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Consecration in Action

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 12:00 am

Consecration in Action

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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September 13, 2022 12:00 am

There are many different aspects of our lives that go into decision-making here on earth. People consider their financial portfolio, their lifestyle and comfort, input from their friends and family, and many other factors. But Jesus is about to challenge His disciples to give up their freedomes and their choices and allow Him to determine their path and their future. He still gives us that same challenge today.

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Here's Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus, and they're talking about something that's going to happen in the future. They talk about his exit, we'll see, his crucifixion and then his resurrection and then his ascension. They're talking to Jesus about this. They're involved in the work of God. But you can imagine that Peter and James and John never forgot this early expression of the kingdom of God and the king and his glory.

And here's the point, Jesus wants us to remember that something is going to happen next. Say you have a big decision to make. What kind of factors might you consider in making that decision? Maybe you'd want to consider things like the financial impact or what changes might come to your lifestyle and level of comfort. You might want some input from your friends and family.

Probably other factors that I'm not thinking of. In our passage today, Jesus challenged his disciples to do something very hard. He asked them to give up their freedom of choice and allow him to determine their path and their future. Stay with us to learn the implications for you in a lesson called, Consecration in Action. I want you to imagine your life in terms of a corporate boardroom in some high-rise Fortune 500 company. There's a long oval mahogany table surrounded by leather black chairs. An executive committee is seated around that table. Every member represents a different aspect of your life.

You have seated there your private self, your work self, your home life self, your financial self, your moral self, your recreational self and more. Most of the time there is conflict in that boardroom as decisions are made. Not every department agrees with the other. There's often tension in the room as members of each department argue and debate, question and finally vote.

It's rarely a unanimous decision. I think of that when I think of the average perspective in the church at large today. That following Jesus means you invite him into the boardroom to serve on that committee. You seat him at the head of the table maybe. Maybe you make him the chairman. You give him a vote.

But then he just becomes one more complication, one more voice in the debate of how you should run your life. I want you to know as we prepare to enter this scene biblically that a viewpoint in the mind of the Lord and in view of Scripture is that Jesus comes in in that boardroom and he fires every committee member, every last one of them. It means saying to the Lord, Lord, there's only one vote and you've got it. It's yours alone.

You run every department of my life. Now if you'll go back with me to Luke's Gospel, we're in chapter 9 and verse 23 and following. And he said to them, if anyone would come after 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 my sake 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 will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Before I expound our way through this text, I want to clear up some misunderstandings. I have read commentary and I have heard sermons by individuals that I appreciate, but it surprises me to read or hear from individuals who believe as strongly as I do in justification by faith alone, come to this passage and essentially turn it around into justification by faith plus works. Now they wouldn't say it that way, but they use this passage as a legalistic checklist on salvation. That they turn around to essentially communicate that if you're ashamed of the Lord at any point in time, you're probably not saved. If you're not willing to deny yourself, you're probably not saved. If you're not willing to die for Christ at any moment, then you're probably not saved. At the end of that kind of sermon or commentary, everybody is essentially unsure of their salvation, and I am too. That's because no one consistently denies themselves, carries their cross and speaks boldly for Christ.

We want to, but if we're honest, none of us do. A passage like this sort of becomes a club to get people in line or down front at the end of the service if they think or hope they're going to heaven. Well, first of all, Jesus is speaking here to his disciples, and the context is one of clarification. He's just informed them he's going to be killed, and the implication is he's given them more information than we're given in the Gospels because they assume or know, it's implied, that it's the cross which he now becomes or uses.

It becomes in his hand an illustration for them. Jesus informs them that their path isn't in their lifetime going to lead to a crown but to a cross, and that's surprising news. Secondly, if you look back at verse 23, he doesn't say, if anyone wants to get saved, let him deny himself. To interpret it that way turns the free gift of God into something you earn. If you want to be saved, do this, pick up your cross daily.

More on that later. Thirdly, Jesus tells them to do something daily, take up your cross, which means that if on any given day you don't take up your cross, do you lose your salvation? Or does that prove you never had it?

What if it goes on for a week or a month? This kind of message leads the believer into introspection, which is one of the devil's greatest ploys. It leads to insecurity rather than gratitude for the gift of God through Christ.

To especially the conscientious believer, it leads to disillusionment and despair. I have spent 35 years talking with believers who love the Lord, who read this or hear a sermon on this or read commentary on this and assume they don't measure up. This message from Jesus is not about salvation, it's about consecration in action. In other words, this isn't a lesson here on how to become a believer or even how to prove to yourself or others that you are a believer. This is how to live as a believer. Do you want a consecrated life of discipleship?

Here it is. I like the words of Warren Wiersbe in his little commentary on this passage. He said, this passage is not about sonship, it's about discipleship. It's for believers. Now with that, the Lord begins here in verse 23 by delivering three verbs in the original text and they're all imperatives. You could put an exclamation point after each one as I've done in my text.

