As I write this I am listening to the words “Oh praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!” They are lyrics from the worship song Jesus Paid It All.
These words really summarize what I have been learning today as I have spent time listening to the Word being preached by the pastor of my church (Stone’s Throw Church in Middletown, Delaware). I listened to a sermon entitled The Tide Turns (part 23 of a 52 part journey we are taking through the book of Mark). The sermon started at chapter 8 verse 27 and went through chapter 9 verse 1. I encourage you to watch it for yourself as well: http://www.stonesthrowchurch.org/media/?section=sermons&group=14&id=112
What really stuck out to me is the fact that if you call yourself a disciple of Christ, a person who is following Christ, it takes 3 very simple but very life-changing things. And that’s really what it comes down to: if you are going to follow Christ your WHOLE IDENTITY,everything that you are,must change!
The three things Pastor Dan lays out in this sermon that disciples do are: 1) They pursue Jesus,2) They deny themselvesand 3)They claim the Cross as their own.
These three things really struck me because they are what separates a true follower of Jesus from a life-insurance Christian. A life-insurance Christian is someone who simply believes in Jesus and claims His benefits and does nothing more. They are in it for eternal life and that is it. What they don’t realize is that a true follower is someone who realizes the facts that GOD came down from His rightful place on high, stripped Himself of everything that made Him God and made Himself human in order to fix what we destroyed! He gave up literally EVERYTHING and took on our flesh and our sin in order to give us His righteousness!! Don’t you see? This is probably the most unfair trade that will EVER be made EVER!! Jesus knew this, yet He still did it!
It’s simple, becauseHe loves us. God is unchanging, those same expectations that He had for us back in the Garden, back when we were perfect still apply now! Just because we screwed up doesn’t mean God was just gonna change everything that He had planned and lower His expectations! NO! He’s a just God and we have failed to meet His expectations (which can be found in Matthew 22:37 —- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”) We failed to do this when we (all of humanity) fell to sin. So, of course, there must be a punishment, and this punishment is so severe that we cannot possibly take it ourselves or we would all be dead. So Christ takes our punishment for us by coming to earth as a human, suffering on the Cross, dying, and three days later rising again. Because of this it is finished (John 19:30). Now we must have faith in this and believe in order for it to apply to us. Jesus is Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and the Savior whether we believe it or not, but in order to receive His righteousness we must believe it is the truth (Romans 3:21-26, Acts 26:18)
What I realized through this sermon is that this is a serious matter, this isn’t fun and games. We cannot view salvation as simply a ticket to ride the Jesus train and get to heaven. Yes, that is where true faith will get us, but in the meantime we cannot just sit back and say, “Okay I’m saved now I’m gonna continue doing what I want to do.” That’s not how it works, we are called to lay down our lives and pick up the Cross (Mark 8:34) because “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.” That sums it all up right there: we owe Him EVERYTHING because He gave us EVERYTHING!! Our life now directly affects our eternity later.
Don’t miss it, don’t miss the fact that you are completely unable to live up to what God expects of you because of sin!! This is why you need Jesus because without Him you are already dead and gone. And that is precisely why He came to die in your stead, in my stead, in everyone’stead!