- Unashamed Love
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- My Worth Is Not In What I Own (At The Cross)
- IntroductionGood morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. Whether you are joining us online or in person, for the first time or for the thousandth let us say that it is our privilege to be with you this morning as we worship our great God and King together. May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied to you this morning as we sit under the washing of His inerrant and beautiful Word. If you are joining us for the first time please take a moment to fill out a contact card. We would love to get to know you and be able to share with you a little about our church and what it is that we stand for here. One thing that we stand for is the preaching and teaching of the Word of God so if you have your Bibles with you please take them and turn to Mark 8, Mark 8.Not many runners would run a marathon and then turn right around and run another the next day. But one woman named Becca Pizzi has run seven marathons in seven days - on seven continents. And she’s done it not once but twice. That’s Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and - I’m missing one - oh yes, Antartica. Can you imagine running a marathon in the cold environment of Antartica? Now why do I mention this feat? Because here in this 8th chapter Mark has taken us on the equivalent of three spiritual marathons. Maybe a better analogy would be mountain climbing. Not many people would climb Mt. Everest only to turn around the next week or day and climb another equally tall mountain. And yet Mark has challenged us throughout this chapter with weighty concept after weighty concept.First it was our spiritual vision and how did we see Christ - did we have the clear eyes of the Gentile worshippers in the Decapolis or the blindness of the Pharisees. Maybe we were closer to the disciples who sometimes saw Him clearly and sometimes dimly. It was a spiritual struggle that would be like climbing Mt. McKinley - the highest peak in North America - it was a feat but there were bigger concepts out there. Last week Kyle took all of us up the Mr. Everest of Mark as we looked at the great confession of Peter as he proclaims Christ to be the Messiah.Now this week, we can rest and recuperate from the spiritual magnitude of that admission and the implications is has on our lives. But Mark doesn’t think so - he has more for us. Think of it as K2, the second highest mountain in the world, as Mark is going to explicitly inform us of the implications of the revelation of who Christ is and it is heavy lifting. Are you ready? Let’s look together at the Word of God and then I will endeavor to open these verses up to your eyes and heart to see what God has for us not only today but every day of our Christian life. I will be reading from the Christian Standard Bible you can follow along in your translation or the verses will be up on the screens.Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? What can anyone give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Then he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God come in power.”One of the great challenges to the Christian church is the making of disciples. Not converts or even church members - but real, true disciples of Jesus Christ. An Amazon search for “Discipleship” yields more than 10,000 resources on making disciples in the modern church. Some of these titles are things like “Transformational Discipleship”, “The American Discipleship Problem”, “Rediscovering Discipleship” and “Gospel-Centered Discipleship”. And this is not a new problem. In the middle of the 20th Century theologians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer were writing books on discipleship. And yet making disciples is part of the fundamental charge Christ gives the church as a part of the Great Commission. So we read the books, we develop programs to try and make disciples, we build accountability groups and mentor groups and phone trees and coffee dates and wilderness trips - all in the hopes that we might succeed in making a disciple of Jesus Christ. And all of those are good things - all of those are sometimes necessary things. But often we go through all of those processes, all of those machinations and we are still left without true disciples of Christ.Yet here Christ lays out His plan for discipleship - and it is both far simpler and far more complex than anything written in the books. It is far simpler and far more complex than the most involved programs, retreats or ideals that we can dream up. There is so much here that in some ways it has been a daunting task to prepare forC this week. In truth each of these elements deserves a sermon of its own. One thing that I’ve been talking about lately is the difference between a Christ-honoring life and a Christ-exalting life. In these six short verses that we just read Christ lays out His plan for what a Christ exalting life looks like. And since He is the Master we would do well to examine these qualities and to see how well they are reflected in our own lives. The passage really breaks down into three points - first, there is the challenge, the challenge. Then there is the cost, the cost. And finally there is the consequence, the consequence.The ChallengeLook with me again at verse 34. “Calling the crowd along with His disciples” stop there because this is an important point that we can’t just blow past without recognizing. Throughout much of the Gospel