The Gospel Simplified
Luke 9:23 ESV
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’.”
If someone would ask you to tell the gospel message in one verse or in one sentence, to me, this would be it, for it has all the components of the gospel message contained within it, just without all the details of how everything happened historically.
Jesus, here, is telling us what it means to believe in him as our Lord and Savior. First off, we have to deny self. We have to die to sin and to the flesh with Christ and be raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
Then, we have to die daily with Christ to sin and to self. The apostle Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to the flesh that we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live with Christ for eternity (Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
Then, we have to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will and to his ways and to his commands (New Covenant). For, if we do not obey him and his commands, then we don’t know him, and we don’t have eternal life with him, and we will die in our sins (1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10).
So, the three steps here are 1. Deny self, 2. Die to sin daily, 3. Obey God.
Saving and Losing
Luke 9:24-25 ESV
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
If we try to save our own lives, meaning we hold on to living for sin and self, and we don’t deny self or die daily to sin, then we are going to lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives for Jesus’ sake, i.e., if we deny self and die daily to sin and to self, and if we walk in obedience to his commands, then our lives will be saved for eternity.
And this isn’t the only place in Scripture where this is taught, either. When Jesus taught what it meant to be a follower of him, he taught self-denial, death to sin, obedience to his commands, and living to righteousness.
He said that his sheep (his followers) listen to him (adhere his teachings) and they follow (obey) him. And they will never perish. He said that anyone who keeps (obeys) his word will never see death. And He said if anyone loves him, he will keep (obey, preserve) his word.
He said that if we don’t participate with him in his death to sin and in his suffering that we don’t have eternal life with him. He said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” And He said if anyone does not abide in him, he is thrown into the fire and burned.
Jesus said that if anyone comes to him and does not hate his own family members and his own life, he cannot be our Lord’s disciple. This he meant figuratively, not literally, for he taught against hate. So, this goes back to self-denial and surrender of our lives to Jesus and putting him above all else.
For, he also said that “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” And this is the essence of all that he taught.
[Lu 9:23-26, 57-62; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Lu 14:25-33; Matt 10:37-38]
Ashamed of Jesus
Luke 9:26 ESV
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Have you ever been ashamed of Jesus and his words? Were you more concerned with what people thought of you than you were with their salvation and eternal life with God? Were you more concerned with being liked or with not being rejected than you were with honoring Jesus as Lord?
I admit, there were times when this was true of my life. There were times when I hesitated to talk about Jesus and to share his word and it was out of concern of what people would think of me, and that was wrong. It wasn’t all the time or in all circumstances, but there were those times, nonetheless.
But this goes much deeper than us just being afraid sometimes to talk with strangers about Jesus. This has to do with us misplacing our confidence and support, and not putting it in Jesus, but us believing the “Big Lie,” instead. This has to do with deserting our Lord to follow after a “different” gospel and “another” Jesus other than the one true Jesus Christ.
But this also has to do with us holding on to our old lives of living for sin and self and us being unwilling to deny self, to die daily to sin and to self, and to follow our Lord in obedience. This is us denying Jesus as Lord and as Savior of our lives, and it is a refusal to leave our lives of sin behind us in order to go with God where he wants us, doing what he has called us to do.
For being ashamed of Jesus and his words is not a mere embarrassment to speak of him or to share his word, but it is being ashamed to surrender our lives to him, and to truly make him Lord (owner-master) of our lives. It is shame to even be associated with him or to even acknowledge him before others. For, it is a denial of him by everything we are and do and say.
For, if we refuse to bow the knee to Jesus in humble submission to him as Lord of our lives, and if we refuse to forsake our sinful lifestyles in order to walk with him in obedience to his commands, then when he returns one day to take his bride to be with him, he will be ashamed of us, as well, and we won’t be spending eternity with him after all.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Seek the Lord
An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”