The Cup That Jesus Drinks

Convincing the church to sell Christianity as a way to achieve benefit, rather than offering Christianity as a way to be a benefit to others, is Satan’s most insidious deception.

Jesus did not die just for you – he died for everyone. Jesus invites you to participate in his death and resurrection. Baptism and Communion aren’t symbols of receiving a crown, being seated on a throne, and being given a mansion. Baptism and Communion are symbols of Suffering, Sacrifice, and Service. They are symbols of our participation with Jesus in the redemption of a world of people who are lost, and dying, and broken.

“I am crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20)

“Buried with Christ in Baptism…” (Romans 6:4)

“Are you able to drink from this cup I drink?” (Matthew 20:22)

“Drink of it, all of you.” (Matthew 26:27)

“The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28)

“Follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Being a servant – that is, following Jesus – isn’t popular or comfortable. Following Jesus won’t make you one of the Cool Kids. To be sure, following Jesus has its blessings, but they are the blessings of satisfaction, not the blessings of luxury. They are the blessings that come from hard work, not the blessings that come from relaxing. Following Jesus is work, then rest – not rest, and more rest. Jesus will reward you richly – but first, following him will cost you everything.

Are you ready for this kind of Christianity?

–Bob Young

Books by Bob Young


How You Can Know God

It doesn’t have to be difficult to understand Jesus. Or, maybe I should say, it doesn’t have to be difficult to know Jesus – to really know him.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 10:21-22, ESV)

I’ll get right to the point. We don’t decipher truth about God by reading the Bible, or by analyzing it closely. You cannot fathom God. No matter how hard you try, no matter how many Bible commentaries you read, no matter if you study Greek and Hebrew so you can read the Bible in its original languages – no matter, no matter, no matter – you’ll never figure him out.

Did you catch what Jesus said in Luke 10? God hides, and God reveals. And the revelation of God is so simple that a child can understand, so even Pastors can’t count on their seminary degrees to help them grasp our Father and Creator.

During Jesus’ days on Earth as a man, the Pharisees used the law – that is, the written Word of God – as the source of knowledge. It was everything. If you could prove it from the scriptures, it was true, and if it disagreed with the scriptures, it was false.

But the Pharisees were wrong about so many things. Jesus showed them that their infallible proofs were very, very fallible.

Today, many Christians are being taught to think just like the Pharisees. In so many ways, nothing has changed. If a Bible teacher can apply a convincing logical proof to the grammar and syntax of a Bible passage, then that logical proof, rather than the words of Jesus, becomes their divine, infallible, revelation.

Here is how you know they’re wrong: little children can’t understand what they’re saying. Jesus said, “You [God] have revealed these things to little children.”

Here’s what Jesus said: “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

So, how can you know God? By being the kind of person that Jesus chooses to reveal him to.

And how can you be the kind of person that Jesus chooses to reveal God to? By deciding to follow Jesus. Jesus reveals God to his followers.

Be warned, though. Be ready for some push-back. Christians who put the Bible ahead of Jesus will disagree with you. Or, more accurately, they disagree with Jesus, because he hasn’t chosen to reveal himself, or the Father, to them.

When you read the Bible, don’t analyze it in order to prove your comfortable preconceptions. Don’t read it in order to reinforce your sense of holiness. Instead, look at Jesus. See his compassion, his patience, his generosity, his love. Then – follow Jesus. It’s simple, isn’t it? Simple, and wise.

–Bob Young

Did you like reading this? Then you should buy one of my books. (Thank you!)
Books by Bob Young

Ask Bob #91: What Makes A Person A Christian?

Today’s Question: “What Makes A Person A Christian?”

My Answer: This is a great question, Friend, and I’m so glad you asked. I’m going to start teaching you with the Socratic method, and return a question for your question…

Tell me – what is a bush? Describe a bush to me.

This problem was presented to our class at Northwest Christian University by Dr. Herb Works, our Missions Professor. It proved to be a diabolically clever question! We tried really hard to give him a good answer.

Student: “It’s like a small tree.”
Dr. Works: “So, is a one-year old tree that only comes up to my knee a bush?”
Student: “No. I mean, when it’s full grown, a bush is smaller than a tree.”
Dr. Works: “So, all bushes are smaller than all bonsai trees?”
Student: “No. A bush is like plant, but it has a woody stem.”
Dr. Works: “Trees have woody stems. Are trees bushes, too?”

It was very frustrating. We tried and tried to define a bush, but every description we gave was incomplete, and included things that no one would call a bush.

