

like a dog.' A brave soldier goes into the enemy's camp, is captured,

sentenced to death and amid the drum - roll of the military band,

falls before his captor's bullets. That's bad enough, but not the

Cross with all its shame and ignominy. Lord, do you really want me to

be willing for all this?"

That is what He said - FOLLOW ME. Then He showed which direction

He was going.

We see the "Rejoice" part of this passage in verses 9-11. For as

the Head is exalted, the whole Body will rejoice, and this is the end

He has determined for us. Our problem is that we want to get to

"Rejoice" by going up instead of going down, and we will never get to

our destination if we go in the wrong direction. .

(Successful) E.__


(Christ-like) D. .

I want to get from point A to point D. I am given plain

directions. I travel to point B, then on to point C. Then comes the

crucial decision. I must turn right to get to point D, but that is

going down, and I don't want to go down. I want to go up. So I turn

left and go up to point E.

Realizing that I have lost my way, and remembering that point B

was on my route, I travel down to point B. I don't particularly like

this, as it is a downward move, but it is not too bad, and I do feel

good when I tell myself I am going in the right direction. Arriving

at point B, I turn left and proceed to point C. Again I am faced with

a problem. Now, I have just finished taking a long trip down from

point E to point B - certainly I am not required to go any lower. It

is time to start going up. So I turn left and arrive back at point E,

at which time I repent and go back to point B again, etc., etc., etc.

-- I end up going around in circles, which is what most of you are

experiencing in your Christian lives. You never really get where God

wants you to be, because you never seriously follow, and continue to

follow, Christ.

We have to face the fact that there is a basic problem in

fundamental Christianity. We recognize talent, ability and success.

We often hear, "He is a great evangelist", "He is a great singer", "He

is a great administrator." How seldom we hear of anyone, "He is so

Christ-like." Which attribute would we rather be known for? All of

us, instantly, would say we would rather be Christ-like than to be

talented and famous, but how many of us are willing to take the only

road - the road He took - the road down?

Note carefully the steps we are admonished to take. First, Jesus

knew Who He was. A great deal of emphasis is given today to realizing

your "self-worth." I am glad I can say two things about my self-worth

-- first of all, in myself dwelleth no good thing. There is nothing

in my life that could either commend itself to God or be a blessing to

my fellow man. But, second, I know that all the accumulated wealth of

the world would not be sufficient to pay for the redeemed soul of Bill

Jackson. I have been bought with an infinite price, I have been

redeemed by His precious blood. I have been made a partaker of the

divine nature, and there is not one of you who would have enough money

to pay for me. I am a child of God. I know that, and Jesus knew

exactly Who He was - the lily of the valley, the Bright and Morning

Star, the Fairest among ten thousand.

He made Himself of no reputation. Here I must pause and say that

I am glad I don't have to be a perfect follower before I write these

words. I know that the insidious self that always wants recognition

and that would, if recognition were not given, be proud of its

humility and seek recognition for that. The words, "He made Himself

of no reputation" are words that must remain a challenge to any

sincere follower of Christ who is aware of the reality of his sin

nature and the deceitfulness of his heart.

Reputation is one of the last things to be let go. A man may

lose his wealth, but if he still has "his good name" he is not

considered a pauper. This strikes deep and deadly into the core of

our being, and it might be considered inappropriate for the Lord to

even suggest that this could be our mind, yet we are clearly

instructed to let this mind be in us as it was in Him. We can only

ask God to make us very conscious of the many times when we seek to be

otherwise, and be willing to make ourselves of no reputation.

Can we really continue to allow someone else to get the credit

for that which we did? While others are being acclaimed as being

successful and talented can we be willing to be Christ- like even if

no one recognizes us as such. And even if they did recognize, this is

an attribute that would scarcely get us on the front page of a

fundamentalist magazine. Can we hear of the fame of another without

harboring a jealous spirit and allowing it to consume us so that we

have to resort to some slander of that brother? Are we looking for

the applause of men or are we really content to wait until He says

"Well done"? If in this first step of having the mind of Christ the

fundamentalist world has so dismally failed, can we ever complete the

journey from "Follow Me" to "Rejoice"?

The next step downward that our Lord took was to take upon

Himself the form of a servant. This is another step that is in direct

opposition to all that is human. While it is true that there are

those who are under an obligation to perform as a servant, it is never

a state wherein the human spirit is content. Those in a position of

servitude are always seeking for liberation and, if that is not

possible, for whatever "rights" they can claim for themselves.

