The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Easy Yoke (Matthew 11:28-30) vs Self Denial (Luke 9:23,14:26

I would like to compare two statements of The Lord Jesus Christ:

LUKE 9:23:
-23: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

MATTHEW 11:28-30:
-28: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
-29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
-30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light

On one hand in Luke 9:23, we have a difficult task given to us (and an even more difficult one in Luke 14:26), as we know, Jesus carried his cross for us, and we out to carry our cross for Him,
but on the other hand in Matthew 11:28-30, we have, as what Jesus describes, an easy task.

How do we harmonize these two truths?

There is also another verse in Luke to look at:

LUKE 14:26
-26: 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.

Really strict standards here that even I struggle with, and I need to pray that I can live the way God wants me to live.

The statements in Luke 9:23 and in Luke 14:26 re often used to support the idea that God commands Christians to ‘thou shalt not have fun’ (see my other thread: Is everything fun a sin? 1 John 2:15-17):

I often use Matthew 11:28-30 to try and rebuke the idea that having fun is a sin, one person literally said to me that “I do not believe the act of fun is a sin. It’s fun to read the bible, serve God, ect… But even if it was a sin, Jesus could still say that. Not sure how that conflicts with someone who would believe fun is a sin?”, when this person says “Jesus could still say that”, he was referring to me using Matthew 11:28-30.

So anyway, how to people reconcile these texts.

Being willing to die for my faith is something I have zero issues with, however, the idea that having fun is a sin is something I struggle with all the time, to the point I get anxiety every time I here 1 John 2:15-17 quoted since that is usually the go-to verse to say all fun/pleasure/entertainment is a sin.
I pray to God every day that he changes me to live the way he wants me to live and takes away all that must be taken away, but this topic always has it’s way of coming back around, and I struggle with my faith when it does, especially when it gets combined with eternal conscious tormented,
there are a few people out there who will never use these words, but teachings what amounts to ‘God will torture you forever if you have fun’.

It’s also worth mentioning that if the way to salvation involves forsaking all fun, and if you fail to do so, ETERNAL TORTURE!!!
I fail to see how the gospel could be considered be good news (some may argue it still is since one can be saved at all, as difficult as it may be), if the way to salvation is living up to a very, VERY, difficult standard that very few a capable of doing, and if you fail at living up to this almost impressible standard, you will be tortured for all eternity without mercy.

God Bless
Christ Be With You All

I’m curious, STT. You attend or belong to a Christian church - right? If so, did you talk to clergy members, regarding this fun dilemma? If so, what did they say? Actually, I think you would be hard pressed to find, website articles by Christian clergy - saying you can’t have fun and be a Christian. :slight_smile:

I throw this challenge out to you. Put in these keywords into Google: “Christianity having fun”. Then tell we what percentage of articles by Christian clergy or Christian writers (on the first 2 pages of Google), respond in the negative. And provide links. We would all like to read them and learn the reasons why. :slight_smile:


When Jesus speaks of “taking up your cross,” what I hear is “die to your own efforts at becoming righteous.” Remember that Jesus was always speaking to the Jews of His day. He said Himself that He wasn’t sent to the Gentiles but to the Children of Israel. Yes, He has a lot to say that speaks to us–the church of today–but we’ll understand Him far better if we realize who His immediate audience was. The Jews were focused on obeying the Law of Moses. In the Exodus they asked for a law. They were terrified by the mountain that burned and the voice that spoke to them from it–not to mention that if so much as a beast touched it, it must be shot through with an arrow and not touched. They begged Moses, “You go talk to Him and find out what He wants from us–we’ll do whatever He says, but please don’t let Him talk to us again lest we die.” The Jews didn’t want that “cross.” They didn’t want to die to themselves. They wanted a law, and so God gave them a law–most of which was delegated to Moses. Hence Jesus said, “Moses gave you a law . . .”

When I read the Sermon on the Mount, these passages you’ve presented, and other places where Jesus enumerates His requirements, I see Jesus pushing His own Hebrew people over the edge. In other words, He’s trying to show them just HOW holy He needs them to be and (THIS IS THE IMPORTANT BIT) how absolutely impossible it is for them to fulfill His requirements. Once upon a time, I fervently avoided reading the Sermon on the Mount because it spoke nothing but condemnation to me. I CANNOT BE THAT PERSON. That’s the point. ONLY Jesus can be that person, and we are in Him. Our place is to submit, to let go of our own “righteousness” which is like stinky, bloody sanitary napkins (filthy rags), and trust completely in HIM to MAKE us righteous. As you realize, WE cannot be righteous on our own. You WILL get to this point, because God is patient and longsuffering (Did you read 1 Cor 13, as I advised you? If not, please DO read it. That’s what God’s love is like.) HE will make you righteous. If you can keep your eyes on Jesus, that’s your job. Stop looking at yourself. Look at Him.

Listening to some sermons, all you hear is condemnation. For YOU, it’s possible that even if the sermon is NOT full of condemnation, you will still hear condemnation because of your OCD and your fearful heart. Of course it’s also possible that the sermon IS full of condemnation. A helluva lot of people (double intender intended here :wink: ) do get caught in that legalism trap. Jesus said the letter (of the law) kills, but the Spirit gives life. He said that HIS words are spirit and they are life. IOW, the Law kills because we can neither understand nor fulfill the requirements of the Law. Once we realize and accept that, we are “dead” and ready for the spiritual resurrection that can only come in Christ.

The good news here is that (as Paul said) "Oh wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death? I thank my God, through my Lord Jesus Christ! It is Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that saves us. We do not/cannot/will not/never will save ourselves–but you already figured that out, didn’t you? Are you ready to stop trying to save yourself? To put your hand in the hand of the Master? He will lift you to His shoulders and carry you home into His sheepfold. He will remake you. After all, He said, “Behold I make all new.” I know we translate that “all things,” but “things” isn’t in the original. It’s just all. He makes ALL new. That includes you. Trust Him; follow Him; keep your eyes off yourself and on Him and HE will do this. Let go; stop being afraid and trust Him. The timid and the fearful are already in the Lake of Fire and will stay there until they trust Him. That’s your job; believe on Him (Christ) whom He (the Father) has sent. Period. Just let go and trust Him.

The church simply rejects the idea that having fun is a sin, however, with the abundance of Christians online saying it is, I still get anxiety when I hear 1 John 2:15-17, which IS part of inspired scripture and must be treated as such.

Almost all articles found with a simple Google search saying that Christians can have fun suffers from the same problem, they never addresses 1 John 2:15-17, the ‘go-to’ verses that people use to say Christians can’t have fun because fun things are ‘things of the world’.

[tag]Cindy Skillman[/tag]
What do we do with these verses?

LUKE 14:26:
-26: 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.

MATTHEW 19:21:
-21: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

I don’t see myself as a rich person (although Francis Chan would disagree), but I still struggle to see myself living up to this standard, even if I pray that I can, and the rich young ruler felt the same

MATTHEW 19:22:
-22: But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
-23: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
-24: And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
-25: When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
-26: But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
-27: Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
-28: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
-29: And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
-30: But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” doesn’t sound like a free gift at all (Romans 5:18), how to interpret these words of The Lord Jesus Christ with the fact that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light”?

ROMANS 5:18:
-18: Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

God Bless
Christ Be With You

STT = I’m going to suggest that you get a good commentary - there are many good ones, I like the ones from NT Wright, Wm. Barclay and others. Taking some texts out of context, and not having a lot of hermeneutical tools nearby, will almost always lead, if not to error, at least to an over or under emphasis of particular passages. This is particularly important to help avoid emotional readings, that resonate with something in us that may not yet be completely healthy.

Just my advice, but I think it’s good advice.

It’s relative.

Following Christ, when looked at in isolation, is a hard thing.

But compared to NOT following Christ, it’s a walk in the park.

And I’ve added this before. If STT attends or belongs to a church, then talk to the clergy about this. They can address his/her verses, from the standpoint, of that particular church’s theological stance. It’s much easier to talk to clergy members about fun and scripture, then it is to talk about universialism. :slight_smile:

Or STT might check and see if these things, have been discussed on other Christian forums. For example,

Is everything that involves fun, pleasure and entertainment is sinful? 1 John 2:15-17

Is this STT, under a different handle - asking this same question, at Worthy Christian forums?

And STT says none of the Christian sites address his or her questions. Well, has STT asked them? For example, take the Protestant site Got Questions at There’s a URL to submit questions at It also says this there:

And if STT has questions (about fun and Bible verses), at Got Questions - let us know. I would be the first one, to express an interest - in what they say. :smiley:

So don’t say that Christian sites don’t answer your questions and Bible verses - if you never ask them. :exclamation: :slight_smile:

Yes, that is me over on Worthy Christian forums (WCF), I have a thread here which is a carbon copy of the one on WCF - [Is everything fun a sin? 1 John 2:15-17)

As for GotQuestions, I may submit a question, however, I have reasons to believe that site may be Calvinist, although they are not Hyper-Calvinsits, I still think Calvinism is one of the worst doctrines in Christianity (especially when combined with Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT)) so I’m not sure how I would react to an answer from them.

