INTRO: In the name of religion people do all sorts of things. Often, the things they do are in the form of some pilgrimage or penance ... either imposed by the religion they espouse or by themselves out of guilt of misguided devotion. I have heard of people who, during certain liturgical seasons, have themselves crucified (although not to the extent that they die from the experience). I have heard of those who beat themselves with whips to the extent that blood is drawn. There are those who crawl over a lengthy course to some shrine. There are those who make very expensive pilgrimages to present themselves at some religious festival or location.
I. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A MAN WHOM I SEE OFTEN
A. I often see this man carrying a wooden cross
1. virtually every trip to Uvalde, if it is daylight, I see him
2. he apparently walks between two or three towns - maybe 30 miles
3. I have never stopped to talk to him - have no idea his motive
4. and in my thoughts this morning I do not question his sincerity
B. Some things I have noticed over the months...
1. he is well dressed appropriately for the season - good shoes
2. his cross is not very large - but large enough one end is on the ground
3. his cross has a wheel on the end which is on the groung
4. he stops from time to time to use his cell phone
5. his back is not bleeding - he has no crown of thorns
6. he carries a cross, but it is made as "easy" as possible
II. WE ARE CALLED TO BEAR OUR CROSSES
A. Lk 9:23 - Clearly, we are called to bear our crosses
1. but is it a literal cross to which the Lord refers?
2. is the man on the road doing exactly what Jesus said here?
3. or, is the "cross" to which Jesus refers speaking of something else?
B. Let's look at the text carefully
1. first, Jesus is clearly speaking of discipleship here - a condition of it
2. notice, then, His reference to denying self in favor of discipleship
3. so, the "cross" is not some ordinary physical malady or economic distress - it is the consequence of discipleship, of following Him (recall 1 Pet 4:14-16)
C. Then, there is the word "daily" in the text here
1. discipleship, following Jesus, cannot be spasmodic, sporadic
2. on again, off again following does not qualify for true discipleship
3. notice Lk 9:24 - discipleship requires losing our life in His - but for many folks there has not been that "loss of life" which would result in suffering as a Christian
D. What might be the nature of the cross we would be called to bear?
1. the loss of a relationship - verbal "barbs" of others - physical pain
2. from day to day the nature of our "cross" might change
3. but the unchanging thing must be our self denial and commitment to follow where ever He leads us
III. BUT MAKE MINE AN EASY ONE, LORD!
A. Let's be clear about this - I do want to be a follower of Jesus Christ
1. I recognize that He is the Savior - and I certainly want to be saved
2. I recognize that His teachings are beneficial for my life
3. and I most assuredly don't want to be against Him as some are
B. But can't I have an easy cross, Lord?
1. you know, sometime it really isn't convenient to be disciple - and I don't like being uncomfortable with friends who want me to "just go along"
2. I don't mind a little sacrifice - but would it be o.k. if I choose what sacrifices I want to make?
3. Lord, let's put a wheel on the bottom of my cross so I'll hardly feel it
C. May I remind of three portions of scripture?
1. Gal 2:20 - have you been crucified with Christ?
2. Rom 6:11,12 - do you think of yourself as dead to sin?
3. Lk 9:57-62 - they all wanted "wheels" on their crosses - but Jesus made no such provision for them ... nor for us
4. discipleship is just what it is - a loss of ones life in the service of the Lord
5. think about that for just a minute ... when a person loses his life, how dead is he?
6. but do we really not want to be totally dead to ourselves in losing our lives in His service?
CLOSE: A man with a cross and a wheel ... that is not what the Lord offers us. That is not the life to which he calls us. If you want a life of ease and convenience, don't try to follow Jesus.
Cecil A. Hutson
10 September 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
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) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
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
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
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)
You Must Be Baptized
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!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
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)