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April 6, 2008 PM

MK 10:35-45

INTRO: Human ambition is a fact. Perhaps not all human beings have the same degree of it, but it seems that all do have this need for advancement within us. The desire for "more" is an ever present desire from the lowliest to the greatest. When ambition exists in a sort of "closed system", it can become a divisive thing.  This can be seen in job situations. It can be seen in sports teams. It can be seen in club settings. And, yes, it can even be found within the church. Our text for this evening presents us with a situation fraught with peril for the little band of apostles. Ambition has reared its head and has been discovered by those who are being "left out" of the request that is made. Before I am misunderstood, I want to stress that being ambitious in and of itself is not wrong. But ambition must always be tempered by other qualities.

    1. What they must have believed - "thy glory" ("thy kingdom" - Mt 20:21)
      1. they are asking for the places of greatest prominence in His kingdom
      2. it is apparent they still believe Jesus will ascend an earthly throne soon
      3. notice Lk 18:31 - "they understood none of these things"
    2. A favor based on relationship?
      1. obviously, James and John were part of an "inner circle" (Mt 17:1; 26:37)
      2. good indication they were cousins (Salome - Mk 16:1 with Mt 27:56)
      3. they doubtless were comfortable with this relationship
    3. Was it their mother, or was it they who made the request
      1. Mt 20:20 indicates it was Salome who came with the request
      2. my guess is that the sons thought Jesus might give more attention to their mother (His aunt?) in considering their request
      3. it was, nevertheless, their request
    4. The loyalty and confidence of James and John
      1. no matter how confusing things might have seemed, they were confident
      2. to speak of "thy glory" after years of seeing Jesus as a wandering rabbi without power or possession speaks to me of their belief in His kingdom
      3. although their understanding was wrong, their loyalty was right
    1. Mk 10:38 - "Ye know not what ye ask"
      1. first, they asked in ignorance of the nature of His kingdom
      2. second, they asked in ignorance of coming events
      3. the "cup" and the "baptism" here are descriptive of what one will experience and the overwhelming nature of it (Mt 26:38,39)
    2. Jesus acknowledged that they would experience the "cup" and "baptism"
      1. Acts 12:1,2 - James was killed by Herod
      2. Rev 1:9 - John exiled in Patmos "for the word of God..."
      3. but at the time of their request they had no idea of their future "cups"
    3. Future rewards do not depend on friend, favor relationships
      1. Mk 10:40 - compare Mt 20:23
      2. the very worldly thinking of James & John saw as the world saw things - political appointments, favors granted friends/relatives, etc.
      3. but future rewards in Jesus' kingdom depended on ones relationship with the Father and how one had pursued that relationship
    1. Mk 10:41 - The ambition of James & John threatened apostolic unity
      1. the feelings of the ten are not all that unnatural!
      2. there was no inequality of rank among the apostles - none implied
      3. this request (privately requested?) would raise the ire of the others!
    2. Jesus took immediate, appropriate action to defuse the situation
      1. Mk 10:42 - He called attention to the worldly way of things - earthly kingdoms measured greatness by possessing power, authority
      2. Mk 10:43,44 - He laid out the measure of greatness in the kingdom
        1. among them, greatness was seen in willing service
        2. among them, the "chiefest" would be the servant of all
      3. there is no place in His kingdom for power, position and pride!
    3. Mk 10:45 - His final "argument"?
      1. even He, the son of God, had not come to be served ... but to serve
      2. I recall the occasion of His washing the feet of the apostles (Jno 13)
      3. "to give his life a ransom for many" ... clearly, this is a reference to the atoning death, substitutionary death of Jesus (1 Pet 2:24)

CLOSE: Our humanity can at times become a serious problem within the body of Christ. Earthly ambition has no place, however, among us. Over and again, Jesus taught that service rendered to others is what life in His kingdom is all about!

Cecil A. Hutson

06 April 2008

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)