Saturday 16 July 2022

                   Mark 8 v31/38


Jesus is with his Apostles making his way to Jerusalem and the Cross. He shocks them by saying he must suffer, be killed and rise again.  He meant this was necessary to fulfil the purpose for which God sent him into the world; it was necessary for him to make atonement for man’s sin, for without his blood being shed there could not be any remission.  Without the Cross God’s holy law could not be satisfied.  Jesus must die that we might live. This is at the heart of Christian faith and we must always be aware of the truth. This was the message Jesus taught his Apostles and they Jesus took it to the world as the foundation of our faith.

Peter had shortly before made the famous confession of Jesus as Lord, for which Jesus blessed him, but now he faces the wrath of Jesus.  Peter did not mean to offend Jesus, he was just shocked that Jesus had to suffer so much and die, but Jesus suggested Peter had been influenced by the devil. in one of the greatest recorded rebukes.

Jesus then spelled out what being one of his followers would mean. He always made clear that there would be a cost involved, and never offered cheap grace.  Salvation is all of grace, offered to sinners who repent freely; by grace we are saved through faith, but all who want salvation must demonstrate the sincerity of their faith by carrying a cross.

There will inevitably be suffering when you decide to follow Jesus.  You will lose friends, be mocked, frozen from groups, treated as going through some strange illness. You could indulge the world’s pleasures and be thought a grand person, get involved in any form of immorality, but if you are seen as religious or read the bible, you become a person no one wants to be with.  Yet bizarrely such perverse attitude does not apply to followers of the ethnic faiths.

 All Christians need to realise the challenge we face.  We must see we are engaged on a battlefield, not a playground as we meet an evil world which wants to force us into a private sect, and wants to silence our message.

Jesus called the crowd to Him, and told them whoever loved his life would lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus’ and the gospel’s sake would save it.  He meant that the one who lives a self centred life focused on this world, will not find eternal life with God, but if you give up worldly pleasures and a life of self rebellion against God for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, will find everlasting communion with God.

Our bodies have a soul or spirit within, and the soul is the image of God, which in turn means eternal life, for when we  die it is the body becomes detached from the soul, which lives on in either heaven or hell.  So many people go to great length to protect their body, take all sorts of measures to make sure it is cared for, but ignore the soul.  They never look at the bible for guidance, and ignore God, who has no place in their hearts or minds.

We all have souls for which we will have to give account to God; it is an awful thought when we consider how little attention is given to anything except this world.

We can all lose it in many ways, by loving sin and cleaving to the world; it is poison to choose a religion of lies; believing man made superstitions; neglecting all means of grace and refusing to believe the gospel.  Whichever way is chosen, the responsibility falls to each person. Of all foolish and unprofitable bargains one can make, it is to give up the soul for the present world.

People are claiming to be Christians, attending Church, even preaching within them, but living unworthy lives in complete defiance of what God has laid down in His Word.

Jesus taught there were two roads in life and each of us must travel on one; one is broad and most people are inclined to follow that road with all worldly goods and thrills, whilst the other road is narrow and fewer take that one, for it means living a godly way of life with restrictions on how you journey.

There is now much reluctance to accepting belief in a hell, although most everyone accepts there is a heaven, to which all believe they are heading irrespective of how they lived their lives. There is going to be such disappointment one day.  Jesus in his parables made clear two roads, two destinies, sheep and goats, tares and wheat.  All Christians should make sure those nearest and dearest to them are aware of this.  Whenever Jesus spoke of heaven, He also referred to the alternative as hell.

I have stated so many times, I think it shameful as well as cruel, for the Churches to let people live under such a delusion and create liturgy which virtually assures people that a person can separate themselves from God, have no association with Him, and yet still receive salvation. To say such is to flagrantly teach false doctrine, for the bible is quite unequivocal and patently clear, it means accepting Jesus death on the Cross was the price He paid for their sins.  The Bible states, salvation is found under no other name under heaven than Jesus.

Jesus pictured a field with the good seed representing his gospel, and the tares were the seeds of the devil, and a lot of people are prepared to sell their souls to follow a hedonistic lifestyle.  But God is long suffering and wants all people to be saved, which is why He calls on all to repent and turn to Jesus.  Everyone has to make a decisive decision, hell  is total separation from God.  The alternative is to spend eternity with Jesus, who makes the final judgement on death when we will be called to account for our life before him.

Let these words of our Lord sink deep into our hearts, yet words are inadequate to express their importance;  remember them when temptation present itself and the matter of the soul seems of no importance.

The final call of Paul in our passage is for people never to be ashamed of the gospel. We have however, come to a difficult period when we need to be specific.  We can be ashamed of the path the Churches are taking, accepting ways and practices which are unequivocally wrong against Scripture.  But the Christian faith is exactly the same to-day as it was when the Apostles passed it on to the Church.  God did not give His Word for just the first century, it was given once for all  time. (Matthew 28 v18/20; Judev3/4.)                                                                                    

 How many Church members are embarrassed when asked if they believe?  Indeed how many are ready to acknowledge they attend Church?  How reluctant to answer if asked to give our opinion on moral questions?   If you are not ashamed, you are ready to speak out about your faith. 

Remember the words of Jesus, ‘for whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of the Father’.

The gospel is the story of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself to be crucified for our sins in order to reconcile us to God.  Why should anyone be ashamed to tell that story?  We all no doubt are ashamed of things we have done in our lives, and the things we have said but wished we hadn’t, and that is understandable.  But we allow ourselves to become ashamed of something for which there is no need to be ashamed of.  The reason not to be ashamed is,-- because the gospel is the power of God leading to salvation for all who believe.

Always bear in mind that only Christianity has a Cross at the centre of its faith. Only Jesus suffered an horrific death on the Cross as a Saviour.

We see here the difference of opinions about who Jesus was.  In short every opinion except the proper one.  We see the same today, with far too many people seeing the name Jesus as nothing more than a swear word. Christ and the gospel are unknown quantities for the majority of the population. A lot of people see the Church as a place of worship, but not all  realize Christ is very God, their own shepherd, the source of their salvation.

We read of the confession of Peter who clearly knew who Jesus was, the Christ, and was welcomed by Jesus who at that that time had not been glorified, without honor or worthy of majesty.  He faced the wrath of the Jewish nation and church, who refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah. 

Peter was not affected by the opposition and knew Jesus was the Promised Savior.  What an example he set for followers of Jesus through the ages, yet there are still plenty of people who are not prepared to even admit to be attenders at Church.  Jesus will one day be aware of such people, and will confess them as His servants,  and who will reject those who reject Him now.

It is frustrating to hear bishops and others in Christian ministry minimizing and even denying the physical resurrection of our Lord, for that is the very central truth of Scripture.  This is the message, the foundational truth, that we should as a Church be proclaiming.

This is a gift of God who prove they truly are Christians by carrying the Cross of Christ.  Conflict and loss of some friends may happen as our faith is mocked and seen to be unreal, but as Christ gave up His life for all, we must make some sacrifice in return to show our allegiance to Him.  Christ will support us.

are called in the last verses the great danger of being ashamed of the gospel.  Jesus stated whosoever is ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him shall I be ashamed when he appears before God.  As stated earlier, we who aim to be true followers of the Lord are now embarrassed, as Churches are being led by those holding high Office within the Churches, are now flagrantly and openly acting in direct contrast to the teaching of God in the Bible.  The cry that they are showing the love which God extends to all is baseless.

 God laid down His demands, and Scripture in its closing words states, ‘I warn anyone who hears the words of Prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book’

Let us all pray for faith and courage to confess Christ before the world and never be ashamed of Him who died for us on the Cross.



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