Summary: Though salvation is a free gift, Christ requires we deny ourselves, take up our Cross, and follow Him to be saved.
Mark 8:34-38 (KJV) And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Opening Illustration A little old granny called the "Visitor Informationâ€ desk at a local hospital. The attendant asked, "Can I help you?â€ The little old lady said, "I’m calling to check on how Myrtle Bea is doing". The attendant said, "Ma’am, I’m sorry, but hospital regulations say that I’m not supposed to give out any personal information". The little old lady said, "Please - she’s very close to me, and I won’t tell a soul what you told me". Charmed by this precious grandmother the attendant relented. "Well, just this once". Looking up her patient information on her computer, the attendant said "It looks like good news. She’s getting better every day, and the doctor thinks she may be released by the end of the week. Would you like to talk to Myrtle?" The little old lady replied, "No honey, I’m Myrtle. I called you because nobody ever tells me anything."
People need to be told the truth in love. Jesus Christ always spoke the truth in love.
Several years ago Pastors across every denominational line began to do what they called "Seeker Sensitive" preaching. Much of what is called "Seeker Sensitive" actually only tells part of the Gospel, and some of this type of preaching is outright dishonest. Some "Seeker Sensitive" preachers tell you that once you come to Christ as your Savior, that you become like a quarterback on a football team, with Jesus Christ running guard for you, protecting you from all harm as you play the game of life. Other preachers tell you that once you come to Jesus, that He becomes your own personal Accountant, insuring that you never run out of money. They ignore Jesus’ words that "the poor you have with you always" (Matthew 26:11), and also ignore the fact that Jesus expects His own people to aid those in need (Matthew 25:31-46). Others will say that our Lord came to this earth as The Great Physician (Mark 2:16-17), and that those who come to Christ as Savior will have their own built in Albert Schweitzer who will keep them from ever getting sick if only they believe hard enough. Then there are those who try and make the Gospel something that both Jesus and I must do together, a works Gospel that says "Jesus did it all - almost - all to Him I owe - most ways - sin left a crimson stain, but He and I are making it white as snow". The Apostle Paul marveled that the Galatian Christians "would so easily be removed from the Lord Jesus Christ to another Gospel, a perverted Gospel". The Bible tells us that: