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Forsaking All 1

Luke 14:33       So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (KJV)

No one can become a full time Family member without ‘forsaking all’. The Family’s system of ‘forsaking all’ is written into their Charter together with explicit guidelines and consent forms for ‘new disciples’ to sign. The Family’s concept of forsaking all is based on Luke 14:33, which is interpreted to mean that whenever anyone wishes to join the Family as a full time live-in member they must voluntarily give all their possessions (including money) to the Family Home they join. They are required to resign from secular employment and they often withdraw from any studies they may be pursuing.

Joining the Family may be compared to the commitment of novitiate priests or nuns who likewise leave everything behind in order to give their lives to the Catholic church. However, unlike the Catholic church the Family does not pledge to support its members who have given all to join. Family members leave everything, give all that they have to the Family, and then are required to support themselves financially. A priest or nun works hard, gives their all, and is maintained for life by the church system. A Family member works hard, gives their all, and must maintain themselves. There is little provision in the Family for continuing ongoing support of the infirm or elderly. Care of these people is mainly left to the responsibility and charity of the individual home in which they reside.

When new members ‘forsake all’, it affects their relationship with their relatives (referred to in the Family as their ‘flesh family’) as they are taught to treat other Family members as their new (elder) brothers and sisters. Forsaking all has been part of the Family since its beginning, and it is compulsory for anyone who wishes to live in the Family as a full time member.

Forsaking all does not end after the new member has joined. Should the Family member inherit some money or material possessions of any kind, they are expected to give it all freely to the Family to keep or dispose of as they see fit. A certain percent would be given unconditionally to the Family’s central administration as the ‘tithe’,  and the remainder would be given either to the member’s own home or proportions may be given to selected Family projects. The member would probably be able to buy a few personal needs, but they would not keep the money.

Every Family member knows Luke 14:33 well, for the day they ‘forsook all’ is the day they ‘joined the Family’. Every Family member has memorised this verse and can readily quote it to potential converts (“If you want to follow Jesus all the way, He said you have to forsake all!”) or to other Christians (“We follow Jesus so closely that we have even forsaken all. How much have you forsaken?”)

In a nutshell, the Family would define ‘forsaking all’ as ‘leaving secular employment, terminating any other secular commitments, withdrawing oneself from our natural family, divesting oneself of all personal possessions and wealth, in order to serve the Lord.’ The Family would then add the corollaries specifically for their own members that when they forsake all, they should give as much as is practical or possible of their possessions and wealth to the Family, and that the Family is the best place to should serve the Lord.

‘Forsaking all’ is a foundation principle in the Family. It is a key doctrine that defines the financial responsibilities of those who wish to join as full time members. Examining this verse is tantamount to shaking one of the Family’s essential pillars to see how stable it is.

In order to understand this verse we should ask ourselves a number of questions, looking to the Bible for the answers. Some of the questions might be these:

Who should ‘forsake all’? What does ‘forsaking all’ mean? Why should we forsake all? Exactly what are we supposed to forsake? Who do we forsake it to? What should they do with it?

We will try to come to an understanding of these issues as we look at Luke 14:33, but it is important first to note that this can only be a partial picture. There may well be other interpretations of this verse, so each Christian is responsible to look to the Bible for themselves and seek God to understand what they are supposed to do. Just as we should not follow the Family’s doctrine without checking it  out thoroughly with the Bible, so no one should blindly follow the explanations on these web pages without examining the Bible for themselves. It is the Bible that is the authority, not this web site nor the Family.

Forsaking All: an overview.

Unlike most other pages on this web site, an outline or summary of the topic is given here at the beginning. The reason for this is that Luke 14:33 is such an integral part of Family culture and terminology that it is extremely difficult for Family members (past or present) to read without constantly reverting to the Family’s specific interpretation as summarised above. In order to understand the passage, we will have to examine not only the application of how the verse should be put into practice, but also the definition of some of the words.