of Mark crowds have presented more of an impediment to true ministry and discipleship than they have been a help. What I mean is that the crowd has really been more of a bunch of groupies who have been hanging around Jesus because of what they can get from Him, because He is entertaining for them, because He fills their needs for a sensational figure. In chapter 2 the crowd was pressed so tightly around Christ that the men who wanted to bring a paralytic before Him had to tear up the roof of a house to reach Him. Chapter 3 tells us that people were coming from all over the region - not just Galilee but Judea, Tyre, Sidon - even the Gentiles wanted to see this Jewish miracle worker. Then there is the feeding of the five thousand and the people being whipped into a bit of a fervor, desiring to come and make Him king by force if necessary.And yet here Christ issues this call not only to His disciples but also to the crowd. The word here for calling is the same word used in chapter 3 when Christ summons the twelve who would become His disciples. It is translated in various places as called, invited or summoned. This is an example for us of the universal call to discipleship. Christ is issuing a call to the crowd - not just His disciples but everyone to discipleship and following Him. Does this mean that every one of the people who heard this call believed - no. And Christ knew that not everyone would come to be His disciple - and yet He issues the call anyway. Christ knew that His sheep would hear His voice and would respond. The one thing this universal call doesn’t do is it doesn’t disprove the idea of election or that there is a bride of Christ that He has chosen for Himself. It is as the 19th century pastor Charles Spurgeon said
381Our Savior has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He has not said, “Preach it only to the elect,” and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads or put any distinctive mark upon them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform. When we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him.What it does do is set the example for us that we should be preaching and calling all people not only to repentance but also to discipleship as a follower of Christ.Notice how Christ starts that call - If anyone wants to follow after me… If. If. Really there are many great ideals to Jesus teaching that much of our world would affirm. Athiests, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, Christians all of us could agree to follow Christ’s teachings. This is a universal call with a universal application - if anyone wants to follow after me. This is an interesting point that many of those groups of people I just cited would readily agree to - if Jesus is just acknowledged as a good teacher. If He’s just a good teacher, if He’s just a human sage, then the principles that He taught are worth following. If it were simply following the ideals of loving your neighbor as yourself, treat others the way you want to be treated, civil disobedience, giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick - everyone can get agree with those principles and are willing to follow Jesus. And that would be a beautiful world - it would be a Christ-honoring world. As long as He is just a good teacher and He leaves it at that. But we can’t just stop there because Jesus issues a challenge to His hearers and to us today.We live in one of the most self-centered, self-reliant, self-made generations in the history of mankind. Many of us grew up being told that we could be anything we wanted to be when we grew up and we believed it. We don’t believe that we should be denied anything - if someone else has it we should have it as well. We can be whatever we want and we don’t need any help from God. Just a few days ago CNN commentator Chris Cuomo gave this startling admission on-air “"If you believe in one another and if do the right thing for yourself and your community, things will get better in this country. You don't need help from above. It's within us." There’s no hint of self-denial there - you can do it. You have the power. You don’t need help from God. Or how about this bit of self-esteemism from Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in South Carolina, from July 2nd “You already are enough”. How different from the command that Christ delivers here.Let him deny himself. Wait a minute. I thought you wanted me to be happy, to live in liberty and to be successful, good looking and rich - deny myself…what’s this all about. This word means to refuse to give thought to or express concern for. Instead of saying that I am enough it is saying I am utterly undone. I am completely incapable of accomplishing anything on my own. Everything I have is worthless compared to having Christ. It is saying with Paul thatMore than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain ChristFor those in the crowd still trapped in the legalism of the Pharisees and scribes, a call to self-denial was a command to abandon their apostate system of externalism, works-righteousness and hypocrisy. But how does that translate into our modern mindset? What does a call to self-denial look like in 21st century America? In 21st century Spokane Valley? It means giving up the notions that we live in a Christian nation - either now or ever. It means acknowledging that at best our nation was founded as a Christ honoring nation but has never been a Christ exalting nation. It means releasing the ideals of cultural