Explore the Bible Study: Unashamed

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Have you ever been driving down the road and saw a bumper sticker that read, “Honk if you love Jesus”? Have you ever honked? How did the person in the car respond? I surely hope he gave you a thumbs up or responded with a smile. I have heard of examples where the response was not a thumbs up, but another hand gesture, and the verbal response was not too kind either! The bumper sticker pictured above is one that really gets to the point of this week's Explore the Bible Study: Unashamed.

People, especially in our country, use a variety of methods to identify themselves as followers of Christ. They use jewelry, clothing, bumper stickers. They list “Christ follower” on their social media profiles. Many businesses indicate their belief in Christ by placing the symbol of the fish on their logo.

While it might be dangerous in some locations to publicly identify ourselves as followers of Christ, it is still relatively safe to do so in our country. Yet, with this freedom, we must ask ourselves if we have become too silent about identifying ourselves as followers of Christ. 

A study of Luke 9:18-27 reminds us that Jesus expects His followers to forsake all else for Him. Jesus will challenge us all with the conversation He has with His Twelve disciples. Luke chapter 9 begins with Jesus’ commissioning of the Twelve. The first section of chapter 9 describes on-the-job training that Jesus assigned the Twelve. They had watched Him preach, heal, and cast out demons. It was time for them to practice what they had witnessed.

Chapter 9 ends in a confrontation with excuse makers. Jesus encountered several people who had the opportunity to follow Him, but who offered one excuse after another. They were not willing to be inconvenienced, much less  to lay aside everything to be Jesus’ disciples. 

In the center lies the defining issue—being willing to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus. In the heart of the chapter, Jesus declared that if you say you are a follower of Christ—if you identify yourself as a Christian—then you must deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Him.

Consider the following as you study through the passage:

Luke 9:18-20
  • Who do the "crowds" say Jesus is today?
  • Why is answering this question so important? 
  • What does one’s answer reveal about his/her relationship with Christ? 
  • What does one’s answer reveal about one’s view of the Bible? 
  • What does one’s answer reveal about one’s view of God? 
  • What does one’s answer reveal about life?
Luke 9:21-22
  • Imagine you are listening to Jesus tell you these things. What would be going through your mind? 
  • Based on the responses of His followers when Jesus died and when they were told that Jesus was alive, do you think they understood any of what He was currently saying? Did their lack of understanding change the truth of what was going to take place? (No)
  • How can this help you understand the importance of continually learning and growing as a believer?
  • The disciples, especially Peter, had heard, and they even confessed what they had come to believe, but none of them “got it” completely. The same is true in our lives. Our faith and our understanding grows, not when we discard what we can’t understand in God’s Word, but when we continue to follow Jesus until things become clear. There is much we still don’t get, but that doesn’t make it untrue. One day the disciples would get it and they would become His witnesses (Acts. 1:8), and God would use them to rock their world and ours!
Luke 9:23-27
  • What were the conditions Jesus said someone takes in order to follow Him?
  • What two actions in verses 24-26 indicate someone doesn’t desire to follow Christ?
  • What have you come to believe regarding the identity of Christ? Who do you say Jesus is? What have you come to know about Jesus by studying God’s Word?
  • Is this enough for you to unashamedly “take up your cross daily, deny self, and follow Him”?
  • What obstacles do believers need to overcome to be unashamedly identified with Jesus.
What Has Following Christ Cost You?
Being a follower of Christ involves much more than just displaying a symbol. Following Jesus comes with a cost. I want you to consider the following questions before we close:
  • What has it cost you to follow Jesus in your community? How does that compare to what it costs other believers in other countries? Most of us could say that it didn’t cost us very much compared to what others have sacrificed, especially Christ. 
  • If we struggle with following Christ in this country, how would we respond if we were truly challenged to deny Christ or face persecution and death as many do in other countries. How do you think you would respond if our challenges were greater than what they are today?
  • Because we live in a relatively open society in regard to faith, how should we be responding as followers of Christ? 
There are differing degrees to which believers have paid the costs to follow Christ in our country. We read about coaches who have lost their jobs for praying before or after a ball game, children who have been asked not to bring their Bibles to school, workers who have been forced out of jobs because of their faith, or individuals being criticized and censored in social media for taking an unpopular moral stand. Just last week, a respected Christian leader was under fire because he holds to the biblical view of marriage.

There will inevitably come a day when you will learn firsthand that being a Christian also includes certain costs. It is the universal experience of all those who profess Christ as Lord. As you follow Christ, adjust your expectations. Prepare to live with desires unfulfilled. Jesus himself signaled that the way of discipleship can be difficult when he described his own suffering and death, but the rewards are immeasurable. 

Jesus reminds His disciples and us in verse 27 that those who truly believe—those who aren’t ashamed to profess Christ as their Savior and follow Him—they will be truly blessed and will experience eternal life. A true follower of Christ need not fear death because we have been promised eternal life with our Savior and we will trade the cross for a crown. 

The book, The Cross Bearer, reminds us that, one day, we will trade a cross for a crown if we will unashamedly follow Jesus. It says: “Dear child, the whole scheme is wrong. Ease and comfort, pleasure and honor are not the end of life, nor the essential to your true well-being. By the cross comes the crown. . . I have called the weary and the burdened away from the promises of the world, to find pleasure in suffering with Me and for Me, ease in toil, joy in sorrow, songs in the prison. This is the mystery of the cross that offends the world but should not offend such as you.”

Downloadable Study Helps

The Bible study helps have been modified in order to provide opportunities for both online and face-to-face teaching venues. Ideas in boxes will be provided for engaging groups more when meeting in person. The boxed items could also be modified and used for online discussion as well. 

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