34 Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me and for the Good News will have true life. 36 It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. 37 They could never pay enough to buy back their souls. 38 The people who live now are living in a sinful and evil time. If people are ashamed of me and my teaching, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes with his Father’s glory and with the holy angels.” ~ Mark 8:34-38
Today, we conclude our study of Mark 8. In our last blog and podcast, the Lord Jesus revealed, for the first time, the startling revelation that He was going to Jerusalem to die. On the heels of that explosive announcement, the Lord Jesus began to give to His disciples a portrait of the disciple.
With this portrait, the Lord Jesus gives the why for allowing God to call the shots in our lives. The why is we lose what isn't real and we find what is real. When we follow the Lord, we will reflect His likeness. However, we must never believe that it is about us, nor shall we believe that our good works justify us before God. Through discipleship with God or sanctification, we acquire His way of thinking and living for now. Through the yielding of our lives, we acquire His culture which enables us to see the real as opposed to the not so real.
You will remember that justification has to do with us going to heaven, and our justification before God is solely based upon what the Lord Jesus has done on our behalf on His cross. On the cross, He paid the penalty for our sin, something we could not do for ourselves. As the result, we are enabled to walk in the wisdom of God and thus live the life the Lord Jesus died to give us.
Discipleship or sanctification is about heaven coming to us now. Sanctification is the acquisition of God's wisdom. Discipleship is the vehicle God uses to dispense to us His wisdom. Sanctification is all about acquiring God's way of thinking and living out of His culture in this world.
In v.34-35 of today's passage we read, "34 Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me and for the Good News will have true life."
When we invited the Lord Jesus into our lives, we were "born again." That means, we were made alive to God by His indwelling Holy Spirit. When we were born again, we entered into God's family, never to be removed out of His family. We did not earn our favor before God, in fact, the Lord Jesus earned for us the favor of God through His perfect life lived on this earth and His perfect death on the cross. Then, God raised Him from the dead, and that, sealed the salvation of all willing enough to believe.
Now, as believers in Christ and children of God, if we are going to be the disciples of the Lord Jesus, there are a few requirements: we must dethrone, die, and decide.
The first thing we do is we dethrone self from being the god of our lives. To resemble the likeness of our Savior, we "must give up the things we want."
The idea isn't denying things for ourselves, the idea is we have come to the place where we are not living for ourselves anymore. It means that we, to the best of our ability, have dethroned ourselves off of the throne of our lives and now we have decided to give God the place of the decision making. We will never be perfect at this this side of heaven, but, the more we dethrone self, the more God will express Himself through our yielded lives.
Along with this, if we are going to be the disciples of the Lord Jesus and resemble His likeness, we have to make the decision to die to ourselves, daily. The cross was a tool of death, and when a disciple embraces his cross, it means that he understands that he is going to die. To die to self means we have come to the place where we are not motivated by ourselves. It means we are now motivated by the Spirit of God who wants to use us in the lives of others for eternity.
And then, if we are to be known as disciples of Christ and resemble His likeness, we must decide to follow Him daily. The cross of Christ made it possible for us to be justified before God, whereas our cross enables us to access the culture of God which may be used of God to bring others to believe in His Son through us.
In v.36-37 of today's passage we read, "36 It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. 37 They could never pay enough to buy back their souls."
Following the Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate adventure, because when we lose our lives, we will not know where His road will take us, but we are in for the adventure of our lives. The Lord Jesus will always call us beyond ourselves. And, as His followers, we will struggle with serving two masters which have access to our souls. Inside the believer in Christ are the Spirit of God and the flesh. The flesh is the wicked desires within us which will always make life about us. The indwelling Spirit of God will always push the agenda of God in our lives.
In v.38 of today's passage we read, "The people who live now are living in a sinful and evil time. If people are ashamed of me and my teaching, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes with his Father’s glory and with the holy angels."
If we truly do not believe in the Lord Jesus, we will be ashamed of Him before the people of this earth. There are times when I am not a good disciple, but that does not mean that I will lose my position in Christ, having believed in Him. The Lord Jesus doesn't just take a snapshot of our lives in a specific moment, and then, draws His conclusion on our eternity. Here, He refers to the aim of our lives. The disciple is in the process of being convinced that God's definition for his life is the best. And, if we are not in that process, we are in great danger of spending eternity in our own shame.