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The Call to Take Up the Cross

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 2, 2024 12:01 am

The Call to Take Up the Cross

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 2, 2024 12:01 am

We're quick to scoff at Peter for rebuking the Lord Jesus, yet the same self-serving tendency lies in our own hearts. Today, Derek Thomas examines this encounter to emphasize that the call to discipleship is a call to self-denial.

Get Derek Thomas' DVD Teaching Series 'The Life of Peter' for Your Gift of Any Amount https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/3302/life-of-peter

Meet Today's Teacher:

Derek Thomas is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow and Chancellor's Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is featured teacher for the Ligonier teaching series The Life of Peter and author of many books, including Heaven on Earth, Strength for the Weary, and Let Us Worship God.

Meet the Host:

Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Renewing Your Mind is a donor-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Explore all of our podcasts: https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts

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There's a way of thinking, a way of making decisions, but it's completely governed by this worldly thinking. And Jesus is saying you have to think on another level. You have to think from the perspective of God. If I don't do this, Peter, there is no salvation for you unless I offer myself as a sacrifice in your room instead. There is no salvation.

There is no forgiveness. It is jolting, jarring when we read Jesus' declaration to Peter, Get behind me, Satan, words I would never want directed to me. But as Derek Thomas just said, there is a way of thinking that is worldly, that goes against the wisdom of God, thinking that can echo the plans and schemes of the devil, thinking that needs a rebuke. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and I'm glad you're with us for today's edition of Renewing Your Mind. As Christians, we are not to be conformed to this world. Our thinking needs to be changed. Our minds renewed, according to Romans 12.2.

That's actually where we get the name of this daily podcast. And today's glimpse into the life of Peter is an example of thinking that may on the surface seem nice, even understandable, but thinking that goes against the eternal plan of God to save sinners. And it's a reminder for each of us to ensure that our minds are being renewed according to God's Word and not according to the world.

Here's Derek Thomas from his new series on the life of Peter. Last time we began to look at Matthew 16, beginning at verse 13, at Caesarea Philippi, a monumental passage of great significance where Jesus showed Himself to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. That was Peter's assessment of who Jesus was in the face of many other assessments by other people, but he had also revealed himself in terms of his mission that he would build his church and that he would build his church in enemy-occupied territory, that he'd build his church right up against the walls of defiance of the gates of hell. And he also revealed how that building of his church would take place by employing the greatest weapon the world has ever seen, and that weapon is the gospel.

It is the power of God unto salvation through faith to everyone who believes, to the Jew and also to the Gentile, as Paul elaborates in chapter 1 of Romans. But now we pick it up in verse 21. From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him saying, far be it from you, Lord, this shall never happen to you. But he turned and said to Peter, get behind me, Satan, you are a hindrance to me for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. Then Jesus told his disciples, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me for whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

What shall a man give in return for his soul? For the son of man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his father. And then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the son of man coming in his kingdom." Well, first of all, he talks about his death and resurrection.

Around this time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem. He must go because this is his purpose. This is his function. This is his mission. This is what he had covenanted to do before the foundation of the world in that covenant of redemption between the father and the son.

I will go, he would have said to his father. He had come for one purpose. He had come to die as the last Adam, as the second man. He had come to lay down his life on behalf of sinners. He had come to be the substitute because we cannot provide for our own salvation. So he would be the substitutionary lamb offered in our place.

He would be the one to provide penal substitution, to satisfy the demands of divine justice, to propitiate our sins, to perform an act of obedience. He was obedient even to the point of death, Paul says in Philippians 2. I came not to be served.

Do you remember those words? They're almost like a life verse, I think, for Jesus. I came not to be served, but to serve and to give my life a ransom for many. The way that that verse ends with for many is a reflection of the way in which the fourth servant song in Isaiah 53 ends, for many. It's as though Jesus had pondered those servant songs over and over. He must have read them when he was a little boy.

He must have studied them when he was a teenager. He must have memorized them and self-identified himself as the suffering servant about which the prophets spoke. This is why he had come.

He must needs go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and be killed and on the third day be raised. This is what he had come to do. This was his mission. This was his task. He hadn't spoken about it openly at the very beginning of his ministry, but from here on in this will be the theme.

It is going to be self-evident that he's making a journey that is heading directly towards Jerusalem and it'll be obvious to the disciples that the opposition against him is rising to such a pitch that what he says is likely to come about. And so, Peter objects. He took him aside. Imagine that. Perhaps he doesn't want him to be embarrassed or perhaps he doesn't want to be embarrassed. But who takes Jesus aside and began to rebuke him? Imagine. He says, far be it from you, Lord, this shall never happen to you.

