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November 11, 2007 PM

MK 8:34-38

INTRO: "Not all earth's gold and silver can make a sinner whole. But in the eager rush for wealth forgotten is the soul." These words from a very old hymn no longer found in our hymn books are as contemporary as today's newspaper. The text for our thoughts tonight is well known ... at least, as an often heard text. But is it well understood? Are we followers of Christ "on the cheap"? Are we religious but spiritually destitute? As I have read and reread these verses, I have most assuredly been challenged to examine my own understanding of the meaning of discipleship and am not a little disturbed by that examination. Do we sing "Have Thine Own Way"? Or "Have Mine Own Way"? Jesus clearly defines the nature of discipleship here.

    1. This was not just a teaching for the apostles
      1. Mark clearly says that He "called the people ... with his disciples"
      2. discipleship is not one thing for some ... something else for others
      3. what He's about to say is for all
    2. There were no doubt many who would have followed "nominally"
      1. Lk 9:57-61 - but it was a very misunderstood "followship"
      2. to follow for prestige, for advantage, for appearances is all wrong
      3. why are you following Him?
    3. He speaks of self denial ... and bearing ones cross
      1. when one was bearing his cross, he was going to die!
      2. this self denial was not a casual, frivolous, minor thing in ones life
      3. it was a total change of life's centers ... from self to Jesus
      4. "none of self, and all of thee," we occasionally sing - are we there? or, are we at "some of self, and some of thee"?
      5. Lk 9:23 adds the word "daily" - there is just no way that a kind of "when its convenient" discipleship can be what Jesus means here
    1. When one loses his life, he is dead ... right?
      1. he has no more of his life left in him ... no more self interest
      2. my desires, my wishes, my interests, my pride are gone ... dead
      3. notice Phil 2:7"...but emptied himself..." - only then could He become a slave, obedient even to death of the cross
      4. but Jesus is not talking necessarily about physical death ... He is talking about emptying self in favor of Him and the gospel (so, Phil 3:7,8)
    2. V. 36 clearly indicates He is talking about ones interest in this world
      1. the things and interests of this world come between us and Him
      2. He knew that self interest, worldly things would be powerful attractions
      3. but having all the wealth in the world cannot save ones soul - chasing after this world, worldly interests is, at the end of the day, spiritually worthless
      4. if, because of prestige, pride, wealth, etc. one loses his soul, one loses his soul, his loss is incalculable and irretrievable ... total loss
    3. V. 37 is another demanding question
      1. what treasure, what moral compromise, what personal issue are you willing to trade for the security of your soul?
      2. what kind of deal are you willing to make with the Devil?
      3. most of us would probably not deliberately sell our souls ... but would we do it by neglect, by having our own way, by holding on to the unimportant?
      4. I think of Esau - who traded great spiritual privilege for a bowl of soup (Heb 1216) - what are you trading for eternal security?
    1. His description of the times?
      1. "adulterous and sinful generation" - estranged for God; immersed in sin
      2. there was religion ... but little real faith - is our time any different?
    2. I think many would acknowledge Jesus ... but what about His teaching?
      1. this takes us back to Sermon on the Mount - Mt 7:24
      2. or, to Lk 6:46 - could this describe any of us?
    3. There is a great day coming ... what then?
      1. giving lip service to the Lord's teaching, commandments is just not enough
      2. so, Mt 7:21-23 - we often read these words of others ... could they, though, apply to any of us?

CLOSE: These verses are no doubt some of the most challenging of all that the Lord said about discipleship. We need, my friends, to meditate on them for their practical import to our discipleship.

Cecil A. Hutson

11 November 2007

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) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

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)