“Oh, Dr. Works, just point to any plant, and I can tell you whether it’s a bush or not! But I admit I can’t define it.”

And that, Friend, was Dr. Works’ point. Definitions are very slippery things.

So, back to your question: what makes a person a Christian?

There are several definitions, and all of them are imperfect. Here are a few for you to consider.

Definition #1: A Christian is anyone who belongs to a Christian organization.

This is a fair definition. There is no one global standards body with the authority to certify authentic Christians. The Roman Catholics have one standard for the definition, the Greek Orthodox have another standard. So does the Anglican church, and the Lutherans, and the Methodists, and any number of Baptist groups. I’ve heard Baptists say Mormons aren’t Christians, and I’ve heard Mormons tell me they are.

Definition #2: A Christian is anyone who says they are.

Again, this definition is perfectly fair. Some people who call themselves Christians have chosen not to belong to any of the Christian organizations mentioned above. These people may be ex-members of a Christian organization; this scenario is fairly common. Less common are people who call themselves Christians, but have never been a member of any Christian organization. Still, such people do exist.

Definition #3: A Christian is anyone who subscribes to one of the Christian creeds.

I almost didn’t list this definition. Generally such a person will be in one of the two categories already mentioned, and so at first I thought it was redundant. But then I decided to list it anyway, because there are people who have been debarred from a Christian organization, but who still subscribe to that organization’s creed. Different Christian organizations have different terms for debarment: some churches excommunicate, some withdraw fellowship, some call it shunning. Some of these people may feel that, because of excommunication, they are no longer Christian. Some of them, on the other hand, will consider themselves to still be Christian, and only view excommunication as loss of membership in the organization. So, this definition is kind of in a gray area. You know – like my example of describing a bush.

Definition #4: A Christian is anyone who is a student of Jesus and who follows Jesus.

This definition is most in keeping with what we can read in the Bible. The first use of the word “Christian” in the Bible is in Acts 11:26, where we read, “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Up until this time, what were they called? Look at the verse again: they were called disciples. This word means, “student.” They were disciples, or students, of Jesus.

From Strong's Exhaustive Concordance

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

The term “Christ” is technically a title, not a name. “Christ” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” The Christ, or the Messiah, is the Anointed One. To be completely proper, we would say, “Jesus, the Christ,” rather than, “Jesus Christ.” However, the use of the combined term, “Jesus Christ,” is now so common in English that no one makes a fuss about the technicality, including me. You’ll find many instances in my writing and speaking where I have used the term, “Jesus Christ,” as Jesus’ name.

But I digress. Back to the fourth definition: the disciples, as they were called, were the students of the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. And since these disciples considered Jesus to be the Christ, they were, by extension, students of Jesus.

There is something else that must be added here, and that is the idea of acceptance or adherence. A disciple, or student, in the Greek culture of the period covered in the Book of Acts, didn’t just commit to an intellectual analysis of the teacher’s philosophy. The student was a follower of the teacher. The student lived out the teacher’s way of perceiving the world and responding to it.

So, we have these terms, any one of which may be exchanged for the others:

disciple of Jesus
student of Jesus
follower of Jesus
disciple of Christ
student of Christ
follower of Christ

Oh, my! Do you see? A new dilemma has been created. Here it is: someone may belong to a Christian organization (Definition #1), but not be Christ-like. Someone may say they are a Christian (Definition #2), but not be Christ-like. Someone may subscribe to a Christian creed (Definition #3), but not be Christ-like.

This dilemma, I’ll guess, is why you asked me your question. There is, in the world, a disparity between what Christians do and how Jesus Christ lived. There is a disparity between what Christians say and what Jesus Christ said.

This is why, in my writing and speaking, you will find this urgent plea over and over again: “Follow Jesus. Follow him!”

I don’t care if you call yourself a Christian. I call myself a Christian. Sometimes. With a certain degree of caution and reluctance. I consider the term “Christian” to be risky, not because of its historical meaning, but because I don’t want to be associated with some of the other people who call themselves Christians today. More often you’ll hear me say, “I follow Jesus.”

And so it is that in this article too, I express my urgent plea: follow Jesus! Whatever you call yourself, or whatever you refuse to call yourself – follow Jesus.

And, one last thing. Would you do me this kindness? If you follow Jesus, would you tell me so? Just put it in the comments. It’ll be a great encouragement to me. Thanks.

–Bob Young

Interested in having me speak? Live or live streaming – it’s easy! Let’s set it up!