September 2014 • Volume XV, Issue 5
Hating Your Own Life (2)
Let me give you three biblical examples of men who hated
their own lives (Luke 14:26). First, there is Zacchaeus
(Luke 19:1-10). He gave half his goods to the poor and
promised restitution to anyone whom he had defrauded as a
tax collector, even saying, “I restore him fourfold”
(8). Zacchaeus is a fine example of one who hated his own
life with regard to his money, for, as Christ taught, “Ye
cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).
Second, consider the man blind from birth in John 9. Jesus
healed and saved him. On his refusal to deny Christ, he was
excommunicated from the synagogue (34, 35). He also was a
man who hated his own life in the biblical sense.
A third example is Jason of Thessalonica in Acts 17. He gave
hospitality to Paul and Silas in his home (7), for which he
was seized and arraigned before the city rulers (6-8), and
forced to pay bail and keep the peace (9).
What would people think, if you followed Christ and His Word
in your life? In your family? In your church? How would they
react if you obeyed the Saviour more faithfully? Many
would not like it. They would swear at you as an extremist
and a bigot. The fear of man, including being scared of
losing popularity, brings a snare (Prov. 29:25).
What will happen as the end draws near, when, Jesus says,
“ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt.
24:9)? How would you or I cope if we were imprisoned for
Christ’s sake? The apostle John writes, “And they overcame
him [i.e., the devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the
word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto
the death” (Rev. 12:11). Some of God’s people are physically
martyred; principally, martyrdom is for all Christians.
We know something of this, for example, in the fields of
education and work. We may get marked down for our biblical
views at school or university. We are excluded from various
jobs because our society and employers trample underfoot the
fourth commandment. Our Christian stance may result in our
not getting promotion.
Hating one’s own life is not merely a suggestion or a
recommendation, but a necessity. “If any man come to me, and
hate not ... his own life also, he cannot be my disciple”
(Luke 14:26). Such a one can be a disciple of some man or a
false Christ or a departing church, but Christ says he
cannot be His disciple.
Hating one’s own life is necessary not merely for
office-bearers or older Christians or more diligent church
members. It is a necessity for all believers. It is also
important that those who are not converted also understand
this, for they must count the cost (28).
Christ’s instruction on the necessity of hating one’s own
life must be honoured not just in one’s own church, but in
all churches. Any church which does not teach and maintain
the truth that its members must hate their own lives, is on
its way to being a false church, nay, it is becoming a false
After all, this is not merely the word of a minister. It is
the Word of Jesus Christ Himself: “If any man come to me,
and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he
cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Moreover, He did not
whisper this saying to a few, select believers; He
proclaimed it to the “great multitudes,” to whom He “turned”
and spoke these words, eye-to-eye, so to speak (25).
This requirement for discipleship is not arbitrary. There is
a compelling rationale why a person must hate his own life
to be Christ’s disciple. Here are three simple arguments.
First, our salvation is salvation from sin: original sin and
actual sins. Hating one’s sin is surely part of hating one’s
life. Second, salvation is being under the lordship of
Christ, the One who said that He has no disciples except
those who hate their own lives. Third, citizenship in the
kingdom of God involves radical self-denial, for Jesus
commanded, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matt.
We must also remember that Christ hated His own life in that
His was a lowly birth and He submitted to being despised and
rejected, spat upon and scourged, and condemned and
crucified, both by His own people, the Jews, and by the
world, the Romans representing the Gentiles. The Lord did it
because He loved us, even “unto the end” (John 13:1). He
died in our place, bearing the punishment due to us for our
sins, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to
God” (I Pet. 3:18). And what is a “disciple” (Luke 14:26)? A
learner. Here, a learner of Christ, one who follows and
imitates Him, the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3)!
You can understand this, beloved, from your own practical
experiences, both in becoming a Christian and in remaining a
Christian. How many opportunities have you not had to go
back to the world or pagan religions or apostatizing
churches (which would have made life so much easier for
you)? But by God’s grace you said, “No”—no to family and
friends and enemies, no to yourself and your own life.
Luke 14:26 provides a defining characteristic of a true
Christian: someone who hates his own life. A believer is
someone who hates his own life because he loves Jesus
Christ, who has saved him from destruction and given him the
knowledge of God.
