RECAP 2: The Hard Sayings of Jesus sermon series
Scott Wood and Kaleb Rodrigues continued our new sermon series about the hard and difficult teachings of Jesus with lessons titled "Bad, Better, Best" and "TKO - False Views of Salvation."
Scott's sermon (January 27, 2019) from Mark 9:42-50 makes two hard truths clear: there is heaven and hell, and we can choose to follow Jesus or not.
To commit to the latter truth, about choosing to follow Jesus, this depends on our "child-like dependency on God," Scott said, quoting from Matthew 18:2-4. That is a denial of self, which alone is a difficult thing to do. Everyday we must be faithful and commit to God and follow Him; everyday we must choose to follow the will of our Lord and Saviour and deny the urges of the flesh and of sin.
If we instead choose to whole-heartedly follow our flesh, the result of the first hard saying is easy to determine: we are choosing the Bad for ourselves. We are choosing the road to hell!
"Where are you going for eternity?" Scott asked. "Hell, or heaven?"
The challenge for us is to identify the things that our preventing us from choosing to follow Jesus. Success, fame, money, lusts, and so on must be cut off from our lives if we are to dedicate ourselves to Jesus.
And truly is the challenge we have before us:
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell. (Mark 9:43-47)
What sin do we need to cut from our lives? That is a tough saying!
Luckily for us, we have Jesus to fight the fight against sin with us. This is the promise we have, as written in 2 Corinthians 9:8:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Kaleb on February 3, 2019, talked about the four "technical knockouts" delivered by Jesus (with words not fists, of course!) to false views of salvation. These combination of haymakers from Jesus come from Matthew 7:13-27:
1. The first punch by Jesus distinguishes the "narrow gate" versus the "wide gate" to salvation. "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction," Jesus said, "but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
In today's world of relativism and universal truths, people will argue that there are many paths and roads to "a good and holy life" and, ultimately, to a "good resting place." This is not the case! As we know from John 14:6, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Holy Father except through him! We need to be aware of this hard truth that not all people will know of or find the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. We need to live our lives in a way that will help people to see where the narrow road is!
2. The second punch reveals that only good trees will produce good fruit, and bad trees will produce bad fruit. Seems clear and simple, right?
But not everyone who claims to follow God will actually shew forth good works. There are wolves in sheeps' clothing that will feign good works only to instead tear people down and lead them astray.
By their good fruits you will recognize a good tree. By their love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will you recognize a true a follower, a true sheep, of Jesus.
3. Slightly related to punch number two is the quick jab about the call of the many who said "Lord, Lord," but will not be known by the Father. Ouch!
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven," Jesus said, "but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
This is tough. There have been, are, and will be those who claim to profess the name of Jesus and may even think they are doing his work but will instead not be known by Jesus. How can this be?
It is a question of the heart (as with so many other truths in Scripture). What condition is our heart in when we are professing the name of the Lord? Is it for self-glorification? To gain something for ourselves?
Or, do we profess the name of the Lord because we truly recognize that he and he alone is our saviour, and we profess his name because we have been saved and redeemed by the love and grace of God?
4. The final punch that put false views of salvation to the mat is the idea of building our lives on solid rock or on the sand. Where do we place our being? Where have we built our hope and our salvation?
"Therefore, everyone who hears the these words of mine," Jesus said, "and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall."
Building our lives on the rock that is the word of Jesus will help us withstand the winds and rains and floods of this crazy life. Jesus is our foundation!
Read a summary on the first two sermons in the Hard Sayings of Jesus series here.