The third part of Christ’s description of discipleship in Luke 9:23 is the command: "Follow me." We looked at this carefully earlier and do not need to repeat what was said. However, the challenge comes now in a slightly different way. Having spoken of self-denial and cross-bearing, which the first two points of this text present, we naturally find ourselves looking about for some motivation that will bring us to that kind of commitment.

The idea of a cross tells us more about offering our gifts back to God, for it indicates how cross-bearing is to be done and what it involves. Walter J. Chantry, whom I mentioned earlier, is good in presenting these demands. I draw on his outline.

Self-seeking is the opposite of self-denial, and the problem with self-seeking is that it has been the essence of sin from the beginning. It is what caused the fall of Satan. Satan said, "I want my way, and that means that I am going to displace God. I will rule the universe." God said that Satan would actually be brought low. Jesus said, "I will go down in self-denial. I will abase myself in order that others, those I love, might be lifted from sin to glory." As a result, God promised that Jesus Christ would be exalted. He would be given a name that is above every name, so that every tongue would confess that "Jesus is Lord."

Walter J. Chantry, pastor of a Reformed Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is an exception to this sad state, and he has written a powerful book about cross-bearing entitled The Shadow of the Cross: Studies in Self-Denial.1 At the beginning of this book he too notes today’s neglect of these essential gospel elements and searches for explanations.

In last week’s study I wrote that there is a fatal flaw in the professing church today, a lack of true discipleship. Discipleship is talked about, of course. There are scores of books about it, particularly about what is called "discipling" other people. Words are not the problem. It is the lack of the thing itself. But what are we to say about this next theme: the need for self-denial, expressed as "taking up the cross"? In this area it is not only the thing that is lacking. It is an area about which we do not even speak.