This is good news for you, O troubled saint! Despite your
sins and weaknesses, and the difficulties of the way, you
are Christ’s disciple. Jesus Christ Himself says so in Luke
14:26; be encouraged and press on! Rev. Stewart
Blotted Out of the Book of Life
A brother asks, “Since we, Calvinists, believe that God
predestinated some to eternal life and some to eternal
damnation to the glory of His rich mercy and just power
(Rom. 9:22-23), what does God mean when He refers to
some as being blotted out of His book (of life)?”
Next follow the three texts to which the reader refers.
“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this
people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods
of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and
if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou
hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever
hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book”
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white
raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the
book of life, but I will confess his name before my
Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5).
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the
book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out
of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from
the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:19).
The Arminians are fond of appealing to these passages
and others like them to prove their terrifying doctrine
of the falling away of true saints. I remember talking
to a lady once who was brought up in Arminian circles
who told me that she had accepted Christ at least six
times and had been baptized three times, because every
time she had accepted Christ, though she was sincere,
she had fallen away again.
Such nonsense is contradicted by Scripture in John
10:27-30, a passage, by the way, that convinced the lady
with whom I spoke that there could be no falling away of
a true saint. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life;
and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck
them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is
greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out
of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Another
passage is Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this
very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Thus the
Arminian denial of the preservation of the saints would
rob the child of God of all his comfort.
The expression in Scripture, “the book of life,” is
indeed the book God writes that contains in it the names
of all the elect. It is written before the foundation of
the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8). The reader is correct in
his assumption that the reference is to the doctrine of
eternal election. But we must remember that it is a
figurative expression. We must not think of it in
earthly terms, as if God really has a book on some
bookshelf, and in it are the names of all those whom He
saves, and which book He consults from time to time to
refresh His memory as to whom He must save. The
expression is a very graphic way of referring to the
truth of sovereign election, according to which God has
determined eternally in Christ who are His people and
who are not.
The references to God blotting people out of His book of
life look at the term from the point of view of the
church here in the world. Generally speaking, the
church, which bears the marks of the true church (Belgic
Confession 29), is composed of elect. But there are
in the church those who, while they claim to be elect
and to have their names written in God’s book of life
are, nevertheless, not in that book at all.
Thus Moses, as an Old Testament type of Christ as
mediator of God’s people, tells Jehovah that he wants so
badly to have His people go to heaven that he is willing
to go to hell to gain that end. That is, of course,
impossible, but it tells us of the greatness of Moses
concern for the people of God. It is a great confession
on Moses’ part and one that few ministers, if any, would
dare to make. But Christ did!
Where God points out great sins that are or might be
committed by men in the church, He accompanies the
description of these sins with this warning: “Those who
do these things will be blotted out of My book.” That
is, their names were never in that book, for they are
not elect; but they claim to be elect and claim to be on
their way to heaven. They claim to have their names
written in the book of life. But they shall learn that
the sins that they commit deprive them of heaven and
show that they are not truly God’s people. This terrible
threat is uttered to these wicked people that their just
punishment is hell, and so they are urged to repent.
This is the meaning of these texts. The doctrine of
election is a great comfort to the believing child of
God, but knowing that our names are written in the book
of life does not make us careless and profane. It rather
brings us to our knees in humble thanksgiving for our
heavenly Father’s rich mercy towards us in Christ
Jesus. Prof. Hanko
Canons of Dordt V, Of the Perseverance of the
6. But God, who is rich in mercy, according to His
unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly
withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people, even in
their melancholy falls; nor suffers them to proceed so
far as to lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the
state of justification, or to commit the sin unto death;
nor does He permit them to be totally deserted, and to
plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.
7. For, in the first place, in these falls He preserves
in them the incorruptible seed of regeneration from
perishing, or being totally lost; and again, by His Word
and Spirit, certainly and effectually renews them to
repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their
sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the
blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favour
of a reconciled God, through faith adore His mercies,
and henceforward more diligently work out their own
salvation with fear and trembling.
8. Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits or
strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not
totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and
perish finally in their backslidings; which with respect
to themselves is not only possible, but would
undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is
utterly impossible, since His counsel cannot be changed,
nor His promise fail, neither can the call according to
His purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession, and
preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the
sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.
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