He utters two things out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. You are my master. You are my Lord. I am completely obedient to you.

I'm your servant, but you're wrong and you're mistaken and this will never happen to you. I think Peter meant it well. I want to think that. He doesn't want to see. He loves his Savior. He has grown fond of Jesus in more than just a friendship. He looks to him as his Savior. He looks to him as the Christ, the Son of the living God.

He wants this to continue for years and years and years to come. And then there's the response of Jesus. Get behind me, Satan. Now Jesus didn't speak like that to his disciples. I can't think of another instance where he spoke to his disciples like that, where he addresses Peter, looks him in the face and calls him Satan.

What is it? It's as though Peter has touched a raw nerve. Something comes into the mind of Jesus that reminds him of a similar voice that once said to him, you can have a crown without a cross.

It was at the temptation in the wilderness, that third temptation, that Satan promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world. You know, he is the prince and power of the air. He does have a lot of power and authority. We shouldn't underestimate what he has. Some people are not impressed by what the devil is saying and suggest that the devil is promising more than he can deliver.

But I don't think so. I think he was promising. I think he was offering something that was quite genuine. He could have the kingdoms of the world so long as he bowed down and worshiped him.

A kingdom without a cross. It must have been, never underestimate these temptations. These temptations are real. Don't think that because he was God that somehow or other these temptations were not real. These temptations come to him in his human nature. How tempting it must have been to have all that authority, to have all that glory and not to have to die for it, not to have to be crucified for it. So as he's listening to Peter telling him, this shall never happen to you, he can hear, he has this memory in his brain of the voice of Satan and how powerful that voice had been in his head. It was a real temptation and as far as we know, maybe he had pondered that temptation over and over.

It was a beguiling offer. But behind these words of Peter lie a mindset that is completely and utterly at odds with what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Look at the way Jesus puts it, you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. You remember in another place, in Romans 8, set your minds on those things which are above where Christ dwells. There are similar verses in Colossians chapter 3, set your mind on things which are above.

Set your mind on the things of the Spirit. He's thinking, he's thinking like a worldly person. He's looking at this and all he is seeing is a friend who is saying he's going to die and he doesn't want him to die.

He wants him to stay, he wants to be with him. He wants him to remain for a little while, but he's thinking in a worldly fashion. He's not thinking in a godly fashion. He's not thinking as God thinks. He's not thinking as Jesus thinks. He's not thinking as the Spirit thinks.

He's thinking as he thinks. It's an interesting, it's a clash of worldviews. There's a worldview that is completely and utterly of this world.

There's a way of thinking, a way of making decisions, a way of setting priorities, but it's completely governed by this worldly thinking. And Jesus is saying you have to think on another level. You have to think from the perspective of God.

You have to think from the perspective of the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I don't do this, Peter, there is no salvation for you. You will be condemned forever. Unless the wrath of God is propitiated, there is no salvation. Unless my blood is shed, there is no salvation. Unless I offer myself as a sacrifice in your room instead, there is no salvation.

There is no forgiveness. There are versions of Christianity, they're not Christianity at all, but they're versions of Christianity that purport that the death of Jesus is unnecessary. But it isn't necessary for Jesus to die.

He was just simply the fate of forces beyond His control. That you don't have to believe in a bloody sacrifice on a cross. But my dear friend, whatever that is, it's not Christianity. Because without the cross, there is no Christianity. Without the substitutionary death of Jesus, there is no hope.

There is no offer. There is no semblance of forgiveness. Now, in the second place here, in this section 24 through 28, he begins to teach them. And to teach them about taking up a cross, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. To a life, he's calling his disciples to a life of cross-bearing and self-denial.

There's a marvelous section in book three of the Institutes by John Calvin. And he's talking about the Christian life. And he says it consists of three things, cross-bearing, self-denial, and meditation on the future life.

Now, it has seen, it has had a life of its own. And Ligonier had published in the past a beautiful new translation, Burke Parsons, for example, was involved in that. And there was one other, I think, involved in that translation. And it was published in a very nice box and leather cover and just a little booklet.

Because that booklet had a life of its own, apart from the Institutes of the Christian religion, and I'm not sure that it's in print right now, but if you can get your hands on a copy of Calvin's, The Christian Life, it's an exposition of what does cross-bearing and self-denial and meditation on the future life, what does that look like? You know, it was Bonhoeffer, that Lutheran minister in the Second World War who spoke bravely against the Nazis in Germany, got himself imprisoned. And he says, he wrote in his journal, Jesus bids us take up a cross and die.

