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Cross Bearers (Discipleship)

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WHAT WILL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAINS THE WHOLE WORLD BUT LOSES HIS OWN SOUL?"

TEXT: Matt. 16:24-28

INTRO: There are not many things in life that are cost free!....nearly everything has some kind of cost to it. Even if some things don't cost money, they have some kind of price tag to them in time or talents.

            a. Becoming a Pastor cost me nearly 5 years of College and             thousands of dollars.

            b. Cars cost you money to have the freedom to travel

            c. The kinds of foods we like and eat can cost us not only money, but even cost us our health.

            d. The kind of friends we choose can cost us our reputations, also our time.

            e. Getting married costs us some of our freedoms as we enter into a covenant to someone else for life.

            f. The Bible says that sin has a cost to it, the wages of which is death.

            g. IF it costs to be a sinner...it also costs to be a saint!!!!

PROP. SENT: The Bible will teach us that we are to count the cost of our commitments. Is there a price tag for your soul?

I. SELF 16:24-26

A. Control 16:24a

1. The idea here is not self hatred, it is self control!

            a. God is not asking us to hate ourselves, He is asking that we control the demands of self

            b. This is the most important lesson we need to teach our children, they come into this world kicking and screaming for their own needs, we must teach them as they grow to get the focus off their own needs and put it on others.

2. To "deny self" is to put the focus off of my own needs and my own existence and focus on the needs of others.

ILLUS: An ultra-evangelical lady once asked Wilberforce, the liberator of the slaves, if his soul was saved. He answered her, "Madame, I have been so busy trying to save the souls of others that I have had not time to think of my own." While perhaps too extreme, he has an interesting point for those of us who have already taken care of the issue of our soul belonging to Christ...the focus toward others and not self!

3. Jesus' whole life reflected this principle of "deny self", his life followed a two fold pattern:

            a. Serve the Father

            b. Serve the people

                        (1. saved

                        (2. unsaved

B. Cross 16:24b

1. Jesus does not ask us to be "cross wearers" but cross BEARERS!"

            a. It can be easier to die for a cause than it is to live for one!

            b. Jesus died for us so that we might live for Him!

            c. Note that Jesus does not say that we are to "take up MY cross", Jesus says, "take up HIS cross" meaning our own cross!

2. The cross was the symbol of death...all rights ended at the cross, and OUR cross is the death of self which frees us to live for God and others

3. To "take up OUR cross" means then to discover what we have been called to do for God and to do it.

            a. it is a setting aside of our will for God's will in our lives.

            b. Our cross is to pick up where Jesus left off, as He refused to save Himself, so should we, when we see others in need we should be there to minister...that is our cross!

ILLUS: A story from the CHOICE GLEANINGS calendar illustrates the point: Drifting snow and bitter cold threatened the lives of Indian evangelist Sadhu Sundar Singh and his Tibetan companion as they crossed a Himalayan mountain pass. Fighting the "sleep of death" as they began to freeze, they stumbled over a mound in the trail. It was a man, half dead from freezing too. The Tibetan refused to stop but continued on alone, but the compassionate evangelist Sadhu could not leave him to die. Instead he bowed down to scoop the man up to carry him while his companion went on without him. It was a constant struggle carrying the man through the snowy pass. However, the more he struggled the warmer he became, and his warmth passed through to the nearly dead man helping to revive him as well. Before they finally reached a village they found on the path the companion that had gone on without him alone...now frozen dead! The companion had sought to save his own life and he had now lost it, while Sadhu who was willing to lose his life, found it...and saved another man near death!

4. To bear our cross then means to carry with us the reminder that we are now dead to our own will and have submitted to God's will in all things.

            a. Much of God's will for our lives can be found in the pages of Scripture

            b. If we don't do God's will that is revealed to us in black and white print, what makes us think that we will do God's will when it comes in more vague ways?

5. It is one thing to wear a cross around your neck, it is another thing to bear the cross of sacrifice in our daily walk!

C. Christ 16:24c

1. Third, we are to "follow Christ".

            a. Christ set a pattern for our lives, one dedicated to saving people, not killing them!

            b. Christ's concern was to redeem the lost, this is to be our concern as well.

2. If we are following Christ...those who follow us will bump into God!!

ILLUS: A pastor of a Church D.L. Moody once preached in shares this story. Years earlier when the famed Moody was scheduled to preach at this Church thousands crammed the Church to hear him speak. One evening a little boy came alone to the door of the Church to hear Moody at this Church, but the usher at the door stopped the small boy with dirty clothes and told him he should be at home in bed. The little boy, downcast and disappointed that he wasn't being permitted to attend the service walked to the side of the building and began to weep. Just as he began to cry, a carriage pulled up and out walked Moody toward the entrance of the Church. He heard the boy crying and walked over to him, the boy did not know it was Moody. Moody asked the boy why he was crying and the boy told him how he had hoped to hear Moody preach but wasn't being allowed in the Church. Moody smiled and asked him, "Do you really want to hear Mr. Moody?" "Yes Sir!" was the boy's response. Moody then said, "Well, I know how to get you in, but you have to do exactly what I tell you." The little boy promised he would. Moody put his coattails in the hands of the boy and told him to hold on to them and not let loose as he walked in until he told him to. Moody entered and walked right to the platform. Reaching the pulpit he said, "Now my boy, you sit there." Moody put him on the chair reserved for himself and for the evening the boy listened to the great preacher. The Pastor who told this story said, "I know that this story is true for it happened in my Church, I was that little boy. I heard the great D.L. Moody preach, but little did I know when I clung to his coattails that someday I would become the minister of that same Church!" How much more should we "follow Jesus!"!

