Thursday 6 July 2023

Luke 9 v23

Jesus said to all. If anyone would follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself. For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father.

Jesus tells His disciples He is on His way to the Cross and Peter expresses his shock and regret, and Jesus  rebukes him. Jesus then promises He and His Father will repay for all that has been done.

To take up the cross means that you take your stand for the Lord Jesus, no matter what it costs. It means crucifixion of self–all of your desire for popularity, recognition, or success.  It may mean that you become rather less popular amongst friends, even within family. It may mean that you become foolishness to the world.

Early in the ministry of the greatest and most successful preacher in Christian history, Billy Graham, he realized the importance of the Cross, and in every sermon across the world, before 210 million people, he always emphasized the meaning of the Cross, and God richly blessed and rewarded him.

The centre of the Christian faith is Calvary, the place of the Cross. The Cross was at the heart of the Apostles teaching, each of Paul’s Letters emphasised the redemptive message of the faith. In one passage he wrote, Jesus is Lord. and if you confess this with your mouth and believe in your heart, you will be saved, and the absence of such teaching is the reason for the Church not making an  effective influence on society, It is like a river without any water.

The message of Christianity is, that Jesus Christ came among us so we can achieve salvation, but the one and only way is because he gave  his life on the Cross in a horrifically cruel way. The sole purpose for him doing so, is that all who turn to him and accept he died for their past and present sins, personally, paying the price  in order that God can receive them. God hates sin and anyone not cleansed is not accepted by him.

God will not tolerate sin. He condemns it and demands payment for it. God could not remain a righteous God and compromise with sin. His holiness and His justice demand the death penalty.

I know personally as many of you will know, lovely people we value as friends; we know too they would be welcomed and appreciated into the Church where they could offer much, if we could only convince them of our message, but they cling to the belief of so many others that as long as you believe in God, are honest and help people, you are per se a Christian. And a place in heaven is reserved for them.

The Church is the main perpetrator of such nonsense and false belief. If you look at a baptism service it is stated a child of tender years is born again,  and parents have gladly recited words prepared for them to say they repent of all sin, when they are actively living sinful lives without any intention of changing.

Similarly with a funeral service, the Minister assures people that the deceased, who in most cases he had never met was going to heaven, no matter what kind of life they had led. 

In both cases there is total contradiction of Scripture. There can be compassion and kindness without complete misguiding. We are in fact  the cause of all our trouble, we have given up in too many places the clear teaching of the bible and ignored God’s commands. We as a Church have become terrified of being out of tune with society.

Here is religion without a cross … a testimony that the nations of the world are deeply religious, but have not yet come to the point where they are willing to accept Christ and Him crucified. Thus, the people of the world stumble on blindly toward eventual judgment and destruction, not realizing that they are rejecting Christ, who is the only hope for salvation.

The Gospel of Christ and Him crucified is still foolishness to millions who are perishing all over the world today. How few people recognize that the answer to all the world’s problems can be found at the foot of the cross.  A major problem is we have exchanged the glory of the Cross for trendy social issues.

Jesus and the Cross are not just something you turn to when you are in trouble or have an illness, and you want help and comfort. A Cross is not something you should wear as a fashion accessory, a Cross is a symbol of man’s cruellest form of death on one view, but it is also a sign of the greatest story of love, sacrifice and devotion.  Whenever you wear a Cross, you should think why am I wearing it, is it because it is a  form of dressing, and if it is, you ,then ask yourself if you would wear a set of gallows around your neck.

There is only one acceptable reason for wearing a  Cross, to  remember the One who shed his blood there to cleanse  you of sin.

In the cross, we see the clearest evidence of the world’s guilt. At the cross of Christ, sin reached its climax. The most terrible display took place at Calvary; it was never blacker nor more hideous. We see the human heart laid bare, and its corruption fully exposed. The Scripture teaches that man’s heart is desperately wicked.

In the cross we see God’s love.. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The Church needs to stop prevaricating. Whilst there is a Cross on almost every Church, we must face facts some are more like dens of iniquity by preaching against the gospel. Scripture is brazenly twisted and misrepresented to justify modern forms of behaviour, which are rejected by the Word of God.  How each person leads their lives is a personal one for each to freely do, for God gave free will and if he is offended is  fully able to deal with. But the Church should not give its approval to anything Scripture condemns.

We have arrived at a point where the supreme authority of the Church, the Holy Bible, has been challenged, and men now joined by women in equally misguided appointments, are leading people astray.

