Grace Baptist Church

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Following Jesus

Following Jesus

Aug 21, 2016

Passage: Mark 8:34-38

Preacher: Tom Ascol

Category: Sunday Morning

Keywords: discipleship, gospel, sacrifice


Pastor Tom Ascol teaches on “Following Jesus” in a message based on Mark 8:34–38. Oftentimes, following Jesus requires faith and obedience. Sacrifice is usually the result and is not unexpected. Yet Christians consistently have made those sacrifices for the abundant life in Christ, a life that far surpasses anything this world has to offer.

Our passage today sets forth the cost of discipleship. Jesus says his followers must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. In so doing there will be three contrasts between the life of a believer and the life of an unbeliever. The first contrast should be in desires. The Christian desires Christ more even than his own life. The self-centered life gives way to a life centered on Jesus Christ. Verse 35b gives evidence of the value of a life so lived: “whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Since the true Christian is one who has come to understand his desperate need for a savior, and having come to that Savior, the change in desires is expected and (super)natural.

A second contrast presents itself in denials. Christians deny themselves for the sake of gaining Christ’s blessings while non-believers deny themselves for gaining the things of the world. Christians willingly suffer, whether through ridicule, hardship, persecution, humiliation, and more, for the sake of the Cross. In parts of the world, being ostracized or even arrested are possibilities in the Christian life. On the other hand, the person who does not yield to Christ maintains his own lordship over his life. But, the Bible, in Mark 8:36, asks “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?” In the end what one desires will determine what one denies himself. Everyone makes sacrifices, denies themselves something, in the pursuit of what they desire, Christians and non-Christians alike. Self-denial is never an end in and of itself; it is always for some perceived greater good. This is the point of Jesus’ parable of the Pearl of Great Price in Matthew 13. Having discovered the pearl, of a value greater than all others, the finder rids himself of all else in order to obtain what he has found. So it is with the gospel, the only way to salvation and therefore having eternal value of far greater worth than whatever else might be gained in the world. Christ has become a believer’s treasure. Self-denial for eternal gain can hardly be real denial.

The third contrast is the difference in destinies. Losing your life for Christ results in saving your soul for eternity. The contrast for a non-believer could not be starker. Christ calls non-believers to Himself. Do not settle for temporary pleasure when eternity is at stake. Come to Him on His terms. He died for you.