To be a follower of Christ is not to be a follower of self or one who flees from the humiliation and the suffering that is involved with being a Christian.
Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his verse-by-verse series from the Gospel of Luke, and we'll be in a passage that makes the requirements for the Christian life perfectly clear. In this brief text, there's an echo of the question that we looked at recently that had haunted King Herod, where he was troubled by the reports coming to him of this man who was going about the countryside healing people and performing amazing miracles. And you remember how terrified he was when he considered the possibility of who this might be. Was it some prophet? Was it Elijah coming?
Or the worst of his nightmares would have been that it was the reappearance of John the Baptist, whom he had executed. And now that same issue is brought up by Jesus to His disciples when they came to Him while He was alone praying. And He said to them, Who do the crowds say that I am? You have your ear to the ground. You're aware of the scuttlebutt that is being discussed among people in the nearby villages.
What are they saying about me? And so they answered and said, John the Baptist. And others say, Elijah. And so others say that one of the old prophets has arisen again, and Jesus receives this information without any substantial comment. It's as if He were to say, Well, that's interesting information, but my concern right now is not so much what people out there are saying about me, but I want to know what you think. Who do you say that I am?
As I was thinking about this text this week, I was thinking about our nation, the people who live in it, and I made this assumption. I assumed that every sentient adult in this country has at least enough information about Jesus from no other source, but from those messages that come across through the extended Christmas season each year, so that every adult person in this country certainly has by now formed some opinion as to the identity of Jesus. And I was wondering, what is that identity that they've assumed? What do they think about Jesus? Do they think He is simply a mythological character from antiquity?
Do they echo some of the liberalism of a century ago that Jesus was a prophet or a great ethical teacher? What kind of an opinion do they have of Him? And I didn't have the opportunity to canvas everybody in America and get the results of that, but I encountered a friend the other day who I have known for many years, and I would have to describe him in the following manner. He's a man who wouldn't be caught dead in a church building unless he were coming to pay his last respects to one of his friends who had died. The only time I think I've ever seen him in church is for a funeral. He's a man who's one of the most profane men that I know, whose vocabulary is regularly laced with blasphemies. And though I know that he personally has a high regard for me and I trust that he loves me, nevertheless his favorite pastime in my presence is to mock me for my religious convictions. Whenever he walks in the room where I am, he raises his hands and says, praise the Lord, R.C.
This is the way he likes to tease me and to mock me. So I thought he'd be a good candidate to ask his opinion of Jesus. So I said to him candidly, and I said, Burke, the devil made me do it. I said to him, I said, you know, I have a sermon this Sunday, and I'd ask you to give me some help on it, and he was a little bit surprised that I was seeking information for my sermon from him. But I said, I'm speaking on this passage where people were asked their opinion of Jesus. And I said to him, as I've said to you already, I know that everybody in this country has some opinion of Jesus, and I'm just curious what your opinion is.
Who do you really think that Jesus was? Well, he didn't respond in his normal silly manner, but rather he became somewhat sober by the question, and he said, well, I'm going to have to think about it. So I said, fair enough. So about four hours later, I saw him, and I said, have you thought about the question I asked you? And he said, actually, he says, I've thought about very little else in the last few hours, and I have come to a conclusion as to what I think about Jesus. And I said, well, what do you think of him? And he looked at me and he said, I think that he's the Son of God that God sent into the world.
He could have knocked me over with a feather because that's the last answer I expected to come from him. Because if I've ever met a man who would presume not to think that Jesus was the Son of God, it would have been this man. And so indeed that gave me pause, and I said, how is it possible that somebody could come to the conclusion that Jesus is really the Son of God and behave like this man does?
How is that possible? And as I contemplated my own question, I thought of two personages immediately who have manifested that possibility clearly by their behavior. The first one, of course, is Satan himself. There's nobody in the universe who knows more clearly the identity of Jesus than Satan. Satan knew during Jesus' entire earthly ministry whom he had to deal with. He knew that this was the incarnate Son of God, and as much as he understood that intellectually, he hated it passionately. He knew who Jesus was, but he was not interested in following Him, only in destroying Him. Again, in the biblical record, the first personages who recognized the deity of Christ behind the hidden veil of His humanity were the very demons from hell.