God Bless
Christ Be With You

Actually, this is what they say about themselves, at

The founder’s bio is found at, where it says this:

Calvary College is found at, where it says:

Wiki tells you about the college at

Sorry, but I don’t find “an official Calvinistic foundation”, in either the Got Questions non-denominational identification…the founders “general Biblical and theological studies”… or the College the founder attended…or a a denominational college affiliation. :exclamation:

So the site claims they are “non-denominational” and the founder says "So, the degree programs I chose were somewhat general. "

[tag]Holy-Fool-P-Zombie[/tag] has articles affirming Calvnism:

That last article I link too doesn’t out-rightly say ‘Calvinism is true’, but as you can see from the thirst three articles I linked, it definitely implies it.

Well, STT. Whether they are “officially Calvin” or “Calvinism in Disguise”, I would really be interested, in how they answer your questions - regarding fun and selected Bible verses. :laughing:

Remember the old saying: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” :laughing:

Okay then, well I just asked, I doubt I will be able to consider the answer though as they are Calvinist,

I know that probably sounds horrible, but Calvinism is such a horrible teaching that distorts the Character of God into something he is not - a respecter of persons:

ACTS 10:34-35:
-34: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
-35: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

ROMANS 2:11-12:
-11: For there is no respect of persons with God.
-12: For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

At least they don’t believe in Hyper-Calvinism, which makes God into a puppet-master and the author of sin.

God Bless
Christ Be With You All

When they answer, can you please share a link - to the Q and A :question: :slight_smile:

Gee. “Calvin in Disguise”, reminds me of an old song. :exclamation:


I really love this YouTube comment :exclamation: :laughing:

Now, using that tune - can anyone come up with words, for “Calvin in Disguise” :question: :laughing:


Sure, they said it will take 2-7 days though.

STT Said:

Well I may disagree with you in the sense that Calvin and the reformers were dealing with what they understood and could comprehend at their time and with the information they had to work with. That is why a historical narrative is very important. We need to know who Christ and the writers in the NT were talking to and what relevance it has to us a couple of thousand years later. :smiley:

Randy, luv the vid :laughing: Oh the pants :astonished:

What Jesus spoke and modeled in these passages was not so much for US in ‘the life of the coming new age’ but rather to his contemporaries, in particular his DISCIPLES, showing and instructing THEM *in what it would take to get there. *

IOW… Jesus is not modeling ‘new creation life’ as such but rather the radical faithfulness or service ON BEHALF OF Israel required of those who would continue his ministry to Israel through to the end of the age, when they would in turn be duly saved; as per Mt 24:13.

There isn’t ONE verse that actually mentions this… you are simply invoking an errant “interpretation” onto 1Jn 2:15-17; or to use your words from elsewhere… giving it “a translation” that does NOT exist.

I still can’t distinguish whether Got Questions is “Calvinism in Disguise” or just answering a question, as a Calvinist see things.

And some don’t see them, in a positive light - like

The second website strongly disagrees with their “once saved, always saved” theological stance.

But some agree with you, in that they take a Calvinistic approach:

I think after reading the second article, I agree they appear to be “Calvinism in Disguise”.

And even if they were “Calvinism in Disguise”, I strongly object that they can’t give a good Biblical or Theological answer - to a question.

Look at CARM. The author is Calvinistic. But he answers the question on:

What does it mean to take communion in an unworthy manner?

I think the answer is very excellent and addresses the different perspectives.

And **not ** accepting an answer from a Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, etc., limits our understanding and seeing different perspectives. :exclamation: :slight_smile:


Aren’t we all called to be Christ’s disciples?

MATTHEW 28:19:
-19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

This is from the King James Version as it’s my preferred translation (I am NOT KJV-only, although I used to be), but other translations more accurately render it ‘having gone, then, disciple all the nations’.

Maybe so but there still is this:
MATTHEW 19:29:
-29: And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

…and this:

LUKE 14:26:
-26: 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.

Not exactly talking about fun (which is a subjective term, there are people who find fun in sinful things, the question is, are all fun things sinful? and if so, who can live up to such a standard)
I want do keep Christ’s commandments, and the golden rule and the love God with all your heart commandments are not burdensome, BUT, I can’t see myself being able to keep the commandments listed above.

What I don’t understand is how the commandments listed above are compatible with an easy yoke and a light burden.

God Bless
Christ Be With You All

Also, I thought I might share these to give a window into what I have been exposed to:

Don’t let the title throw you on the last one.
I know gay marriage is wrong, but this video goes into other areas.

Still read no commentaries or followed HFPZ’s links to those who have studied these things and can put them in perspective for you? Don’t thrash around, there’s no need - read and learn. We’re on your side, giving you good advice.

STT, you said:

Jesus is speaking in superlatives–in hyperbole–a literary device used liberally in the Middle East (and many other places) to this day. What His hearers understood from this saying was that He required His disciples to hold their loyalty to Him in far higher importance than even their loyalty to their families.

