Summary: What it is to become a christian and to live as a christian.
Jesus Predicts His Death
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Intro: What does it mean to be a Christian? The answers you get to that question depend on the persons asked. Some people believe that belonging to a Christian church makes you a Christian. Others believer that baptism or confirmation is what makes one a Christian. Still others believe that being religious and morally clean is enough to allow one to wear the name Christian.
But wait! Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one! How can I say that? Because Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Roman Catholics claim to be Christians. But, according to the Bible, they aren’t! So what does it mean, then, to be a Christian?
To answer that question, let’s look at the word Christian itself. This word literally means “The Christ Ones”. This name was first given to the followers of Jesus in a place called Antioch, Acts 11:26. History tells us that it was a term of contempt! The people of Antioch, who were pagans, were offended by the clean lifestyles and the preaching of the believers and gave them the name “Christian” as an insult. Instead of insulting these believers, it perfectly summed up the image they were attempting to project to their lost neighbors. So then, a Christian is a “Christ one” or “one who is like Jesus.”
You see, just going to of joining a church cannot make you a Christian. Being a good moral person cannot make you a Christian. Just claiming the name for yourself or for your organization does not make you a Christian. In fact, just being saved cannot make you a Christian! To be a Christian means that you become like Christ. We lump all saved people under the title Christian, but real Christians are people live like Jesus Christ.
In this passage, Jesus is talking to His disciples about His impending death, v. 21. He is immediately rebuked by Peter, v. 22. Jesus uses this event as an opportunity to teach His men about the heart of real Christianity. I want to focus our thoughts on verse 24 today. Because, it is in this verse that we get down to the heart of what it means to be a Christian.
Why is this important? Because as individuals, many have no idea what the Christian life is supposed to be about. And, because as a church, we have left the heart of our faith behind in an effort to be found pleasing in the sight of the world. This sermon and this passage is a call for believers to return to the heart of what it means to be a Christian. I want to preach to you today about How To Experience The Heart Of Real Christianity. I want to point out the simple steps Jesus gives to us. If we will hear His voice and heed His Words, then we can experience real Christianity and impact our world for His glory!
I. WE MUST FIND OUR HEART
A. Jesus says “If any man will come after ME...” Jesus and Jesus alone is to be the heart of all we do and of who we are as believers.
B. If we are going to experience the power of real biblical Christianity ion our lives and in our church, then we are going to have to find our heart! That simply means, “We are going to have to discover what makes us tick!” We can begin this process by asking ourselves a couple of very simple questions:
1. Why are you here today? (Ill. You always get what you come after!)
d. To see and be seen
e. Love for the church
f. Love the Lord and desire to worship Him - This is the only valid reason to attend church. You will always benefit from coming, but we all need to reach the place where He is the sole reason we attend.
2. Why does this church exist? Churches exist for lots of reasons! Too often, they exist only because someone started it a long time ago and the reason why has been long forgotten. I would submit to you that there are only three valid reasons for this, or any church to exist. If these things are not true about us, then we do not deserve the name church and we certainly do not qualify for the name Christian!