Matthew 16:24-25 = Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his
life for my sake shall find it.
It's not about exalting me, it's not about slaying...
me. It's the
death of self. You win by losing; you live by dying. And that is at the heart message of the gospel. That is the essance if
HARD WORDS OF JESUS----
9 cuts to the core of the question of what christianity is all about. Here, Jesus was with His deciples shortly after miraculously
feeding a crowd of five thousand, who had come to hear him speak, with one modest basket of loaves and fishes. In Luke 9:23-26
" And he said to them all,
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his
life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if
he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall
the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."
It's pretty simple. Anyone wants to come to
Jesus into the kingdom of God-anyone who wants to be a christian- has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up
his cross daily, and 3) follow Him. These words are hard to understand or believe.
When Martin Luther launched the protestant reformation in 1517 by posting his 95 theses on the door at wittenburg,
he affirmed in the fourth thesis that salvation required self-hate. He wrote that "self-hate remains right up to the entrance
into the kingdom of Heaven" The original greek word for "deny" means "to refuse to associate with." The thought is that if
you want to be christ disciple, and recieve forgiveness and eterwnal life, you must refuse to associate any longer with the
person you are! But to go even furthur it may mean not just you, but your family.
Mathew 10:34-36 =
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came
not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother,
and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
It's not a friendly invitation; it's a warning: If you come to Christ, it may make your family worse,
not better. It may send a rift into your family, the likes of which you have never experienced before. If you give your life
to Christ, there will be an impassible gulf between you and people who don't give there lives to Him.
verse 37 adds, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth
son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." If your not willing to pay the price of permanent split in your family
unless your loved ones come to Christ, If your not willing to pay the price of greater trauma, greater conflict, greater suffering
in your family- then you're not worthy to be Jesus' desciple.
Verse 38: " And
he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Wait a minute. In Jesus' time people associated
a cross with one thing and one thing alone: a cross was an instrument of death. He was saying that if you're not willing to
have conflict your not worthy of Him.
Verse 39: "He that findeth his life shall
lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." This is an echo with Luke 9. It's about losing your life.
It's not man centered theology, it's a Christ centered theology that says, " I give everything to Christ, no matter what it
cost me, even if it cost me my life.
THE TRUE GOSPEL IN SCRIPTURE
This is the fundamental truth about Christianity that the bible confirmes continually. Jesus said the
sam thing in many differant ways. He said it in the familiar story of th rich young ruler. In Mark 10:17
( young synagogue leader) = And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked
him, Good Master (good teacher), what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
What a setup for personal evangilism! Jesus could have said, "Pray this parayer" or "make a dicision to accept me!"
He didn't. Instead He confronted the young man with the reality of sin to reveal whether or not he was convicted of his wickedness
and repentant over his iniquities. Jesus offered several of the Ten Commandments as examples of the law of God to this
young ruer to reveal he has broken them.
Rejecting any thought of sinfulness and repentance, the young man bragged about having obeyed the Ten Commandments all his
life. He thought he was a perfect canididat for eternal life. But he got a response he didn't exspect. In
verse 21 Jesus said = Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Jesus exposed his self-righteousness and then uncovered his love for money. The young ruler wanted Jesus to show him
how to have eternal life. But Jesus told him that the price was giving up his illusion of self-righteousness, recognizing
himself rathr as an unworthy, wretched sinner. And he needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, even
if it meant he had to give up all earthly possesions. H might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness
to give all up if He does.
The young man wouldnt do either- admit his sin or deny himself. As verse 22 tells us," And he was sad at that saying,
and went away grieved: for he had great possessions." He decided he'd rather hold onto the deception of self-righteousness,
and have his money and possesions, the have Jesus. He had no interest in self-denial, self-sacrifice, or submision.
Therefore he was unworthy to be Jesus' disciple, and he shut the door to the kingdom of salvation.
We all know someone like the rich young ruler
-cocky, self-assured, impressed with his own goodness- who sees Christian salvation as one more goal he can achieve through
performance, skill, money, and influence. The bible tells us that's not how it works. The goal is the unfamiliar
one of sorrowfully acknowledging sin, of submission and sacrifice. If we're not willing to sepoerate from our families, seperate
from the world, seperate from material things that we posses, then Jusus isn't that valuable to us. It's an all - or
- nothing proposition.
There's yet another example in Luke 9:57 where Jesus was walking down the road with some of His followers, and one of them
promised, "I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." Jesus didn't say, "Hey, that's great, where all going
to live happily ever after on earth" What He said in verse 58 was, "And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes,
and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Jesus didn't say "Follow me, and you
will be happy, you will be healthy, wealthy, prosperous, and successful." He said, "Just know this: I don't have a place to
lay my head. Dicsepleship is going to cost you whatever you have. Don't expect comfort or ease."
The story continues in verse 59: " And he said
unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." The implication here was
that his father wasn't even dead. What did he mean , "go first and bury" his father? Did he mean go to the funeral?
No, he meant hang around until he got the inheritance! He wasn't going to have anything if he was going to follow Jesus.