So for them, it wasn't a problem of a lack of knowledge of His identity. It was a lack of affection for the one who was the Son of God. But that's Satan, and we put him in a separate category. And what we're talking about this morning are not angels or fallen angels in their perception of Jesus, but rather about human beings. So then I thought of another person that I knew who was convinced that Jesus was the Son of God, and yet despite that knowledge was altogether unconverted and unregenerate. And I'm speaking now, of course, in the first person, because the day before my conversion to Christ, the day before I was regenerated by the Holy Spirit, if you would have asked me, R.C., Sproul, what's your opinion of Jesus? Who do you think that He was?
I would have been unhesitant in my response and would have said, well, clearly, the Son of God. I believed that in my head, but there wasn't an ounce of affection in my heart for the one whom I believed to be the veritable Son of God. Thinking that through even more, I began to wonder how many people out there have that same contradictory understanding of Jesus intellectually while their hearts are so far removed from Him. And then, of course, I began to think of the precious people whom I love so dearly who make up this congregation, and thought again of the great St. Augustine's definition of the church as a corpus per mixedum, a mixed body. Augustine was simply reflecting on the teaching of Jesus Himself, who said, among the assembly there will always be tears, among the weak there will be the unconverted among the converted.
And who knows who they are? I don't have the ability to read anybody's heart any more than any person has the power to read my heart. I don't know who in this building is soundly and truly converted and who remains unconverted and on their way to everlasting torment. I don't know who in this group today are truly lovers of Christ and those who merely offer the service of their lips. I don't know your souls, but you should.
You should know the state of your heart, and I should be able to know the state of my heart. And even if I'm unsure about my state, I know that the Scriptures tell me that I am called to make my calling sure that the assurance of salvation is a real possibility and not only a possibility but an obligation for every Christian. And so before I go on in this text, let me ask you, who do you think He is? And I have the question I always ask to that, and what difference does it make to you if Jesus is the Son of God? And if He is, then He is supremely worthy of our adoration, of our worship, and of our devotion to Him with our whole heart and soul. And to understand the meaning of the assertion that He is the Son of God is to enter into the supreme state of felicity and of blessedness. You remember in Matthew's account when it was Peter who answered the question, Who do you say that I am? Peter said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, to which Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. Flesh and blood does not reveal this to you, but My Father is in heaven. And then He went on to say, And thou art Petros the rock, and on this rock I will build My church. Now if you really understand that Jesus is the Son of God, not simply in a tickling intellectual manner, but if it's an understanding that you grasp in its entirety, then Christ would say to you, Blessed are you, for there is no greater blessing, dear friend, than to know the Son of God. So after this confession, Jesus warned and commanded them to tell no one.
It was not yet the hour to make the truth of that affirmation public. But He went on to say this, The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised the third day. This is when, in Matthew's account, Peter the rock, you know, became Peter the mush after Jesus said, That's a wonderful affirmation and confession of faith.
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But now I have to understand it's time for us to leave this place and go to Jerusalem where I'm going to suffer and die at the hands of the religious leaders there. And Peter said, No, Lord, forbid it, Lord. Five minutes after he makes a great confession, he makes the worst confession where he presumes to tell Jesus that Jesus is not allowed to do what He's to do.
Now I want us to understand how Jesus put this to the disciples immediately after this confession. Here's what He didn't say. He didn't say, Well, fellas, it's time for us to make a trip to Jerusalem. I know that there's some folks unhappy with us there, and I'm not sure what we're going to get ourselves into.
Oh, probably nothing serious will happen, but maybe it will. We'll just have to wait and see. Now, beloved, that's what He didn't say. What He said was this, The Son of Man will suffer, may suffer, might suffer, no. The Son of Man must, must. It's necessary. There's no other possibility. I'm going by divine, sovereign constraint. It has to happen.
