Summary: This sermon examines God's grace and its implications.
Today is the sixth week of a seven-week series of messages based on a book that is titled Christianity Explored by Rico Tice and Barry Cooper, out of England.
The purpose of this series is to explore Christianity, primarily through the writing of Mark in his book we call The Gospel of Mark.
The heart of Christianity is a person – Jesus of Nazareth. To that end we are particularly interested in addressing three questions:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. Why did Jesus come?
3. What does it mean to follow Jesus?
Previously, we looked at the first question: Who is Jesus? Mark asserts that Jesus is “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). That is, Jesus is God in human form. Moreover, Mark gives five evidences that Jesus is God in human form because he shows us that Jesus has power and authority to teach, heal, calm storms, raise the dead, and (most importantly and significantly) forgive sin.
We also looked at the second question: Why did Jesus come? Mark teaches us that Jesus came to rescue rebels (Mark 2:17). Further, he teaches that we are all rebels (because of our sin), and that we are all in danger of facing God’s judgment (unless we accept God’s way of escape). Astonishingly, Jesus bore the punishment that should rightly have fallen on us. He died a cruel death on a cross. But God accepted Jesus’ payment for our sin by raising him back to life again.
Today, we begin to look at the third question: What does it mean to follow Jesus? Let us read Mark 10:17-31:
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
In June 2006 Warren Buffet, the world’s second-richest man at the time, announced that he would donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations. Commenting on this extreme level of generosity, Buffet said: “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”
Many people think like Warren Buffet. They think that there is more than one way to get to heaven.
But, is that what the Bible teaches?
Today I want to explain God’s grace and its implications.
Mark says at the very start of his Gospel, in Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel [i.e., the good news] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” We have started to explore exactly why Mark describes Jesus as “good news.” We’ve seen who Jesus is: that he has the power and authority of God himself. We’ve seen what he came to do: to rescue sinners like you and me by dying for us on the cross.
This week let me begin by asking you to answer the following question: “If you were to die tonight and God asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say?”
I don’t mean to be morbid, but if you were to die tonight and you found yourself standing before God and he asked, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” what would you say?
According to the Bible, answers to this question always fall neatly into one of two categories: “the right answer” or “the wrong answers.”
I. The Wrong Answers
Let’s look at the wrong answers first.
The wrong answer is one that places confidence in what I am or what I have done. So if you said, “God, you should let me in to heaven because I. . .,” I’m afraid you’re on the wrong track.
Perhaps you said something like, “God, you should let me in because. . .
• I’m a good person.
• I don’t steal.
• I don’t lie (well, not unless I absolutely have to).
• I give to charity (not as much as Warren Buffet but I still give what I think is a lot of money to charity).
• I’ve certainly never killed anyone. (Actually, there are lots of people worse than I am.)