Jesus had nothing to give him, so he wanted to stick around the house until he could pack a fortune in his bag and then come
after Jesus. He disappeared too.
A third would be-follower of Jesus wanted to return home and organize a big farewell party with his friends and family - to
secure suport for his venture. verse 62 = "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking
back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Jesus told him that those who entered His kingdom didn't go back to bring along
elements of the old life. Rather they were like the farmer, who, onced he grabbed the plow, kept looking forward so
the furrow was straight (Luke 9:61-62).
Jesus set the standard of total self-denial. In Luke 14:26, a great multitude was following Him and He turned and said:
"If any man come to me,----meaning those who wanted to be His true followers---- "and hate not his father, and mother,
and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Self-hate?
What a powerful truth! This in not salvation of good works but the very opposite: salvation by rejecting all hope of
pleasing God on our own.
Following Jesus is not about you and me. Being a Christian is not about us; not about self-esteem. It's about
our sick of our sin and our despration for forgiveness. It is about seeing Christ as the priceless Savior from sin and
death and hell, so that we willingly give up as much as it takes, even if it costs us our families, marriages, frienships,
and whatever else we cherrish and possess.
even costs us our lives , as Jesus said in Luke 9:24 and reaffirmed in 14:27, " And whosoever doth not bear his cross"--that
is, be willing to die and give up his life--" and come after me, (cannot) be my disciple."
It cannot be any clearer then that. If you try to hold onto you, your plan,
your agenda, your success, your self-esteem, you lose forgiveness and heaven.
In John 12:24 Jesus said,"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." In other words, " If your going to be fruitful in following Me,"
Jusus says,"It's going to cost you your life. You're going to hav to die." Verse 25: "He that loveth his life
shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." The path that Jesus was going
down was the path to persecution and death.
want to follow Jesus , do you? It'll cost you absolutely everything.
The Lord might not take your life. He might not take all your money. He might not tak your family or your spouse.
He might not take your job. But you need to be willing to give it all up, Like Abraham offering his son Issac, if that's
what He asks. You need to be desprate enough to embrace Christ no matter what the price.
If you want to follow Christ right into heaven, here's th message: Deny yourself, take up
the cross, and follow Him. Do you hear that in the contemporary gospel? Do you ever hear anybody stand up in the crowd
and say, " If you want to be a Christian, slay yourself! Refuse to associate any longer with yourself, reject all the
things your self longs and wants and hopes for! Be willing to die for the sake of Christ, if required, and while living
slavishly, submit in obedience to Christ Jesus!" That message does NOT SELL! That's not smart marketing.
Its the message that is to difficult to believe,
because self-denial is so hard to do. It just happens to be the truth.
THE NARROW WAY
So what do you want to do? According to lots of churches, and preachers, the answer is to
popularize the gospel: get rid of all this slaying-yourslef and carring the cross stuff, and get a decent band up there on
the stage. Tell everybody God wants him to be happy and successful of self-esteem.
The only problem is that saying those things gives people who don't know
any better the illusion they're saved, when they are not. And someday, when they face Christ, they're going to say, "Lord,
Lord!" and He's going to say,"Depart from Me. I never knew you" (see matthew 7:23). What's a good band worth then?
About as much as healthy self-esteem.
Mankind wants glory. We want health. We want wealth. We want happiness. We want all our felt needs met, all our
little human itches scratched. We want painless life. We want the crown without the cross. We want the gain
without the pain. We want the words of Christian salvation to be easy.
That's how people think. But that's not God instructions to us. According to Hebrews 2:10, " captain of their salvation
perfect through (sufferings)." And also we will go through suffering. What we suffer first of all is the death
of all hopes, all ambitions, all desires, all longing, all needs that are human.
Listening to a seeker-sensitive preacher today, we're likely to think easy to be a Christian. Just say these words,
pray a little prayer the , POOF! you're in the club. According to the bible, it doesn't work that way. In Mathew 7:13
during the teaching on the mount, Jesus admonished His followers, " Enter into the narrow gate." The connotation of "narrow"
here is constricted. It's a very, very tight squeeze. We can't carry anything through it; we come through with
A wide religious gate also exist,
and I am saddened to think so many preachers, and so many churches, are leading people through it. They're saying "you
don't have to do all that hard stuff to go into heaven. We're open minded and inclusive, and we think everybody who
wants to should get saved."
People are breezing
through those wide , comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs,self esteem, and their desire for
fulfillment and self-satisfaction. These people believe they are saved, and yet some preacher did not share the truth because
if he shared the truth VERY few will desire to follow the truth. And we all know that true worshipers worship in Spirit and
Mathew 7:14,"narrow is the way, which leadeth unto
life, and few there be that find it." ((Difficult truth to believe the way and few be there that find it. And those
who don't find it is because they dont want to hear the truth but something quick and simple and easy to understand.)
Look the same appears in Luke
13:23-24," Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the
strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Bishop, from: True Gospel Baptist Church---