Sermon Illustrations

Crucified With Christ

"The Christian's Passion"

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). We have just passed Easter--celebrating what Christ did for us on Calvary and the victory He won over sin and death.

The Bible holds many accurate descriptions of men and women of God who grasped the truths of the cross and Christianity. One such man was the apostle Paul who wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

"Take up your cross" (Greek stauros) means that portion of affliction which is endured by faithful men and women of God who are willing to allow their trials of life to grow their faith and mold them into the image of Jesus Christ. In his exposition of Luke 9:23-26 D. M. Spence summed up a powerful truth of what Christ was teaching. He said, "No cross, no crown." It must be remembered that the only way of coming to Christ is at the foot of the cross. That message of truth is no more popular today than it was in the times of the early church.

Jesus warned about how the world will respond to those who serve Him in "spirit and truth." He said. "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. They will treat you this way because of My Name, for they do not know the One who sent Me' " (John 15:18-20).

The Apostle Paul paid dearly for his passion for the Lord and His work. He suffered beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks and riots. He discovered that the servant of the Lord embraces hard work, persecutions, sleepless nights and hunger (2 Corinthians 6:4-5). Paul said, "I die daily..." (1 Corinthians 15:31) meaning he had to die to himself and keep going in the Lord's work no matter what his circumstances were. To take up your cross daily was also well understood by men such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him to come and die." This means death to self and to become obedient to God's calling. Martyred for Christ in the 1950's, the late Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

The world will tolerate a church that conducts its meetings and has its programs, but a church that vibrantly loves Jesus Christ, teaches His Word and reaches out in love to address the sins that are destroying our nation, our families and people's relationship with the Lord will not be popular. When abortion, greed, drunkenness, unbiblical divorce, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality are handled in a true Biblical manner there will be complaints against and criticisms of that church Body.

Are you seen as one like the Apostle Paul, living a crucified life, regardless of the cost in the Lord's work?

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