Therefore, an overview of the conclusions regarding Luke 14:33 is given here, and this is followed by the explanations of these conclusions. This is, in effect, a summary of  the pages on this site that study this particular topic.


  1. Every Christian must forsake all.
  2. Forsaking all is not an entrance test for Christians who want to do more for the Lord, or to become a missionary, for example. Forsaking all is a requirement for every Christian.
  3. God requires every believer to forsake anything that comes between that person and God.
  4. Forsaking all is first a spiritual act, a letting go of anything that obstructs our relationship with God.
  5. Specific items are forsaken not because there is a particular time that Christians should forsake them but because we must not allow anything to come between ourselves and God.
  6. Forsaking all includes, but is by no means limited to, people, secular jobs, possessions, wealth. Forsaking all encompasses anything and everything, all that is within a person’s understanding, except for God Himself.
  7. While forsaking all is primarily a spiritual act, it is manifested in the physical when the believer literally cuts ties with the things he or she is required to forsake.
  8. Forsaking all is not done in obedience to a particular group or church. Forsaking all is done only as we follow Jesus Christ Himself, not any organisation, and it certainly should not be done as a means for admission to a church.
  9. There is no set formula as to the specific things that every Christian should physically forsake. Some will be required to forsake their employment, family and wealth. Others may need to forsake other things. There is no set rule as to when every Christian should forsake a particular thing.
  10. There is no precedent in the Bible for the Family to insist that its members forsake all as a precondition of membership, neither is forsaking all supported in the Bible as a means of income for church administrations.
  11. Christians forsake all as they follow the personal leading of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit leading their life. We forsake all as we follow the personal call of God, not by imitating the way someone else forsook all.

We will now examine the verse in detail, as well as the passage that surrounds it in Luke chapter fourteen, to explain how we come to these conclusions.

Who does this verse apply to?

Jesus said it was impossible to be His disciple without forsaking all that we have. The reason, therefore, that we would be interested in understanding the meaning of ‘forsaking all’ would be that we want to know what it means to be His disciple. Jesus said, if we do not ‘forsake all’ we cannot be His disciple. So, what is a disciple? Is it a Christian who lives a more dedicated lifestyle than other Christians? Is it a missionary who leaves everything behind in order to preach the Gospel in some remote corner of the earth? Is it someone who receives a special call from God to follow Him closer than others do? Is it someone like the twelve apostles who left their homes to follow Jesus through the land of Palestine and then went on to spread the good news around the world?

This is an important question, because it will affect our understanding of Luke 14:33. If, as the Family implies, disciples are those who follow closer than other believers, then we might say that our dedication to the Lord can be measured by the amount of things we have sacrificed. The more we have given up for the Lord, the greater our personal cost, and therefore the better missionary we will make.

Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines ‘disciple’ as a learner, a pupil. A disciple can be anyone who is learning of his or her master. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 11:2) and the Pharisees had disciples (Mark 2:18). How many disciples did Jesus have?

Jesus started with twelve disciples.

Matt 11:1         Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.

Jesus appointed seventy more in Luke 10:1, although most Bible translations do not directly call them ‘disciples’.

By the day of Pentecost, there were 120 disciples.

Acts 1:15         And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty)

It did not take long before their number was ‘multiplying’.

Acts 6:1           Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

In fact they had stopped counting by this time, and simply called them a ‘multitude’.

Acts 6:2           Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

The number of disciples continued to skyrocket.

Acts 6:7           Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Saul (Paul) was engaged on a mission to locate and capture any disciples in Damascus when the Lord intercepted him en route. It seems clear that Paul considered any who were in ‘the Way’ to be disciples.

Acts 9:1-2

1          Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

2          and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

After Paul was converted he tried to join the disciples but could not until he appeared in front of the apostles. This is a passage which shows a clear distinction, not between ‘regular Christians’ and ‘disciples’, but between ‘disciples’ and ‘apostles’.

Acts 9:26-27

26        And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

27        But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

It was when Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch that the term ‘Christians’ was first used.