3. To follow Jesus means to follow Him in every way!

            a. If we follow Him in this life, we will follow Him in our death..to Heaven!

            b. Jesus' concern was for the souls of men and women and children.

4. Jesus' life demonstrated a deep concern for spiritual things, His life and practices showed that the material world was there to bless man, not to make man a slave to it.

            a. Jesus did not ignore material things, He just didn't live for them.

            b. If we are to follow Christ, our lives should reflect this same attitude.

            c. It doesn't mean that we must be materially poor, but that our lives are controlled by the things of this world...that we use "stuff" to help build the kingdom of God, not just our own kingdom!

5. Jesus fraternized with the poor and the rich, he saw ALL men and women in need of something greater than what this world has to offer...are we following Him in this example?

D. Cost! 16:25-26

1. This leads to Jesus main point: If we fail to die to self, we cannot be resurrected to a newer life!

            a. If we try instead to save our own life we will really lose it!

            b. But if we are willing to lose our own life, we will find a new one instead!

2. All this being so, Jesus asks an important question for us to consider:

"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"

            a. This is God's question to all of us!

            b. The only answer to this can come from us!

3. We must consider Jesus' point...for it will affect our eternity how we answer it. What are we trying to gain? What will be the cost?

ILLUS: The Japanese during World War 2 realized that to gain the world they would have to have many people step forward to pay a huge cost. To gain power over this world would require the cost of many lives of their own people, so they enlisted the help of their people by asking those who are willing to become a part of the 'DIVINE WIND" against the Unite States. The Japanese word for "DIVINE WIND" is "KAMIKAZE". 1,200 pilots killed themselves by flying into our ships at sea laden with bombs....they took out 34 U.S. ships. They were willing to lose their lives so that their country could gain the whole world...can we do less in dying to our selves so that we might gain God's life? We too should be a "DIVINE WIND" in this world...of those who have given up the world for the kingdom of God.

4. Jesus' whole point is one of contrasts: While we might gain the whole world, it will only be for this short life and then we will have missed out in gaining for eternity...therefore, consider which is greater and go for it!

II. SALVATION 16:27-28

A. Celebration 16:27

1. It is not a matter of serving God without any motive of reward, it is just in choosing which reward we want, the immediate stuff of this world, or a future reward that is far greater than any reward this world can offer!

            a. Jesus promises those who choose the greater reward that it will come eventually!

            b. The present sacrifice of self in this life will yield a huge benefit later

2. People of this world are wise enough to forgo some of the earnings now for their retirement...how much more should we be wise in our investments in the future spiritually speaking?

3. Salvation has greater dividends than does Silver!

            a. things don't happen where there are no investments!

            b. For every success, there has been a major investment by someone!

ILLUS: Quinton Hogg, founder of the London Polytechnic Institute, devoted a great fortune to the enterprise. When asked how much it had cost to build up such a great institution, Hogg replied, "Not very much, simply one man's life blood!" The great institution of the Church is the result of one man's life blood...Jesus Christ, God's eternal son! If we are to reap the corporate benefits of Christ's work, we too much be willing to make a major investment of our lives!

4. Jesus not only promises a future reward, but in the next verse He also promises something immediate for His followers!

B. Current 16:28

1. It won't all be just future blessings...Jesus tells His followers that they would see the Kingdom come before they die!

            a. This is fulfilled in the verses that immediately follow as they witness Jesus' transformation on the mount of transfiguration

            b. They see the glorified Lord only a short time later from Jesus' promise here.

2. Their willingness to forfeit the world for the Kingdom of God would open their lives up to the most astounding experiences with God!

            a. this is still true today!

            b. For those who will embrace the kingdom of God, there awaits a lifetime of supernatural events, from small to great things!

3. The world today is telling people just the opposite of what God has said, The world tells you to fulfill self, the Bible teaches us to forget self.

ILLUS: Shirley MacLaine, the award winning actress granted an interview with the Washington Post back in 1977. She said this about life, "The most pleasurable journey you take is through yourself...the only sustaining love is with yourself. When you look back on your life and try and figure out where you've been and where you're going, when you look at your work, your love affairs, your marriages, your children, your pain, your happiness...when you examine all that closely, what you really find out is that the only person you really go to bed with is yourself. The only thing you have is working to the consummation of your own identity..."

4. How wrong Shirley MacLaine is! While she may think she has found her life, she really has lost it as Jesus said!

            a. Yet this is the philosophy of our age...live for self

            b. If we are not careful, this kind of mentality can also infect the Church and the believer.

5. God repeatedly asks, "WHAT WILL IT PROFIT YOU, IF YOU GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD AND YET LOSE YOUR SOUL?"

            a. have you an answer for God?

            b. Choose wisely, your future as well as your present life hinges on it!

CONCLUSION: Jesus here asks the most profound question God could ask a man or woman, "What will it profit us if we gain everything, but lose our soul?" Jesus is asking if we have really thought about costs; spiritual and material. Are your passions directed to issues of the soul or of silver? The world can cost you every- thing and leave you with nothing! Salvation is a free gift and leaves you with everything! Which will you pick!?

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