Question #294

Another Question About "Follow Me."

I am a young minister who happened to stumble upon this website and notice the problem songs page. Having seen Christians (generally older) take up arms to try to prove all contemporary songs of worship to be blasphemous, I appreciated the fact that the problem songs listed were a little more "equal opportunity." I also appreciated the fact that almost all of the problems noted in the songs were legitimate concerns, some of which I may not have otherwise noticed. For that I am grateful.

But I say "almost all the problems" because I feel that I must stand in defense of "Follow Me," by Ira F. Stanphill. It seems that the selected lines from the song were inappropriately paralleled to the parable of the talents. Don't forget that the idea of the redemptive value of a cup of water is just as scriptural as the parable of the talents (Mt. 10:42; Mk. 9:41). I believe that it is incorrect to assert, in fact, that the concept of the believer giving all that they have (which is the circumstance of the song), however insignificant it may seem, is out of line with the concept of the talents. Isn't that the point of the widow with the two mites? (Mk. 12:42-44.) Or should I apply the parable of the talents here and preach that she should have given four mites? How dare she give all that she had! She was supposed to invest it so that later she could give the two mites plus interest! Don't disregard this either - the congregation does not sing that Jesus is content with a cup of cold water so that's what he's getting: "But if by death to living they can thy glory see, I'll take my cross and follow close to thee."

The Answer:

Please see the answer to Question 277. Additionally, let me emphasize that the song is not criticized as unscriptural. The “cup of cold water” language is just out of place in a song about giving ourselves to the Lord and taking up our cross and following him. Paul was careful to point out that even though the Macedonians had been given little by the Lord in the way of material goods, they gave far and above that little – the “first gave their own selves to the Lord.” 2 Cor. 8:5. This is what the Lord demands. He has never given anyone “just a cup of water” nor has he ever demanded “just a cup of water.” The giver of the cup of water will not lose his reward for that gift, but nowhere in the context of Matt. 10:42 or Mark 9:41 does Jesus say that is all that he demands. He did not say of this person had “given all that he had” as he did of the widow who gave the two mites. It was not the giving of the mites that he praised, but the giving of her all, of which the giving of the mites was but evidence.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)