So you’ve been reading Francis Chan? (Whom I believe to be a good and sincere brother, btw, despite his rather distressing spiritual struggles and his imposition of those struggles on those who read his work.) No wonder you’re suffering from feelings of inadequacy and condemnation. NO ONE can live up to Francis Chan’s understanding of God’s requirements on us, including Francis Chan. Just ask him–I’m sure he’ll readily admit it. YES we ought to do our best to live out the love of Christ in a very literal way. NO, NO, NO we should NOT think that our eternal destinies depend on our success in obeying the law as set forth by Jesus to His Jewish brethren. This is where Chan misses it, IMO. He thinks Jesus was talking to US. He was not. Jesus was talking to the children of Israel of His day–He said the things He did to demonstrate to them the utter impossibility of their keeping the law sufficiently to EARN THEIR SALVATION. We do not earn our salvation. Jesus did that as the representative of the entire race of Adam. HE is the second Adam. “Just as by the one man, the many were constituted sinners . . .” (That one man was Adam.) “The many” here refers to all men who were constituted sinners, which I don’t think anybody would attest refers to fewer than every human being except for Jesus Himself. “. . . even so by the one man (Jesus) the many were constituted righteous.” This is the very same “many” who were made sinners. That’s abundantly clear from the grammatical structure. I may have gotten the quotes slightly wrong since I’m doing them by memory, but you get the point I hope. It isn’t WE who make ourselves righteous; it is JESUS who does this. Chan is right that we’re all in deep st if we think we’re living up to the standards of Christ, but he’s wrong in saying in essence: "therefore we’re all in deep s*t." He’s wrong because Jesus’s whole point was: “YOU CAN’T DO THIS, PEOPLE. That’s why I came to BE the second Adam for you.”

Seriously. Stop reading Chan. One of these days the light is going to dawn and he’s going to be clonking his head against the wall and groaning at the things he has said and the people who have suffered because of his misspent eloquence. I have another friend who just KNOWS she’s destined for eternal torment, and why? Because Chan is among her favorite authors. Just say no to Chan. Seriously.

As for Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler, the RYR asked what HE needed to do to complete his salvation. Jesus answered him with a task Jesus KNEW the RYR couldn’t carry through. That was what the RYR had to do to earn his salvation. Are YOU earning your salvation, or is it a gift from your Lord? YES, YES, YES you should strive to become like Jesus, but never think that this is a task YOU can achieve. God does this, and He who has begun a good work in you is able and diligent to complete it. HE will complete it. You do your best to cooperate, but don’t forget who the real actor is here. Him, not you.

Jesus was talking to His disciples–the same disciples who would later become His apostles. He was talking to twelve men in particular and possibly to seventy, but Jesus was not directly addressing you. Are you hoping to sit on a throne and judge a tribe of Israel? I didn’t think so. These people had given up a lot to follow Jesus. Jesus is reassuring them that their Father will not permit them to truly lose ANY good thing. In fact, He will not only restore, but restore a hundredfold. If, at some point, you find yourself making such sacrifices for the Kingdom (or even suffering the losses we all suffer from time to time), then you can take these words to yourself, but if you DON’T suffer such losses, then you don’t need these words because you don’t need to be comforted–you still have all these good things.

I’m not sure what the problem is with the above verse. It’s the one I myself quoted earlier (rather less well than you’ve done for sure). Adam sinned; we were all constituted sinners and condemned. Jesus (the second Adam) lived righteously; we are all justified in Him. THAT, my friend, is the very “glad tidings that shall be to all people.” Jesus has saved you. Follow Him. It is in fact a very easy yoke and a very light burden. You have made it heavy and terrifying by your imaginations and by listening to preachers who have done the same thing to their own hearts and also to their congregations. Follow Jesus. See Him ahead of you? Follow. It’s honestly that simple. He’s your shepherd. If you wander off, He’ll go after you and carry you back on His shoulders. Sheep are dumb and they need a lot of shepherding. He’s up to the job. You aren’t your own shepherd; you’re not responsible to get yourself to the green pastures. That’s His job. Just follow Him. SIMPLE. Follow–one step at a time.

You’re flying out to see your girlfriend? You love her? Think she might be the one? Wonderful! Love and cherish her. If you two marry, then be the best husband to her you can possibly be. Work hard; care for your children; help those people God puts before you to help–or at least try to. Do your best to honor God in your work and in your play and in your service to your family and to others around you. Live. Don’t be afraid to have fun; having fun is a good thing. The joy of the Lord is your strength–not the condemnation of your own deceived heart. God is your Father–the sort of father a father SHOULD be; the sort of father YOU should strive to be. Just live, STT. That’s what you were sent here to do, and it will not be an easy task, so stop taking on the cares of an imagined ogre and instead look to and trust your Heavenly Dad to guide you into all righteousness.