Acts 11:26       And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

So what is a disciple?

A disciple is a Christian. The importance of this definition cannot be stressed enough when talking about Luke 14:33. Jesus said that disciples must forsake all. What is a disciple? A disciple is one who follows Jesus Christ, one who has been saved by grace and brought into fellowship with God the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ His Son. A disciple is a Christian. A Christian is a disciple. The terms are identical (with the exception, of course, of those disciples who followed someone else, ‘The disciples of John the Baptist’, for example). Naturally we are talking about the Bible definition of a Christian, not ‘church goer’ or ‘Family member’ or those who are ‘Christian’ in name only.

Therefore, a born again church-going Christian is a disciple, regardless of whether they continue in secular employment or not. Also, if a Family member has not truly trusted Christ for atonement for their sins, they are not a disciple, regardless of how much they have given up.

Therefore, Jesus was addressing all Christians when He told us to forsake all. He said, in effect, ‘If you do not forsake all, you cannot be a Christian!’ Jesus was not addressing his twelve apostles at the time; He was in fact speaking to a large crowd of people.

Luke 14:25       Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them…

‘Forsaking all’ is not a church membership requirement, it is not a condition of becoming an apostle or a missionary or a teacher or preacher or Family member. It is not a sign that you are ‘joining the Lord’s army.’ Forsaking all is a requirement for becoming a Christian. We cannot call ourselves Christians at all unless we have forsaken all. There are, of course, other conditions to biblical Christianity, but this particular study will continue to focus on ‘forsaking all’. We cannot claim that this verse defines one of the requirements for those who would follow closer than other Christians because this verse is for all Christians.

  1. Every Christian must forsake all.
  2. Forsaking all is not an entrance test for Christians who want to do more for the Lord, or to become a missionary, for example. Forsaking all is a requirement for every Christian.


Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary


            A student, learner, or pupil. In the Bible the word is used most often to refer to a follower of Jesus. The word is rarely used in the Old Testament. Isaiah used the term disciples to refer to those who are taught or instructed <Is. 8:16>.

            The word disciple is sometimes used in a more specific way to indicate the twelve apostles of Jesus <Matt. 10:1; 11:1; 20:17; Luke 9:1>; (the Twelve, NIV, NEB, NASB, RSV).

            In general, apostles refers to a small, inner group of Jesus’ followers; disciples refers to a larger group of Jesus’ followers, such as the women who stood at Jesus’ cross and discovered the empty tomb.


            A special messenger of Jesus Christ; a person to whom Jesus delegated authority for certain tasks. The word apostle is used of those twelve disciples whom Jesus sent out, two by two, during His ministry in Galilee to expand His own ministry of preaching and healing. It was on that occasion, evidently, that they were first called “apostles” <Mark 3:14; 6:30>.

            The word apostle has a wider meaning in the letters of the apostle Paul. It includes people who, like himself, were not included in the Twelve, but who saw the risen Christ and were specially commissioned by Him. Paul’s claim to be an apostle was questioned by others. He based his apostleship, however on the direct call of the exalted Lord who appeared to him on the Damascus Road and on the Lord’s blessing of his ministry in winning converts and establishing churches <1 Cor. 15:10>.

 (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


Jesus said that disciples should forsake all, which is why we must first understand who disciples are. We can see that the Family’s definition of ‘disciples’ appears to be closer to what the Bible terms ‘apostles’. However, the Bible does not say that only those called to work for the Lord with special ministries should forsake all that they have. It is not only the apostles and missionaries who should forsake all, but every believer, every Christian, every disciple.

Apostles are those called to be special messengers of Jesus Christ. God appoints apostles, they do not appoint themselves.

1 Cor 12:27-29

27        Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

28        And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29        Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

Not every Christian is an apostle. All true Christians are disciples but they are not all apostles.

Eph 4:11-12

11        And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12        for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ

In Forsaking All part two, we will continue to examine the 14th chapter of Luke.



© 2006 Make Straight Paths