The first one, and I'll give it to you in principle form, is this. This is going to involve an attitude of humility for the disciple. Verse 23 again, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself exclamation point. Now I have to tell you, the church for centuries very quickly turned this passage into legalism in their own form, corrupted in their dislike of justification by faith alone. They created all sorts of legalistic and mystical experiences and exercises in order to earn the grace of God. You don't have to go far or you can research as I've done. You go back to the fourth century, for instance, you have a man by the name of Simeon, a monk by the name of Simeon Stylites, the elder who lived in the town of Antioch, where one time there had been a bustling church, a gospel church.

It's now modern day Turkey. He was a monk who became famous for his denial of personal comfort. He took this text and then began this very austere life. He literally lived in a small enclosure built on top of a pillar for 37 years. It was said by the church and church leaders that he reached a state of spiritual perfection and purity because of what he was denying, his personal comforts. Crowds would literally flock to that pillar to hear a word from them. He got so bothered by them that he began to increase the height of the pillar and eventually it reached 80 feet high, which would make me dizzy.

I mean, that would be a feat all its own. He lived on there, on top, food hoisted up to him, for 37 years. He would be venerated by the church, both the Orthodox and Catholic Church, sainted. He's considered Saint Simeon.

Why? Because he denied himself the comforts of life. I'll tell you, instead of being venerated, he should have been counseled to come down from there and get on with life. The church also, in the fourth century, developed the season of Lent. That was developed for those that were supposedly more spiritually minded. They would give up something for 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday and it was all done to set up for the absolution of sin. It was done to reach a higher level of spirituality. And you did that by giving up something good, something you liked. It could be anything.

For me, it would probably be chocolate, which I'm not giving up for, just in case you're wondering. That's not what Jesus is talking about here. The verb to deny yourself doesn't mean deny yourself something good.

Let me put it this way. Denying yourself in this context is not the same thing as depriving yourself. But let me tell you, this actually refers here to something much more difficult than depriving yourself of something you like. It's much harder than even sitting on a pillar for 37 years. In fact, it's impossible apart from the Spirit of God. You'll notice again he's referring to denying yourself, putting yourself last, surrendering your agenda, releasing not good desires or good things, but self-centered things, self-centered living.

Deny that. It's easier to give up chocolate than do that. In fact, the heights of self-centeredness is saying, I'm going to go live by myself somewhere where nobody will bother me. I'm going to go buy a cottage somewhere and never have to see anybody again. I'm going to leave this rat race and leave people behind. I'm going to go live by myself. That's the height. I'm going to sit on a pillar 80 feet in the air.

Nobody can reach me. Jesus is not telling the disciples to escape their world. He's telling them to enter their world, but enter it with an attitude of selfless humility. And that's a daily battle. It's a battle of our heart.

It's a battle of our flesh, a battle in our mind. In fact, because of our fallen nature, it shows up fairly early, doesn't it? It shows up pretty early. It starts young.

Somebody sent me an email this week. Mom was preparing pancakes for her sons. Kevin is five and Ryan is three. And as she's making the pancakes, they start arguing about who's going to get the first pancake.

Can't imagine. The mother saw an opportunity to talk about the humility of Jesus. And she said, now boys, if Jesus were sitting here, he would say, let my brother have the first pancake. They thought about that for a moment. Then Kevin looked at his little brother and said, okay, will you be Jesus?

Life works really well when everybody else acts like Jesus, right? You remember, it's not going to be long before the disciples are arguing over who's the greatest. Who gets the first pancake? Who gets the best crown?

Who gets the best throne? Deny that. Sell that.

Fight that. As you demonstrate consecration in action, Jesus not only causes disciples to understand this is going to involve an attitude and humility. Secondly, it's going to involve a daily priority. Verse 23 again, Jesus says, let him deny himself and take up, exclamation point, take up his cross daily. And again, I just want to pause and straighten out a wrong interpretation. If there's something you got to do daily in order to be saved, or even to prove to yourself that you're saved, then we're all in trouble. Because if we're honest, not a one of us lives every day like we should live as his disciples. But that, by the way, doesn't mean the goal changes.

We're not dumbing this down. I'm hoping to elevate it correctly so that we depend entirely on the Holy Spirit as consecrated disciples. This is our desire. This is our direction in life. Take up his cross daily before you get out of bed. Okay, am I going to do this? And throughout the day. So carrying your cross, Jesus is saying, that's going to communicate to your world as a disciple that your life no longer belongs to you.

Do that daily. Thirdly, it will involve a surrendered identity. Jesus says here in verse 23, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me, exclamation point.

Frankly, all three commands really say the same thing, just in a little different manner with a little different nuance or application. The verb, the follow, is exactly what we think it would mean. It means to move behind someone and then travel in the same direction behind them.

So I don't want you to miss the obvious. To follow Christ means he determines the direction. If you're following Jesus, that means he's in front.

Now with that, let me hasten on. Jesus gives three reasons why disciples should live this way. In fact, you could circle a word that will show up three times, verses 24, 25, and 26. It's the little word for, begins each verse, at least in my translation. That's the little Greek particle that explains. We could translate it, because, or this is why I just said that.

That's what for means. Jesus gives three reasons then why we should live as consecrated disciples. Again, let me put it in principle form. Number one, because it will keep you from becoming absorbed with or in your own life. Verse 24, forever would say, or because, this is why I'm saying this, because whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Now people see the word save here and immediately run to the subject of salvation. You want to get saved, this is what you got to do.