Christianity that have been so prevalent in the church that say if I go to the right Bible studies, if I lead a life group, if I avoid certain establishments and activities, if I’m in church every Sunday and give my 10% that I’m good. Unless we have completely surrendered our will to His, unless we have completely surrendered our lives, our political affiliations, our ideals, our future and, most importantly, our sinful nature to Him we are not denying ourselves. Unless we first think - how does this action reflect on Christ and on His gospel and what I say He’s done in my life we have not denied ourself enough. We can live a nice moral life and be Christ-honoring and still miss out on the life of disciple and being Christ-exalting.Christ doesn’t simply expect self-denial from His disciples but also that they would take up their cross. Again we have to remove some modern cultural stereotypes as we look at this. Christ is not telling his listeners and Mark is not telling his readers that they will have to endure some minor inconveniences as they follow in His footsteps. They wont have to endure a difficult work situation, a challenging neighbor, troublesome children or even the difficult burden of being good looking. Nor is he saying that they should take some gold coins, melt them down, fashion them into a cross and then wear it around their neck or in their ears as a proud affirmation of their faith. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear the cross as a piece of jewelry - what I am saying is don’t think that wearing a trinket somehow equates to you bearing your cross for Christ.You would be hard pressed in first century Galilee or, in the case of Mark’s original audience, in Rome to find a more repugnant, more inherently evil symbol than the cross. More than any other symbol the cross was a vivid indication of the class distinctions that existed between the ruling Roman government and people and those they conquered. Roman citizens could not be crucified. It was instead reserved for the lower classes, the worst criminals, the most vociferous of rebels. And it was an implement of terror that was readily, heavy handedly applied by the Romans. During one rebellion over 6000 men were crucified and hung along the Appian Way as a warning to others. Either shortly after Mark wrote his Gospel (or possibly concurrent with his writing) the Emperor Nero would not only crucify Christians but light them on fire after falsely accusing them of setting Rome on fire.For Christ to use the imagery of the cross with this crowd in Galilee would be to call them to a life and expectation of persecution, rejection, hardship and possibly even martyrdom. It is not a call to seek those things out but instead it is a promise that, as a result of declaring their followership of Him, those things would come into their lives in varying degrees. Christ promises His disciples in John 15 on the night He would be arrested“If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they don’t know the one who sent me.Later Paul would write to his young protege TimothyIn fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.The call to take up your cross is another step beyond simple self-denial. In fact, the idea of taking up one’s cross makes the idea of self-denial seem easy by comparison. And this is the challenge that we all face - are we willing to take up our cross. Are we willing to be persecuted, to lose liberties, to even be killed for the Gospel? Thomas a Kempis once saidJesus has many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross.Is that us today? Are we in the company of those who love the kingdom but are unwilling to fully take a stand for His glory?The interesting thing about these two commands is that they point us both backwards to the moment we declare ourselves to be Christ’s disciples and to the daily requirement of being a disciple. Both the command to deny oneself and to take up one’s cross are in a verb tense that points to a single event in time - meaning the moment when one becomes a Christian. But they are also in the active voice meaning and event that the subject is performing the action or is in the state the verb describes. This is a both and proposition - we not only deny ourselves and take up our cross at the moment that we confess our sins and receive Christ as our Savior but daily we must be committed to the same state of affairs. No matter how long we are Christians, no matter how much we study, how much we mature as Christians we will never progress beyond these two fundamental actions of the Christian’s lifestyle.Just this last week we started the study Behold Your God the Weight of Majesty and the speaker was discussing what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10-11. In that text Paul writesMy goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.and the speaker Dr. John Snyder says that we read that text and we might say that is the sentiment of a baby Christian, of someone who is new to the faith. Then he goes on to say that at the time of the writing of those words Paul had been a Christian for around 27 years - and yet he can still say that his goal is to know Him as if it was all new to him daily. And that is the same sentiment, the same attitude we should have towards self-denial and taking up our cross. These are not easy activities that we have been challenged with. They are not easy practices - because we are in a now but not yet battle with our flesh we must daily crucify our fleshly desires and