And then a few days later, the Nazis, just before the end of the Second World War, the Nazis took him out and hanged him. Jesus bids us take up a cross and die. And it was Thomas Okempus, I think, who said at some point, if you will bear the cross, it will bear you. If you will bear the cross, it'll bear you. Now, we use that term, you know, this is the cross I have to bear, and sometimes we use it very lightly, in an almost trivial way. You know, something is annoying us and we say, oh, you know, this is the cross I have to bear. But I think Jesus is saying here something much more profound than that. What is the cross? Well, it's an instrument of death. You must take up a cross, you must carry around the body of the Lord Jesus. That's the language Paul uses.

It's a very graphic, not just the cross, but the one who is on it. You carry about the body, the dying body of the Lord Jesus. We live so much for ourselves, for our comfort. We want things to be comfortable. We want things to be nice.

We want things to go in our own way. And here is this massive worldview that cuts right across that small narrow thinking of ours and says, you've got to give it all. You've got to give it all. You must deny yourself.

You must say no to sin. We want to have a little bit of it. We can put it in a corner. We can put it in a little box.

We can put it in a spare room and close the door on it. But Jesus is saying, if you're going to be my followers, you've got to be prepared to die. You've got to be prepared to deny yourself and your comfort.

You must put me first, Jesus is saying. It's hard, isn't it? It's there's no compromising.

We want to take a text like this and we want to sort of arrange it, reshape it a little, make it a little softer. You know, how about self-denial one day a week? How about self-denial four days a week?

And then I can have three days to myself. But why, and why taking up a cross, this instrument of death? Couldn't we have something a little easier, a little more palatable? Peter would do this literally. He had a bumpy life, that's why I like him. You know, Paul is hard to get along with. I think Paul was type A. He was right about everything. He had opinions about everything. War would be tidy if you crossed him. John Mark learned that the hard way. If it wasn't for Barnabas, we wouldn't have the contributions of John Mark in the church.

No, I'm not sure I would want to do a joint charge with the apostle Paul. Can't wait to see him. I can't wait to ask him all kinds of questions about things he wrote and said, did I get that right?

Was I right about that? But Peter, Peter, well, he's displayed warts and all, you know, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But in A.D. 64, he was captured at the behest of Nero, partly to do with the fires and so on in Rome. And he blamed the Christians for it. And some said that Nero set the fires himself, or he didn't do it himself. He wasn't in the city. He was out of the city when it happened.

But there seems to be some grounds to say that he wanted the city reshaped to give it more glory and houses had to be burnt down. And so he blamed the Christians for it. And Peter and Paul were arrested.

I'm not sure they were killed at the same time. There may have been some time between the two killings, but Peter was crucified upside down at his own bequest outside the walls of Rome. He would take up a cross and die. He asked to be crucified upside down because he didn't want to reflect or to deflect from the Savior's own crucifixion. What a man, what a Christian Peter was. Perhaps he thought as he was nailed to that cross by Roman soldiers, perhaps he thought of that day at Caesarea Philippi where he had blurted in a way that only Peter could do, wanting to prevent pain and suffering to his Savior, but remembering those words that came after it, if any man will come after me, let him take up a cross and follow me.

Because if you don't, if you don't, what is the consequence? Whoever will save his life will lose it. And only he who loses his life for my sake will find it. Are you prepared to lose your life for Jesus, for heavenly glory? There are Christians in the world today who are asking that very question because death is knocking at their door, and there are thousands of them in the world today, and we need to take this passage very, very seriously.

That was Derek Thomas, and may we remember our brothers and sisters who do have death knocking at their door in prayer, and also pray that we would stand firm when our hour of testing comes. If you've been listening all week to Renewing Your Mind, you can see that there are many lessons in the life of Peter, and this series is actually 19 messages, and it comes with a companion study guide as well to help you dig deeper. You can request both when you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org, or when you call us at 800-435-4343. You'll have lifetime digital access to the messages and study guide, plus we'll send you the series on DVD. Renew Your Mind as you work through this study at your own pace with Dr. Thomas.

Give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org, and thank you for helping Christians around the world have access to trusted teaching that otherwise wouldn't be available to them. Here's a preview of what you'll hear tomorrow. When civil government or religious establishment is saying, you cannot preach in the name of Jesus, what are you to do? Peter and the apostles answered, we must obey God rather than men, and so what does he do? What does Peter do? What does John do?

They preach the gospel. Be sure to join us tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. We'll see you next time. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-02 02:35:36 / 2024-05-02 02:43:58 / 8

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