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Clearly, Jesus wants people to become His disciples, as revealed by His Words to the multitudes recorded in Luke 14:26-33. How important is to become His disciple? What if one chooses not to become His disciple? Jesus answered these questions at the close of His discourse in Luke 14:
Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Luke 14:34-35)
Notice that this is not an unrelated statement. It begins with the word therefore.
Salt is supposed to be salty. That is what makes it salt. If it loses its flavor, it is useless for anything and "thrown out."
What does this have to do with being a disciple? Just as salt is expected to be salty, so Jesus expects people to be His disciples. Since He is God, our only reasonable obligation is to love Him with supremely, take up our crosses and give up all our possessions. If we don't become His disciples, we reject His very reason for our existence. We are good for nothing and destined to be "thrown out." That doesn't sound like heaven, does it?
At another time, Jesus said to His disciples (see Matt. 5:1):
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matt. 5:13).
These are sobering warnings indeed. First, only those who are salty (an obvious metaphor for "committed obedience") are of any use to God. The rest are "good for nothing...except to be thrown out and trampled." Second, it must be possible for one who is "salty" to become "unsalty," otherwise Jesus would not have seen any need to warn His disciples. How these truths contradict what so many teach today, saying that one can be a heaven-bound believer in Christ but not be a disciple of Christ, or that it is not possible to forfeit one's salvation status. We'll consider those erroneous ideas in more detail in later chapters.