take up our cross and follow Him.This repetition from the original statement of Jesus “If anyone would follow me” may seem ambiguous or awkward. If you want to follow me, you have to follow me. It speaks to the consistent growth that should happen in the life of a believer who is daily denying themself and taking up their cross to follow their Lord. It is the desire of our church as we seek to grow Christ in each of you and, as Paul writes in ColossiansWe proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.But this is also fulfilling what we discussed in the initial comments on following Christ - this is the daily living out of all that He has taught and said. Not for the purpose of earning salvation but as a natural outgrowth of self-denial and taking up our cross. We demonstrate the change in our lives by following the teachings of Christ as a way of pointing others to Him and of glorifying Him for what He has already and is continuing to accomplish in our lives.This is the challenge - issued to us by Christ. Are you up to fulfilling this in your life? Because like many challenges - this one will cost you something.The CostWe will do just about anything to prolong our lives. We’ll try new diets, new workouts, new clothes, new doctors. Ted Williams, the former Boston Red Sox player, was even controversially cryogenically frozen in the hopes that one day he and his son could be revived. But Christ here reveals the futility of all of these efforts if the only reason they are being undertaken is to preserve this temporal life.Christ says that the one who desires to save his life will end up losing it but whoever loses his life because of his testimony regarding Christ and the Gospel will end up saving it in the end. The question here is one of focus - what is the point of your life? Is it to accrue as much wealth, property and toys as you can? There are several examples in Scripture regarding the futility of this.Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’ “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”This man is what we would term as a work-a-holic. He spent his whole life working to gain an empire for himself and just when he was ready to give it all up and retire, to enjoy the fruit of his labors he would die and leave it all to his kids or a servant. Solomon makes this very point in Ecclesiastes 2.I hated all my work that I labored at under the sun because I must leave it to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will take over all my work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile.Solomon recognized that all of his toil would amount to no gain for himself because all of our lives must end. And at that time we are going to be called to account for what we have accomplished on this earth. The word for life here is used to describe both our physical life and then our soul. The question being posed by Christ here is what is your soul worth. Is it worth gaining the whole world in this temporal life if in the end you forfeit your soul?The missionary Jim Elliot once said“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”And he did - on the banks of Curaray River in Ecuador he gave his life for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.It is completely possible to achieve all you want in this life and live a Christ-honoring life. You may never cheat on your taxes, cheat on your spouse, raise 2.5 kids that are good kids that everyone likes and appreciates their manners, live in a nice house, drive a nice truck, have a boat and go on vacation to the lake every year…and the list could go on. But in the end a Christ-honoring life will only deliver you straight to Hell. You can live a perfectly moral life and still miss out because you never submitted to Christ - instead you rejected Him. What can anyone give in exchange for his life - this question is not about this life but the next one.The ConsequenceFor whoever is ashamed of me and my words. The nation of Japan has an entire segment of its culture built on the concept of shame. We as a nation are witnessing the effects of shame as historical figure after historical figure is erased because we are ashamed of some aspect of that person’s lifestyle. When Christ makes this statement He isn’t merely hinting at someone who might be embarrassed at some of the things in the Gospel - He is referring to the outright and complete rejection of Christ and everything He stands for. He is referring to someone turning their back on Him and, despite having heard the Gospel, continuing to go their own way, to refuse to deny themself, to pick up their cross or to follow His commands. He is referring to much of the crowd that is hearing Him. And He is referring to some in our midst today. And the consequences of these actions are severe.Christ says that on that day - that glorious day that we all say we are looking forward to and that may not be far off - that He will be ashamed of them when He appears in His glory. That He will reject them - even over their protests of Lord, Lord we never violated your commands, we healed the sick and fed the hungry. We visited the poor and clothed the naked. We went to church every Sunday. We did all of these things in Your name. And yet what does Matthew tell us - depart from me, I never knew you. Rejected. And the sad fact is that there are some now who think they’re safe that will one day hear those very words.Conclusion
2 Timothy 3:12CSB
- All I Have Is Christ
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