Jesus said, ‘I will build my Church’, and it was built on the solid rock his commitment on the Cross, and every Word of God laid down with the pages of the Bible are to be obeyed.  If God wants to add, change or amend he will do it himself, he does not want errant men and women holding high Office within the Church trying to meet the requirements of society.  The authority of Jesus was never ever meant to be challenged.

We are in danger of wandering from the vision Jesus created. He came at God’s calling to show the world how to become acceptable to God, how to achieve salvation by his cruel death. A simple enough message for the Church to tell and people to understand. 

Christ does come to us every day still, in the form of Bibles that we do not read, in the form of churches that we do not attend, in the form of human need that we pass by.

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible teaches that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin, which is why Jesus shed his for us.  I wonder how many within the Church realise this; and it is only when we accept Jesus died in our place on the Cross that God accepts us, so we then born  spiritually.  Our mothers went through much pain to give us physical birth, Jesus went through severe pain and even death to give us spiritual birth, so that we may be born anew.  Then we are bound to live our lives as Jesus commanded and intended.

Christianity is not an emotional journey. Millions listened at the Billy Graham Crusades to the world’s finest preacher, were captivated by glorious crowd praising God in song, and went home full of joy and hope.  They were met by dreary chants, cold atmosphere, and a preacher labouring through the set (ten minutes at the most) sermon, and wondered in which world they were in.

In unforgiveable apathy we have left the liberalists and modernists take over.  Now it behoves all who love the Lord to take the Church back. We need to get the message out that Jesus came into the world to make us be in the presence of God.  The way to do that is to clear of all sin in our lives past and present, and be cleansed by his blood on the Cross.

Many people are anxious to receive God’s grace, and

at Pentecost Peter preached an inspiring sermon, to such extent that 3,000 people committed themselves to follow Christ,  They were filled with inspiration and  awe as they met regularly without coercion, and devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles.

In 1517 a German monk named Martin Luther began a Reformation, when he tired of seeing the way the Roman Church was failing the people.  How we need a similar renewal now.  Gone has that early enthusiasm in the Church, as it was led by men like John and Charles Wesley, until liberal minded people betrayed the legacy they were left with, and also betrayed the Word of God by introducing services,  the content of which were directly contravened by the content of the Bible, and broke Church unity.

As time moved on, additions in some Churches were made to the liturgy, men became proud in holding Church Office, and found the need to glorify themselves with decorative robes.  Much still happens. We have multiple versions for the same prayer.  We even create special liturgies to enable ceremonies to be performed, which were once beyond man’s comprehension.  Is it therefore any wonder God must be ready to show his wrath, when in his and Jesus’ names e used,  as his Church creates services to welcome and bless people who have rejected the gender he created them, and are celebrating having the opposite created by mankind.

The clergy are now invaded by men and women who teach in the name of the bible, totally false doctrines. Our Lord came in the most basic of circumstances, born in a stable, taking the role of a servant . Now his Church is filled with people more concerned in being served, status conscious, full of ambition. The desire to preach the Word,  stressed as an urgent need by Paul, is not the number one issue on many minds.

In the 21st century we find the majority of Churches closed, with little urgency in opening them. Importantly there are dedicated men who have shown much initiative and been entrepreneurial in response. One Church near me has a Vicar who erected a Marquee extension to his Church, so as to be able to welcome more people to services, which were also relayed on  to television.  A machine was acquired to ensure the air in church was made safe before the service, and all seating sanitised in order to protect the members from the effect of the pandemic.

 To avoid personal handling at the present time, an independent means for people taking the bread of communion was offered, and every possible effort to continue to all satisfaction.

It was religious people who killed Jesus, and it is the religious people of no true conviction, who are killing his Church now. True Christians will believe God will not let them succeed, and will deal with them. Our faith began 2023 years ago, men have been trying to destroy it ever since, but it still stands and is stronger than ever in some places.

Jesus asks what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose their own soul.?  How you respond to the gospel makes a vast difference as to how you will live your eternal life, and with those you love. For so many people saying goodbye at a funeral is goodbye for ever.

My wife and I met as teenagers many years ago at a Church in Liverpool, and were together ever since. At our age we knew God could take one of us at any time, but we also knew that it won’t be long before  we are joined again in heavenly place.   Someone will say what makes you so sure. The answer of course the Holy Bible tells me so, and when God tells, we both believe him.  God never breaks his Word.

If you are to make that sacrifice of Jesus worthy for you,, believe it in your heart and try to influence your friends and especially within your family. Tell them what a friend we have in Jesus. You will find opposition,  but God will be there to help you.

May God bless all who have either heard or read this sermon, and may it help you to draw closer to Jesus.

Remember the words of Paul; if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved.

May God blessyou


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