Absolutely has to happen. It's my mission. The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected and be killed and be raised. And then He said, This is not a solitary venture. I'm telling you these things not because I want your compassion or your solace or your comfort or your sympathy, but I'm telling you this so that you understand what it will mean if you follow Me. For He said, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Maybe it's that part that people who come to the conclusion, the intellectually that Jesus is the Son of God that they don't want to hear.
They don't want to embrace the consequences that Jesus sets forth. If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself. You know, when it comes right down to it, you either deny Christ and follow yourself or you deny yourself and follow Christ because you can't follow Christ and yourself. If you desire, if you want to come after Me, then deny yourself and take up your cross every now and then as the situation requires it.
You didn't come to hear what the Bible doesn't say. Let him take up his cross daily and follow Me. And really to take up the cross daily is to take up our Lord's cross daily to identify with His humiliation. Even our baptism, which signifies many things among other things that it signifies, is our being buried and raised together with Christ. And as the Apostle Paul tells us, unless we're willing to involve ourselves with the humiliation of Jesus, we won't experience involvement with His exaltation. But to be a follower of Christ is not to be a follower of self or one who flees from the humiliation and the suffering that is involved with being a Christian. Jesus then tells the grand paradox, for whoever desires to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. In one sense, beloved, to be a Christian is to have a throwaway life.
At least that's the appearance. If I'm going to be a Christian, I have to throw away my life. But to throw away my life for Christ is to find my life forever. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost? Elsewhere, he says, what profit, what gain is it?
You look at the bottom line, you look at the debits and the credits, the assets and the liabilities. And Jesus is speaking in economic language here in terms of profit. What person goes into business not trying to achieve a profit? If he doesn't achieve a profit, he's not going to be in business very long. And so we are concerned about profit. And Jesus said, okay, what if you gain a new car and you lose your wife?
Some people may think that's a double profit, but for most it would be a negative balance. Or what if you got a new house or an inheritance? Or let's stop thinking about these paltry matters of cars and money. What if you gained the whole world, but the price tag was your soul? Jesus said, what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world if it cost him his soul? Whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels, and by the grace of God. I finish the text all the way to verse 26. What a sober warning that is from Jesus. If I confess Him before men, He will confess me before His Father. If I say to my friends, I love Jesus. I believe Jesus is the Son of God, and I'm prepared to follow Him at whatever cost it is. If I say that and mean that and do that, then Jesus will say to the Father, I love R.C. He's mine, but if I am ashamed of Jesus, if I try to harbor a secret faith, but I don't want anybody to know about it, lest I'll think I'm strange or weird or foolish, if I'm ashamed of Him, then He says, when the Father brings up My name, R.C. Sproul, Jesus says, yes, I know who He is, and Father, I'm ashamed of that man.
Can you imagine anything worse than that? And so I leave you to this day with the same question with which we started. Who do you think He is? And what does it mean to you what you think He is? Who do you think He is? You know, as we live in a culture that has been turned upside down, it is a temptation to be ashamed of Christ.
Dr. R.C. Sproul's message today is an important reminder for us. We're glad you've joined us today for Renewing Your Mind as we continue Dr. Sproul's verse-by-verse sermon series from The Gospel of Luke. We're examining the historical and theological context of this book written by the physician and historian who traveled with Jesus. Luke's account is riveting, and let me recommend that you request Dr. Sproul's commentary on Luke's Gospel. I just opened to the pages dedicated to the passage Dr. Sproul covered in today's message, and the insight was so helpful, and I think this resource will be a great addition to your own Bible study toolbox. So request it today with your donation of any amount. Our offices are closed today, of course, but you can give your gift and make your request online at renewingyourmind.org. And let me thank you in advance for your generosity to Ligonier Ministries. We have been a listener-supported outreach of Ligonier for more than 25 years, so we're grateful for your faithfulness to make sure that Renewing Your Mind stays on the air. We're glad you've joined us today, and I hope you'll make plans to be with us again next Lord's Day as Dr. Sproul preaches on one of the most dramatic moments in the life and ministry of Jesus, the Transfiguration. That's next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-15 01:11:24 / 2023-03-15 01:19:26 / 8