Wait, do? Saved? Is it justification by faith alone or faith plus what I'm going to do? The Greek term for soul here, psuke, is, your translation may read soul. It's a common term for self. It's a word that speaks of the entirety of your life.

I could paraphrase it to read this way. If you're saving your life just for yourself, you're going to miss life, is what he's saying. If you keep your life all to yourself, here's what's going to happen. You're going to lose out on any kind of life worth living. Is it possible for a disciple of Jesus to waste his life?

Yes. He's not talking about missing out on life in heaven, he's talking about missing out on life on earth, wasting, self-absorbed, self-centered. Can a believer become selfish and do this? Well obviously Jesus wouldn't have warned us if it weren't possible. James wouldn't have warned us in James 3.16, wherever there is selfishness, there is disorder. In other words, wherever you see a selfish person, their life is messed up. That's my paraphrase. The apostle Paul would not have warned the believers living in Philippi, do nothing from selfish ambition. Why?

Because it's possible we could do that. In other words, don't make life all about your life. Whoever loses his life, I like the way one paraphrased it, whoever loses sight of himself, it's good.

Another one paraphrased it, let loose of your life for my sake. If you do, you'll find life worth living. Secondly, here's another reason, because it'll keep you from becoming engrossed by the self of earth. He says here in verse 25, for what is it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself, his life.

In other words, follow me and you won't waste your life pursuing things that are going to crumble away and rust away and turn to dust. John Phillips, in his wonderful commentary on this text, said this, he said, the most important question you could ever answer in life is the question, heaven or hell? And once you've answered that question, then as a believer, the second most important question you need to answer and answer it every day, heaven or earth? Am I going to live for heaven or am I going to live for earth?

That's the idea here. And you answer that every day. Here's the third reason you need to live a consecrated life.

It'll keep you from forgetting what's coming next. Jesus says here in verse 26, forever is ashamed of me and my words. Of him will the Son of Man be ashamed. Notice he doesn't say of him will the Son of Man be finished or of him will the Son of Man be rejected.

No, ashamed. When he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels, is he going to be ashamed? I think this is a reference to John's letter where he talks about forfeiting our full reward. There's a sense of shame that I could have served him, I could have responded for him and I didn't.

The reward that could have been mine is not given. Look at verse 27, Jesus then says, but I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God. I believe this is a reference primarily to that signature event where Jesus is going to take Peter, James, and John up that mountain where the Lord is going to be transfigured. That is, he's going to reveal his post-ascension kingdom glory.

This happens to be the very next event in Luke chapter 9. Matthew writes about it in chapter 17 and he says this, and Jesus was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Mark 9 says it this way, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white as no one on earth could bleach them.

Sounds like Mark tried to bleach something and it didn't work. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with him. This is one of the most interesting, most exciting glimpses into the afterlife that were given in scripture, which is why I'm going to spend a whole sermon on it next to the Lord's Day Lord willing.

But let me at least tell you a little bit here. Here's Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus. And by the way, Moses is still Moses and Elijah is still Elijah.

They didn't even change their names as to who they were. And they're talking about something that's going to happen in the future. They talk about his exit, we'll see, his crucifixion and then his resurrection and then his ascension. They're talking to Jesus about this. They're involved in the work of God. So much here. But you can imagine that Peter and James and John never forgot this early expression of the kingdom of God and the king in his glory, dazzling, splendid.

And here's the point. Jesus wants us to remember that something is going to happen next. It infuses us, not with disillusionment or despair, but great delight. We can't even imagine the glory that he's reserved for us in the kingdom. So because of that day, we live this day, how? With an attitude of humility, with his daily priority, with a surrendered identity to him.

Why? Because it reminds us of that coming glory and that leads us then forward to take the next step as a consecrated disciple of Christ. Consecration in action. Reminds me of the testimony of William Booth, if you like I have read his biography, the founder of the Salvation Army. Of course in his early years it was committed primarily to the gospel, feeding and clothing and educating and helping. The poor masses were simply the bridge over which they traveled to deliver the gospel. His biographers talk about his zeal, his devotion, in spite of the fact that his society thought he was out of his mind to help the poor masses in England, London primarily.

Even many Christians and leaders thought he was off base in his non-traditional method of ministry. He still persevered one countless people to Christ. His son Bramwell once asked him as adults, what was his secret to his commitment? He told his son that he had knelt in that schoolroom at church one day and he wrote, and I quote, I gave to God all there was of William Booth. Years later his daughter Eva said that wasn't the secret. His secret was that he gave to God all there was of William Booth and then never took it back. That was Steven Davey and this lesson is called Consecration in Action. Today, how will you deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Jesus?

Think about that some more before this day ends. If you'd like to replay this message you can because it's posted to our website wisdomonline.org. While you're there take advantage of Steven's free resource called A Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding the Bible. It's free and you'll find it at wisdomonline.org forward slash guide. Be sure and join us next time as we discover more wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 07:22:03 / 2023-02-26 07:31:09 / 9

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