Summary: This sermon investigates the idea of carrying a cross if we are to follow Jesus. Also the hope of eternal life.
Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven
But Nobody Wants to Die
How many of you here this morning want to go to heaven? How many of you are enamored with the idea of dying. The truth is that heaven is a wonderful place ¡V people are just dying to get in. Tell me why you want to go to heaven. (get some responses)
Now that I know why you want to go to heaven let me share with you a very important thing ¡V If you want to go to heaven ¡V you have to die. Now this is not a morbid message ¡V don¡¦t tune me out or start contemplating suicide this morning ¡V that¡¦s not what this is about.
Listen to me this morning ¡V The truth is that Heaven and being a Christian ¡V is all about dying ¡V and it¡¦s all about living.
1) Jesus tells us that Living is about Dying v23-24¡V Jesus says that if we want to follow Him it¡¦s about denying self and taking up a cross. You know the truth is that I think we have made Christianity meaningless in many ways. We have convinced people that salvation is about saying a few magic words and then life gets all better. That is not what Jesus says to his disciples. He doesn¡¦t say ¡V boys confess me and hop in line at the ice cream stand of life. We have subscribed today to a form of counterfeit Christianity ¡V it makes no demands on our time, allegiance, or behavior. This is the Jesus that you put on like a shirt in the morning ¡V it makes me feel good, look good, fit in but then you take it off and throw it in the hamper when your done with it. As a pastor I have the privilege of serving on several boards and committees for Christian organizations. On one of those boards recently we received a resignation from a board member. The funny thing is that in the 6 years that I had been on the board I have never even met this person. You see he held a position but had no responsibility. He held a title but had no investment. He was a board member in name only. Many people in today¡¦s world have subscribed to a form of Christianity that is just like that. Empty hollow religion that demands nothing, requires nothing, and ultimately means nothing in their lives. That is a far cry from what I hear Jesus saying to His followers. ¡§If any would come after me, let him take up his cross, daily and follow me.¡¨ Jesus tells us that living is about dying. It¡¦s about a cross in our lives ¡V folks there is only one use for a cross and it ain¡¦t jewelry. The Cross is an implement of torturous death. The truth is we¡¦re all about heaven and glory and blessing, and hope ¡V but we don¡¦t want to hear about a cross. But folks Life ¡V Real Life is about a cross. This is what AW Tozer said about the cross in our lives. ¡§The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when it¡¦s work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the presence of the living God.¡¨ Tozer.
The Apostle Paul wrote ¡V Romans 8 - So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh¡X 13for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
And again in Romans 12 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Jesus says For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Here is the dreadful reality folks ¡V Living ¡V really living is about dying ¡V it¡¦s about crucifying self and it¡¦s demands and being resurrected by Christ to experience the presence of the living God.
2) Now let me tell you the reverse ¡V Dying is about Living - Jesus has given us promises ¡V How many of you know that Jesus keeps His promises? Jesus says whoever loses his life shall save it. Understand what He means. The person who spiritually dies and is resurrected now has an assurance that death has no sting ¡V that death is merely a stepping stone to new life. Here are just a few of the promises of Jesus.