Sermon #35 Series: Mark
Title: TRUTHS OF DEEPEST IMPORTANCE
Text: Mark 8:34-38
Readings: Office: Rex Bartley Auditorium: Bobbie Estes
Subject: The Costs Of Following Christ And Of Unbelief
Date: Sunday Evening - December 7, 1997
Tape # U-33
The title of my message tonight is TRUTHS OF DEEPEST IMPORTANCE. My text is found in Mark 8:34-38. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ in these five verses of Scripture are solemn, weighty words indeed. They separate the precious from the vile. They are a winnowing fan in the Master’s hand, by which he distinguishes wheat from the chaff. These are words which ought to be read often, prayed over much, and mediated upon continually.
Proposition: These few words define true Christianity more distinctly than all the volumes of theology and apologetics written by me.
Divisions: As we look at our Lord’s words in this passage, I want to draw your attention to four things. Here are four aspects of true faith, four things vital to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Coming To Christ (v. 34)
2. Carrying The Cross Of Christ (v. 34).
3. Consecration To Christ (vv. 35-37).
4. Confessing Christ (v. 38).
I. COMING TO CHRIST (v. 34).
Throughout the Scriptures faith is portrayed as a matter of coming to Christ. To believe on the Son of God is to come to him. To come to him is to believe on him. We come to him by following after him, as disciples follow after their Master. Our all glorious Christ says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself.”
A. Coming to Christ is the result of a deliberate, purposeful choice.
It is an act of the will. Our Master says, “whosoever will”. Let us never alter his Word. I know that faith is a gift of God. I know that you will not come to Christ unless God the Holy Spirit graciously, effectually causes you to come. Yet, I know that if you come to him, you will come to him because you want him and you choose him. God does not save sinners by knocking them in the head and dragging them to Christ. He saves sinners by causing them to want Christ more than life itself.
Faith in Christ is not a matter of conscription, but a voluntary act. The soldiers in Christ’s army are not drafted, forced soldiers, but volunteers.
B. Coming to Christ is an act of the heart, a spiritual, not a carnal thing.
No one has ever come to Christ by walking a church aisle, kneeling at an altar, saying a prayer, or signing a decision card. If you would come to Christ you must do so without moving a muscle. You must come to him in your heart. Faith is a heart work.
C. Coming to Christ is a continual thing.
Our Savior does not speak of coming to him as a one time thing, as a single act, but as a constant, continual, lifelong thing. Faith in Christ is not an event in life, but a way of life.
D. Any sinner in all the world who will come to Christ may come to Christ.
Our Master uses that blessed world of universal application and uses it frequently - “Whosoever”. I am so thankful he said “Whosoever will” rather than if Don Fortner will. Had he said that, I would have concluded he must have meant some other Don Fortner. But I cannot doubt that “whosoever” includes me!
Not only are sinners bidden to come to Christ, we are commanded to come. The warrant of faith is not my feeling, my emotion, my meeting certain prescribed conditions, but God’s Word. If the Son of God says for me to come to him, then I may come to him!
The first aspect of faith is coming to Christ. The second is…
II. CARRYING THE CROSS OF CHRIST (v. 34).
Read verse 34 again. This is not an optional thing. In this verse of Scripture, as throughout the Word of God, our Master tells us plainly that if we would follow him, if we would be his disciples, if we would be saved, self-denial is an absolute necessity.
Again, this is a matter of personal, deliberate choice. Carrying your cross for Christ is not enduring providential hardships with patience, but deliberately choosing a course that is sure to bring trouble upon you, because trouble lies in the path of following Christ.
A. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
We are not saved by what we do, but by what God does and has done. We are saved by grace alone.
· The Election Of Grace.
· The Atonement Of Grace.
· The Imputation Of Grace.
· The Call Of Grace.
· The Preservation Of Grace.
B. Yet, if we are saved by the grace of God, we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
1. We must deny self, if we follow Christ.
· Sinful Self.
· Righteous Self.
· Carnal Self.
“A religion which costs nothing is worth nothing. It will do us no good in the life that now is. It will lead to no salvation in the life to come.” J. C. Ryle
2. If I am saved by the grace of God, I take up my cross and follow my Master.
· The Cross Of His Doctrine.
· The Cross Of His Will.
· The Cross Of His Honor.
Our Savior’s words here are as plain as the noonday sun. If I choose not to bear his cross on this earth, I shall never wear his crown in heaven.
Faith is coming to Christ, carrying the cross of Christ, and…
III. CONSECRATION TO CHRIST (vv. 35-37).
A. If I would save my life, I must loose it to Christ.
Salvation is neither more nor less than surrender to the rule and reign of Jesus Christ as my Lord and King.
Faith in Christ is giving over the rule of your life to Christ; but that is no great sacrifice at all.
B. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
1. Each of us has an immortal soul, a soul that will live forever, either in the bliss of eternal life or in the torment of eternal death.
2. It is a very easy thing for you to lose your soul.
· You can murder it, by loving and clinging to the world.
· You can poison it with the deadly wine of false religion.
· You can starve it, by neglecting God’s ordained means of grace, the preaching of the gospel, by keeping from it the bread of life.
There are many ways to hell. Whichever way you choose is a matter for which you alone are responsible. But there is only one way to life eternal. Christ is that Way.
Faith in Christ involves coming to Christ, carrying the cross of Christ, consecration to Christ, and…
IV. CONFESSING CHRIST (v. 38).
We do not have to guess what it is to be ashamed of Christ. It is to refuse to confess him, to refuse to identify ourselves with him. It is to tacitly deny him. That is exactly what he tells us in Matthew 10.
A. If I am ashamed of Christ’s doctrine, I am ashamed of him.
B. If I am ashamed of Christ’s ordinances, I am ashamed of him.
· Confessing Him In Believers Baptism
· Confessing Him At The Lord’s Table.
· Worshipping In His House.
C. If I am ashamed of Christ’s people, I am ashamed of him.
Read Matthew 10 and 25.
D. If I am ashamed of Christ in this adulterous and sinful generation, he will be ashamed of me when he comes in the glory of his Father with his holy angels to judge the world.
I call upon you now in the name of the Lord to…
1. Come to Christ.
2. Take up your cross and follow Christ.
3. Consecrate your life to Christ.
4. Confess Christ.