Did Jesus mean that we must give up everything in order to go to heaven?
The Bible teaches that we can have eternal life if we believe Jesus Christ died and was resurrected in order to forgive our sins, and if we repent and seek His forgiveness. In other words, Jesus did everything that is necessary for us to have our sins forgiven. There is nothing that we must do. Salvation is not by works but through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, why did Jesus say the following?
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:25-27 (NASB)
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who .does not give up all his own possessions.” Luke 14:33 (NASB)
The Meaning of “Give Up”
In order to understand any verse in the Bible we must start by understanding the meaning of keywords. In Luke 14:33 the keyword is the Greek word, apotasso, that is translated as “give up.” The word means “to set apart,” “to separate from,” “to willingly give up,” and “to take leave of.” The word can also mean “a final ‘good-bye.'”
The Meaning of The Verse
Jesus’ message of the verses before verse 33 (Luke 14:25-32) is that any one who wants to be Jesus’ disciple must count the cost first. Jesus used two illustrations to teach us what He meant. The first illustration tells us to make a plan and count the cost before building a tower. Otherwise, we may not be able to complete the tower (Luke 14:28-30). In the second illustration, Jesus says that if two kings plan and count the cost before fighting against each other, they must make plans for the battle or their armies will be defeated (Luke 14:31-32). The message of each illustration is that we must count the cost.
Verse 33 is Jesus’ conclusion where He says we must “give up everything.” We have already discovered that the Greek word, apotasso, means “to separate from.” That is, we must separate ourselves from our desires, family, jobs and possessions if we want to be Christ’s disciples. Jesus does not mean that we must literally become single, poor and homeless, because in 1 Timothy 5:8 husbands are commanded to financially provide for their families. Husbands are commanded to love their wives. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. In Genesis 1:28 couples are commanded to have children. That requires money. In addition, if everyone was poor, no one could care for anyone. Therefore, we must conclude that Jesus is not commanding us to sell our possessions and become homeless. Otherwise, we cannot care for our families.
Instead, Jesus is telling us to renounce or give up everything when we become His disciples. Our money and families are not ours. Everything we own and possess we give to Him. In our hearts we say “goodbye” to everything and give it to Jesus. We consciously recognize that all we have belongs to Him and He now has first place in our lives.
We give money to our church as Christ desires. We spend our time and our money to advance the gospel. If there is a conflict between attending church versus staying home to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, we go to church rather than stay home to watch the game. Now if you skip the evening service at church or your Bible study in order to watch the Super Bowl game, you can do that; but then you have revealed you did not say “good-bye” to the things and interests of the world. It is your choice because Jesus wants willing disciples. It all comes down to your heart. Whatever Christ wants should be your priority, desire and wish.
Are you ready to give up everything for Christ and let Him have first place? Your answer reveals your heart.
1. Howard Marshall. Commentary on Luke. New International Greek Testament Commentary. The Paternoster Press, Eerdmans Publishing. 1992. p. 594.
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