The true servant completes his appointed tasks and expects no

compensation, not even any thanks. (See Luke 17:7-10) Are there any

left in the Church of Christ who would do the most menial task

willingly and not be miffed if the pastor failed to give public

recognition? Yet, said Jesus, the greatest among you must be servant

of all. Is this mark of servanthood the general situation in which we

find men of today? I was talking to a member of the church finance

committee recently who remarked how disappointed he was that all the

well - known evangelists that were invited to the church required all

sorts of special treatment, or else they wouldn't come. Perhaps the

reason we find it so hard to take the second step is that so few have

undertaken to take the first step in following Him. It is no wonder

we look for the superficial joys of success in this life, for we will

never get to the true rejoicing that is the end for all who truly


The remainder of our Lord's steps - all down - leave us

speechless and without excuse. He - God Himself - was made in the

likeness of men, humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even

the death of the Cross. How shallow any following we have done

appears when related to the steps He took. This is a following we can

never fully know, so our cry must always be "that I might know Him,

and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His

sufferings, being made conformable to His death." The glorious finale

to that series of journeyings down is the resurrection, just as the

humiliations of Philippians 2 end with God giving unsurpassed glory to

Christ and the command to follow in Matthew 4 is crowned with the

rejoicing of Matthew 5:12. There is always a promised reward, but it

comes at the end of the road.

One problem is that we are impatient for our reward, and

continually try to steal bits of glory. We really do believe in

rewards in Heaven, but we don't act very much like it. The praises of

men might seen like fit rewards for a job well done, but if we strive

for these as our reward, even going out of our way to be sure we get

them, we will have already had the only reward we shall ever get. May

we jealousy guard our hearts from seeking lesser rewards and thereby

canceling out any rewards He wants to give us.

Will we, when looking at the tabulation of Heavenly rewards, see

written boldly across the page, PAID IN FULL? Are we to be counted

among those who love the praise of man more than the praise of God. It

is impossible to seek for both - they are mutually exclusive as goals

of our service. Can we trust Him to keep the books honestly and give

all due rewards in that day?

When we go back to the text in Matthew, we see that His first

command, Follow Me, is succeeded by His next command, Rejoice. In

between is a list generally called the Beatitudes, for they are

proclamations of blessedness. However, when we look at them we

realize that they are all steps down - steps that rely on a just Judge

to render the fruits and compensations from pursuing these qualities

of life.

These are the steps that await us if we follow Him; He starts

with being poor in spirit. "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven" is not

the motive - the motive is to follow Him. We can certainly see the

obvious link between this and being of no reputation in Philippians 2.

"Poor in spirit" doesn't sound like a step to success - and it isn't,

if we equate success with that of which we normally think. For

success has one at the top of the ladder; being poor in spirit is the

first step toward the bottom of the totem pole. Yet it is a step of

following, for He went in one direction - down.

Are the other "beatitudes" any more pleasant? Even the most

innocent ones, being merciful and pure in heart, are steps not normal

for we humans. Being merciful entails not requiring that which we

feel we have a right to; others wrong us and we forgive. What thrill

is there in that? Only to know that He did the same, but on a far

grander scale, when we came as poor bankrupt sinners to His bestowal

of Grace.

Being pure in heart sounds good, but it does mean a lot of

willingness to sacrifice, for even our motives must be pure, and we

have a hard time with that. We say we don't seek reward, but lurking

behind every good deed of man is a wish to be commended for it. Such

was not the emptiness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we get to the others - mourning, being meek, being

persecuted - how can the sum total ever be REJOICE. Because God does

not measure as we measure. For us, the path to success goes up; for

God, the path goes down.

We do not naturally desire, or attain, any of the attributes

spoken of in Matthew 5. They come as He enables us, by His power, to

truly follow Him.



OK! New Christian...What Now? | Bible verse for every letter of the alphabet.| Church History Summary.| The Christian Message.| Election. | Is Hebrews 6 a warning? | Seven Incontestable Questions. | Ironside: Agnosticism. | Issues Of The Heart - J. MacArthur. | Natural Laws and God's Laws. | Possession: The Devil Made Me Do It! | The Preisthood Of All Believers. | Why Jesus? | Knowing Why You Believe - Evidence - Bible. | Discussions With Unbelievers. | Inerrancy. | What Does It Mean To Be A Christian? | First Adam; Then Eve; then what? | What Will People Think? | Perfect For All Time. | Jesus Is Lord. | Spiritual Strength And Power. | The Biblical Calendar Of History. | Studying Your Bible. | Computer Analysis Of The Books Of The Bible. | Early Christianity - Is The Record Sound? | The Bible - The Most Popular Book. | Credentials Of The Bible. | Doomed - to Hell. | Faith And Works In The Plan Of God. | Others Can But You Can't. | Impositions - giving to God and by God. | Why Did Christ Die? | The Successful Christian - #1. | The Successful Christian - #2. | Is It What We Say Or What We Are? | Forty-day Bible Study. | Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation? | How To Overcome Sin - Charles Finney. Death. | Why We Reject This Version. | How Does God Keep His Promises? | Radical Genesis Evangelicals.

 This article is from